no-cook pizza sauce neva's first thanksgiving old fashioned doughnuts nederland: crosscut pizzeria and taphouse

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Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Recipe: no-cook pizza sauce

Are you done with turkey yet? Everywhere I looked on my various feeds, I saw turkeys, turkeys, and more turkeys until I shut my laptop and walked outside when I couldn’t handle anymore virtual turkey. I used to feel a teeny tiny nagging guilt in the back of my mind over Thanksgiving because Jeremy and I are so irreverent when it comes to these cold weather holidays. It is a particularly good weekend to go backpacking with Jeremy or night-fishing with Dad. But this year, I was reminded of why I skip the bird… because my parents never really cared for turkey either. I mean, Dad banned turkey on Thanksgiving after the last kid (me) left for college. This year, my folks spent the entire holiday traveling home from Australia. I think if Kris were alive, they would have made the holiday a big deal just for her and her family. She was the only one who truly loved the whole Thanksgiving spread. The rest of us preferred Virginia ham, crab legs, Chinese-style fish, or Dad’s bouillabaisse. My immigrant parents used to set a rather impressive feast year after year so that my sister would never have to feel the burning embarassment of being the only kid in her kindergarten who had Peking duck for Thanksgiving instead of turkey.

we grilled steaks for thanksgiving, of which neva was accutely aware

Jeremy and I kept the holiday low-key as we both needed a little decompression time after several hectic weeks of work. Our five hour drive home from Crested Butte was much mellower than the drive out because we had Neva on some new meds for her car sickness. Part of the problem was that she would psyche herself out the moment she saw the car and begin drooling uncontrollably. I think the stress added to the pukiness she was already feeling from the car ride. We asked Doc Newton to prescribe an antiemetic that also made her drowsy – just for the long car rides. She didn’t drool much and slept most of the way, but was happy to hop out for a walk and potty at the three hour mark. I sat in the back with her to rub her ears (it comforts her) and to catch any puke-isodes, but there weren’t any (yay!). Once home, we resumed her regularly scheduled exercise and ski training. We quite like living in two snowy places.

jeremy skins up with a very excited neva

she even developed a cute little snowbeard

Now that December is at our doorstep, I will be baking a lot of sweets for the next few weeks to distribute to those good people who provide important services like delivering our mail, taking care of our pup, helping us do our jobs, monitoring my health, and being great neighbors. During the holiday bake-a-thon, I develop a strong aversion to sweets – especially the ones I’m making. I just want to eat savory, simple, and delicious fare. Lately, the pizzas at Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse have inspired me to find a fresh tomato-y pizza sauce for the pizzas we make at home.

diced canned tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil

**Jump for more butter**


Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Recipe: lobster miso ramen

As last week wound down, we took advantage of our proximity to decent trails and got Neva out on the snow again. Even if the snow isn’t ideal, it’s good for her to get regular training and exercise on and in the snow. Eventually, we’d like to get her on some of the dog-friendly nordic trails in Crested Butte this season. On Friday, she had doggy day care so I could run errands on the flats. While in line at a store, I witnessed an argument break out among three people in the next line over. Each party behaved badly. Each party escalated the conflict. Eventually there was a gesture, profanities, a shove, a retaliatory shove. These three adults – well into their 60s and all of them strangers to one another – were no better than squabbling children. As soon as the shoving began, I stepped forward and broke it up. “What the hell is wrong with people?” I asked Jeremy as we drove up the canyon.

a fine day for a ski with the pup

someone needed a bath after a good day at doggy daycare

After giving Neva a bath outside, we found ourselves asking that question again the moment we turned on our public radio station and heard the news headlines. My social networks had exploded with expressions of grief, horror, anger, fear, blame, hope, sympathy, self-righteousness, ignorance… I closed my laptop and exhaled my frustrations, “What is WRONG with people?!” In the morning, we opted to remove ourselves to the high country where we could scout out the snow conditions. Neva stayed home to rest as she was still exhausted from her daycare exertions. It didn’t matter that the snow was thin and covered in rocks in places. It didn’t matter that there was windslab on some slopes and that it was warm enough for the snow to stick to and clump on our skis. I just wanted to get outside and sort through my feelings, my thoughts. Jeremy is the only person I can count on to speak rationally, thoughtfully, and sensibly most of the time. We both benefited from the exercise, getting outside and having the backcountry to ourselves, and being able to share our thoughts quietly with one another.

