fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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trying to be zen

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Recipe: fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette

I don’t do well with hot weather, and it has been stupidly hot here this last week. Thankfully the smoke from Western wildfires has been on leave for much of this heat wave so we can at least do things outside (although it returned just yesterday). We’ve been waiting all summer for an evening that was smoke-free enough to camp on our deck with the pups. Neva is fairly comfortable with the tent, but Yuki was a newbie. At first she wouldn’t get in, but Jeremy called Neva over and as soon as Neva set foot in the tent, Yuki dove in after her. They loved it – woofing at things in the night, sniffing all of the smells on the air, walking on us in the darkness, and curling up on our puffy down sleeping bags. The humans got very little sleep, but that was to be expected. The jury is out if we think we can take this show into the backcountry. I mean, I’m sure the pups will be delighted and we will be exhausted – I guess that’s how it goes when you have dogs (or children from what I hear)!


wingus and dingus in the tent on the deck

swimming in alpine lakes to cool off in the late summer heat

finally, some clouds and a lovely sunset



Friday was Jeremy’s birthday and we spent the evening sharing a nice home-cooked meal and homemade birthday cake. My parents have taken to keeping their birthday celebrations low-key because they think big celebrations attract too much attention and bad luck (i.e. death or no more birthdays). We keep it low-key because that’s how we roll. No big birthday celebration. No birthday month. No birthday gifts or cards. No pressure or stress. Just us and the pups. It’s nice like that.

a 6-inch 3-layer chocolate hazelnut raspberry cake

chocolate hazelnut chiffon alternating with chocolate mousse and raspberries

finished in a chocolate mirror glaze



Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of ordering Brussels sprouts at various dining establishments. They’re almost always delicious and the question among the diners usually comes down to “Are they fried or are they roasted?” I’ve roasted my fair share of Brussels sprouts because it’s one of our favorite vegetable dishes in winter, so I was pretty certain they were fried and not roasted. The question was finally put to rest this past week when I set about frying a batch of Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku (David Chang) tossed with a fish sauce vinaigrette. It’s simple, addictively good, and it might be the thing that converts the Brussels sprouts haters in the world.

fish sauce, rice vinegar, shallots, lime, thai chili, glaric, water, sugar, brussels sprouts, togarashi



I changed David’s recipe a bit by omitting the mint and cilantro, and adding fried shallots. If we’ve got hot oil for frying the Brussels sprouts, we may as well fry some shallots. When prepping the sprouts, peel away the outer leaves if they’re discolored or if they are bugged out. I worried that peeling too many leaves wouldn’t result in the fluffy delicate layers I’ve experienced in restaurants. Not to worry. When the sprouts go into the hot oil, they will fluff and puff into crisp delectable airy vegetable goodness.

minced garlic, sliced chili, sliced shallots, juiced lime

peel and slice the brussels sprouts



**Jump for more butter**

september, i feel ya!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Recipe: matsutake soup

Ah, September! If ever there was a month I love most, it is September. When I was a kid, September was special to me because it was my birthday month and it meant a new school year, which I really looked forward to. I outgrew the birthday thing at the age of 16 and thankfully the school year didn’t matter so much once I was done with coursework in graduate school. But September remains my favorite month because it represents a sigh of relief. Summer, with her nonstop crush of things to do and the incessant heat that makes me borderline homicidal and the long days that limit a good night’s rest to 6 hours at best – it is finally over, at least here in the mountains. Normally I would be planning for the fall shoot, but there is a puppy to train and some projects I’m working on. I am okay with not trying to cram every possible thing into my schedule and running myself ragged in the process. This might be called “getting older”, but I like to think of it as deliberate sanity.


these two napping in the sun after their morning hike

the colors are starting a tad earlier than usual



We were in Crested Butte over the holiday weekend and everything was going just fine until Yuki got a little territorial and aggressive with Neva one evening. It made me sad because Neva, while completely crazy, is the sweetest dog who doesn’t consider herself the boss of anyone. We suspect Yuki, at 7 months, is testing the boundaries of her “authority” in her adolescence. After keeping a close eye on the two pups for a couple of days, they seem to be back to their normal goofy selves. The following morning, Yuki was cuddling with Neva on their favorite perch by the window. We continue observing their interactions to make sure this doesn’t evolve into a real problem. The dynamics of two dogs is certainly different from the dynamic of one dog!

