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archive for September 2013

the waiting game

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Recipe: miso pork belly stack

I haven’t been out shooting much this past week because the aspens are still quite green. They are late. I mean LATE. Late is fine, except changing aspens begin flirting with cold weather. Cold is fine too, but frosts and hard freezes can wreck the colors. It seems that green aspens manage to endure the frost and snow for the most part. Our days are usually sunny and warm such that the healthy stands can bounce back.

frost, mist, and snow from last week

by afternoon, all was warm enough for kaweah to enjoy her pupsicle treat in the yard

And everything looked to be okay for the first few frosts and snowfalls. Then on Friday, I went for an evening trail run that started out dry…

but wound up snowing 2 miles in

and it just kept snowing the entire way

That storm took its toll and much of the local color that had been humming along turned to a rust orange or black. I call it freeze die off. The upside of all this is that there are still a lot of green aspens and this week is looking to warm up. I think there is potential. The question is if the leaves will get going before the next storm barrels through. In the meantime, I’m watching it all unfold from my hikes, bikes, and trail runs.

a cute little shelter on a trail at the outskirts of town

new color that survived the storm

we don’t get a ton of red aspens, so what we do get is delightful

With all of the chilly weather we had, I have been cooking, baking, and becoming more comfortable with my kitchen in Crested Butte. Todd, Diane, and I were so enthusiastic about picking peaches last week during their visit, that I was left with many pounds of ripe, sweet organic peaches. Even if Jeremy liked peaches (which he does not), there was no way we could both finish it all off before the fruit flies took over our house and flew off with Kaweah. So I made several peach crisps with oatmeal toppings to give to some of our awesome neighbors. You wouldn’t know me for a baker in summer because the heat makes me so dang cranky, but cooler weather ushers in more oven and stove time for things like peach oatmeal crisps or… miso roast pork belly.

start with kosher salt, brown sugar, and pork belly (belleh)

mix the salt and brown sugar together

coat the pork belly with the cure

wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight

**Jump for more butter**

fruitful days

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Recipe: elder fruit salad cocktail

I don’t make birthday wishes, but every year I do hope for snow. This year I awoke to frosted windows on my birthday. Not only did we get below freezing overnight, but it snowed down to around 9500 feet!

this is the kind of birthday gift i love

To be honest, Jeremy and I stopped with birthday gifts about a year or two into our relationship. Neither of us were into things per se. The real gifts were every day – a heartfelt, “thanks for being so wonderful” or giving a much needed hug without being asked. As I age, I weigh what is important based on how much it will mean to me on the day I die. Useless crap is not going to rank high on my deathbed priorities. What matters most? Relationships and the people you love. My birthday would have been fine as just another beautiful day in Colorado with my favorite guy and my favorite pup, but there was a little something extra this time… a visit from two very dear friends.

After their fly fishing trip in the mountains, Todd and Diane drove out to Crested Butte to spend a few days with us, arriving on my birthday. We took them around to favorite restaurants, the local homemade ice cream shop (twice!), the local (bestest) coffee shop, hikes, the neighborhood, the towns of Crested Butte and Mount Crested Butte (yes, they are two different towns), and a scenic road trip to Paonia to pick organic peaches, apples, pears, and heirloom tomatoes. So strange to wake up to snow and frost in the morning and be picking the last of the season’s peaches in nearly 80°F sunshine in the afternoon. All the while, a running conversation catching each other up on lives and the latest news.

precious colorado peaches

todd is an expert picker

rome beauty apples

ever the photographers at work

bartlett pears

picking fruit in the shadow of the snowy white mountains

farm kitty

on beckwith pass

todd is so happy when he’s in the mountains

Todd and Diane are family to us. They love and worry about Kaweah as if she were their own pup. We are always learning new things from each other, always sharing, always laughing. The best meals were the ones we cooked together at home after a long day exploring the area, admiring the landscape and aspens, and picking fruit in the hot sun. While prepping dinner, I served Jeremy’s latest favorite cocktail. It has a lot going on, but it is utterly refreshing and delightful if you’re a fan of fruit… and gin. I call it the elder fruit salad cocktail and it got a big thumbs up from Todd and Diane. So I’m dedicating this drink to those two (also so I don’t have to write the recipe down for them).

lemon, lime, cucumber simple syrup, grapefruit bitters, saint germain, gin

**Jump for more butter**

the answer is 42

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Recipe: pickled blackberries

Happy Autumn, friends! It is, in my opinion, the very best time of year. Autumn is when you can peruse the late summer harvest of greens, tomatoes, melons, and beans at the Crested Butte Farmers Market and see a fresh dusting of snow on the 13,000 foot peaks in the distance. We are getting a taste of some weather too with overnight frosts, cold rains, thick clouds clinging to mountains, and a chance of snow overnight. But weather is a GOOD thing, not just for the ski season (ahem!) but also for the opportunities when our dynamic atmosphere and light interact.

sunset and a clearing storm

It could be that I am biased toward fall because my birthday frequently coincides with the autumnal equinox. But even if my birthday was in July (ugh – I don’t even want to think of it), I would still be utterly devoted to this season. Leaves change, weather cools, the light turns soft and golden. Elk fill the air with their high-pitched bugles and the mountains don their lacy white shawls. It is when the ranchers let their cattle out to graze and trample the dying remnants of summer’s glorious wildflower bloom. Predators chase down prey before the pickings get slim and the bear scat on trails is full of berries.

sun lights up the changing aspen after a rainstorm

and there’s that colorado blue sky

We went for a trail run Sunday afternoon between storms to stretch our legs and scope out the colors. I’m here for the fall shoot and it seems that every year someone declares the leaves are early when in fact, they are almost always “on time”. This year, they seem a tad late as the majority of aspen stands are still green. But where you do see patches of gold and orange punctuated by the rare and glorious reds, they are spectacular. It’s visually obvious that the colors are increasing from one day to the next. Mother Nature is on a schedule.

mount crested butte watches over us (iphone)

i rounded a bend in the trail and saw this glowing stand of orange and yellow (iphone)

green and gold on the hill slopes while a storm moves in up the valley (iphone)

Wait, I lied. We didn’t trail run between storms, we started between storms. The second storm caught up and followed us like that cloud over Charlie Brown’s head. An updraft slapped chilly winds across our legs, bright pink with cold. The clouds unleashed a torrent of frigid rain. It was 43°F, we blasted through muddy puddles as we were already soaked to the bone, and lightning crashed overhead repeatedly. The storm eventually outpaced us. I was cold, wet, and tired… but happy.

Why happy? Because I’m here. I’ve always been the kind of kid who loves to wake up each morning, excited for the day and ready to get started. After chemo repeatedly knocked me on my ass, weakening me further with each infusion, I came to the conclusion that normal is AWESOME. I still love rising each day at age 42, but now with a hint of urgency and a lot more gusto. Every morning is a gift. Each sunrise is never taken for granted. Being able to work, to run in freezing thunderstorms, to live – it all means so much to me. The answer is to live and appreciate life. The answer is to not give a shit what others think. The answer is to be true to yourself. The answer is to not be a douchecanoe. The answer is 42.

And blackberries. The time is now for blackberries, so let’s get on that.

fresh blackberries, water, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, ginger, shallot, fresh bay leaf, sprig of thyme, peppercorns, whole allspice, and juniper berries

**Jump for more butter**