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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



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recovering

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Recipe: miso soup

As some of you know, we will be welcoming a little friend into the house in a few weeks. Once she gets here, Jeremy and I shall be puppy bound for a little while. Our plan is to work (and play) with her intensively in the early months to get her off to a good start. We feel that Kaweah was really great in some ways, and really really not good in other respects. We fault ourselves for that, although Kaweah had a blast regardless. It’s the rolling-gleefully-in-poop that I’d like to avoid with the next pup. Oh, and perhaps having her come when called. But to do all of this, we’ve doubled up on our workloads for the past couple of months to clear the summer for puppy. In doing so, Jeremy kinda ran himself ragged and for the last week has been fighting off a sore throat, congestion, and basically – The Man Cold. Since May has been acting like March (and March totally pretended it was May), a nice pot of hot soup has been perfect for both of us.

One thing I look forward to whenever I sit down at a sushi bar is a bowl of miso soup. This is particularly true after a day spent in the snow (on skis, of course!). I can feel the heat travel down into my belly and radiate out toward my cold hands, toes, and nose. But it’s rare that we get to hit up a sushi bar after getting some turns, because 1) we live in the sticks and 2) we aren’t made of money. That said, it is so simple to make your own miso soup at home and it tastes every bit as delicious as the restaurant version.


green onion, dried wakama (seaweed), shiro miso, hondashi, water, soft tofu



I can find all of these ingredients in my local Whole Foods store, with the exception of the hondashi. The hondashi requires a trip to the Asian market, where you can find all of these ingredients – but maybe not organic. Shiro miso is white miso paste. You can also use yellow or red miso, depending on the flavor you want to achieve. The darker the color of the miso, the more intense the flavor. I prefer the more delicate flavor of the white miso – and I also happen to have a ton of it in my refrigerator. Hondashi is instant bonito (skipjack tuna) soup stock. I keep a jar of the hondashi granules in my refrigerator. You only need a little bit to make dashi, but it is the bulk of the soup. Without dashi, the miso soup tastes rather flat and uninspired.

slicing the tofu into little cubes

measured and prepped



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opposite land

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Recipe: korean barbecue chicken wings

When I left my house early yesterday morning, the predominant color of my neighborhood was white. The snow has steadily deflated and melted, but it’s still there. Within 25 minutes, we were zipping through Boulder’s streets where trees dripped with the confetti of springtime: bright yellow greens, pinks, whites, purples. My head hurt because it was early and because I had gone to bed late. This always happens when I travel – it’s the “wrapping up of things the night before” and the “catching a flight the following morning” head hurting thing.


robin perched in the aspens from the last storm

cute dark-eyed junco on our deck



My noggin did the deep sleep bounce several times during my flight to the East Coast. It woke me with that heart-racing jolt – you know, the one that makes you instinctively touch the corners of your mouth to see if you were drooling in your sleep. Each time I peered out the window to find a sea of clouds stretched out beneath us, like a giant down comforter. I searched for signs of landforms, but the weather prevailed and so did sleep. On my connection to Virginia, our puddle jumper rose above the clouds for a mere three minutes before beginning the descent. Underneath the cloud deck, I marveled at how green the Tidewater area was. Green and flat. Flat such that the only shadows thrown in the setting sun were from the trees and not from the topography of the coastal plain. Dominated by the estuaries that branch into this green and flat land with a million brackish fingers. It’s the opposite of where I make my home. And yet, I was coming home.

mixed weather and sun over the tidewater

dogwood blooms in the backyard



It’s been some time since I have visited Virginia, but we have this short window to travel before The Summer of Puppy commences. Of course, Dad has planned nearly every minute of my stay with activities, meals, and wine. I expressed my doubts that it is humanly possible to consume ALL of the food he has in mind for a long weekend (he just asked me when we’re going to eat soft shell crab). That’s the problem with going back to a place you know – there’s never enough time (or waistband). But you should save some belly room for these Korean barbecue chicken wings I tried from Irvin’s beautiful food blog. They’re baked, which in my opinion is far easier to make and less messy to clean up than frying, and they taste fantastic.

rice vinegar, soy sauce, green onions, garlic, ginger, kiwis, sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, black pepper, chicken wings

chop and mince

ready to make the marinade



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