Even though the calendar is calling for a change of seasons winter is not giving up yet in the Colorado Rockies. There is still of lots skiing to have and the peaks still have their white blankets on.  Having said that though the spring is in the air even up in the high country.  The slopes turn into soft “mashed potatoes” kind of snow with a huge puddle in the base area in the afternoon, the sun is high in the sky when the lifts close and if you look closer there are tiny little blades of grass or leaves coming out in the resort village.

  About two weeks ago I visited Roaring Fork Valley; the marvelous place that I visited in the middle of the winter as well. The spring is in the air there... the smell of moist fresh soil, budding willows and grazing horses and cows on the first blades of grass… and all this early spring mood topped with a magnificent view of Mt Sopris still covered in snow.

Today’s recipe is inspired by the spring mood; fresh green peas on a blanket of creamy rice like the fresh leaves digging their way up thru soft spring snow.

Risotto is an Italian rice dish of rich and creamy consistency; with still some bite to it. So don’t overcook your rice into porridge! Arborio is the rice of choice for this dish. The grains are short, fat with pearl like glitter and have high starch content. The starch releases in the cooking process into the liquid creating the desired creamy consistency. Stirring your risotto almost constantly and adding hot liquid little bit at a time helps to remove the starch into the liquid and create the creamy goodness. It is truly a comfort food!

Parmesan cheese is often added for extra creaminess but I substituted cheese with full fat coconut milk.  The approximate cooking time is 20 minutes but as always go by your feel to create the perfect consistency.  You can even remove the dish  from the heat little earlier, cover it and leave to finish in its own heat; adjust the consistency by adding more or less of the coconut milk.

A few words on coconut milk… I am talking about full fat coconut milk sold in cans; not cartons. See what kind is available to you. I personally like Whole Foods 365 Brand or Thai Kitchen. If the can is kept in cooler temperature the fat will separate from the liquid. Blend the fat into the liquid. Experiment with reserving some of the coconut fat and mixing it to the risotto at the end for extra creaminess. Just be aware that the separation does not always happen.

Spring Risotto


3 Tbs ghee, divided
1 shallot, finely diced
3 – 4 celery stalks, diced
1 rosemary twig, minced
1 ½ c – 1 ¾ c Arborio rice
½ c white wine
1 c coconut milk
2 ½ c water or as needed
1 c peas
few pinches of dried parsley

In a medium size saucepan saute shallots and celery in 1 Tbs ghee for 3-5 minutes. Add rosemary and rice. Deglaze with wine, when wine is absorbed add liquid about ½ c at a time. Stir frequently and don't let the rice dry out. Continue cooking until the rice is creamy but still al dente.
When the risotto is almost done mix in peas, remaining ghee and parsley. Cover and allow to rest  for a few minutes.

Good bye winter, hello spring!

 
 
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Snowdrops
 I would like to start with  a quote today. This sort of expresses the mood I have been in lately... things come and go and we have to accept it.

"We think the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, room for relief, for misery, for joy." - Pema Chodron


Other than that today is a special day; and it should be for all women. It is International Women's Day ( even though it is not very known here in the US it is a well recognized day in the Czech Republic). On the top of that today is my name day! Again, a Czech thing; yes, we do celebrate our names. There are names written in the calendar and every day there's somebody's day. Don't ask me for the origins of this but it is certainly a nice thing. Your name is being recognized and celebrated like birthdays without getting older :)) ( well, not really). So Happy Gabriela and Women's day!


A special gift came in the mail yesterday; a Happy name day card from my grandmother. Don't you love getting cards thru snail mail; so rare these days! Hand written lavender flower card! So real that I can almost smell the fresh smell of Provence (seriously put a trip to southern France on your bucket list!) My grandmother is almost ninety years old and boy does she have energy for her age; her letters always keep me up-to-date of her life and local weather. She still takes care of her 4 chickens and garden, goes for walks to the local woods (with my aunt), sweeps dusting of snow from her walkway. In her last letter she was so excited about the first flowers popping their heads up! You know those tough little guys that grow even when there is snow around (see the top picture).
So since today is such a special day let's sweeten it with homemade chocolate spread with hazelnuts, shall we?

