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house of powderhounds

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry waffles

I told someone recently that we aren’t powderhounds – the types who drive around from mountain to mountain chasing down winter storms to ski the best powder. Clearly, one could do it. I follow a lot of Western ski resorts on Instagram, and some mountain somewhere is getting the goods on any given day. We just happened to get lucky a handful of times and then the rest is tracking weather forecasts for our local mountains. After our fun (but not snowy) weekend in Crested Butte, we returned home to Nederland just as – wait for it! – a snow storm dumped 11 inches on our local hill, Eldora. Is it luck or is it constant vigilance? You can mull that over while I ski the powder.


the morning commute looking pretty good

it was hip deep (for telemark) in some places



Powder days are not limited to human enjoyment. In fact, I’m pretty sure Neva loves her powder more than we do. She is just SO happy in the snow – bouncing and pouncing and digging and rolling and running and crashing. This is why we’re working so much with her this season to get her used to traveling with us into the backcountry – so that she can enjoy the snow with us, and safely.

puppy gets first tracks on the soccer field!

a little backcountry ski training with neva

skiing out on fresh powder with longs peak in the distance



All of this outdoor activity means Neva has been taking a lot of car rides. We have been working with our vet to try different medications and combinations – slowly getting closer to a solution. She is no longer vomiting, and I think that is in large part due to dramamine – or rather meclizine (which is dramamine 2), but she doesn’t like traveling in a vehicle – period. Neva’s anxiety goes through the roof when she is in the car (aka the torture-mobile), so we have a sedative for long car rides which helps her to just sleep through it. But for short drives to local trailheads, we just give her a meclizine about an hour before we leave. As we were packing up our gear for the ski tour, we found her chillaxing in the sun, on the stairs… sort of.

feeling pretty mellow



I really like that little girl. Not only does Neva share my love of snow, but she also shares my love of huckleberries. Whenever I make something with huckleberries, she always gets a few. If I empty a bag of frozen huckleberries, I’ll turn the bag inside out and let her lick the juices. So it was when I emptied a bag of frozen huckleberries last summer for a kitchen experiment. I wanted to see if there was a difference between huckleberry waffles made with fresh huckleberries versus frozen huckleberries. But really, I just wanted huckleberry waffles.

butter, flour, buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, cornstarch, eggs, frozen and fresh huckleberries

fresh hucks on the left, frozen on the right



**Jump for more butter**

never gonna give you up

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Recipe: cornflake chocolate chip cookies

Remember what I said about everything being relative and how enduring terrible windstorms made the horrible windstorms seem not so bad after all? Right. The winds were only gusting to 55 mph the other day, so we packed up the pup and some gear for a little ski tour. It always feels worse in the parking lot because parking lots offer zero shelter, but once you are in the trees, it gets better. Except this time the couple of inches of fresh snow turned into a ground blizzard even in the trees. Still, we were happy to get outside and get the lungs pumping. Neva couldn’t care less about blowing snow or mature conifers dancing in the wind as if it were a rave. That pup is clearly happiest romping through the snow. None of us can give up snow.


a ground blizzard starting up



Sometimes we ski down with Neva on a leash, which requires that the skier maintain a steady speed and remain in complete control so that no puppies or people are harmed. Other times, Jeremy will ski down first while I hold Neva on leash. When he gets to a stopping point, he’ll call out and I’ll tell her to go find Jeremy and let her go. She tears off like a maniac and usually ends up wherever he is. A couple of times though, Neva has veered off into the woods. The last time she did it, she got stuck in a big snow drift and when I called to her, she ran back to me then ran to Jeremy upon my command. Treats don’t seem to have greater value than “sweet sweet freedom”, but we figured out what does (for now): her tennis ball. I tucked it into Jeremy’s pack before we left the house.

