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archive for November 2016

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Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Recipe: bourbon vanilla bean paste

I’m slurping on a spicy, hot bowl of posole right now while snow goes hurtling past our house on some pretty enthusiastic winds. It is my hope that the soup will do battle with this cold that has settled into my throat and chest. I guess my logic is to burn the heck out of the cold before it progresses. Our Thanksgiving week was free of turkey and pumpkin, but full of long walks and fetch sessions with Neva. Our Crested Butte neighborhood was quiet as many people were traveling for the holiday, which further allowed us to pursue our plans for introversion. Of course, I had to run out to meet my friends’ new puppies – a brother and sister – 15 week old Australian shepherds.


neva waits to indulge in her thanksgiving plate of beef and bacon

meet little abbey exploring the snow (sorry, i didn’t get a photo of blue boy – but he’s cute!)



Snow did arrive mid-week and we were able to get out and reacquaint ourselves with our various skis. That gliding motion is akin to flying – it’s addictive. But timing is everything and sometimes you have to hit the trail or the mountain before the snow gets skied up and/or melted away. We managed to skin uphill on the mountain, skate on the nordic trails, and get a nice ski tour at Lily Lake. A decent jumpstart to our ski season.

after skinning up, jeremy skied out ahead of the first chair on opening day

getting our skate legs (and arms and everything) back into the groove

ski touring the beautiful backcountry

no tinsel here – our icicles are the real deal



Now that Thanksgiving has passed, everything pumpkin is now becoming everything peppermint. Christmas trees are going up and gift shopping has kicked into high gear. If you are looking for a simple, but extra awesome homemade gift for a baker in your life, might I suggest some bourbon vanilla bean paste? I first laid eyes on a bottle of this luxurious wonderfulness at the King Arthur Flour store in Vermont over three years ago while on a press junket but opted to leave it on the shelf when I wondered if the TSA would confiscate it. Then my mother-in-law gave me a bottle during a visit last New Year. She loves the stuff and wanted to spread the gospel. I used it for special recipes and found the vanilla bean paste to be easier than a vanilla bean and a bigger flavor boost than vanilla extract. When I (sadly) ran out last month, I went online looking for more and even contemplated purchasing a gallon of it to get a better price per unit volume.

this stuff… the stuff of vanilla dreams

my last spoonful



But you know me… the wheels turned another 360 degrees and I wondered how hard could it possibly be to make your own? Turns out, it’s not hard at all. This magical potion consists of three ingredients: vanilla beans, sugar (in some form), and booze (optional, but good). That’s it. And there isn’t any waiting around or crazy kitchen ninja stuff going on with the recipe. It’s quite straightforward, which is why it makes such a great gift for the bakers in your life, and for yourself as well!

bourbon, agave nectar, vanilla beans



**Jump for more butter**

great balls of kalbi

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Recipe: kalbi meatballs

Winter is trying to make its way into Colorado, but it has been a slow process. Little storms sandwiched between warm and sunny spells aren’t conducive to good skiing, or any skiing for that matter. At least the storms are finally coming, and hopefully they are gathering strength. The past couple of weeks have been an emotional slog for me, so it was nice to pack up our little family and head to Crested Butte for Thanksgiving week. I don’t want to be social. I just want to be with my pack (Jeremy and Neva), work, and get some damn snow to ski.


sometimes neva insists that you play with her

last week, we got the first snow in over a month

jeremy and i hopped out for a quick ski tour

neva relaxes in crested butte



Of course, our version of Thanksgiving is very un-Thanksgivingish. We’re not having turkey (we’re having ribs) and we aren’t spending it with extended family. It’s the introvert’s Thanksgiving. This suits Jeremy just fine because he is an introvert through and through, but even extroverts (me) can only take but so much before they need to lie low and recuperate. However, we ARE thankful for so much: good people, health, kindness, compassion, love, opportunity, wild spaces, one another, and that crazy furry baby dog. I hope you all enjoy and/or survive your Thanksgiving festivities with as much love and thanks as your hearts can give and then some more. That’s what it is really all about.

Today’s recipe is most definitely un-Thanksgivingish. Maybe it’s in part because I am not a fan of turkey, but mostly it’s because you should file this away for the holiday season and beyond. I am a huge fan of Korean barbecue – particularly galbi. But Korean barbecue short ribs require marinating time and can be messy to eat. Put this in the form of a meatball and you have shaved off quite a bit of time and everything is packaged into a delicious little morsel. Kalbi (I see it spelled both galbi and kalbi) meatballs, people.


ground beef, honey, ginger, asian pear, garlic, onion, bread crumbs, bread, eggs, black pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, chardonnay, rice vinegar

grate the ginger

prep the ingredients



**Jump for more butter**

this may sound cheesy

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Recipe: hot cheesy green chile dip

Since last week’s recipe was so long, I didn’t post any photos from the week’s shenanigans. I thought it might be nice to include them this week since I’d rather share some uplifting images rather than try to sort out what I’m thinking.


a beautiful sunrise

moose in the mountains

neva incognito – as a leopard

ice crystals along a streambank



I’ve also stepped back from Facebook because that place is just a freaking black hole of suck. A washing machine of emotions and assholery on spin cycle (I’m still pretty active on Instagram, though – so go find me there). Last week, I agreed to cook at one of Andrew‘s dinner parties, but as Friday neared, I felt so drained and exhausted that I wanted to bail. In the end, I decided not to. And I’m glad I didn’t. Engaging with people – with good, kind, positive people – energized me. Cooking with friends and feeding others got me out of this funk. Also? I learned about barbecue using a smoker from Andrew’s friend, Ben, who is now my friend, too.

ben and andrew manning the smoker (full of brisket and ribs – oh lordy!)

some of the dinner attendees getting ready for dinner

ben’s texas-style brisket



Cooking was a team effort with Ben at the helm on the barbecue, Andrew picking up the side dishes, and me bringing the start and the end of the meal – appetizer and dessert(s). In my ongoing attempt to use up frozen roasted Hatch green chiles from prior years, I stumbled across a crazy delicious dip that everyone seems to love. My neighbors gave it their approval a few weeks ago, so I figured it would be a good dip to start the dinner party at Andrew’s house.

cream cheese, jack cheese, diced roasted green chiles, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, minced garlic



**Jump for more butter**