fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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gimme the tomatoes

August 28th, 2018

Recipe: slow-roasted tomatoes

The time has come to move on. Hope can only fuel you for so long and so far before you accept the raw and naked truth – the mushrooms were not to be this summer. I actually love the time before the mushrooms are expected and the time after I decide to no longer look for them. It’s nice to be free of this sickness that is likely the fungal mushroom spores that have taken control of my cerebral functions to constantly look for mushrooms. I joke it’s like a precursor to the zombie apocalypse… If there’s an outbreak in the mountains of Colorado, I very well may be patient zero.

Classes have begun and the yellow school buses go about their routines at specific times each morning and afternoon. The CU Boulder campus is to be avoided at all costs during class changes, as are the Target and Trader Joe’s stores during move-in weekend. We have enjoyed a couple of smoke-free days and the arrival of some unsettled weather that has delivered cherished rains to the mountains. When you wake up to those crystal clear blue Colorado skies and can see the local peaks in sharp focus, you remember why you live here in Vacationland.


yuki is now 80% of neva’s weight and size

my last huckleberry session for the season

autumn is tapping on our shoulder

rainbows mean rain – sweet sweet rain

loving the cooldown

miss yuki sits atop kaweah rock (kaweah’s favorite rock)



On the days when it’s too smokey to safely exercise outside, I keep busy indoors with work and projects and the squirreling away of precious summer bounties. I’ve roasted and froze my fill of green chiles, made plenty of peachy desserts and pastries for my parents and friends, sorted and froze my huge haul of excellent huckleberries, made fig jams and strawberry jams for Jeremy to enjoy in the cold winter months. It is time to get the late summer tomatoes for canning and then it will be cool enough to take my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator to bake some bread.

Two years ago I was overly ambitious about canning tomatoes and after processing over 100 pounds, I could not bring myself to finish the last 8 pounds. It was around that time I remembered a recipe I had bookmarked for roasted tomatoes from my friend Rebecca. These tomatoes are slow roasted for several hours with aromatics and herbs until caramelized, then blendered into a sauce.


tomatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, pepper, oregano, onions, thyme

peel the garlic, slice the onions

core the tomatoes

quartered



**Jump for more butter**

let this be the cooldown

August 19th, 2018

Recipe: huckleberry daiquiri

The weather took a turn this weekend, bringing cooler temperatures, clouds, and even some rain. The smoke is still present and we find that the intensity of the smoky odor doesn’t always correlate with the opacity of the air. But I’ll take a cooldown any way I can get it right now. We get out when we can, although being confined indoors means we are getting more work done.

We celebrated my mom’s birthday last week. At first my Dad had grand plans of going out for dinner at one of Boulder’s many fine dining establishments, but more and more my parents prefer eating with us at home. I think we all enjoy dining out, but when you are a good cook you understand the value of what you are getting at a restaurant versus what you are getting at home. There are plenty of times when dining in wins. Dad executed a fabulous feast including the traditional noodles for long life. I contributed a Colorado Palisade peach (the best peaches!) pie because my mom loves peaches and she doesn’t bake.


birthday girl and lots of special dishes

chinese beef and beef tendon noodle soup in 3-day broth



I’ll be honest with you, this has been a shitty summer as mountain summers go. Our monsoonal rains fizzled before they even got started, the smoke from the fires has kept us from exploring much of the high country (I’m allergic to smoke and suffer from allergy-induced asthma), and it appears that the mushroom season to date has been a mere token at best. We are skipping straight ahead to roasting green chiles, picking apples from friends’ trees, and mentally engaging ourselves with what we hope is the arrival of autumn in the mountains. We spy many random aspen branches flaring their gold colors around the neighborhood and on the trails. Most are still green, but I feel ready for fall, and then… precious winter.

the understory of our local woods is turning

there aren’t many out there, but we find them

time to roast and restock the freezer

apple picking with this sweet little girl and her pup, kumba



Considering our poor snowpack and meager summer rains, Erin and I were astonished that this year’s huckleberry crop was 1) early by a month and 2) phenomenal. This was not the case everywhere, because my secret huckleberry patches outside of Crested Butte had so few berries that I left them all for the local wildlife to eat. Back on the Front Range, I have a huge stash cleaned, sorted, and frozen. There were so many berries that we hardly put a dent in them. I saved a few fresh ones to make some recipes, including a huckleberry daiquiri cocktail.

