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archive for October 2015

time for a bowl of soup

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Recipe: cream of chanterelle soup

I suppose I have to just will my way into autumn if the weather won’t cooperate. While it’s no longer scorching hot, the weather is still what one would classify as Indian Summer. Sunny and comfortably warm. I no longer have to worry about Neva roasting her brains out on the deck, so she’s been enjoying the coolish mornings while the sun makes its way up into the sky. It’s also nice that she has stopped barking and whining at every single creature that moves in front of our deck – like neighbors, random dogs, bunnies, birds (so many birds…), foxes, deer, etc. Although I did see her lunging after a fly as it unknowingly entered Neva’s air space.


she loves it when i put her bed in the sunny corner



Jeremy and I took Neva up to Blue Lake over the weekend since the road leading into the Brainard Lake Recreation Area closed on Sunday for the season. I’m happy to report that despite the 32°F temperature at the trailhead, I felt downright warm. My internal winter thermostat is on track, at least. As it was the weekend, Neva got to meet lots of other dogs – some friendly, some not interested, some just plain crazy. She had a blast.

mitchell lake was as smooth as glass

autumn hiking is the best

neva even swam several laps at blue lake



That was all well and good, but every “landmark” we encountered elicited remarks from me or Jeremy regarding that section of trail in winter and spring – when snow transforms the landscape. Hiking is hiking, but on skis you think about gradients both up and down. My hope is that Neva will transition easily to ski tours into the backcountry and love the snow as much as Kaweah did. I’d love to start her training except WE HAVE NO SNOW. So I’m posting a soup recipe in the hopes that it will jumpstart some form of frozen precipitation around here. Next, I’m going to wash my car… I think the weather is supposed to turn overcast, rainy, and cooler this week. Fingers crossed.

I made this cream of chanterelle soup back in the summer when I found and foraged my very first batch of chanterelles. It was amazing back in August, so I’m confident that it will be even better now as we zip toward Halloween. Chanterelles are in the grocery stores – I’ve seen them at Whole Foods for an arm and a leg as well as at Costco. Those store chanterelles aren’t going to compare with the ones you forage yourself, but they’ll work.


chanterelles, chicken broth, shallots, eggs, butter, cream, brandy, salt, saffron, flour, more butter (yay!)

chop the mushrooms into a small dice

ingredients prepped for the soup base



**Jump for more butter**

dinner party fare

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Recipe: bourbon-glazed beef tenderloin

Fall is shaping up to be something good. Except that it’s still sunny and warm. Once the weather turns the corner, I’ll be a truly happy camper. But we are making progress on so many fronts now. Neva is no longer a fountain of drool when she gets in the car (although she makes a few quiet whimpers if we drive for more than 20 minutes). She has also started to curl up at my feet for a nap when I am working on the computer, which is a huge improvement over what she used to do (she used to go under my desk and attack the cardboard recycling). Best of all, we’ve discovered when she makes her little “mmmmm” noises at 5:30 am each day, I can reach over in the dark to open her crate door and she’ll jump up on the bed and cuddle between us for another 30 minutes. That extra 30 minutes makes all the difference to the humans.

With doggy day care once a week, Neva gets lots of playtime and socialization and then the following day is “downtime” for her, a.k.a. a really long nappy loungy day. That’s two days in a row allowing me large blocks of time to get work done, and maybe a trail run, and lunch with friends. I like the dog Neva is becoming. Do I miss the adorable little puppy she was just a few months ago? Yes and no. I miss how cute and itty bitty she was. I don’t miss the feral, high-energy, in-need-of-constant-supervision, sharp-puppy-toothed ball of destruction.


no-stress neva chilling in the back of the car

still a few torch-like aspens on my trail run

i got to have lunch with my friend’s adorable little girl



A few weeks ago when I was in Crested Butte, our good friend and neighbor, Eileen, pulled up next to me while I was walking Neva. We chatted and when she learned Jeremy would be coming out for the weekend before we headed back to Nederland, she said, “How about dinner at my house? We’ll grill steaks.” The last time we had dinner at James’ and Eileen’s house, Jeremy and I took turns running back down the street to check on Neva, who was crying and barking in her crate as she suffered from major FOMO (fear of missing out). This time, months later, she was quiet – alternating between dozing off and chewing quietly on her toys. Good girl.

Dinner was a team effort as I supplied a few appetizers, Eileen took care of the main and sides, and Wendy and Denise brought desserts. And there is always exceptional wine with these good folk. As I loaded my plate and crossed the room, Wyatt, Denise’s giant fur baby, tracked me – or rather the steak – to my seat.


wyatt wants to know if we could maybe share that steak



Wyatt had good reason. That steak was off the hook. James and Eileen often entertain large groups, so they will usually grill at least one hunk of protein to feed the masses. When last they served this steak over the fourth of July, the carving board was picked clean by the time I got back from checking on Neva. Over dinner, Eileen asked for my gougères recipe and I in turn requested the recipe for her steak. It was one of those “oh I just throw together x, y, and z” recipes, which I promptly forgot when Jeremy and I walked home under the sparkling night sky. The next day, Eileen was sweet enough to email me a recipe and I am sharing it with you – because it is TOO GOOD not to share.

