chewy amaretti lentil chicken soup giveaway: guess the yuki shroomaki (japanese mushroom roll)


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archive for grains

all the dough in the world

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Recipe: sourdough bread

Last week felt like proper winter for once. We had two powder days, cold temperatures, and great skiing on the mountain and the Nordic trails. I had almost forgotten what a real ski season is like! A real ski season is like butter. Smooth, silky, fluffy, cold, snowy butter…


jeremy grabs some powder runs before a meeting

hello winter, nice of you to come by!



It was also the perfect time to be experimenting with bread baking and running a hot oven. Baking sourdough bread has been on my List of Stuff and Things for over a decade. My greatest impediment was my fear of the unknown. You mean you have to CARE for sourdough starter? As in, keep it alive?!? How many times do we put off doing something because we can’t seem to overcome the activation energy (mental or otherwise) required to get going? And how many times, after we finally get around to doing it, do we kick ourselves for not doing it sooner now that we know it wasn’t such a big deal after all? I do not possess enough hands to raise for all the times I psyched myself out of awesome things, but I am learning that sometimes we need to simply get out of our own way.

i baked some bread



Over the last couple of years I’ve admired my friend, Dawn, as she cranked out artisan pizzas, breads, pastries, and a host of other goodies. She grew and milled her own wheat! Dawn is one of my real life girl crushes because she’s badass and wonderful and rescues abandoned pups in the mountains left for dead by jerks. So it made sense that I would ask her for some sourdough starter in the hopes that her awesomeness would accompany the starter into my kitchen. In the last two weeks, I’ve given starter and Dawn’s Starter Care Guide to two other friends. Bread is for sharing! Once I saw how straightforward it is to feed and maintain my starter (I named it Wheatley) without killing it, I went in search of a sourdough bread recipe. My absolute favorite sourdough comes from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and the recipe I used from The Kitchn is adapted from Tartine’s method, but for the home baker.

sourdough starter, water, water, flour, flour, salt



It blows my mind just a little (okay, a lot) that you can transform water, flour, and salt into a deep golden loaf of perfection. Whether you purchase, receive, or make your own sourdough starter, what you have in your jar is wild yeast that requires regular feeding. Feeding basically means stirring in equal weights of water and flour. [Note: While some may insist that I’ll have to pry their measuring cups from their cold dead hands, a kitchen scale eliminates the inaccuracies of volumetric measurements.] As the little yeasties digest the sugars in their food and produce energy by the process of fermentation, they create byproducts of carbon dioxide and ethanol. The carbon dioxide forms bubbles in your starter. That’s how you know it’s alive and active.

If you don’t feed your starter, it will eventually die. This was my biggest hangup with baking sourdough bread – was I going to kill my starter? Thankfully, you don’t have to babysit your starter daily if you don’t want to or are unable to. The lower temperature of the refrigerator slows the metabolism of the yeast such that a single feeding can sustain the organisms for a week or more. And if you are going to be away from your starter for longer than a few weeks, you can always make a backup. But a healthy and active starter should probably hang out on your kitchen counter at room temperature, receiving regular feedings for a few consecutive days, before making your bread. I typically feed my starter in the morning, and it is ready for use about 8 hours later.

The recipe I followed makes two 1-pound loaves of sourdough and calls for one tablespoon of starter. I halved the recipe and used a half tablespoon or 8 grams of starter. The starter gets mixed with flour and water and is left to feed overnight. This is the levain (leaven) – the stuff that makes your bread rise. As our municipal water is treated with chlorine, I use purified water for the levain (there is always some leftover from my kombucha-making) as I don’t want to kill my baby yeasts. Alternatively, I could let my tap water sit out for a day as chlorine is pretty volatile and will evaporate naturally.


weighing the water for the levain

mixing the levain

bubbly the next day



The levain should be bubbly and light and expanded the next day. I usually give it a sniff to make sure it’s a little sour smelling, a little alcoholy. Is it bad that I like sniffing sourdough starter? You can take a small spoonful of levain and drop it into water. If it floats, it’s ready to use. Stir the levain into the water until it is dissolved, then mix in the flour. You can use all-purpose flour or bread flour. I accidentally used all-purpose flour on my first attempt and then made sure to use bread flour on the second attempt. The bread flour dough was easier to work with, and I think the texture and flavor were better than the all-purpose flour loaf too. Also, if you have a Danish dough whisk languishing away in a drawer somewhere (like me), this is the perfect time to use it. It incorporates the flour so easily and quickly! The dough should look like a shaggy mess with no dry pockets of flour remaining.

