butter-seared porcini-crusted salmon lemon poppy seed cake chinese steamed lotus leaf buns white russian ice cream


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archive for appetizers

a year on

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Recipe: chinese steamed lotus leaf buns

It’s hard to believe that a year ago today, we said a tearful good-bye to our little Kaweah pup. Even with Neva dominating most of our summer, there isn’t a day that passes without a thought or mention of our first girl. Most of all, we imagine how sweet Kaweah would have been with Neva for the first few hours and then how she would have run away from the puppy for the rest of the time. People have said it again and again. They were right. You never forget your pets, even when they’ve passed on.


kaweah, you’ll always be my girl



I’m not even going to pretend to remember everything that has happened since my last post. I’ve given up keeping track. Neva is getting bigger and leggier. She’s learning and improving each day. Just this morning, she met four little children on the trail and was incredibly sweet and polite with each of them as they took turns petting and kissing her head. In the last week, she has gotten more socialization with little dogs, big dogs (lots of big dogs), people, kids, trail runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. She even met and played nicely with another puppy. Don’t get me wrong, she is still a spazzy little lab puppy full of energy. I think I say, “LEAVE IT!” over a hundred times a day. But I sure do love her.

11 week old max meets 13 week old neva

neva sitting in the lupines

bounding through a field of flowers on a new hike

on a visit with my in-laws and their pack of dogs

it’s hard work being a puppy



We were in Crested Butte for the Fourth of July and figured it would be a good opportunity to expose Neva to fireworks. They never bothered Kaweah, so we hoped Neva would be the same since she was fine with thunderstorms. As we left the house with Neva to go meet our friends to watch the official Crested Butte fireworks, a house nearby set off a loud firework that scared the bejeezus out of her. She was shaking and wanted to hide in a small space (under the bench, in Jeremy’s arms), but remained quiet and mostly calm. She settled down when it was over, and we’ve been working with her to overcome her fear. There were more “unofficial” fireworks set off on random evenings when she was outside and she’s getting better about them when we feed her treats and act like nothing is wrong.

crested butte rainbow and wildflowers

summer aspen canopy

fireworks over crested butte mountain

even a red, white, and blue firework!



My parents are in Boulder for the summer, taking short trips around the west and using Colorado as their home base. Dad mentioned that he had recently made some pork belly he wanted me to try. Since we’re having dinner with them at their place (we’re bringing Neva, too), I figured I would bring some homemade lotus leaf buns that I have in my freezer. Back when I visited my parents in Virginia, I asked my mom if she had a recipe for these steamed buns. I like eating them with Peking duck, but I don’t like the frozen ones in the Asian grocery stores. She said no and then she added in Chinese, “It’s very difficult to make.” When I got home, I did some research and found David Chang’s recipe in his Momofuku cookbook. It’s not difficult, it’s just time-consuming. So I made a batch before we got the puppy to gauge if these buns are worth the trouble. They are worth it.

flour, sugar, salt, powdered milk, yeast, shortening, baking soda, baking powder, water

add the water to the yeast

add the remaining ingredients

knead with dough hook on low speed until the dough forms a ball

place dough in a greased bowl and let rise



**Jump for more butter**

splash and dash

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Recipe: miso peanut butter vegetable dip

We now have a 10 week old puppy who consistently sits to ask for things like food, water, toys, to be let out of her crate, to have a ball tossed, to be let back inside, to be petted. You may wonder why she has to request water – why we don’t have a bowl lying around for her to take drinks as needed… After Neva takes a big drink, she loves to place her paw on the side of the dish and tip the whole thing over. It was funny the first time and not as funny the next 10 times. But she’s a lab and true to her breed, she loves the water. We wanted to get her swimming, but right now our lakes are cold with snow melt and she hasn’t received her leptospirosis vaccinations yet (they start in a couple of weeks). So we’re taking baby steps starting with Kaweah’s old baby pool. Kaweah never cared much for it (she was a hardcore girl – she wanted her frozen mountain lakes), but it’s perfect for Neva at this stage on a hot, sunny day.


