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exploring

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Recipe: chinese dan dan noodles

I hope you all had a great weekend whether it was a Fourth of July long weekend or just a regular weekend. We watched throngs of visitors flock to Crested Butte and happily saw their numbers dwindle as the weekend wound down. I’ve noticed that when people come to the mountains they 1) like to sit in the driveway of their vacation rental (why?!) and 2) burn things. I’m okay with #1 if they’d just quit with the #2. Meanwhile, Jeremy and I have been hosting my parents and exploring more of the area both with them (restaurants) and without them (trails).


and fishing – dad loves fishing

grabbing cocktails in mount crested butte before dinner



The great thing about the mountains is that wildflowers peak at different times depending on things like elevation, slope aspect, amount of sun, moisture (both from the sky and from streams), and their species. Some spots are nearing peak bloom while others are just getting started. Regardless of their state, it is simply invigorating to get out and see it for yourself in some of the finest scenery Colorado has to offer.

mule ears

mint family

mule ears and larkspur

hiking the “oh be joyful” trail



A week before my parents arrived in Colorado, I called to ask them if they had a recipe for dan dan mien or dan dan noodles. I hadn’t ever had the dish before, but several friends raved about the noodles and asked if I had a recipe. I did not. Turns out my parents didn’t have a recipe either, but they definitely had their opinions on how the noodles should be prepared. I went to the interwebs and found what I thought would taste good. Several days after I had photographed and eaten the noodles, my parents inquired about my search and their curiosity was piqued when I said I had tried a recipe.

me: ground pork
dad: no, no ground pork
me: za tsai (preserved mustard green)
dad: (makes a face of disgust and disbelief)
me: peanuts
dad: nobody puts peanuts in dan dan mien!

When Mom told me what she puts in her version of the noodles, Dad interjected and said her recipe was also incorrect. Then they argued over what goes into the noodles. I just want you to know that even though I liked this version of dan dan mien, it is not sanctioned by either of my parents. Their recipe may be forthcoming, if they can ever agree on what goes into the noodles… For now though, you can chew on this.


the sauce: chili oil, black vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sugar

adding black vinegar to the grated garlic, soy sauce, and sugar

whisk in the chili oil


**Jump for more butter**

trying not to get ahead of myself

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Recipe: asian chicken sandwich

I am totally feeling it. It was 72°F in Boulder on Friday and I had the sunroof open while driving around town to let the heat escape from my car. The hairs on the back of my neck were prickling because it was overly warm (for me). I found relief once I pulled into the driveway at home and stepped out into the refreshing 50°F air. I’m not going to fight it, but I will relish the remainder of the cooler season as much as I can. Still, all signs point to spring and it is indeed happening around here!


used a little of that rei dividend on some summer sandals with grippy tread

a budding pasque flower poking through the forest litter

catkins from (what i think is) a coyote willow

aspens fuzzing out with catkins



The plants around the mountains are not leafing out yet, which is a good thing because there are a few more winter storms coming our way. At this point, it isn’t even the skiing (but I’m totally going to ski the powder!), rather it is the moisture that we need. Yes, please… more water. In the meantime, our neighbor’s son had a birthday and we were party to his scavenger hunt around town for his birthday gift. They stored the kayak from our garage rafters for a month and this morning, our young friend came by to receive his final clue.

all parents should be so cool



Kayaks, catkins, sandals… I told Jeremy on the trail the other day that I was excited for summer despite the anticipation of a foot of snow coming our way this week. Even though summer is hot and I don’t like the heat, all manner of good things go on in summer. I love waking before the sun and walking the mountain trails in that cool air… smelling flowers and streams and dirt and trees, hearing bird songs and the zippy zooming sounds of hummingbirds. And then there are the sandwiches which come into more regular rotation with our longer days. You can never get too much sandwich – especially this incredible Asian chicken sandwich which I have asked to marry me.

start with asian cabbage slaw: red and green cabbage, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, carrot, green onions, ginger, lime, cilantro

shred the cabbage

colorful mix of vegetables



**Jump for more butter**

switcheroo

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Recipe: maple miso tofu

Winter went out like a cuddly little kitten last week. The last day of winter was warm, sunny, and so pleasant that I left the deck door open for Kaweah to come and go, which she loves to do. Sometimes she’ll just stand halfway in the house and halfway on the deck. But her old legs can’t stand indefinitely anymore. When I set her foamy bath mats out on the deck, she opted to lounge in the sun and absorb all of the energy falling to Earth.


last day of winter



Of course, it’s now spring break (all of Boulder seems to be on spring break this week) and it snowed all weekend. People have been shaking their fists at Punxsutawney Phil for his prediction of an early spring. When will silly people ever learn? I trust my local meteorologist over a giant rodent to tell me when to expect a powder day. Colorado spring skiing is what’s what.

five days into spring

nothing fazes her

8°f and gorgeous

that’s gonna be closed for a little while longer



But it is spring despite the winterish temperatures. The snow is heavier, stickier, wetter. It takes more effort to push it around than the powdery fluff of winter. And the longer hours of the day feel like you have emerged from a cave. Sunset is around 7pm at our house, which is Kaweah’s dinner time. She used to petition for dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon in winter when it got dark, but now she seems utterly delighted and taken by surprise when we say, “Do you want some dinner?”

dramatic sunset



Ever since I got home from my trip to Vermont and New Hampshire, I’ve been trying to keep my meals on the light side. I have some lovely organic maple syrup (and other maple products) courtesy of Coombs Family Farms, but I just can’t fathom eating THAT MANY waffles and pancakes, no matter how good the syrup is. You know me, I am one for the savory dishes. A maple miso tofu recipe appealed to my desire for lighter meals. The added bonus is how ridiculously straightforward and quick it is to prepare.

you need: maple syrup, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sambal oelek (or any chili paste), white miso, firm tofu

brushing oil on the parchment paper

cut the tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices



**Jump for more butter**