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archive for October 2013

the way home

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Recipe: buttermilk fried chicken

As we started out on our last trail run in Crested Butte, I was admiring the amber glow from the setting sunlight bouncing around the aspen leaves. I absolutely love running or riding through aspen stands in autumn. The path underfoot is carpeted with the signature shapes of aspen leaves in different hues of yellow, punctuated with blacks, browns, greens, oranges, reds. When the tree tops mingle above the trail, you are traveling through a veritable tunnel of gold. Sometimes Jeremy and I run separately when he wants to log more miles and I’m fine with that. I enjoy the solitude.

off he goes

Every time we leave Crested Butte, we scrub our place down. Kaweah cautiously watches from a safe distance when her nemesis, The Vacuum, prowls every inch of the house. It’s the kind of cleaning one does when you want ALL of your security deposit back, but we just want to take really good care of it. And the day we leave, Jeremy always gets his caffeine fix in town.

the BEST coffee in town

Driving east, we encountered several snow storms on the mountain passes, sunny dry roads in the big Colorado valleys, and freezing rain in between. I followed Jeremy as he drove with Kaweah in the smaller car. Whenever he came to a stop, I saw her little head bob up as if to say, “Are we there yet?!?!” Despite icy roads and whiteout conditions, we made our way safely home.

crawling over monarch pass (jeremy and kaweah in front of me)

kaweah was so happy to be home, she immediately passed out

It’s been snowing on and off since we got home. We’ve got the heat on winter settings and snuggy flannel sheets on the bed. There’s a growing list of things to do around the house to prepare for winter. Time to swap out the bike rack for the ski rack, tune the skis, pull out the running tights and snow gear. And of course there is cooking and baking which do double duty because the house fills with mouth-watering aromas surfing on currents of warm air. Nothing is better than home style comfort food to welcome you back. Let’s fry some chicken!

whole chicken legs, onion, garlic, buttermilk, salt, sugar, bay leaf, rosemary, celery seeds, black pepper

crush the spices

grating onion

**Jump for more butter**

crested butte: secret stash

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Ask me what there is to do in the mountains around Crested Butte – the last great Colorado ski town – and I’ll rattle off a list of activities to get your heart pumping or sights to open your eyes wide with wonder. But when you’ve had your fill of stunning Colorado scenery and riveting outdoor adventure, you will need to refuel. One of my favorite stops in town (and in Colorado) is Secret Stash. We take all of our visitors here and love to pop by after a long hike to quench our thirst and load up on some of the best pizza around.

secret stash

Secret Stash (or The Stash) used to sit at the top of Elk Avenue (Crested Butte’s main drag) in a small funky house with two ovens and a line of patrons out the door. Your typical wait for your order at lunch, aprรจs ski, or dinner would land you north of 45 minutes. This summer, The Stash moved to a new location in the heart of historical Crested Butte on Elk Avenue and Third Street. It’s much bigger than the old house, offering outdoor deck dining, sidewalk patio dining, several booths, tables, high tables, bar seating, and the uber fun sunken seating at the picture windows in front.

inside the stash

The wait staff – like almost any other wait staff in Crested Butte – is hipster with tats. They may not be the most professional servers, but they are super friendly and aim to please. As you step up to the hostess podium you’ll find a gift shop (t-shirts, bling, candy) to your left, the bar to your right, and the restrooms straight ahead at the back. Once seated, take in the details of the eclectic and funky decor before you begin perusing the entertaining drink menu.

The Famous Stash Volcano Bowl is just plain fun to read about. It serves four people 48 ounces of “a bunch of booze mixed with tropical fruit juices served on fire.” I’m too chicken to order that, but someday I might with three of my besties. My favorite summertime thirst-quencher is the frozen strawberry lemonade. You can get that with booze or without booze. And an even more delightful twist is when they add basil to that mix. Jeremy loves the Vegas Brainstorm a.k.a. The Best Gin and Tonic You Will Ever Have (Hendricks gin, Fever Tree tonic, fresh lime, juniper berries). In addition to The Stash’s creative drinks, they offer a decent selection of beer and wine – both on tap even!

frozen strawberry lemonade (with or without vodka)

the vegas brainstorm (gin and tonic, but awesomer)

After you’ve rattled off your drink order, have a looksee at the appetizers or consider the salad bar. But really, you ought to try some appetizers. There are two items that we order again and again. The truffle fries (a.k.a. crack fries) are french fries with white truffle oil, Parmesan cheese, green onions, and cracked black pepper served with garlic aioli. I know, you’re thinking, “French fries at a pizza joint?” Yes. Order them. The Stash wings are the other must. They grill the wings and baste them in their excellent house barbecue sauce, then top them off with green onions and sesame seeds with ranch and blue cheese dressings on the side.

the truffle fries (aka crack fries)

stash wings

**Jump for more butter**


Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Recipe: vietnamese braised eggplant

This site went through a series of upgrades right before I hit the road, and apparently we shouldn’t have trusted the captcha update because it wouldn’t allow any comments to go through for a day. That is now fixed and I apologize for any annoyance it may have caused.

Earlier this week Jeremy, Kaweah, and I piled into the car and headed south to the San Juans to see what could be salvaged after the freeze. Driving our usual routes, I exchanged texts with a friend who was driving the other usual routes and we were both reporting the same: brown, dead, done. You shouldn’t be discouraged though! There are always those nice little close-up shots of single stands or trees to be had, but we were fishing for the bigger catches.

waiting for sunset, not hopeful (iphone)

the view from where i waited

last light on mount sneffels

I cut my losses and ended the trip early. Jeremy kept saying how sorry he was that the season was so bad and I kept telling him to quit being sorry. Sure it’s a bummer, but it isn’t the end of the world and I managed a few keepers despite the suckage. We (as in Colorado) had two excellent seasons in 2011 and 2012 – back to back awesomeness. Bad years will happen and do happen. I accept that. And if you’re in any sort of business that relies on Nature, you’d better expect it. Not to mention, it meant I could finally go for a hike without hauling all of my gear. So that’s what we did upon our return to Crested Butte.

the aspens are nothing to write home about, but what a stellar view

We’ve also been enjoying evening trail runs since I don’t have to hang around to wait for sunset over gold-draped mountains anymore. The days have been sunny, warm, and clear such that running in the shadow of the mountains late in the day is just the right temperature to start out. By the time we’re done, the world is fading from purple to blue and the chill begins to creep in. It’s the perfect time for a nice hot meal, and I’ve been loving on eggplant lately.

japanese eggplant

Given my druthers, I prefer Japanese eggplant to regular eggplant. It’s long, skinny, and has fewer seeds. I can’t reliably source Japanese eggplant unless I travel to the Asian markets out in Broomfield (Pacific Ocean Market) or Denver (HMart and other Asian grocers) or find them at the farmer’s market. The ones at the Asian markets are not always in the best shape, but I really wanted to try this recipe for Vietnamese braised eggplant with coconut milk and scallions by Charles Phan of The Slanted Door.

make the vietnamese stir-fry sauce: fish sauce, chicken broth, sugar

bring the broth to a boil, then add sugar

and some fish sauce

**Jump for more butter**