roasted kabocha squash chewy amaretti lentil chicken soup giveaway: guess the yuki


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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



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over the hump

August 6th, 2018

Recipe: grilled marinated chicken salad

Today we cross over the hump where we are closer to autumn than we are to spring. As good as summer is, I very much look forward to shorter days and cooler weather as the season winds down (relax, we have another 45 days of summer to go). Good things come with the second half of summer, like (more) mushrooms and huckleberries and watching our sweet little Yuki grow up. I know what life was like before we got her, but I can’t imagine life without her now. When she first came home, we noticed faint little spots all over her coat and wondered if they would fade or come in. Well, they’re coming in! She looks like an adorable walking pint of chocolate chip ice cream.

We recently taught Yuki how to catch. When we first started, the treat would bounce off her nose and she would blink in confusion. We realized that Neva could show her what we meant and from there it went rather quickly as the puppy honed her coordination. It’s times like these that I’m so glad we put the effort and energy into training Neva. She makes a great big sister because she’s never jealous, she always lets the puppy have first dibs, she likes to play, and she executes her tricks on command. We have begun to decipher Yuki’s subtle body language when she wants to go out to potty, when she’s hungry, or when she wants to play. I say subtle because her facial expression rarely changes. Erin calls it Resting Yuki Face and it is the same when she’s tired, when she’s bored, when she’s excited, and when she’s about to jump up and lick your face. It’s ridiculous, really. She brings us all so much joy.


weekend morning snuggles

neva, yuki, and jeremy on kaweah’s rock



I’ve spent nearly every morning of the past week picking huckleberries among the early morning local wildlife. Last year was a good year for hucks, but this year is better. I’ve already foraged as much as I did in all of 2017 and the big huck patches are still coming online. Anything else this season will be icing on the cake… or pie. It takes a lot of huckleberries – and hence, time – to make a pie.

loaded and snurple

about a half gallon of precious huckleberries



With everything that’s been going on this summer, I am keeping our menu simple and easy. One of the best meals we’ve added last month is a grilled chicken salad. I marinate the chicken, grill it, then keep it in the refrigerator to use as needed over the next 3-4 days. The original recipe included an assortment of dried herbs, but I omitted them because they tasted a little too medicinal for my liking.

dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic, lemon, parsley, chicken

prep the ingredients

combine the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag

add the chicken and marinate for 8-24 hours in the refrigerator

grill until the fat end of each breast registers 160°f



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special days

July 31st, 2018

Recipe: tuna poke bowl

Tomorrow, August 1, is my sister’s birthday. I normally post flowers in remembrance of her, but this year I took a photo of something far more meaningful. My niece came out to spend a week in Colorado with my parents, and Jeremy and I took her standup paddleboarding in the mountains and met up for a few meals. It’s been almost 11 years since I’ve seen her and she’s grown into quite the remarkable young lady – smart, hard-working, motivated, athletic, sweet, polite, confident.


also a fan of cheesecake

posing for a photo with her grandma and grandpa



Mid-July is about the time I really start paying attention to what is growing in the high country. You never know when a season will start earlier than normal, but more than catching an early season, I like to make the observations for my own data purposes. Turns out the huckleberries are having a very good season and they seem to be a month sooner than usual. My pre-sunrise mornings are consumed with checking my huckleberry patches or picking huckleberries or both.

a nice display of showy fleabane

mycelium growing on a dead tree in a delicate dendritic pattern



When we took my niece paddleboarding, we brought Yuki to give her another day on the board. As I paddled her out on the lake, we passed a boulder that was jutting out of the water. Yuki began to growl at it, then she started to bark. It must have made her nervous because she backed up and fell off the board! And like everything else, she took it in stride and remained her calm self as she swam up to me and I pulled her back onto the board.

Yuki is six months old today according to her estimated birth date of January 31, 2018 (she was found at 2 weeks old). Yuki continues to bounce about the house like a rompy pup, sometimes stopping mid-bounce to scratch an itch on her chin and tumbling over backwards clumsily. It’s ridiculous how cute she is. This little pup has gained four pounds in the four weeks we’ve had her and we think her legs are longer. She is certainly taller, but she remains shorter than Neva. We have no idea how big she will get (we suspect Neva-size or smaller), but it doesn’t really matter. We are just so happy she is ours.


seaworthy

togetherness

sisters



The last time we were in Crested Butte, we enjoyed a seared tuna rice bowl at Montanya’s tasting room, one of our favorite restaurants in town. It was loaded with vegetables and seared ahi tuna on a bed of forbidden rice. I was hooked. When we got back to Nederland, I put it on our weekly menu, but as I shopped for the ingredients I changed it up a little. I didn’t want to sear anything (it was hot) and I thought tuna poke would taste even better. Instead, I made a tuna poke bowl – and it was awesome.

These sorts of dishes have great flexibility so that you can cater them to your own preferences. First off, you don’t have to use forbidden rice. I just happen to like the taste and I think it’s a gorgeous purple-black color. Use steamed short grain brown rice or sushi rice if forbidden rice is hard to find. Omit the fish and pile on your favorite vegetables for a vegetarian version, or you can substitute chicken teriyaki for the fish. Lots of options!


cucumber, forbidden rice, avocado, masago (flying fish roe), radish, pickled ginger

forbidden rice steamed in the rice cooker



In addition to the goodies listed above are some pickled red onions. I find pickled foods add a nice tangy bite to rice bowls. These onions get better the longer they sit in the pickling liquid, so don’t slice them too thin. I kept mine about 1/4-inch thick. If you’re in a hurry, give the onions at least an hour in the vinegar and start them around the time you start cooking the rice.

sugar, salt, rice vinegar, red onion

combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt

slice the onions

pour the hot vinegar over the onions

pickled and pink



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