brassica poppy seed salad strawberry crisp morel-stuffed chicken fried steak apple huckleberry pie


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archive for foraging

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Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Recipe: morel-stuffed chicken fried steak

I have entered summer mode even though the atmosphere was several steps behind me for the last few weeks. School is out. People are on vacation. No one answers emails (apparently) and I’m letting the blog cool her heels with a reduced posting schedule of twice a month. I encourage you to get off the computer and mobile devices and engage with a carbon-based world.

Can you believe it kept snowing until last week? Snow in May happens all the time in the mountains, but a winter storm warning for the entire state in late May had all the skiers skiing and all the fair-weather folk losing their goddamned minds. That is springtime in the Rockies. We don’t fight the weather in the mountains, we live with it and enjoy it as much as we can. Some don’t have a choice like the moose who are looking for forage or the hummingbirds who arrived and can’t find flowers.


instead of hiking, we were still skiing

a young moose passing through and making the most of our wild currant bushes

aspens waiting to bud as soon as it warms up



These past few days have actually been springlike, just in time for true summer. The prolonged cold gave us a grace period to transition into summer living – installing a new screen door, tidying the garden in Crested Butte, swapping winter and summer tires, more spring cleaning (we should just agree to call it eternal cleaning, because that’s what it is). Windows are open and fresh mountain air circulates the house. Yuki and Neva receive scoldings from local hummingbirds for standing too close to their feeder. And despite being three weeks late, the flowers are coming and so are the mushrooms.

glacier lily

yuki and neva enjoy the last day of flannel sheets

i have been waiting for this (fun) guy to make an entrance



If there is one thing I eagerly await in spring, it is the arrival of our mountain morels. You must understand my anticipation is not solely stoked by the prospect of finding black morels. It is the whole experience of walking ground that hasn’t been uncovered since last October and witnessing the green blades and buds emerge, hearing birds converse through the leafless forest, smelling the earthy odor as mats of dead leaves drenched in snow melt warm under a high sun. Life. Death. And all of the rest. All at ground level and intimately so, because that’s what morels demand. Think like a morel.

I try to strike a balance between consuming the fresh morels now versus processing them and freezing for later. Jeremy’s favorite morel preparation is basically sautéed morels with steak. It’s easy, delicious, and involves a hunk of meat with good wine. I turned that concept on its ear and came up with something a little less easy, but just as delicious. How does morel-stuffed chicken fried steak sound? It’s like regular chicken fried steak but with a surprise! I break it down into three steps. First, we cook the morels.


morels, bourbon, shallots, butter, salt

chop the morels

minced shallots, diced morels

sauté the shallots in butter, then add the morels

pour the bourbon in when the morel liquid has simmered away



**Jump for more butter**

totally normal

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Recipe: apple huckleberry pie

**First, I would like to thank every person who bid on anything during the RezDawg Rescue Spring Silent Auction. All three of my donated photographic prints sold and RezDawg Rescue was able to meet and exceed their fundraising goal! This means more kittens and puppies rescued this spring as well as continued funding for RezDawg Rescue’s education and spay/neuter campaigns in the Four Corners region to help reduce the stray population. Thank you.**

I have one foot in a ski boot and one foot in a trail runner. Spring storms are hanging around Colorado the way you keep returning to the refrigerator to sneak a bite of leftover dessert. They deliver a foot of snow, then wander off as green spring tries to take hold. And just as you get used to not wearing a jacket, the white stuff returns. This is nothing new for us. After 14 years we have learned to go with the flow – or rather the whiplash of lurching forward and backward – of spring in the mountains.


uphill skiing in rocky mountain national park

yuki and neva patiently waiting to ski out (in our national forest)

the pups are anxious to run around in another new foot of snow

jeremy enjoying his earned backcountry turns



A couple of months ago, I posted a photo of a local mama moose and her yearling. About two weeks later we saw the yearling in our yard, but solo. His mother had run him off so she could focus her energies and attention on her new baby. Make that babies, because last week she brought two beautiful, fuzzy calves by our house to feed. One stuck close to mama, but the other really enjoyed chowing down on our wild currant bushes and was willing to let its family wander pretty far before leaving the snack station. I love that spring is full of new things.

new baby in the neighborhood



Speaking of new things, Erin and I were wandering about on the plains looking for one thing when we found a different thing – wild asparagus! Actually, it’s feral asparagus because it is the same species as the one you buy from markets and stores, but it got loose long ago and has been growing on its own. I found the first stalk by pure accident, and then the two of us quickly consolidated our knowledge from asparagus gardening (Erin), reading (both of us), and growing asparagus fern houseplants (me) to identify many other patches. So exciting! We came away with some nice hauls of super sweet asparagus stalks.

