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pow pow pow!

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Recipe: sweet and sour chinese mushrooms

Timing can be everything when it comes to winter storms. You certainly want to avoid driving in one around these parts of Colorado. And if everything works out, you’ll get to your destination BEFORE the storm hits, then hunker down and wait for the powder day. We are not always so lucky nor do we always have the flexibility to chase storms, but we hit the jackpot for the second time in a row this weekend. Crested Butte began to see some flurries on Saturday, and by Sunday morning we went in search of the powder on the mountain. More snow (a lot more) is forecast for the next couple of days, which is great if you can stay put and enjoy it. We’ve already got a wall of snow 6 feet high adjacent to the driveway and it is not going away anytime soon. Neva likes standing on it because… she’s a crazy little girl.


it just keeps snowing

telemark skiing powder is possibly the best thing ever

jeremy agrees



Chinese New Year is coming up in a week and I’ve already got the grocery list for all of the ingredients I’ll need to make our little feast on Sunday, New Year’s Eve. For several years now, my minimum menu has included Chinese potstickers, cellophane noodle soup with dan jiao (egg dumplings), and rui tsai (lucky ten ingredient vegetables). Before I settled into my Chinese New Year cooking groove, I’d often call up my mom or grandmother to ask what I should make. They would always reply with a casual, “Oh, any Chinese dish is fine.” But then I’d get warnings not to eat squid (bad luck), or white tofu (death?), and not to buy salt for a month after New Year’s Day – oh heck, just to be safe, don’t buy salt for the month prior! That’s why I’ve settled on my SAFE list. Barring a few specific ingredients, I think most dishes should be fine. If you’re looking for ideas, you can always visit this recipe round up I posted a couple of years ago. Or perhaps you’d want to try these sweet and sour mushrooms?

Back in our Southern California days, we would occasionally meet up with friends at a Buddhist vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park: Happy Family Restaurant. It may not sound very interesting or exciting, but everyone we took there (even the carnivores) loved it. Every dish on the menu was plant-based and absolutely delicious. Chinese Buddhists have a culinary tradition of making vegetarian “meat” from vegetables or tofu. One of our favorites was the vegetarian chicken, which was essentially deep fried mushrooms tossed in a wonderful sauce. My version of it is close, but… I use egg whites which is a big no-no in Buddhist cooking. It’s still vegetarian, but it isn’t vegan. If you want to go full Buddhist vegetarian, omit the egg whites in the batter and you’ll probably have to omit some of the sauce ingredients like Worcestershire sauce. I’m pretty sure there is no Worcestershire sauce in any Buddhist cooking – vegetarian or not. It’s just a hunch.


mushrooms, flour, cornstarch, egg whites, baking soda, salt, celery, vegetable oil, water

whisk the egg whites until frothy

combine the batter ingredients (except for the egg whites)

fold the egg whites into the batter



**Jump for more butter**

all that snow

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Recipe: japanese cucumber salad

I kept abreast of the blizzard that hammered the East Coast this weekend through updates from my parents and all of the pictures of friends shoveling their driveways. It’s always a little painful when cities, warm climates, and flat topography get a lot of snow – not just because it causes complete chaos, but because everyone complains about it and most people don’t know what to do with it. I mean… WE know what to do with three feet of snow. But alas, it was all sunshine and blue skies around here. We know what to do with THAT, too!


getting a good workout on skate skis

this one, she loves the snow

got her attention with a treat

neva practices the “gentle” command and takes a small treat from my mouth



With a short trip on my calendar this week, I’m going to go with a quick recipe that is a remake of an old one from 2007. Back in 2007 I hadn’t really gotten into my food blogging groove, so there are some recipes that could use the proper make-shoot-document treatment. Since we made sushi over the weekend, it was a good opportunity to shoot and re-share this bright and tangy Japanese cucumber salad.

simple as: rice vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds, cucumbers



**Jump for more butter**

glad i did that

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Recipe: confetti kale salad

Now that was a good long weekend over here in Butterland! Jeremy and I hosted a dinner party for friends we’ve been meaning to introduce to one another for some time, which was great fun. Then we hunkered down to get some work done AND watch the second SpongeBob SquarePants movie (because SpongeBob is awesome) while the winds blew every last snowflake into Kansas. Thankfully, the mountains keep their snow better than our neighborhood does, which meant a surprise powder day at our local ski hill and a lovely ski tour with Neva and friends into the backcountry. To top it all off, Jeremy installed a new microwave to replace the old, broken, very, very sad old one (to be recycled).


dinner with friends



It wasn’t clear that we were going to ski at first. Old Me would have automatically ruled out skiing on a windy (miserable) weekend (crowded), but Present Me shouted, “7 inches overnight and it is still snowing!” The thing about mountain weather is that you don’t really know what it is doing elsewhere until you are there – at elsewhere. Based on the howling winds overnight, we assumed the snow that fell had already been windswept and wind-slabbed. I could tell Jeremy wanted to pull the covers over his head and sleep, so I offered that we go up to the mountain, check out the snow, and if it sucked, return home. One of the perks of being a local, right? But we didn’t go home. Not until we skied our fill of the lovely, deep powder. At the summit, it was a full on wind storm strong enough to carry tiny balls of ice through the air to pelt you in the face. However, in the lee of the mountain and in the glades, it was pure bliss hitting powder, run after run.

ski the pow until it’s gone

jeremy gets his turns in the snow-plastered glades



This morning, Jeremy, Erin, Banjo, Neva, and I set out for a ski tour. It was a task just putting our boots on as the winds carried our shoes across the parking lot until we chased them down. We consider 23°F to be warm, but 50 mph gusts can really suck the heat right out of you. Once we wrangled our gear and the pups and began to climb into the shelter of the trees, everything was fine. Breezy, but not offensive. It was wonderful. What I’ve learned from living in the mountains for over a decade is that it’s usually more fun outside than it would seem from behind your windows. Of course, there are times when the suckage is real and it’s truly in your best interest to turn back and be safe. In general though, I’m almost always glad I got out there.

my pack in the high country



It’s the same with food. How can you discover a new favorite salad if you don’t leave your comfort zone? Every time we drove from Nederland to Crested Butte last summer, we had to make several stops along the way to let Neva empty her little puppy bladder. One of our favorite stops was the Whole Foods in Frisco (just outside of Breckenridge) because we could get a non-greasy lunch and there was a grassy field for Neva to do her puppy business. Jeremy likes to get one of the same two things every time – the cioppino or the chicken caesar. Then one day the store was out of both. He was walking the pup in the rain and I was filling a to-go box with my own salad, so I doubled up on the salad and presented it to him in the car, “This is what you’re eating for lunch.” And he loved it. It’s currently my favorite kale salad (and I like a lot of kale salads), but I’ve taken to making it at home because the Whole Foods salad bar is crazy expensive.

kale, red cabbage, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apple pieces, almond slivers, garlic, salt, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pepper



Even though kale has gained a reputation as a superfood of late, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with it for over forty years. My mom would sauté it and I would pretend to be a manatee while I stuffed it into my mouth. I stopped pretending to be a manatee when I went to college, but I still stuffed my face with kale. The one thing I won’t do is put it in smoothies because I hate smoothies. I actually like the texture and taste of my fruits and vegetables. That’s part of the reason I love this salad. It has lots of crunch from the cabbage, nuts, and seeds. The dried fruits lend a pleasant chewiness and sweetness to each bite, and the vinaigrette is tart, but smooth. All of this against the backdrop of slightly bitter, tender, earthy kale.

strip the leafy part of the kale from the rib

shred the kale

sliced red cabbage

toasted seeds



**Jump for more butter**