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archive for June 2012

to barbara

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Here’s to you, beautiful Barbara.

Here’s to your strength and determination.

To your kindness and compassion.

To your pragmatism and wit.

To your bravery and selflessness.

To your wisdom and advice.

To your love and friendship.

To being a class act through and through.

To hiking Rangitoto.

To Veuve and beautiful pink flowers and tears and no more pain.

Here is to your remarkable life and the grace and passion with which you lived it. You will forever be a part of my heart. Be at peace, my dear friend.

elderflower cordial

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Recipe: elderflower cordial

It’s been a busy week of hosting an astrophysics retreat…

dinner and science!

setting the table at our house

welcoming my parents back to Boulder for the summer…

mom and dad in colorado

and keeping tabs on the wildfires along the front range as well as spot fires popping up in our local area.

our daily dose of lightning

Never a dull moment. Actually, a dull moment wouldn’t be so bad. Today’s recipe is a good “back to Earth” kind of recipe. Just what I need right now. Remember when my friend, Wendy, took me foraging? I picked a small batch of elderflowers because I love anything elderflower. Truth? When I go to IKEA, I like those little elderflower juice boxes. I’m guessing most of the elderflowers are gone now and in the process of becoming elderberries, but come spring next year – you must do this elderflower cordial, because it rocks multiple worlds.

elderflower blossoms

wendy forages

There are some basic rules to foraging elderflowers. First off, don’t mistake poison hemlock for elderflowers, because that could end badly – and by badly, I mean death. Do a Google Image search on poison hemlock and learn how to identify both plants. Second, avoid bushes or shrubs that have been sprayed with chemicals. Third, only pick flowers that are fully open, but not past prime (i.e. brown). Fourth, don’t pick a bush clean because not only is that a jerk thing to do, but you will prevent the fruits from forming later. You can find some good information from the pros here on Wendy’s site and here on Hank Shaw’s site. We harvested from several different bushes.

my loot, about 25 stems

cream-colored blossoms

pluck pluck pluck

The recipe is pretty simple although the task of de-stemming the flower buds is a tedious pain in the hoohoo. We de-stem the flowers because the stems are toxic. A little stem won’t hurt you (so I’ve read), but you really want to remove as much as possible. The flowers come off with a gentle pull (I found the older the flower, the easier to remove), but there are a gazillion of these little white blossoms. Running a stem between my fingertips helped to remove a decent percentage of them, but the more stubborn ones required actually plucking. It’s worth the effort.

the blossoms, de-stemmed

sugar, water, lemon, and elderflowers

**Jump for more butter**

i’m melting

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Recipe: chinese sweet peanut soup

Skiers know when it’s going to be a bad summer. We knew this back in March and April when we were skiing snirt (snow-dirt) instead of snorkeling hip-deep powder. A paltry snowpack has big implications for the wildfire season. We’ve been hoping against it all winter, dreading it all spring. That summer solstice cooldown was merely a tease. The current full-on heat wave has been dealing triple digits to the plains and temperatures in the 90s here at 8500 feet. That is hot. Unusually hot. Terribly hot. Fire fighters are playing whack-a-mole around Colorado as wildfires spring up and grow with a ravenous appetite, fed by drought and these hot, dry conditions. And it’s only June.

grateful when the sun goes down (little clouds casting long shadows)

if only those bad boys would deliver on the rain

Despite the weather, I hosted a tea party this past weekend. In the tradition of our stitch-n-bitch crew which hasn’t knit a single stitch in the last 3 years of gatherings, we had a tea party where not a one had a cup of tea. Figures, right? It was just too damn hot. The ladies opted for a lavender lemonade, strawberry soda, mimosa, or good old ice water.

setting up

plenty of delicious noms

For the uninitiated, it’s a curious thing to witness the routine of (my) food pals greeting one another. They squeal or tilt their heads and sing, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!” with arms outstretched for hugs and kisses, but hands full of stuff. What stuff, you may ask? It’s practically a swap meet when we congregate. We make food things or hunt down cool finds and we gift them to our friends. I’m realizing more and more that people who don’t engage in this behavior are just plain missing out on some serious love. I received two jars of homemade kimchi, homemade Greek yogurt with cherries, homemade Indian lemon pickles, foraged cattail pollen (!!), foraged black currants, an elderberry rose hips elixir (foraged, of course) for Jeremy who was feeling under the weather, handcrafted caramels, and Fresh Paper for extending the life of produce (organically).

check it

Oh, and my pal, Kat, brought me a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup so I wouldn’t have to make imposter (aka Yankee) ANZAC biscuits anymore! The only thing I could imagine being more fun than a food gang is if all of my friends were Patagonia distributers… right?!?!

In this ass hot heat, I only want to eat cold things. Every now and again, you can find me searching for something in the freezer and then suddenly plunging both arms into said freezer just for a few seconds of relief. If I had a walk-in freezer, I would indeed be walking in. A few months ago (this heat has been getting to me since we rose above 60°F) I had a hankering for a soup I used to love when I was a kid. Soup? Yes, soup. You can have it hot or cold and I’m sure you can guess how I’ve been enjoying it. I found a recipe on Bee’s site that looked absolutely perfect.

start with peanuts

and soak them overnight

Use unsalted peanuts, because this is a sweet peanut soup. I just happened to have a ton of peanuts in the shell leftover from the Lunar New Year. Don’t worry if you can’t get the skins off the peanuts, because when you soak them in water overnight, the peanut skins slip right off the next morning. After removing the skins, give the peanuts a rinse and then drain them.

place peanuts and fresh water in a pressure cooker

yes, a pressure cooker (set on high)

**Jump for more butter**