baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

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archive for November 2015

you saucy thing

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Recipe: no-cook pizza sauce

Are you done with turkey yet? Everywhere I looked on my various feeds, I saw turkeys, turkeys, and more turkeys until I shut my laptop and walked outside when I couldn’t handle anymore virtual turkey. I used to feel a teeny tiny nagging guilt in the back of my mind over Thanksgiving because Jeremy and I are so irreverent when it comes to these cold weather holidays. It is a particularly good weekend to go backpacking with Jeremy or night-fishing with Dad. But this year, I was reminded of why I skip the bird… because my parents never really cared for turkey either. I mean, Dad banned turkey on Thanksgiving after the last kid (me) left for college. This year, my folks spent the entire holiday traveling home from Australia. I think if Kris were alive, they would have made the holiday a big deal just for her and her family. She was the only one who truly loved the whole Thanksgiving spread. The rest of us preferred Virginia ham, crab legs, Chinese-style fish, or Dad’s bouillabaisse. My immigrant parents used to set a rather impressive feast year after year so that my sister would never have to feel the burning embarassment of being the only kid in her kindergarten who had Peking duck for Thanksgiving instead of turkey.

we grilled steaks for thanksgiving, of which neva was accutely aware

Jeremy and I kept the holiday low-key as we both needed a little decompression time after several hectic weeks of work. Our five hour drive home from Crested Butte was much mellower than the drive out because we had Neva on some new meds for her car sickness. Part of the problem was that she would psyche herself out the moment she saw the car and begin drooling uncontrollably. I think the stress added to the pukiness she was already feeling from the car ride. We asked Doc Newton to prescribe an antiemetic that also made her drowsy – just for the long car rides. She didn’t drool much and slept most of the way, but was happy to hop out for a walk and potty at the three hour mark. I sat in the back with her to rub her ears (it comforts her) and to catch any puke-isodes, but there weren’t any (yay!). Once home, we resumed her regularly scheduled exercise and ski training. We quite like living in two snowy places.

jeremy skins up with a very excited neva

she even developed a cute little snowbeard

Now that December is at our doorstep, I will be baking a lot of sweets for the next few weeks to distribute to those good people who provide important services like delivering our mail, taking care of our pup, helping us do our jobs, monitoring my health, and being great neighbors. During the holiday bake-a-thon, I develop a strong aversion to sweets – especially the ones I’m making. I just want to eat savory, simple, and delicious fare. Lately, the pizzas at Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse have inspired me to find a fresh tomato-y pizza sauce for the pizzas we make at home.

diced canned tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil

**Jump for more butter**

neva’s first thanksgiving

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I am so grateful for so much and that includes all of you wonderful readers who share your stories (both funny and sad), lend words of support, give great cooking (and dog care) tips and suggestions, and make this such a pleasant and kind community. Thank you.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, we have no grand plans for a big Thanksgiving meal – but that doesn’t mean Neva doesn’t get special treatment! Seeing as it is her first Thanksgiving ever, I thought it was appropriate for her to celebrate with a special plate. But we don’t feed Neva people food, so I didn’t know what she would eat. Based on our experience with Kaweah, the assumption that Neva – a lab, after all – would eat anything seemed like a sound one. We held a practice run on Wednesday.

raw beef rosette on lettuce, crumbled bacon with carrot, apple slices with peanut butter and cheddar heart

she has no idea what is happening

It took a lot of coaxing to get Neva to sit still in front of the plate. She has never eaten off the coffee table before. Poor pup was simultaneously drawn to the smell of the food and scared to go near it. Every time we got her to sit, she would lie down or back away. But eventually, she waited patiently like a good girl. Once we gave her the release word, she hesitated then went for the peanut butter and cheddar. Unlike Kaweah, who would start with the beef and sweep right with a big inhale of everything on the plate, Neva picked her way around the plate taking her sweet time. I did eventually hold the apple slices for her to eat as they stuck to the plate, but she would have nothing to do with the lettuce.

she’s clearly a dessert first type of girl

oh, raw beef? this is what being a doggy is all about!

she ate everything but the lettuce

After downing her Thanksgiving plate, Neva followed us around for a half hour as if to hint that she could go for another plate if we needed to move more food. When no second helping arrived, she settled onto the couch with her chin on her front paws, shooting us the most hopeful puppy face you’ve ever seen. So we took her skiing to burn off those calories and she was equally thrilled. The end.

if the world could be as joyful as a happy dog

From everyone at Butter Headquarters (basically me, Jeremy, and the pup) to all of you, our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for a peaceful holiday filled with love and compassion.

not old fashioned

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Recipe: old fashioned doughnuts

We piled ourselves, the dog, and eight pairs of skis into the car over the weekend and made our way south and west to Crested Butte. I patted myself on the back too soon for catching Neva’s puke episode in a strategically placed plastic bag, because when we stopped for gas in Buena Vista, she threw up again – down the back of the driver’s seat and on her doggy bed. Then when we opened the door to get her out of the car, she projectile vomited all over the door and on Jeremy’s shoes and pants. But we did eventually get to Crested Butte and we were all very happy for it. We gave Neva lots of treats and snuggles and warm blankets for her to curl up in, and I googled how to clean vomit from car upholstery.

this was the best moment of the drive: spotting bighorn sheep

Here in Crested Butte, Jeremy and I just want to hole up with our pup so we can ski and work in peace for the week. As usual, we have no grand plans for a Thanksgiving-style feast. We like to keep things simple and low-stress in general, but especially over the holidays. The only thing that will make an appearance from a typical Thanksgiving menu will be mashed potatoes. We’re grilling steaks because 1) they taste better and 2) they are quick and easy. And I plan to roast lots of vegetables because honestly, that green bean casserole (I don’t care HOW fresh you make it) is disgusting. The argument “This is how we’ve always done it,” doesn’t sit well with me. That line has gotten humans into a lot of trouble through the years… including overeating at Thanksgiving.

we try our best to do the opposite of stuffing ourselves at thanksgiving

a steady climb into the beautiful high country

neva loves her exercise as much as we do (probably more!)

I try to approach life from a more pragmatic perspective. Traditions that I used to blindly follow now come under heavy scrutiny. Does it cause anyone harm? Is it a source of unnecessary stress? Is it a stupid waste of money or time? Is it just plain stupid? The only part of this holiday that I do really like is the reminder to give thanks and to remember (i.e. help) those who are less fortunate. If you don’t know what you are thankful for, perhaps take some quiet moments – step away from your phone, no really – and mull that one over. It’s important and it’s good for you.

a peaceful frozen alpine lake rests under a mesmerizing cloud pattern

What might not be so good for you are these old fashioned doughnuts. But they’re awfully tasty and no one said you had to eat all of them. Just have one… or two… or… Old fashioned doughnuts rank right up there with French crullers for me. I read several recipes and was surprised to find the doughnuts were so easy to make! Except for me, they weren’t easy at all. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster and I spent several days troubleshooting and researching, which led me to this 1940 research paper on deep-fat frying at altitude. Turns out if you live at or near sea level, you’re golden. Follow the recipe as is. If you live at elevation – let’s say above 5,000 feet – you might want to make a few adjustments which I list in parentheses in the recipe below. The photos in this post are from the first batch, but the final photos are of the second batch.

sour cream, sugar, shortening, cake flour, egg yolks, salt, baking powder, nutmeg

whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together

**Jump for more butter**