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archive for pickles

homebody

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Recipe: futomaki

Last week we went on a vacation. Of sorts. We brought Neva and Yuki along with us to Steamboat Springs for a ski trip. Sadly, most of what we previously loved about Steamboat were absent: 1) fresh powder and 2) our favorite sushi bar in town (Yama has closed indefinitely). We did ski the mountain and took the pups skijoring on dog-friendly trails at a couple of the Nordic centers near town. Yuki’s endurance continues to improve and Neva is really becoming a well-behaved pup on the trails as long as she can run her brains out.


jeremy with neva and yuki at haymaker nordic center

this is what yuki does when she doesn’t want to go



Steamboat is great and all, but after our third day we were over it. A big winter storm was about to blast its way through the state (big winter storm = powder) and we were slated to check out and drive home in the thick of it. Instead, we left a day early before the storm and drove home – not east to Nederland – but south to Crested Butte. It was the right decision. We arrived just as the snow began to fall, and proceeded to ski amazing powder, celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary, and meet our friend’s new puppy, Moke (Moe-kee).

the road south

the snow piles up in crested butte

jeremy drops into a foot of fresh powder and free refills

enjoying our anniversary dinner

yuki playing with her new pal, moke



On our drive from Steamboat Springs to Crested Butte, we stopped at the Whole Foods in Frisco to grab salads for lunch and ran into my friend who lives in Breckenridge. We chatted and at some point in the conversation I apologized that we hadn’t seen one another in a while. He dismissed it with a wave, “Oh, you don’t have to explain it. You know me,” he chuckled, “I’m a homebody.” Back on the road, I mentioned to Jeremy that I didn’t think of Graham as a homebody – he spends a good deal of time outside running, biking, hiking, skiing. Jeremy was silent for a moment, then, “Most people think of homebodies as people who stay indoors, but I think Graham meant he doesn’t want to be away from home. Sort of like what we’re doing now by going to Crested Butte.”

It’s true. I am becoming more of a Graham homebody every day. Jeremy has always been one. This might also explain why I try to replicate my favorite restaurant dishes at home, to avoid the headache of driving into town and interacting with people. The futomaki sushi roll has eluded me for over a decade because I didn’t know that the sweet pink powdery ingredient, which is dried shredded sweetened cod, was called sakura denbu. Once I learned the proper name, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Last year, I ventured into Denver’s Pacific Mercantile Company on a little Japanese grocery safari with my pal, Ellen, and there it was in the refrigerated section. It was the final piece to my futomaki puzzle!


some of the less common ingredients for a home cook: unagi (grilled eel), sakura denbu, makizushi no moto (seasoned gourd strips with mushrooms)



I had always assumed there was a set recipe for making futomaki because most of the sushi bars I frequented made it the same way. It turns out you can make futomaki with whatever ingredients float your boat, so please feel free to customize! The version I make here follows the recipe from Just One Cookbook because this is how I like it AND I could either purchase or make the ingredients myself. I can easily find the unagi (grilled eel) and seasoned gourd and mushrooms at most Asian grocers, but I have only ever seen the sakura denbu in a Japanese grocery store. You can also purchase the tamago (egg omelette) at an Asian grocery store, but I find making tamagoyaki at home to be far tastier.

fillings: spinach, cucumber, tamago, unagi, kanpyo (gourd strips), mushrooms, sakura denbu



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special days

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Recipe: tuna poke bowl

Tomorrow, August 1, is my sister’s birthday. I normally post flowers in remembrance of her, but this year I took a photo of something far more meaningful. My niece came out to spend a week in Colorado with my parents, and Jeremy and I took her standup paddleboarding in the mountains and met up for a few meals. It’s been almost 11 years since I’ve seen her and she’s grown into quite the remarkable young lady – smart, hard-working, motivated, athletic, sweet, polite, confident.


also a fan of cheesecake

posing for a photo with her grandma and grandpa



Mid-July is about the time I really start paying attention to what is growing in the high country. You never know when a season will start earlier than normal, but more than catching an early season, I like to make the observations for my own data purposes. Turns out the huckleberries are having a very good season and they seem to be a month sooner than usual. My pre-sunrise mornings are consumed with checking my huckleberry patches or picking huckleberries or both.

a nice display of showy fleabane

mycelium growing on a dead tree in a delicate dendritic pattern



When we took my niece paddleboarding, we brought Yuki to give her another day on the board. As I paddled her out on the lake, we passed a boulder that was jutting out of the water. Yuki began to growl at it, then she started to bark. It must have made her nervous because she backed up and fell off the board! And like everything else, she took it in stride and remained her calm self as she swam up to me and I pulled her back onto the board.

Yuki is six months old today according to her estimated birth date of January 31, 2018 (she was found at 2 weeks old). Yuki continues to bounce about the house like a rompy pup, sometimes stopping mid-bounce to scratch an itch on her chin and tumbling over backwards clumsily. It’s ridiculous how cute she is. This little pup has gained four pounds in the four weeks we’ve had her and we think her legs are longer. She is certainly taller, but she remains shorter than Neva. We have no idea how big she will get (we suspect Neva-size or smaller), but it doesn’t really matter. We are just so happy she is ours.


seaworthy

togetherness

sisters



The last time we were in Crested Butte, we enjoyed a seared tuna rice bowl at Montanya’s tasting room, one of our favorite restaurants in town. It was loaded with vegetables and seared ahi tuna on a bed of forbidden rice. I was hooked. When we got back to Nederland, I put it on our weekly menu, but as I shopped for the ingredients I changed it up a little. I didn’t want to sear anything (it was hot) and I thought tuna poke would taste even better. Instead, I made a tuna poke bowl – and it was awesome.

