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Three New Books to Put on Your Nightstand

Aspen chefs share their recipes, plus a local bioblitz and the awesome power of deep snow.

By Cindy Hirschfeld December 23, 2020 Published in the Winter/Spring 2020–21 issue of Aspen Sojourner

The Hidden Life Around Us
Bioblitz Aspen: Discovering the Rich Diversity of Species in Our Backyard

What better time than now to realize that you need venture only as far as Aspen’s Hallam Lake Nature Preserve to see 422 species of birds, bugs, mammals, and plants? “We have amazing wildlife if you’re willing to look,” says Chris Lane, CEO of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), which is based at the 25-acre preserve. “You don’t have to go to the Serengeti or to Asia.”

Discover 81 of those species up close in this new book of photographs and essays from ACES that catalogs Hallam Lake’s flora and fauna. That cataloging resulted from a three-day “bioblitz”—a project to document as many species as possible in a specific amount of time—with scientists from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

Lane says that ACES has longed wanted to compile a comprehensive species list, and that climate change added a sense of urgency. The bioblitz uncovered insects and plants (including a carnivorous one) that ACES staffers weren’t even aware of.

Local lensman Peter Feinzig took most of the book’s stunning photographs, shooting early each morning over nine months to capture images like one of a bear eating a deer. “I could see the blood all over his face,” Feinzig recalls. “Just to see that in downtown Aspen was pretty amazing.”

While readers marvel at photos of an alien-like orb weaver spider or a soaring osprey, Lane hopes they’ll also be motivated to protect more of the natural environment, including their own backyard. $55, aspennature.org


Dragons in the Snow
Avalanche Detectives and the Race to Beat Death in the Mountains
Edward Power

With backcountry skier numbers predicted to skyrocket this winter, this book is especially timely. Power, a former newspaper scribe who now lives in Utah, interviewed forecasters, snow scientists, guides, rescuers, pro skiers, and avalanche survivors. The result is a thoroughly comprehensive overview of snow: its characteristics, its allure, and its danger. The most compelling chapters, unsurprisingly, narrate the stories of those who have been in avalanches or lost loved ones; they speak with poignant hindsight. And one of the most tragic tales recounts an incident in Montana involving Carbondale native Hayden Kennedy and his partner, Inge Perkins. $18.95, mountaineersbooks.org



The Aspen Cookbook
Edited by Amanda Rae Busch

Comfort food takes on new meaning with this locally produced compendium of more than 100 recipes from almost 70 of your favorite Aspen-area chefs and restaurants. That’s because sales benefit local restaurants during Covid through grants given by YPN Aspen, the group of young real estate agents who spearheaded the project. Food journalist Busch spent several months testing and tweaking the recipes for the home cook. “My goal was to tell the story of Aspen through these beloved dishes,” she says. Among her favorites: Ellina’s artichoke bruschetta (“I hounded [owner] Jill for weeks,” notes Busch); tikka masala curry from Aspen Public House; and Meat & Cheese’s beet, chard, and goat cheese empanadas with chimichurri sauce. Good food for a good cause. $45, aspencommunitycookbook.com

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