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archive for asian

all that snow

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Recipe: japanese cucumber salad

I kept abreast of the blizzard that hammered the East Coast this weekend through updates from my parents and all of the pictures of friends shoveling their driveways. It’s always a little painful when cities, warm climates, and flat topography get a lot of snow – not just because it causes complete chaos, but because everyone complains about it and most people don’t know what to do with it. I mean… WE know what to do with three feet of snow. But alas, it was all sunshine and blue skies around here. We know what to do with THAT, too!

getting a good workout on skate skis

this one, she loves the snow

got her attention with a treat

neva practices the “gentle” command and takes a small treat from my mouth

With a short trip on my calendar this week, I’m going to go with a quick recipe that is a remake of an old one from 2007. Back in 2007 I hadn’t really gotten into my food blogging groove, so there are some recipes that could use the proper make-shoot-document treatment. Since we made sushi over the weekend, it was a good opportunity to shoot and re-share this bright and tangy Japanese cucumber salad.

simple as: rice vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds, cucumbers

**Jump for more butter**

curry in a hurry

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Recipe: massaman beef curry

December already. Neva is now just over eight months old and we are falling into a nice routine. Nice enough that I could get out today for my first skate ski of the season at the nordic center. Keeping active in winter is essential for me, but keeping active outside is the icing on the cake. Winter in the mountains can be long (the longer the better!!!), so the strategy of holing up inside and biding my time until summer is a cop out. It’s probably my dad’s fault because he has always been the type who could never be inside for more than 24 hours before growing aggitated and insisting that we go sailing or fishing or camping or anything OUTSIDE. I do find that getting out into “green spaces” or “open spaces” does both me and Jeremy a world of good when it comes to our mental outlooks.

skate ski day #1, ski day #10

The other night I told Jeremy I am so happy that we don’t live down in Boulder or anywhere on the flats. In the mountains, we spend our time working and playing. When I lived in Southern California, it was far too easy to feel bored and go spend money to unbore yourself – to buy things you didn’t really want and certainly didn’t need only to clutter up your house, your life, and fall into the trap of needing a bigger place and more shit. That’s stressful living. I’m sure plenty of people find the mountains come with their own stressors, but it’s a simpler way of life. And I’m a huge fan of making life simpler if possible.

One thing that has greatly simplified my life is my pressure cooker. I try to incorporate it into recipes whenever possible because it reduces energy consumption, shortens cooking time, and achieves pressures that can’t be reached with conventional cooking methods at our high altitude. A few months ago, a high school pal sent me a note that he had made a few of my recipes on the blog and that they were a hit with the family, but that he wanted to attemp massaman beef because it is his favorite Thai curry. Well, it’s my favorite Thai curry, too! For nearly two decades, I have casually played around with massaman beef to moderate results (still better than any of the Thai restaurants around here), but my friend’s message prompted me to take another shot at it – with my pressure cooker. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can still do this with a Dutch oven. So Kevin, this one is for you!

potatoes, massaman curry paste, salt, brown sugar, roasted peanuts, onions, chicken stock, beef chuck, vegetable oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind concentrate, coconut milk

Most of the ingredients are easy to find in western grocery stores except possibly the tamarind paste and the curry paste. You could make the curry paste from scratch, but I have had good results with Maesri brand curry pastes (based on a tip from a fellow grad student who happened to be Thai). I have also heard good things about Mae Ploy brand curry pastes. [Edit: I’ve had a couple of folks ask if they can substitute red curry paste for massaman curry paste. The answer is flat out no – unless you WANT to make red curry with beef. I’m not being one of those asshole purists – it’s just that massaman curry paste is an essential ingredient for making massaman curry. This is like asking if you can substitute white chocolate for dark chocolate in a dark chocolate soufflé recipe and still get dark chocolate soufflé.] For tamarind, I have tamarind concentrate in my refrigerator, but you can also make tamarind paste from blocks of dried tamarind (Saveur has a nice tutorial). Select smallish potatoes. While most recipes recommend using waxy potatoes, I couldn’t help but use yukon golds, because they have the best flavor. The texture worked out just fine, too.

slice the onions

lightly char or brown the onions

scrub the potatoes clean

cube the beef

toss with salt

**Jump for more butter**


Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Recipe: lobster miso ramen

As last week wound down, we took advantage of our proximity to decent trails and got Neva out on the snow again. Even if the snow isn’t ideal, it’s good for her to get regular training and exercise on and in the snow. Eventually, we’d like to get her on some of the dog-friendly nordic trails in Crested Butte this season. On Friday, she had doggy day care so I could run errands on the flats. While in line at a store, I witnessed an argument break out among three people in the next line over. Each party behaved badly. Each party escalated the conflict. Eventually there was a gesture, profanities, a shove, a retaliatory shove. These three adults – well into their 60s and all of them strangers to one another – were no better than squabbling children. As soon as the shoving began, I stepped forward and broke it up. “What the hell is wrong with people?” I asked Jeremy as we drove up the canyon.

a fine day for a ski with the pup

someone needed a bath after a good day at doggy daycare

After giving Neva a bath outside, we found ourselves asking that question again the moment we turned on our public radio station and heard the news headlines. My social networks had exploded with expressions of grief, horror, anger, fear, blame, hope, sympathy, self-righteousness, ignorance… I closed my laptop and exhaled my frustrations, “What is WRONG with people?!” In the morning, we opted to remove ourselves to the high country where we could scout out the snow conditions. Neva stayed home to rest as she was still exhausted from her daycare exertions. It didn’t matter that the snow was thin and covered in rocks in places. It didn’t matter that there was windslab on some slopes and that it was warm enough for the snow to stick to and clump on our skis. I just wanted to get outside and sort through my feelings, my thoughts. Jeremy is the only person I can count on to speak rationally, thoughtfully, and sensibly most of the time. We both benefited from the exercise, getting outside and having the backcountry to ourselves, and being able to share our thoughts quietly with one another.

putting away the climbing skins

a slabby, sticky, sloppy snowpack

We spent the rest of the weekend working and giving wide berth to frothing-at-the-mouth Facebook comment fights. It was a good time for comfort food. A couple of years ago, I had received a lobster ramen recipe from the PR machine of a local chef. Lobster ramen sounds divine, right? I mean, there is lobster – and then there is ramen. Boom! But after reading through the recipe, it wasn’t what I was craving. I think my Asianness demanded more Asian-y flavors, and this recipe was not only heavy on European interpretation, but it was also ridiculously involved. So I sat on the idea of lobster ramen until I found something more in tune with my tastes. Lobster miso ramen delivers on the flavors, textures, and it can be quite simple and quick to make.

toasted nori, white beech mushrooms, cooked ramen, green onions, hondashi granules, white miso paste, butter, lobster

You can probably find most of the ingredients at a typical grocery store that has a well-stocked Asian food aisle. For dashi (bonito fish soup stock), I use hondashi instant granules because they store so easily in my refrigerator. That’s something you probably need to get from an Asian grocer. As for the ramen, I had some leftover dried ramen to move from my pantry since my search for fresh ramen noodles at the Asian grocery store came up empty. I also read that curly ramen is better for miso broths because the miso tends to cling to those crooks in the noodles.

simmer the dashi and add the mushrooms and cooked lobster meat

**Jump for more butter**