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archive for sweet

three for a pear

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate-dipped key lime pears

Oh weekend, I hardly knew ya. We are always up for a ski, provided there is decent snow. But we haven’t had much snow lately, so we took Neva for a hike to scope out part of the high country. It was rocks and dirt, then ice, then snow, then snirt and more rocks. Patchy conditions annoy me more than anything because it’s a pain to get your skis on and off every twenty feet, but it also sucks to have to get microspikes on and off your shoes. I suppose we could snowshoe, except we swore off snowshoing the day we learned to ski in the backcountry. The mere thought of going back to snowshoes is a major snoozefest (sorry snowshoers, but I speak the truth). Eventually we reached consistent snow cover, then really decent snow for skiing (which meant not so great for hiking). Snow began to fall from the sky and Jeremy squeezed my hand through our gloves.

which way to go? jeremy looks left and neva looks right

The snow didn’t last long and then the winds arrived to make the snowpack sucky. I battled kitchen disasters then went to bed early to ward off a potential cold. Instead of trying to make a ski day the next morning, we opted for a round of fetch at the elementary school soccer field and then spent several hours cleaning out the basement. Neva thought the fetch part was great, but had a lesser opinion of the house cleaning.

catching the ball in mid air

floating back to earth

I always forget how much I enjoy pears until they are practically screaming at me from the produce aisle in November. For a while when we were without a dog, Jeremy and I adhered to a strict rule of not sharing a pear between two people. It’s a superstition that Grandma and a lot of Chinese people follow – because the Chinese word for pear sounds the same as the Chinese word for “split up”. Now with Neva, we can all three share a pear safely (Neva is loving little nibbles of pear).

A few years ago, I was in San Francisco visiting Recchiuti Confections when I spied their key lime pears – wafer thin slices of pear soaked in key lime juice and dipped in dark chocolate. I purchased a box to bring home for Jeremy, because he likes pears and he loves chocolate. They were spendy, so each slice was precious. Each slice really was precious. I became obsessed. When I returned to San Francisco later, I decided to purchase Michael Recchiuti’s cookbook for the sole purpose of getting the recipe for the key lime pears. My pal, Lisa (whose blog is Lisa is Bossy, but my mom has since named her “Lisa is the Boss”), asked if I was going to blog it. I said yes, of course. That was more than a couple of years ago. So it’s time to make good on my word.

water, sugar, bartlett pears, key limes, and chocolate

A word on ingredients. The recipe instructs you to use bartlett pears that are green and hard. Please do this. I have made this recipe twice. The first time was with bartlett pears that were green and rock hard. They turned out beautifully (as you will see). The second batch that I attempted this past weekend was a lot harder to deal with because I couldn’t find bartletts (I only went to one store), so I used the hardest variety I could find – red D’anjou pears. Those didn’t work well at all. The flesh is too soft and they nearly disintegrate during the soaking process. So absolutely follow the recipe on the pear variety and hardness unless you like to make yourself miserable. For chocolate, please use a good quality dark chocolate. There aren’t many ingredients in the recipe, but the quality makes all the difference. And finally, if you can’t find key limes, you can use regular limes. You won’t need as many because they’re much larger.

make a sugar syrup with water and sugar

juice the key limes

add the lime juice to the syrup

**Jump for more butter**

not old fashioned

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Recipe: old fashioned doughnuts

We piled ourselves, the dog, and eight pairs of skis into the car over the weekend and made our way south and west to Crested Butte. I patted myself on the back too soon for catching Neva’s puke episode in a strategically placed plastic bag, because when we stopped for gas in Buena Vista, she threw up again – down the back of the driver’s seat and on her doggy bed. Then when we opened the door to get her out of the car, she projectile vomited all over the door and on Jeremy’s shoes and pants. But we did eventually get to Crested Butte and we were all very happy for it. We gave Neva lots of treats and snuggles and warm blankets for her to curl up in, and I googled how to clean vomit from car upholstery.

this was the best moment of the drive: spotting bighorn sheep

Here in Crested Butte, Jeremy and I just want to hole up with our pup so we can ski and work in peace for the week. As usual, we have no grand plans for a Thanksgiving-style feast. We like to keep things simple and low-stress in general, but especially over the holidays. The only thing that will make an appearance from a typical Thanksgiving menu will be mashed potatoes. We’re grilling steaks because 1) they taste better and 2) they are quick and easy. And I plan to roast lots of vegetables because honestly, that green bean casserole (I don’t care HOW fresh you make it) is disgusting. The argument “This is how we’ve always done it,” doesn’t sit well with me. That line has gotten humans into a lot of trouble through the years… including overeating at Thanksgiving.

we try our best to do the opposite of stuffing ourselves at thanksgiving

a steady climb into the beautiful high country

neva loves her exercise as much as we do (probably more!)