putting away the climbing skins

a slabby, sticky, sloppy snowpack

We spent the rest of the weekend working and giving wide berth to frothing-at-the-mouth Facebook comment fights. It was a good time for comfort food. A couple of years ago, I had received a lobster ramen recipe from the PR machine of a local chef. Lobster ramen sounds divine, right? I mean, there is lobster – and then there is ramen. Boom! But after reading through the recipe, it wasn’t what I was craving. I think my Asianness demanded more Asian-y flavors, and this recipe was not only heavy on European interpretation, but it was also ridiculously involved. So I sat on the idea of lobster ramen until I found something more in tune with my tastes. Lobster miso ramen delivers on the flavors, textures, and it can be quite simple and quick to make.

toasted nori, white beech mushrooms, cooked ramen, green onions, hondashi granules, white miso paste, butter, lobster

You can probably find most of the ingredients at a typical grocery store that has a well-stocked Asian food aisle. For dashi (bonito fish soup stock), I use hondashi instant granules because they store so easily in my refrigerator. That’s something you probably need to get from an Asian grocer. As for the ramen, I had some leftover dried ramen to move from my pantry since my search for fresh ramen noodles at the Asian grocery store came up empty. I also read that curly ramen is better for miso broths because the miso tends to cling to those crooks in the noodles.

simmer the dashi and add the mushrooms and cooked lobster meat

**Jump for more butter**

snow and blow

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Recipe: butternut squash lasagne

When my neighbor asked if I could take care of their dog, Dioji (dee-OH-gee), for a couple of days, I hesitated. My desire is to always say yes to everything. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to temper that gut reaction with pragmatic considerations and to think things through before answering yes, before committing to what I promise to do. Dioji is an easy girl – a giant fur ball, half Bernese Mountain dog, half Great Pyrenees, and one hundred percent lover. Neva is very fond of Dioji and I have to say, of all the dogs that have to put up with Neva’s ridiculous puppy antics, Dioji is the sweetest and most tolerant one. Of course, walking the two of them was quite the adventure because Neva is constantly pulling ahead and Dioji is always stopping abruptly to sniff the latest headlines.

sitting nicely for a treat, but neva thinks dioji might have gotten hers already

As much as I adore Dioji, I think I like having one dog. I hear from plenty of folks that two dogs are great because they keep one another company, but one is just right for me and Jeremy. Neva improves each day in subtle increments rather than the “one step forward, two steps back” of puppyhood. We still witness bouts of puppiness in Neva, and with the colder weather she is becoming more snuggly. Every morning Neva hops up onto the bed and cuddles between us for an hour or so until she feels it is time for what Jeremy calls her “two outputs and one input” – potty time and dinner (breakfast) – at which point she scoots closer to Jeremy and puts both front paws on his face. After she’s done eating, one or both of us will take her out for some exercise – a hike, fetch, or ski. We recently got more snow and a chaser of winds gusting up to 60 mph, but we still went out because Neva needs to learn what winter is like around here. Thankfully, ground blizzards don’t seem to bother her too much when there is a ball to be chased.

i wish all dogs could be this happy

neva in flight!

her coordination is improving

walking home after lots of good playtime

While I pride myself in enduring gale force winds to get my ski on (because it makes the calm days all the more delicious), there are times when the winds and the snow conditions combine to create so much suckage that I will resort to indoor rowing or riding. Those are also good days to tackle something like this butternut squash lasagne with its multiple components. Running the oven keeps the house warm and toasty while the big bad wolf rages outside.

onions, butter, olive oil, milk, goat cheese, flour, salt, thyme, sage, panko crumbs, butternut squash, black pepper, pecorino-romano cheese, no boil lasagne, nutmeg, garlic

start caramelizing the onions

deep brown and sweet

**Jump for more butter**