If you're a twenty-something-year-old still poaching free breakfast burritos from the gas station then it's time for either an intervention or to get yourself a copy of Beyond Skid. The Beyond Skid cookbook is a volume of delicious, healthy meals that can fuel your passion for all things mountain sports. And the best part? Everything is super easy to make.
The cast-iron pan sizzles to life when I add minced garlic, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms to it. Suddenly the kitchen is filled with the intoxicating aroma of garlic and onion. While those vegetables are sauteing, I open the oven and grab the potatoes that have been roasting for the last 15 minutes, and dump them into the pan. “Can I do anything to help?” my boyfriend Luke asks, visibly worried that we won’t make it to the ski resort in time. I put him on egg duty, and he quickly whisks eight eggs that are added to the mixture. Instead of just scrambling the whole concoction, I pull it off the heat and cover the top in a layer of ruby red sliced tomatoes and dollops of goat cheese. It goes back in the oven for 10 minutes, giving me just enough time to throw on my base layers, bibs, and socks so that I’m ready to leave right after we eat. When the timer chimes I sprint back to the oven and pull out a frittata so cute your mom would want to post it on Pinterest. Breakfast is ready. Everyone is served a slice, and we silently devour the baked egg dish, savoring the hints of rosemary and garlic. “I told you we had time for a nice breakfast,” I playfully tease Luke. He responds by grabbing another slice that doesn’t last on his plate for long.
The 19-year-old version of me would be impressed. I wasn’t much of a cook growing up, and pretty much didn’t even touch an oven in college. In my early twenties, I prioritized everything but eating well because I thought it demanded time and effort that I didn’t have. If I had to choose between cooking a well-balanced meal or getting to the resort for the first chair, skiing won every single time.
Left: The veggie Frittata I wowed my roommates with. Right: Beyond Skid authors Max and Lily in their natural habitat. Beyond Skid photos.
But it turns out that you don’t have to have one or the other. You can eat well and still get after it the mountains, something I’m thankful to have learned from two pals Max Ritter and Lily Krass. That delicious frittata I was telling you about is an easy recipe from their new cookbook Beyond Skid, which seeks to demystify cooking for busy folks like you and me. Their target audience is a group of people who are lovingly known as skids. If you live in a mountain town like Jackson Hole, Truckee, or Crested Butte then you probably know a handful of them. They’re the friends of yours that consider a package of saltines covered ketchup snagged from a McDonalds as a meal. They also probably live in their vehicle, and the only real recurring expense they have is a monthly gym membership, which provides them with a hot shower from 6-8 pm. If you’re not a skid, don’t stop reading, it’s great news. It means that you probably have a fully functioning kitchen—not some sketchy propane-powered stove—and are fully capable of making anything in this 150-page book.
A Passion for All Things Food
Max and Lily both work as ski/outdoor writers, and there’s a chance you’ve stumbled across their bylines in Powder, The Ski Journal, Freehub Magazine, or here at Teton Gravity Research. Max also works here at TGR as the Senior Digital Content Manager. When they’re not writing, they’re likely out skiing some ridiculous line in Grand Teton National Park or ripping pass laps on their bikes. Lily is a total snack queen, infamous for keeping fresh carrots or homemade rice balls in her backpack for long ski tours. Whenever she comes over, she usually brings a jar of homemade applesauce still warm from the stove or freshly baked treats that barely last two days in our kitchen. Through my friendship with Max, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for food. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned from him is that sometimes eating cake for breakfast is completely acceptable—especially when traveling through Europe for a ski trip.
I was lucky to get to know the two of them in the best way possible: over a home-cooked meal. In pre-Covid days, their tiny shoebox of a studio apartment was always bustling with dinner guests. We’d scrunch together in their “living room” to share stories about adventures in the Tetons or some other far-flung corner of the globe while devouring freshly made falafel, tortillas, or whatever else they decided to whip up that night. One evening I even got pulled into their kitchen and was put to work. Shoulder to shoulder, we rolled out dough into little dumplings of sweet potato gnocchi that we’d later drizzle with butter and sage. (Don’t worry that recipe is in the cookbook if your mouth is already watering.) These moments left me in awe of their cooking skills, placing them on a different culinary echelon from myself and other most twenty-something-year-olds.
