chinese sesame balls jian diu chinese red-cooked pork crested butte: montanya distillers tasting room coconut sorbet


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hey rooster

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Recipe: chinese sesame balls jian diu

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s been nice to have a full week that wasn’t dictated by powder skiing. Not that I would mind doing that again… and again. Still, there was much to be done work-wise, workout-wise, around the house, and socially. The sunny and calm weather made that especially pleasant. Jeremy and I love to get an early morning skate ski to jumpstart the particularly busy days. On the less intense work days, we’ll take Neva with us for a little backcountry touring and to change up the exercise. We invited our neighbors over for wine and appetizers and to chat with their graduating senior about career and school options. We worked through the weekend, taking a break to ski and think in the backcountry and come up with a plan of action for things that are important to us (climate, science, public lands, the environment, social justice, education, equal rights, diversity, to name a few) and meeting up with some old and new friends.


a lovely sun-dappled nordic trail

warm enough to leave the deck door open (which neva loved)

my pack

neva derp face



Chinese New Year is this coming Saturday, which means I have less than a week to clean the house, make tons of traditional Chinese foods, and freak myself out over the superstitions that I know aren’t really real. It’s going to be the Year of the Rooster. My Grandma was a rooster. She would have turned 96 this year. I don’t have anything profound to say. I simply miss her kind and gentle soul, and her wisdom. It feels that we could use all the kindness and wisdom we can muster.

Today’s recipe is another Chinese favorite from my childhood. But it wasn’t my favorite, it was my sister, Kris’, favorite. Whenever we went to dim sum, the sesame balls (jian diu) would catch her eye as the ladies wheeled the carts past. These fried mochi dough balls covered in sesame seeds and filled with a sweet center were crispy outside and chewy and warm inside (when fresh). If I had to choose a filling, it would always be sweet red bean (azuki), but they were filled with sweet date, lotus seed, sesame seed paste, peanut, mung bean. I thought it was time to tackle this recipe – not for me so much as to honor my memory of Kris.


glutinous rice flour, sweet red bean paste, chocolate, sesame seeds, brown sugar, water

dissolve the brown sugar in the water

stir the sugar water into the rice flour



**Jump for more butter**

oh joy!

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Recipe: homemade almond joy candy

The first full week of December has more than made up for the dismal snowfall of November. Not only have we received decent snowfall, but snow is slated to continue for another week! This is good news for snow lovers as well as our snowpack, which provides our water all year and is responsible for the beautiful streams and wildflowers in summer.


neva’s nose was wiggling all over as she sniffed the snow in the air

it was quite chilly for a few days – neva got bundled into a snuggy blanket

the view from indian peaks chair at our local hill



Our backcountry has a nice layer of snow, but our ski poles hit rocks and dirt at the bottom because we’ve had no base. Hopefully this series of storms will build a good base for the rest of the season. I haven’t been willing to get my skis waxed and tuned until I stopped hitting rocks! Better late than never.

our skin tracks

i spy a baby moose peeking from behind the tree

crazy little neva sports her orange booties and orange ball

happy girl with a stylish snowbeard



I am in full candy making and cookie baking mode over here. It’s a good thing the holidays coincide with the shortest days or I’d be ditching all of my gift-making duties in favor of skiing. As it is, our evenings have been filled with lots of chocolate, sugar, butter, nuts, flour, candied ginger, lemon zest, more chocolate, and piles of dirty dishes. The main recipients of my annual kitchen frenzy are Jeremy’s administrative staff. I’ve been giving them an assortment of homemade treats for almost a decade. Over the years I’ve received feedback on certain cookies such that they have become regulars in the gift bags. But I do try to mix things up a little and introduce a new cookie or confection each year. This year’s newest addition is a homemade Almond Joy, which should really be called a Coconut Joy because the almond is just a small part of it. Anyway, these are easy and delicious and I had to make a second batch because Jeremy looked so sad when I said I had just enough to distribute to recipients.

vanilla extract, chocolate, flaked coconut, powdered sugar, almonds, salt, sweetened condensed milk



There is no cooking involved in these treats except for the toasting of almonds and melting of chocolate. Stir stuff together, mold it into a desired shape, pop a nut on top and dip it in chocolate. That’s how simple it is. Joy‘s version called for unsweetened flaked coconut, but I grabbed sweetened flaked coconut instead. You know what? It worked great. I mean, it’s candy – it’s going to be sweet and you will just have to climb an extra thousand feet of elevation in your skis to burn it off. No big deal.

adding vanilla to the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and salt

stir in the coconut



**Jump for more butter**

wild about roses

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Recipe: wild rose petal jam

Memorial Day may mark the start of the summer season for most parts of the country, but the fourth of July is when the season kicks into high gear in the mountains. So many people come to the high country because it is beautiful and wild and peaceful. Except a lot of the visitors can’t seem to leave their suburban trappings and behaviors in suburbia, turning paradise into a circus of bad manners. Jeremy and I tend to lay low during the holiday crush, because I believe in the minimization of unnecessary stress. So we drove to Crested Butte, passing through the mountain corridor just a couple of hours before it clogged up with holiday weekend travelers. We are currently enjoying the summer rains and the wildflowers as the town prepares for Independence Day festivities on and around the mountain. This is when everything starts growing and showing off.


nothing like hiking through fields of purple lupine

a hall of aspens that seems to go on forever

prairie smoke blossoms

tiny, brightly colored jelly alpine fungi



Last week in Nederland, the wild roses were in full swing, painting our local yards, trails, and hillsides with splashes of pink among the lush bushes. They were so fragrant that we couldn’t help but notice. I had been waiting for them to blossom, but the late spring meant the wild roses growing in front of our house were a few weeks behind schedule. Jeremy and I spent a couple of hours last weekend foraging wild rose petals for a few recipes. You can always use commercial roses as long as they are unsprayed, but wild roses are particularly fragrant and wonderful.

wild roses



There’s no need to pluck the entire flower, just the petals. It’s easiest to do with the flowers that aren’t flat open, but somewhat concave. You merely close your fingers over the top half of the petals as if to close the blossom. Give a gentle tug and most if not all of the petals should release with a light snap. I leave the center of each rose – the reproductive parts – on the stem and make sure to touch each stamen with my thumb in the hopes that I’ll help to pollinate each flower to produce rose hips for wildlife in the fall. If you find a good bundle of wild rose bushes in bloom, it doesn’t take much time to collect a few cups of petals.

i store them in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator



Of course, we humans aren’t the only ones fond of roses. There are plenty of little crawlies who like to hitch a ride on the rose petals back to your place. To reduce the number of new friends, I gently flick the blossom before I pluck it. This usually evicts 80% of the hitchhikers. Back home, I empty the petals into a large mesh colander covered with a splatter guard, and shake the petals over a table until no more little bugs fall out. It takes me about 10 minutes until the bugs run clear, but that’s easier than rinsing the petals with water, which you can do instead of or in addition to the shaking to clean your rose petals.

toss the petals in a colander



While researching wild rose recipes, I came across this simple, yet delightful wild rose petal jam. It’s rather quick to whip up and it makes for a charming homemade gift. Best of all, it’s delicious. The rose flavor is delicate without being overpowering in that way that makes you think you’re eating lotion or soap. It comes out a brilliant pink color which is all natural.

rose petals, pectin, water, lemon juice, sugar



**Jump for more butter**