chinese shrimp and sizzling rice neva: backcountry buddies dog training strawberries and cream malasadas morel asparagus prosciutto lemon pasta


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the wamp invasion

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Recipe: morel asparagus prosciutto lemon pasta

Colorado is undergoing a bout of Seasonal Confusion. It’s technically shoulder season for our two ski mountains as they both closed today until next Fall 2017. By the good graces of the atmosphere, we managed to nab a couple of powder days this past week at Eldora (thank you, upslope!) before closing day. It’s been a toggle from a snowy day to a sunny day to more snow to sun to snow. One day I’m trail running and the next I’m stepping into my powder skis. Makes my head spin.


jeremy gets first tracks in nearly a foot of powder

and it was the fluffy stuff

a half foot in the morning melted to an inch, then by day’s end it began to snow again

seeking fresh pockets the next morning



As the days get warmer, my mountain buddies and I are itching for mushroom season to start around here. Of course, if you want to speed the season up by a month or so, you merely have to drive 3000 feet down to the plains. So that’s what we did. I mean, lots of flatlanders come up to the mountains to hunt for mushrooms, so why shouldn’t the WAMPs (weird ass mountain people – that’s us) reciprocate? It’s early yet, but we were on a scouting run. There’s a reason we generally prefer to stick to our home turf in the mountains. We don’t have to worry about ticks, poison ivy, rattlesnakes, garbage, and a constant stream of people while we forage. And it’s hot on the flats. Oh man, I nearly lost my marbles when the morning sun emerged above the cloud bank to the east. My skin is still in winter mode. But the mushrooms beckon.

hello pretties! a little nursery of baby oyster mushrooms

my pal harvests some old oyster mushrooms to smear on a log at his house

these are western poison ivy stalks (pre-leaf) – don’t touch!

western poison ivy stalks with berries (again, don’t touch)



Since the Colorado high country will be among the handful of locations with the last morel flushes of the season, I’ve decided to share a recipe that I shot the previous spring for those of you with fresh morels in hand right now (or soon). It would seem that the sickness sets in earlier each year, but I like to think of it as diversifying my portfolio… of mushrooms.

there is much joy to be had in the hunt (from 2016)



Mushrooms and pasta are a no-brainer combination. Use your favorite kind of pasta. Mine is pappardelle. Because morels are the epitome of spring, I thought it appropriate to pair them with asparagus, which also sprout forth from the ground in the early season. Morels, more than the other wild mushrooms I forage, have that slight funk in flavor shared with the likes of stinky cheeses, well-aged full-bodied red wines, and cured meats. Therefore, prosciutto is a lovely companion to these delightful fungi, and hints of lemon zest brighten the whole ensemble.

pasta, morels, asparagus, cream, pepper, parmesan, prosciutto, butter, chicken stock, lemon, salt, garlic, olive oil

halve the morels

rinse and dry the mushrooms



**Jump for more butter**

something to distract us

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Recipe: sous vide ribs

We are into our second week without Neva while she is studying hard at doggy training camp. We miss her terribly. I catch myself scrolling through puppy pictures on Instagram because I’m not sure how to deal with life without a dog, even though I know she’s coming home soon. Oh, but the truth is we are keeping ourselves entertained while Neva is at school. We figured a weekend trip to Crested Butte would be much simpler with just the humans. It’s sort of a casual drawn out celebration of our 20th anniversary. Dad instructed me to go to their place in Boulder and select any bottle of wine in his collection for us to enjoy, with the promise that they would celebrate with us this summer with “an even better bottle of wine!” I don’t really drink wine, so it’s actually a bottle of wine for jeremy. But I find it funny and sweet, because my parents are so very fond of him.


he chose this one because dad had seven more bottles of it



It was an oddly easy and strange weekend in Crested Butte. There was no new snow, but we didn’t feel like skiing groomers. Erin told me that we have become totally Coloradofied. We skated and uphill skied, worked, and celebrated a friend’s birthday. And we both found ourselves muttering “I miss little Neva,” at random times throughout the days. Of course, with the Daylight Saving time shift, we lost an hour Sunday morning. That would have been fine except 1) we wanted to wake up early to uphill ski before hitting the road to go home and 2) we stayed up late watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show. So we both felt particularly awful when my alarm went off at 5 am, but catching sunrise on the mountain was worth every bit of mental pukiness.

