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archive for January 2012

paying attention

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Recipe: kabocha nimono

Kaweah began having trouble hiking very far two summers ago. Because of that, we scaled back on her backcountry outings and assumed it was old age. But this winter, we’ve been bringing her along on some hikes and skis, and she’s been improving. It seems the more we do, the stronger she is getting. I’m guessing that like me, she prefers the cold weather exercise. We’re careful not to overdo it though. Kaweah is the type of dog who will go go go up to the moment she’s ready to drop.

hiking at chautauqua near the boulder flatirons

I usually don’t bring Kaweah down to Boulder with me because the drive stresses her out and it’s usually too warm down there. Jeremy always assures me she’s much happier at home in the mountains. The other day I had some business in town and then a couple of hours to kill while Jeremy wrapped things up at his office – so I brought Kaweah. It was nice and cool (right at freezing), the way we like it! I took her to Chautauqua Park where the iconic Boulder Flatirons stand watch. The last time I was there with Kaweah was just before my final chemo infusion in May 2008.

much happier now

Talk about happy. I mean both of us. After thirteen years of “Kaweah, come!” or “Leave it!” or “Drop it!” or “No pull!” she has finally got it (for the most part). Or maybe she’s just too old to fight anymore? She’s always been a sweet girl, but she’s actually becoming a little bit of a good girl too. I just want her to be a happy girl, and if I can be happy too, that’s a bonus.

always in the moment, she lives for the skiing

All of this increased activity has been great for Kaweah’s strength and stamina, although taking a thirteen year old dog out isn’t much of a workout for me. So I wind up doing double duty – and it feels terrific. We are both improving. I feel such a strong connection with Kaweah.

feathery clouds at sunset

color and texture

A delightful cold spell delivered seven inches of fresh fluffy powder at our local hill this past Friday, which was skied with much whooping and hollering before the winds came and blew it into Kansas. You have to grab it by the hojos, kids. I am totally in winter mode over here. Winter mode involves snow sports, yes, but it also includes hot foods to warm your belly after engaging in said snow sports.

sugar, mirin, soy sauce, dashi, kabocha squash

My first exposure to kabocha squash was in the sushi bar. A thin slice was tempura fried and included in the vegetable tempura medley. The squash was my favorite because it had a soft texture and a slight sweetness that played so well against the dipping sauce. I always thought it was a sweet potato. It’s actually a Japanese pumpkin.

scoop the seeds out

cutting slices

or you can dice the pumpkin

**Jump for more butter**

roll with it

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Recipe: rice pudding

You know what this is? This is fakeout winter. Fakeout winter is just enough snow to string you along into thinking you’re getting a real ski season interspersed with days so warm as to induce flowering plant confusion. During fakeout winter, you pretty much have to take advantage of whatever you can get.

like taking dogs on romps in the snow before it melts or blows away

or skiing breckenridge in what feels like spring conditions

Then when the weather just isn’t cooperating or there isn’t enough snow, you catch up with friends who are about to ship off for the other side of the world. Boulder has a plethora of lunch options, but you will never go wrong with Pizzeria Locale. Safe travels, Andrew!

super psyched for the butterscotch pudding

I think most of you know that I’m not a huge sweets fan. Like the butterscotch pudding above? I tasted it. It was very well done, but I didn’t want any more than a taste. There are only a handful of desserts that I really love and most of them are either fruity or creamy (I am also crazy for caramels). Creamy, as in, dairy based. I actually think it is a good thing that I’m lactose intolerant so I don’t indulge in these pants-size-altering treats often. I think custards rank near the top of my list for creamy desserts. Eggy, custardy, silky, slightly sweet – I love it. And that’s probably why I am so fond of this custardy rice pudding.

arborio rice

Having attempted numerous rice pudding recipes over the last couple of decades, I was never really satisfied with any of them. That is, until I came across this one in Fine Cooking last summer. It calls for the addition of egg yolks, which is what you do to make custard. SCORE!

eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla bean, cinnamon

pour in a quart of whole milk

**Jump for more butter**

now back to our regularly scheduled program

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Recipe: butternut squash pasta sauce

We received some snow.

And the Big Bad Wolf stopped trying to blow our house down.

Paradise can be a harsh mistress, but when she smiles favorably upon us there is nothing for it. Time to get outside!

glorious bluebird day with no winds to speak of

I was getting tired of the indoor workouts – continuous motion while going nowhere and still feeling stir crazy. All exercise is not created equal, you know. Kaweah won’t go near the treadmill (she’s scared of it), but she loves to go for a ski. We are both ardent champions of outdoor activity.

let’s go let’s go let’s go!

Jeremy and I finally grabbed a day at Vail too. No lines, no crowds, fresh falling snow, great conditions, and overpriced burgers. We skied the bumps, steeps, and trees. At the end of the day, my entire body was hurting, but in the best way possible.

overlooking vail valley

i biffed in the glades, but it was so pretty i had to take a picture

still on the ground, the view of the lovely snow and blue sucker holes in the sky

By the time we get home from a day on the big ski hills, we are pretty much ready to eat the kitchen counter. Being the planner that I am, I try to have something in the refrigerator that is easy to heat up and consume. Lately, this butternut squash pasta sauce has been a delightful change of pace from cream-based or tomato-based sauces.

butternut squash, butter, greek yogurt, parmesan, sage, shallots, salt, nutmeg, pepper, olive oil

I’ve been crushing on butternut squash for years, but only in the past couple of years have I started to prepare it at home. I find butternut squash ravioli irresistable, but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making ravioli. I wondered if there might be a way to invert the dish, that is to make the filling the sauce? Sure enough, when I looked around on the interwebs, Elise and Garrett had done just that. I followed their lead with a few changes.

peeled, cored, and diced

toss with salt, pepper, olive oil

**Jump for more butter**