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archive for July 2012

call me hawkeye

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Recipe: refrigerator pickles

Yes, yes you can call me that… hawkeye. I am a padawan of the master, to hunt porcini mushrooms. Actually, I just have good pattern recognition software in my noggin. You could say it comes from years of scouting for nature photography, wildflowers, and being visually-oriented. Wendy has now trained my algorithm on porcini mushrooms. The beauty of it is that I love finding them and she loves eating them. If you don’t know what you’re doing then it’s good, nay – essential – to go with an expert lest ye put something foul and poisonous in your mouth. I tend to err on the side of caution, as does my friend Kathya, which is one of the many reasons the three of us had such a fantastic time foraging together last week.

porcini gold

very pretty, but also poisonous

precious, delicious, favoritest huckleberries

You can see the rest of the foraging photos here. Oh, and don’t miss Kat’s photos of the lunch we had at my house afterward!

It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, the mountains and forests around my house were a dangerous tinderbox. It was so severe, that my little mountain town postponed their annual Fourth of July fireworks display over the reservoir. Now that the southwest monsoons are in full swing, we have been graced with good soaking rains in the afternoons and some evenings of late. So on Saturday, our town had their lovely fireworks show and we stepped out to watch. Normally, we have to scope a spot out along the banks a couple of hours before dark. This time, it was drizzling rain and we found a prime location with minutes to go before nightfall.

I love fireworks. I love bright, colorful lights. Watching fireworks is one thing. Capturing fireworks in a photograph is another. You see a lot of details that you otherwise miss in real time. It’s all light trails and ballistic trajectories, mapping of color transitions. I love watching it happen live and then going home to see it in a wholly different way off my camera. I managed to get a few captures as the winds picked up and a driving rain began to pelt us sideways. It also plastered my lens with water such that the final photos were impressionistic blurs of color. Worth every second of getting soaked.

i’m partial to blue

i thought these looked like pine needles

this just makes me think of champagne

glittery and feathery (thanks to the winds)

You can view the whole series of the fireworks here.

Despite my canning kick this summer, I am still a fan of not canning. That is, I like the idea of making food for relatively immediate consumption. If I can avoid boiling water baths in summer, all the better. Summer for me is getting outside (okay, I do that all year), spending time with friends, enjoying the fruits of the season, appreciating paradise elevated to new levels. So it was a few weeks ago that Erin and I were hiking in the mountains and catching up with each other. Of course, as with most of my good friends, Erin and I always talk about food. She asked if I had tried Kitt’s refrigerator pickles yet. No, not yet…

pickling cucumbers

cukes, salt, dill seed, garlic, chiles, vinegar, whites of green onions (not shown: sugar)

there’s the sugar

I am a pickle fiend. I don’t think there is a pickle I’ve met that I didn’t like. Some folks like sweets, chocolates, cake, but me? Give me salty and vinegary snacks. I may or may not have finished a jar of pickles in one sitting before. Who can resist that puckery, spicy, crunchy, cold pickle? And refrigerator pickles are the easiest of them all to make – because they go in the refrigerator and you don’t have to can them. I just had to wait for pickling cucumbers to show up at the farmers market (or rather, for me to show up at the farmers market to get some) because I like crisp pickles.

cut off the ends

slice lengthwise into quarters

stem and seed the chiles

**Jump for more butter**

me so chorizo!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Recipe: homemade mexican chorizo

It’s been an ordinary week around here. And ordinary is pretty spectacular! We’ve seen foxes running through our yard, lightning storms all around the house, and Jeremy and I ran into (almost literally, but just shy by 10 yards) a mother moose and her calf on a trail run! Just because awesome happens regularly, doesn’t mean it is any less awesome in my book. Same goes for awesome food, awesome friends…

the fantastic mr. fox

lightning in the daytime

lightning at night

Back in the day, few of my friends were much into food. Sure, they’d eat it, but I didn’t have many who were avid cooks or “foodies”. The flow of recipes via snail mail or email or even scribbled on a scrap of paper was practically non-existant. Then I found in the early days of the interwebs and now the leap to today… with all of these food blogs with PICTURES and great recipes and friendly people and even people you end up meeting or never meeting, but becoming close friends regardless. I love that stuff. LOVE.IT. I think it is responsible for more than 50% of the recipes I now try.

