quince jam shrimp and vegetable tempura posole huckleberry panna cotta

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the spicy side of life

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Recipe: posole

Autumn in the mountains is a love affair with Indian Summer and early season winter snow storms. The trajectory of the sun across the sky incorporates a more horizontal component in the fall rather than shooting straight up high by 6 am in summer, which makes for cool morning trail runs that don’t require sunblock. Chilly nights mean we welcome Neva snuggling between us on the bed, but daytime temperatures remain pleasant enough that windows and deck doors let mountain air flow gently through the house. If we’re lucky, precipitation comes in frozen form. We were lucky this week.

we measured three inches at home

it got up to 6 inches in the backcountry

On our hike, Neva bounded and pounced in the snow for quite some time. I wonder what that little puppy brain remembers from last winter. She loves the snow so much, but does she understand that this happens each year or is every day a surprise for her? I suspect the latter. We saw a moose at one of the lakes, running away from us or the crazy windy horizontal snow, or both. Neva lost her mind, but she was leashed (this is why we keep her on a leash!), so she lost her mind in a 6 foot radius around Jeremy. She gets really excited when she sees horses, moose, elk, deer, cattle, people, grass blowing in the wind… pretty much anything. You can see the short video on my Instagram and hear Neva crying like a nut at the end.

But within 24 hours, the sun was back and the snow in town had melted away. Our local trails are crunchy underfoot with brown and yellow leaves that used to adorn the aspen trees above. The smell of autumn hangs on the air – musty and a little sweet. It smells wise to me, like it knows something that we don’t. Now is a good time to process photos from the fall shoot, because the majesty of autumn in the mountains is so fleeting that I sometimes forget what I saw.

sunset on the beckwith mountains

aspen leaves light up in the sun

I recently went through our chest freezer to take inventory of what has been lurking deep in the corners all year. I didn’t roast any green chiles at the end of this summer because I knew I had several bags adrift in the freezer sea as well as a new shipment of several pounds of gorgeous roasted red and green chiles from The Hatch Chile Store in New Mexico. Well, let’s just say we are going to be having a lot of green chile dishes this winter, which is perfect because one of my favorites is posole.

a pound of diced green chiles (skinned and seeded)

hominy, limes, garlic, green chiles, pork shoulder, dried new mexico red chiles, salt, oregano

This recipe, which I believe my mother-in-law gave me years ago, was posted way back in the day such that I felt it needed an update – especially since I now use my pressure cooker! I’ve doubled the recipe in the photos here, but the written recipe below is for a single batch. If you love posole, you’ll want to double it, for sure. I list instructions for both conventional stove top cooking and pressure cooker (you can also use a crock pot/slow cooker). If you don’t concern yourself with steps like de-fatting the broth or starting with dried hominy, this is relatively quick and easy to make. I include those steps, too – but they are all optional. While I had planned (and prefer) to make posole from dried hominy, I couldn’t find it in the three grocery stores I checked in Boulder – so ultimately I had to go with canned.

There are several bags of dried New Mexico red chiles in my pantry. Much like the state of my chest freezer, the chiles have not been properly labeled or organized. I grabbed the best looking whole chiles and discovered later that these were from the bag of HOT chiles. Use what heat level suits your tastes. I typically work with medium chiles because hot can be a bit too spicy for Jeremy and I find mild to be boring. A quick rinse with water renders the chile pods pliable so that you can lop off the stems and scrape out the seeds.

scraping the seeds from the chile pods

mincing garlic

**Jump for more butter**

the in-between

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Recipe: carne adovada empanadas

The last week of December – that time between Christmas and the new year – always tends to be one of the busiest at the ski resorts. Lots of people take time off for the holidays and head to the slopes with their families and extended families and friends. After the last good powder day on Christmas, we’ve switched from skiing the mountain to hitting the Nordic trails. The big storm tracks have cleared out and the trails are firming up under bluebird skies for some great skate ski conditions. It’s such a great workout that single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures actually feel pretty good, unless you stop moving… then it gets quite cold quite fast.

jeremy wears two passes: his and neva’s

I’m also using this opportunity to work on some baby quilts. Actually, LOTS of baby quilts – some of which are for babies that aren’t babies anymore, but bona fide kids! I may be years late, but the sentiment is there. Plus, I carried two of my baby blankets around with me until… well, I have them in my bedroom now. These are flannel rag quilts because I don’t have the skill or time to make anything more complicated. Squares are good enough for me.

