For the first time in a long time, I have no photos of the July 4th fireworks this year. We can get a sense of how Neva will react to the fireworks because the nights leading up to the Fourth of July always have at least one or two houses in the community setting off their own (granted, there are a lot of out-of-towners who flock to Crested Butte over the July 4th holiday who love their fireworks). From what we could tell, Neva wasn’t a fan. So when the official celebration took place on the mountain and the several ancillary light shows erupted in the neighborhood, little Neva smashed herself in the corner of the kitchen, or squeezed herself between me and the cabinets while I prepared a late dinner, or trembled against Jeremy on the sofa. It made me very sad because all we could do to make her feel less scared was to hold her tight and offer words of reassurance that probably didn’t reassure her at all. When the evening was over, we let her sleep on the bed with us and promised her the remainder of the week would be filled with puppy fun time.
And Neva had a great week of hiking, swimming, fetching, jumping off the paddleboards and climbing back on dozens of times. She ran alongside Jeremy while he rode his bike, got extra walkies, and met up with lots of puppy friends (Poncho, Bella, Peaches, to name a few). All of this activity means she gets rest days, too. Rest days for Neva translate into trail running days or SUP days for us. We all get time outside, because time outside is good for us physically and mentally.
eyes on the prize (the orange tennis ball)
tuckered out and resting on the custom pillow i made just for neva to use on the windowsill
float time with a view of the ruby range
elephant head in bloom
mule ears greet the sun
a painterly sunset
We typically hunker down at home over the weekends to get work done and to avoid weekend crowds, but we got up early on Saturday (early enough that *I* woke Neva rather than the other way around!) to beat the heat and take Neva on her longest hike to date (14+ miles). The trail is appropriately named Oh Be Joyful because it follows Oh Be Joyful Creek up verdant Oh Be Joyful Valley. Hiking up, we took note of a dozen beautiful waterfalls and cascades spilling down the steep southern walls of the glacial valley and feeding the swift and cold creek. The wildflowers are not yet at peak, but many varieties were showing off their colors in bright, happy displays. The high country’s snowpack is melting in earnest under the summer sun, which meant countless stream crossings and muddy slogs on our hike. At the end of the valley, we turned south and ascended part of the headwall, traversing slushy snowfields to the cirque where Blue Lake is perched at 11,100 feet. The stoke was high for Neva until maybe mile 10 when we paused in the shade for an apple break. Instead of standing alert for every whiff of marmot, pika, or other critter, she laid down in the grass and ate her apple pieces, looking rather content with her doggy life.
shooting stars (magenta) and kings crown (red) mingle by a stream
jeremy and neva hike through fields of blooming osha
nearing the end of the valley
carpets of marsh marigolds and glacier lilies
from the headwall, looking across to democrat basin
at last, blue lake
pausing at the edge of the lake before neva’s swim-fetch session
For two months each year, my parents are in Boulder to escape the oppressive summers of Southern Virginia. The other ten months of the year I get occasional phone calls, emails, and lots of texts from them. I taught them how to text when they got their first iphones just a few years ago, and now both parents (in their mid-70s) make liberal use of emojis and send me photos of their meals! I kinda love it. Food is very much a thing with my family. When I find a new recipe that I really like, I make note to share it with my parents when I see them in the summer. Of course, that is getting harder to do ever since I introduced Dad to sous vide steak a few weeks ago. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to cook anything other than sous vide steak when we get together with my folks because he is OBSESSED. I even Amazon Primed Dad his own sous vide before I left for Crested Butte so he wouldn’t have to wait for me to come back to the Front Range (with my sous vide…).
If I’m lucky, I’ll squeeze a few new recipes into our gatherings – because that is what my parents and I do – we share new wonderful things with one another. I think that’s one way that we express our love in my family, along with yelling and texting questions that Google can answer and sharing carwash coupons. Coconut shrimp has been around for ages, but I hadn’t tried it until this past winter. Of course, after I made it and tasted it, I kicked myself for not having tried it earlier. It’s simple and straightforward, but it is also addictive and delicious. I’m fairly certain Mom and Dad will like it.
coconut, sugar, salt, egg whites, cayenne, cornstarch, raw shrimp
place the cornstarch, salt, and cayenne in a large ziploc bag
mix the sugar and coconut together
peel, de-vein, and butterfly the shrimp (leave tails on!)