de arbol and guajillo chiles from savory spice shop in boulder

i added my new mexico reds to the mix

My friend, Mel, recently raved on Facebook about a recipe for homemade chorizo that she had gotten from Rebecca. Don’t you love how these recipes get passed on like chain letters without the annoying letters and implied guilt? Awesome. I had never heard of chorizo until a friend of mine had made it one of his secret ingredients in a chili cookoff many years ago. The chili was great, but with so many ingredients, I couldn’t pinpoint which one was the chorizo. This was an ingredient I read about, saw in photos, would occasionally enjoy as part of an ensemble at a creative restaurant, but never had at home…

apple cider vinegar, onions, ground pork, spices, chiles, salt, garlic

stemming and de-seeding the chiles

toast the chiles, chop the garlic and onions

That is, until I saw how flipping easy this recipe was. I had to try it. Remember how I have a hoarding problem with certain foods – like New Mexican chiles? Got plenty of those… Now I have a few less chiles, but a lot more Mexican chorizo! Booyah!!

place the chiles, onions, and garlic in a large bowl

pour heated vinegar over the ingredients

set a plate on top to weigh it down

**Jump for more butter**

damn, that’s my jam

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Recipe: peach jam

Our local wildflowers are going gangbusters. Or they were. I think they may be over the hump by now, but it’s still wonderful to step into the mountains and see green slopes dotted with blues, pinks, reds, yellows, whites, oranges, purples… I’ve made a point of getting out to assess the flowers along my favorite trails… of course, those trails are my favorites primarily because they have stunning wildflowers.

elephant heads

rose paintbrush

rose crowns

asteraceae and bluebells

Over the weekend, a friend of mine from high school was in town with his family. We met up at the Boulder Farmers Market Saturday morning as it was the only free time they had. Jeremy and I arrived early so I could scope out various produce for myself and for another friend. It’s kinda dangerous going to the market without a set list, because what I usually wind up doing is impulse buying fruits or vegetables for canning and jamming projects only to realize on the way to the car that I will have to forgo sleep to get all of it done before the produce goes south.

who needs sleep when you have organic purple okra?!?

I forget which of my wonderful friends clued me in on “seconds” at the farmers market, but I am eternally grateful. Seconds are produce that may have bruises and blemishes and sometimes odd shapes or sizes. They are perfect for canning and jamming and come at a reduced price compared to their premium cousins that are typically on display at the stall. A few weeks ago, I went to the Boulder Farmers Market on a Wednesday to score some ripe Colorado peaches. There are a few vendors at the market who sell peaches, but there is only one vendor who consistently commands a line as much as 40 deep: Morton’s Orchards of Palisade, Colorado out on the western slope. I was planning to grab a ten pound box of seconds (they’re certified organic), but when I saw the “20 lbs. seconds for $10” scribbled on the bottom of their board, I got greedy and went for it!

half of my haul

even though they don’t look perfect, they sure taste perfect

So I have this canning addiction, see? That twenty pounds of peaches is history and when we arrived at the market Saturday morning, I got the itch again. We stood in line for peaches. Fascinatingly enough, people would walk past the line, look at it with great interest, then hop into line at the end without even knowing for what they were standing in line. This time, the price was $10 for 10 pounds of seconds. I don’t know if that markup was for the Saturday vs. the Wednesday market or if it was for a different variety of peach, but I was happy to have more of these sweet, juicy gems.

let’s jam: peaches, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemons, liquid pectin

I’m not a jam person, mainly because I’m not a breakfast person – and particularly not a sweet breakfast person. Jams don’t really move in this house unless you like jam and happen to be a house guest. That said, I am in love with the idea of making jam and got overly ambitious with the first attempt. I doubled the recipe and found out too late that you aren’t supposed to double the recipe. This resulted in a double batch of somewhat runny organic Colorado peach jam. It’s still good and people don’t seem to mind receiving it (what they do with the jars after they take them home, I don’t know). So, if you’re just starting out, the first rule of jamming is… don’t talk about jamming don’t double the recipe. Just make two batches. I’ve since made four more batches the correct way and the result is enough to convince me that homemade jam is a different animal. A different, delicious, tasty animal.

get that lemon zest

blanch your peaches

peel the skins off

**Jump for more butter**