chinese red-cooked pork crested butte: montanya distillers tasting room coconut sorbet pickled beets


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archive for January 2014

new year in the new place

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Recipe: miso-roasted cauliflower

Winter storms are marching across (or around) Colorado this week. We had a short 1-day window between storms to zip over to Crested Butte. There’s so much powder being dumped that it’s enough to make a girl’s head spin. So she might be forgiven for suggesting getting a handful of first tracks in the morning before packing everything up to drive 5+ hours. And now we’re about to celebrate our first Chinese New Year in the new place! I guess it isn’t so new anymore, but it still feels new. The important thing is that we all love it here, including Kaweah. Of course, she sleeps most of the time and it tugs at my heart that she can’t enjoy the high country, trails, town, or even the neighborhood with us the way she could just a few years ago.


old pups need lots of naps

i brought “fu” (luck) to hang upside down on our front door



Chinese New Year will be just a tad simpler in Crested Butte than normal, because the kitchen is smaller and the groceries around here aren’t so great for traditional Chinese cooking. I prepped several dishes in Nederland and will make the rest here on Thursday (Chinese New Year’s Eve) after we ski the powder. Yes, there is powder and a lot of it in the forecast for CB! We took a break from work on Wednesday afternoon to squeeze in a nordic ski and the snow was already falling. Getting outside is the very best medicine for me.

me, my sweetie, and large fluffy flakes!

along the slate river



I can tell that the Crested Butte kitchen is slowly coming up to snuff because the types of meals I prepare here are converging with the types of meals I prepare at home. We ate a lot of simple dishes when we first moved in – boiled things, grilled things, roasted things. We still do a lot of roasted vegetables because it’s a lovely way to enjoy Brussels sprouts, broccoli, butternut squash, asparagus, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and cauliflower. I have always loved cauliflower and all vegetables thanks in no small part to my mom’s great cooking. Most of the time she would stir-fry or braise the vegetables, but now I’ve added roasting to that list of favorite techniques. It concentrates the sweetness and flavor so nicely, and it’s pretty easy to do. Roasted cauliflower is a real winner of a dish, but the other day I thought to add miso to the mix… because how could it be bad?!

pretty purple and orange cauliflowers

so pretty



**Jump for more butter**

learning and teaching

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Recipe: chinese turnip pastries

A small pulse of winter weather delivered some snow to our local hill last week. Three inches does not a powder day make, but we had a lovely time nonetheless because the air was completely calm. Our typically scoured high peaks were all sporting beautiful blankets of snow that morning. Snowflakes floated through the air, glistening in the sun. I love me a sun shower, but sun snow is one of the best things ever.


the view from my favorite run at eldora (muleshoe)

sun snow!



Trent mentioned that he was taking his 3-year old to the local hill for her first ski day this past weekend and asked if we were planning to go. Jeremy and I are what you would call spoiled brats. We don’t go to ski resorts on weekends unless there is a foot of fresh powder. But… I thought it would be nice to offer our moral support and it’s been a while since I’ve brought my camera (as opposed to my iphone) with me to the slopes. We rode the magic carpet (I’ve never ridden the magic carpet with skis before), we skied the bunny hill, and we shouted encouragement to little Paloma. It’s a lot for a little one to take in – all of the commotion, this strange form of travel (skis), people yard-saling it left and right, potty breaks, snacks, and trying to learn to ski on top of all that. She did so well! I have to say that Trent gets major points for being so patient, caring for his little girl in this new-to-her environment while teaching her the fundamentals of skiing, and ensuring she has fun.

trent teaching pizza (wedge) while paloma goes straight to french fries (parallel)

proud dad watches as she takes off on her own

skiing is FUN!



Watching my friends interact with and teach their children is fascinating. It simultaneously impresses and terrifies me. Impresses, because my friends are amazing parents with infinite patience and dedication. Terrifies, because I don’t know what to do with kids outside the realm of “fun auntie”. They cry and I immediately surrender. And because it’s so much work, it makes me realize all the more how wonderful my parents and grandma were to me in my youth.

