vegetarian chinese potstickers (dumplings) huckleberry brown butter tarts roast lemon chicken with chanterelles plum ketchup

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the overstayed welcome

October 11th, 2015

Recipe: vegetarian chinese potstickers (dumplings)

Summer, go home already! It was downright hot this weekend in the mountains – as in shorts and t-shirt hot. I’m worried if the temperatures don’t drop soon, my body won’t be ready for winter. And by ready, I mean I won’t have had a chance to adjust to cold temperatures. It’s like dumping a dog into winter who hasn’t had a chance to grow its winter coat. At least the skies have been pretty, but seriously… get on outta here, Summer.

a nice sunset to kick off the weekend, even if it was an oven

Now that Neva has been spayed, we started shopping around for a good doggy daycare and hotel (boarding). The place we took Kaweah was down in Boulder, which I never felt was ideal because it was a long drive, it’s hotter down in Boulder, and their outdoor area was a parking lot cordoned off by chain link fencing. Of course, Kaweah LOVED it. It was all about the doggies for her. There were some locations in the mountains that boasted large acreage for dogs to roam and have fun, but we knew that wouldn’t work for Kaweah who 1) was an incredible escape artist and 2) ate sticks, rocks, and anything disgusting she could get her mouth on outside. Neva, however, chews sticks up, but summarily spits them out (thank goodness!) and she is far more focused on playing with friends than trying to escape. She had a meet and greet with a local Nederland daycare/boarder to make sure she wouldn’t be aggressive or problematic with the other pups. At first she was nervous because they all seemed to pile onto her at once, but as soon as they wandered off, she chased after the group and engaged them for more play. She passed the test.

On Friday, I dropped Neva off for a full day of playtime and she nearly dragged me through the door. Once she entered the playzone with the other pups, she never even noticed I was leaving. No separation anxiety there! Jeremy and I felt that Neva really needed more doggy socialization in a place where she can be supervised and contained (she is still a flight risk, but perhaps less so than Kaweah was – fingers crossed). The nice thing is the proprietor is also a certified dog trainer who follows positive reinforcement training. At the end of the day, we picked Neva up and she was completely exhausted. Happy and exhausted. She plowed through her dinner then fell asleep for the rest of the night. We were told that she played so much, she might still be tired on Saturday, in case we had plans to hike her. She slept or lounged all of Saturday, which made it possible for us to get a lot of work done around the house and yard. I love puppy playtime!

still tuckered on saturday

feeling like her old self by sunday

Over the summer, my mom experimented with various vegetarian potsticker and dumpling recipes because she had made some for a dear friend’s daughter who is vegetarian. Every time I would drop by my parents’ place in Boulder, Mom would shove a vegetarian dumpling into my mouth. “What do you think?” she’d ask, smiling. Was it better than the last one? Should she add more bean thread noodles? Maybe use some egg? The variations are endless. I told her when she settled on a final version, I’d like to have the recipe so I could share it here on the blog. Summer being as busy as it was, I’m not sure she ever decided which one she liked best (they were all quite good). I decided to give it a try recently and discussed some recipe ideas with Mom over the phone. Both of my parents really get into recipe development, so Mom rattled off several suggestions as I jotted them down in my notebook.

Then she said, “If you really want to improve the flavor, add some chicken broth to the filling.” I paused. “Um, Mom, if you add chicken broth, it’s no longer vegetarian.” Oh, then you can add some dried tiny shrimps – makes it taste so good. I informed her that shrimp is also a deal breaker for vegetarians. It’s not that my parents have a poor understanding of what vegetarian means, but that (I think) Chinese people have a misconception of what “meat” means. I can’t tell you how many times we have been at an authentic dim sum restaurant with a vegetarian and I have asked the server if they had any dishes without meat. “Oh yes!” they’d smile, and plop a few tins of steamed shrimp dumplings or stewed chicken feet onto the table explaining that these were not “meat”.

I did a little research and found myself gravitating toward tofu. I know a lot of people are anti-soy, but it is what it is and I for one love tofu. Marc at No Recipes had a great little post on making vegetarian/vegan ground meat from firm tofu by freezing it, then squeezing it dry and crumbling the tofu. I grew up eating tofu like this except Mom didn’t crumble it, but sliced it. It’s a nice spongy texture that is great in hot spicy soups and stews. Sounded like a good solution.

for the filling: firm tofu, baked tofu, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, cornstarch, napa cabbage, green onions

freeze the firm tofu in its liquid, then thaw it completely

squeeze out the liquid and crumble the tofu

**Jump for more butter**

season shift

October 8th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry brown butter tarts

Shouldn’t we have had a good old snow storm by now? Nederland has received some rain, some morning frost, and snow in the high peaks, but the aspens in our front yard are still mostly green. What the whut? Because the weather continues to coast through Indian Summer, I keep putting off things like trimming back the yard or waxing my skis. Thankfully, the nights are cooler – almost chilly. It won’t be long before we make the switch to flannel sheets. Unfortunately, Neva’s internal puppy clock has not shifted with the sun and she still wakes up around 5:30 am which is a dark, lonely, and groggy time of day for humans.

i love the mix of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens against the blue colorado sky


fresh snow

the bed hog

Neva’s routine used to be: wake up, whimper in her crate, go out to potty, eat breakfast, go crazy. Now as an older pup, she wakes up, chews her toy in her crate until someone wakes up (usually me), goes out to potty, eats breakfast, and then hops on the bed for an after-breakfast nap. It makes for a more coherent existence, not to mention she’s a real snuggle bunny – that is until she wants you to wake up and puts her paw on your face. But we are liking the earlier starts to our days as long as we aren’t up too late working the night before.