The key to any shrimp recipe is to start with good quality shrimp. No one wants a mushy, mealy shrimp – it should be plump and firm and almost crunchy when you sink your teeth into it. I peel the shrimp myself because I have yet to find peeled, de-veined, tail-on raw shrimp where half of it hasn’t been mangled beyond recognition. And that’s the most time-consuming part of the whole deal – prepping the shrimp. The rest is easy peasy.
place the shrimp in the bag
seal and shake to coat the shrimp
beat the egg whites until frothy
When the shrimp are coated in cornstarch, dip each one in egg white and then dredge it in the coconut mixture. I like to use bigger coconut shreds for this recipe because it looks flakier when fried. Your dipping fingers will eventually become encased in coconut, sugar, egg white, and cornstarch, so I find it handy to have a damp towel nearby to wipe your fingers clean every few shrimp. Fry the shrimp in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, but they should be done in a couple of minutes.
dip in egg whites
dredge in coconut
ready to fry
fry for a couple of minutes until golden
drain on paper towels
You can serve the shrimp with all kinds of dipping sauces like Thai sweet chili sauce or a sriracha mayonnaise or honey mustard sauce or a garlic lime aioli. I tried to reproduce a chili mustard sauce that I like from a local Asian restaurant, but when I asked for a recipe, they said they didn’t really have one. So instead I received a list of ingredients that were shouted from a cook in the kitchen and translated over the phone by someone who spoke English. Kinda like getting a recipe from my parents, really. I did my best with it and I think my version comes close to the spicy, sweet, tangy, zippy sauce. It benefits from some rest time to smooth the edges and mellow the flavor – at least 30 minutes, but more like an hour or two.
sambal oelek, sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar, tamari, lemon, hot mustard powder, honey
coconut shrimp with thai sweet chili sauce and chili mustard sauce
The coconut shrimp is fantastic straight up, without any sauce (and maintains its crunch for hours). That said, it’s also really amazing dipped in a sauce. There is something irresistible about fried things and sauce or liquid. I’m thinking tonkatsu in ramen, tempura in the dashi sauce, fish and chips in malt vinegar or tartar sauce, or chicken fried steak and cream gravy (oh my word…). That finite window of time when the fried part is still crisp, but soaked in the flavorful sauce or liquid is quite short – that’s when you have to eat it. The window shrinks with soupier sauces, but I doubt anyone could resist downing one of these coconut shrimp before it got soggy.
a snack, an appetizer, party food
make more than you think you need
dipped in thai sweet chili sauce
sweet and tender shrimp in a crunchy shell
1 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and butterflied with tails on
1/4 cup cornstarch
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 large egg whites (about 90g), beaten til frothy
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsps sugar
vegetable oil for frying
Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping or chili mustard sauce (recipe below)
chili mustard sauce
1 tbsp hot mustard powder
2 tbsps water
3 tbsps tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tbsps rice vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsps honey
1 tbsp chili paste or olek sambal
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
Make the chili mustard sauce: Stir all of the ingredients together until blended. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Makes just under a cup of sauce.
Make the coconut shrimp: Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a medium or large pot to 350°F. Pour the cornstarch, salt, and cayenne pepper into a large ziploc bag. Seal the bag and mix the contents with a quick shake or two. Add the shrimp to the ziploc bag and seal again. Shake to coat the shrimp evenly. Place the beaten egg whites in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut and sugar together. Open the ziploc bag and grab a shrimp by the tail. Shake off the excess cornstarch. Dip the shrimp into the egg whites, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl, then dredge the shrimp in the coconut mixture. Place the shrimp on a plate or a baking sheet in the refrigerator until ready to fry. Repeat for the remaining shrimp. Fry the shrimp for about 40-60 seconds per side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve with dipping sauce. Serves 4-8.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|thai firecracker shrimp
|drunken spicy shameless shrimp with brazen cocktail sauce
|chinese honey walnut shrimp