ice, huckleberries, limes, sugar, water, rum



I had never had an actual daiquiri before. My knowledge of daiquiris came from the daiquiri ice sherbet at Baskin Robbins, which you could argue is no knowledge at all. But whenever I want to try a cocktail recipe, Jeremy always volunteers as tribute. To make it huckleberry, I merely steeped crushed berries in the simple syrup. And while I typically use organic cane sugar that has a brown tint to it, I opted for white granulated sugar to avoid any adulteration of the true huckleberry color. After you strain the berries out, don’t throw them away! These are great on pancakes, waffles, French toast, or ice cream. Huckleberries should never be wasted.

make a simple syrup with water and sugar

mash the huckleberries

add the berries and let steep for 30 minutes

strain the syrup



**Jump for more butter**

the season of the peach

August 13th, 2018

Recipe: bourbon peach cobbler

If it feels like my posts are all about the puppy of late, you are not wrong. Even before we brought Yuki home, anyone could tell that our dogs play a large part in our lives. Now with two dogs, it is oddly more work and less work, simultaneously. But we learn what activities are manageable with this two-dog dynamic and what things we should probably rethink. SUPing with Yuki and Neva amounted to a Chinese fire drill, but the important thing is that they had a good time and no one was traumatized… much. Because Yuki is over 6 months old, we thought we would introduce her to running. It varies based on breed, size, and other factors, but dogs shouldn’t start running distance until they are a year old or 18 months old for large dogs, so that it doesn’t impede their joint and structural development. Jeremy leashed up both pups and went for a short half-mile run around the neighborhood (stopping to check mail and pick up poops) and Yuki LOVED it. We think she’ll get a kick out of skate skiing, backcountry skiing, and uphill skiing this winter! It’s fun to observe the difference between Neva’s elegant, efficient stride and Yuki’s floppy, bouncy, puppy romp.


a rare moment of neva sitting still on the standup paddleboards

yuki having a blast running with her pack



We were in Crested Butte last week and were careful not to embark on long or strenuous hikes due to the terrible air quality. The smoke from those big California wildfires kept streaming into our beautiful mountain air thanks to the atmosphere. But we still got out each day for training and adventures with our two goofballs.

yuki’s first interpretation of the command “hop up!”

sitting nicely so she can jump down from the car and start hiking

sharing wild strawberries with my two girls (they love them)



We have experienced more smoky days than clear days on the Front Range and in Crested Butte this summer. It’s depressing on so many levels as it reduces a lot of our outdoor activities like big mountain hikes, long trail runs, or mountain bike rides. You can’t help but feel empathy and sadness for the folks devastated by the wildfires in other western states as well as Colorado. Early mornings tend to have slightly better air quality, so that’s when we are active. By mid morning, the smoke usually creeps in – obscuring the surrounding peaks and injecting an off odor into the air. It doesn’t smell like campfires. It smells like destruction.

I’ve been keeping indoors most afternoons to get work done. That means I have Colorado Public Radio (CPR) streaming over the speakers while I work. I am a public radio news junkie. One day I heard a little plug for the best peach cobbler recipe on CPR and went online in search of said recipe. It looked promising because it called for 12.5 ounces of bourbon. That’s my kind of cobbler. It’s peach season here in Colorado – our Palisade peaches are the best I’ve ever tasted. I figured peach cobbler would be a great way to take my mind off of the lousy smoke-filled air.


for the filling: bourbon, sugar, vanilla bean pod, peaches, lemon, cornstarch, salt



I don’t know very much about bourbon, but I do know enough not to use fancy drinking bourbon for most of my cooking endeavors. I buy large quantities of affordable bourbon for baking, marinades, and grilling. Since this bourbon gets simmered down with peaches and a lot of sugar, save your good bourbon for other occasions. Also, I used a 3-quart saucepan in the photos to cook my peaches, but in the future I will upgrade to a larger pot to avoid sloshing of syrupy peachy bourbony goodness on the stove.

sliced and pitted peaches, split and scraped vanilla pod, zested and juiced lemon

adding the peaches to the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla

pouring the bourbon



**Jump for more butter**