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mutual inspiration

April 6th, 2014

Recipe: california roll poke

Ski resort seasons are coming to an end, but it seems that the atmosphere is not ready to call it quits just yet. We had a nice 9-inch dump of snow late last week which made for some excellent early turns Thursday, and some fine backcountry skiing Friday. Spring skiing is not like winter skiing. The snow is heavy and wet, rather than light as a feather and powdery. But… I’m not bundled to the hilt either because it’s spring and warm(er). You really do work up a sweat. I actually love that!


upslope event meant clouds and snow on the plains

snow blanketing the mountains – that’s what i like



Friends of mine who live just 3000 feet below us are starting to post photos of mountain bike rides, trail runs, and other sunny and warm endeavors. My heart keeps telling me, “Get more turns before the snow melts!” while my brain is thinking, “We need to get riding and running!” Really though, as long as I can be active and outside then I’m happy. Meanwhile, I’m flipping through Facebook the other day and see my friend, Allison (who runs Fridgg), has posted a photo of her latest dining exploits in Southern California. California roll poke. I had to have it. HAD TO HAVE IT.

Allison says that I inspire her with my recipes, yet she inspires me with all of the awesome food she enjoys (and posts photos of)! If I lived near her, we’d eat out together all the time because I absolutely love her taste in food. And I love Allison.


crab legs, maguro (sashimi-grade tuna), green onions, avocado, cucumber, black and white sesame seeds, flake sea salt, masago (flying fish roe), soy sauce, sesame oil



Poke is a Hawai’ian raw fish salad. When Jeremy and I were last on the Big Island, we visited the local Foodland grocery store in Hilo. There was an entire fish counter dedicated to over a dozen types of gorgeous, fresh poke. So when I went looking for a California roll poke recipe, the one from Foodland’s site by Chef Keoni Chang was what I used as a template. There is a good deal of flexibility on the ingredients, so use what you like best and what is available to you. Just be sure the fish is sashimi-grade. I used maguro instead of ahi tuna, and I didn’t sear my fish because I like it completely raw. For the crab, you don’t have to go for King crab legs as it can be prohibitively expensive and hard to source. Lump crab meat works or even surimi, imitation crab meat (aka Krab). And the best cucumbers are the crisp, less seedy kind like Japanese, Persian, or English cucumbers.

slice cucumbers

dice the tuna

peel the crab



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shruba dub dub

April 2nd, 2014

Recipe: strawberry shrub

I just peeked outside on our deck to see a few inches of fluffy, beautiful snow accumulating at a nice clip. An upslope storm is hitting the Front Range right now. That’s why we came home early from Crested Butte – to catch the powder (and just to be home again – I love home). Kaweah, who usually sleeps most of the day, was wide awake watching us vacuum and scrub our place down in Crested Butte this morning. She knows the drill. She knows when we do this, a 5-hour car ride will follow. Kaweah didn’t sleep a wink during the drive home either. I think it makes the poor girl nervous. Once home though, she was pretty waggy and wanted to check everything out. Once we unloaded the car, I finally got her to settle down in her bed.


all comfy and cute



A few minutes later she was curled up and asleep, able to relax at last. There was merely a fresh dusting of snow in our yard when we arrived in Nederland in contrast to the several feet of snow piled up in our yard back in Crested Butte. One thing I noticed this winter is that we nominally enjoy one season in Crested Butte at a time. In Nederland, we straddle two seasons because Boulder sits 3000 feet lower in elevation and usually enjoys springlike conditions while we’re getting second helpings of winter in the mountains. I realize now that I actually like this. It mixes things up a little bit – keeps it exciting.

California strawberries have been showing up in Boulder markets lately. I’m not talking about the white, styrofoam, flavorless strawberries of the off season, but the juicy, red, sweet morsels that warrant festivals in celebration of this beloved fruit. So let’s make a shrub!


you’ll need: strawberries, sugar, and red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)



What’s a shrub? Good question. I was not familiar with shrubs until two summers ago when Wendy gave me a jar of homemade rhubarb shrub after a successful morning of foraging. The first time I tasted it, I was startled. It’s sour and sweet… but sour! Shrubs are acidulated beverages, in this case it is a sugary fruit syrup made with vinegar. Back in the day, it was a way to preserve fruit well past its season. A shrub is also known as a drinking vinegar. They’re great to sip or to mix into cocktails or soda water and they are SO easy to make!

hull and quarter the strawberries

add sugar

stir it together

cover with plastic and chill



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keep your skis on

March 30th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese grilled beef salad

It got positively balmy last week. I think Colorado was taking that whole Spring thing seriously for a few days, but only for a few days. The walls of snow that line our sidewalks and roads shrunk by feet under the blazing sunshine and warm winds. We got out to noodle about above our house on some of that fine afternoon corn snow for fun. Of course, two days later we were getting turns on the mountain in 14 fresh inches of powder. That’s how Crested Butte rolls.


jeremy navigates spring conditions

aaaaand we’re back to winterlike powder!



Late Friday night, Jeremy and I went back to the mountain to watch the start of The Grand Traverse. It’s an unmarked backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte, climbs 7800 feet, and ends 40 miles across the Elk Mountains in Aspen. Due to that nice 2 foot dump of fresh snow over the mountains, the race coordinators decided the avalanche risk was too high for the 300+ racers (teams of two for safety) and re-routed the course to loop back to Crested Butte – what is known as The Grand Reverse. The Denver Post had a nice article on the race here. I thought it was extremely awesome that the mayors of Crested Butte and Aspen skied as a team. Finish times typically range between 8 and 16 hours.

spotlight on the summit of mount crested butte

racers taking warm up runs

countdown to midnight at the starting line

a blur of headlamps, skis, and colorful gear as they charge up the mountain



That was fun and inspiring to watch! On the drive back to the house, we talked about those beautiful places in the backcountry we’d like to see or revisit. But we only allow ourselves to talk about it, not make plans. And that’s okay. We can’t plan as long as Kaweah is with us. We would not (could not) trust her geriatric care to anyone else at this stage. I don’t doubt that a lot of people might have put her down by now with her severely limited mobility, her accidents, the amount of time it takes to care for her… Sometimes she does well and other times not so well. Jeremy and I agreed that as long as her good days outnumbered the bad days, we’d do what we could to make her happy and keep her safe. This is why I’m fine with hand-waving discussions about places to explore instead of my usual insistence on making concrete plans. But the talk of summer backpacks and trail runs had me craving summery fare like salads and grilled things. Thankfully, this Vietnamese grilled beef salad isn’t limited to summer. You can totally make this now.

for the beef: flank steak, limes, thai bird chile, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce

minced garlic, sliced chile, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, beef

mix the garlic, chile, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice together



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