hello beautiful, i am in love

spring bounty



Since it feels as if we are bouncing between seasons here, I thought I’d share a pie that also encompasses more than one season. Even though apples are available year-round at the grocery store, they tend to peak in fall and winter. As for mountain huckleberries (my very favorite absolute best most delicious berry), they are a late summer treat that I can only get by hiking into my local mountains and spending hours picking them by hand. Luckily, they freeze well so that I can access them all year from my freezer. People can substitute its suitable cousin, the blueberry, which is in season now through the end of summer. The whole reason I make this pie is because a pure huckleberry pie represents 12 hours of non-stop berry picking (it’s backbreaking work here because our huck plants and berries are small). They are simply too precious for me to throw all of them into one pie. Apples make up the bulk of the filling while happily absorbing the flavor and color of the huckleberries.

huckleberries, apples, cornstarch, sugar, more sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon

peel, core, and dice the apples

for the apples: diced apples, sugar, pinch of salt, cinnamon

combine in a medium saucepan

cook until soft and the liquid turns into a thick syrup



**Jump for more butter**

letting go

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Recipe: gnocchi with morels and sage

Even though it’s snowing as I type, I believe it is time to say farewell to winter. I said winter, not skiing! We’re still going to ski as long as the snow is skiable. Spring skiing in the backcountry can be heaps of weird fun as we wait for trails to thaw out in the mountains.


i prefer the quiet of the backcountry to the resorts



Last week, we sent Neva and Yuki back to the kennel for Yuki’s first overnight stay and it was hard not seeing a fluffy white blur playfully bouncing about the house that evening. Both girls warmed up to playtime with other pups much faster than the first visit and they did just fine. We were asked if we wanted to keep the dogs together overnight or in separate rooms and I had to pause. I am certain Neva would have appreciated a night off from Yuki, but I think Yuki would have been beside herself without Neva, so of course we kenneled them together.

post doggy camp nap



As the house cleaning continues, we are over what I considered the crux of the endeavor. Jeremy can not only see the surface of his desk, but he has room to actually work at his desk as opposed to the dining table. He was not happy about my gentle, yet firm insistence that he clean his damn desk and the loads of electronics (cables, obsolete devices, data storage, etc.) in the office closet, but he is now delighted to have a workspace that no longer poses a physical threat to humans or passing canines.

The whole process got me thinking about stuff and things. What do we keep and why do we keep it? My own parents are in the middle of sorting their belongings as they prepare to eventually make the move to Colorado and further downsize their lives. Mom sent me a text last month that Daddy was cleaning out the attic and wanted to get rid of old home movies… movies that included Kris when she was a child. I could hear the desperation in Mom’s voice as I read her text and then it was punctuated by a sad face emoji with a teardrop. This made my heart hurt. I told her to have him pack it all in a box and ship it to me so I could digitally archive everything. Easy solution. Having the movies in my possession meant they were 1) no longer his worry and 2) not destroyed.

I know where Dad was coming from. He was thinking about how many more years he’s going to be around and decided he could live without this stuff. But he didn’t think about Mom’s feelings and how throwing those home movies out meant one more piece of Kris that she would lose forever. It didn’t matter if she never watched those movies again, she just needed them to be in safe keeping. I get it. I know Dad is able to part with these things and it doesn’t mean he loves Kris any less. I also know that Mom will never be able to part with them. I am my father’s daughter. As I cleaned my office, I was able to let go of mementos from Kris’ funeral – a terrible time filled with awful memories. I recycled all of my chemo logs and calendars, letters and cards from people I’ve removed from my life, and all of my dissertation-related paperwork. Good riddance, baggage.


focusing on what is important in life



While running errands last week, we drove past a ranch house on the flats that had a large fenced grassy front yard. Because I am immediately drawn to brightly-colored objects, I noticed about a hundred pastel eggs scattered throughout and gasped out loud. These weren’t just any eggs, but some were as big as my dogs! I turned to Jeremy and excitedly described what I saw. We couldn’t figure out a reason for the giant eggs, but maybe it’s for really little kids, or maybe it’s for vision-impaired kids? While we don’t celebrate Easter, we both think Easter egg hunts are awesome because they are a gateway activity to foraging.

patiently awaiting morel season in the mountains



Morels have been popping around the country, and the blonde morels are starting to show up in the southern part of our state, so I think I can drop another morel recipe for those of you with access now and those of us who hope to see the beloved mushroom coming online in the near future. I made and photographed this recipe at the end of last season, but I promise it will be every bit as delicious now as it was then. Shall we make some gnocchi with morels?

start with russet potatoes, egg, and flour



**Jump for more butter**