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the best part of summer

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle ravioli with sage brown butter

School is starting and summer is winding down even though we have a good month of it left before we can officially declare autumn’s arrival. We spent the beginning of last week getting outside with Neva to explore and play and continue “training” her – whatever that means. Our neighborhood lake in Crested Butte had some strange water biochemistry going on, so we took little Neva to a nicer lake with cleaner water. This required a much longer drive on bumpy backcountry roads, but instead of puking or drooling or crying, Neva had her nose out the window and she was quite excited about our destination. Our little girl may have finally (finally!!) turned the corner on the car ride! I don’t know what we’re going to do come winter when we can’t open the window if it is -20°F outside, but I’ll take what I can get.


sometimes neva’s life jacket looks like a superhero cape from the front

the happiest, dorkiest dog



Jeremy and I also spent our final morning in Crested Butte hunting for chanterelles as they were starting to flush. Normally I would wait to forage after more time had passed so they would be larger, but we were leaving and I wanted to bring some chanterelles home to make a special birthday dinner for my mom. I only took the biggest ones and left the littles to grow and spore and do their happy mushroom thing. If you’re wondering how I prepared them, I sautéed the chanterelles and fresh local sweet corn in butter and served them alongside a small hash browned potato with two seared scallops on top (drizzled with pan sauce, natch). That was the second course of four.

neva likes to sniff chanterelles

a perfectly mossy home

clean and beautiful

toasting mom’s birthday with some bubbles



I hadn’t planned on trying a new recipe with the chanterelles, but we managed to forage enough that I could make some chanterelle ravioli. I’ve always wanted to make ravioli from scratch and by hand. My mother-in-law gave me some ravioli stamps and a ravioli pasta cutter last year, so I really had zero excuse to not try this. Start with the ravioli pasta dough.

flour, eggs, olive oil, salt



Most pasta I’ve made from scratch involves flour and eggs, but this one had a little salt and olive oil added to the dough. The flour doubled as an ingredient and a bowl because all of the wet ingredients went into a well in the flour. I thought that would be terribly messy, but it was actually rather tidy as long as you didn’t breach the well wall. The recipe called for four cups of flour, but you don’t use all of that flour in the pasta dough. I incorporated as much as needed and then sifted the remaining unused flour and kept it around for working the pasta.

make a well in the flour and add the rest of the ingredients

stir flour into the eggs until the mixture is too thick to stir

then work more flour in with your hands

when the dough won’t take on any more flour, knead it

it’s ready when you poke it and the dough bounces back



**Jump for more butter**

uphill from here

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Recipe: handmade pappardelle

The last ski resort for which we had access to has closed for the season here in Colorado. But the season isn’t done. At least not today it isn’t. It snowed at our house (along with rain, graupel, sleet, and sunshine) and I’m pretty sure the clouds dropped a few quick inches in the high country. From now until the start of the 2016-2017 ski season, it’s only backcountry skiing for us (skinning uphill and skiing down). Actually, we’ve been doing that exclusively since early April. Here’s what May looked like in our backyard last week.


skiing the powder before the sun turns it to slush

a nice 360° view was had

token selfie before skiing out

…aaaaand the snow is now mashed potatoes



Daytime temperatures soared well above freezing and the snow didn’t freeze overnight at higher elevations. Days like these leave us choosing between running wet, muddy, and patchy trails or skiing slop. We chose both. On our last ski tour, Neva was off leash the whole way down to the trailhead and she was incredibly good. She didn’t run off, she didn’t cross in front of our skis, and she always kept an eye on where Jeremy was (I bring up the rear in case little pup decides to run off).

neva takes a break between digging pits in the snow

skiing out under the hot sun



Jeremy took Neva on her first trail run last week, too. We’ve been slowly gauging how she takes to running on trails by running her for short distances (like 50-200 feet at a time) while we walk or hike. When she was a wee puppy, Neva would jump on your legs and try to bite your pants if you started running. That was (thankfully) short-lived. She did exceptionally well on her first real trail run (a short 5k) – cuing off of Jeremy’s pace, keeping a good distance so no one tripped, and responding to voice commands. So while Neva works up to longer distances, Jeremy and I are both concentrating on uphill climbs – because the prettiest runs are up high in the mountains and we want to be ready when they melt out.

racing a storm back to my house (i’m slow, but the storm was slower)



I regard this time of year as the uphill slog when days get longer and hotter. I don’t consider us to be over the hump until late July even though the summer solstice is in late June (it has to do with the thermal latency of the atmosphere – the same applies in winter). But there is plenty of good adventuring to be had in summer to tide us over until we can glide on snow once again.

