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


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archive for meat

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



**Jump for more butter**

yes i am home

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Recipe: chinese red-cooked pork

Each day last week listed snow in the weather forecast for Crested Butte. That was mostly a good thing. Mostly. It was time for us to head back home for stuff like work and sanity, although we are only able to be in Crested Butte because of the internet (and the ability to work online). At first we thought we might be able to get home Thursday, then it looked more like Saturday. Well, I’m glad we didn’t plan to leave Thursday because that was (yet another) powder day. Remember how Crested Butte got four feet of snow the first week of January? They received another five feet in the second week of January. Do the math. Four feet plus five feet equals some of the best powder skiing ever.


jeremy drops into one of our stashes

how the snow piled up in our front yard



The plan was to ski Friday morning if the mountain received 6 inches or more overnight or to skin up the mountain if it was less. I awoke at 5 am when Neva kicked me in her sleep (she starts off in her bed, but always winds up on ours in the middle of the night). The mountain reported a few inches. I checked the pow cam, then three different weather forecasts. Our window of least snow had moved up a day. I woke Jeremy and we discussed our options in the dark as Neva began to petition for dinner (breakfast). If we wanted to leave that day, there was much to do in order to button up the place – wash towels and linens, vacuum, sweep, mop, scrub the kitchen, dishes, empty the refrigerator, clean bathrooms, dust, take trash and recycling to the dump, pack up, unplug, clear snow off the middle eaves. Six hours later, we were on the road. Five hours after that, we were home.

We spent a glorious month in Crested Butte, which is the longest we’ve been there in one go. Jeremy didn’t think I could do it because I usually start to lose my marbles after 2+ weeks, but I managed. Barely. As much as I love Crested Butte – and I really do love it – I get more done in Nederland. Thankfully, we were greeted with fresh snow and a calm atmosphere. Positively the best weather the Front Range can offer between November and April. Living in Gale Force Wind Central, you learn not to take days like that for granted. So we got out to enjoy this otherworldly (some might call it the Upside Down) version of home.


sunrise skate ski through the hall of trees

backcountry skiing with neva

hoar frost

close up of the crystals



The first order of business was to ski, because exercise keeps us all nice nice. The second order of business was to cook. Chinese New Year’s Eve is Friday, January 27th. I perused my list of “want to make” Chinese recipes and settled on red-cooked pork (hong shao rou). When I was little, my grandma and parents made it with a bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder cooked super tender and infused with the flavors of the heady, savory braising liquid. If you search online recipes, you will discover that most people are cooking with pork belly these days, which is far more luxurious than a humble pedestrian pork shoulder (but let’s all agree that pork shoulder is a truly wonderful cut). It’s best to get pork belly with the skin on, which my local Whole Foods doesn’t have. As my mom complained this summer, “They trim the skin off the pork belly – that’s the best part!” If your local Asian grocer has a butcher’s counter, then you can probably score skin-on (maybe even bone-in) pork belly. That’s what you want.

Other ingredients you should pick up while you’re at the Asian market are: Shaoxing cooking wine, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Shaoxing is also known as huang jiu (yellow wine), but you can substitute dry sherry in its place. If you can’t find light soy sauce, using your regular soy sauce should work. The dark soy sauce is different though – it’s less salty, has a sweet finish, and adds a deep, rich color to the dish.


green onions, garlic, ginger, sugar, star anise, pork belly, shoaxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce

close up of the bottle labels



While researching recipes, I decided to go with the one that was the most straightforward. But it didn’t include ginger, which was in another recipe I liked. In these instances, the only solution is to consult with Mom. We exchanged a few texts and I was off to the races. Earlier this evening, after I had finished cooking, my dad called me.

“Mommy says you asked her about how to make hong shao rou. You should have asked me. Okay, tell me how you cooked it.” Before I could even describe the process, he interjected, “Now, first you have to cook the pork belly in cold water.” See, my dad gets SO excited about cooking and he is SO certain that his way is the right way, but it’s quite the ordeal to squeeze a reliable recipe out of the guy.

“I did that, Dad.”

“But did you scoop the scum away? You have to boil the yucky stuff off first.”

“DAD! THIS IS WHY I ASKED MOM AND NOT YOU!”


cover the pork belly with cold water

remove the scum from the surface of the liquid

slice the pork belly into 1.5-inch pieces



**Jump for more butter**

back in the saddle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle-stuffed pork tenderloin

Just when I thought I was ready to kick that cold in the hoohoo, I came down with pink eye. Or I *thought* I had pink eye. Dr. Eye Doctor told me that I did not in fact have pink eye, but dry eyes. Apparently the combination of our dry mountain air, my excessively long days wearing contacts, and lots of computer time has caused great irritation and distress to the insides of my eyelids. I was instructed to take a break from wearing contacts to give my eyes a rest lest I not be able to wear contacts in the future. Trying not to sound like a brat after my scolding, I inquired how long “a break” was. He gave me the side-eye and said, “Until your eyes feel better.” Before I could ask another stupid question he continued, “That might be a day or it might be a week. You will have to gauge, but don’t push it – be kind to your eyes.” I gave it a day and another day and a third day and I’ve noticed considerable improvement.

As dull as it was to exercise on the indoor bike trainer (the only place I could work out and not hurt myself when my glasses steamed up), it was a much needed opportunity to get a lot of computer work done and organize my freezers – woohoo! And I let my body truly recover from the cold and not relapse by heading out into frigid winds and blowing snow. Of course, now that I’m healthy again, I’m going to do exactly that – go straight into the frigid winds and blowing snow. Hey, it’s ski season on the Front Range! It is what it is. Besides, there’s nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being healthy.

This week’s recipe is offered as a main dish suggestion for holiday dinner parties or the actual holidays. If there is any time to roast a hunk of meat it would be on the darkest nights as we enter winter. Ah, but this isn’t just any hunk of meat – it is stuffed with earthy, delightful mushrooms. I’m using foraged chanterelles here, but you can use whatever fresh mushrooms are available to you in your neck of the woods: shiitakes, crimini, oysters – something with flavor and character.


wine, olive oil, black pepper, beef broth, chanterelles, sage, thyme, butter, garlic, salt, pork tenderloins

thick sliced mushrooms



Could you make this with beef tenderloin (or flank steak) instead? Yes. Yes you could. The only reason I went with pork was because these were sitting in the chest freezer back in October when I shot the recipe. The stuffing is simply roasted mushrooms with some aromatics and seasonings. Use the recipe as a guideline. If you have other herbs and seasonings that you prefer, then go for it. At this point, I just want you to be happy.

prepped mushroom stuffing

pouring olive oil over the mushrooms and herbs

toss it all together

place in a baking dish and roast

roasted, tender, and fragrant



**Jump for more butter**