After four months with Neva, she’s getting the hang of being a Colorado dog which includes eating wild raspberries, wild strawberries, and mountain huckleberries. Neva, like Kaweah, picks up all manner of things off the trails in her mouth. Unlike Kaweah, she spits them out rather than eating them. So when I gave her a huckleberry to eat for the first time, she was uncertain of what to do. I squished it so she’d taste the juices right away and she was eager for another. Sometimes she’d sniff them out and eat them off the huckleberry plants (which is why I leave her at home when I’m harvesting hucks). And because huckleberries have an incredible smell (sometimes I open a ziploc bag of hucks, stick my nose in and inhale deeply), Neva comes running when I make anything with huckleberries – like these huckleberry brown butter tarts.

start with the dough: butter, sugar, flour, lemon juice, salt, ice water

pulse the flour, salt, sugar, and butter together (to the little peas stage)

add the lemon and ice water

pulse until it just comes together

divvy the dough in half and refrigerate

**Jump for more butter**

ready for snow

October 5th, 2015

Recipe: roast lemon chicken with chanterelles

You can learn so much from your neighbors. At least, I have this past week. While I tried to restrain Neva from jumping on two friends and apologized for the “craziness”, one of them said her dog used to do it too, but ever since she sent her to doggy day care, she is much better behaved. Now that Neva is 6 months old and spayed, we can start giving her a few days a month at a day care more for socialization than anything else. And another friend recommended letting Neva hang out in the car without driving anywhere to get her over the fear of the car. Each day I’d spend 30 minutes with Neva in the back of the car – back hatch wide open – and we’d watch the world go about its business around us. I gave her a treat (either a greenie or part of a scoop dog treat) to make happy associations. The first day I had to lift her into the car as she struggled to run away. She drooled and foamed at the mouth for the first 15 minutes, letting out sad little cries and wails. By the sixth day, she was leaping into the back on her own, asking politely for the goodies, and feeling pretty darn happy.

The real test was driving her someplace. I waited until after 5 days of car therapy had passed. She hopped in on her own and didn’t drool or foam once! She did let out a few quiet whimpers when she realized what was happening, but then we were at the trailhead and she was able to focus on the hike instead. She did great. At 4 am this morning, we drove home to Nederland and Neva (on dramamine) did pretty well for 5 hours over mountain passes and windy roads – no puke, but a little bit of drooling. We’re working on it and at least she is making progress.

happily chewing her greenie in the back of the subaru

Neva and I were both happy to see Jeremy pull into the driveway Friday evening. He offered to take care of Neva so I could spend the weekend shooting the fall colors, but I said no. Strong winds on Friday stripped many of the leaves off the aspens around town, and I felt the time would be better spent getting some exercise and simply enjoying the last of the fall colors together rather than trying to get those money shots. Besides, I was able to grab a few decent snaps.

getting neva back on the trails saturday (plus a happy swim at the end)

a hike to a view on beckwith pass, sunday

jeremy and i got some time on the stand up paddleboards, too

thursday’s sunset before the winds picked up

even though some stands are past peak, it is still pretty gorgeous

There was a dusting of snow on the high peaks (probably above 13,000 feet) Saturday morning, but the sun made quick work of returning the snow to the atmosphere (I’m pretty sure that snow sublimated off the summits). As Jeremy and I hiked with Neva through carpets of fallen aspen leaves, we caught each other up on news of the week, angry letters we want to write to elected officials, and mushrooms. It’s hard for me to hike a trail and not point out where there was a good flush of chanterelles or porcini from the summer, or where there ought to be a good flush of chanterelles or porcini if *I* were one of those mushrooms and had a say about where I were to fruit. Friends of mine in other parts of the world have to deal with foraging chanterelles while golden leaves are falling on the ground, which makes for far more challenging visual conditions. We have it nice here in Colorado – our beautiful yellow chanties come up when most of the vegetation is green (as do our porcini).

well, how beautiful are you, little chanterelle?

frilly and delicate

Now that I’ve had my fix of fall colors (they’re still going and I still enjoy them, but now I don’t feel compelled to photograph them once peak is over) and it has snowed a few times in the high elevations, I am ready for ski season to start. No really, I am. Sooooo, any day now, Nature! In the meantime, I’ll get some trail running in since Neva no longer requires constant supervision and I’ll start roasting things like chicken and oh hey – chanterelles. Roasting is an easy way to make a dinner packed with flavor. Use any (edible) mushroom, but I happened to have fresh chanterelles when I shot this recipe last month. I don’t have fresh chanties now, but I did sauté several pounds of chanterelles in butter for freezing. If you have frozen cooked chanterelles, they will work just fine in this recipe.

chicken, carrots, parsley, thyme, pepper, olive oil, chanterelles, potatoes, onion, lemon, salt, garlic, bacon

mise en place

**Jump for more butter**