I try to approach life from a more pragmatic perspective. Traditions that I used to blindly follow now come under heavy scrutiny. Does it cause anyone harm? Is it a source of unnecessary stress? Is it a stupid waste of money or time? Is it just plain stupid? The only part of this holiday that I do really like is the reminder to give thanks and to remember (i.e. help) those who are less fortunate. If you don’t know what you are thankful for, perhaps take some quiet moments – step away from your phone, no really – and mull that one over. It’s important and it’s good for you.

a peaceful frozen alpine lake rests under a mesmerizing cloud pattern

What might not be so good for you are these old fashioned doughnuts. But they’re awfully tasty and no one said you had to eat all of them. Just have one… or two… or… Old fashioned doughnuts rank right up there with French crullers for me. I read several recipes and was surprised to find the doughnuts were so easy to make! Except for me, they weren’t easy at all. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster and I spent several days troubleshooting and researching, which led me to this 1940 research paper on deep-fat frying at altitude. Turns out if you live at or near sea level, you’re golden. Follow the recipe as is. If you live at elevation – let’s say above 5,000 feet – you might want to make a few adjustments which I list in parentheses in the recipe below. The photos in this post are from the first batch, but the final photos are of the second batch.

sour cream, sugar, shortening, cake flour, egg yolks, salt, baking powder, nutmeg

whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together

**Jump for more butter**


Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate magic custard cake

There are a few things you learn about early season skiing after eleven seasons. The first is that you probably shouldn’t wax those skis just yet, because you’ll likely hit a few (or a lot) of rocks. If you were a good and proper ski fanatic, you waxed those babies at the end of last season so they wouldn’t dry out over the summer. You can wax them properly after a good base has been established. The second is that you haven’t actually forgotten how to ski after one summer. This weekend we took Neva out for her first ski tour. The very first one was more like a trial run because Jeremy was on skis and I hiked/jogged alongside the two of them just in case there were issues. It can be really difficult to manage a first timer dog while you are moving on skis. When Kaweah was a puppy, she kept attacking the ski tips (she didn’t realize they were connected to our feet) and standing on the skis when the snow was deep, and then running in front of us and sometimes stopping when we skied downhill. Even as an adult, Kaweah didn’t quite register the whole “keep clear of the metal edges” thing.

neva keeps pace with jeremy

noodling along

having a blast

You probably already know that we are not the sorts who fly by the seat of our pants. We put a lot of thought into Neva’s first ski. We wanted to make sure she had fun, but we also had to guarantee that she would be safe. We took Neva up a forest service road so there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver about without getting tangled up in the skis on a narrow trail (or driving Jeremy into a tree). She absolutely had to be on a leash. That girl is always looking off into the woods and we know why. On the two occasions we have let her off leash, she bolted deep into the forest tracking the scent of every wild animal she could pick up, completely ignoring our calls.

Well, Neva was GREAT on her first tour. She avoided the skis, but kept pace like it was no big deal (this is one of the reasons we’ve been doing a lot of leash work with her on trails). She didn’t tangle up the leash much and was incredibly sweet and happy. The next morning, we went on a right proper ski tour with Erin, Banjo, and our fatter skis. The snow and the weather were amazing for early season. And while Neva did pull a little on the climb (she was VERY excited), she was really well-behaved. Neva had fun hanging with Banjo, who loaned her two of his spare booties when her back paws got balled with some ice. We wondered how she would do skiing out, because when we run, she sometimes gets excited and jumps up to bite our pants. Jeremy and I took turns skiing out with her and she was PERFECT! I posted a video of it on my Instagram. I think Neva is going to be a great little ski dog.

climbing up in the morning

skiing with dogs = best thing ever

The third thing that I apparently haven’t learned about early season skiing for two years in a row, is to remember to switch my skis to tour mode on the uphill climb. I felt I was struggling to keep up with Jeremy’s pace on the way up and chalked it up to being out of ski shape. But when we turned around to ski out, I bent over to lock my bindings into ski mode and noticed they were already there. Doh! I did this exact same thing on my first ski tour last year. It was funny, and I laughed. But my quads and butt were not in the mood for laughing. Still, it felt heavenly to be gliding on snow again. It was doubly so because our little pup seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Perhaps if more people discovered how amazing it is to ski in the backcountry, winter wouldn’t get such a bad rap. For the folks who hate winter, I think you’re doing it wrong. After a good and exhilarating workout, it’s nice to come home and reward yourself with some delicious calories. I usually opt for something savory, but Jeremy almost always makes a beeline for the latest sweet thing on the counter or in the refrigerator. This weekend, we had chocolate cake – but this was special chocolate cake. This was chocolate magic custard cake. I think it was all the rage a few years ago, but I was too distracted with Kaweah’s geriatric care to try it out. I bookmarked the recipe from Todd and Diane’s blog a while ago, and dug it up just last week.

cocoa, melted butter, flour, espresso, white vinegar, eggs, milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract

warm the milk and separate the eggs

whisk the flour and cocoa together

whip the egg whites to stiff peaks

**Jump for more butter**