soft and colorful fabrics

The neat thing about this period before the new year is that parties seem to have an “anything goes” theme. Festive, yet not necessarily Christmas. I rather like that. It’s all about celebrating the end of 2015, looking ahead to 2016, and eating empanadas. Last month I made a big batch of carne adovada and decided to save some out to make empanadas. These are not traditional in any sense, just a New Mexican take on the revered empanada which turned out to be pretty darn delicious.

water, carne adovada, cheddar, paprika, green chiles, salt, vegetable oil, flour, butter, onion

I used the dough recipe from my favorite Argentine empanadas recipe. It’s straightforward to make and has a nice texture when baked. You can, of course, fry the empanadas (they are so so tasty fried), but my pants can only handle the baked version. Plus, it’s less clean up.

melt the butter and water

pace a pinch of paprika in a well with the flour and salt

mix the liquid into the flour

you’ll wind up with a nice oily dough

wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate

**Jump for more butter**

get jjigae with it

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Recipe: korean beef short rib kimchi stew (jjigae)

We got a proper snow last Thursday. Usually the first inch of snow marks the first snow of the season, but we got four inches! At the start it was a light snow that covered the deck. When I let Neva out into it, she hugged the edge of the house, remaining under the eaves – almost afraid to step on the snow. I was concerned. Had she forgotten all of the snow she played in as a wee puppy back in May and June? She had never seen it fall from the sky before and she stood there, watching it intently. By the time she went back out onto the deck for her second visit, she was already trying to eat the snow. Neva shoved her nose into it and put paw prints all over the white canvas. She asked to go back outside another 20 times that morning – just so she could play in the snow. Looks like Neva IS our puppy after all! I didn’t take any photos of Neva’s discovery phase because I was busy playing with the video and slo-mo on my iPhone. So if you want to see those videos and other shenanigans pertaining to Neva, find me on instagram at @jenyuphoto.

Over the weekend, we took Neva into the high country for a little walkie walk. She had a blast. Jeremy and I kept trying to gauge how she’ll do when we’re on skis, but the best way to know is to take her out on a ski tour. And the only way to do that is to wait for more snow. I will say that we were pleasantly surprised at how much more snow there was in the high country – about a half foot on average. Jeremy worried that Neva would get too cold in the snow (she has yet to grow her winter coat and her belly is still barely covered in baby fuzz). When we stopped to check on how she was, her hind legs were trembling – not from cold, but because she was SO EXCITED to keep going up the trail. Crazy little dog. [And she is quite little. I looked up Kaweah’s old records and found she weighed in at 51 pounds at 6 months of age. Neva was 31 pounds at 6 months.]

alpine lakes are good for your soul

four of my favorite things: jeremy, neva, mountains, and snow

Snow is a game changer. It turns the backcountry into a different kind of playground. I no longer feel as if I have to beat the sun when I get outside and I don’t dread the heat of midday (or day, for that matter). Oh, and I can cook again! We don’t have air conditioning in the mountains, so we try to keep the exothermic kitchen activities to a minimum in summer. Once the temperature turns, cooking is a great way to feed our pie holes AND warm up the house. Thermodynamics always wins in the end, so don’t be fightin’ it. Months ago, someone posted a photo of their dinner at a Korean restaurant – something steaming, spicy and stew-like. At the time I couldn’t even wrap my mind around eating stew in the dead of summer while a feral little puppy was running my life. But now… now I’ve had the time to research some recipes, the puppy is more dog than puppy, and it’s finally cold enough to justify making jjigae – a Korean short rib kimchi stew. You know I’m all over that one.

rice cakes (tteok) can be found at good asian grocers in the frozen or refrigerated sections

rice cakes, kimchi, onions, hondashi, pepper, short ribs, butter, garlic, salt, vegetable oil, mirin, sesame oil

The first thing to do is caramelize two pounds of onions. Don’t be in a rush when you caramelize onions, because you won’t get caramelized onions, but burnt onions. Caramelization takes time, so give yourself at least 45 minutes. If you live in my neck of the woods 8500 feet above sea-level, give it more like 90 minutes. The key is to give it time, keep the heat just low enough so that the onions cook, but don’t burn, and stir occasionally.

melt the butter and vegetable oil

sauté the onions

when the onions turn translucent, reduce the heat

stir and cook and stir and cook until the onions are a rich golden color

**Jump for more butter**