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Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Recipe: chicken fried steak biscuits with chanterelle gravy

We dropped Neva off at the vet’s Monday morning for her spaying appointment, leaving my mobile as the contact number. I got a call a few hours later reporting that her surgery went well and that we’d be able to pick her up that afternoon when the drugs wore off. When we walked into the office to get her, she was chilling out behind the front desk with Aspen, a gorgeous, giant white wolf-like dog who weighs about 100 pounds. Actually, I recall that Aspen is 1/4 wolf, but he is all sweetheart, playing ever so gently with Neva. They were super tight buddies.

Neva seemed practically normal, but Jeremy didn’t want her jumping and possibly tearing her stitches. So he put all manner of items on the couch to deter her from trying. I watched as Neva walked up to the plastic bins on the couch, stepped to the side, and nimbly jumped over the armrest, then curled up in her favorite corner of the couch. Oh little pup… We marveled at her incision, which was nary an inch long. Back in the day, Kaweah’s incision was supposed to be 4 inches long, but was more like 5 inches (we’re guessing because it was at the Vet School) and took forever to heal. But Neva is on a fast road to recovery and we’ll be hitting the trails again in no time.

rest and recovery is so boring for a puppy

pretty autumn sunsets

looking forward to seeing some fall colors like this (from september 2014 in crested butte)

Summer just can’t seem to let go over here. It gets downright hot in the afternoons, so I still give Neva a large ice cube around 3 o’clock to play with, roll on, and eventually eat. Thankfully it is getting chillier overnight, so we can cool the house enough to be comfortable. I like the crisp cold in the mornings. Not cold enough to be punishing like in winter, but cold enough to not mind letting Neva up on the bed to cuddle for another ten minutes before she starts licking my hair.

Seeing as the weekend is coming up, I need to share this recipe for fans of the savory weekend breakfast – chicken fried steak biscuits with chanterelle cream gravy. Feel free to use other mushrooms if you can’t get chanterelles or don’t want to get too spendy. However, if you CAN get chanterelles, please do. They transform the basic cream gravy into the realm of transcendence.

biscuits, chanterelles, flour, black pepper, eggs, salt, cayenne, butter, more salt, more flour, steak, milk, buttermilk

chop the mushrooms into a small dice

tenderize the steak

**Jump for more butter**

let the summer of puppy commence

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Recipe: tuna melt

Oh man. Summer is REAL, people. The furnace blast arrived with a vengeance last week and like the true heat wimps that we are – we retreated to higher elevations and sunrise/sunset activities. Neva is now almost 20 pounds and has been with us for a month. Recalling the first 24 hours with her (and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into), she has come a long way in her training and development – and so have we! Part of her progress is simply growing up and gaining more coordination, strength, and speed. She no longer has to sniff and put every new plant, rock, stick, pine cone, or speck of dirt in her mouth. Neva is learning silly tricks now on top of the important commands. She let’s us know when she needs to go out to potty, she’s really good in her crate, and she is sleeping through the night (HALLELUJAH!). That last one was a serious game changer for the humans.

tossing her toy in the air and (sort of) catching it

moar swimming in icy cold lakes!!

neva gets at least one hike a day

she’s so mellow she sometimes falls asleep like this

running down the stairs with a toy

Neva is becoming a free range puppy, by which I mean, she roams parts of the house while we’re around and we don’t have to chase after her for fear of accidents or drive-by chewings on inappropriate things (like furniture, power cords, the compost bucket). She overcame her fear of the stairs in a matter of days – up was easy, down took a little coaxing. I can trim and file her nails while she sleeps (amazing!). We have her hiking up to 3 miles now and just this morning she did the rockiest, steepest hike yet – all on leash and behaving like a good dog should. Best of all, she likes to lie nearby while we are working and just nap or happily chew her toys. We still have plenty of work to do, but the stage of feeling hopeless was quite short-lived for us. I think Neva is becoming a Good Dog.

thimbleberry blossoms

the rare neva bloom amidst a potpourri of wildflowers

that’s my pack

shooting stars in a sea of summer green

Neva’s hiking progress has been of particular interest to me because I’d like to bring her with us when Erin, Banjo, and I hike and forage huckleberries. All signs point to Neva becoming a strong hiker and I think with some good long hikes together, she’ll learn to be a good companion to Banjo instead of a total pill (she seems to jump on his head less these days – that’s improvement).

As you can imagine, with all of the effort we’re putting into puppy training, I haven’t cooked anything elaborate in a while. In fact, I lost 8 pounds in the first 2 weeks of getting Neva because I was too tired to eat, let alone cook. We’ve been keeping things pretty simple out of necessity – mostly salads and sandwiches with the occasional ghetto pizza bread. One of those sandwiches is a tuna melt, which Jeremy loves and I like to pair with a bowl of tomato soup. I think of the tuna melt as an upgraded version of a tuna fish sandwich. If you really want to get 1970s throwback with it, stuff some jalapeño potato chips into the sandwich before eating (mmmm – so good!).

tuna fish, bread, lemon, mayonnaise, butter, pickles, salt, cheese, celery (not pictured: black pepper)

chop the pickles and celery

ready to roll

**Jump for more butter**

you bet your buns

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Recipe: brioche

Brioche is my absolute favorite bread. It’s not just because of all that buttery, fluffy deliciousness. The first time I tried a brioche was on my very first “date” with Jeremy. I had asked him if he was free and he said he was. He lied. He skipped math recitation. Jeremy never skips class. Never. We went to the bakery in Old Town Pasadena on a Friday afternoon and shared a brioche. It tasted so heavenly. Or maybe my memories are biased because I was really fond of this shy, polite fellow with a sweet smile. Fast forward to now – in Colorado. It’s hard to find good brioche (one could say the same for finding a good fellow). Sure, they sell it here and there, but it tastes like sawdust and crumbles apart before it reaches your mouth. The only way I could find that butter-rich, delicate brioche was to order it in some restaurants or cafés. It’s about time I remedied the problem. All I really want is the perfect hamburger bun.

The ingredient list is short, but the process is on the long side. It’s worth it, people. We swears it on The Precious. So let’s get to work.

eggs, flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter, milk – that’s it!

mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together

add eggs and milk

mix with the paddle until clumpy, then switch to the dough hook

Honestly, I don’t know how people made brioche before stand mixers existed. Maybe they just had enormous arms from all of the kneading. A stand mixer will make this process so much less painful for you, but you can’t walk away from the mixer while it’s running. Mine had a tendency to walk itself around and I’m sure it would have walked itself off the counter only to bash its brains in if I hadn’t held it in place. There is a lot of mixing and scraping and the motor will get hot. When the dough comes together, start adding the softened butter a little at a time. At first it looks like the butter just spins around and around the dough, but eventually it will smear out and become incorporated into the dough. Have patience and wait to add the next pat of butter only after the previous one has disappeared.

scrape down the sides of the bowl and the dough hook

add butter one pat at a time

half of the butter has been mixed in

knead the dough a few times by hand

**Jump for more butter**