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archive for June 2012

on the first day of summer

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Recipe: watermelon feta salad

I don’t have my typical amount of travel lined up this summer because I wanted to be home to provide Kaweah with a stable, happy routine. In the spring, a few medical issues cropped up for her and our travel schedule seemed to exacerbate her condition. Now that I’ve been home for a bit, she’s doing well – really well. She’s super waggy and playful and pretty much back to her old self (read that as herself, but old). Another upside to sticking around is that I’m able to get outside into the Colorado that I love on a regular basis.

The past several days have been brutally hot – hitting triple digits down in Denver and on the surrounding flats. Up here in the mountains, we popped over 80°F, which is borderline unbearable for me. Luckily… gleefully… we were granted a welcome cooldown on the first day of summer. It just so happened that Erin and I had planned a hike for that morning. It was deliciously cool at the alpine lake and we were both so very very happy.

a very happy erin

pausing on the bridge and still happy

We popped by Tin Shed Sports in Nederland for lunch. It’s the new game in town: a pro bike/ski shop run jointly with Salto Coffee Works where you can grab a bite, brew, glass of wine and hang out on the patio with a glorious view of the mountains.

the roadie: brie, prosciutto, greens, onions, pickles

Kaweah didn’t go hiking with us because she’s no longer strong enough to power up the trails anymore. But she gets her evening walkies in, and this time she met a new little puppy friend who is in training to become a guide dog. She loves puppies, especially when they are behind a fence and can’t jump on her head and chew her ears with their sharp puppy teeth.

meet huck – who was constantly in motion and cute as a button

I’m glad I took advantage of the cooler weather, because the mercury is on its way up again. We have quite a bit of entertaining lined up at the House of Butter. With warmer temperatures, I’m planning a lot of salads. So when I was flipping through a new cookbook that my friend, Alice, of Savory Sweet Life authored, I considered several of her beautiful, quick and easy recipes.

alice’s new cookbook

I did a double take on one salad in particular. That salad is a perfect representation of her blog name too – because it is both savory AND sweet. And it’s phenomenal. Watermelon, feta cheese, onions, mint, lime juice, and olive oil. I love me some watermelon in summer. On those blistering hot days of summer, it’s all I want to eat. Now, before you think, “What a strange combination!” I urge you to try it first. I made a half recipe and proceeded to eat it all.

simple ingredients

cube the watermelon

slice the onions

i like my onions sliced super thin

**Jump for more butter**

put one foot in front of the other

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Recipe: anzac biscuits

I can never get into the mountains early enough. This is the truth seeing as we like to mountain year round. It’s just that the summer season is so fleeting up here – typically not melting out fully until mid-July and then getting snow as early as mid-September. Trust me, I am NOT complaining about snow in the backcountry. In fact, I would prefer a little more this year. Jeremy and I did a couple of hikes recently and nearly cried tears of sorrow at the sparse and measly little patches of snow at 11,000 feet. I mean seriously… this is what the backcountry looked like last year on the first day of summer.

my kind of summer

Really though, our tears are more for the parched wilderness than the skiing. We can find skiing of one kind or another most of the year, but the snowpack is 2% of normal right now and there is a giant wildfire blazing an hour north of us. We are on alert. Our evacuation items are ready. In the meantime we hike (and mountain bike and trail run). It’s funny to walk up these trails without heavy boots and skis and skins on your feet, and by funny I mean way the hell lighter. It’s also mind-numbingly slow hiking out compared to skiing out. And it’s hot. That’s why we love our mountain forests, for the shade they provide and the beautiful, lush undergrowth.

shooting star by a small stream

ski hut

the view across to the continental divide

When I first began hiking with Jeremy almost 20 years ago, I was an impatient hiker who was hellbent on peak-bagging. I think that’s a common newbie characteristic. As I’ve grown older, maybe even wiser, I’ve come to accept it for what it really is – a journey. The journey IS the goal. Once I understood this, I’ve enjoyed a greater success rate of summits despite the fact that summits aren’t really my goal anymore. So zen. This is especially so when you hike in a place you know well, as if you are visiting the plants and animals and rocks and streams – the community. One of my favorite local hikes is Pawnee Pass (and Pawnee Peak given no thunderheads) on the Continental Divide. It’s beautiful. It is long enough to be a worthy hike, yet not so long that it kills you. It has a nice climb, great views, and so many wonderful flowers and critters at the right time of day and right time of year.

fairy primrose (alpine primrose)

my favorite blue: alpine forget-me-nots

The flowers get shorter and smaller as you climb higher, because the weather trashes the higher elevations with wind, rain, snow, everything it can throw at you. Look out across the high country and most people see grasses, dirt, and rock. If you look closely, you will discover so much life thriving in little crevices where a pocket of soil has developed in the lee of the boulder or a stream has fed a tiny depression. This has always amazed me, inspired me. A few years ago I had done this hike with Jeremy, our friend, Marianne, and Kaweah. It was shortly after my radiation treatments had ended, but I felt that I needed to get outside. Halfway up, I was hit with these recurring abdominal pains which I figured were just side effects from radiation or perhaps chemo. I didn’t realize I had a smoldering appendix until two months later in the emergency room. But I told Jeremy and Marianne to hike ahead and I would have Kaweah for… company (let’s face it, she’s not saving ANYONE) and that I’d just turn around when I caught up with them on their return.

on the pass

storm clouds building

Jeremy and I talked about that hike this time.

