almond vanilla chia seed pudding sous vide ribs breakfast mess twenty


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archive for March 2017

she’s baaack

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Recipe: almond vanilla chia seed pudding

It was nice to have some time away from Neva for her first week of doggy training camp, but by the second week, we were really missing her and excited to have pup pup back. As I’ve mentioned before, I will have a dedicated post to our experience with a professional dog trainer soon, but I can’t fairly assess until we’ve had more time to work with Neva ourselves. I’m sure some people have an unrealistic expectation that they hand their dog over to a professional for some time then get a perfect dog back. We definitely got our Neva back with all her weird quirks and silly habits, but she’s been primed to learn and we’ve been given instruction and some extra tools to improve our ability to communicate with Little Miss Goofball. We are determined to give Neva’s training our best effort and are already seeing improvements over the old Neva.


she was so tuckered when we brought her home

continuing adult education (see how she’s looking at jeremy?)



After a month of unseasonably warm spring-like conditions in February, we seem to be getting even more of it in March. This kind of weather makes skiers nervous, and it makes those of us who live in the mountains anxious. The end of the month might be bringing some precipitation (possibly in the form of snow, too!), but this weeks-long warm spell is already taking its toll locally as a wildfire burns in a neighboring canyon bordering the city of Boulder. I’m the first one to wilt under the sun when it’s 30°F outside, but it’s been in the 60s here and I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when the sun drops behind the mountains each day.

we have had some fantastic sunsets

glowing streaks and puffs

otherworldly sky



In the last year, I’ve had to change my oncologist and my primary care physician (PCP) due to retirements. I was pretty bummed because I really adored and trusted both of these doctors who basically saw me through my cancer treatments. I’ve since met with my new oncologist and PCP, both of whom are great (consider me most fortunate to have great health care through my spouse’s employer since I am freelance and have a pre-existing condition). My PCP asked me what medications I take and if I take supplements. Since I am lactose intolerant, I take a daily calcium supplement in addition to eating dark leafy greens and other natural non-dairy sources of calcium. She said she’d like me to get more calcium through foods rather than a supplement. Okay, that shouldn’t be hard for me to do. Brassicas like kale, collard greens, and broccoli are already in rotation, but I would never say no to more! Tofu, almonds, edamame, spinach – easy peasy. What I didn’t know was that chia seeds are a great source of calcium.

teeny tiny little chia seeds



If you’re wondering whether these are the same chia seeds of “chia pet” fame, the answer is yes. I had chia seeds for the first time in a raspberry kombucha when I was trying to get the balance in my gut right after a course of antibiotics. They look like frog eggs and have the texture of tiny, slippery tapioca with a crunchy center. That might not be appealing to some, but I love it. When I’m on Instagram, I scroll past all of those oh-so-popular smoothie bowls because I actually prefer to eat my fruit with my teeth. But a local blogger, Joan of Grist and Greens, posted a chia seed pudding last month, which looked and sounded lovely.

vanilla extract, almond milk, chia seeds, honey



While I went with a different recipe, Joan was still my inspiration. I opted for an almond milk chia seed pudding instead of her coconut milk chia seed pudding because – double bonus: almond milk is a good source of calcium. Since I knew I liked chia seeds, I went ahead and bought the Big Bag of organic chia seeds from Costco. The pudding itself is just about the easiest thing you could make. Just stir everything together and refrigerate.

add honey

vanilla

and almond milk



**Jump for more butter**

something to distract us

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Recipe: sous vide ribs

We are into our second week without Neva while she is studying hard at doggy training camp. We miss her terribly. I catch myself scrolling through puppy pictures on Instagram because I’m not sure how to deal with life without a dog, even though I know she’s coming home soon. Oh, but the truth is we are keeping ourselves entertained while Neva is at school. We figured a weekend trip to Crested Butte would be much simpler with just the humans. It’s sort of a casual drawn out celebration of our 20th anniversary. Dad instructed me to go to their place in Boulder and select any bottle of wine in his collection for us to enjoy, with the promise that they would celebrate with us this summer with “an even better bottle of wine!” I don’t really drink wine, so it’s actually a bottle of wine for jeremy. But I find it funny and sweet, because my parents are so very fond of him.


he chose this one because dad had seven more bottles of it



It was an oddly easy and strange weekend in Crested Butte. There was no new snow, but we didn’t feel like skiing groomers. Erin told me that we have become totally Coloradofied. We skated and uphill skied, worked, and celebrated a friend’s birthday. And we both found ourselves muttering “I miss little Neva,” at random times throughout the days. Of course, with the Daylight Saving time shift, we lost an hour Sunday morning. That would have been fine except 1) we wanted to wake up early to uphill ski before hitting the road to go home and 2) we stayed up late watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show. So we both felt particularly awful when my alarm went off at 5 am, but catching sunrise on the mountain was worth every bit of mental pukiness.

