fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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trying to be zen

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Recipe: fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette

I don’t do well with hot weather, and it has been stupidly hot here this last week. Thankfully the smoke from Western wildfires has been on leave for much of this heat wave so we can at least do things outside (although it returned just yesterday). We’ve been waiting all summer for an evening that was smoke-free enough to camp on our deck with the pups. Neva is fairly comfortable with the tent, but Yuki was a newbie. At first she wouldn’t get in, but Jeremy called Neva over and as soon as Neva set foot in the tent, Yuki dove in after her. They loved it – woofing at things in the night, sniffing all of the smells on the air, walking on us in the darkness, and curling up on our puffy down sleeping bags. The humans got very little sleep, but that was to be expected. The jury is out if we think we can take this show into the backcountry. I mean, I’m sure the pups will be delighted and we will be exhausted – I guess that’s how it goes when you have dogs (or children from what I hear)!


wingus and dingus in the tent on the deck

swimming in alpine lakes to cool off in the late summer heat

finally, some clouds and a lovely sunset



Friday was Jeremy’s birthday and we spent the evening sharing a nice home-cooked meal and homemade birthday cake. My parents have taken to keeping their birthday celebrations low-key because they think big celebrations attract too much attention and bad luck (i.e. death or no more birthdays). We keep it low-key because that’s how we roll. No big birthday celebration. No birthday month. No birthday gifts or cards. No pressure or stress. Just us and the pups. It’s nice like that.

a 6-inch 3-layer chocolate hazelnut raspberry cake

chocolate hazelnut chiffon alternating with chocolate mousse and raspberries

finished in a chocolate mirror glaze



Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of ordering Brussels sprouts at various dining establishments. They’re almost always delicious and the question among the diners usually comes down to “Are they fried or are they roasted?” I’ve roasted my fair share of Brussels sprouts because it’s one of our favorite vegetable dishes in winter, so I was pretty certain they were fried and not roasted. The question was finally put to rest this past week when I set about frying a batch of Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku (David Chang) tossed with a fish sauce vinaigrette. It’s simple, addictively good, and it might be the thing that converts the Brussels sprouts haters in the world.

fish sauce, rice vinegar, shallots, lime, thai chili, glaric, water, sugar, brussels sprouts, togarashi



I changed David’s recipe a bit by omitting the mint and cilantro, and adding fried shallots. If we’ve got hot oil for frying the Brussels sprouts, we may as well fry some shallots. When prepping the sprouts, peel away the outer leaves if they’re discolored or if they are bugged out. I worried that peeling too many leaves wouldn’t result in the fluffy delicate layers I’ve experienced in restaurants. Not to worry. When the sprouts go into the hot oil, they will fluff and puff into crisp delectable airy vegetable goodness.

minced garlic, sliced chili, sliced shallots, juiced lime

peel and slice the brussels sprouts



**Jump for more butter**

i spoke too soon

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Recipe: baked huckleberry doughnuts

Remember when I was rejoicing over the cooler weather last week? I went shopping for all manner of ingredients to make soups and stews only to learn that this week is going to be hot as hell (again). Well, I made my soups and stews anyway, because I’m stubborn like that. I put some in the freezer as a favor to Future Me, but it’s nice to eat with a spoon again! Even with highs hitting the lower 80s (don’t laugh – we’re at 8500 feet above sea level!), the days are shorter which means the house has more time to radiate its heat away at night. This is good. I’m ready for the autumnal equinox!


the leaf litter gets prettier by the day



Amazingly, the wildfire smoke has kept away for over a week. This means more time outside for the pups to hike and for us to verify that we need not expend any more energy mushroom hunting. And we saw my folks off this weekend as they left for Virginia. I feel as if the winding down of summer’s hectic demands means I can focus a little more. I’m reining in our eating habits, putting regular exercise back on the schedule, and setting training goals for Yuki so we can all be ready come ski season.

