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first fourteener

Recipe: huckleberry lemonade

Neva will be five months old in a couple of days. I have this mental disconnect that she is still a puppy and yet she has changed and grown so much since her first days with us. My sleeping pattern has shifted earlier because of the puppy, so I tend to go to bed a half hour to an hour sooner than Jeremy. During that time before Jeremy turns in for the night, Neva hops up on the bed and snuggles with me. Usually Jeremy will hear a series of exclamations like, “Don’t sit on the pillow!” or “Stop licking my hair!” before things settle down (and by things, I mean Neva). When both puppy and I are nodding off into Dreamland, Jeremy will gently lift Neva off the bed and carry her to her crate, which is next to my bedside. And then we sleep as much as we can before she wakes up in the morning.

But one morning last week, we were the ones waking Neva at 4 am to go for her biggest hike yet – Mount Bierstadt, a 14,060 foot mountain. Fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation) are a thing here in Colorado, because there are over 50 of them and because some have class 1 or class 2 trails to summit. Jeremy and I have mixed feelings about these mountains as they tend to attract a lot of people, something we prefer to avoid. This is especially true of mountains like Bierstadt which are fairly close to the Denver Metropolitan area and are relatively “easy” as fourteeners go. We chose it for these reasons – close to our house and not too challenging for Neva, who has been “in training” since the day we got her.

On the way to the trailhead, we stopped at the Georgetown Visitor Center to use the facilities and then Neva hurled in the car. Neva gets car sick quite often, so we usually have towels, plastic bags, and napkins at the ready. We are hoping she’ll grow out of it, but I’d love to hear if any of you have suggestions or recommendations on how to make her car rides less pukey. While Neva ate her breakfast (aka dinner) at the trailhead, she spat something out in the middle of her chowfest. Jeremy picked it up and placed it in my outstretched palm, “A baby tooth!” he said gleefully. At last, her adult teeth are coming in and those razor sharp baby teeth shall maim us no longer.

the sun clears the ridge with bierstadt in silhouette (upper right)

the view from summit

jeremy holds neva up for the token summit photo

Neva was a champ getting up the mountain, only whimpering on the last pitch when the boulders were too big for her to climb. Jeremy – the real champ of the day – carried her up and down those sections with the care and surefootedness that I’ve come to trust with my life. There were a lot of people on the summit, so we didn’t linger for very long. Plus, we discovered that Neva was scared of the thousand foot drops on either side of the peak (we consider this a healthy fear). She stayed very close to us and leaned her body against ours, trembling and making short quiet moans. On the descent, Jeremy carried her down the boulder field until they were safely on the saddle and she could resume being the crazy puppy that all of the hikers wanted to meet and pet. Not bad for a puppy’s first fourteener.

stopping for treats

taking a break and refueling

a nice cool stream crossing in the afternoon sun

The next few days were spent checking on huckleberry patches. It’s an odd season with lots of what Erin and I call “ghost” hucks – dead, dried up, white hucks that didn’t make it to their glorious purple potential. Was it due to late freezes or perhaps long stretches of hot weather with no nurturing afternoon rainstorms? We were concerned because this seemed to be happening to most of the patches that had been loaded with purple berries the previous season. Thankfully, the motherlode had lots of snurples (the really dark, sweet, purple berries – another term we coined), although a good fraction had gone ghost. Erin and I went foraging over the weekend to another spot that Jeremy and I had scoped out on a trail run last year. It had looked okay when Jeremy and I took Neva up there to check it out in the failing light of dusk, but when Erin and I arrived Sunday morning, there were so many snurples we couldn’t even make our way through the patch without stepping on some berries. Hot damn! We named this patch ML2 (motherlode 2) and by the time we headed back to Erin’s truck, our fingers, pants knees, and pants seats were stained purple.

jeremy captured me picking huckleberries at sunset

what a couple of hours will get you

It’s been hot and dry here such that the mushrooms have all but packed up and left, and our air quality has been abysmal due to smoke from wildfires in California and Washington. It makes me sad because this is typically a lovely time of year in Colorado and because California and Washington are both states that are dear to my heart. After several hours of picking huckleberries under the sun, I couldn’t wait to get home and pour myself a glass of huckleberry lemonade. That’s where it’s at for me. Lemons and hucks make a great team – why not drink them?