As Chinese New Year approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about Grandma. I sure do miss her and all of the little special things about our visits together. She had a friend who made these delectable savory turnip pastries, and whenever I came to see Grandma in California, she’d have bought several of these pastries for me. My aunt and I tried to analyze and reverse engineer how to make them on one visit and Grandma waved her hand at us and said, “It’s quite complicated.” But after making the egg custard tarts, I decided to give the savory turnip pastries a go.


start with chinese sausages

salt, daikon radish, chinese sausage, sesame oil, pepper



**Jump for more butter**

chinese new year recipe round up

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Chinese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) is a week away! It will be the Year of the Horse, which is special because my sister was born in the Year of the Horse and would have been 48 this year. I’m busy cleaning the house, prepping special foods, and doing those things that are supposed to bring luck in the new year. Maybe you are a traditionalist or perhaps the lunar new year doesn’t have any significance to you, but you want to make a celebratory meal or throw a Chinese-themed party. Either way, I’ve got a recipe round up for you!


traditional dishes



These are the dishes I make year after year. They symbolize luck, fortune, health, happiness, promotion.

Cellophane noodle soup: It’s a big pot of goodies – sort of a catchall for lucky things. The cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles or glass noodles) represent long life – so for goodness’ sake, DON’T CUT THE NOODLES. Meatballs and fish balls are round, which the Chinese like and their meaning is reunion.

Chinese dumplings and potstickers: Theoretically you are supposed to make dumplings (boiled or steamed), but I always make potstickers because I’m a crunch-junkie. My mom always told us that eating dumplings meant more money in the new year because they are shaped like gold ingots. Then I found out later that dumplings also symbolize having sons. I’m sticking with the money story.

Chinese egg dumplings: The Chinese have a thing for dumplings, because they are like purses, and purses hold money. These egg dumplings typically go in the cellophane noodle soup, but they are wonderful eaten on their own too.

Lucky ten ingredient vegetables: Lucky lucky lucky! Ten is a lucky number. Don’t make this with nine or eleven ingredients – you’ll screw up the new year! Also, don’t use hollow vegetables (green onions, water spinach – these are hollow and bad luck). Tofu is okay, but no meat is allowed in the dish.

Stir-fried rice cakes: These rice cakes are sticky, chewy disks of rice flour. The name of the rice cake, nian gao, sounds like “higher year”. Eating the rice cakes is good luck for a promotion or toward greater prosperity.

Stir-fried soybean sprouts: These are my favorite and plentiful in most Asian markets this time of year (because everyone wants luck!). Eating soybean sprouts (or bean sprouts in general) ensures a good start to the new year.


appetizers



There’s something you should know about tofu. It’s a big deal. Fu is “luck” in Chinese. So tofu is pretty popular in the new year festivities because everyone wants lots of luck. The thing is, you shouldn’t eat white tofu because white is bad – it’s the color of mourning/death. That’s bad luck. But don’t fret, there are a bazillion ways to eat tofu: fried, dried, marinated, sheets, pressed.

Bean curd rolls: You can find bean curd sheets or tofu skin in Asian grocery stores. They are either dried or frozen. This tofu skin roll is filled with savory pork and vegetables, and then braised til soft. I order it at dim sum all the time.

Chinese tea eggs: Eggs represent fertility, but I just love the subtle flavor of the tea infusion as well as the delicate crackle pattern on the peeled egg.

Fried shrimp wontons: Terrific nibbles with the added bonus that shrimp symbolize happiness and good fortune.

Pickled Chinese cabbage: Served cold, this sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunchy pickled cabbage wakes your mouth up in the best way possible. I could snack on a bowl of this all by myself. Cabbage means money, prosperity.

Scallion pancakes: One of the best savory snacks, ever. I’m not sure if it has any symbolism, but it’s delicious!

Shrimp toast: More shrimp goodness (happiness and fortune).

**Jump for more butter**