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at last the april showers

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Recipe: chinese shrimp and sizzling rice

When I hear a weather forecast on the radio for “a beautiful day”, I already know they mean sunshine and warm temperatures, because our society has got something against rain and snow and cold. But I have lots of good reasons for loving precipitation! The most obvious is the skiing, but recreation aside, our snow pack and rainstorms provide much-needed insurance against out-of-control wildfires in the mountains as well as water for all of the flat-landers downstream. Other bonuses include mushrooms (oh, the mushrooms!), wild berries, and wildlife that rely on moisture to survive and thrive. Don’t forget those stunning wildflower displays at the height of summer, or refreshing waterfalls and alpine lakes that are a joy to hike. Besides, rainy days make sunny days all the more delicious.

So yes, we are getting some belated April showers, at last! Sometimes it falls as snow, sometimes it falls as rain. At this point, I am happy with either one. Sure, I’d love a few more backcountry ski days, but I’m already four weeks into my trail running season. I could go either way and it’s all good. The longer days also mean more time for outdoor puppy play and training!


rain can give you rainbows

those clouds can create magic

neva wanted to show me her new favorite toy

i met an adorable 3 1/2 month old golden retriever, penny



I’ll be honest. My main desire for rain right now is so the mushrooms flush instead of petering out in another drought. Despite hitting the jackpot a couple of times, last summer was a crap season for mushrooms overall in Colorado. It was simply too dry. So you can imagine my delight when it rained for two days last week. Erin and I met shortly after sunrise to wade through freezing cold streams, carefully picking our way through mazes of branches while spotting and avoiding poison ivy. The conversation meandered from topic to topic, much like our path which wasn’t a path, but a series of points of interest that led us further into the woods and tall grasses.

plum blossoms – these will be good for plums come end of summer/early fall

picking wild catnip for the kitties (and dodging lurking leafless poison ivy stalks)

a pretty cluster of perfect oyster mushrooms

harvesting some more good finds



Despite her protests, I made Erin take all of the oyster mushrooms home. Part of the reason was because I know Jay, her husband (and also my friend), is crazy about wild mushrooms. The other part was because I had accumulated so much psychological freak out over poison ivy contamination with each hour we were foraging that my brain was about to explode. I’m just a little OCD… When we got to the cars, I told her I wanted her to keep the mushrooms as I began shedding my outer layers, turning them inside out, and stuffing them into plastic bags (to take home to wash). I wouldn’t have the time to clean and cook the mushrooms anyway.

I had plenty to get done at home like baking a batch of cookies to mail to my dad. Mom had pneumonia for the past couple of weeks and Dad took great care of her, so I felt he deserved a treat. Plus, he gave me this “recipe” for Chinese shrimp and sizzling rice. I put recipe in quotes because it was conveyed to me via phone conversation with a lot of shouting and hand-wavy quantities. A little bit of this. Some of that. Maybe some peas. I don’t want peas. Okay, no peas. I can only imagine if my parents had a food blog.


rice cakes



After some research, I did find a couple of recipes for homemade sizzling rice which involve steaming rice, then baking it low and slow, then deep frying it. I took the easy way out this time and bought Chinese sizzling rice cakes at an Asian supermarket. I’m showing you the packaging because that is the only way I can find it. It’s usually tucked somewhere among the dried noodles, but one time they moved them and I spent a half hour scouring the aisles before I located the rice cakes.

straw mushrooms, water chestnuts, baby bok choy, shaoxing wine, vegetable oil, chicken stock, white pepper, shrimp, rice cakes, egg white, salt, cornstarch, water, green onions, fresh ginger



The shrimp should first be mixed with Shaoxing wine, a half teaspoon of salt, and a little bit of egg white. Don’t use too much egg white or else you’ll wind up with a lot of cooked egg in the pan. You just want enough to coat the shrimp. The cornstarch should be mixed in last. I let the shrimp marinate for ten minutes on the counter, then I pop them in the freezer for another ten or fifteen minutes per my dad’s instructions. The freezing is just to get the shrimp cold and not to actually freeze them through. This probably keeps the shrimp from overcooking.

shaoxing wine, egg white, salt, cornstarch, shrimp (peeled, deveined, and butterflied)

add the shaoxing wine

toss with egg white

mix in the cornstarch



**Jump for more butter**

hey rooster

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Recipe: chinese sesame balls jian diu

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s been nice to have a full week that wasn’t dictated by powder skiing. Not that I would mind doing that again… and again. Still, there was much to be done work-wise, workout-wise, around the house, and socially. The sunny and calm weather made that especially pleasant. Jeremy and I love to get an early morning skate ski to jumpstart the particularly busy days. On the less intense work days, we’ll take Neva with us for a little backcountry touring and to change up the exercise. We invited our neighbors over for wine and appetizers and to chat with their graduating senior about career and school options. We worked through the weekend, taking a break to ski and think in the backcountry and come up with a plan of action for things that are important to us (climate, science, public lands, the environment, social justice, education, equal rights, diversity, to name a few) and meeting up with some old and new friends.


a lovely sun-dappled nordic trail

warm enough to leave the deck door open (which neva loved)

my pack

neva derp face



Chinese New Year is this coming Saturday, which means I have less than a week to clean the house, make tons of traditional Chinese foods, and freak myself out over the superstitions that I know aren’t really real. It’s going to be the Year of the Rooster. My Grandma was a rooster. She would have turned 96 this year. I don’t have anything profound to say. I simply miss her kind and gentle soul, and her wisdom. It feels that we could use all the kindness and wisdom we can muster.