Now let that shaggy mess rest for 30 minutes to 4 hours. This process, called autolyse, allows the flour to absorb the water and begins gluten development. I let mine rest for 4 hours (and went skate skiing on the local Nordic trails). And because I never know which factors of my kitchen (high altitude, cold, aridity, etc.) are going to impede my culinary endeavors, I cover the bowl with plastic wrap rather than a kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying out, and I set the bowl atop the refrigerator where it is slightly warmer and out of Neva’s reach.


dissolve the levain in water

add the flour

mix it into a shaggy dough



**Jump for more butter**

before summer gets old

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Recipe: thai sticky rice and mango

Guys, you have to learn not to read too much into what I’m writing. I didn’t say I was going dark, I just said if I did, I think it would be hard for me to get back into blogging after realizing how great it is not to write posts at the last minute like I’m doing now. Remember, I’m not a writer. I don’t like writing. But thanks for reading and for letting me know that you read. I think all too often there is a large silent majority – both in my readership and in the world we live in – that rarely speaks up. We need to stop being silent and participate more, yes? You’re all good eggs. xoxo

Last week we returned to the Front Range to trade in our little WRX and get a new Forester XT. Listening to our very inexperienced and not especially good sales person go on about wheel hub cosmetics and how black cars show dirt and scratches more than any other color drove home how we are so unlike most car owners. Cars are not accessories or adornments for us. They are workhorses. Safety and functionality are our priorities. Can it fit Jeremy’s powder skis or a couple of bikes (we do have bike and ski racks, but sometimes we like to chuck them into the car)? Is there room for Neva and all of our gear? Can we sleep in the back in an emergency or for the heck of it? How does it handle deep snow, snow and ice, or climbing mountain passes above 10,000 feet? Will it get us there safely, reliably, comfortably? We think Neva approves, although she hates all cars…


uncertain of this new torture mobile



After we drove the car home from the dealer, we loaded up the other car and headed back to Crested Butte just in time for the start of the wildflowers and my enthusiastic allergies. The early flowers are popping up on the hillsides and in the forests, and with them come butterflies, hummingbirds, and happy bees. I love summer when she is new, but I know from experience that come August, I will tire of this mistress and my daydreams will linger on winter powder days and spring backcountry skiing. My god, the back of my neck is tingling just thinking about ski season.

willows in fuzz stage on my trail run

magical lupine and a dwindling snowpack in the distance

healthy and colorful crimson columbine in bloom

hiking with neva after fetching and swimming (she swam some more after the hike, too)

neva looking to jeremy for a treat



Today’s recipe is an easy one with a handful of ingredients – Thai sticky rice and mango. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, not too sweet, tropical, and delightful. If you have a rice cooker, it’s EVEN easier! But without a rice cooker, you merely need a way to steam the sweet rice, which is glutinous sweet rice… which does not contain gluten, but is sticky as hell. Awesome.

coconut milk, sugar, sweet rice, sesame seeds, salt, mangoes



First, soak the rice in cold water for several hours, then drain and rinse until the water runs clear. My Zojirushi rice cooker has a “sweet rice” setting, but you can also steam the rice until it is tender to the bite. And sticky.

soak the rice in water

drain the grains

place the rice in the rice cooker

cooked sweet rice



**Jump for more butter**

the abcds

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Recipe: apple bacon cheddar dog (abcd) treats

While working on our annual digital year in photos, I scrolled through a lot of snaps I took of Neva when she was a wee pup. I had completely forgotten about them because I was in such a state of sleep-deprivation for a period of three or four months starting on May 23, 2015. Jeremy was in the other room, but he could tell I was looking at puppy pictures because I kept squealing and cooing at the computer. Neva was so cute, but she was so feral compared to a normal dog – because she wasn’t a normal dog. She was a puppy.


these cute little faces will suck up all of your time



Oh, but now Neva is becoming a really good girl as she settles into a routine of the familiar. She’s now used to watching dogs, cars, and people passing through our neighborhood. She doesn’t flip out when she sees birds anymore (there are so.many.birds). Her favorite places to nap depend on where the sun is hitting the house. Neva knows to ask when she wants to go outside instead of sneaking into the office to piddle next to Jeremy’s desk. I remember how it took forever and a day to walk anywhere because she had to put every damn pine cone, rock, stick, blade of grass, and flower in her mouth. We loved her little adorable puppiness, but we both knew from the start that we couldn’t wait for her to grow into a dog.

Neva always knows when I’m making HER treats in the kitchen. She’ll hang around patiently at my feet until I pop them in the oven, at which point she stares longingly at the oven. I’m not sure how much variety Neva needs in her treat selection, but I know for a fact that these treats are her number one all-time favoritest treats on the planet. I threw them together last month with a bunch of leftover ingredients and she’s been pretty devoted to them ever since. They smell fantastic while they bake because duh – the treats are made with cheddar cheese and bacon! I used applesauce as a healthy binder, along with an egg, and threw in some parsley for her breath. So I wanted to share this with anyone looking to make some extra wonderful goodies for their canine companions.


applesauce, bacon, cheddar cheese, egg, parsley, whole wheat flour

prepping the ingredients for mixing

chop the bacon and parsley fine, especially if you are making small treats



**Jump for more butter**