braised chicken with forty cloves of garlic roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta sparkling champagne margaritas cranberry hazelnut seed crisps


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sharing the wonderful things

October 12th, 2014

Recipe: cranberry hazelnut seed crisps

I could have very easily slipped on some yoga pants and settled down to work on the computer that grey, chilly morning last week. Instead, I went about gathering my running vest, water bladder, some fuel bloks, a ziploc for my phone, my dirty girl gaiters, trail runners… I had no idea how far I’d run, if I would get caught in the rain, if it would suck or if it would be great. The run was a little bit of everything. I did get caught in the rain for the last 6 miles and my muscles did get tight in the cold. But I managed a half marathon (a distance I haven’t run in almost 2 months) and I also caught the remainder of our local fall colors, which is both thrilling and beautiful. It was my first trail run with my upgraded iphone, so I took a few detours to test drive the camera.


a lone aspen with red fringe

the grasses are turning lovely shades of red and gold

the browse line marks the extent of where the elk and moose feed on the aspen bark (thanks, twila!)



Is it terrible that my favorite part of trail running is when I’m done with the trail run? Oh, but a close second is when I get into that groove and find a nice pace that feels like I’m not even there. And I like feeling the soreness in my muscles the following day. I could feel the mild pull on my quads as I hustled through the fog the next morning. I was lugging that 500mm lens around trying to position myself to shoot the elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park once again. This time, Jeremy joined me after I convinced him to forgo 3 hours of sleep. My shooting the elk rut does not require Jeremy’s presence nor his assistance. I just knew that he would absolutely love seeing them so close as he had never witnessed the rut before. Of course, it was an extra bonus that he shot a little video with his phone that captured a bull elk bugling.



In contrast to the sunny morning earlier in the week (when I photographed the rut), this morning was cold and thick with mist and fog. Clouds clung to the mountains and drifted in and out of the valleys like slow-motion waves. If you watched closely, you could see the antlers of a bull elk emerge in the distance. If you watched really closely, you would notice the pack of coyotes trying to sneak past him or the rafter of wild turkeys picking their way into the woods. As we drove around with our windows down to listen for the bugling, Jeremy reached for my icy cold hand and gave it a squeeze. He thanked me for talking him into seeing the elk rut and said it was incredibly special to share the experience.

lone tree in the valley

coyotes on the move

wild turkey foraging

bugling into the fog

beautiful creature

this fellow was yawning, not bugling



It is both exhilarating and a bummer when I am running alone and encounter a giant moose, or see a huge bird of prey take off from a branch just above me, or watch an ermine bring down a chipmunk and carry it away. The mini-safari aspect is pretty awesome, but then I find myself standing there looking around for someone I can yell “Did you see that?!” to. Food blogging is a little less dramatic than that, but it can be just as exciting when you find a recipe that is extra delicious, super easy, or saves you a ton of money. That’s why I still food blog after all these years. I like finding great recipes and sharing them. It just so happens that one of my lovely readers pointed me to this recipe. Have you ever tried raincoast crisps? They are a slightly sweet cracker/crisp made with dried fruits and nuts and seeds. I picked up a packet for a party and quite liked them, but they are stupid expensive.

whole wheat flour, buttermilk, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, baking soda, maple syrup, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, sesame seeds, salt, cranberries, hazelnuts



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more than autumn leaves

October 8th, 2014

Recipe: cioppino

The most brilliant sunsets often involve something other than the sun. A setting sun in a crystal clear sky is predictable, plain Jane. There might be color, but it helps to have something more. Smoke, volcanic ash, pollution, dust, blowing snow, and water vapor can provide particulate matter in the air to absorb, scatter, and reflect light. The atmosphere peels away the shorter wavelengths, permitting the longer ones to bounce off these particles in the air, creating a glowing canvas on the sky. Colorado gets some pretty spectacular sunsets on a regular basis, but the Front Range really knocks it out of the park with dramatic cloud formations and weather phenomena. Monday evening, we were welcomed back to Ned(erland) with a nice display.


blazing sunset

turning rosy



The following day, I tiptoed about in the dark gathering my equipment, gloves, hat, headlamp, so as not to wake Jeremy and drove into the blackness of early morning. I drive carefully at night in the mountains, because you never know what will decide to spring across the road in front of you. We have some big critters around here that could do proper damage to a car, but in all honesty, I brake for little tiny voles and mice as much as I do for moose and elk. I arrived in Rocky Mountain National Park before sunrise, but the sky was getting lighter by the minute. I had rented the Nikkor 500mm f4 telephoto lens from my friends at Pro Photo Rental to shoot the total lunar eclipse, but figured I would also shoot the elk rut in Rocky – because you really don’t want to get too close to bull elks during the rut.

