A DAY SPENT at one of the region’s ski slopes requires fuel for the body. Something with energy, but also staying power. It shouldn’t crumble apart in your pocket or, worse, melt during a perfect bluebird day.
Kellie Phelen, owner of Capitol Hill’s The Works Seattle, keeps a Starburst in her cheek at all times while skiing. “The sugar keeps you warm,” Phelen says.
Nicco Muratore, chef at Mamnoon, says last year’s COVID-related closures really changed the way he ate at ski resorts. When lodges were closed, Muratore took to bringing his camping stove to make sausage, egg and pepperjack cheese sandwiches in the parking lot before the lifts started running. When he doesn’t have time for that, Muratore relies on Trader Joe’s pollo asado burritos, claiming they’re delicious even when they’re cold.
“Pro tip is to open it up and add hot sauce and pickled peppers before bringing it skiing,” Muratore says.
When Christina Mathis, owner of Blue Box Bakery, was a kid, her parents would bring spicy Korean ramen and turkey sandwiches to the ski hill at the Summit at Snoqualmie, dipping their turkey sandwiches in the spicy soup.
“Nothing reminds me of the mountains more than spicy Korean ramen and a turkey sandwich,” Mathis says.
Mathis has been skiing since she was 3 years old, deciding the first time she was at the mountain with her family that day care was for “babies.” Her parents said if she didn’t go to day care, she had to ski.
“I was scared. My dad carried me down on his shoulders, but after two runs I was like, ‘I got this,’ ” Mathis says.
When she was 5, a local instructor stopped her parents and told them she had potential to be a ski racer. She raced through high school — spending every weekend at Crystal Mountain and two nights a week at Snoqualmie — and then raced in college for Montana State University. Now she skis for fun, heading to the mountains with her husband and their two sons as often as they can.
She says she was embarrassed as a kid to bring her own lunch to the mountain when all she wanted was a hot dog or pizza.
“But now I am ‘that mom.’ I bring bagged lunches to the mountain,” she says with a laugh.
She’s a huge fan of hot cocoa — as is her older son, James — and through the years, she has cycled through her favorite ski snacks: things readily available at the grocery store, like Corn Nuts and Starburst.
“Starburst are the best. When they’re in your pocket, they don’t melt when you’re spring skiing, and they’re pretty good cold,” Mathis says.
But overall, when it comes to keeping herself and her family fueled in the lift lines, there’s nothing better for Mathis than a batch of her Spicy Maple Pecans.
They are the total package: sugar and fat for energy, spice for a little warming kick, and the nuts can’t be crushed in your pocket when you’re rocketing through the glades.
Spicy Maple Pecans
Makes 4 cups
4 cups pecans
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet tray, and bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly toasted. Do not fully toast, as they will get another round of heat later.
3. While pecans are in the oven, combine sugar, brown sugar and maple syrup in a pot large enough to hold all the pecans, stirring over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
4. Remove the pecans from the oven, and set aside. Mix in the cayenne and cinnamon to the boiling syrup, adding the pecans once the spices are fully incorporated.
5. Stir the pecans continuously. You will see the syrup mixture start to form an almost-powdery sugar coating over the outside of the nuts. I prefer stopping at this stage, but if you like the glaze coating, continue to stir until the powdery sugar starts to melt and form a caramel over the nuts.
6. Transfer the pecans back onto a sheet tray to cool. Stored in an airtight container, the pecans should last 2-3 weeks at room temperature.
— from Christina Mathis, Blue Box Bakery