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winter’s end

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Recipe: korean barbecue pork lettuce wraps

Spring is just around the corner. In fact, I can see it from where I stand. The R-word is even in the forecast… RAIN. That kinda kills the snowpack, but then it is supposed to turn to snow. Whatever form of water falls from the sky, we have promised ourselves to enjoy this time – the end of winter. It’s been such a lovely season that we thought it fitting to say farewell to winter from Crested Butte.

mount whetstone

paradise divide and the slate river

blowing snow on mount emmons at sunset

The last time I was about to leave the Front Range for Crested Butte, I had a grocery date with Wendy at the new HMart in Westminster. It’s a Korean/Asian grocery store that is closer to me than its Aurora branch in southeast Denver. We wandered around checking out all of the products on offer, catching up on all manner of gossip and cooking and life stuff. As we passed into the meat department, a little Korean woman was grilling marinated pork samples. We each tried it and smiled at one another. Good stuff. The woman placed her hand on a stack of packaged marinated pork and said, “For sale!” Since I was leaving town soon, I declined. Walking toward the fish tanks, Wendy and I leaned into one another and whispered, “I could totally make that at home!” And so I eventually did.

pork shoulder, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, pear, onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, sugar (not pictured: gochuchang)

chopping the pear

pear, onion, garlic, ginger


**Jump for more butter**

chinese new year recipe round up

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Chinese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) is a week away! It will be the Year of the Horse, which is special because my sister was born in the Year of the Horse and would have been 48 this year. I’m busy cleaning the house, prepping special foods, and doing those things that are supposed to bring luck in the new year. Maybe you are a traditionalist or perhaps the lunar new year doesn’t have any significance to you, but you want to make a celebratory meal or throw a Chinese-themed party. Either way, I’ve got a recipe round up for you!

traditional dishes

These are the dishes I make year after year. They symbolize luck, fortune, health, happiness, promotion.

Cellophane noodle soup: It’s a big pot of goodies – sort of a catchall for lucky things. The cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles or glass noodles) represent long life – so for goodness’ sake, DON’T CUT THE NOODLES. Meatballs and fish balls are round, which the Chinese like and their meaning is reunion.

Chinese dumplings and potstickers: Theoretically you are supposed to make dumplings (boiled or steamed), but I always make potstickers because I’m a crunch-junkie. My mom always told us that eating dumplings meant more money in the new year because they are shaped like gold ingots. Then I found out later that dumplings also symbolize having sons. I’m sticking with the money story.

Chinese egg dumplings: The Chinese have a thing for dumplings, because they are like purses, and purses hold money. These egg dumplings typically go in the cellophane noodle soup, but they are wonderful eaten on their own too.

Lucky ten ingredient vegetables: Lucky lucky lucky! Ten is a lucky number. Don’t make this with nine or eleven ingredients – you’ll screw up the new year! Also, don’t use hollow vegetables (green onions, water spinach – these are hollow and bad luck). Tofu is okay, but no meat is allowed in the dish.

Stir-fried rice cakes: These rice cakes are sticky, chewy disks of rice flour. The name of the rice cake, nian gao, sounds like “higher year”. Eating the rice cakes is good luck for a promotion or toward greater prosperity.

Stir-fried soybean sprouts: These are my favorite and plentiful in most Asian markets this time of year (because everyone wants luck!). Eating soybean sprouts (or bean sprouts in general) ensures a good start to the new year.


There’s something you should know about tofu. It’s a big deal. Fu is “luck” in Chinese. So tofu is pretty popular in the new year festivities because everyone wants lots of luck. The thing is, you shouldn’t eat white tofu because white is bad – it’s the color of mourning/death. That’s bad luck. But don’t fret, there are a bazillion ways to eat tofu: fried, dried, marinated, sheets, pressed.

Bean curd rolls: You can find bean curd sheets or tofu skin in Asian grocery stores. They are either dried or frozen. This tofu skin roll is filled with savory pork and vegetables, and then braised til soft. I order it at dim sum all the time.