One ingredient Eileen mentioned was Montreal steak seasoning, which she said you can find in any grocery store’s spice section. She uses that with salt and pepper as part of the dry rub. I had never heard of it, but I was pretty sure I could make it from scratch. The recipes online vary somewhat, but overall they have many of the same components. I chose the one that uses dill seed because I have a ton of it to use up.


black pepper, paprika, granulated onion, sea salt, dill seed, cayenne, granulated garlic, ground coriander

whisk everything together

now you have montreal steak seasoning



**Jump for more butter**

the overstayed welcome

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Recipe: vegetarian chinese potstickers (dumplings)

Summer, go home already! It was downright hot this weekend in the mountains – as in shorts and t-shirt hot. I’m worried if the temperatures don’t drop soon, my body won’t be ready for winter. And by ready, I mean I won’t have had a chance to adjust to cold temperatures. It’s like dumping a dog into winter who hasn’t had a chance to grow its winter coat. At least the skies have been pretty, but seriously… get on outta here, Summer.


a nice sunset to kick off the weekend, even if it was an oven



Now that Neva has been spayed, we started shopping around for a good doggy daycare and hotel (boarding). The place we took Kaweah was down in Boulder, which I never felt was ideal because it was a long drive, it’s hotter down in Boulder, and their outdoor area was a parking lot cordoned off by chain link fencing. Of course, Kaweah LOVED it. It was all about the doggies for her. There were some locations in the mountains that boasted large acreage for dogs to roam and have fun, but we knew that wouldn’t work for Kaweah who 1) was an incredible escape artist and 2) ate sticks, rocks, and anything disgusting she could get her mouth on outside. Neva, however, chews sticks up, but summarily spits them out (thank goodness!) and she is far more focused on playing with friends than trying to escape. She had a meet and greet with a local Nederland daycare/boarder to make sure she wouldn’t be aggressive or problematic with the other pups. At first she was nervous because they all seemed to pile onto her at once, but as soon as they wandered off, she chased after the group and engaged them for more play. She passed the test.

On Friday, I dropped Neva off for a full day of playtime and she nearly dragged me through the door. Once she entered the playzone with the other pups, she never even noticed I was leaving. No separation anxiety there! Jeremy and I felt that Neva really needed more doggy socialization in a place where she can be supervised and contained (she is still a flight risk, but perhaps less so than Kaweah was – fingers crossed). The nice thing is the proprietor is also a certified dog trainer who follows positive reinforcement training. At the end of the day, we picked Neva up and she was completely exhausted. Happy and exhausted. She plowed through her dinner then fell asleep for the rest of the night. We were told that she played so much, she might still be tired on Saturday, in case we had plans to hike her. She slept or lounged all of Saturday, which made it possible for us to get a lot of work done around the house and yard. I love puppy playtime!


still tuckered on saturday

feeling like her old self by sunday



Over the summer, my mom experimented with various vegetarian potsticker and dumpling recipes because she had made some for a dear friend’s daughter who is vegetarian. Every time I would drop by my parents’ place in Boulder, Mom would shove a vegetarian dumpling into my mouth. “What do you think?” she’d ask, smiling. Was it better than the last one? Should she add more bean thread noodles? Maybe use some egg? The variations are endless. I told her when she settled on a final version, I’d like to have the recipe so I could share it here on the blog. Summer being as busy as it was, I’m not sure she ever decided which one she liked best (they were all quite good). I decided to give it a try recently and discussed some recipe ideas with Mom over the phone. Both of my parents really get into recipe development, so Mom rattled off several suggestions as I jotted them down in my notebook.

Then she said, “If you really want to improve the flavor, add some chicken broth to the filling.” I paused. “Um, Mom, if you add chicken broth, it’s no longer vegetarian.” Oh, then you can add some dried tiny shrimps – makes it taste so good. I informed her that shrimp is also a deal breaker for vegetarians. It’s not that my parents have a poor understanding of what vegetarian means, but that (I think) Chinese people have a misconception of what “meat” means. I can’t tell you how many times we have been at an authentic dim sum restaurant with a vegetarian and I have asked the server if they had any dishes without meat. “Oh yes!” they’d smile, and plop a few tins of steamed shrimp dumplings or stewed chicken feet onto the table explaining that these were not “meat”.

I did a little research and found myself gravitating toward tofu. I know a lot of people are anti-soy, but it is what it is and I for one love tofu. Marc at No Recipes had a great little post on making vegetarian/vegan ground meat from firm tofu by freezing it, then squeezing it dry and crumbling the tofu. I grew up eating tofu like this except Mom didn’t crumble it, but sliced it. It’s a nice spongy texture that is great in hot spicy soups and stews. Sounded like a good solution.


for the filling: firm tofu, baked tofu, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, cornstarch, napa cabbage, green onions

freeze the firm tofu in its liquid, then thaw it completely

squeeze out the liquid and crumble the tofu



**Jump for more butter**