lemons, huckleberries (frozen), water, more water, and sugar

simple syrup: add water to the sugar

The basic breakdown is lemonade and huckleberry syrup. Homemade lemonade is a real treat and I highly recommend making it from scratch, but I’m sure if you buy lemonade, the drink will still be amazing because of the hucks. Huckleberry syrup is probably something you can purchase online or if you’re lucky enough to live in those blessed states where huckleberries are a big thing (Idaho, Montana, Washington), purchase from a store. And if you’re really really fortunate, you can make your own. If you prefer a smooth syrup, you’ll have to strain your huckleberries through a fine mesh sieve. If, like me, you don’t mind the pulpy style syrup, send it through a food mill or keep all of the berry solids in the syrup. When you spend that much time handpicking teeny tiny magical berries, it’s hard to bring yourself to throw any of it out.

simmer water and huckleberries

mash the berries when they’re soft

send the mash through a food mill or a sieve

simmer the purée with an equivalent measure of sugar

Now you have your four components – simple syrup, lemon juice, water, and huckleberry syrup. The simple syrup, lemon juice, and water go into making your lemonade. Adjust the water to taste depending on how you like your lemonade (sweet, tart, watery). Even though you only use a little bit, do keep in mind that the huckleberry syrup is also sweet, so you probably don’t want an overly sweet lemonade.

water, huckleberry syrup, lemon juice, simple syrup

pour the simple syrup into the lemon juice

add water

top your lemonade with huckleberry syrup

This has got to be the most refreshing beverage on the planet. It’s a beautiful color, too. Hucks and lemons. Lemons and hucks. What a match made in heaven. And for you boozers out there, feel free to add gin or vodka. Of course, as always, if you can’t get your hot little hands on huckleberries, then try its chubby bluer cousin, the ubiquitous blueberry. Huckleberries make summer worth it for me.

a tall cold glass of “ahhhhh”

my new favorite summer beverage

Huckleberry Lemonade
[print recipe]

huckleberry syrup
1 cup huckleberries, fresh or frozen will work
2 tbsps water
1/4-1/3 cup sugar (measure final liquid and add same measure of sugar)

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed

Make the huckleberry syrup: Place the berries and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and let cook another 5 minutes. When the berries begin to give up some juice, mash them with the back of a spoon, spatula, or a masher. Pour the contents through a sieve if you want a smooth syrup or run through a food mill if you don’t mind some pulp (seeds and guts – which are delicious). Measure the resulting purée and add the equivalent amount of sugar to a small saucepan with the huckleberry sauce (for example, if you get 1/4 cup of purée, add 1/4 cup of sugar). Stir together over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Let the syrup cool. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Make the lemonade: In a small saucepan, stir the sugar and water together over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the simple syrup to a boil and let boil for a minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix the lemon juice and simple syrup together in a pitcher. Add enough water (2-4 cups, depending how strong you like it) to taste. Stir in the huckleberry syrup or pour a tablespoon on top of each glass of lemonade. Serves 8.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

frozen strawberry basil lemonade hibiscus tea lemonade lavender lemonade rose water lemonade

18 nibbles at “first fourteener”

  1. Tegan says:

    We always make sure that our dog only has a very little amount of food before a car ride. If she’s completely empty, the bile can make her throw up. If she’s completely full, she’ll throw up.

    Also, a friend who’s family raised show dogs, used children’s dramamine for one of their dogs. It made her drool a little, and be a bit zonky for a bit, but stopped the motion sickness.

    That’s all I got!

  2. Barbara says:

    Our puppy Riley was prone to vomiting in the car and our trainer recommended that we give him a little bit of sugar-a jellybean or 1/2 teaspoon of jam-before each ride. I don’t know why it worked, but it did. Happily, Riley outgrew carsickness within a few months and is now a road warrior. Hopefully Neva will outgrow it, too.

