plum ketchup peach pie cinnamon rolls chicken fried steak biscuits with chanterelle gravy huckleberry lemon sweet rolls

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how sweet it is

September 20th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry lemon sweet rolls

Does everyone love their birth month or did I just luck out with September? While the flats remain relatively warm by my standards, the overnight temperatures dipped below freezing over the weekend here in the mountains. Morning walks with Neva have been pleasantly chilly for the past few days and the gold aspens light up like torches in the autumn sun. Jeremy noted that fall is our shortest season. I reminded him that technically all of the seasons are about the same length, but I knew what he meant. Winter is the longest season for us – basically from October to May – as long as there is snow. Summer is the next longest from June or July to September (when there isn’t much snow). Spring in the mountains is just plain weird because it’s all melty and muddy, usually from May to June or June to July. It’s the season of trashing your gear. True fall is cooler weather, golden aspen, and clear ground. As soon as there is enough snow to ski, it’s “winter”. Sometimes fall is as short as 3 weeks if summer and winter get a little greedy on each end. But I love it, because it’s so perfect for high country hikes, long trail runs, and mountain bike rides without the crowds. I think of autumn as that sweet spot.

Neva is getting spayed this week, just before she turns 6 months old. I was told to restrict her activities, as in – very short walks – for the two weeks after the surgery. I’m just a little nervous because after Kaweah was spayed, the Cornell Veterinary Hospital instructed us not to let her jump and of course, the first thing she did when we picked her up was to try jumping into the car. She cried, then tried to jump into the car again. Mainly, I don’t want Neva to be scared or to hate Doc Newton after the procedure is done. In anticipation of her upcoming convalescence period, we decided to take her up our favorite local trail in the Indian Peaks this weekend – to Pawnee Pass. We both had headaches thanks to lack of sleep and chilly gusts of wind slapping us around. Summer makes you soft because winds like that are considered “breezy” around these parts in winter. But Neva was happy and so we forged ahead. The winds were particularly nasty and cold at the pass (this happened a year ago on our backpack, too), so we took a quick snap for posterity and booked it on outta there.

on the way up

at the pass with our little hiker pup

almost to the trailhead it was warm enough for a swim

The good news is that Neva has taken two 30-minute car rides on windy roads with dramamine and hasn’t puked! She wasn’t happy about the rides, but we suspect once she’s had enough car rides without puking, she’ll start to associate the car with happier times. Also, she was VERY good on the hike wearing her chest harness despite wanting to chase after ALL of the marmots and pikas above treeline (60% of the hike is above treeline). Neva is still very much a puppy, but I think she just might become a good dog some day.

colorful sunset over our local mountains

mammata lit just before sunrise

This seasonal cool down means I’m able to turn the oven on to bake, roast, and feel normal again. Of course, all I could think about for the past several weeks were ways to use huckleberries and many of those recipes involved baking. While there are a handful of huckleberry recipes out there on the interwebs, you’ll find a hundred blueberry recipes for every huckleberry recipe. Something that had been on my radar for a while was blueberry lemon sweet rolls, but then I thought – HUCKLEBERRY lemon sweet rolls is where it’s at. First, start by making the dough.

for the dough: milk, water, egg, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, butter, more butter, yeast

warm the milk and water to 115°f (close enough)

sprinkle the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar over the liquid

mix the sugar, salt, and flour

mix the egg, vanilla extract, and melted butter into the liquid

combine the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients

knead until smooth

cover in an oiled bowl and let rise

**Jump for more butter**

corn dog diggity

September 17th, 2015

Recipe: mini beer corn dogs

The weekend, she is here. Almost like clockwork, once foraging huckleberries is over for me, it’s time to move on to canning tomatoes. Over the past few years, I have discovered that the one thing I absolutely must can each summer is tomatoes. I won’t lose sleep if I don’t make peach, fig, or strawberry jam, but diced tomatoes are a must. At first I started with organic heirlooms and red slicers from Cure Organic Farm (a local Boulder farm – so great), but this year I’ve migrated over to the organic San Marzanos and Romas. They have a bumper crop of tomatoes right now and the seconds are $1.50 a pound. I picked up 19 pounds to can last weekend, and then I picked up another 25 pounds to can Thursday.

these hardly look like seconds, they’re gorgeous

thinking of all the soups and stews and sauces this winter and spring

enjoying all of the late summer goodies like wild coho salmon

The sun is getting up later each morning, which I like. I like it a lot. It means fewer hours of that giant fiery ball of thermal radiation in the sky. Waking up before sunrise without feeling like puking is a wonderful feeling. And having night for more than a couple of hours before bed is good for greater productivity. The sky has been offering up some beautiful moments of late.

crescent moon setting

looking west as the sun rises in the east

a low rainbow over the mountains

In Neva news, we used the halti collar for several days before i noticed the fur on her muzzle was thinning right where the halti rested. This made me very sad. Jeremy did some research and we decided to try a chest harness (a reader and some friends recommended them). Unlike the halti, the chest harness didn’t seem to bother Neva at all. We put it on her in the living room and she went about her business as usual. We walked her the next morning and she was so good (except with the squirrels – she cries and whines and barks when she sees squirrels). No struggling, no irritation. We were elated.