The funny thing about all this is that Max and Lily wouldn’t even consider themselves chefs. Neither of them has gone to culinary school, and they certainly don’t put themselves in the same realm as someone like Julia Child. Though Lily claims she did just learn how to poach an egg, so that does make her one step closer to Child than most of us. Regardless, the book makes a point to address that “you don’t need to be a chef to cook delicious, healthy meals that fuel your passion for all things mountain sports.” For both of them, it was incredibly important to make this idea clear from the start. “I think there’s this notion that cooking is really hard, and the point of this book was to show our peers that we don’t have any special skills that we’re hiding. You can come as you are and make anything from this cookbook,” Lily emphasizes.
Even though the two of them have never stepped into a formal cooking class, they’ve always had a deep appreciation for good food, something they both learned from their parents. Growing up, Lily’s family had a CSA farm share, which supplemented their meals with produce locally grown in Washington’s Snoqualmie Valley. Max on the other hand grew up in the urban playground of New York City, where an after-school snack on the subway meant grabbing some Halal street food or better yet some sort of pastry from the Jewish Deli down the block. Similar to Lily, his family also highly valued the act of cooking. Rarely did they go out to eat, simply because his parents loved being in the kitchen, specifically using that time as a stress reliever and chance to be creative.
However, it wasn’t until adulthood that both Max and Lily began to understand the importance of cooking in their own daily routines. College left the two of them fending for themselves. Max’s mom also constantly reminded him that he’d never find a girlfriend if he didn’t learn how to cook. For all the men reading this, Mrs. Ritter does bring up a valid point. Lily, on the other hand, discovered she was allergic to a handful of common ingredients. Cooking quickly became more than just a hobby, but a skill that allowed her to be in control of her dietary restrictions.
Traveling and stints of living abroad also opened their eyes to the importance of a good meal. “Elsewhere in the world, cooking is simple. Most cultures use really simple ingredients and cooking methods. If you have a pot of boiling water and a hot griddle you can make most things,” Max explains. He saw this firsthand when he worked a season as a cook at the Karl Ludwig Haus, a remote mountain hut in the Austria Alps, after graduating college. It was the only 100% organic mountain hut in the country, and despite not having any culinary training, Max embraced the work wholeheartedly, learning how to cook things completely from scratch and work with fresh ingredients. “The single biggest lesson I learned in Austria was how to run a kitchen and manage the workflow of cooking things that take a long time. I had never ‘learned’ how to cook before, I just kind of spent time in my parents' kitchen learning how to turn ingredients into food I liked eating, so getting thrown into the mix of a kitchen that cranked out 75-100 Kaiserchmarrns a day was definitely wild! I loved it,” Max tells me.
Kaiser-what? Don't let this dish's hard to pronounce German name—Kaiserschmarrn—fool you, it's a great treat to make for breakfast or dessert. Beyond Skid photo.
Lily had a similar revelation while studying abroad in North Italy. Even though she was there to study Italian, her homestay mom Paola imparted some invaluable cooking lessons to her. “She showed me just how much you could do with a little olive oil and garlic, and also why choosing fresh and high-quality ingredients is so important. If your ingredients are good, you don't have to do much at all,” Lily says. And while she might not use as much olive oil and Parmigiano as her Italian counterparts, she agrees with the Italian mindset that simple, tasty ingredients don’t need much and usually can speak for themselves.
One Wild Idea
Since moving to Jackson, Max and Lily are constantly putting the culinary knowledge they’ve collected over the past few years to good use. Activities like skiing and mountain biking take a lot of energy and calories, and there’s nothing worse than bonking halfway through a big day. Making healthy meals became a priority for them so they could stay focused on having fun. But it never dawned on them to share their favorite recipes until friends kept asking for tips. “The point of Beyond Skid was to show our peers that cooking is really not that hard, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,” Lily explains. What they were making didn’t require rocket science, and a cookbook could help break down a few barriers for their friends. “The more confident you become in the kitchen, the easier it is to whip up something from scratch. I think that’s one of our goals—giving our friends more confidence to cook,” she says. Once you make something like Peanut Street Noodles, it teaches you that a lot of seemingly-daunting recipes aren’t actually that complicated. Before you know it, you’ll be making Kaiserschmarrn to woo that cute girl you met in the liftline because we all know that leftover pizza won’t impress her. The timing worked out well too, because as the idea came to fruition after Lily underwent double hip surgery, leaving them with plenty of time to take on a crazy project indoors. As writers, they also saw it as a fun challenge, and figured why not try. What did they have to lose?