pausing off trail

neva waits patiently as jeremy investigates a potential mushroom

dinner out with mom and dad before they flew home



While taking inventory of the chest freezer, I was delighted to see I had collected a good many huckleberries this summer. It’s enough to get me through next summer just in case it turns out to be a bad year. I often seek out recipes that don’t require a lot of huckleberries, but still deliver the essence of the huckleberry. Huckleberry cheesecake ice cream is a great example of such a recipe. Another is baked huckleberry doughnuts. I think we can all agree that baked doughnuts are not the same as fried doughnuts. Baked doughnuts are more like cake in doughnut form with glazes or sprinkles or dustings. It’s all good in my book.

huckleberries, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar, vegetable oils, baking soda, salt, buttermilk

mix the dry ingredients

mix the wet ingredients

stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients



If you are lucky enough to make these doughnuts with fresh huckleberries, you can fold the berries into the batter straight away. If you are using frozen huckleberries, I would recommend tossing the frozen berries with some flour so that they all get coated, then folding those into the batter. The flour helps to prevent the juice from bleeding too much as you fold in the fruit. If you don’t care about potentially turning the batter purple, then go for it. Same applies for blueberries if you choose to substitute them for the huckleberries.

fold in the berries

fill the greased and floured doughnut pans

baked and possibly overfilled, but i rarely miss the hole in a doughnut

cool on a rack



**Jump for more butter**

september, i feel ya!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Recipe: matsutake soup

Ah, September! If ever there was a month I love most, it is September. When I was a kid, September was special to me because it was my birthday month and it meant a new school year, which I really looked forward to. I outgrew the birthday thing at the age of 16 and thankfully the school year didn’t matter so much once I was done with coursework in graduate school. But September remains my favorite month because it represents a sigh of relief. Summer, with her nonstop crush of things to do and the incessant heat that makes me borderline homicidal and the long days that limit a good night’s rest to 6 hours at best – it is finally over, at least here in the mountains. Normally I would be planning for the fall shoot, but there is a puppy to train and some projects I’m working on. I am okay with not trying to cram every possible thing into my schedule and running myself ragged in the process. This might be called “getting older”, but I like to think of it as deliberate sanity.


these two napping in the sun after their morning hike

the colors are starting a tad earlier than usual



We were in Crested Butte over the holiday weekend and everything was going just fine until Yuki got a little territorial and aggressive with Neva one evening. It made me sad because Neva, while completely crazy, is the sweetest dog who doesn’t consider herself the boss of anyone. We suspect Yuki, at 7 months, is testing the boundaries of her “authority” in her adolescence. After keeping a close eye on the two pups for a couple of days, they seem to be back to their normal goofy selves. The following morning, Yuki was cuddling with Neva on their favorite perch by the window. We continue observing their interactions to make sure this doesn’t evolve into a real problem. The dynamics of two dogs is certainly different from the dynamic of one dog!

as if nothing had happened

pretty views on the drive home

sitting for a treat – yuki feels this is the best way to get both treats



A year ago I was finding more matsutake than I had energy to deal with. Matsutake, that prized mushroom of Japan, translates into pine mushroom and fetches top dollar in circles that recognize its value. The brown matsutake is found in Asia. The white matsutake is found in parts of North America – including Colorado. This year, I have yet to see signs of the subterranean gems in the usual places. But even if I did find some, I’m not sure I would be gathering too many as there are bagfuls of them in my freezer from the crazy flush of 2017 (what a season, folks, I mean REALLY). With cooler evenings, I have begun to contemplate making soups and stews of all kinds. But the days remain warm, so I’m partial to soups that are not too heavy. Last September, I tried a lovely and simple matsutake clear soup that allows the pine mushroom’s unique flavor to shine among a handful of ingredients.

bonito flakes, dried kelp, green onions, water, salt, matsutake, tofu, soy sauce, sake, mirin



The kelp and bonito flakes are used to make dashi. If you don’t want to make dashi from scratch, you can find Hondashi brand granules (instant dashi – just add hot water) at most Asian grocery stores or well-stocked Asian sections in supermarkets. If you are making the dashi from scratch, wipe the kelp with a wet paper towel without removing the white residue – it contributes to the umami of the broth. Start soaking the dried kelp in water 3 hours before you’re ready to make the soup.

wipe the dried kelp with a wet paper towel

soak the kelp in water for 3 hours



**Jump for more butter**