fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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trying to be zen

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Recipe: fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette

I don’t do well with hot weather, and it has been stupidly hot here this last week. Thankfully the smoke from Western wildfires has been on leave for much of this heat wave so we can at least do things outside (although it returned just yesterday). We’ve been waiting all summer for an evening that was smoke-free enough to camp on our deck with the pups. Neva is fairly comfortable with the tent, but Yuki was a newbie. At first she wouldn’t get in, but Jeremy called Neva over and as soon as Neva set foot in the tent, Yuki dove in after her. They loved it – woofing at things in the night, sniffing all of the smells on the air, walking on us in the darkness, and curling up on our puffy down sleeping bags. The humans got very little sleep, but that was to be expected. The jury is out if we think we can take this show into the backcountry. I mean, I’m sure the pups will be delighted and we will be exhausted – I guess that’s how it goes when you have dogs (or children from what I hear)!


wingus and dingus in the tent on the deck

swimming in alpine lakes to cool off in the late summer heat

finally, some clouds and a lovely sunset



Friday was Jeremy’s birthday and we spent the evening sharing a nice home-cooked meal and homemade birthday cake. My parents have taken to keeping their birthday celebrations low-key because they think big celebrations attract too much attention and bad luck (i.e. death or no more birthdays). We keep it low-key because that’s how we roll. No big birthday celebration. No birthday month. No birthday gifts or cards. No pressure or stress. Just us and the pups. It’s nice like that.

a 6-inch 3-layer chocolate hazelnut raspberry cake

chocolate hazelnut chiffon alternating with chocolate mousse and raspberries

finished in a chocolate mirror glaze



Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of ordering Brussels sprouts at various dining establishments. They’re almost always delicious and the question among the diners usually comes down to “Are they fried or are they roasted?” I’ve roasted my fair share of Brussels sprouts because it’s one of our favorite vegetable dishes in winter, so I was pretty certain they were fried and not roasted. The question was finally put to rest this past week when I set about frying a batch of Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku (David Chang) tossed with a fish sauce vinaigrette. It’s simple, addictively good, and it might be the thing that converts the Brussels sprouts haters in the world.

fish sauce, rice vinegar, shallots, lime, thai chili, glaric, water, sugar, brussels sprouts, togarashi



I changed David’s recipe a bit by omitting the mint and cilantro, and adding fried shallots. If we’ve got hot oil for frying the Brussels sprouts, we may as well fry some shallots. When prepping the sprouts, peel away the outer leaves if they’re discolored or if they are bugged out. I worried that peeling too many leaves wouldn’t result in the fluffy delicate layers I’ve experienced in restaurants. Not to worry. When the sprouts go into the hot oil, they will fluff and puff into crisp delectable airy vegetable goodness.

minced garlic, sliced chili, sliced shallots, juiced lime

peel and slice the brussels sprouts



**Jump for more butter**

i spoke too soon

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Recipe: baked huckleberry doughnuts

Remember when I was rejoicing over the cooler weather last week? I went shopping for all manner of ingredients to make soups and stews only to learn that this week is going to be hot as hell (again). Well, I made my soups and stews anyway, because I’m stubborn like that. I put some in the freezer as a favor to Future Me, but it’s nice to eat with a spoon again! Even with highs hitting the lower 80s (don’t laugh – we’re at 8500 feet above sea level!), the days are shorter which means the house has more time to radiate its heat away at night. This is good. I’m ready for the autumnal equinox!


the leaf litter gets prettier by the day



Amazingly, the wildfire smoke has kept away for over a week. This means more time outside for the pups to hike and for us to verify that we need not expend any more energy mushroom hunting. And we saw my folks off this weekend as they left for Virginia. I feel as if the winding down of summer’s hectic demands means I can focus a little more. I’m reining in our eating habits, putting regular exercise back on the schedule, and setting training goals for Yuki so we can all be ready come ski season.

