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archive for October 2011

love and zombies

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Recipe: pear ginger beer cocktail

Did you go to a Halloween party this weekend? It looked like everyone I know did! Driving through Boulder Saturday night on our way home, we saw a lot of zombies and other characters walking to their presumed social lives. I really love Halloween, but I don’t dress up for it anymore. In fact, the last time I dressed up was in college and I was a (very tipsy) white rabbit. Then the following year I went to a U2 concert at Dodger Stadium on Halloween night and made it back to campus in time for the pumpkin drop (see under annual events). I didn’t see a green flash, but I *did* run into a particular freshman I had been thinking about all day. We went to movie night in the dorm, made sure my housemate got home safely, walked around campus in the dark holding hands, and had our first kiss under the olive trees. Ah youth. Jeremy and I were so young nineteen years ago…

That’s one of the many reasons why I love Halloween.

As promised from my post cards over the weekend, I have some Yosemite photos…

sunset on half dome

fern springs

sunrise from gates of the valley

The whole set is on the photo blog. The snowstorm I missed while I was in California delivered a good 15 inches of snow to our house. This is the snow that will not melt away in the high country, setting up a base for us to play on through the winter and spring. We went to check it out this weekend and Kaweah wanted to come along. Some days she’s slow and stiff, but getting out into the snow always puts a spring in her step. It’s the same for me.

frozen lake and snowy peaks

sunshine, snow, and puppy dog

Winter is coming and my parents are heading back to Virginia soon. We had dinner with them Saturday, but they always want to do happy hour before dinner with us. Their definition of happy hour is wine and cheese, but I brought fixings for a new cocktail we really wanted to share with them. I’ve tried it on a few friends who have all given it a big thumbs up. It’s Jeremy’s new favorite cocktail which is saying a lot if it can unseat the Buddha’s hand citron lemon drop martini.

pear liqueur, a bundy, and lime wedges

Yes, it starts with pear liqueur and ginger beer. Beer not ale. It isn’t alcoholic, but it has a far stronger ginger taste than ginger ale. There are a few brands out there and some taste like cough syrup. My favorite mass produced ginger beer is Bundaberg, which comes from Australia. They call it a Bundy. Aussies are great, aren’t they? I get mine from Cost Plus World Market. They aren’t cheap. My favorite small batch ginger beer comes from Seattle and it is Rachel’s Ginger Beer. I met Rachel and sampled her ginger beer at Delancey when it was taking off. Her ginger beer is in huge demand for good reason – it’s the best.

fill a high ball with ice

pour in the pear liqueur

**Jump for more butter**

postcards from california

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

I was away last week in California. I thought I might get a chance to post from Yosemite Valley, but the internets were unavailable and well… there were better things to do anyway! I took Kat with me because she had never been to Yosemite. We had to fix that and toss in an afternoon in San Francisco to boot. Here are my snaps (iphone and otherwise) from the trip!

We woke up at puke-thirty in the morning to catch our flight out of Denver and were rewarded with a glorious sunrise. We have pretty awesome sunrises in Colorado. You really have to experience a Colorado sunrise before you die.

from the long-term parking lot looking west

and the view east toward sunrise

the walkway in denver international airport

En route to Yosemite National Park, we passed through California’s Central Valley and stopped at my favorite taqueria (Taqueria La Estrella in Manteca). Say what you will about the Central Valley (one gentleman in the drugstore informed us that this was “the hood”), but that Mexican food will make you cry. In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we took our first bites.

how to choose what to order

salsa bar!!!!

crispy tacos with carnitas (omg!!) and pastor

Then it was onward to Yosemite, a special place any time of year, but wonderfully empty in autumn compared to summer standards. We toured the valley, saw the giant sequoias, and had a delightful dinner at the Mountain Lodge (with a view of Yosemite Falls, except it was pitch dark) with my mentor Michael and his charming wife. Surprisingly good quality food and cocktails!

a handful of remaining azaleas in the valley meadows

the grizzly giant sequoia

big leaf maples

layers of gold and green

this fat squirrel kept trying to sneak into the general store

a (stuffed animal) bear peering out the window

french onion soup at the mountain room in yosemite

**Jump for more butter**

head spinning fun

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Recipe: indian dal

I hope you all had a good weekend. I think I had a good one, assuming I can remember everything that’s been happening. Perhaps that is why I take so many photographs – to jog my crappy memory? Our lecture/workshop at Denver Botanic Gardens was great. We had a lively and fun crew at the cooking workshop on Friday – really engaging and wonderful people. Todd and Diane taught how to make their signature amazing Viet spring rolls, Manisha demoed onion fritters with two chutneys and chai, and I made Chinese scallion pancakes.

sarah of dbg welcomes everyone

sniffing herbs that todd and diane brought from their garden

introduction to more herbs

There was plenty of nibbling and sampling of the goodies as well as laughs. I love workshops that have great participants because I think they are the other (very important) half of the equation. First, you need a great team running the show and then you need enthusiastic, friendly, and hard working people on the receiving end. They give back too. It’s all a give and take. That’s what makes it so special and ultimately rewarding for me.

diane schools us on nuoc cham while todd crushes garlic

mmmm, spring rolls!

manisha mixes the onions to make fritters

just pick up a small amount and drop it in the hot oil

After a jam-packed exhausting 24 hours, Todd and Diane came to our place (after we dined at The Pinyon – AMAZING dinner) to spend some time with Kaweah. We have a lot of visitors lined up this month, so Kaweah is getting pretty spoiled. But I think she especially loves Todd and Diane, which makes sense because they are two of my most favorite people on this good planet.

she’s not even supposed to be on the couch

who me?


definitely spoiled

I had signed up for a canning class at Escoffier Boulder (formerly Culinary School of the Rockies) almost two months ago. I’ve been wanting to learn to can properly at my altitude for several months now – always looking longingly at 1) all of the great produce coming out of friends’ gardens and 2) all of the canning my friends did with their bounties. At long last I could learn how to do it safely. The home cook classes at Escoffier are awesome. My fellow students were all spunky and eager to learn which made it doubly terrific.

my partner prepping beets

cutting pears for the pear and vanilla bean jam

tomatoes to be turned into basil garlic tomato sauce

into the hot water bath

pickled beets, ftw!!

Before I embark on my next trip (in less than 7 hours), I have to talk about a recent addition to my soup repertoire. They are predicting a snowstorm this week at home while I’ll be turning back the clock on fall and shooting colors elsewhere. There is nothing I love more in winter than to curl up with a hot bowl of soup after a good ski. I really dig on salads in summer, soups in winter. Sandwiches are a year-round affair (and I do mean affair as in love affair). One soup that I’ve been craving of late is dal.

red lentils (dal)

shake them out on a baking sheet to pick out imposters

**Jump for more butter**