  3. Joyce says:

    Our friends in Idaho are ready to leave their home and flee the fires coming down upon them. Their cattle are suffering terribly and the smoke is killing them all. Our friends have a farm and it is so sad for they have three children and are just sick in every way. I so feel for them. Was raised in the mountains of Pa and had huge huckleberry’s every year by the boat load. Our recipes were just delicious made with them. I so love huckleberry pie with homemade vanilla ice-cream. This drink looks so easy and delicious though now we have to use blueberries instead. Can’t wait to try this. I drink Paul Newman’s lemonaid with green tea all day every day. I make the two separate and then put them together. So much cheaper than the drink at Starbucks! Bless you guys for all your sharing of your wonderful lives with us strangers. We are so grateful!

  4. Trisha G. says:

    Definitely what Joyce said. We are so very grateful to you for the stories of your lives in addition to your wonderful recipes! No huckleberries in Paris, though, so this delicious recipe will have to wait until we are back living in Colorado once again. As for the car sickness, ginger works miracles with both humans and our dog friends. We used to give our puppy two ginger snaps before car rides, but being the cooking maven that you are, I’ll bet that you could make homemade dog treats and perhaps increase the amount of ginger in them. The more the better, since it won’t harm Neva, and you can use powdered, candied, grated fresh, or all three. Failing that, my vet used to recommend a 500 mg ginger capsule from the natural food store, given about a half hour before traveling. Good luck!

  5. Claire says:

    I love your blog. Please don’t ever stop writing, it’s such a treat when I see your email.

  6. Kristin says:

    I hope Neva grows out of her hurling. Our cat does that in the car but 1. It’s contained in the carrier, and 2. He only goes in the car when he goes to the vet, so not a biggie. It’s good to hear that she is smart enough to be wary of the big drops!

  7. Irmi from Munich says:

    What a beautiful and exciting excursion to that mountain you had. But I wonder who gave this mountain that name, which I found terrible to use for a mountain: Bierstadt. How awful (it’s “beer town” litterally translated). Sorry for that but I must get rid of it…. ;-) – Ok, maybe the name giver (= eponym?) was a very respectful person who owned this name (he can’t help it though) and who had a very close relation to that mountain?
    Anyway it’s a phantastic scenery. I like the panorama shots very much and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. It was a very special day and experience for Neva though! And so brave she was!
    Stunning picture of you collecting hucks. Well done, Jeremy!

    For the car rides: You might try Bach Flower “Rescue Remedy”. In the beginning of the ride given with her morning drink or breakfeast and during the ride dispersed in the car by a spray bottle from time to time. It might calm her down and take her fears and the excitement that car riding has for her. Maybe you can get it somewhere?

  8. SAJ says:

    Is it yellow bile or puke puke? Sorry to be gross. But my dog is known to be a bile blower in the car in the morning if she hasn’t eaten. So the ideal anti-puking method for Barbie is 1) potty 2) breakfast (maybe a little lighter than if you’re home all morning) 3) 5-10 minute break 4) departure.
    Barbie (my dog and Neva’s twin, seriously) HATED the car when I got her. It was awful but I persisted and took her for a ride every day and as often as possible after that. After about two months, a switch flipped. Now she can’t hear anyone’s keys jingling or the word R-I-D-E without going into a manic fit. The puking had totally stopped. UNTIL my first morning driving my new car :)

  9. Katey says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories, pictures, and recipes! As for your sweet pup, you can get an antiemetic from your vet called Cerenia. It’s a small pill you can give before the car rides that should do the trick.
    My little monster has a habit of eating nasty things when we go to our beautiful mountian retreat in the Methow.
    Believe me when I say what comes up is not something you want in your car!

  10. Theresa says:

    We experimented with different traveling arrangements to quell the motion sickness for our dog. She travels best in her crate, so long as it’s wedged in the car in a way that it can’t slide around. (Either the crate, or her crate pad inside.) Then she does just fine, even on windy mountain roads. My in-laws pup does best if she sits in the front seat with someone holding her tight. Hopefully Neva will grow out of it on her own! I would love to run into her on a trail and pet her :)

  11. Silver says:

    My boy had one puking incident when he was young. Once he learned to stick his head out the window to catch fresh air, he stopped having that issue.

  12. Marcy says:

    Summits used to scare me also with the drops on either side. My pup, Billie, was fearless, so I had to stop taking her with me. I’d suggest something bland like white rice for dinner the night before a car trip as it would settle her stomach. It’s just puppy excitement. Enjoy!

