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rethinking

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Recipe: jalapeno popper dip

I’ve been absent a while. It was originally unintentional, but then it became very intentional. There was a lot going on in the past month. Instead of stressing over everything that needed to get done, I reassessed my priorities and let the blog sink to the bottom of that pile. My plan was to resume posting as soon as I could. Then the thought of using that time to focus on health and well… my life, sounded like a better plan. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Here are highlights from the past month:


dim sum with my folks who were back in town for a few weeks

they came prepared for colorado’s arctic welcome

baking gluten-free sourdough for my neighbor (from this amazing book)

enjoying the return of autumn sunsets



Waiting for snow is hard on those of us who love skiing and riding. We waited for three long and dry weeks for the snow train to return. Big dump snow days are always welcome here, but we have learned that ANY snow is good as we wind down toward the shortest days of the year. As you probably know, we are huge proponents of outdoor exercise in the cold months. It’s good for you and it vastly improves your outlook on life.

catching laps above the fog bank

lovely hoar frost from the lift

getting our crazy girls out for a hike in the snow



Thanksgiving in the US is a day away and I really couldn’t bring myself to make a Thanksgiving-appropriate recipe to shoot and blog. While I am all for the giving of thanks, it is the traditional food of Thanksgiving that I have come to roundly reject – a bland carbfest that upon deeper reflection, ranks rather low on my deliciousness scale. I can separate the food from the memories. I still cherish the memories.

If there is one thing I do love about Thanksgiving food, it is The Grazing before dinner. My parents always had some mishmash of tasty Chinese and American appetizers and snacks laid out on the coffee table in front of the television, or on the kitchen table (while Mom prepared the dining table for dinner) for larger gatherings. This was where young children and introverts could look occupied and avoid unwanted engagement with boring adults. If you’re still looking for a last minute grazing idea or want to add another dip to your party quiver, here’s an easy jalapeño popper dip.


jalapeños (fresh and pickled), cheddar cheese, cream cheese, jack cheese, mayonnaise, panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, bacon

chopped, crumbled, diced



**Jump for more butter**

new and old

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Recipe: caulilini with bagna cauda

It was only a few days after my last post that our autumn sunshine and warmth plunged into the grey and white hues of an early season storm. That first real snowfall of the season takes on magical notes, especially when it catches the fall colors – powdered sugar coating honeyed canopies. Short-lived, but one of life’s many joyful experiences.


getting neva and yuki out to play the evening before the storm

yuki starts the hike out of our neighborhood

felt like winter, but looked like fall

24 hours of overlapping seasons



After the storm, our weather warmed up, the snow melted, and the leaves turned black and fell. Now we ping pong between warm and cold spells. Another storm, then sun, then storm, then sun, all the while the temperatures trend cooler and we build a base in the mountains that will soon be good enough to ski without scraping rocks. In the meantime, I’m cranking the oven up and getting reacquainted with my sourdough starter and resuming the production of homemade dog treats (I use canned pumpkin instead of sweet potato now, but either works fine). Admittedly, I purchase dog treats in summer when the last of the homemade spring batch has been exhausted and it is too bloody hot to run the oven. Neva was particularly happy to stand watch over the treats late into the night.

playing with bâtard scoring

neva stayed up late with me to make sure “her” treats baked properly



We love our vegetables around here and have a nice rotation of several varieties, but sometimes I fall into a rut and feel bored. That’s one of the reasons we like to dine out from time to time – to get inspired by new ideas and new menus. We haven’t gotten out much since we adopted Yuki, but this summer she transformed into a big girl and now behaves pretty well at home when we’re gone. One dish that really stuck with me was the caulilini at Sunflower in Crested Butte. It’s like broccolini, but in cauliflower form except the stalks are sweeter and more tender than cauliflower stalks.

