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archive for May 2012

surviving the zombie apocalypse

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Recipe: spicy tuna roll burger

***Don’t forget you have until the end of Friday, June 1, 2012 to enter my giveaway. Five people will win a custom dog or cat collar for their favorite furry pal and I will also donate $20 to each person’s animal shelter or rescue of choice!***

The more Jeremy and I talk about it, the more I am convinced that a mountain bike is a great thing to have during the zombie apocalypse. And a bike repair kit. You’ll want a backpack for carrying weapons and other stuff.

oh, and you’ll want a wendy

When I first met Wendy, she was making a delivery of autumn forage to a restaurant: beautiful wild apples, wild grapes, sumac, juniper berries… “Wow!” I exclaimed, “where do you find those?” It was an innocent question, but I didn’t realize that is a question you DO NOT ask a professional wild foods forager. She pursed her lips and grinned like a Cheshire Cat, raising her eyebrows, tilting her head to give me the side eye. Thankfully, I had not offended.

We’ve been planning to go foraging together for months. So it finally happened this week! I drove down to the flats and met up with her in the morning because we both despise the heat. Foraging is a natural extension of hiking for me since I cover up (to protect from sun, bugs, and plants), I carry a pack, I do a lot of walking/hiking, and I identify plants and make note of what stages they are at. In this case, we do all of that AND gather edibles!

her list

Now, I was familiar with most of the plants we foraged, but I had never thought to eat them nor knew that one could. Wendy taught me about the edible parts, the poisonous parts, the stage to harvest, and taking great care to harvest a little bit to leave plenty for the wildlife and so the plants still thrive. She explained a good deal about medicinal and culinary uses of each plant, their typical habitats, and she knew a ton of information regarding the nutrition. Wendy is a bubbly, hilarious walking encyclopedia who sincerely enjoys what she does. You can’t really help but love her.

yucca blossoms

i had picked two and wendy had already picked all of these (okay, i was taking photos…)


wear gloves to avoid the sticky white sap

I wasn’t in it for the food, I was really interested to learn how Wendy works and to watch a pro in action. We’re plant nerds, so we really had quite the time crawling about places to find the familiar and discover the new. It’s not terribly unlike some of the photography I do where I hike around and my eyes are in scan mode for a certain pattern or color. Pattern recognition. Wendy is quite adept at scanning for multiple plants among a field of what most everyone else would consider weeds. My brain was stuck in asparagus mode – maybe that’s because asparagus is the gateway plant to foraging for me? It’s something we’re all familiar with in the stores and markets, but to find it growing wild was so much fun!

end of the season here, but how precious is that asparagus!

wild roses (ten thousand times better than any domestic rose)


stinging nettles

From now on out, I don’t think I’ll be able to walk in green areas without going into search mode. Wendy did point out one lovely plant that stood about 6 feet high. “Don’t ever eat this, don’t even touch it to your mouth. This can kill you.” She explained that most of the plants in Colorado that are bad for you will make you sick, give you a headache, result in an allergic reaction, but not poison hemlock. Poison Hemlock is a neurotoxin and it is one of the few plants in the state that, when ingested, can result in death.

poison hemlock: deadly

We – well really it was Wendy – foraged enough to fill a large cooler. She tried to divvy up the loot and send me home with some, but I declined (except a small bag of elderflowers I had gathered). This is her food, what she lives on. The woman makes some impressive dishes with the ingredients too. I was mainly interested in seeing her at work and learning about the plants. I didn’t realize it would be as fun as it was fascinating. Wendy is a gem.

Another reason I didn’t take some of the wild foods home was because I already had a full fridge at home that demanded my attention. If you will recall that delectable California roll burger I made a few months ago, you can probably guess that I’ve been scheming to give a spicy tuna roll burger a shot.


Spicy tuna sushi is no stranger in this house as we love the sushi and sushi bar-related bites. I get good sushi-grade maguro (tuna) from the Boulder Whole Foods seafood counter. Make sure you get sushi-grade which means the fish has been frozen to the appropriate temperatures (temperatures you won’t reach in your typical home freezer) for long enough to ensure the destruction of any parasites. Not so appetizing to discuss, but worth the alternative of not knowing…

mayonnaise, sriracha, green onions, maguro (tuna)

chopped onions and chopped tuna

mix in the mayonnaise

**Jump for more butter**


Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Recipe: passion fruit mochi

Before I forget, I wanted to share my composite of the eclipse so you could get a feel for the whole progression. It’s kinda cool and especially great to show and explain to kids, big and small.

starting at 6:31 pm (MDT) and ending 8:13pm (MDT)

Last month, I got a super sweet email from Viva Singer, a reader who told me that her office in Montreal loves to check out the recipes on use real butter and that everyone at work thinks Kaweah is adorable. As a thanks for sharing recipes, she wanted to send me a dog collar for Kaweah, because that’s what her business, Hot Dogs All Dressed, makes – beautiful, hand-crafted collars for dogs and cats. I said it wasn’t necessary to send Kaweah anything because she’s such a hillbilly dog, but that I’d love to donate one to a dog at my local shelter and perhaps arrange for a giveaway on the blog.

what viva sent me: the waterproof hydro (red with daisies) and the leather (black with hearts)

Viva mailed two durable, quality collars for Kaweah to model and said if she really liked one, she could keep one and give the other to a shelter pup. Kaweah is as fashion-ignorant as I am. She would only want a collar if it were made of meat, cheese, apples, peanut butter, well… food. But we took her for a walk wearing the nice black leather collar studded with shiny red hearts. She looked so hip!


i… i… i wanna go swimming

Once we arrived at the lake, it was obvious that Kaweah intended to go for a dip. I had anticipated this (she’s a lab, of course she’s going to want to go swimming) and brought the hydro collar along.

jeremy fastens the hydro collar while kaweah patiently waits

so pretty!

she fetched sticks

and she kept going back

These are lovely collars that can be custom-made to order and Viva was kind enough to offer me five dog or cat collars to give away to five of my readers. I, in turn, will ask each winner to name a local animal shelter to which I shall donate $20. Hot Dogs All Dressed works a good bit with their local rescues, so they thought this was a terrific idea. Kaweah agrees.

