s'mores rice krispies treats crab porcini mac and cheese pan pizza easy strawberry cake


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archive for dessert

outdoor snacks

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Recipe: s’mores rice krispies treats

Goodbye, August. And good riddance. It was brutally hot, dry, and smoky here last month. The mushrooms fizzled. The berries are few and best left for the wildlife who need them. Wildfires sprouted around the state – some caused by lightning, others most likely started by careless or ignorant campers. But as we’ve learned in pandemic life, you make do. Sometimes you can make do pretty well if you’re vigilant. Anyone catch the Perseids meteor shower in mid August? We were at our place in Crested Butte where we managed a couple of clear nights and witnessed a beautiful show.


composite of several meteors dropping behind whetstone mountain

paddling with the dogs before the smoke got bad

back home in nederland, where the smoke got bad



Within the last week, Colorado has received some rain and a cool down – enough to improve our air quality and make temperatures bearable. You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone, but when it comes back you should definitely make the most of it! We sincerely hope that we have turned the corner from summer and can look forward to a gentle slide into autumn, pandemic notwithstanding.

it’s green chile season!

a successful batch of non-dairy chocolate ice cream using oat milk

i made a sushi bowl to celebrate jeremy’s promotion to full professor



Schools in our area have resumed – mostly online and some hybrid. Jeremy is teaching online this semester and investing the time to create as positive and educational an experience as possible for his students. And the decision to convert our guest room into a second office dovetailed nicely with my yearslong desire to donate or recycle some large pieces of old furniture. That freed up more space which I transformed into an out-of-the-way sewing area where dogs and needles will rarely, if ever, interact. I used it the other night to make myself a pocket apron when running errands in town. A purse is pretty impractical when I need fast access to things with minimal touching, so I designed a pocket apron to accommodate the stuff I use when grocery shopping alone. It’s great!

new office for either of us to use as needed

sewing nook

pocket apron: mini spray bottles of alcohol on either end, iphone, my man wallet, notepad and pen, keys, hand sanitizer



Labor Day weekend is coming up and we are prepared to basically hunker down and avoid the onslaught of people flocking to the mountains. My hope is that no one will burn our neighborhood down, but the public doesn’t have a great track record there. Great fun can be had without giant or even small fires. Grab that extra hat and jacket if it’s going to be chilly and use a camp stove! Better yet, forget about cooking and just make these s’mores rice krispies treats ahead of time.

rice krispies cereal, marshmallows, butter, cinnamon graham crackers, dark chocolate



I am a crazy person for marshmallows, possibly because they are creamy without dairy, but also because they burn so deliciously. The original recipe inspiration uses graham crackers, but I splurged on those cinnamon graham crackers from Trader Joe’s because I knew in my heart that cinnamon and chocolate were meant to be. I opted for chopped dark chocolate here, however the original recipe calls for mini chocolate chips which saves you the trouble of taking a knife to a block of chocolate. If you’ve ever made rice krispies treats, then you’re good to go with this summer’s-last-hurrah-camping version.

add marshmallows into melted butter

combine the marshmallow with the graham crackers and cereal

stir in some chocolate



**Jump for more butter**

greening

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



**Jump for more butter**

the chewy parts of life

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Recipe: flourless chocolate walnut cookies

We have emerged on the other side of the holidays more or less unscathed. People are crazy, and there is nothing like Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day to really drive that observation home. Jeremy and I filled the past few weeks with many flavors of skiing, catching up on work, exercising the pups, long and thoughtful discussions, doing our best to eat like sensible adults, and avoiding other people. It was great.


christmas morning, an uphill ski on the mountain with our crazy pups

calendar girl, yuki (rezdawg rescue’s 2020 calendar)

national bacon day and a -10°f skate ski with my denver erin

new year’s day uphill ski

frost flowers on a cold skate ski in crested butte

skiing down the mountain with this crazy pack



During the holiday downtime, we came to the realization that Yuki is now an adult (despite behaving like a puppy) and that travel might just become a reality for us again. And I decided it’s time to put Twitter and Facebook into full neglect mode. The only reason I keep a Facebook account is to access the driving conditions page for our local canyon – otherwise it is a hugely unproductive time suck. So for now, if you want updates on new posts, you can follow me on Instagram at @jenyuphoto (personal) or @userealbutter (just the blog), subscribe to this blog (there is a link at the top of this page), or periodically check here.

Also? I sorta got my cooking mojo back! There were recipes that piqued my interest enough to want to make and even photograph to share here. I’ve always got one eye open for decent gluten-free recipes. I eat the hell out of gluten, but there are a handful of people I really like who cannot. If I like you, I will bake for you. If I really like you, I will cook for you. Don’t let the gluten-freeness of these flourless chocolate walnut cookies deter you if you dig on gluten. These gems are not only delicious and perfectly textured, they are easy to make (i.e. hard to fuck up). It’s like the ghetto version of a French macaron.


walnuts, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, egg whites



Apparently, there is great flexibility to the recipe according to the Food52 post. You can omit the nuts, change the flavorings, add chocolate chips. I haven’t tried any ingredient variations yet. First, you want to toast the walnuts which involves a quick 9-10 minutes in a moderate (350°F) oven. Chop them up and let them cool. If you mix the cookie dough with a stand mixer, the nuts will get bashed up by the paddle during mixing. If you mix the dough by hand – which I haven’t done – you may want to chop the walnuts a little finer as they won’t receive as much of a beating. I do recommend weighing your ingredients rather than measuring by volume because: 1) it’s more accurate and 2) fewer dishes to wash.

coarsely chop the toasted walnuts

combine the dry ingredients in a bowl



**Jump for more butter**