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archive for September 2015

an easy one

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Recipe: plum ketchup

This past July, I was interviewed via Skype by Gabriel Soh for The Dinner Special podcast. Despite being in the depths of puppy training sleep deprivation, I am moderately coherent. If you’d like to have a listen, hop on over to the interview, but do come back for the recipe!

I suppose that whole adolescence regression episode was bound to happen when I would be alone with Neva. Things that used to not bother her now bother her. Trying to put her harness on has become quite an ordeal – like bargaining with someone who doesn’t speak your language. It’s come down to manhandling her to put the harness on so we can go outside to do the thing she loves most… which is to go outside. Once outside, Neva acts like she’s never seen a human being, a dog, a cat, a leaf, a car, a bike, ANYTHING before in her life and she flips out like she’s going to die if she doesn’t run up and jump on its head. I found myself wondering if Kaweah had been this difficult as a puppy because my memory of her is dominated by the sweet, gentle, and calm senior dog she was most recently. I’m pretty sure Kaweah made me crazier than Neva makes me – just in different ways. I’m also thinking that it may be the 10 days of heavily reduced activity. Maybe she’s gone off the deep end without her regular exercise? I get that way, too.

she’s probably ready for longer walks

The colors that I can see from the walks around the neighborhood are on their way out, or rather, the leaves are falling. Swaths of gold mantling the hillsides are giving way to the silent gray stands that will last us through May. Most of my photographer pals migrated south to the San Juans earlier this week (but not before I fed some of them peach pie cinnamon rolls!). I’ll not be in on that action this year. It’s just me, Neva, and whatever I can snap when I have a random moment.

a cathedral of gold

fingers of color intermingled with conifers

This week appears to have a common theme in my recipes – fruit at the end of its season. On the same trip to the farm store when I got those peaches and my second batch of tomatoes, I picked up something else on impulse. While waiting for the tomatoes to be loaded into a box and weighed, I walked over to the table that had the peaches. As I picked out four pounds of peaches, I smelled what can only be described as candy. Putting a peach to my nose, I took a whiff, but it wasn’t the peach. Looking around at the baskets of fruit, I flew in low and inhaled, eventually honing in on a basket of tiny golf ball-sized plums. The fellow sorting the tomatoes told me that the plums not only smelled like candy, but tasted like candy, too. I bought 2 pounds. I knew I wanted to make plum ketchup, but I made sure I had extras for snacking on straight up. Once in the car, I rubbed one clean on my shirt and took a bite – which was half of the plum, but could have easily been the whole fruit. It was like no plum I had ever tasted before.

these are bubblegum plums

I emailed the farm to find out what variety of plum I had stuffed into my pie hole and they responded that these are bubblegum plums from the western slope – western Colorado – where our luscious peaches are grown. My intention was to make plum ketchup with the Italian plums that my Costco carries around now, but they had yet to show up. Short on time, I used my bubblegums on the ketchup recipe while popping a couple of the extra plums for a snack. This plum ketchup is much easier than my tomato ketchup recipe. You can use most any variety.

brown sugar, ginger, plums, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, salt, cider vinegar

dice the plums

ready to purée and cook

**Jump for more butter**

six months

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Recipe: peach pie cinnamon rolls

Little Neva turned six months old today (the 27th) in Crested Butte. Despite what the vet instructed – no walks for 10-14 days – we’ve begun taking her on short easy walks after 5 days. She’s recovering well and quite active INSIDE the house, so we figured mellow activity would be good for her, especially since our neighborhood in Crested Butte has so many nice paths. We expected her to be completely stir-crazy and in turn, make US crazy, but she has been a really good pup this past week. Just three more days and I’ll be able to take her swimming. To celebrate her 6 months on this planet, we gave her a Scoop Dog (peanut butter, maple, bacon frozen yogurt pupsicle) from the local ice cream shop, Third Bowl.

the life of a colorado dog is rough

AND there was a total lunar eclipse of the supermoon this evening! We walked down the road from our house and stood upon a hilltop to watch (and shoot) the moon in eclipse as it rose above the mountains in the east. Pretty spectacular stuff. And I’m glad I was here in Crested Butte, because the radar showed clouds over Nederland. As the moon rose higher, we headed back to the house since we would be able to watch the rest of the ascent from our deck. When the moon entered totality we heard several neighborhoods erupt in howls across the valley – both people and their dogs. How does one NOT love Crested Butte?! Minutes later, a big cloud (like, the ONLY one in the entire sky!) sat directly in the path of the moon and blotted it out. “Damn,” I muttered and Neva wagged her tail in the darkness at the howlers calling across the night air. She seemed happy enough when I let her back into the warmth of the house.