Here is the recipe. Eat the spread your way... top your favorite crackers or fruit
with it (it is delicious with apples); if you are more ambitious and looking for a chocolate filling on a dessert this will work as well... or just dig a spoon into the jar and enjoy!  Shhh.... I eat it even for breakfast... there's seriously no guilt in this chocolate; loaded with healthy fats and antioxidant rich cocoa.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
(the measurements are in grams to measure ingredients more precisely (and keep this sort of European :)) compared to volume measurements more commonly used in the US. A good digital scale should have the option to switch between ounces and grams)
If you don't have a double boiler simply put a glass measuring cup into a pot with simmering water.

Ingredients:

1 cup hazelnuts
80 grams cocoa butter
55 grams cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 - 2 Tbs honey
13.5 oz can of full fat coconut milk

Process:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Spread roasted hazelnuts on a damp cloth and rub them until most of the skin is removed.
Place the hazelnuts in the food processor and process until they’re ground; it is up to you how fine you want the hazelnuts to be.
In a double boiler, melt cocoa butter. Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder, salt, honey and coconut milk.
Mix and  add to the food processor with the nuts. Process until the mixture is a smooth consistency.
Store in a jar and then in the fridge.

Makes about 2 cups
 
 
 
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Longs Peak as seen from Black Lake
Wow! What a winter it has been here in Colorado. We have been getting snow non stop in the last 10 days or so. Even though I am one of the "front rangers" who commute to enjoy the snow it has been truly incredible... the best powder ever in Summit County this season. Yes, pick a weekday to go up there... weekend traffic is just NO FUN...
About two weeks ago my husband and I left the ski Saturday crowds and enjoyed the peacefulness of Rocky Mountain National Park. I think this park is magical... I did not use the word beautiful on purpose here... it is magical in a sense that the peaks have really odd shapes; they are craggy and rugged and they just form unusual formations. The winters are quite cruel up there; with low temperatures and
super windy conditions... which was the case when we went but having the right gear made the difference. We started at Glacier Basin trailhead and hiked all the way to Black Lake. The beginning of the trail is easy to follow; to Mills Lake. After that it is quite tricky to find the snow covered trail to Black Lake; the trail starts at the very tip of the lake; slightly to the left. The rangers cleared some of the fallen trees from a few years ago when high winds left a lot of blowdown. The trail goes thru the woods but eventually opens up to some fairly steep meadows. The lake is nestled on the top of the steep slope. The magnificent Longs Peak is just above to the east.
It has been a cold and windy day... but it was so worth it; just bundle up!
This tilapia curry sauce is just the perfect ending on a cold snowy day outdoors.
The great thing about the curry sauce is that most of the work can be done the day before, marinating. It is very quick to cook afterward; so convenient for a hungry stomach after a long day outdoors!
Tilapia is a white fish with firm texture which is essential for this stew; cod with its flaky texture will fall apart.
Tamarind is a brown pod that grows on the tamarind tree; it literally looks like a bean pod. Inside of the pod there are inedible seeds; the pulp is what we are after. The pulp has a tangy taste and is widely used in Indian cuisine in curries. The pulp is available in easy to use paste or I like to buy tamarind concentrate in a liquid form. If you cannot get tamarind in your local store substitute tamarind paste with dried apricots; create a paste from about 2-4 dried apricots and 1-2 Tbs water.(small food processor works great for this or mince the apricots and "paste" them with a knife).

Tilapia Curry Sauce

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small green chiles, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs tamarind concentrate or 1 Tbs tamarind paste mixed with 1 Tbs water or apricot substitute (see above)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 lb tilapia, cut into chunks
2 Tbs coconut oil
2 shallots, minced
1 can coconut milk
1/2 c - 1 c vegetable broth
1 -2 Tbs kudzu powder (optional)
chopped cilantro for garnish

Toss the fish with garlic, chiles and the spices. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour; best overnight.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and saute for about 3 min, until golden. Add the coconut milk and the broth; stir to combine. Add the fish, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 min until fish is cooked thru.

If you like your stew a little thicker (like I do) dissolve kudzu powder in 1/4 c vegetable broth (or water) and add to the sauce. Boil for another 2 minutes or so to thicken the sauce.
Garnish with cilantro and adjust seasoning if needed.

Stay warm and enjoy!

 
 
Happy New Year everyone!  I will cut my wish for this year short : "Let the new born year be exactly the way you want it; the way you have always dreamed about a perfect year..."

I have to say I could not wish for a better start. I spent the beginning of the year outdoors cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado... what a beautiful and peaceful area; especially with some snow on the ground.  Let me take you onto three trails in the Basalt/Glenwood Springs/Aspen area that are absolutely gorgeous.