as if nothing had happened

pretty views on the drive home

sitting for a treat – yuki feels this is the best way to get both treats



A year ago I was finding more matsutake than I had energy to deal with. Matsutake, that prized mushroom of Japan, translates into pine mushroom and fetches top dollar in circles that recognize its value. The brown matsutake is found in Asia. The white matsutake is found in parts of North America – including Colorado. This year, I have yet to see signs of the subterranean gems in the usual places. But even if I did find some, I’m not sure I would be gathering too many as there are bagfuls of them in my freezer from the crazy flush of 2017 (what a season, folks, I mean REALLY). With cooler evenings, I have begun to contemplate making soups and stews of all kinds. But the days remain warm, so I’m partial to soups that are not too heavy. Last September, I tried a lovely and simple matsutake clear soup that allows the pine mushroom’s unique flavor to shine among a handful of ingredients.

bonito flakes, dried kelp, green onions, water, salt, matsutake, tofu, soy sauce, sake, mirin



The kelp and bonito flakes are used to make dashi. If you don’t want to make dashi from scratch, you can find Hondashi brand granules (instant dashi – just add hot water) at most Asian grocery stores or well-stocked Asian sections in supermarkets. If you are making the dashi from scratch, wipe the kelp with a wet paper towel without removing the white residue – it contributes to the umami of the broth. Start soaking the dried kelp in water 3 hours before you’re ready to make the soup.

wipe the dried kelp with a wet paper towel

soak the kelp in water for 3 hours



**Jump for more butter**

special days

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Recipe: tuna poke bowl

Tomorrow, August 1, is my sister’s birthday. I normally post flowers in remembrance of her, but this year I took a photo of something far more meaningful. My niece came out to spend a week in Colorado with my parents, and Jeremy and I took her standup paddleboarding in the mountains and met up for a few meals. It’s been almost 11 years since I’ve seen her and she’s grown into quite the remarkable young lady – smart, hard-working, motivated, athletic, sweet, polite, confident.


also a fan of cheesecake

posing for a photo with her grandma and grandpa



Mid-July is about the time I really start paying attention to what is growing in the high country. You never know when a season will start earlier than normal, but more than catching an early season, I like to make the observations for my own data purposes. Turns out the huckleberries are having a very good season and they seem to be a month sooner than usual. My pre-sunrise mornings are consumed with checking my huckleberry patches or picking huckleberries or both.

a nice display of showy fleabane

mycelium growing on a dead tree in a delicate dendritic pattern



When we took my niece paddleboarding, we brought Yuki to give her another day on the board. As I paddled her out on the lake, we passed a boulder that was jutting out of the water. Yuki began to growl at it, then she started to bark. It must have made her nervous because she backed up and fell off the board! And like everything else, she took it in stride and remained her calm self as she swam up to me and I pulled her back onto the board.

Yuki is six months old today according to her estimated birth date of January 31, 2018 (she was found at 2 weeks old). Yuki continues to bounce about the house like a rompy pup, sometimes stopping mid-bounce to scratch an itch on her chin and tumbling over backwards clumsily. It’s ridiculous how cute she is. This little pup has gained four pounds in the four weeks we’ve had her and we think her legs are longer. She is certainly taller, but she remains shorter than Neva. We have no idea how big she will get (we suspect Neva-size or smaller), but it doesn’t really matter. We are just so happy she is ours.


seaworthy

togetherness

sisters



The last time we were in Crested Butte, we enjoyed a seared tuna rice bowl at Montanya’s tasting room, one of our favorite restaurants in town. It was loaded with vegetables and seared ahi tuna on a bed of forbidden rice. I was hooked. When we got back to Nederland, I put it on our weekly menu, but as I shopped for the ingredients I changed it up a little. I didn’t want to sear anything (it was hot) and I thought tuna poke would taste even better. Instead, I made a tuna poke bowl – and it was awesome.

These sorts of dishes have great flexibility so that you can cater them to your own preferences. First off, you don’t have to use forbidden rice. I just happen to like the taste and I think it’s a gorgeous purple-black color. Use steamed short grain brown rice or sushi rice if forbidden rice is hard to find. Omit the fish and pile on your favorite vegetables for a vegetarian version, or you can substitute chicken teriyaki for the fish. Lots of options!


cucumber, forbidden rice, avocado, masago (flying fish roe), radish, pickled ginger

forbidden rice steamed in the rice cooker



In addition to the goodies listed above are some pickled red onions. I find pickled foods add a nice tangy bite to rice bowls. These onions get better the longer they sit in the pickling liquid, so don’t slice them too thin. I kept mine about 1/4-inch thick. If you’re in a hurry, give the onions at least an hour in the vinegar and start them around the time you start cooking the rice.

sugar, salt, rice vinegar, red onion

combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt

slice the onions

pour the hot vinegar over the onions

pickled and pink



**Jump for more butter**