partial lunar eclipse supermoon rising

there’s the navel (tycho crater)!

blood moon before the cloud broke up the party

We had a lovely weekend here in Crested Butte. Jeremy and I drove out in tandem because he had to get back to Boulder to teach this week, but I’m staying put with Neva girl because 1) she can recuperate more easily in Crested Butte 2) we can spare her the back and forth in the car 3) I’m prepping the house for winter and 4) I have to get my fall colors fix. The colors are pretty good. Not as good as last year, but exhilarating where they are vibrant and healthy. A fungal disease seems to have creamed some of the stands, which is unfortunate. Still, I just love being here during the peak colors. Once they’re done, I’m 100% ready for winter.

jeremy hoofs it up with my camera gear into the aspens

a beautiful pine grosbeak chilling in a cathedral of golden light

gothic mountain behind the flanks of crested butte

jeremy stand-up paddleboards on lake irwin

I’m gonna have to hit you today with yet another roll recipe because it’s the end of peach season, and if you can get your hands on some fresh peaches, YOU NEED TO MAKE THESE. Peach pie cinnamon rolls. You will not regret it (I hope). I love cinnamon rolls as much as, or more than, the next guy, but add peaches and I’m going to start throwing elbows. The last time I acquired my 25 pounds of San Marzano tomatoes for canning from the farm store, I snatched up some beautiful organic Colorado peaches as well. I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but I’d figure something out. That’s how I roll with fruit: pick some up and if I can’t make anything with it, I eat the fruit. Either way, I win!

the dough: milk, sugar, vanilla, yeast, eggs, salt, butter, flour

sprinkle yeast over warm milk

add sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, and salt

stir in the flour

knead the dough by hook or hand

let the dough rise

**Jump for more butter**

advances in modern science

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Recipe: chicken fried steak biscuits with chanterelle gravy

We dropped Neva off at the vet’s Monday morning for her spaying appointment, leaving my mobile as the contact number. I got a call a few hours later reporting that her surgery went well and that we’d be able to pick her up that afternoon when the drugs wore off. When we walked into the office to get her, she was chilling out behind the front desk with Aspen, a gorgeous, giant white wolf-like dog who weighs about 100 pounds. Actually, I recall that Aspen is 1/4 wolf, but he is all sweetheart, playing ever so gently with Neva. They were super tight buddies.

Neva seemed practically normal, but Jeremy didn’t want her jumping and possibly tearing her stitches. So he put all manner of items on the couch to deter her from trying. I watched as Neva walked up to the plastic bins on the couch, stepped to the side, and nimbly jumped over the armrest, then curled up in her favorite corner of the couch. Oh little pup… We marveled at her incision, which was nary an inch long. Back in the day, Kaweah’s incision was supposed to be 4 inches long, but was more like 5 inches (we’re guessing because it was at the Vet School) and took forever to heal. But Neva is on a fast road to recovery and we’ll be hitting the trails again in no time.

rest and recovery is so boring for a puppy

pretty autumn sunsets

looking forward to seeing some fall colors like this (from september 2014 in crested butte)

Summer just can’t seem to let go over here. It gets downright hot in the afternoons, so I still give Neva a large ice cube around 3 o’clock to play with, roll on, and eventually eat. Thankfully it is getting chillier overnight, so we can cool the house enough to be comfortable. I like the crisp cold in the mornings. Not cold enough to be punishing like in winter, but cold enough to not mind letting Neva up on the bed to cuddle for another ten minutes before she starts licking my hair.

Seeing as the weekend is coming up, I need to share this recipe for fans of the savory weekend breakfast – chicken fried steak biscuits with chanterelle cream gravy. Feel free to use other mushrooms if you can’t get chanterelles or don’t want to get too spendy. However, if you CAN get chanterelles, please do. They transform the basic cream gravy into the realm of transcendence.

biscuits, chanterelles, flour, black pepper, eggs, salt, cayenne, butter, more salt, more flour, steak, milk, buttermilk

chop the mushrooms into a small dice

tenderize the steak

**Jump for more butter**