1. Road to the Maroon Bells
Maroon Bells are the most photographed mountains in Colorado; thousands of people come to press the shutter in summer time... but what about winter? Undisturbed and covered in a blanket of snow...
The Maroon Creek Road leading to the Bells is closed at T Lazy 7 Ranch; roughly 7 miles down the road. The road is groomed and cross country ski track set... what else to wish for, right? The road has a steady uphill grade with beautiful vistas and the Maroon Bells view at the end. Yes, you will sweat but it is sooo worth it... and on the way back... you will just cruise downhill...
I will say that
T Lazy 7 Ranch organizes snowmobile tours up this road.. go for it if you have extra spare cash but I personally recommend the non-motorized way. By the way I was a little worried about the noise and smell from the snowmobiles but it was not a problem at all... share the road and wave!
2. Hanging Lake
Another very popular destination...  a short hike (maybe 1.5 miles ... if that) right off of I-70 in the Glenwood Canyon to a lake that is truly a gem. We decided to explore it with the snow on the ground. This is truly a walk in the paradise; winding trail up a canyon covered with snow capped branches  and snowy canyon walls around you. Yes, the trail is steep and slippery (I highly recommend microspikes and hiking poles) but very easy to follow. Right before you get to the lake there is a sign to Spouting Rock. Go check it out! It is only a few yards above the lake. In winter time there is an ice "wall" around the waterfall from the splashing water.
3. Spring Gulch
Spring Gulch is a system of maintained cross country ski trails on a community basis; so remember to leave a donation! It is not as "touristy" as the two areas above but very worth visiting. The views of Mt Sopris and other peaks in the distance are just breathtaking ! As you make your way up thru the intersecting trails the view will become better and better. Enjoy the long Finlandia Trail ! You can see two Colorado 14ers from this trail - Capitol and Snowmass Mountain (just barely). This area is tucked away a few miles past Carbondale ( just keep going north on Main Street until you can't drive any further).
Of course, that I had homemade meals with me on this trip. For breakfast I enjoyed sprouted buckwheat granola or my breakfast salad. I had home made flat bread (this being one of the variations), go go bars or muffins for a snack. I also discovered that baked sweet potato fries make an excellent portable snack.
These fries are quite crunchy when right out of the oven (well, that was my goal). They soften when stored in the refrigerator but still very tasty...

To make crunchy sweet potato fries follow these steps:
1. Cut fries in same size match sticks (or any other shape; like wedges)
2. Soak them in water for about 1 hour, to release some of the starch. Dry them thoroughly.
3. Toss them in red palm oil (or any other higher heat oil) - about 2 Tbs on 1 lb of potatoes, salt and some coconut flour (about 2 tsp on 1 lb of potatoes)
4. Give them room on the baking sheet; spread them apart. Otherwise they will steam each other.
5. Bake them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at hot oven (I did 425 degrees) for about 10 - 15 min, then turn them and bake for another 10-15 min or so. They should be slightly charred on the bottom.
Every oven bakes slightly differently so test it out. You may have more success with "crisping" on the lower rack.
Enjoy the fries and the outdoors!
 
 
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Lingonberries growing in nice mossy bed
Cranberry sauce.... the must at a holiday table here in the United States; as I came to find out. My first encounter with cranberry sauce was at a Thanksgiving dinner about eight years ago... you know the jelly like stuff that comes out of a can... To cut the story short I hated that stuff and truly missed the cranberry sauce I used to make with my grandmother every fall... 
Later I found fresh cranberries in the store... wow, those cranberries are huge compared to what I have ever seen, I noted. I started making my own cranberry sauce based on the recipe on the package. Tasted much better... but still did not reach the level of the "old home made stuff". Over the years I have perfected my cranberry sauce; I added spices, made it with apple cider, orange zest, dried fruit... every time I make a cranberry sauce now it is a piece of art; always different. I am going to share one of many variations of my cranberry sauce today but first let's go back to the special cranberries from my childhood.
I have heard of these European berries called lingonberries before; Swedish specialty I was told... hmmm... I wonder what those are. Just recently I spotted a good looking jar of wild Lingonberry sauce in Vitamin Cottage. It is Christmas, let's try something new, I figured. I truly couldn't wait to try this sauce... after the first taste I new IT! It was the
same stuff... the "old good cranberry sauce"!! ...
Obviously this is Czech specialty as well :)) I probably don't have to explain that I am currently on lingoberry sauce overload... what a nice surprise for this year's
Christmas.
So what's the difference between American cranberries and European lingonberries? Lingonberries grow in the Czech Republic on low bushes with waxy leaves. They are easier to pick than blueberries because they form sort of "bunches" that can be stripped off the twig. They are very tart and bitter when eaten raw. When sweetened and made into sauce the flavor is more delicate than American cranberries. It is a great accompaniment to wild game... but really, pour it on anything, mix it to yoghurt, pour it over ice cream or try it with brie. Lingonberries (and its sauce) are not produced commercially in the Czech Republic as far as I know; at least not on a very large scale. If you want lingonberry sauce you have to go pick your own lingonberries and make your sauce :)
With all this excitement for lingonberries I am not ditching their large cousin cranberries. I like my spiced cranberry sauce a lot. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!!  And please, ditch the jelly canned stuff; not worth it.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz package cranberries
1 cup apple cider (or water)
orange peel from 1/2 orange
6 cloves
1/3 cup maple syrup or to taste
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1 star of anise, ground
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp orange peel powder (optional but recommended)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh minced rosemary