The whole way up, we worked on “heel” and “trail” to keep Neva from wandering in front of our skis or pulling orthogonally. It’s hard for her to control herself because the snow makes her SO EXCITED, but she is improving each time we ski with her. On the way back down, we ripped (climbing) skins and locked into ski mode. Neva did great running alongside Jeremy. For steeper sections, it’s more fun for all involved if we can take the hills unattached (no leash). I had Neva’s leash in my hand and before Jeremy took off down the hill, he produced the orange tennis ball. Suddenly, all of her world became that ball. He skied off and I told her to wait. She sat in the snow, but her front legs were trembling with eagerness and you could hear Neva whimpering over the howling wind. The moment Jeremy came to a stop, her front paw began to twitch. He waved to me and I said, “Go!” as Neva flew down the hill leaving cold smoke in her wake. I think I’m going to order 60 more of those orange balls (she likes the orange ones, the yellow ones aren’t as interesting for some reason).


now that’s a happy girl



Once home, Neva took a big drink of water, ate some snacks, and then sprawled out in a sunny spot on the floor for a well-deserved nap. As Jeremy reached for a chocolate chip cookie on the counter, I stopped him mid-reach. “Not that batch,” I pointed, “THAT batch.” I had been recipe testing cookies over the weekend because I hadn’t made chocolate chip cookies in years. It’s a wonderful feeling to have a recipe you can always count on. I used to bake a cornflake chocolate chip cookie recipe all the time when I lived at sea level. It’s a recipe I got from an ex-boyfriend’s mother that was a hit with all of my co-workers, graduate department, and colleagues for over a decade. Then I moved to Colorado and the cookies didn’t bake right anymore. I made several adjustments and tanked several batches for the first year. After a while, I gave up. You hear this from a lot of people who moved from sea level to high altitudes – they just stopped baking cookies.

With another decade of baking – this time at elevation – under my belt, and this great article on the science of chocolate chip cookies from The Food Lab (it’s Kenji week here at Butter headquarters), I decided to give it another shot. It’s not the ultimate chocolate chip cookie that I am after, I just want my cornflake chocolate chip cookies to not suck.


vanilla, cornflakes, flour, dark chocolate, eggs, sugar, baking soda, salt, dark brown sugar, butter



The first rule for high altitude baking is to stick with the original recipe. Sometimes they turn out with zero alterations, other times it’s just a small tweak, and then on rare occasion it requires a massive overhaul of the original recipe. I basically went with a mashup of Kenji’s recipe and my cornflake chocolate chip cookie recipe – which is a chocolate chip cookie with crushed cornflakes in the dough.

whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together

crush the cornflakes with a rolling pin

chop the chocolate



**Jump for more butter**

the year of the monkey

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Recipe: chocolate soufflé

I wrote a short piece for Lands of Plenty on Chinese dumplings if you’d like to hop over and read it. The illustration was created by the talented Melanie Kwan.

Happy Chinese New Year! While everyone was getting ready for their big game parties on Sunday, we were busily cleaning the house and prepping food all weekend for our New Year’s Eve feast. It was just as well since the winds were horrible here, so we didn’t feel as if we were missing out on anything outside. I figured the lunar new year could mean something new for Neva, too! It’s her first Chinese New Year, after all.


a pretty new collar for her to encase in mud…

high winds can sometimes deliver dramatic cloudscapes



For some reason, this year’s cooking went more smoothly than previous years and I had the bulk of it done by Saturday night. I also think as I get older I’m okay with letting some things slide. For instance, I usually try to make stir-fried Chinese rice cakes, but instead of making yet another dish and having even more food to finish before it spoils, I just tossed a few of the rice cakes into the cellophane noodle soup and called it good. I’m slowly learning to let go of ridiculous expectations that are only in my mind and trying to focus more on reducing stress. Also? I have a terrible habit of making too much food, so I made a concerted effort to make the dishes in smaller quantities and I sent Jeremy with some of the scallion pancakes and potstickers to our favorite neighbors. It’s good all around.

fragrant pears, satsuma mandarin oranges, and a red envelope

lucky ten ingredient vegetable before mixing

making scallion pancakes

frying up some pork potstickers

our small feast

so good to finally sit down and enjoy



Now with Chinese New Year cleaning and cooking done, I can sit back and take a load off my feet… sort of. What’s that you say? Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up. We don’t really do that around here. There are no gifts, no surprises, no unauthorized expenses, no nothing other than our typical hugs and giggles and I-love-yous. But for those of you who like to cook or bake for those people you love dearly, I can get behind that. This gluten-free chocolate soufflĂ© has been sitting in my archives for several months and it seems appropriate right about now. We start with a chocolate pastry cream.

egg whites, egg yolks, vanilla extract, unsweetened chocolate, sugar (twice), butter (twice), powdered sugar, cornstarch, cream of tartar, cocoa powder, salt, and milk

whisk the yolks, milk, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt together over medium heat

stir the chocolate, butter, and vanilla into the mixture

chocolate pastry cream



**Jump for more butter**