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archive for June 2014

summer approacheth

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Recipe: peanut butter caramel sauce

All signs point to summer: the blazing sun, rising mercury, pine pollen, afternoon thunderstorms, open windows at night, wild strawberry blossoms along my trail runs, and the impending solstice. Oh, but the best is yet to come when the snow in the high country finally recedes and the huckleberries and porcini emerge alongside colorful alpine wildflowers. It’s weeks away and yet I can already anticipate it will be here before I know it because everything seems to take place in these short summer months. Earlier in the week we enjoyed a lovely happy hour at The Flagstaff House with my parents. I have a feeling summer will kick into high gear very soon.

my rocky mountain cucumber cocktail (sans alcohol)

tuna tartare

fried oysters on polenta (if you go there, order this – so good!)

my queen of the night bloomed (symbolizes good luck!)

our aspen stands have turned lush and green

Before my parents arrived in Colorado, I had lunch with my friend, Ellen of Helliemae’s Caramels. She gave me a bag of her jasmine caramels to welcome my parents, a box of coffee caramels for Jeremy (the coffee fiend), and a bag of peanut butter caramels. It’s a sort of ritual among certain friends of mine that whenever we see each other, we bring gifts like pickled okra or organic adzuki beans or a little box of Maldon sea salt or a jar of homemade kimchi or a bottle of homemade foraged elderflower cordial – but Ellen is the master of caramels. It’s her thing.

creamy, smooth peanut butter caramels

I enjoy the first couple of caramels for what they are and then by the third, I start imagining how awesome they would be in other recipes. One of Jeremy’s favorite items from Helliemae’s is the Chili Palmer caramel sauce. He puts it on ice cream like it is going out of fashion, which got me thinking about peanut butter caramel sauce and the awesomeness that would be a sundae with said sauce. I didn’t have enough caramels left (oops!) to make a sauce out of them, so I made it from scratch.

sugar, cream, peanut butter

**Jump for more butter**

a weekend of celebrations

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Recipe: pan-seared sichuan shrimp with glass noodles

You know it was a good weekend when you make food for three separate parties. I’m essentially partied out. But they were all wonderful, excellent, very good celebrations. The most important was Kaweah’s half birthday – her 15.5 birthday to be exact. Jeremy and I are still in awe that she is not only here with us, but generally in good spirits and always happy to eat. While we don’t normally celebrate her half birthdays, we felt it was appropriate to celebrate this one. I seared a few meatballs (ground beef, milk, bread, salt), fried a couple of bacon strips, and procured a proper filet mignon. Kaweah gets ALL of the good stuff.

kaweah loves birthdays and half birthdays

Kaweah gets so excited when we set a plate of goodies in front of her. She looks from the meatball to the filet to the bacon, to me, to Jeremy, then back to the meatball – over and over. All the while, she is trying to be a good girl, waiting for her release word… except she’s almost completely deaf. Instead of letting her eat off the plate, we hand-fed her (and I sliced that steak) so she wouldn’t choke on anything. I dare say she had a really really good time!

jeremy blows out the candles while kaweah stares at the meatballs

the tip of her tongue is sticking out in anticipation


The rest of the weekend, we attended our friends’ birthday party and then prepped for and hosted a dinner party for my parents for Father’s Day. I know that I’m very lucky to have my parents here with me – even luckier that I can cook a special meal for them that they enjoy. But now that the weekend is over, I need to get back to simpler fare! I love the prep and great flavors of this shrimp and glass noodles dish.

shrimp, snow peas, vegetable oil, sichuan peppercorns, white pepper, salt, ginger, green onions, chili oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, glass noodles

grind the peppercorns

grate the ginger and slice the green onions

**Jump for more butter**

bust out the chops

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Recipe: grilled pork chops

I managed to run my first ever half-marathon distance this week… well, it was 14.2 miles. That still counts! Jeremy and I have somehow convinced ourselves that ultra trail running is worth trying this summer. We’ve been training. Snowline is hovering around 10,000 feet, so running trails that climb high and go far has been limited – but it’s melting. I’ve always been impatient for the intermediate stage where the snow is degrading too quickly to ski, but is still an obstacle to running or biking. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing my best to clean out the freezer and refrigerator in order to make space for summer’s bounty.

used up all my old frozen bananas for chocolate chip banana bread

My parents flew in to Colorado this week. I usually stock their place with a few groceries (including a loaf of that chocolate chip banana bread), fresh flowers, and other things they might need before they arrive. Even though they are getting older and slowing down, they aren’t really slowing down. Dad always wants to know what The Plan is, so it’s my job to do the research and make The Plan.

mom and dad at the denver botanic gardens

Jeremy and I took my folks to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit that officially opens June 14th, but had most of the installations up this week before the opening. It’s such a gorgeous time of year to visit because it isn’t too hot (as Denver goes) and so many beautiful flowers were in bloom with happy bees, dragonflies, and birds zipping about. The Chihuly exhibit will be at DBG through November 2014 and it is definitely worth a trip if you are in the area.

Of course, this weekend is Father’s Day, so we’re having Mom and Dad up for a nice dinner. I’m preparing a menu of All Things Dad Loves. But Dad pointed out that he really wanted to see his “little girl”, and he did not mean me. He meant Kaweah. She’s going to be utterly thrilled to visit with him.

Today’s recipe is all about summer, grilling, and celebrating dads and fathers and papas and babas and all of the good folk who step up to be a father to someone. It’s simple and easy, and isn’t that all we want in June when we should be spending our time playing outside and rejoicing in summer’s arrival?

pork chops, water, cider vinegar, kosher salt, brown sugar, juniper berries, black pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme

combine the dry ingredients

add the water and vinegar

stir to dissolve the sugar and salt

**Jump for more butter**