mendiants porcini salt strawberry vanilla shortbread cookies roasted kabocha squash


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archive for October 2018

winners and winners

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Recipe: lentil chicken soup

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the previous post and took a guess at Yuki’s breeds! We had 177 comments which I’m rounding up to $200 that I will donate to Rezdawg Rescue.

Now for Yuki’s Wisdom Panel results:

25% American Staffordshire Terrier
12.5% Australian Cattle Dog
12.5% Chow Chow
12.5% Rottweiler
37.5% Mixed Breeds in the following groups: Herding, Guard, Companion

Are you surprised? We were totally surprised! Of course, the naming and classification of breeds can be utterly confounding and inconsistent between official organizations in different countries. We accepted Pit bull for American Staffordshire Terrier, but not Staffordshire Bull Terrier as that is listed as a separate breed in the Wisdom Panel listing of tested breeds. Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), Heeler, or Blue Heeler were all considered the ACD.

Only one person named three of the four breeds (American Pit Bull, Chow, and Heeler) and that was Linda, Yuki’s foster mom. It made complete sense because she knows dogs (she fosters SO many pups) and aside from us, Linda has spent the most time with Yuki.

[Another commenter named three of the four breeds, but listed five breeds which gained a statistical advantage over everyone else. I contacted all individuals who guessed more than four breeds to please revise their guess and when this commenter revised theirs, they removed one of the three correct breeds.]

I am absolutely going to give Linda a prize of her choosing, but I am also going to give a SECOND person a prize of their choosing.

Fifteen people correctly guessed two of the four breeds. We numbered them 1-15 according to the order in which they commented on the blog post. I set up a cheeseboard with 15 treats associated with 1 through 15 and let Yuki pick the winner by selecting the corresponding treat (basically the one she went to first).


the set up

the winner



Yuki picked #15 and that is Sona who listed American Staffordshire Terrier and Australian Cattle Dog.

Congratulations to Sona and Linda! I will contact you both shortly. Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and love for this special little pup. It was thoroughly entertaining reading through all of the entries!

Those of you who follow my Instagram know that Yuki gave us a scare Friday morning when she began vomiting and crying out in terrible pain several times within a few hours. A trip to the vet, some meds, rest, and eventually passing a two-foot long piece of rope toy (whaaaaat?!?!) summed up our weekend. I’m relieved to report that Yuki is back to her happy puppy self and the rope toys have been banished.

It’s hard to believe that I was wearing shorts while walking the dogs this past Sunday evening when a week earlier Jeremy and I were skiing a lovely blanket of fresh snow in our local backcountry. Colorado weather keeps you on your toes.


almost a foot on our grill

i love the early season storms

storm clouds gave way to a colorful close to the day



I try to plan my cooking with the weather. If it’s hot, there are lots of fresh salads, sushi, grilling, sandwiches, and things that don’t produce a good deal of heat. When it’s cold, I happily crank up the oven for roasting, baking, braising, or dedicate hours to simmering soups and stews on the stove. Not only does the heat from the kitchen keep our living space comfortably toasty, but it fills the house with heady aromas that are the equivalent of wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket. Right now, we are bouncing between Indian Summer and early winter. So here is a hearty soup-as-meal for the next (hopefully snowy) cold spell: lentil chicken soup.

chicken, lentils, onion, salt, garlic, tomato paste, celery, carrots, pepper, olive oil



Homemade chicken broth is superior to store-bought chicken broth in flavor, quality, and the fact that you control the sodium. My preference is to make my own if I have the time. If you are short on time, then you can easily use store-bought chicken broth and chicken meat and essentially reduce the time investment by half or more.

If you do make your own broth, you can simmer it for 3-4 hours or use a pressure cooker for an hour plus change. Either way, start that process first. Once the broth is done, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove random particles (there are always random particles). I like to de-fat my chicken broth one of two ways. The first, refrigeration, requires time. Lots of time. Chill the broth until the fat solidifies or at least clumps together on the surface to be scooped or skimmed off. The second method is in the immediate gratification camp and involves pouring the hot or warm broth into a gallon-size ziploc bag, sealing the bag and holding it over a large bowl or stock pot, cutting a slit in the bottom corner and letting the broth drain out as the fat rises to the top. The trick is pinching the outlet corner off right as the fat layer is about to drain, and discarding the bag and fat.


chicken and water in the pressure cooker

homemade de-fatted chicken broth



**Jump for more butter**

guess the yuki

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Last month I finally got around to ordering a Wisdom Panel Canine DNA Test. For Yuki. It’s not that we needed to know our little rescue mutt’s ancestry – we love this adorable goofball no matter what she is! But we thought it would be fun to know because science is AWESOME.


unlocking yuki’s secrets



The results came in a couple of weeks ago and… You’ll have to guess what she is! I’m turning this into a giveaway because I love a good puzzle. Wisdom Panel analyzed Yuki’s ancestry back three generations (great-grandparents). They identified four distinct breeds from her DNA as well as a mishmash of breed groups.

