I've been on the road quite a bit lately, most recently visiting the stunning prodigious landscape of Colorado. Colorado has a particularly gripping effect on me. The sweeping mountain ranges born by the hot brewing molten earth, and the deep chasms between canyons brings to my attention how grand, and precarious life can be out here. There's something quite thrilling about being at the edge of this beautiful part of earth.
On the plane ride to Colorado, I had the great pleasure of meeting an adventure writer, Craig Childs, who was - lucky for me - sitting in the next seat. Childs has authored over a dozen critically acclaimed books detailing impressive adventures to exotic, remote and sometimes dangerous areas. In his most recent book Finder's Keeper: A Tale of Archeological Plunder and Obsession, he reveals how private collectors, driven by curiosity, excitement or greed, take for themselves historical artifacts encountered in native lands. There's an interesting quote that beautifully summarizes the book, "There is a difference between finding and keeping. The two are often lumped together into one action, but there is a blink that comes in between. It is when a thing goes from being its own to being yours." If you are interested, the New York Times wrote a review last month here.
Through our conversation, Craig suggested that we visit Black Canyon, which is south of Colorado Springs. In the picture above, it may appear that the stone path leads through to the other side of the mountain range, but between the grayish green rock and the warm stone mountain surrounded by pine trees is about a 6,000 foot plunge. Life out here means making friends with nature and the inherent danger that comes with this territory.
The tension between danger and serenity defines the way of life here, most people here will look at it as harmony. You'll see the idyllic streams bending and hugging around the foot of the mountains here, but then look up and realize that those mighty rocks above you could someday tumble down and potentially take your life. It's a reality that awakens me and is a reminder of how small I am in the grand scheme things.
Most people here have found a way to live in harmony with the rugged and beautiful landscape. The picture above reveals how mineral rich the earth is around here. This particular mountain is likely saturated in iron, which gives it the rusty autumn red color.
During the trip we enjoyed a wonderful salmon burger recipe at a cafe local to Crested Butte, Colorado. I tried to recreate the delicious burger with Mark Bittman's recipe, which is an excellent recipe. The salmon patty retains some of its meaty texture with a good balance of moisture. Also the addition of shallots, capers and mustard provides a good integration of contrasting fresh flavors.
This is a great recipe for those busy weeknights as the burger can be made within 30 minutes from start to finish.
Mark Bittman's Salmon Burger Recipe
(adapted from Mark Bittman)
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless salmon
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 shallots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Chop the salmon into large chunks, roughly 2-3 inch cubes, and place about a quarter of the salmon into the food processor along with the mustard. Pulse until the mixture becomes pasty.
- Toss in the shallots and the balance of the salmon. Pulse until the fish is chopped and combined with the puree. No piece of salmon should be larger than a quarter of an inch however take care to avoid a mixture that is too fine.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and fold in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into four burger patties.
- Place the butter and oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter foam subsides or the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes each side, turning once. Alternatively, you can grill them: let them firm up on the first side, grilling for about 4 minutes, before turning over and finishing for just another minute or two. To check for doneness, make a small cut and peek inside. Be careful not to overcook. Mark Bittman suggests that the burgers are served on a bed of greens or on buns or by themselves, with lemon wedges and Tabasco or any dressing you like.