There’s no real guidebook for creating a cookbook, so Max and Lily started the process by simply jotting down their favorite recipes. “There really wasn’t this intentional thought of getting recipes specifically from Austria, Mexico, Thailand, or Germany—we just had this stream of consciousness of all the things we normally make,” explains Lily. As a result, the 56 recipes featured in Beyond Skid aren’t dictated by a single culinary style. They did, however, draw a bit of inspiration from their world travels. Back when traveling was a thing, Max and Lily were notorious for jotting across the globe with their bikes or skis in tow. “My favorite part of traveling is the food,” Max stresses. “It’s fun to do cool shit in other parts of the world, but eating street food, sitting down at a restaurant, or at sharing a meal in someone’s home is really special.” Heck, half the reason they go to Europe is for all the bakery treats.
It's not unusual for Max and Lily's adventures to influence their taste palette. Their Mexico City Street Tacos recipe was inspired by time spent across the border. Beyond Skid photo
Recipes like Mexico City Street Tacos are subtle nods to past adventures like biking old pack mule trails and sipping cold mezcal in Oaxaca, Mexico. Or there’s the delicious Döner Kebap, inspired by the cheap street food they found while skiing everything Innsbruck had to offer. While these meals won’t deliver the same tantalizing faces shots or loamy flow they found abroad, at the very least it gives us a chance to have a small taste of the adventure. It’s worth mentioning that not every recipe is tied to some exotic adventure, in fact, some pay homage to the whole reason they donned aprons and bought a Cuisinart mixer in the first place: their parents. Recipes like One Pot Chili, Oma’s Frikadellen (Grandma’s German meatballs), and more draw inspiration from many nights spent at the dinner table growing up. It might not seem like there’s a common thread to all the meals, but Max and Lily would argue otherwise. Each meal is simple, creative, and won’t break the bank. No more using the excuse that cooking is too expensive, because they bet something like Refrigerator Fried rice is cheaper than most greasy apres burgers. Plus, you’ll feel better at the end of day.
Making the cookbook was far from a straightforward process. “Once we got the ball rolling we got excited to make a tangible thing, and it obviously took a really long time,” Max says with a laugh. “We learned a lot of lessons along the way—mostly in the last few months of finishing it. But I think we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it and make something useful, beautiful, and cool.” One of their biggest challenges was trying to photograph everything. They lived in a tiny apartment with minimal natural light, so lighting the food properly to make it look appealing was harder than they expected. Hardcore food photographers also waste a lot of food and put inedible things to make the photos pop—which wasting a good plate of food is a definitely a sin in the Ritter/Krass household. “The result was many frustrating photo shoots framing and holding different dishes while we were both super hangry,” Lily jokes. Eventually, they bought some proper studio lights and dialed in the photos. “I'll totally second the fact that photography was a challenge — especially when all we wanted to do was stuff our faces after a long day of skiing or biking! Food photography is hard, it turns out - we definitely shot some stuff that made something really tasty look incredibly gross,” Max says.
A defining moment in the process was enlisting the help of their friend and illustrator Christian Johansen. They crossed paths camping this summer, and naturally talked about all things creative while hanging out around the campfire. Johansen was stoked to help bring their vision to life. His whimsical and intricate drawings put the finishing touches on places like the logo, the appendix, the chapter markers, and much more. “Though it’s not a Jackson specific book, it oozes the Jackson Hole vibe, we all met while living here, and it may just be the worst place on earth — tell your friends. So I wanted to include an homage to the place,” Johansen explains about the Teton mountain illustration stretching across pages eight and nine. “While it’s become somewhat of a trope, the Grand is used visually so often for a reason, it’s just so damn striking. but as we are all big backcountry skiers, I wanted to include the whole range, or as much as I felt would read well across two pages. So it goes from Buck to Moran.”
Weeks later, stacks of cardboard boxes arrived at their apartment with 130 cookbooks fresh from the printer. It was then that it finally hit them: they pulled this wild idea off. Simply making the book felt like a huge accomplishment worth celebrating, but the real payoff came from all the eager customers who swiftly placed orders. In their first round of sales they completely sold out their inventory in just a month, and from the looks of it, the books are being put to good use. It’s not unusual for Max or Lily to receive excited text messages from friends and family letting them know that they just cooked Uncle Jimmy’s Curry or the Peanut Street Noodles. “I think we’ve been surprised by how many people are reaching out to us and sending us photos of their food,” Lily says. And the best part? Everything looks delicious. Bon appetit!