Pour apple cider into medium size saucepan and bring to simmer. In the meantime place cranberries into a strainer and rinse them. Set aside.
Push cloves into the orange peel ( the reason for this is that you don't have to fish for the cloves later).
Add rinsed cranberries, cloves pricked orange peel and all other ingredient into the simmering apple cider. Cover and simmer for about 5- 8 minutes until cranberries start popping. Remove from heat, take the orange peel out of the mixture. Pour roughly half (depending how chunky you want your sauce to be) of the cranberries with its liquid into a blender and pulse few times until well blended. Put the blended sauce back to the sauce pan with the whole cranberries. Mix and finish with rosemary.


HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR !!!
 
 
You know the holiday rush... deal hunting, checking off a list of "have to's", decorating, planning and simply trying to make everything perfect for the holidays. Well, I am definitely not one who gets engulfed in these kinds of things... I am not saying that I don't like holidays but I don't go crazy...  nice dinner in a family circle and extra time to enjoy  is really what I am looking for.  Even though you may have more obligations than I do I would suggest that you slow down and relax this holiday season.
The recipe I would like to share will definitely save you some time and room in the oven as well.
Last year I posted a recipe for a dairy free and grain free pumpkin pie which I still highly recommend to try. This year I was looking for ways to eliminate eggs from this popular dessert as eggs are a common source of food sensitivity. I came up with this no bake pie. I used beef gelatin powder as a thickener. I actually recommend to use this stuff on a regular basis as it provides a great nutritional support for your cartilage and ligaments. ( What about home made gummy bears?... well, that's for another post).
If you follow a vegan diet then I would recommend experimenting with agar powder. I haven't tried it yet so I am not sure how much agar powder you would need.

I have to admit I made this pie sort of spontaneously so I used leftover roasted butternut squash that I had in the refrigerator and stretched it with a little bit of roasted sweet potato... . Honestly I find butternut squash tastier and less watery compared to a regular pie pumpkin anyways. Try it for yourself and see.... but I get better and more consistent results with butternut squash... and the sweet potato added an extra nice texture. I don't know about canned pumpkin puree... just not a fan of canned food ;))

Now the recipe for 9" baking dish

For the crust:

2 cups toasted walnuts
8-10 pitted soft dried dates ( about 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Process all ingredients in a food processor until combined. Press the mixture into 9" baking dish.
Note: If the dates are too hard soak them in hot water for a few minutes. The texture of the pie crust should be soft and easily molded without cracking.

For the Filling:
1.5 c roasted butternut squash
1/2 c roasted sweet potato
1 c full fat coconut milk ( I like Thai Kitchen or 365 Whole Foods brand)
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tbs beef gelatin powder

Process all ingredients except for gelatin in a food processor.
Whisk gelatin into 1/4 cup of very hot water; whisk thoroughly to dissolve all clumps. Pour clear gelatin to the food processor with the squash mixture and pulse several times to combine all the ingredients. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. You will probably end up with a little bit extra of the filling (about 1 cup); just pour it into a ramekin for a delicious pudding.
Allow to set in the refrigerator; preferably overnight. Enjoy!!
 
 
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Halloween... the spooky time of the year. Even though I am not much of a fan of "Halloween fun" I fully embrace the late fall mood; leaves flying from almost bare trees, greyish skies on the verge of first dustings of snow and bright orange pumpkins and mums adding warmth to these cool days. Don't you love to shuffle your feet thru blankets of dry leaves lying around?  
Actually, today is exactly like this. What a nice prelude to the spookiest night of the year!