preparing to skin up the mountain

gorgeous views from the nordic trails

roasty toasty enough to warrant short sleeves

the fleeting surprise sunrise colors on an early morning uphill climb



I’ve been playing around with the sous vide when the mood strikes me and I have to say I just love this thing more and more. One of the first recipes I tried back in November was barbecue ribs. Kenji has a lot of great tutorials on Serious Eats, with plenty of clear explanations and options. The ribs turned out so beautifully, we had a dinner party just to serve the ribs to our friends (who also gave them the thumbs up). It’s quite simple as long as you have at least 12 hours to sous vide the ribs. I haven’t tried this on baby back ribs as I tend to prefer St. Louis-cut ribs because they’re meatier. You merely need a rack or two of ribs, a dry rub, liquid smoke, and barbecue sauce. I list my favorite dry rub and barbecue sauce recipes below, but you can substitute your favorite versions – or if you’re short on time, you can purchase them. Kenji does have a way to achieve the pink smoke ring, but I find it completely unnecessary since it’s mostly aesthetic, so I skip that step. Regardless of whether or not you want a pink smoke ring, I think it’s worth giving his entire tutorial a once over if you’re serious about your sous vide ribs. Plus, it’s always good to learn things!

start with a dry rub, liquid smoke, and a rack of ribs

peel off the papery membrane on the back of the rack

cut into 3- or 4-rib sections

coat with dry rub



**Jump for more butter**

the best kind of mess

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Recipe: breakfast mess

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We finally pulled the trigger this past week and sent Neva to doggy training camp. I had mixed feelings about leaving her as we drove away. On the one hand, I am quite attached to that little girl. On the other hand, Jeremy and I felt we had gone as far as we could working with Neva, and that we needed professional guidance. I say “we” because it’s not all on Neva. She is in very good care for the next couple of weeks and early reports from Claire show Neva has made great progress in a short time – and she’s having fun! This is promising and I feel we have made the right decision for her and for us. I’ll share our experience in a dedicated post after Neva finishes camp for those of you interested in how all of this pans out. In the meantime, you can follow her training on Instagram at @backcountrybuddies or Facebook at Backcountry Buddies Dog Training.

It has been awfully quiet without our pup roaming about. Jeremy and I both have a habit of walking into a room and scanning around for Neva – usually lounging on the couch, in her bed, on the floor, by the deck door. But a no-pup house means greater flexibility in our schedules, so we took the opportunity to spend a weekend away. First we indulged in a couple of days skiing at Steamboat Springs, then we hit up Devil’s Thumb Ranch on the way home for a morning of skate skiing at their lovely Nordic Center. It was a sort of mini skication even though I know everyone thinks all we ever do is ski (mostly true).


hello steamboat springs!

trees plastered in snow

kampachi with apple and grilled avocado at yamakawa (formerly known as yama)

black out: walu walu marinated in squid ink served with squid ink-infused tobiko

snow, sun, and fun at devil’s thumb ranch nordic center

jeremy takes another lap

a pretty sunset to close out a great weekend



Breakfast tends to be an oft neglected and skipped meal in our house. I know they say it is the most important meal of the day and I do make an effort, but sometimes it is all I can do to eat a piece of fruit. Other times I am not terribly excited about what is on offer because I am not such a fan of sweet breakfasts. It is likely the fault of my Chinese immigrant upbringing that I would choose a savory bowl of congee loaded to the gills with spicy pickled radishes, shredded pork, ginger, green onions, and a soy sauce egg over say, a doughnut. Now, if we have house guests, I make the effort to provide a proper breakfast. Sometimes it is sweet, sometimes savory, sometimes a bit of both. My favorite is when there are leftover hash browns, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy or whatnot the day after the guests have left, and we pile everything on a plate or better yet, a bowl, and call it good. That’s because it is SO good. Jeremy and I refer to it as breakfast mess and it’s awesome because you can put whatever you like in it.

Free will can be a terrible thing (just look at rush hour traffic), but in this instance it’s the best thing ever. You know how breakfast menus give you a choice of bacon OR sausage? When we make a breakfast mess, we opt for bacon AND sausage. Not too much, mind you, but a little bit of each is beautiful to behold… and eat.


making sausage gravy

frying up the bacon



**Jump for more butter**