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archive for July 2013


Monday, July 8th, 2013

Recipe: chinese dan dan noodles

I hope you all had a great weekend whether it was a Fourth of July long weekend or just a regular weekend. We watched throngs of visitors flock to Crested Butte and happily saw their numbers dwindle as the weekend wound down. I’ve noticed that when people come to the mountains they 1) like to sit in the driveway of their vacation rental (why?!) and 2) burn things. I’m okay with #1 if they’d just quit with the #2. Meanwhile, Jeremy and I have been hosting my parents and exploring more of the area both with them (restaurants) and without them (trails).

and fishing – dad loves fishing

grabbing cocktails in mount crested butte before dinner

The great thing about the mountains is that wildflowers peak at different times depending on things like elevation, slope aspect, amount of sun, moisture (both from the sky and from streams), and their species. Some spots are nearing peak bloom while others are just getting started. Regardless of their state, it is simply invigorating to get out and see it for yourself in some of the finest scenery Colorado has to offer.

mule ears

mint family

mule ears and larkspur

hiking the “oh be joyful” trail

A week before my parents arrived in Colorado, I called to ask them if they had a recipe for dan dan mien or dan dan noodles. I hadn’t ever had the dish before, but several friends raved about the noodles and asked if I had a recipe. I did not. Turns out my parents didn’t have a recipe either, but they definitely had their opinions on how the noodles should be prepared. I went to the interwebs and found what I thought would taste good. Several days after I had photographed and eaten the noodles, my parents inquired about my search and their curiosity was piqued when I said I had tried a recipe.

me: ground pork
dad: no, no ground pork
me: za tsai (preserved mustard green)
dad: (makes a face of disgust and disbelief)
me: peanuts
dad: nobody puts peanuts in dan dan mien!

When Mom told me what she puts in her version of the noodles, Dad interjected and said her recipe was also incorrect. Then they argued over what goes into the noodles. I just want you to know that even though I liked this version of dan dan mien, it is not sanctioned by either of my parents. Their recipe may be forthcoming, if they can ever agree on what goes into the noodles… For now though, you can chew on this.

the sauce: chili oil, black vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sugar

adding black vinegar to the grated garlic, soy sauce, and sugar

whisk in the chili oil

**Jump for more butter**

flowers instead of fireworks

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Recipe: pistachio rose shortbread cookies

This year, our town of Nederland decided to have a giant picnic instead of the annual Fourth of July fireworks. So we decided to get to Crested Butte a week ahead of my wildflower shoot to catch their fireworks. My parents came along to visit us as they’ve never been to the town and they wanted to see our new place. They are terrible at hiding their emotions, so I was rather pleased when they kept exclaiming how much they love the house, how much they love Crested Butte, and how much they are enjoying themselves. Sadly, it looks like the fire bans across Colorado counties caught up to us here too. The usual fireworks at the base of the mountain were canceled. But it’s okay, because the flowers are quite good already.

arrowleaf balsamroot


scarlet gilia

Wild roses are also peaking in the mountains and several bushes were gracing our yard with an incredible fragrance last week. I happened to be researching a recipe for a rose shortbread when a light bulb went off in my head. Recipes that call for rose petals always instruct you to source organic unsprayed roses. That’s because you don’t really want all of those chemicals in your food. The wild roses in my yard are chemical free and the flavor is more intense than any commercial rose.

my wild roses

My pal, Wendy, told me that roses have cooling properties. That makes them particularly wonderful in summer. However, I also love the floral essence that roses impart to food. Ever since I bought that bottle of rosewater, I’ve been looking for other things to make with it. I found a lovely recipe on Julia Usher’s site. She offers an alternative to rosewater, which is to infuse the sugars and butter with rose petals. I met her halfway and infused the sugars, but still used the rosewater.

a cup of wild roses, granulated sugar, confectioner’s sugar

half cup of rose petals in each bowl of sugar

**Jump for more butter**

i love it so mochi

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Recipe: matcha green tea mochi ice cream

There is a period in summer when the sun is set on BROIL and I slink around barely tolerating the heat (or not tolerating it, as Jeremy might point out). The best I can muster is a combination of avoiding the sun and ignoring it. By the time the pine pollen has cleared in the mountains, we are chomping at the bit to get outside and run, hike, bike, anything. The snow pack is dwindling which isn’t abnormal for late June, but I cry on the inside to see it melt. Still, it means wildflowers are sure to follow.

a little ice remains on lake isabelle

That morning hike got the ball rolling on a day of many very excellent things. There was a package waiting for me when I got home – the very best kind of package. My friend, Jamie, gifted me several AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL custom-made cutting boards from her studio. Her craftsmanship and artistry left me speechless, as did her generosity. Also? She is totally badass. I am already sleeping with the little board under my pillow, I love it so much.

i shall cherish these

In the evening, I took Jeremy to dinner at his favorite restaurant in Boulder, Frasca, to celebrate his official notice of tenure.

congratulations, sweetheart!

And to top off an already terrific day, we were rewarded at home with lightning storms and REAL rain that washed away the pollen, soaked the thirsty ground, cooled the air, and smelled of mountain summer.

forked lightning

cloud to cloud strikes

We have since been enjoying milder temperatures, periodic rainstorms, and dramatic clouds forming over the high peaks. But I know the heat will attempt to return, as it competes with the clouds for attention. For the past few weeks, the only foods I’d been wanting to prepare were cold or frozen. Sometimes in late afternoon, the house would be so warm I’d open the freezer and cram my head and shoulders into the bottom shelf for a brief second, or two, or three… While I was in the freezer last week, I noticed a quart of passion fruit ice cream in the door and decided I ought to do something with it.

you’ll need potato starch (or cornstarch) and glutinous rice flour

Mochi is one of my favorite Asian treats. The slightly sweet rice flavor and chewy texture is wonderful with ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt. You have no doubt seen the mochi ice cream nuggets sold in Asian grocery stores or the Trader Joe’s freezer troughs. When I lived in Southern California, I was in an eternal state of overheating. I routinely poured my upper body into the Trader Joe’s freezers and when I approached the “now it’s awkward” time threshold, I’d grab a box of mochi ice cream to go.

Two things: 1) Glutinous rice flour doesn’t contain any gluten. I have to say this every time because someone out there freaks out every time. It’s just a descriptor for how dang sticky the stuff is. 2) Mochi is stupid-easy to make.

water, matcha green tea powder, sugar, glutinous rice flour

mix the matcha and rice flour together

add the water

**Jump for more butter**