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archive for February 2016

pick a season

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Recipe: fennel slaw

If only Colorado could pick a season and stick with it, I’d feel a little less discombobulated as to how to get my daily exercise. For most of the winter, it has toggled between true winter and pseudo spring. We’ll get a nice dump of snow and then Mother Nature cranks up the heat and everyone is wearing shorts for the next week or two. For some, this is merely an issue of donning a jacket versus donning sandals. And you might think that translates into skiing one day and hiking the next. But it doesn’t quite work that way. Yes, we ski the snow when it’s fresh. But if more snow doesn’t come along and our daytime high temperatures are flirting in the 60s, it doesn’t take long to render trails icy slicks, slushy messes, snirt (snow and dirt), or any miserable combination of the three. That’s hard to ski, but it’s also a pain to trail run. While I would like to have winter in winter, I’d be okay with “spring” in winter if it would just stay that way, you know? Okay, I’ll shut up about that… for now. We still know where to go to get our ski fixes.

backcountry ski with my little companion

skating the nordic center trails where the snow keeps well in shade

Jeremy and I spent the weekend working, staying away from the crowds on the slopes and the trails. When we weren’t working, we took Neva to the soccer field to chase tennis balls in the diminishing snow. We also started training Neva to return to the front door on her own after she does her business in the yard. She’s always on leash outside, because she will probably run off after a scent and because she doesn’t understand the dangers that cars can present (other than when she’s IN a car). Right now, Jeremy will take her out on leash and when she’s done doing her thing in the yard, he’ll unleash her and tell her to find me at the front door where I wait with a treat. She caught on quickly, so that’s progress.

i think she thinks these are for her

My appetite follows my cooking which follows the weather. This warmer weather of late has me craving more fruits, salads, and grilled things rather than my typical February fare of stews, soups, and wonderful foods that emerge from the oven. The nice thing about this fennel slaw we’ve been enjoying is that it feels summery while incorporating crunchy winter vegetables.

fennel, cabbage, red onion, lemon, carrot, red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, anise seeds

I’ve never been a fan of black licorice, but I do enjoy anise and fennel. These were tastes that I acquired as an adult as I sampled and learned about them over the years. The first step to making the slaw is toasting the anise and fennel seeds. I just popped mine onto a skillet over medium heat and stirred them around until they became fragrant and golden. Let the seeds cool before giving them a quick zip in a spice grinder. Add the spices to the rest of the dressing ingredients and mix it all together. I started with the original recipe’s one-third cup of mayonnaise, and the dressing was just too runny and watery for my purposes, so I doubled it to two-thirds of a cup. This also helps to cut the sharpness of the vinegar. I think you can go anywhere from a half cup to a whole cup of mayonnaise depending on your preferences.

toast the spices

place the toasted seeds in a spice grinder

mix the dressing

**Jump for more butter**

house of powderhounds

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry waffles

I told someone recently that we aren’t powderhounds – the types who drive around from mountain to mountain chasing down winter storms to ski the best powder. Clearly, one could do it. I follow a lot of Western ski resorts on Instagram, and some mountain somewhere is getting the goods on any given day. We just happened to get lucky a handful of times and then the rest is tracking weather forecasts for our local mountains. After our fun (but not snowy) weekend in Crested Butte, we returned home to Nederland just as – wait for it! – a snow storm dumped 11 inches on our local hill, Eldora. Is it luck or is it constant vigilance? You can mull that over while I ski the powder.

the morning commute looking pretty good

it was hip deep (for telemark) in some places

Powder days are not limited to human enjoyment. In fact, I’m pretty sure Neva loves her powder more than we do. She is just SO happy in the snow – bouncing and pouncing and digging and rolling and running and crashing. This is why we’re working so much with her this season to get her used to traveling with us into the backcountry – so that she can enjoy the snow with us, and safely.

puppy gets first tracks on the soccer field!

