chocolate cream puffs sous vide pork chops huckleberry pate de fruit chinese sesame balls jian diu


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the sous vide life

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Recipe: sous vide pork chops

Hello readers! I just want to point out what for some might not seem obvious. No one is forcing you to read my blog. If you cannot abide by my taste in recipes, you hate my dog, you are sick of seeing photo after photo of my husband skiing, you dislike nature, or you don’t want to read my words and stories, you are well within your rights to not read use real butter. If it’s just the recipes you want, you are welcome to click on the link at the start of each post next to the thumbnail which will jump down to the recipe, bypassing any potentially upsetting content. If this is too much of a burden on you, then I wish you well on your journey through the interwebs. I am totally okay with that. This is not just a food blog, it is MY blog. It is available to people for free, but this blog is not a service. I maintain use real butter at my own expense. I write it for me. I have always written it for me. I detest writing and I especially hate writing when some company or person(s) tell me what to write or what not to write. So for those who want to tag along on my mundane life, I offer a friendly smile and I’ll scoot over to make room for you. For those who find the blog unbearable to read, I invite you to stop wasting your time and move on to better things.


well, at least 5280 magazine likes my mindless drivel

some kelvin-helmholtz-ish clouds at sunset

crescent moon behind a veil of pink clouds

jeremy finds fresh tracks in the glades



This past summer, my dad asked me if I had ever heard of sous vide and was it any good. Yes, I had heard of it years ago. I had no idea if it was good or bad because it was prohibitively expensive back in the day and I had dismissed it as impractical. Dad inquired because he is on a never-ending mission to cook the best steak possible (to go with his red wine, of course). Fast forward a few months to when I was team cooking with Andrew (and our friend, Ben) for one of his popular community dinners at his house. We always nerd out on food and cooking before the guests arrive and he was testing sous vide ribs versus ribs from the smoker. This was my opportunity to learn more about sous vide, which literally translates into “under vacuum”. It involves vacuum-sealing food in plastic bags and cooking them in a low-temperature water bath (you can cook eggs in their shells). Then Andrew says, “Here, why don’t you borrow it? I’m going to be out of the country for a few months, so I won’t be missing it.”

andrew’s anova precision sous vide cooker

easy setup, just clamp it to the side of a large pot or vessel filled with water



I have tested it on three different cuts of steak, barbecue pork ribs, and now pork chops. I will eventually get around to seafood, chicken, eggs, tempering chocolate, and other nifty things, but it’s really to give my dad some feedback on sous vide and to be able to prepare a nice dinner for him when I see him this summer. Also? I bought one of my own, because they’re now as affordable as a typical small kitchen appliance. Andrew is still in Australia, but another friend had one for sale that was practically new, so I sprang for it. The pork chops I used came in a complimentary shipment of several pounds of grass-fed beef (steaks, ground, etc.) and heritage breed pork – no antibiotics, no hormones, no GMO – from Butcher Box, a monthly high quality meat subscription service.

butcher box’s pork chops were my favorite

simple: pork chops, vegetable oil, black pepper, kosher salt



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a little love

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Recipe: huckleberry pate de fruit

I’m glad the week is over. In addition to prepping our Chinese New Year foods and cleaning the house (because of superstitions), I managed to simultaneously come down with an infection which has left me feeling less than 100%. Next year, I just may allow myself greater leeway when it comes to purchasing rather than making all of the food from scratch.


photo courtesy of jimmy gekas

single digits at devil’s thumb ranch nordic center



But the Lunar New Year and my infection aside, it was politics that made for a pretty craptastic week. It takes an enormous amount of energy to filter out the garbage (both on the left and the right) in order to focus on facts and prioritize actions. I don’t get political in this space because politics are very personal for me, just like I don’t talk about religion here because that, too, is very personal. I discuss these issues with people I respect and care about – reasonable, level-headed, critical thinkers. I have had a handful of people ask me to elaborate on my plan of action. That’s hard to spell out as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of upheaval, not to mention we all have different pressing local matters. However, at the national level, I feel these organizations are effective in supporting the issues and causes of importance to me:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Common Cause
Nature Conservancy
Planned Parenthood
ProPublica
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Trust for Public Land (TPL)
Union of Concerned Scientists (USA)

I also found this guide to be helpful on how to concentrate my energies when communicating with my elected representatives: Indivisible Guide: Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.


chinese new year’s eve dinner

chinese new year’s breakfast: potstickers, scallion pancakes, azuki sweet rice cake, satsuma mandarin oranges

a brilliant sunset



Now on to a happier topic… like huckleberries. Despite the fact that we are merely a month into winter, it already feels like spring to me with the ever-so-slightly longer days. Of course, spring in our mountains amounts to generous helpings of snow and that signature Colorado sunshine. I won’t be replenishing my huckleberry stash until late summer (if I’m lucky!), but it’s time to stop hoarding the precious berries in the freezer and start using some in recipes. I’ve made blueberry-pear pâte de fruit in the past, but always had the intention to try a huckleberry pâte de fruit. You can use fresh or frozen huckleberries here, and if you don’t have huckleberries, you can swap in blueberries. If you want to order frozen hucks, google around, there are a number of suppliers who sell them online from the Pacific Northwest. If you forage your own hucks, then you and I are kindred spirits.

sugar, huckleberries, applesauce, lemon, liquid pectin

add two tablespoons lemon juice to the berries

boil for 5 minutes



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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



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