gougères vanilla sugar boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie linguine with clams


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Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Recipe: gougères

For some reason, I had this naive notion in my head that there was plenty of time to get all of the holiday, work, house, and social tasks done before leaving town. I hadn’t counted on losing three of those days to back pain which turned my three remaining days into an all out assault on my to-do list. Do you bakers ever think to yourself in the middle of mixing a batch of cookie dough, “Maybe I’ll just give them three kinds of cookies instead of four…”? Because I think that quite a bit – especially when I reach up to scratch my forehead and wind up leaving a smear of creamed butter and brown sugar where the itch was. Still, I stuck with four types of cookies and tossed in a batch of brittle at the last minute to boot! At some point around midnight, I looked up from the hundreds of cookies on cooling racks covering every known inch of counter space and said, “I hate cookies.” Jeremy, who was in the final stretch of his exam-grading marathon held his hand up, his gaze still fixed upon the exam, muttering, “I’ll commiserate with you in just a moment.”

Truth is, I love giving cookies to people and watching their faces light up with smiles. Cookies are miniature edible gifts. Kids love cookies, adults love cookies, strangers love cookies. Most are hand-delivered although a few get shipped. If I happen to see you in that 48-hour window of time between The End of Baking and when I leave town, you should probably expect cookies. Wednesday was the day to wrap up all business, clean the house (because it sucks to come back home to a dirty house), deliver cookies, pack for Crested Butte, and meet up with people I don’t get to see very often.


ramen lunch at oak with erin

happy hour selfie with my baby cousin!



My aunt, cousins, and cousin-in-law made a detour to Boulder en route to Vail for a happy hour get together. When Mom learned that her younger sister was going to be seeing us in Colorado, she instructed me to gift them a bunch of food stuffs because… well, because Chinese mothers always think you will starve. I tucked four kinds of cookies in the bag, too. My aunt was recovering from the flu and she apologized for not making some cookies to give us. I reassured her that cookies were the last things I wanted to see for a while. The hope is that my immediate future involves three flavors of skiing, savory snacks, and time spent with my guy. Now, if you are knee-deep in party season, I have a nice savory appetizer to share. It’s cheesy, elegant, and has a French name.

gougères: water, white pepper, flour, gruyère, eggs, salt, sugar, butter



Gougères are savory little baked puffs of choux pastry. It’s similar to the puffs in cream puffs, but these are baked with cheese. You can use all sorts of cheeses, but Gruyère is my favorite in gougères. They even rhyme!

combine the butter, sugar, salt, and water in a pan

add the flour all at once

quickly stir the flour into the liquid



**Jump for more butter**

happy as a clam

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Recipe: linguine with clams

No new snow for nearly two weeks has actually granted me the opportunity to take care of ski stuff that I would normally neglect on powder days. For one thing, we finally took our skis in to have the bindings swapped. A little bird told me that I could bring in a six-pack of craft beer and the ski shop fellas at the local mountaineering store could turn those around for me in a day. So I did. And they did! And they waived a bunch of labor fees too. When someone does you a solid like that, you return a few days later with homemade cookies. We also took care of our skate skis and I convinced my buddy, Erin, to do a nordic ski clinic with me. Even though there’s no new snow, skiing is completely on the brain.


pet the local mountaineering store pup while you’re there

erin and i having fun on the nordic center trails

our instructor showing us how to wax



I lost my photo mojo for a little while there, but that might have been because I was under the weather with a weird 24-hour bug that knocked me off my feet over the weekend. A stunning, colorful sunrise presented itself to the east Monday morning, but I felt so terrible that I just pulled the blinds down and crawled back under the flannel covers. Blarg. Tuesday morning promised to be a repeat of Monday, except that I was filled with pep and energy! I scouted a new location for shooting sunrise and managed to witness a beautiful progression unfold from this vantage point.

so many colors

mesmerizing textures in the sky



Being sick is one thing, but having cotton-brain runs my motivation straight into the ground. My mind floats in a heavy fog of pain or dizziness until I kick whatever it is I’ve got. I can tell when it’s gone because my perpetual mental to do list comes back online. Jeremy can tell when it’s gone because I start saying things like, “Help me make the bed,” or “The pastry brushes belong over there,” or “What would you like for dinner?” One category that consistently delights him is seafood. It is probably my greatest regret about moving to Colorado from the coast. We do have access to good quality seafood, but it’s not the same access as when you live a few miles from the ocean. That and the fact that seafood is a somewhat spendy indulgence here. So the other night, I had a craving for linguine with clam sauce – except I wanted fresh clams.

olive oil, linguine, wine, pepper, butter, garlic, salt, clams, parsley

minced garlic

chopped parsley

prepped



**Jump for more butter**

not a snob

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Recipe: chinese fried pork meatballs

After enjoying superb snow conditions in Crested Butte last week, the atmosphere has gone on holiday here on the Front Range. I complained to my mom on the phone that it has been warm and sunny and windy. She laughed because she finds my obsession with snow amusing. Even though there hasn’t been any new snow this week, I haven’t allowed myself to fall into the snob trap – where you tell yourself that it isn’t worth getting out unless conditions are perfect. No, I’m getting out every day for the fresh air, the exercise, the scenery, the joy of gliding over snow.


hoping this little storm front brings some snow



Keeping active is important to me or else I start to feel down and get the blahs. It also allows me to indulge around the holidays without feeling debauched. I mean, the end of the year is when all of the yummy morsels get marched out at the parties! Among my favorite little foods are meatballs. I pretty much love them all, but I have a soft spot in my heart for these Chinese-style pork meatballs because my mom makes them and they’re delicious.

the filling: soy sauce, sesame oil, bamboo shoots, ground pork, cornstarch, dried black mushrooms, fresh ginger, green onions, napa cabbage (not pictured: salt)

mince the vegetables

mix the ingredients in a bowl



**Jump for more butter**