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archive for September 2012

how do you like them apples

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Recipe: apple fritters

Home never felt so good and happy. When I walked up the stairs to the baby gate and peered around for Kaweah, she was lying in her dog bed probably thinking, “It’s that Jeremy guy… ho hum.” But when she saw it was me and I called her name, she jumped up and wagged furiously, pawing at the gate before I could even open it. Then she lunged at her stuffed toy hedgehog and shook it around violently (this is what she does when she’s excited) until I was able to put my bags down and give her a belly rub hello. I’ve got heaps of photos to sort through and will share them eventually, but there is other more urgent business at hand. Like the business of choosing two winners of the Colorado care packages!

meet the executor of selection

We took Kaweah outside into the front yard with the intention of hiding a treat, timing how long it took her to find the treat (in milliseconds), and then calculating the number of the winner based on the number of milliseconds modulo the number of comments (407). A little review of math here… modulo is the remainder after division. Kaweah had a hard time figuring out the rules, so we had a few test runs first to explain the game to her (mostly because she just stood in front of Jeremy wondering why he wasn’t giving her a treat). Eventually, she did get it…

45 seconds (she’s even pointing, if you can believe that)

1 minute and 56.91 seconds (it’s hidden in the wild roses)

So our winners are #23 Cathy and #295 Deb in Indiana!! Congratulations, ladies! I will be in touch with you to get your mailing addresses and your t-shirt choices and sizes. Also, a huge thanks to all of the commenters who entered the giveaway. Your interesting facts about you are not just interesting, but entertaining and touching and awesome. Thanks for sharing a part of you with me (and everyone else – no small feat there!) and thanks, as always, for being the best readers ever.

Summer is over. September is done (in an hour). I think to myself that I will miss summer, until I remember that there is snow on the high peaks. This weekend while I unpacked and put my gear away, I made a note to myself to start transitioning our bins. Soon, the bike and hiking gear bins will be replaced with winter and ski gear bins. Now, when daylight fades, I marvel that I have more than a couple of hours before I should be getting to bed! And the sweet fruits of autumn are making their way into the markets next to the big fat orange pumpkins that signal the arrival of my favorite holiday, Halloween!

colorado organic jonagolds

How thrilled was I this weekend when I went to get groceries and wasn’t limited to things that fit in my cooler, or could be prepared by adding hot water? To really cook again in my own kitchen is a beautiful and happy feeling. I grabbed three varieties of apples and decided we’d have a little treat at the House of Butter. Apple fritters.

apples, beer, sugar, butter, spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice), salt, flour, and eggs

separate the eggs, melt the butter, measure the beer

If you walk into a doughnut shop and find apple fritters, they are usually a conglomerate of apple bits and dough and cinnamon and sugar. That’s not the kind of apple fritter I have in mind when I want apple fritters. I like mine to be heavy on the apple with a light batter. The recipe that caught my fancy was the one that called for beer in the batter, because even though I don’t drink beer, I love it in food – especially battered and fried food.

mix the batter ingredients together (except for the flour)

now whisk in the flour until just combined

You can slice your apples up however you like, but I wanted apple rings – thick, juicy, sweet apple rings that you can sink your teeth into. Just peel the apples and core them. I don’t have an apple corer, so I sliced my peeled apples into 1/2-inch thick rings first, then I cut the core out with a cannoli dough ring. If the hole is too small, then the batter will fill it up when you fry it. You may or may not care, but I wanted rings, not disks.




**Jump for more butter**

a blessing and a curse

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Recipe: barbecue chicken pizza

If you haven’t entered to win a Colorado care package yet, you have until the end of the day (midnight) this Friday, September 28, 2012. GO ENTER!!


Autumn in Colorado is psycho. I mean this in a good way. You get those sunny days that are still warm (nay, hot) and dry. They can be sporadically intermingled with storm tracks that rain down and turn everything underfoot to mud, but leave a powdered sugar dusting of snow on the high peaks. If you are lucky, you might manage a photograph of the leaves turning colors and the mountains brushed in broad strokes of white. That is magic combo meal #1. Toss in a dramatic sunset and you have magic combo meal #2. Aw heck, and if you can combine all of that with FURRY BABY ANIMALS then you’ve pretty much got the holy grail right there. I’m only half kidding.