What a day in the farmer's market in Boulder on Saturday... still a lot of produce to pick from - peppers and squash of all kinds of shapes, turnips, onions, potatoes just to name a few.  Among other things purple potatoes caught my eye.. what a treat. I also ended up with a variety of greens... well, what is for dinner? Roasted potatoes with bright green pesto.. I added some sweet potatoes to the mix and voala!  Here is a dinner in Halloween colors! This is the perfect Halloweenish side dish...  I served it with Silverbright salmon. As a side note, I haven't had this kind of salmon before. It was on sale in Whole Foods so I gave it a try... I truly enjoyed it as it was flaky, buttery but not greasy at all. 
I believe that this meal could be either a nice addition to any party as a "picker platter" or a cozy dinner.

To roast the potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Chop purple potatoes and orange sweet potatoes, toss them with an herb seasoning of your choice - Italian seasoning, Herb de Provence blend, dried oregano or basil - some salt and oil (use high heat oil - such as red palm oil - my favorite lately or ghee - clarified butter) I would recommend against using olive oil.
Spread seasoned potatoes on the baking sheet and bake until potatoes are soft, about 20 min or so.

For green sauce:
As you already know me, I keep most of my recipes pretty loose... to taste sort of speak; after all cooking is all about experimenting. I encourage you to experiment with other greens... spicy arugula, aromatic cilantro, parsley, basil, mint... mix up the flavors and aim for bright colors!

Parsley Spinach Sauce

4 cups spinach
1 c parsley
1/3 c toasted pine nuts
1/3 c olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 c (plus/minus)  to adjust sauce to the desired consistency
lemon juice and salt to taste

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and saucy. Serve at room temperature.

Salmon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt about 1 tablespoon of ghee in an oven proof skillet such as cast iron on medium high heat.  Season salmon with salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot (test by splashing a drop of water on it, it has to sizzle) place your salmon piece skinless side down on the skillet and cook until golden brown for about 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the piece. (Once the meat is easy to flip with a spatula the salmon is browned). Flip the salmon and place it to the hot oven. Continue to cook for another 5 -8 minutes, test doneness with a fork - the meat should flake easily, be one color - pale pink on the inside and firm to touch.
Take out of the oven allow to rest for 2 - 3 minutes and serve immediately.

Enjoy you spooky fall dinner and get ready for winter !!

 
 
Fall is the season of harvest; aside of the common apples and pears what about rosehips?Rosehips are a real gold mine of vitamins and nutrients; the right weapon against the fall sniffles and flu. They would definitely deserve to be marked as superfoods… even though I don’t really like this term; made up by marketing gurus. Every time I open a popular health/nutrition related magazine this term pops up in connection with some exotic plant… last time it was moringa. You know… really…. we have superfoods in the backyards; there’s no need to spend top dollars on plants that are native to the other side of the world. The natives over there will take advantage of them and we should take advantage of ours… actually what are superfoods? Aren’t all whole foods that grow in rich soils and clean environment “superfoods”? They provide our bodies with the top notch nutrients; sadly this is not advertised much.
I often hear that rosehips are a pain to deal with: "Those itchy tiny hairs that are on the seeds... and deseeding every single berry....??? Well, forget it!"
Yes, it truly requires a lot of patience and long nights to remove seeds from every berry....right grandma? I have been there.. a lot of tales and stories have been told on those nights.
Nowadays, I truly don't have the desire to spend long nights deseeding rosehips plus I am always short on time.. so a thought came to me... what if I shred the rosehips in a food processor and sift the hair thru a fine mesh strainer! I don't mind the seeds as long as the annoying hairs are gone. Guess what... I have a jar full of shredded clean rosehips; done within twenty minutes. Not bad!

So what do you do with rosehips after you pick them?