The Rules:
1) To enter, please leave a comment sharing why you love your pet by 11:59pm (MDT), Friday, June 1, 2012.
2) One entry per person (multiple entries will be disqualified).
3) Anyone can enter, but the animal shelter selected to receive a donation must be in the US or Canada.
4) Winners will be selected at random (by Kaweah) and announced next week.
5) Good luck!

Full disclosure: Hot Dogs All Dressed donated seven collars to me to donate and give away with no obligation and no compensation. All opinions expressed here are my own.

not too shabby!

I had blogged a chocolate mochi cake in April, but during my search for a recipe, I came across another recipe that caught my fancy. It was for a guava mochi and the recipe was even more simple than the chocolate mochi cake! A footnote at the bottom stated you could substitute passion fruit juice for the guava juice to make passion fruit or liliko’i mochi. So, you know where this is going…

four cups of passion fruit pulp, glutinous rice flour, and sugar

the cause of much unnecessary controversy

Now, this needs to be said, because some gluten-free people completely freak out when they see glutinous rice flour and assume it has gluten in it: GLUTINOUS RICE FLOUR CONTAINS NO GLUTEN. It’s an unfortunate naming convention to describe how damn sticky this stuff gets. Glutinous rice is sticky rice.

The passion fruit juice isn’t something that I come by easily around here. Most of the time I have to make it from frozen passion fruit concentrate that I find in California and hoard in my freezer. But I happened to have four cups of real passion fruit pulp in my freezer which I ran through my food mill to end up with about 2.5 cups of precious liquid gold.

keep at it and squeeze every drop out

the power of the sun in a pyrex glass

**Jump for more butter**

earth, wind, fire, and rain

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Recipe: blackened salmon sandwich

My head bobbled about fighting sleep as the car raced through the desert night. I jolted awake with each giant bug that appeared as a flash in the headlights before smearing across the windshield with a loud thwack. It had been a long day of driving (western states are big), then waiting, then shooting the eclipse, then driving some more. Jeremy was equally tired, but he knew the road to Socorro like the back of his hand. I remembered what Jeremy had asked me when we first started dating back in the day, “Are you a mountain goat or a desert rat?” I was a mountain goat. I didn’t actually know because I had spent little, if any, time in either. But I liked goats more than I liked rats. Turns out, I *am* a mountain goat – a happy happy mountain goat. Desert rat, I am not. I’m reminded of that every time I go to the desert.

cactus in bloom

In the morning, Jeremy left for his meeting and asked me to please be careful. I’m always careful. I’m a firm believer in self-preservation. I wear my big girl pants all the time. All of my visits to New Mexico have been spent hanging out with Jeremy’s family, my aunt’s family, and noodling about the northern part of the state. We have visited Carlsbad Caverns (caves and bats – AWESOME!!) and the Bosque del Apache (birds like you wouldn’t believe), but that was pretty much it for the southern half. The desert is not a destination of choice for me, but since I was practically there, I thought it was high time I went to see White Sands National Monument.

sprawling thunderheads on the drive south

White Sands is nestled in the Tularosa Basin of southern New Mexico, at the northern tip of the sprawling Chihuahuan Desert. It is the largest white sand dunefield in the world – white because the sand is derived from gypsum. This is the first park I’ve ever visited where I had to check for missile testing schedules (which close certain roads). It was stifling hot (mid 90s), humid, and windy when I arrived. Afternoon thunderheads boomed above me and sunshowers rained down periodically. I thought it best to retreat from the dunes. Sitting in the shade of a small picnic shelter, I watched half of my lunch (salad) blow away before it could reach my mouth. The clouds had made way for the blazing sun and sand pelted me from the southwest. I walked the dunes, scoping out the best places to shoot, hoping the winds would go away by sundown.

dark skies

the winds let up a little

heavy haze in the basin

A half hour before sunset, the character of the place changed. A no longer oppressive sun bathed the white dunes in soft gold light and blue shadows. It was still windy (that makes photography hard due to the blowing sand – if you care at all about your gear), but less ferocious. In the distance, I could see a handful of other visitors dotting the crests of high dunes, all witnessing the same magic.

the haze in the basin began to glow

crepuscular rays

I debated whether or not to shoot in the morning at all since the park doesn’t allow entry until an hour after sunrise. But this wasn’t vacation, this was work. I watched the sun rise in my rear view mirror on my drive over, spectacularly red and glowing as it rose above the Sacramento Mountains. Even an hour or more after sunrise, the sand felt nice and cool. The winds had not yet picked up and erased the tracks of the resident wildlife. It didn’t last long, but it was appreciated.

scamper scamper

you could pretend that it is snow

a sea of white

Time spent in the desert always brings a new level of respect for this harsh environment, for the massive views, for the weather, the light, and how they play. I’m still a mountain goat. Imagine the delight when I woke up at home this morning to see our valley dusted in snow – a good half inch on my deck.

As promised, there is a recipe – a good and easy recipe for summer! When I received that comped shipment of wild Alaskan seafood from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, there were some lovely frozen sockeye salmon filets in the box. My typical lazy way to grill salmon is with olive oil, lemon slices, fresh dill, and salt and pepper. I wanted another recipe that was equally delicious and equally lazy.

salmon, butter, paprika, thyme, creole seasoning

arugula, aioli, sandwich bread

**Jump for more butter**