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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**

transitions

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Recipe: sweet and sour beef short ribs

A solitary patch of snow remains in our south-facing yard, determined to hold on for as long as it can. I’ve had to change to shorts in the afternoons when working inside the house thanks to the sunlight that floods our picture windows. And today, we swapped out a winter’s worth of air for fresh spring breezes that flowed mild and pleasant through open windows. Still, other parts of town and sections of nearby trails remain under thick layers of snows that have thawed, refrozen, and compacted into slick, hard, uneven surfaces. It’s not quite trail running season and it’s not the end of ski season by a long shot.


yuki and neva sit atop a good foot or two of snow



I spent a few hours last week sorting through fabrics and yarns, collecting materials for donation and realistically streamlining those items I plan to use for projects or gifts in the near future. I am okay with walking away from knitting since I don’t use any of what I knit (allergic to wool and do better with clothes that are not fragile), it’s slow, and I get repetitive motion injuries when I do knit. Lately, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the sewing machine and acquiring other skills.

tea towels are always handy in our house

from my book binding class this weekend



Strawberries are showing up again, and I don’t mean strawberries from the other hemisphere. As I passed a stack of fresh strawberries on display in the store, the image jogged my memory of making and canning jam. It’s almost that time of year. Ten years ago I didn’t know the first thing about canning and now I have to prioritize what I want to preserve in jars because there isn’t enough time in my summers to tackle all of the jams, pickles, syrups, tomatoes, salsas, and fruit butters. I have several excellent resources to thank for bringing canning in to my life, but Marisa of Food in Jars has certainly been my greatest guide through her blog, her cookbooks, and her friendship. Which is why I was delighted to receive a review copy of Marisa’s latest book, The Food in Jars Kitchen: 140 Ways to Cook, Bake, Plate, and Share Your Homemade Pantry.

recipes that use food in jars



The recipes range from savory dips to sweet bakes to beverages to main dishes. Seeing as another snow storm is en route to Colorado, I opted for a decadent beef short rib braise. It’s so simple to make and the oven does most of the work. What makes it a Food in Jars recipe is that it calls for 2 cups of jam – preferably of the drupe variety like cherry, plum, or nectarine. And don’t worry if you don’t have 2 cups of homemade jam in your cupboard, because I didn’t. I bought a jar from the store. Marisa also lists pomegranate vinegar in the ingredients, but if you can’t find that you can just as easily substitute red wine vinegar. Pomegranate vinegar is on the spendy side around here, although it does lend hints of sweet and fruit to the vinegar.

olive oil, leeks, carrots, cherry jam, pomegranate vinegar, garlic, onion, short ribs, thyme, salt, black pepper, water

chopped, sliced, minced



**Jump for more butter**

a cake for all seasons

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Recipe: almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)

Someone turned the dial to Spring this week. In winter, we used to wait for the temperatures to warm up before we could hit the Nordic trails. Now, we have to go as early as possible before the temperatures get too warm and the snow turns to slush. It smells like spring outside in the mountains – like melted snow and warmth and a barely perceptible hint of damp wood. Coyote tracks in the snow don’t get blown away or covered up so much as amplified by the sun’s rays. And Yuki gets her dog stink on after a few minutes on the deck. It’s lovely. All of it.


skate skiing with two happy pups

crested butte mountain towers above the fog



Wednesday was Neva’s fourth birthday and we had a little party for her with Yuki in attendance. We are settling into a nice routine with the pups and I think we have Neva to thank for making Free Range Yuki a reality. When we used to leave the house, Yuki would be nervous and would not play with her toys. She remained at Neva’s side until we returned. But Neva is very chill and good when we are not home. She mostly takes naps, sometimes looks out the window, and occasionally barks her head off at the UPS or FedEx trucks. She let Yuki know that everything was okay. Now, Yuki naps, checks the perimeter (she is many breeds of guard dogs), looks out the window, plays a little with Neva, and even grabs a toy for a few minutes.

happy birthday, neva!

beef, cheese, apples, carrots, and orange



As if on cue, our local mama moose and her yearling (you can see his antler nubs coming in) came by one morning to nibble away at the aspens and currant bushes like she does with each calf every spring. They hung out for a couple of hours in our and our neighbors’ yards. Everyone kept their dogs inside for as long as possible to avoid disturbing the pair until they wandered off to another part of the neighborhood. I managed a few photos from the safety of our deck. Such magnificent creatures.

touching noses

nuzzling with mama

so sweet and affectionate



Today’s recipe is good for spring, summer, fall, winter, because you top it with any seasonal fruit you like. I was looking for a reliable gluten-free cake since most of my gluten-free dessert repertoire consists of non-cake items. The problem with gluten-free baking is that I’m also dealing with high altitude baking. I spent two months working through some version and variation of this cake – sending moderate successes to my neighbors and trashing a couple of outright disasters. But I figured out the tweaks and now have a winner.

eggs, almond flour, sugar, coconut flour, more sugar, baking powder, salt, almond extract, vanilla extract



This cake is baked in an 8-inch springform pan, so smaller than your standard 9-inch cake. The original recipe calls for buttering the pan (or use melted coconut oil), but I line the bottom with parchment paper first and then butter the pan. I’ve become a huge fan of parchment paper for ease of release because I’ve had too many disappointing releases without parchment. I also suspect you could bake this in a standard round baking pan, but I haven’t actually tried it yet.

butter the pan

sprinkle some sugar over the base



**Jump for more butter**