Today’s recipe is another Chinese favorite from my childhood. But it wasn’t my favorite, it was my sister, Kris’, favorite. Whenever we went to dim sum, the sesame balls (jian diu) would catch her eye as the ladies wheeled the carts past. These fried mochi dough balls covered in sesame seeds and filled with a sweet center were crispy outside and chewy and warm inside (when fresh). If I had to choose a filling, it would always be sweet red bean (azuki), but they were filled with sweet date, lotus seed, sesame seed paste, peanut, mung bean. I thought it was time to tackle this recipe – not for me so much as to honor my memory of Kris.


glutinous rice flour, sweet red bean paste, chocolate, sesame seeds, brown sugar, water

dissolve the brown sugar in the water

stir the sugar water into the rice flour



**Jump for more butter**

the way we may

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Recipe: soft-shell crab spider roll

It’s already May. Jeremy sweetly remembers to wish me a happy “I’m Glad I Met You” Day the first of every month and it always brings a smile to my face. But the first of May tugs at this place deep in my chest because I can’t help but count how many years it has been since my sister passed away. Twelve. It’s been twelve years. And I wondered if I should bother posting a photo of the flowers I buy for her on this day. Does anyone care? I don’t talk about Kris much with anyone anymore except for Jeremy and my mom. My emotions will catch me off guard sometimes – triggered by a story, a song, a photograph, a memory. It doesn’t matter if anyone else cares. I still care. I still miss her. These flowers are for Kris, but they are really for me. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. I guess I don’t feel that I have to.


for kris, for me



Spring sprouts forth down yonder in Boulder – a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors on the ground and in the trees. I feel as if I’m emerging from that long slumber filled with dreams painted in whites, greys, and shadows. All signs point to GO. The anticipation for summer is high at our house, because we have big adventures planned for the little pup. I’ve got a few pages in my pocket notebook filled with the names of mountains and trails… places to take Neva on hikes, trail runs, and backpacks. We are excited and I think she might be, too, even if she doesn’t know it yet.

double plum blossoms

our new backpacking tent is neva-approved



But winter isn’t letting go in the mountains. The recent storms of April have been slow-moving, leaving some good snow in their wake. Every week we have gotten at least one if not three storms passing through the neighborhood. This is what February should have been, but the difference is that we have less wind in the springtime, so our backcountry is currently skiing like silk. I am thrilled. Jeremy is thrilled (sort of – he’s also impatient to resume trail running). Neva is over the moon.

we know better than to put our skis away before june

jeremy carves a sinusoid in the fresh snow

well that was super fun



There’s more snow on tap for Mother’s Day weekend, which isn’t really abnormal around here. Most of the last 11 years we’ve been in Colorado have had snow fall in May. The bigger issue is where to ski it. Of course, once the ski is over, the number one priority is what to eat because we’re usually famished. Typical apr├Ęs ski calorie bombs include burgers, pizza, or chili, but our favorite is most definitely sushi. Back in the day, that required a half hour drive down a curvy canyon road to a sushi bar. Now, however, we are more likely to make sushi at home with our expanded repertoire. The one thing I hadn’t tried making until now is the ever popular spider roll. For the uninitiated, a spider roll is a tempura-fried soft-shell crab roll. The fried little legs stick out at the ends of the roll evoking spider imagery – or deliciousness, if you are a sushi lover.

soft-shell crabs, ice water, flour, egg, baking soda



I picked up the soft-shell crabs individually frozen at an Asian market (HMart, for the locals). I’ve also seen them on display at Whole Foods from time to time. If you live on the coast, then you probably have far more and fresher options available to you. Tempura frying is pretty easy, but I’ll warn you now that these guys make the loud scary splattering sputtering hot oil noises. Use a splatter screen, and if you don’t own one, get one. I fried mine one at a time because I was too scared to lower a second one in while the first one sounded and looked like it was erupting. You won’t use much of the tempura batter for four crabs, so if you have vegetables or other goodies to tempura fry, you might as well do it all in one sitting.

whisk the ice water and egg

stir the dry and wet ingredients together

coat the crab completely

draining and cooling the fried soft-shell crabs



**Jump for more butter**