home-cured corned beef huckleberry mess ginger shrub dark and stormy cocktail roasted cauliflower and garlic mash

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march is the cure

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Recipe: home-cured corned beef

Winter has been like a rude dinner guest, showing up three months late – but she’s that dinner guest that I forgive because I love her so much. Most of the Colorado mountains have been catching up on their share of snow in the last couple of weeks, as if winter were trying to make up for being such a slacker for most of the season. I love winter very much, but I’ll tell you what… I love winter in March because there are more daylight hours and the storms are bigger and everyone is jazzed because they know spring (skiing) is right around the corner.

even this guy (an abert’s squirrel) is in a good mood

Typically around this time of year, I’ll start to see corned beef briskets in the big refrigerator bins at the grocery store. You know what I’m referring to don’t you? It’s where they put the turkeys before Thanksgiving and Christmas, the hams before Easter, and giant racks of ribs before the Fourth of July. On occasion I’ve purchased a corned beef and boiled it at home, but this year I decided that it was high time I tried curing my own seeing as I had everything at home except for a brisket (easy enough to get) and pink curing salt.

my friends at savory spice shop had it (they have practically everything)

Pink curing salt isn’t necessary to enjoy corned beef and I debated omitting it altogether. However, it is responsible for that signature deep pink color as opposed to grey – which is the color of corned beef if you don’t use pink curing salt. It’s also supposed to help with the flavor. Don’t confuse pink curing salt with pink salt – one is edible (pink salt like Himalayan pink salt) and one is not (pink curing salt). The instructions on the package suggested 1 teaspoon of curing salt for 5 pounds of meat, but Elise’s recipe calls for 5 teaspoons for 4-5 pounds of meat. The spice shop staff and I discussed it at length while I consulted Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for a tie breaker. His version lists 4 teaspoons for 5 pounds of meat, so I thought Elise’s 5 teaspoons were legit. With my pink curing salt in hand, I was ready to cure some brisket. First up: make the pickling spice.

peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, cinnamon stick, ground ginger, cardamom pods, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes

place the peppercorns, allspice, mustard, cardamom, red pepper, cloves, and coriander in a frying pan

heat until the mustard seeds pop and the spices become fragrant

**Jump for more butter**

not mashed potatoes

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Recipe: roasted cauliflower and garlic mash

No mashed potatoes for us this weekend! The mercury fell as did the snow – precious powdery snow. When it gets too hot and the snow turns to slush, some refer to it as mashed potatoes. And while mashies are fine to ski, it’s not the kind of snow that is long-lived as it transforms into ice overnight or eventually puddles of water during the day. At least for now, the snow gods have smiled down upon us and delivered. It was both a snow- AND friend-filled weekend. Our neighbor asked if I would mind spending a little play time with their pup, Dioji (dee-OH-gee), while they were away all day. She is a giant walking carpet of a dog (half Berner and half Great Pyrenees) who loves everyone and just wants to be loved in return – my favorite pup in Nederland.

the best kind of snow: big fluffy flakes as seen from corona chair

dioji hanging out in our living room

and doling out the kisses

visiting with my four-year old pal, felix, before his ski lesson

jeremy contemplates the view before diving into the snow

2°f and completely still

on my solo ski tour

my breath frosted my hair!

We are delighted to return to our lovely, fluffy, Rocky Mountain powder. Mashed potatoes snow can wait until spring, when it’s supposed to be in season. As for the edible kind of mashed potatoes, I’ve been trying to move away from those as well. I personally LOVE mashed potatoes made with plenty of butter and some cream. After a while though, I want to change things up. That, and my pants don’t fit as well. I’ve been alternating between the occasional mashed potatoes and this other mash of roasted cauliflower and roasted garlic this winter. The cauliflower mash is so deliciously creamy without all of the pants-shrinking effects and it goes well with meats, vegetables, or even on its own.

all you need: olive oil, salt, pepper, chicken broth, fresh thyme, garlic, cauliflower


**Jump for more butter**

what’s new

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Recipe: sichuan pork wontons

When the weekend started, I wasn’t sure how things were going to pan out. We always have a plan in place – usually a form of weather-dependent exercise, lofty goals to clean some part of the house, and work. Because it has been so disturbingly warm, my usual ski tour with Erin turned into a snirt (snow/dirt) hike. Making our way up the ice-slicked trail, we agreed that despite the suckage of the snow conditions, it was nice to get outside. Banjo agreed. Before we set off in the morning, he spun about in dizzying white fluffy circles on the mudroom floor, filled with giddy anticipation of the adventure to come. Happy dogs can’t lie.

my weekly date with erin and banjo

such a good boy

The dearth of snowfall this season didn’t deter me and Jeremy from nabbing some new fat skis on super sale recently. We took them into town for binding mounts and new ski prep. Picking the skis up from the mountaineering store, I signed the credit card receipt and smiled at the cashier, “Do your snow dance!” and stepped outside into 65°F and bright sun. The forecast was sunshine and warmth until Sunday, when we would get some snow. We weren’t sure how much. It could go either way.

my new (very fun) skis

the start of something beautiful

15 inches of fresh powder monday morning

But before the snow would come, we took a day – Valentine’s Day – to drive two and a half hours south onto the flats. You know it has to be something important to make us leave the mountains on a weekend. This was very important. We spent 30 minutes meeting several very sweet dogs. If all goes well, we’ll be filling that dog-shaped hole in our hearts with a puppy in early May.

On the return drive home, we passed through Denver where I stopped by the big Asian grocery store (HMart) to get ingredients for our traditional Chinese New Year feast. I try to stick to my grocery list, but as I walked the aisles packed to the hilt with all manner of sauces, vegetables, frozen foods, and pickled things, I started cobbling together our weekly menu as well. We hadn’t had wontons in a while, and there was a Sichuan wonton recipe waiting in the wings. The first step is to make the Sichuan red chile oil.

chiles de árbol, canola oil, soy sauce, salt, sichuan peppercorns, star anise, garlic, cinnamon, black cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, ginger

smashing things: cinnamon, garlic, ginger

combine the oil, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cloves, anise, cardamom, and cinnamon

heat until the garlic is golden (mine was a little more than golden)

**Jump for more butter**