a little backcountry ski training with neva

skiing out on fresh powder with longs peak in the distance

All of this outdoor activity means Neva has been taking a lot of car rides. We have been working with our vet to try different medications and combinations – slowly getting closer to a solution. She is no longer vomiting, and I think that is in large part due to dramamine – or rather meclizine (which is dramamine 2), but she doesn’t like traveling in a vehicle – period. Neva’s anxiety goes through the roof when she is in the car (aka the torture-mobile), so we have a sedative for long car rides which helps her to just sleep through it. But for short drives to local trailheads, we just give her a meclizine about an hour before we leave. As we were packing up our gear for the ski tour, we found her chillaxing in the sun, on the stairs… sort of.

feeling pretty mellow

I really like that little girl. Not only does Neva share my love of snow, but she also shares my love of huckleberries. Whenever I make something with huckleberries, she always gets a few. If I empty a bag of frozen huckleberries, I’ll turn the bag inside out and let her lick the juices. So it was when I emptied a bag of frozen huckleberries last summer for a kitchen experiment. I wanted to see if there was a difference between huckleberry waffles made with fresh huckleberries versus frozen huckleberries. But really, I just wanted huckleberry waffles.

butter, flour, buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, cornstarch, eggs, frozen and fresh huckleberries

fresh hucks on the left, frozen on the right

**Jump for more butter**

weekends are made of this

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Recipe: grissini

There’s never a dull moment when you have a dog. Or perhaps I should say, there is never a dull moment when you live with Neva. She managed to impale herself on a stick at doggy daycare last week, but never let on to anyone that she had a hole in her side – not at daycare, not during her bath, not after we toweled her down. It wasn’t until we noticed a pink smudge on the couch that evening and tracked it back to Neva that we realized what had happened. It didn’t seem to bother her, but it looked terrible. Instead of our intended 6 am departure for Crested Butte the next morning, our dear vet took a look at Neva the minute he got into the office at 8 am and cleaned up the wound. He chuckled that she must have been having a great time to not even notice it. It’s healing nice and fast since she’s a strong and healthy little puppy.

neva’s sporting that wound like a champ

We started our Crested Butte weekend with what we’ve dubbed the freeheel ski trifecta: skate ski in the morning, telemark ski on the mountain, and then a late afternoon classic nordic ski with Neva. I could barely move the next day, but that might be because I managed a massive biff in the terrain park when I slid on water (that would be melted snow) off the ramp. February is trying to act like April… What is up with that?

skating into middle earth

telemarking down the mountain

oh, and stopping for a colorado bulldog (white russian with coke) at the ice bar

taking neva for a ski on the nordic trails

happiest dog on the planet right there

Neva’s progression into doghood has been gradual such that we didn’t really notice when she became super chill about us leaving the house without her. We are now able to get back to the restaurant scene, have friends over without Neva losing her mind, and get out for our own exercise. It’s almost like life before puppy, except it’s better because it’s now Life with Dog.

checking out a newish restaurant

having wonderful friends over for a dinner party

skating paradise park (it feels like paradise!)

Today’s recipe is for grissini – a thin, crisp, Italian breadstick. You can find them in grocery stores, but they tend to be fatter than what I want. Grissini are also pretty fragile, so they don’t handle transportation too well. Most of the time I buy them in the store for parties, I wind up with at least half of them broken. All the more reason to make them at home. The process is straightforward, and rolling the dough out into long, thin, and irregular sticks might be especially fun to do with kids. Plain is probably my favorite, but I divided my dough into thirds and made three kinds of grissini: plain, herbed (thyme), and black sesame.

you’ll need: warm water, olive oil, herbs (optional), salt, yeast, honey, black sesame seeds (optional), all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour

proof the yeast (water, honey, whole wheat flour, and yeast)

after ten minutes you should see bubbles

add the olive oil, flour, and salt

knead the dough until smooth

coat in oil and let rise

**Jump for more butter**