jeremy introduces her to ankle-deep water

she warmed up to it when we tossed in her spiky ball

really getting into the fun with a flying leap



Everything was great until Neva fetched the ball, dropped the ball, and promptly squatted to relieve herself in the pool. We are still getting to know Neva’s bladder schedule, which is to say, we still have occasional accidents. But it’s all a big learning curve – which food works best for her digestion, what time of day is best for training, when she needs naps and when she needs play. It’s hard to believe we have only had Neva for two weeks because it feels like months.

running her brains out in a field

tired and plopped down in the middle of the trail



Jeremy and I are trying our best to do right by the puppy’s training as well as live our lives (sleep, eat, get work done). It feels as if we aren’t succeeding at any of it. For the first week, I wore the same clothes for days in a row because I couldn’t see the point of putting something clean on only to get dogged up again. But you can’t let a puppy put the kibosh on everything. Over the weekend, a good childhood friend came into town for a conference – so we had her and two other close mutual childhood friends over for dinner. I even showered and wore clean clothes! I figured, if I could manage to put dinner on the table, then we could declare the night a victory. I missed out on half of the conversations because Jeremy and I tag-teamed supervising the puppy, but it was wonderful to spend time catching up, especially since I hadn’t seen the out-of-town friend in over 20 years.

a toast to reunions



Summer is when entertaining at our house really gets underway. The only folks who visit in winter are the ones who truly love winter and the ones who don’t know any better. Our short mountain summers are green and pleasant, which make for great dinner parties, grilling, and views from the deck. Typically, I like to experiment with different recipes, but lately – because of the puppy vortex and in the interest of my own sanity – I’m sticking with super simple menus. One thing I love to serve when the weather turns warm is crudités with dip, but sometimes I tire of sour cream or mayonnaise dips. A few weeks ago I tried a couple of miso-based dips and really fell in love with this miso peanut butter dip. It’s just the right salty and sweet to go with a variety of fresh vegetables. And it’s easy.

peanut butter, white miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar, sake, honey



**Jump for more butter**

pup prep

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Recipe: gin oysters

“We need to get a puppy collar and a puppy leash,” I informed Jeremy.
“What happened to Kaweah’s old puppy collar?” he asked sifting through the pile of dog towels.
“She ate it.”
“What happened to her old leash?”
“Um, she ate that, too.”

Even though Kaweah was not a large dog as labs go, all of her beds and toys and blankets look huge compared to the little puppy we visited two weeks ago. We don’t want to buy too many puppy-sized things because they won’t be needed after a month or two. So we’ve been re-engineering the crates and beds to create nice and cozy smaller spaces for puppy. I sifted through our basket of Kaweah’s toys this week and pulled out three plush fish – a pink one, a blue one, and a green one. They were otherwise identical in every way including the hole at the top of each of their heads where Kaweah had systematically pulled out the squeakers and chewed them to bits.

“Do you think puppy will be a destructo-dog like Kaweah?” I wondered aloud while sorting the salvageable toys from the heavily loved ones. To be fair, Kaweah only destroyed her toys and left everything else in the house alone. She was a good bad dog. I’m in the process of sewing up the old plushies for puppy’s crate so she can hopefully feel comforted by the smell of Kaweah and the contact with other soft bodies to mimic her littermates. But we still picked up some new puppy-appropriate toys.


for play, for teething, for mental stimulation



It looks as if this cold weather pattern will hold for another week or two. I’m ecstatic! Not just for the skiing, but because we’ll be able to introduce the pup to skis. One might think it’s no big deal, but most of the dogs I know have interesting reactions to skis. Back in the day, Kaweah didn’t realize that they were attached to our feet, and thought it was a really fun game to pounce on the tips as they protruded through the snow. Other dogs think ski poles are totally awesome “sticks” to grab hold of. When the snow is deep, Banjo likes to walk on the back ends of Erin’s skis for extra floatation and to stay close. Thankfully, most dogs figure it out eventually. Of course, puppy won’t be able to travel far at the start, so we got out into the backcountry to get our pre-puppy ski fix.

cloudy, foggy, sunny, snowy – we got it all in one afternoon

jeremy does a quick rip of the skins

getting a few laps in before heading out



But not everything around here is all puppy all the time. Not yet, anyway! Jeremy finally kicked his Man Cold this week. I decided we should celebrate with some appetizers and dinner while watching the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I made the appetizers for Jeremy more than for myself, because they were made of a few of his favorite things.

barcat oysters, wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe), a local gin, and lime



**Jump for more butter**