preparing to skin up the mountain

gorgeous views from the nordic trails

roasty toasty enough to warrant short sleeves

the fleeting surprise sunrise colors on an early morning uphill climb



I’ve been playing around with the sous vide when the mood strikes me and I have to say I just love this thing more and more. One of the first recipes I tried back in November was barbecue ribs. Kenji has a lot of great tutorials on Serious Eats, with plenty of clear explanations and options. The ribs turned out so beautifully, we had a dinner party just to serve the ribs to our friends (who also gave them the thumbs up). It’s quite simple as long as you have at least 12 hours to sous vide the ribs. I haven’t tried this on baby back ribs as I tend to prefer St. Louis-cut ribs because they’re meatier. You merely need a rack or two of ribs, a dry rub, liquid smoke, and barbecue sauce. I list my favorite dry rub and barbecue sauce recipes below, but you can substitute your favorite versions – or if you’re short on time, you can purchase them. Kenji does have a way to achieve the pink smoke ring, but I find it completely unnecessary since it’s mostly aesthetic, so I skip that step. Regardless of whether or not you want a pink smoke ring, I think it’s worth giving his entire tutorial a once over if you’re serious about your sous vide ribs. Plus, it’s always good to learn things!

start with a dry rub, liquid smoke, and a rack of ribs

peel off the papery membrane on the back of the rack

cut into 3- or 4-rib sections

coat with dry rub



**Jump for more butter**

the best kind of mess

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Recipe: breakfast mess

You may have had trouble commenting last week after we updated the spam filter because it wasn’t letting any comments through. I think it is fixed now. Do let us know if you encounter problems. Thanks! -jen

We finally pulled the trigger this past week and sent Neva to doggy training camp. I had mixed feelings about leaving her as we drove away. On the one hand, I am quite attached to that little girl. On the other hand, Jeremy and I felt we had gone as far as we could working with Neva, and that we needed professional guidance. I say “we” because it’s not all on Neva. She is in very good care for the next couple of weeks and early reports from Claire show Neva has made great progress in a short time – and she’s having fun! This is promising and I feel we have made the right decision for her and for us. I’ll share our experience in a dedicated post after Neva finishes camp for those of you interested in how all of this pans out. In the meantime, you can follow her training on Instagram at @backcountrybuddies or Facebook at Backcountry Buddies Dog Training.

It has been awfully quiet without our pup roaming about. Jeremy and I both have a habit of walking into a room and scanning around for Neva – usually lounging on the couch, in her bed, on the floor, by the deck door. But a no-pup house means greater flexibility in our schedules, so we took the opportunity to spend a weekend away. First we indulged in a couple of days skiing at Steamboat Springs, then we hit up Devil’s Thumb Ranch on the way home for a morning of skate skiing at their lovely Nordic Center. It was a sort of mini skication even though I know everyone thinks all we ever do is ski (mostly true).


hello steamboat springs!

trees plastered in snow

kampachi with apple and grilled avocado at yamakawa (formerly known as yama)

black out: walu walu marinated in squid ink served with squid ink-infused tobiko

snow, sun, and fun at devil’s thumb ranch nordic center

jeremy takes another lap

a pretty sunset to close out a great weekend



Breakfast tends to be an oft neglected and skipped meal in our house. I know they say it is the most important meal of the day and I do make an effort, but sometimes it is all I can do to eat a piece of fruit. Other times I am not terribly excited about what is on offer because I am not such a fan of sweet breakfasts. It is likely the fault of my Chinese immigrant upbringing that I would choose a savory bowl of congee loaded to the gills with spicy pickled radishes, shredded pork, ginger, green onions, and a soy sauce egg over say, a doughnut. Now, if we have house guests, I make the effort to provide a proper breakfast. Sometimes it is sweet, sometimes savory, sometimes a bit of both. My favorite is when there are leftover hash browns, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy or whatnot the day after the guests have left, and we pile everything on a plate or better yet, a bowl, and call it good. That’s because it is SO good. Jeremy and I refer to it as breakfast mess and it’s awesome because you can put whatever you like in it.

Free will can be a terrible thing (just look at rush hour traffic), but in this instance it’s the best thing ever. You know how breakfast menus give you a choice of bacon OR sausage? When we make a breakfast mess, we opt for bacon AND sausage. Not too much, mind you, but a little bit of each is beautiful to behold… and eat.


making sausage gravy

frying up the bacon



**Jump for more butter**