It’s not uncommon for me to encounter autumn storms while on the fall shoot. We like to think of them as early winter storms – sometimes snowing as much as two feet on the last day of summer! This year there has been a lot of rain and fog and clouds. That can be a bummer when the fog is so thick you can’t see anything or it’s pissing rain so hard that you don’t dare take your camera gear out of your pack. I usually rejoice at the rain and the snow. Bluebird skies and sunny days make for fine photographs, but the onset or clearing of a storm adds a different dimension to a capture.

you can’t have rainbows without rain (mt. crested butte at sunset)

I’ve been all up in my head this week because I’m driving around the mountains alone, assessing the weather every two minutes, and constantly scoping out the trees and the mountains. I was excited when I read rain in the forecast, because it meant snow up high. I got less excited when that soaking rain extended for several days. I started to wonder if it would ever let up.

this kinda sucked (iphone)

Frustrating as the rain can be, it pays to be vigilant and ever hopeful. Otherwise you could miss things if you decided to duck into a café and fritter away the time.

like a hot air balloon

or a cute gate to a ranch

or lovely sunset #1

and lovely sunset #2

So I’m glad I stuck it out, ignoring all the reasons telling me to just pack it up and go home where Jeremy and Kaweah are, where I have a nice comfy bed, where I get regular exercise, and where I eat proper food and have access to my kitchen. As you can imagine, posting a recipe just makes me want to get back to real cooking!

leftover barbecue chicken?

I know it’s hard to imagine having leftover barbecue anything, but it can happen if you make double or triple batches! We generally plow through this barbecue chicken recipe, but I set a few aside to make some pizza the other day.

roughly chopped

pizza time! pizza dough, barbecue chicken, mozzarella, barbecue sauce, red onions, fresh cilantro

The first time I had a barbecue chicken pizza was probably at California Pizza Kitchen in the late 80s in southern California. Talk about back in the day… Now, we tend to make our own pizza at home because they are easy and really quite good. Pizza is flexible like a sandwich – put whatever you fancy on the pizza and omit whatever you dislike. I tried to keep it simple with barbecue sauce, barbecue chicken, mozzarella, red onions, and cilantro. Tempting as it may be to load your pizza full of goodies, a little restraint will result in a better pizza. For reals.

spread barbecue sauce on the dough

cheese, chicken…

ready to go (i recommend adding the cilantro after the pizza is done cooking)

**Jump for more butter**

birthday weekend

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Recipe: hot giardiniera pickled peppers

Over the past several years, if I’m not out shooting the fall colors on my birthday, I’m out on recon for the fall colors on my birthday. Sometimes my birthday coincides with the first day of autumn and I’ve always loved that. I couldn’t wait for the heat to GO AWAY in southern Virginia. Luckily, I have more pleasant associations with it now: fall colors, cooler weather, sometimes a freak early snow storm (yes please!). But I’m almost always working through my birthday and this year was no exception. Jeremy decided to drive 5.5 hours to Crested Butte this weekend to nominally celebrate my birthday, see the fall colors with me, and get a little mountain biking in. It was a lovely weekend and a most happy birthday.

birthday morning near red mountain pass (iphone)

working on building a respectable layer of dirt on the car (iphone)

Dinner is always a moving target and dictated by the whims of the weather. It just so happened that sunset was a bust on my birthday, releasing me a little earlier than usual. My thoughts turned to what was good to eat in town. In Crested Butte, there is a lot that is good, but my favorite restaurant is The Lobar for sushi. So we went there to celebrate with a low key, but fabulous dinner.

hamachi sashimi

dragon scales (spicy tuna wrapped in shiso leaves and tempura fried)

seared scallop slices with lime, cilantro, sriracha

With Jeremy’s return home on Monday, I’m pretty much back to my quick, affordable, and convenient meals of cold salads, sandwiches, and fruit. I come prepared with a cooler, nalgene bottles (for ice and water – especially when the motel rooms don’t have refrigerators), dishes and utensils for one, sponge and dishsoap, dishtowels… What I failed to bring was a jar of my pickled hot peppers, the stuff that makes sandwiches magically delicious.

celery, carrots, red bell peppers, jalapenos, serranos, olives, cauliflower

you’ll also need: white vinegar, pickling spices, sugar, and pickling salt

My obsession with pickled hot peppers has been in the making all my life, but the peppers that really pushed me over the edge were the hot giardiniera from Snarf’s. Snarf’s is my favorite sandwich shop in Boulder (they have several stores in the Denver metro area) and it’s in no small part due to those tantalizing peppers. I have been researching different recipes for the past couple of years, but didn’t start making them until this summer… because I learned how to can.

chop, chop, chop

spicy chop chop chop

The first recipe I tried was one that had the intention of imitating the Snarf’s hot giardiniera (I don’t know about you, but giardiniera always makes me think of the word giardia, which is unfortunate). I doubled the recipe in crazy anticipation of pickled hot pepper love. Step-wise it is easy. Most of what is involved is chopping the vegetables and brining them. And when you brine the vegetables, you essentially do nothing for 12-18 hours – right on!

make the brining liquid (salt and water)

add the vegetables to the brine

**Jump for more butter**