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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



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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 après 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



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april is a lion

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Recipe: spicy tuna inari

The other day while we were skinning uphill on a ski tour, Jeremy asked me what “in like a lion, out like a lamb” referred to. I speculated that it had to do with March starting like a lion because it was still winter, and exiting like a lamb, because it became spring in mid-late March. Jeremy wasn’t convinced, because in Colorado, the weather in March is pretty much psycho. Turns out April is too. Hot and sunny days. Cold and windy days. Snow. Thunder. RAIN. The r-word is the greatest offender, simultaneously killing off the snow pack and backcountry skier dreams. We struggle with this in-between period when the trails aren’t fully covered with snow but they aren’t completely clear either. This results in hybrid excursions like the bike-hike-ski or the ski-hike or the hike-ski or the bike-ski. We can’t let go of ski season but we don’t want to miss the arrival of summer in the high country.


jeremy ducks trees and dirt blowouts on the way up

niwot mountain summit (we stashed the skis where the snow ended and hiked)

removing climbing skins, getting ready to ski out

catching turns on the way down



I’m not sure what Neva thinks of the change in the seasons now that she has experienced all of them once. I mean, no one really knows what Neva thinks, period. At first, we figured she was smarter than Kaweah was – by a very little bit. Lately though, with more observational data to consider, we suspect that we were mistaken. That’s okay. We’re not trying to send her Caltech or anything. We just want her to heel and not jump on people and maybe stop licking everyone’s pants. As far as we can tell, Neva loves all of the seasons. She is just as energized plunging into deep powder as she is scrambling up boulders or diving into alpine lakes. I think she’s going to love this summer. We have big plans for her. I spent half of my REI dividend on a new 3-person (it’s more like a 2+) backpacking tent so we’ll have room enough for Neva to not kick our faces in the night. More little dog adventures! What’s not to love?

puppy treats to fuel puppy activities

trying on kaweah’s old dog pack

our local trails are melting out

neva loves the outdoors, just like her humans



As our outdoor pursuits change with the seasons, so too does our menu. Sure, seasonal foods make their way into our meals, but it’s temperature that has a bigger effect on my cooking. 50°F doesn’t sound very warm to most people, but it is quite warm up here in the mountains where a high of 20°F felt like a heat wave just a few months ago. Walking around in shorts I wonder how I survive summer each year if I feel like I’m melting in April? But we do adjust eventually and part of that adjustment involves making sushi. As far as I’m concerned, sushi is welcome in my pie hole any time of year. It is especially delightful when I deem it too hot (relatively speaking) to cook, like this past weekend. We didn’t want to bother with rolling sushi, so I opted for something even easier but just as tasty – if not tastier! Spicy tuna inari.

inari, sriracha, shiso, green onions, avocado, mayonnaise, seasoned sushi rice, sashimi-grade tuna



If you aren’t familiar with inari, it is tofu skin that is deep fried and seasoned in a sweet sauce. They typically come in pockets that are stuffed with seasoned sushi rice and served as inarizushi. The combination of the flavors is quite pleasing. I’ve never made inari myself, but we occasionally buy a can of it at the Asian grocery store for a quick and easy addition to our sushi nights.

the brand i buy which contains about 20 inari

gently pull open the pocket



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