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archive for January 2013

fuel for the day

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Recipe: breakfast torta

Sometimes things come to a head that you have no control over and suddenly you find yourself treading water. I try to avoid situations like these. I try to avoid unnecessary stress, but every now and again there are external factors that are out of my hands. It’s been like this for the past week or so – a rollercoaster of sorts, but everything is fine here at Butter Headquarters. We can always count on Kaweah to bring us back to what is normal.

she recently got a bath and smells like lavender

When there are deadlines or when my brain won’t shut off at night, I tend to neglect things like getting enough sleep or drinking enough water. Sometimes I forget to eat and then I stuff myself with junk food late in the day. They are all bad habits and thankfully, I only revert to that mode when it’s crunch time. Despite my ambivalence toward breakfast, I do try to eat something in the morning to avoid the late afternoon gorging when you realize you haven’t eaten anything yet all day. It’s easier to do when you have breakfasts to look forward to. Last fall when I was at the Sacramento airport at puke-thirty in the morning for my flight home, I zombied through the concourse in search of something to quell the urge to hurl. Standing in front of the Dos Coyotes menu board, I ordered a breakfast torta. Never had one before, but you know what? It was really good.

you’ll need: tortas, refritos, bacon, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, eggs, mayonnaise, garlic, lime, avocado, and cheese

That torta was so satisfying that it lingered in my mind for several weeks. Then I forgot about it. But passing through the same airport just this past weekend, it jogged my memory. I needed to make a breakfast torta of my own. I’m a fan of condiments and figured I could make some chipotle mayonnaise for that creamy, spicy component. It adds a nice zing to the sandwich and can be as strong or as mild as you want it. It was simple enough: mash up garlic into a paste, purée the chipotle peppers (with a little adobo sauce), squeeze some lime juice, stir it all into the mayonnaise and add salt to taste.

mashing minced garlic into a paste

chipotle pepper purée

add desired quantities to the mayonnaise

squeeze lime juice into the mix

What you end up with is a pale orange-pink spread for your sandwich. If you decide to put it in a squeeze bottle, make sure the bottle tip is large enough to let chunks of pepper and garlic through. I buy my tortas from Costco because I bought them by accident one day and happened to love the texture. They freeze well and are great for toast or sandwiches. I have no idea how these compare to authentic tortas, but I’m sure someone out there has an opinion to share. Toast or don’t toast, that is completely up to you.

chipotle mayonnaise

slice the torta

**Jump for more butter**

feeling my oats

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Recipe: steel cut oatmeal

Hello from sunny California! I had to leave Colorado so that it could snow there. It doesn’t make any sense to me either, but it’s snowing in Colorado, so my work here is done! Actually, Jeremy and I came to California for a wedding in beautiful wine country. We made a weekend of it.

requisite post-flight 10 pm stop at in-n-out burger

dim sum

la crema’s remodeled tasting room

wedding flowers

jeremy likes that we were assigned to the same table

dancing into the sonoma night

tasting room at j winery

dark side of the moon roll

tiled mural of peanuts comics at the charles m schulz museum

thank you, snoopy

sundown over silverado winery

As much as I love visiting California (and I truly do), I am excited to get back to proper winter temperatures, snow, my pup, my bed, and my own home-cooked food.

I’ve often declared that I’m not much of a breakfast girl. If I am going to sit down to a morning meal it is the savory breakfast that woos me over. But I have to admit that I am an all out sucker for oatmeal. I’m not talking about oatmeal in a wax-lined paper pouch eerily resembling the confetti that comes out of a hole puncher. You know what I mean. Add boiling water, stir, and suddenly – instant paste! That’s the stuff we schlep into the backcountry in winter, but when you are at home you can enjoy a completely different and better oatmeal.

steel cut oats

If you’ve had steel cut oatmeal, you know of what I speak. If you haven’t, then pull up a chair and have your spoon ready. Steel cut oatmeal has a lovely, almost crunchy texture. The oat kernels are cut into thick pieces in comparison to their rolled or instant counterparts which are more heavily processed. Steel cut oats do require more cooking time, but you get an oatmeal that has superior flavor, texture, and is healthier for you to boot! And it’s so simple to prepare.

water, salt, steel cut oats, and some dried organic cranberries

**Jump for more butter**

open sesame

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Recipe: sesame tofu

I had the opportunity to enjoy several meals with my parents this summer, because of their extended stay in Boulder. It became so routine that my parents would sometimes order Chinese takeout and supplement it with some of their own Chinese dishes. On one occasion, Mom had ordered sesame tofu. Believe it or not, I had never had it before. It was good, albeit greasy in that Chinese restaurant way. A few weeks ago, I had a sudden craving for sesame tofu and said to myself (as I always do), “I bet I could make that.”

sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger, green onions, tamari, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, cornstarch, tofu, garlic

Don’t you just love when you find out how easy it is to make a recipe at home? And the more experience you have with cooking and baking, the more accessible recipes become. Not only does it demystify cooking, but you also understand what goes into your food and ultimately, into your body. Plus, you get to tweak it to your liking! I’m all about customization, don’t you know.

The first step is to press the extra-firm tofu. It always sounded so tedious to me, but it’s quite simple. Wrap the block of tofu (extra-firm) in paper towels and place it on something flat. Then set a heavy flat-bottomed something or other (bowl, plate, etc.) on the tofu to help press out liquid. While gravity and pressure do their things, you can prepare the sauce.

pressing the tofu

sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari, minced garlic and ginger, honey, hot pepper flakes

adding tamari to the mix

stir the sauce together and warm it on the stove

While the sauce is on a low simmer, mince your green onions and then unwrap your tofu if it has been pressed for 20 minutes. 20 minutes is not a magic amount of time. I actually pressed the tofu for 30 minutes because I was shooting two recipes at the same time. Oh well. Pat the block of tofu with dry paper towels and dice it. I cubed mine to just under 1-inch cubes… more like 3/4-inch cubes.

mince the green onions

towel it off

large dice

**Jump for more butter**