roasted carrots crumbled tofu stir fry huckleberry pie meatless meatballs


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less stick, more carrot

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Recipe: roasted carrots

It’s been a rather productive fall for us, which may have a lot to do with the lack of snow. November provided few flakes for the ski resorts and the backcountry. But the high, dry winds delivered some outstanding sunsets and sunrises. Rather than gripe (too much) about the delay in the ski season, I redirected my energies to those long-neglected tasks in dire need of attention. As a small reward for getting so much done this autumn, I signed up for an online bookbinding class and learned how to transform fabric into bookcloth.


stacked lenticulars are so otherworldly

a feather dance at sunset

my two notebooks from class



Many Colorado ski hills open Thanksgiving week, even if it is a single run of man-made snow. We opted not to ski opening day at either of our local resorts and instead headed to the backcountry for a quiet ski tour. It happened to be the right decision because we were greeted with fresh snow and free refills all day. Yuki had a tummy bug the whole week, so we kept her on a mild diet and low activity. Jeremy snuck Neva out for bike rides to get her some exercise and wear down her rake-claws. It was a pleasant and low-key holiday week for our house. Well, not as pleasant as Yuki would have liked, but after a week of sad puppy eyes she’s back to normal and had a wonderful romp around the soccer field with some doggie friends this weekend.

real snow in the snow globe

neva wouldn’t budge, so yuki accepted sharing the bed



Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Holiday Madness Mode begins. There is nothing like holiday food to make me crave vegetables. The carrot is the one vegetable I often forget I love. We regularly buy carrots (adult, not baby) for raw snacking. And then a few times each winter I make roasted carrot soup. I will find myself noshing on several cubes of the sweet roasted carrots before the rest go into the stock pot and make some vague mental note that these are super addictive. I’m ashamed it has taken me this long to make roasted carrots as a dish unto itself, but I’m also glad I finally did it.

olive oil, pepper, mint, carrots, thyme, cumin seeds, chile powder, salt, turmeric, coriander seeds



The recipe comes from The New York Times Cooking archives and the only change I made was to omit the butter. I’ve cooked this successfully with both ground spices (cumin and coriander) and seeds (cumin and coriander), although I do prefer the seeds version. And while it is great without the mint, I think the mint lends a bright herbal finish. The preparation is simple and requires little effort for the payoff.

toss cut carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme

spread on a hot baking sheet



**Jump for more butter**

incremental steps

Monday, October 25th, 2021

Recipe: crumbled tofu stir fry

Thanks to some technologistical hiccups, my last post was published before email subscribers were migrated to a new service, so I apologize if you didn’t receive a notification. But email subscription limbo has now been resolved, and hopefully this is the last we’ll talk about that.

Most of our aspens have been stripped bare by intermittent winter storms and winds, but we find the delicate rattles of the remaining dried leaves soothing when we take the pups on leisurely hikes. I rather like the quiet time in the mountains between the leaf peepers and the ski crowds, when locals are left to their own shenanigans. The diurnal swings in temperature fooled Jeremy into thinking it was too early to switch to flannel sheets despite his complaints about sleeping cold overnight. Once we made the switch, his outlook on life flipped 180°. It will probably flip back after Daylight Saving ends and the sun drops behind the mountains at 4:30.


the local stand had a good run this year

cool air and hot sun, everyone finds their sweet spot

yuki and the charlie brown aspen tree

those autumn sunsets are something else



We’ve been making the most of this lull before ski season, cramming in medical and dental appointments, fixing and organizing house things, voting (have you voted? local elections are important, so please read up on the issues/candidates and vote!)… you know, adulting. I’ve also carved out some time to do a little recipe testing – especially vegetarian recipes. It can be hit or miss and the misses will require additional work, but I’m sharing a real winner today. My aunt recommended this tofu stir-fry from Melissa Clark on New York Times Cooking which I admittedly skipped when I first saw it in my subscription, but gave it a try on her suggestion. I’ve incorporated my aunt’s tweaks as they improve upon the dish.

cilantro, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, canola oil, lime, edamame, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, salt, tofu, ginger, garlic



It all starts with a block of firm tofu. Firm is important or else you will wind up with a mushy mess and many tears. Look for firm or extra firm on the packaging. Melissa Clark shreds her tofu and drains the shreds on a towel, but I prefer to freeze, thaw, squeeze, and crumble my tofu. Freezing tofu results in a spongier, more chewy texture, and the tofu absorbs marinades better and fries up crisper. This requires a smidge of extra planning: Freeze the tofu in its packaging overnight or for 12 hours, then thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. When thawed, press the tofu between your palms, squeezing out a good bit of the water. From here you can crumble the tofu by hand. I pull chunks off the tofu block and squeeze out more liquid before crumbling the tofu into a bowl.

crumbled tofu



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summer happened

Sunday, August 29th, 2021

Recipe: meatless meatballs

Housekeeping News: Google has eliminated FeedBurner’s email subscription service which means you won’t be receiving emails announcing a new use real butter post from now on. I did research other email subscription services, but soon realized my goal is not to grow this blog; I simply want to document recipes and some memories. I typically publish a new recipe once a month and I announce those on my @userealbutter and @jenyuphoto Instagram accounts. Thanks for reading! -jen


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All of my grand plans for summer converged on the month of August. Foraging insane amounts of wild mushrooms, family visits, so much cooking, celebrations, hiking, and many overdue house projects left me short on sleep, heavy on backaches, but ultimately delighted. I’m happy it came together and even more thrilled to let out a big sigh as I crawl across the line to September.


marking kris’ birthday with lilies

so.many.porcini

the chanterelles were off to a great start

jeremy found our first ever blue chanterelles

visited jeremy’s parents and took them porcini hunting

my niece toured the university of colorado in boulder

celebrated mom’s 80th birthday

spent many hours hiking with this crew



And now we can finally get to these fantastic meatless meatballs that were promised since spring. The recipe comes from my friend, Jennifer Perillo (Jennie) – a talented, intuitive, and skilled cook and baker. I’ve made these several times in the last six months. The flavor is excellent and the texture is great. We don’t miss the meat. Even when I flubbed a batch, it ended up more like meat sauce than meatballs and was still terrific. I now keep a few dozen meatless meatballs in the freezer at any given time for a quick weeknight meal.

The bulk of the meatless meatballs comes from cooked lentils. I like that Jennie uses vegetable stock (I use Better than Bouillon vegetable base) and other aromatics to cook her lentils. French (puy) lentils give me the best and most consistent results, but you can use other types. Just watch that they don’t overcook like my green lentils did – because your meatless meatballs will be more inclined to disintegrate during frying (sad) or while eating (manageable). There is usually an extra half cup of cooked lentils which are great in salads, as a side, or spooned straight into your mouth. You can also purchase cooked lentils to save yourself a step. I’ve seen cooked lentils in stores, but have never tried them.


french lentils, shallot, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, vegetable stock

bring it all to a boil and simmer until tender

ready for meatless meatballs



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