every morning when i brush my teeth

walking through golden aspens

such a good pup

happy dog

Lately I’ve seen mention of the Broncos in my Facebook feed. The Broncos are football, so that must mean it’s football season… Sportsball. Since we don’t have television, I wouldn’t know about any of the sporting seasons aside from the token sports discussions on NPR and those friends on Facebook who are sports fanatics. Even then, it’s quite easy for me to overlook it all because I’ve always found it far more desirable to play rather than watch. But I know that some people are far more enthusiastic about the football parties and party food than the football. So here’s a great appetizer for those sportsball gatherings if you’re looking for fun and quick recipes: the mini beer corn dog.

cornmeal, honey, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, hot dogs, flour, beer, skewers

cut the hot dogs into 2-inch pieces

pierce the mini dogs on the cut side

**Jump for more butter**

of backpacks, birthdays, and berries

September 14th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry chantilly cake

This past weekend we ventured out into the Colorado high country with Neva for her very first backpacking trip. Even though Jeremy and I have been backpacking together for 21 years, it was a bigger deal for us than it was for her. Do we bring a toy? We should probably pack a towel in case she goes swimming or gets filthy. Be sure to pack the poop bags and poop bottle… Don’t forget the halti collar. We did attempt to strap a dog pack on her at home so she could get used to wearing one and perhaps carry some of her own things. But Kaweah’s old packs – cinched to the tightest setting – practically slid off of Neva who is not only smaller and skinnier, but still a puppy. So it really felt like a hike to Neva since we were the ones carrying the packs and all of her accessories.

jeremy escorts little miss neva up the trail

taking the footbridge across the stream

fireweed turning a brilliant red

our camp just below the continental divide

Once we settled on a place to set up camp, we strung some utility cord between two trees (camp required that we at least be near krumholtz), slapped a carabiner on it, and tethered Neva to the run with her leash. It was the only way we could get anything done before dark. She immediately wrapped herself around one tree, and then the other tree. She wrapped the leash around herself in four different ways. Eventually, Neva just ran back and forth sniffing and playing with sticks. Neva was supercharged with no signs of letting up. At dusk, we could hear elk bugling in the valley to our north. By the time it was dark, we brought the pup into the tent for the night. She marched right to the foot of the tent and curled up into a little ball on our sleeping bags, falling sound asleep.

jeremy reads the map while the milky way adorns the night sky

predawn color on the horizon and twilight reflected on the lake

neva on her tether while we pack up camp

on the way out, we stopped to sample a few of the ripe huckleberries and whortleberries

lots of pretty cascades

Overall, Neva did well on the backpack and seemed to enjoy everything except the halti collar and the lack of sweet sweet freedom. Once home, she slept for a long time. Being an adventure pup is hard work! While she slept, we unpacked and sorted our gear. “So what would you like for dinner on your birthday?” I asked Jeremy. It’s like pulling teeth to get him to tell me what he really likes because he doesn’t want to put me to any trouble. That and I think Jeremy draws a blank when you ask him things like, “What’s your favorite food?” or “What movie should we rent?” Eventually he muttered something like steak or salmon – just something simple. I can do simple. In my culture (or maybe it’s just my family?) it’s bad luck to celebrate birthdays early, so I planned for a special Monday dinner. We started with things I know he loves, brie and fig jam, Kumamoto oysters with bubbles. For dinner, we kept it simple: grilled ribeye steaks topped with chanterelles sautéed in butter and garlic and a side of local corn and zucchini.

oysters and bubbles

And then there was dessert. Over the summer, whenever my parents had us to their place for dinner, I would be tasked with bringing dessert since I do those things. On occasion, I came up short on time and went to the local Whole Foods to pick up one of those mini 4-inch cakes. My favorites were the little boozy adult cakes (adult because of the booze, not because they were “adult” cakes) like the sidecar or the daiquiri. As I walked toward the cake counter, a young woman was scooping cake into little cups for people to sample. I usually ignore the samples, but I heard her say “peach chantilly cake” and I turned on my heel to get a taste. Lovely, light, fruity – it has a mascarpone frosting instead of the usual buttercream. This would be great with huckleberries or any berry.

So I found a copycat recipe online and went from there. Here’s the thing. I hated the cake part. The frosting was great, the fruity part was great, but the cake was heavy, oily, coarse crumbed. Everyone who ate it said it was good, but I felt the texture was wrong and the flavor was mediocre at best. For Jeremy’s birthday cake, I replaced the cake component with my go-to chiffon cake – spongy, soft, light, yet durable – and the result was perfection. The recipe I give at the bottom of the post has my chiffon cake instead of the original cake, but the photos in this post are of the original cake recipe. If you want photos of the chiffon cake process, you can reference this post sans lemon juice.

sugar, flour, vanilla, vinegar, butter, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coconut oil, milk, buttermilk, eggs

whisk the dry ingredients together

add milk, buttermilk, vanilla, and vinegar to the eggs

stir in the melted butter and coconut oil

**Jump for more butter**