Me: Remember when…
Jeremy: Yeah. I was so happy when I saw you and Kaweah coming over the rise.
Me: I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the pass, but I leaned into it and put one foot in front of the other and the distance just disappeared under my feet.
Jeremy: I’m sure Kaweah was tugging at the leash and going nuts smelling all of the marmots and pikas.
Me: There was that…

Maybe the reason I love hiking so much is that I find it’s a lot like life: a journey, an adventure, with very real risks and decisions. It’s good to be at it again, good to see the high country in bloom and buzzing with critters. It reminds me that it’s good to be alive.

Have you ever done a hike that you thought looked or sounded meh on paper, but turned out to love once you were actually there? I love those kinds of surprises. (I’ve also done plenty of hikes that looked like they would be awesome and were absolutely miserable.) This cookie was one of those for me. My first introduction to the ANZAC biscuit was when I visited my friend, Kell, in Sydney. She placed her hand on the cookie jar and said in her delicious Aussie accent, “Jen, I’ve got some ANZAC biscuits here if you’d like to have some.” There was no sign of chocolate and they sounded interesting – this cookie was sent to those in the Australia New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, because it wouldn’t spoil on the long trip to the soldiers. I forgot about them until day 2, and I could have sworn she put crack in those cookies.

what’s really in an anzac biscuit: butter, flour, oats, coconut, sugar, golden (or light corn) syrup, salt, baking soda

mix the dry ingredients together

**Jump for more butter**

deli zone’s new yorker

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

I bet you thought the sandwich chronicles were over, huh? No, I’ve just been busy. Admittedly, I took a short break from sandwiches for a few weeks and there were also a couple duds (I’m not recommending those here). But we’re back at it this week with Deli Zone, known for their famous Brooklyn heroes. I had never heard of it, despite seeing it next door to the Homebrew shop where I buy bottles for my vodka infusions on a regular basis. My friend, Daniel (@boinzy on Twitter), recommended it to me when he learned of my sandwich research.

prepare to enter the deli zone

There are three locations in Boulder and several more around Colorado (Denver, Broomfield, Longmont). I went to the one on Valmont (next door to Hop To It Homebrew), tucked away in a generic strip mall. There is a handful of seating inside and two tables outside. It didn’t look busy when I walked in, but during the short time I perused the menu and placed my order a steady stream of people came in to pick up sandwiches or place their own orders.

menu boards sorted by filling

Deli Zone serves breakfast all day, which is good news for brekkie lovers. The rest of the menu is dedicated mostly to the sandwiches, which are broken down by their main filling. Sandwiches come in two generous sizes: medium is 8-inches and large is 14-inches. That’s alotta sandwich! You have a choice in bread from their signature French bread, white or wheat, sourdough, marble rye, poppy seed kaiser roll, or a low-carb wrap. There are vegetarian options too. I stood at the counter debating until I grabbed one of the employees and asked what their best sandwiches are. He squinted back at the board and thought for a second, The Reuben and the New Yorker were two of the most popular. I kinda had my heart set on 42nd Street or Yankee, but okay… I went for the New Yorker.

the new yorker: corned beef and pastrami

To the sandwich: I honestly didn’t think there could be a sandwich to rival Snarf’s, but this is good sandwich. They are different sandwiches, but they are both excellent. The French bread is beautifully crusty on the outside and pillow soft on the inside. It is stuffed full of thinly sliced corned beef and pastrami with the coleslaw, dijonaisse, and Swiss cheese crammed in there for good measure. It’s the kind of sandwich that drips down your hand and wrist – juicy. And it’s hot which makes it extra delectable as you scarf it down. Fantastic! I highly recommend a Deli Zone sandwich.

Info: Find Deli Zone at three Boulder locations:

1) Baseline: 4800 Baseline Rd., Suite D-104, 7:30am-8:00pm daily, 303.499.9213
2) The Hill: 1322 College Ave., 7:30am-8:00pm Monday-Saturday, 9:00am – 8:00pm Sunday, 303.449.6952
3) Valmont: 2900 Valmont Rd., Suite D1, 7:30am-8:00pm Monday-Friday, 8:00am-6:00pm Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm Sunday, 303.447.9349

Full Disclosure: My opinions. No comps for the chomps.

Previous sandwich research:

1) The Pinyon’s fried chicken sandwich (sadly, now closed)
2) Cafe Blue’s blackened tuna sandwich
3) Frasca Caffè’s Italiano panini caldi
4) Snarf’s pastrami and Swiss sandwich
5) Cured’s Spicy Frenchman sandwich
6) Dish Gourmet’s Reuben sandwich