First step is to rinse them and dry them. You can either dry them by spreading on a large parchment paper lined baking sheet, placing them on a sunny spot and letting them dry. This is the slower method; especially in the fall when days are shorter and not so hot. To speed up the process I spread mine on dehydrator trays and dried them in a dehydrator. It took about 6 hours. Another way - the fastest-  to dry rosehips would be in an oven set on the lowest setting. The rosehips will harden as they dry.
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Fresh rosehips.. drying in the sun did not work for me in the middle of October.
Place dry rosehips into a food processor fitted with shredding blade and chop into rough pieces. Don't overprocess.. but as you will find out it is not as easy; the rosehips are quite hard. Work in batches for best results.
The last step is to place the shredded rosehips into a fine mesh strainer and sift and shake over a bowl or a plate. You will see small brownish hair fly off the strainer; you may be surprised how much hair you will shake out. ... At least I was. This is also a good time to pick out any green stem that might have sneaked in.
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Sifted clean rosehips
Pour the clean shredded rosehips into a jar and store in a dry place away from heat and light.
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Surprising how much hair I sifted thru!!!
The rosehips are now ready to be enjoyed in a tea. To brew a tasty rosehip tea use 1 Tbs of rosehips on every cup of water; in a small saucepan bring water to boil, add rosehips and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for as long as you can wait but at least 15 minutes; try to steep overnight for extra flavor. Strain and enjoy. (Reheat if steeped overnight). Add honey to offset tartness of rosehips, if desired.

The recipe below is sort of a treat for me and a vitamin bomb when first signs of a cold are creeping up. I call it the rosehips cider. Follow the instructions above with the following ingredients:
1 cup rosehips on 3 cups of water
1 small apple, chopped
4 dried apricots
1/4 c rose bud for extra aroma (optional)

This cider is thick and bursting with a lot of flavor; of course you can adjust the amount of water to your liking if it's too strong. Enjoy!!!
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Nice brew...
 
 
What a beautiful fall day! Yes, it was little cooler but sunny ... you know the low autumn light that reflects from objects and makes everything shine. Here in Colorado we enjoy the golden colors of aspen trees... This may seem boring compared to the bright colors in Vermont or the North west but I tell you.. it is worth the experience.... especially if a dusting of snow covers the peaks of the highest mountains.... little bit of a taste of the changing forest and tundra anyone?

Another thing I love about the fall is the harvest... The Boulder Farmers Market is still in full swing; apples of all tastes and colors, oddly shaped pumpkins from the littlest ones to the monstrous ones and the smell of roasted chillies... hard to resist. I am sooo excited to make the first pumpkin pie of the season; there's no need to wait till Thanksgiving.
And then there's the "wild harvest"...remember earlier this year I mentioned the beautiful pink rose petals… just thinking about it I can taste the aromatic sweetness!  Well, these flowers matured into fruit, rose hips.  Picking rose hips truly brings my memories back to my childhood when we climbed in rose bushes full of thorns just get the reddest and plumpest berries that got the most sun. I was quite pleased to find some this year. I can't wait to share my rose hip cider recipe with you. Yum...Stay tuned...
 
 
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Two headed cow?? Miracle or reality?
Growing up I have always liked tasting new foods and exploring new, to me, ingredients. The truth is I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen... well, experimenting. One reason why I like to experiment in the kitchen (as I call it) are the "changes" that happen during the cooking process. The kitchen is sort of a lab where all the miracles happen... new chemical structures and textures are developed. How does a bread rise? Egg solidifies when boiled or fried? and onion changes from a "tear jerker" to sweet caramelized goodness?  These are the things that many people may not think about... those little everyday things that don't stop amazing me. The kitchen is also an atelier, or studio for me..  I don't have to point out that we eat with our eyes first and pick "what looks good".  Preparing meals is almost like painting a picture using colors and flavors of the many kinds of vegetables, fruits and spices; "shading" these with different cooking techniques.

On of these miracles that I would like to mention is butter making...  so simple and so worth it!

What you will need?  Heavy Whipping Cream from pasture raised cows, food processor and a nut milk bag. That's it.

How will you do it? Pour the whipping cream in the food processor, turn it on and watch the changes happen. It will take just about 4 minutes. The liquid cream will change to a whipping cream then thicken to clotted cream... and ... suspense is raising... at one point the fat will actually separate and you will end up with butter and skimmed milk!
Strain the mixture thru the nut milk bag, press the liquid out of the butter as much as you can. Wrap the butter into a parchment paper or a glass container and store it in the freezer or in the refrigerator... and enjoy the milk as well!
If you would like to take your butter to the next level mix in fresh herbs, garlic smashed into a paste ( btw lemon zester is a great tool to grate garlic paste) and little bit of lemon zest from an organic lemon.  Yes, that's the white canvas to make your art on!

Below are 4 pictures showing the changes  during the process. They were taken a minute apart. 1 pint of whipping cream makes approximately 8oz of butter. Enjoy!

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Liquid heavy cream
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Soft whipping cream
Picture
... nice thick clotted cream
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and the messy part... straining
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... and here we go... butter separated from the liquid