  13. jill says:

    2 drops of peppermint oil in my belly button helps if I am nauseated. Wonder if it works for a doggie?

    Her first 14’er……of many. WHAT A LUCKY DOG!

    xo, j

  14. Gina says:

    You were in my neck of the woods; Bierstadt was my first 14’er too in snow packed condition and lucky for me it wasn’t crowded that day. I think the area look like Switzerland – not that I have been there.

  15. Eileen says:

    Our most recent pup was always getting sick too (twisty hilly back roads West Virginia). I also hoped she’d grow out of it, then I started putting her in the way back (Subaru hatchback) where the rubber mat could make clean up easier. Well, that seemed to fix it for her. I have no idea how the way back helped her compared to the comfy back seat, but maybe it’s worth a try? Good luck!

  16. Amber says:

    Okay. So. I have never personally had the pleasure of having a pup as part of my family (mom was a cat owner) but we plan to find one when we move into our first apartment. Knowing these fun little things can happen like tooth loss and motion sickness really helps. That being said, I can only rifle through these fine people’s comments and give you my best creative guess based on their dog experiences and my past nursing experiences. I would say maybe a combination of Babara’s jam idea, mixed with peppermint and ginger with the ginger being a big component. This means no pills and all natural and if you can (c’mon you love challenges right? Lol) somehow combine these with other ingredients to taste yummy… Then you have now come up with something for Neva, your vehicle interior, yourselves and a recipe for us here on URB. Lemonade sounds delicious. Mouth has been dry lately because I need to have all four wisdoms out. So anything that is tart and juicy helps! Good luck!

  17. Casey says:

    I first had huck lemonade in Idaho during my friend’s wedding. I was sold immediately, and I wish I could get my hands on some hucks, but alas, living in San Diego makes that virtually impossible.

    As for the carsickness… Our 90-lb rotty LOVED car rides (sadly we lost him to lymphoma in Nov). The only time he would lose his lunch was on mountain passes – especially Berthoud, on our way up to Mary Jane, and from San Diego up to Bear Mountain. We started fasting him for any seriously windy roads, and we never had an issue again. However, as every person is different with carsickness, I imagine every pooch will be, too. Hopefully, she grows out of it after enough trips over mountain passes.

  18. jenyu says:

    Tegan – thanks, we’ve been experimenting with levels of food and experience similar things. I think we’ll try the dramamine.

    Barbara – I’m hoping Neva will also outgrow it, but for now, we’ll try anything!

    Joyce – thank you.

    Trisha – you’re so sweet. Thanks. We did try the ginger (ginger chews) and she still threw up, so we’re going to do dramamine this afternoon before heading to the trails.

    Claire – aww, thanks!

    Kristin – Me too!

    Irmi – Ah, it was named after Albert Bierstadt who was the first to climb it :)

    SAJ – it can be all of them – sometimes food, sometimes bile (if tummy is empty). I’m hoping she will grow out of it since she’s still a puppy, but thanks for the tips!

    Katey – ha ha! Oh man, that’s one thing I’m glad Neva doesn’t do (Kaweah sure did). Our vet suggested dramamine first, so we’ll see how that goes this afternoon.

    Theresa – Thanks for the tips. I guess every dog is different :)

    Silver – ah yes, the head out the window won’t work since we drive a lot in winter weather. Apparently having windows down upsets her when we pass cars going in the other direction.

    Marcy – I wish it were excitement, but she dreads the car and begins frothing at the mouth before we even start moving. Poor pup has bad associations, me thinks.

    jill – never thought of that…

    Gina – it’s a beautiful area, just too crowded in summer. A ski ascent would be awesome!

    Eileen – We may try that, although the car is packed to the hilt with gear in winter, so we’ll have to work something out. Thanks!

    Amber – I’m trying dramamine first. If it works – great. The problem with all of these trials is that it makes her even more sad and more scared of riding in the car each time she gets sick :(

    Casey – I’m so sorry about your pup. Thanks for the tip. She pukes bile on an empty tummy, so we have to find some sort of compromise. I do hope she grows out of it!

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