Chinese tea eggs: Eggs represent fertility, but I just love the subtle flavor of the tea infusion as well as the delicate crackle pattern on the peeled egg.

Fried shrimp wontons: Terrific nibbles with the added bonus that shrimp symbolize happiness and good fortune.

Pickled Chinese cabbage: Served cold, this sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunchy pickled cabbage wakes your mouth up in the best way possible. I could snack on a bowl of this all by myself. Cabbage means money, prosperity.

Scallion pancakes: One of the best savory snacks, ever. I’m not sure if it has any symbolism, but it’s delicious!

Shrimp toast: More shrimp goodness (happiness and fortune).

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a blessing and a curse

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Recipe: barbecue chicken pizza

If you haven’t entered to win a Colorado care package yet, you have until the end of the day (midnight) this Friday, September 28, 2012. GO ENTER!!


Autumn in Colorado is psycho. I mean this in a good way. You get those sunny days that are still warm (nay, hot) and dry. They can be sporadically intermingled with storm tracks that rain down and turn everything underfoot to mud, but leave a powdered sugar dusting of snow on the high peaks. If you are lucky, you might manage a photograph of the leaves turning colors and the mountains brushed in broad strokes of white. That is magic combo meal #1. Toss in a dramatic sunset and you have magic combo meal #2. Aw heck, and if you can combine all of that with FURRY BABY ANIMALS then you’ve pretty much got the holy grail right there. I’m only half kidding.

It’s not uncommon for me to encounter autumn storms while on the fall shoot. We like to think of them as early winter storms – sometimes snowing as much as two feet on the last day of summer! This year there has been a lot of rain and fog and clouds. That can be a bummer when the fog is so thick you can’t see anything or it’s pissing rain so hard that you don’t dare take your camera gear out of your pack. I usually rejoice at the rain and the snow. Bluebird skies and sunny days make for fine photographs, but the onset or clearing of a storm adds a different dimension to a capture.

you can’t have rainbows without rain (mt. crested butte at sunset)

I’ve been all up in my head this week because I’m driving around the mountains alone, assessing the weather every two minutes, and constantly scoping out the trees and the mountains. I was excited when I read rain in the forecast, because it meant snow up high. I got less excited when that soaking rain extended for several days. I started to wonder if it would ever let up.

this kinda sucked (iphone)

Frustrating as the rain can be, it pays to be vigilant and ever hopeful. Otherwise you could miss things if you decided to duck into a cafΓ© and fritter away the time.

like a hot air balloon

or a cute gate to a ranch

or lovely sunset #1

and lovely sunset #2

So I’m glad I stuck it out, ignoring all the reasons telling me to just pack it up and go home where Jeremy and Kaweah are, where I have a nice comfy bed, where I get regular exercise, and where I eat proper food and have access to my kitchen. As you can imagine, posting a recipe just makes me want to get back to real cooking!

leftover barbecue chicken?

I know it’s hard to imagine having leftover barbecue anything, but it can happen if you make double or triple batches! We generally plow through this barbecue chicken recipe, but I set a few aside to make some pizza the other day.

roughly chopped

pizza time! pizza dough, barbecue chicken, mozzarella, barbecue sauce, red onions, fresh cilantro

The first time I had a barbecue chicken pizza was probably at California Pizza Kitchen in the late 80s in southern California. Talk about back in the day… Now, we tend to make our own pizza at home because they are easy and really quite good. Pizza is flexible like a sandwich – put whatever you fancy on the pizza and omit whatever you dislike. I tried to keep it simple with barbecue sauce, barbecue chicken, mozzarella, red onions, and cilantro. Tempting as it may be to load your pizza full of goodies, a little restraint will result in a better pizza. For reals.

spread barbecue sauce on the dough

cheese, chicken…

ready to go (i recommend adding the cilantro after the pizza is done cooking)

**Jump for more butter**