vanilla sugar boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie linguine with clams chinese fried pork meatballs


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sugar sugar

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Recipe: vanilla sugar

I’m up to my elbows in butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate. Yes, it’s that time of year again – the cookie frenzy. Thanks to a back muscle spasm over the weekend that kept me from standing or walking, I had to rush getting all of the baked goods and confections out the door in one very long and exhausting day. But they’re done and you can stick a fork in me!


these went to jeremy’s staff



In addition to the cookies, marshmallows, and homemade hot cocoa mix, I included a jar of homemade vanilla sugar. It’s such an easy do-it-yourself project and it makes a great gift with a personal touch. Use vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar for that extra vanilla oomph. Even if you can’t think of a use for it, just open the jar and get a whiff of that floral, sweet, and heady perfume.

you’ll need whole vanilla beans and sugar

slice the bean lengthwise

scrape out all of those beautiful little seeds



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here’s mud in your eye

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Recipe: boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie

Mud is the one thing that can get us down around here. Mud is not snow and it is not firm trail. You can’t ski it, you shouldn’t be riding it (mountain bikes really tear up muddy trails), and it kinda sucks to hike or run it. But we do hike and run in the mud because we try not to let it keep us from getting outside. Plus, the mud around here is more annoying than terrible – we have lots of rocks which makes for firmer ground. It’s nothing like what we’ve encountered in the backcountry of New Zealand. Holy hell. New Zealand mud can swallow you whole. Right now, patches of debris are cropping up along the nordic trails and the parking lot at our local hill is dirt and mud.

But this week, we discovered that not all mud is bad. At least, not mud pie. And by mud pie, I mean Mississippi mud pie. It all started because I wanted to know what a mudslide was. It’s a cocktail more akin to melted ice cream with lots of booze. But thanks to the interwebz, I was immediately diverted to mud pies. What’s a mud pie? My Crested Butte neighbor’s daughter was making mud pies with her friend one rainy day, but that was with real mud. The more I read about mud pies, the more intrigued I became. Then I found this recipe that adds BOURBON and I knew it was my destiny.


the crust: sugar, butter, salt, oreo cookies (without the creme centers)

place the cookies in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb

mix with sugar and salt



You can use chocolate wafer cookies for the crust, but I couldn’t find any and I happened to be passing through Trader Joe’s where there were boxes upon boxes of TJ’s chocolate Joe Joe’s. If you need to make this dessert gluten-free, use the gluten-free TJ’s Joe Joe’s or some other equivalent brand. Nifty. Because I prefer a slightly higher crust-to-filling ratio and because the pie dish I used is deeper than my other dishes, I increased the amount of crust ingredients by 20%. There is no baking involved, just good old melty butter.

stir in the butter

pour the crust into the pie plate

press into the bottom and along the sides



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a little time off

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Recipe: homemade hot cocoa mix

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving was able to enjoy their holiday! Me? I remained mostly offline for the past several days and loved every minute of it. Instead of expending my energies on cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I kept the food prep simple and opted to ski. Crested Butte happily received nearly 2 feet of snow before opening day on the mountain. It goes without saying that first tracks were accompanied by the sound of hoots and hollers echoing down the slopes of untracked powder. When the powder was no more, we went skate skiing, did a little mouse proofing of the house, squealed at baby puppy malamutes (that was me doing the squealing), and worked on stuff that always gets neglected back home.


fluffy

fresh

amazing snow for november

trees plastered from snowmaking guns



It seems that once Thanksgiving has passed, the calender shifts into high gear. Suddenly everything I never wanted goes on sale in my in-box. Oh, but it IS nice to nab a deal on those climbing skins I’ve been eying for over a year. For the most part, we ignore the frenzied consumerism because we don’t do gifts over the holidays. What I mean is that we only give homemade or local gifts to people like Jeremy’s staff, my oncologist, our vet, the post office. I try to mix it up from year to year with a variety of baked goods, confections, and something like a barbecue spice rub, homemade jam, or a flavored cheese powder for popcorn. This year, I’m including jars of homemade hot cocoa mix.

bittersweet chocolate chips, sugar, powdered milk, salt, dutch-process cocoa powder

chop the chocolate

mix everything together

scoop into air-tight jars



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