Your task is to guess Yuki’s four main breeds. The closest guess wins! In the event of a tie, Yuki will select the winner. Here is a list of all the breeds that Wisdom Panel tests for. Scroll down through Yuki puppy cuteness to get the rules for entry!


yuki in profile: 20 inches at the shoulders, 42 pounds, 8.5 months old

that face

spots on her paws and belly



***THE RULES***

1) Leave your guess on THIS POST in the comments below by midnight (MDT), Saturday, October 20, 2018.

2) One entry per person. If you submit multiple guesses, only the first will be considered.

3) The winner and Yuki’s results will be announced on Monday, October 22, 2018.

***THE PRIZE(S)***

If the winner is in the U.S.: The prize is a choice of a care package of homemade treats made by me OR an 8×12-inch signed matted archival photo, also made by me (choose from the images below).

If the winner is outside of the U.S.: The prize is a choice of an 8×12-inch signed matted archival photo from the images below.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO ENTER

This contest is open to everyone except for the handful of people who already know Yuki’s results (you know who you are!).

BUT THERE IS MORE! As a thank you to Rezdawg Rescue, the wonderful organization that brought Yuki into our family, I will donate a dollar to Rezdawg Rescue for each valid (not multiple) entry – up to $350.


aspens and snow (crested butte, colorado)

aspen canopy (gunnison national forest, colorado)

snowstorm in yosemite valley (yosemite national park, california)

sandhill cranes at sunset (monte vista, colorado)

summer wildflowers (maroon bells-snowmass wilderness, colorado)



The staff and volunteers at Rezdawg Rescue have the biggest hearts and give so much of their time, energy, and love to save dogs and cats off the Navajo reservation and bring them safely to foster homes in Colorado, and eventually to their forever families. If you follow Rezdawg Rescue on Instagram or Facebook, you will get an idea of how hard these good people work. There is a constant parade of adorable fluffy faces and sometimes these sweet animals have the saddest stories (I cry a lot when I read them). Rezdawg Rescue turns those sad stories into a chance for a happy life through veterinary care, loving foster families, and assessing the best match for each dog or cat.

If interested, you can make a direct contribution to help Rezdawg Rescue continue their important work. They educate the local reservation community and provide mobile spay and neuter services in addition to their rescue efforts. And I recently designated Rezdawg Rescue as my Amazon Smile charitable organization recipient. If you aren’t familiar with Amazon Smile, I encourage you to check it out and help a charitable organization of your choice.


our silly, rompy, lovable little girl



Good luck, everyone! I hope you will find the results as fascinating and puzzling as we did. Yuki’s mix is like an ingredient list and the result is the sweetest little mutt cupcake baby dog we could have wished for.

Full Disclosure: I have not received compensation from Wisdom Panel or Rezdawg Rescue. This giveaway is entirely funded by myself and fully endorsed by Yuki and Neva.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

homemade beef jerky for dogs meet neva apple bacon cheddar dog (abcd) treats kaweah

mushroom madness

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Recipe: shroomaki (japanese mushroom roll)

Our cooler weather turned to unsettled weather which turned to glorious cold and snowy weather this past week. While the snow will move on after Sunday and give way to sunshine for a week or more, I’m pretty spanking happy about getting this early dose of winter right now. I baked breads, we got Yuki out for her first romp in the snow, we are running the heat, and ALL of the warm blankies are out for people and canines alike. The transition is always a touch startling as we adjust our internal thermostat to sub-freezing temperatures outside, but we find exercising outside in the cold is the best and most fun way to get your body geared up for winter!


first came the rains and the sunrise rainbows

dusting off my sourdough starter and baking some bread

and cranberry walnut sourdough bâtards

my all-weather pups in the high country

my beloved pack

officemates chilling out while i work



The kitchen has seen more use in the past couple of weeks than it did most of the summer. So far I’ve made chili, posole, pasta bakes, several batches of cookies, breads, and plenty of sushi. The wonderful nature of sushi is that it’s a no-brainer meal for summer, but it is also perfect for cold weather with its accompanying tempura and miso soup and agedashi tofu and warm seasoned sushi rice. As I rummaged through my chest freezer recently, I grabbed a bag of frozen sliced matsutake and decided to season them Japanese-style. And then a vision of mushroom sushi goodness came to me. I knew what I had to do. If you aren’t a mushroom lover, you must now look away and return for the next post. If you even remotely like mushrooms, this roll is for you.

3 kinds of mushrooms: shiitake (left), beech (top), and matsutake (right)



A dedicated mushroom sushi roll sounded like a great idea. Each type of mushroom is prepared a different way. I decided on matsutake mushrooms simmered in a soy sauce base, shiitake mushrooms simply sautéed, and tempura-fried beech mushrooms. What’s great about mushrooms is that you can substitute other varieties if you don’t have, let’s say, matsutake on hand. Shiitake would be great in place of matsutake and you could sauté oyster mushrooms instead of shiitake, and tempura fry enoki or maitake in place of beech. Flexibility is good. Options are good. I will say, if you CAN use matsutake, please do. They have this certain special cinnamon-pine spiciness that is so complementary with the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. It’s magical. And if you are looking to make this gluten-free, replace the soy sauce with tamari.

water, mirin, hondashi granules, sugar, soy sauce, sliced matsutake

put everything in a small saucepan

bring to a boil, then simmer until liquid is gone

super flavorful mushroom slices



**Jump for more butter**