japanese spinach salad with sesame (horenso gomaae) porcini tagliatelle s'mores rice krispies treats crab porcini mac and cheese


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summer wonders

August 3rd, 2020

Recipe: crab porcini mac and cheese

July and August meld together for me as one long hot month. I tend to put my head down and muddle through with a lot of ice water, watermelon, and popsicles. But August 1 always stands out as it is Kris’ birthday. She would have turned 54 on Saturday. I arranged flowers, made somen noodle soup, and called my mother to cheer her up.


miss you, love you



Our big excitement was getting out to see comet Neowise in mid-July. Skies were touch and go in the evenings thanks to a sudden influx of moisture and clouds over Colorado. But mountain weather keeps you on your toes and we were able to see the comet with the unaided eye! I photographed it from various locations with decent dark skies. I hope many of you were able to get out to view the comet, but if not, here are a couple of my captures.

close-up of comet neowise and two distinct tails (the white dust tail and the blue ion tail)

neowise reflected in the lake as it set behind the mountains



Did I mention it was hot? It’s still hot and it’s getting hotter this week. On those days that we didn’t venture out on the trails to let the pups wade through cold mountain streams, we thought they might enjoy some baby pool time. We hadn’t pulled the pool out in 5 years (since Neva was a wee pup and peed in the pool) and were curious to see how Yuki reacted to this concept. She seemed leery of it at first, then fascinated, then took to jumping in and out of the pool with an occasional pause to quench her thirst (from the pool). It was like a giant water dish she could stand in and simultaneously take a swig from.

what the hecc?

a moment of blissful stillness



When we hiked into the high country, we sought out solitude, views, wildflowers, wildlife, and swimming holes. With so many putting their typical summer activities on hold due to the pandemic, our mountain trails have been inundated with throngs of people – plenty of whom aren’t wearing masks or respecting physical distance. Instead of dealing with that idiocy, we’ve been frequenting the lesser known local trails and tackling home tasks that have been on the to-do list forever. Our guest room is now a second office since no one should visit us while the pandemic is ongoing.

yuki side-eye and a view

mountain meadows sprinkled with color

magenta paintbrush

larkspur

lounging moose

neva dives in while yuki looks on



And it looks as if it might be porcini season. Even the mushrooms appear to be uncertain about this year. I can’t really blame them as much of the state is in drought and last year’s astounding flush is a tough act to follow.

found this early bolter all alone



Still, if there are any porcini to be found and foraged, I have lots of recipes for them. I made this crab porcini macaroni and cheese last summer with my abundant haul. This rich and decadent dish goes a long way, which means you might get to enjoy the leftovers the following day. Use whatever pasta shape you like. Macaroni works, of course, but I happen to like small shells, penne, or pipe rigate (pictured below), too. I realize fresh porcini can be difficult to find, so you can substitute whatever edible mushroom you like.

pepper, milk, cheddar, bread crumbs, salt, gruyère, pasta, butter, flour

crab legs, fresh thyme, fresh porcini



**Jump for more butter**

pan-demic days

June 29th, 2020

Recipe: pan pizza

It’s been a while since the last post and that was originally unintentional, but soon became quite intentional. I’ve been taking the time to educate, and in some cases, re-educate myself on racism in this country. For those who don’t follow my personal Instagram (@jenyuphoto), I’m listing a few of the pods and reads I’ve recently recommended:

1) The Scene on Radio podcast is an excellent series of documentary journalism. I highly recommend listening to Season 2: Seeing White, which examines racism in United States, and Season 4: The Land That Never Has Been Yet, a look at how our democracy was built. I cannot recommend these two seasons enough.

2) The 1619 podcast from The New York Times. If you listen to Scene on Radio, you’ll notice a little overlap between the first two episodes of 1619 and the Seeing White (season 2) series. Additionally, Scene on Radio’s John Biewen, in collaboration with Reveal, produced an episode relevant to episodes 5 and 6 of 1619. It’s called Losing Ground and worth a listen.

3) White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. 2018, Beacon Press.

4) 13th on Netflix. Documentary.

5) Hidden Brain episode The Air We Breathe: Implicit Bias and Police Shootings.

6) The Electoral College’s Racist Origins, from The Atlantic (Nov 2019).

This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start. I continue to work my way through more material. For those who are upset or offended by the list, I think #3 is right up your alley. If you don’t want “politics” on a food blog, we’ve discussed this in the past and just like before, you can find another food blog to read. No one is going to miss you. So, bye.

The last time I posted, hints of spring were sprouting in our mountains. Now we have entered proper summer, but I wanted to document the familiar transition that kept me grounded throughout the tumultuous combo of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, economic nosedive, and general incompetence/malfeasance of the current administration.


signature spring green in the aspen stands

blessed rain

a pair of happy morels

not a great season, but not a terrible season (yuki for scale)

the start of thunderstorm season

colorful skies

paddleboarding says summertime

happy to still find snow up high

the blooming of the wildflowers is underway



I haven’t been one to follow Taco Tuesdays, Meatless Mondays, or Pizza Fridays at our house. We are neither that organized nor regimented. The menu I generate results from an intersection of what we have, what needs to be eaten, and what is available at the market. During the pandemic I decided to give pan pizza a try instead of our usual hand-tossed grilled sourdough pizzas. And you know what? It’s so good that we’ve made it a regular on our menu. Regular, as in, it happens every 10 days or so. Regular, because we still love it every time it comes out of the oven. That’s why I’m posting this on the blog, because I use the recipe all the time. It requires flour, which is thankfully coming back to store shelves. It also requires yeast (I use active dry yeast) that remains in short supply. Luckily, I dug up a half jar of yeast in my basement refrigerator. The expiration date was August 2015, but yeast are hardy little organisms. I dropped a few granules in a small bowl of room temperature water and watched them bloom and foam within a minute. Still good!

for the dough: flour, water, yeast, olive oil, kosher salt

whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl

stir in the water and oil

form a shaggy dough with no dry pockets of flour



**Jump for more butter**

greening

May 10th, 2020

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



**Jump for more butter**