elk does and aspens bathed in golden sunrise

herding his harem across the meadow

non-competing males having breakfast



Wildlife photography is a different kind of photography from what I’m used to, so I felt it was good to challenge myself and try to improve what modest skills I have. Each time I shoot with the 200-400mm or the 500mm, I become that much more acquainted with the nuances of shooting super telephoto. Speaking as a photographer, the elk weren’t in the best locations for a great shoot and the bulls were not as impressive specimens as when I photographed in 2012. You can’t move them into the right light or the right setting like you can a cookie or a sandwich, nor can you move the mountains or the shadows or the trees or the guy who parked his Honda CRV in the worst place possible (but these are things you get used to when you photograph landscapes). You must move, and when it comes to bull elk in mating season, you give them wide berth and lots of respect. The sound of elk bugling into the evening air has been my soundtrack for much of the fall shoot and my trail runs for the last few weeks. Their calls echo back and forth between the hillsides of mountain valleys, eerie and haunting, but beautiful. Quintessential autumn in the Colorado high country.

bull elk bugling

this guy bugles constantly

handsome fellow

another bull elk chowing down on aspen bark



Whenever I set an alarm, I usually wake up five minutes before it goes off. But last night when my alarm sounded at 3 am for the total lunar eclipse, I was not awake, but in a deep slumber. I slunk out of bed and into warm clothes as Jeremy turned on his side and pulled the covers over his face. It’s funny that the resident astrophysicist is the one who sleeps while I stumble outside to photograph the moon, the planets, the stars, the meteors. It was not to be. A uniform layer of high clouds stretched from every corner of the world above me and I debated whether or not to stay up in the hopes that it would clear. The radar and the forecasts told me to go back to bed, so I dutifully obeyed. At least I got some elk.

We are on our fifth or sixth oscillation between warm and cold weather since late summer. During the first cold snap, Jeremy and I were driving to Crested Butte in freezing rain and quickly failing daylight. We agreed to pick up dinner on the road and my stomach turned at all of the fast food options. Pulling into Frisco (near Breckenridge) we discovered a Whole Foods had opened this spring. I knew exactly what I wanted as I ran through driving rain and snow into the store – hot soup. Jeremy rarely knows what he wants to eat, but because we were short on time, I told him he was having soup. In the parking lot, spooning hot cioppino into our mouths, I felt warmth spreading from my tummy to my limbs and up the back of my neck. Jeremy kept making mmm mmm mmm sounds because he loves cioppino. Behind the steamy windows of our Subaru, I swore a silent oath to myself that I would find a good recipe for cioppino and make it at home.


fennel, leek, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, parsley, crushed tomatoes, olive oil

dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne, tomato paste, flour, butter, chardonnay, water

halibut filet, large sea scallops, medium sea scallops, crab meat, shrimp, clams



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recharging

October 5th, 2014

Recipe: thai fried squid

Sucker holes are those enticing blue spots that occasionally make an appearance through stormy or overcast skies. I learned that terminology from Jeremy a couple of decades ago. Sucker holes. It’s what we’d identify while backpacking or hiking the high country, indicating a thinning of clouds, perhaps even clearing skies. But the reason they are called sucker holes is because they give you hope for better weather. The nomenclature seems particularly apt for nature photographers. Clouds sloshing about in the turbulent atmosphere open and close the windows to the blue skies above. We chase them in the hopes of capturing something magical.


dark stormy mammatocumulus clouds over a rainbow



The storm system that swept over Colorado delivered a nice infusion of snow to our mountains. Many of the ski resorts reported several inches as they began snow-making operations for the season. Forecasts all pointed to sunny and clear weather for about a week after the system passed. That’s good news for people who like that kind of weather, but rather dull news for photographers. I packed up and shipped out, driving back to Crested Butte via back roads.

a nice dump of snow for early october

my version of church

standing under aspens as leaves rain down

freshly fallen leaves on freshly fallen snow at my feet



Fall photography benefits tremendously from flexibility in one’s schedule, because the leaves, the atmosphere, and all of the other ingredients are going to chug along at their own pace. I emailed Jeremy that I was tired and wrapping up for the season. He drove out from Boulder to Crested Butte for the weekend to help me pack up and get our place ready for winter. It just so happened that my friend and mentor, Michael Frye, emailed me from the road that he and Claudia were Colorado-bound to chase some aspens and did I have any aspen reports. I convinced them to swing through Crested Butte and spend a night with us so we could talk fall colors and show them around the area, but also because they are such a delightful and fun couple.

a little color over crested butte at sunset

jeremy was craving secret stash pizza

a much needed trail run with happy cattle to boot

aspens winding down



Jeremy is always bummed to leave Crested Butte, because it is his Very Happy Place. I’m sad to leave, too, but I am quite happy to go home to Nederland. Our favorite neighbors will be returning from their summer season in Canada, there are projects planned with various friends, I look forward to seasonal produce at my favorite markets in Boulder, and I can cook out of my #1 kitchen once more! So while I’m on the road home, you can consider this recipe for Thai fried squid (calamari). It’s my parents’ go-to appetizer when we dine out at the local Vietnamese restaurant in Boulder.

squid tubes and tentacles, egg white, salt, pepper, cornstarch



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