These sorts of dishes have great flexibility so that you can cater them to your own preferences. First off, you don’t have to use forbidden rice. I just happen to like the taste and I think it’s a gorgeous purple-black color. Use steamed short grain brown rice or sushi rice if forbidden rice is hard to find. Omit the fish and pile on your favorite vegetables for a vegetarian version, or you can substitute chicken teriyaki for the fish. Lots of options!


cucumber, forbidden rice, avocado, masago (flying fish roe), radish, pickled ginger

forbidden rice steamed in the rice cooker



In addition to the goodies listed above are some pickled red onions. I find pickled foods add a nice tangy bite to rice bowls. These onions get better the longer they sit in the pickling liquid, so don’t slice them too thin. I kept mine about 1/4-inch thick. If you’re in a hurry, give the onions at least an hour in the vinegar and start them around the time you start cooking the rice.

sugar, salt, rice vinegar, red onion

combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt

slice the onions

pour the hot vinegar over the onions

pickled and pink



**Jump for more butter**

yukes and neeves

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Recipe: italian marinated porcini mushrooms

If anything has become apparent in the last week, it is this: Neva gives Yuki courage and Yuki helps Neva relax. When Yuki is uncertain or confused, she sits down or gets to a safe place. This is how she has learned to deal with stress and it’s a pretty good coping mechanism.

On a hike last week, we crossed a narrow footbridge that spanned a raging mountain stream. Jeremy and Neva led and then Yuki and I followed. Yuki was doing just fine until we got to the middle of the footbridge and she happened to glance down at the frothing white water below. She froze and crouched low, backing up until she was safely off the bridge. I tried to encourage her, but she wouldn’t budge. I didn’t want to pick her up and carry her across because she needs to learn how to cross bridges. [Note: Neva also had issues first crossing bridges as a puppy – she barked at the bridges, too.] I whistled to Jeremy and had him come back with Neva. Yuki watched as Neva gracefully trotted across the bridge to her. They touched noses and then Jeremy slowly led Neva back onto the bridge, just a few feet in, and waited. Yuki really wanted to be with Neva. You could see her mustering up her little puppy gumption as she placed her front paws on the first boulder step leading to the bridge, tail wagging. She paused, and then went for it! She clambered up onto the footbridge and followed close behind Neva, never looking back. We were so proud of her and proud of Neva for leading by example.


my sweet girls



We brought Yuki out to Crested Butte for the first time this week. It’s a 5+ hour car ride from house to house, and we didn’t know how it would go down. When we packed the girls into the car on Monday morning for our road trip, they each settled into their dog beds. Neva usually cries for a few hours then paces about in her dog bed as prey drive kicks into gear with every vehicle on the road or field of cattle we pass. This time, Neva sat quietly, sniffing the air when the windows were open, and even lying down for a quarter of the trip. Yuki snoozed most of the way. It was by far Neva’s best road trip. My friend, Ellen, says Yuki is Neva’s stable goat. I had to google what a stable goat is, and she’s absolutely right!

yukes and neeves resting on a hike

little pups, big views



Even though it’s early season for porcini, I keep my eyes peeled when I’m on the trails in summer. There are always some early bolters. I recently managed to spy a handful despite wrangling a puppy who is low to the ground and likes to pick up all sorts of things with her mouth. It was nice to introduce Yuki to the porcini because “porcini” is her release word (“raspberry” is Neva’s release word).

remember this scent, young padawan



I don’t know if the kings (porcini, king boletes, boletus rubriceps) will flush this year like they did last year. One can only hope for two consecutive years of crazy goodness. If they do, I plan to make more of these Italian marinated porcini because I cried real tears when I polished off my last jar from the 2017 season. The recipe comes from Hank Shaw’s most excellent Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog. It’s a winner. There aren’t many ingredients, but the technique requires time. It took me about a day. Do you need to use porcini? Hank recommends meaty mushrooms, like boletes or cremini or shiitake. Meaty.

fresh porcini, salt, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, oregano, red chili

slice the porcini 1/2-inch thick



If you’ve worked with porcini before, you’ll know that the more mature mushrooms have yellow pores attached to the cap. Hank peels these off (and dries and grinds them for porcini powder) because he says they acquire an unpleasant texture during the pickling. Since I was using mostly bouchons, I left the pores – which are cream colored when young – in place and they were fine.

A large percentage of fresh porcini is water. We remove the water by laying the mushroom slices on a layer of salt, and then sprinkling more salt on top of the mushrooms and allow them to sit for a couple of hours. This draws out the water until you have mushroom slices in a salty slurry. Press each slice between paper towels to extract more moisture. If you have cuts on your hands, I highly recommend using some disposable gloves to handle the mushrooms. Because… OW!


sprinkle the salt on top of the mushrooms

let the mushrooms sit for a few hours

water is drawn out of the mushrooms

press more moisture out of the slices



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