Some of that adventuring will involve finding porcini and chanterelles in the forests. An easy meal preparation involving the mushrooms we forage is to sauté the mushrooms in butter and garlic, add white wine and cream, and serve it over pasta. My favorite pasta is pappardelle – wide elegant ribbons of pasta that hold sauces well and wrap around other ingredients. Unfortunately, I can’t buy pappardelle in our little town and I really try to limit my trips to Boulder to once a week. Mountain folk tend to be self-sufficient types and it occurred to me last summer that I knew how to make my own pasta for lasagne, so how different could it be from making my own pappardelle?


all you need: eggs, egg yolks, flour, fine semolina

beat the eggs and egg yolks

pulse the semolina and flour together in a food processor

add the egg mixture to the flour mixture while the processor is running



**Jump for more butter**

the overstayed welcome

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Recipe: vegetarian chinese potstickers (dumplings)

Summer, go home already! It was downright hot this weekend in the mountains – as in shorts and t-shirt hot. I’m worried if the temperatures don’t drop soon, my body won’t be ready for winter. And by ready, I mean I won’t have had a chance to adjust to cold temperatures. It’s like dumping a dog into winter who hasn’t had a chance to grow its winter coat. At least the skies have been pretty, but seriously… get on outta here, Summer.


a nice sunset to kick off the weekend, even if it was an oven



Now that Neva has been spayed, we started shopping around for a good doggy daycare and hotel (boarding). The place we took Kaweah was down in Boulder, which I never felt was ideal because it was a long drive, it’s hotter down in Boulder, and their outdoor area was a parking lot cordoned off by chain link fencing. Of course, Kaweah LOVED it. It was all about the doggies for her. There were some locations in the mountains that boasted large acreage for dogs to roam and have fun, but we knew that wouldn’t work for Kaweah who 1) was an incredible escape artist and 2) ate sticks, rocks, and anything disgusting she could get her mouth on outside. Neva, however, chews sticks up, but summarily spits them out (thank goodness!) and she is far more focused on playing with friends than trying to escape. She had a meet and greet with a local Nederland daycare/boarder to make sure she wouldn’t be aggressive or problematic with the other pups. At first she was nervous because they all seemed to pile onto her at once, but as soon as they wandered off, she chased after the group and engaged them for more play. She passed the test.

On Friday, I dropped Neva off for a full day of playtime and she nearly dragged me through the door. Once she entered the playzone with the other pups, she never even noticed I was leaving. No separation anxiety there! Jeremy and I felt that Neva really needed more doggy socialization in a place where she can be supervised and contained (she is still a flight risk, but perhaps less so than Kaweah was – fingers crossed). The nice thing is the proprietor is also a certified dog trainer who follows positive reinforcement training. At the end of the day, we picked Neva up and she was completely exhausted. Happy and exhausted. She plowed through her dinner then fell asleep for the rest of the night. We were told that she played so much, she might still be tired on Saturday, in case we had plans to hike her. She slept or lounged all of Saturday, which made it possible for us to get a lot of work done around the house and yard. I love puppy playtime!


still tuckered on saturday

feeling like her old self by sunday



Over the summer, my mom experimented with various vegetarian potsticker and dumpling recipes because she had made some for a dear friend’s daughter who is vegetarian. Every time I would drop by my parents’ place in Boulder, Mom would shove a vegetarian dumpling into my mouth. “What do you think?” she’d ask, smiling. Was it better than the last one? Should she add more bean thread noodles? Maybe use some egg? The variations are endless. I told her when she settled on a final version, I’d like to have the recipe so I could share it here on the blog. Summer being as busy as it was, I’m not sure she ever decided which one she liked best (they were all quite good). I decided to give it a try recently and discussed some recipe ideas with Mom over the phone. Both of my parents really get into recipe development, so Mom rattled off several suggestions as I jotted them down in my notebook.

Then she said, “If you really want to improve the flavor, add some chicken broth to the filling.” I paused. “Um, Mom, if you add chicken broth, it’s no longer vegetarian.” Oh, then you can add some dried tiny shrimps – makes it taste so good. I informed her that shrimp is also a deal breaker for vegetarians. It’s not that my parents have a poor understanding of what vegetarian means, but that (I think) Chinese people have a misconception of what “meat” means. I can’t tell you how many times we have been at an authentic dim sum restaurant with a vegetarian and I have asked the server if they had any dishes without meat. “Oh yes!” they’d smile, and plop a few tins of steamed shrimp dumplings or stewed chicken feet onto the table explaining that these were not “meat”.

I did a little research and found myself gravitating toward tofu. I know a lot of people are anti-soy, but it is what it is and I for one love tofu. Marc at No Recipes had a great little post on making vegetarian/vegan ground meat from firm tofu by freezing it, then squeezing it dry and crumbling the tofu. I grew up eating tofu like this except Mom didn’t crumble it, but sliced it. It’s a nice spongy texture that is great in hot spicy soups and stews. Sounded like a good solution.


for the filling: firm tofu, baked tofu, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, cornstarch, napa cabbage, green onions

freeze the firm tofu in its liquid, then thaw it completely

squeeze out the liquid and crumble the tofu



**Jump for more butter**