pausing off trail

neva waits patiently as jeremy investigates a potential mushroom

dinner out with mom and dad before they flew home



While taking inventory of the chest freezer, I was delighted to see I had collected a good many huckleberries this summer. It’s enough to get me through next summer just in case it turns out to be a bad year. I often seek out recipes that don’t require a lot of huckleberries, but still deliver the essence of the huckleberry. Huckleberry cheesecake ice cream is a great example of such a recipe. Another is baked huckleberry doughnuts. I think we can all agree that baked doughnuts are not the same as fried doughnuts. Baked doughnuts are more like cake in doughnut form with glazes or sprinkles or dustings. It’s all good in my book.

huckleberries, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar, vegetable oils, baking soda, salt, buttermilk

mix the dry ingredients

mix the wet ingredients

stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients



If you are lucky enough to make these doughnuts with fresh huckleberries, you can fold the berries into the batter straight away. If you are using frozen huckleberries, I would recommend tossing the frozen berries with some flour so that they all get coated, then folding those into the batter. The flour helps to prevent the juice from bleeding too much as you fold in the fruit. If you don’t care about potentially turning the batter purple, then go for it. Same applies for blueberries if you choose to substitute them for the huckleberries.

fold in the berries

fill the greased and floured doughnut pans

baked and possibly overfilled, but i rarely miss the hole in a doughnut

cool on a rack



**Jump for more butter**

let this be the cooldown

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Recipe: huckleberry daiquiri

The weather took a turn this weekend, bringing cooler temperatures, clouds, and even some rain. The smoke is still present and we find that the intensity of the smoky odor doesn’t always correlate with the opacity of the air. But I’ll take a cooldown any way I can get it right now. We get out when we can, although being confined indoors means we are getting more work done.

We celebrated my mom’s birthday last week. At first my Dad had grand plans of going out for dinner at one of Boulder’s many fine dining establishments, but more and more my parents prefer eating with us at home. I think we all enjoy dining out, but when you are a good cook you understand the value of what you are getting at a restaurant versus what you are getting at home. There are plenty of times when dining in wins. Dad executed a fabulous feast including the traditional noodles for long life. I contributed a Colorado Palisade peach (the best peaches!) pie because my mom loves peaches and she doesn’t bake.


birthday girl and lots of special dishes

chinese beef and beef tendon noodle soup in 3-day broth



I’ll be honest with you, this has been a shitty summer as mountain summers go. Our monsoonal rains fizzled before they even got started, the smoke from the fires has kept us from exploring much of the high country (I’m allergic to smoke and suffer from allergy-induced asthma), and it appears that the mushroom season to date has been a mere token at best. We are skipping straight ahead to roasting green chiles, picking apples from friends’ trees, and mentally engaging ourselves with what we hope is the arrival of autumn in the mountains. We spy many random aspen branches flaring their gold colors around the neighborhood and on the trails. Most are still green, but I feel ready for fall, and then… precious winter.

the understory of our local woods is turning

there aren’t many out there, but we find them

time to roast and restock the freezer

apple picking with this sweet little girl and her pup, kumba



Considering our poor snowpack and meager summer rains, Erin and I were astonished that this year’s huckleberry crop was 1) early by a month and 2) phenomenal. This was not the case everywhere, because my secret huckleberry patches outside of Crested Butte had so few berries that I left them all for the local wildlife to eat. Back on the Front Range, I have a huge stash cleaned, sorted, and frozen. There were so many berries that we hardly put a dent in them. I saved a few fresh ones to make some recipes, including a huckleberry daiquiri cocktail.

ice, huckleberries, limes, sugar, water, rum



I had never had an actual daiquiri before. My knowledge of daiquiris came from the daiquiri ice sherbet at Baskin Robbins, which you could argue is no knowledge at all. But whenever I want to try a cocktail recipe, Jeremy always volunteers as tribute. To make it huckleberry, I merely steeped crushed berries in the simple syrup. And while I typically use organic cane sugar that has a brown tint to it, I opted for white granulated sugar to avoid any adulteration of the true huckleberry color. After you strain the berries out, don’t throw them away! These are great on pancakes, waffles, French toast, or ice cream. Huckleberries should never be wasted.

make a simple syrup with water and sugar

mash the huckleberries

add the berries and let steep for 30 minutes

strain the syrup



**Jump for more butter**