Fast forward a couple of months and I spot caulilini in the produce section of Trader Joe’s! I grabbed two bags and have since returned for several more. Some people have referred to caulilini as baby cauliflower, but it isn’t. A little googling revealed that this version of cauliflower is actually the one most commonly consumed in China. So it’s new to me (us), but old hat for my motherland. Dang! I never even knew. But now that I know, I’m going to make up for lost time. Taking a cue from Sunflower, I decided to sauté the caulilini and serve it with bagna cauda.


caulilini, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, more olive oil, garlic, anchovies



I grew up prepping vegetables and defrosting various meats and tofu and stock for my mom before she got home from work so that she could start cooking dinner the moment she stepped into the house. We ate a lot of broccoli back in the day because that was an easy vegetable to get in American grocery stores that translated well to Chinese cooking. I was taught to peel the fibrous and tough outer skins on the stalks and now I just do it out of habit. I think the caulilini is tender enough that you can skip this step (especially if you are short on time), but I do break them down into bite-size stalks if they are especially bulky.

peeling the outer skins (optional)

breaking down the stalks



**Jump for more butter**

pack a warm hat

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Recipe: pork chops with chanterelle wine and cream sauce

Ever since the calendar flipped to September, we’ve been getting out for longer hikes with the pups. It seems so late, yet in all honesty, I really do loathe hiking during the height of summer. It’s just too damn hot and buggy and busy. Sure we rise at puke-thirty in the morning and hit the trail long before the sun does, but by the time we’re heading back down the sun is a Giant Death Ray in the sky intent on broiling us for supper. By September, waking pre-dawn feels more reasonable on the body and the midday sun – while still toasty – is not nearly as oppressive when paired with cool mountain air. Most of all, I love that morning starts now require a warm jacket, gloves, and a warm hat as we pass through a blue-hued world delicately fringed in short-lived feathery white ice crystals.


above treeline in september, when one doesn’t spontaneously combust

meadows of gold and red are taking over the alpine as autumn arrives



We no longer run the fans at night to expel hot air from the house and draw cooler nighttime air in. It’s enough to open the windows and allow the chill to settle overnight. Before you know it, snuggy flannel sheets will replace our cotton sheets. The pups have already taken to cuddling on the bed each morning. Best of all, it’s huckleberry season. This year hasn’t been kind to the huckleberries, many of which are either green (due to a very late snowpack) and will likely get slammed by a hard frost before they even think of blushing pink then purple, or have already died on the stem and turned ghost white. Most of our secret patches have fizzled, but a couple managed to produce decent purple berries. Erin and I only took a few and left the rest for the grouse and bears and squirrels and everyone else who knows about the best berry in the land.

snuggy pups enjoying morning amnesty on the human bed

an early morning picking huckleberries with erin and banjo



I’ve only been foraging chanterelles for as many years as Neva is old – four years. Some years these beautiful, fragrant fungi flush early and some years they flush late. This season my chanterelle patches began with a promising effort and then the lack of rain caused them to shrivel and die. Whatever we managed to forage early on was all we had to show for the summer. It was better than last year’s haul (which was nonexistent), but not big enough for me to be throwing chanterelles in every dish I made.

pushing up through the forest duff

young ones are just as tasty as big ones



I set aside two-thirds of our chanterelles for sautéeing in butter and freezing them. The other third I reserved for new recipes including this simple chanterelle wine and cream sauce over seared pork chops. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It’s so good. SO GOOD. The pork chops can be pan-seared however you like. If cooked in the traditional way, I prefer Kenji’s method which involves bone-in, dry brined pork chops. But more recently I’ve been cooking my pork chops using Kenji’s sous vide method – also bone-in. Both are excellent. Sous vide produces a more consistent and juicy result. No matter how you cook your pork chops, I do recommend bone-in, 1-inch thick, and finished with pan-searing. Here I cooked a half recipe (the full recipe is listed at the end of the post) because it was just the two of us for dinner, and I did my pork chops sous vide with a pan-seared finish.

pork chops, pepper, cream, white wine, garlic, parsley, butter, salt, chanterelles

season with salt and pepper on both sides

vacuum seal (or seal in ziplocs, pushing as much air out as possible)

sous vide bath for 1 hour at 140°f



**Jump for more butter**