roasted carrots crumbled tofu stir fry huckleberry pie meatless meatballs


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incremental steps

Monday, October 25th, 2021

Recipe: crumbled tofu stir fry

Thanks to some technologistical hiccups, my last post was published before email subscribers were migrated to a new service, so I apologize if you didn’t receive a notification. But email subscription limbo has now been resolved, and hopefully this is the last we’ll talk about that.

Most of our aspens have been stripped bare by intermittent winter storms and winds, but we find the delicate rattles of the remaining dried leaves soothing when we take the pups on leisurely hikes. I rather like the quiet time in the mountains between the leaf peepers and the ski crowds, when locals are left to their own shenanigans. The diurnal swings in temperature fooled Jeremy into thinking it was too early to switch to flannel sheets despite his complaints about sleeping cold overnight. Once we made the switch, his outlook on life flipped 180°. It will probably flip back after Daylight Saving ends and the sun drops behind the mountains at 4:30.


the local stand had a good run this year

cool air and hot sun, everyone finds their sweet spot

yuki and the charlie brown aspen tree

those autumn sunsets are something else



We’ve been making the most of this lull before ski season, cramming in medical and dental appointments, fixing and organizing house things, voting (have you voted? local elections are important, so please read up on the issues/candidates and vote!)… you know, adulting. I’ve also carved out some time to do a little recipe testing – especially vegetarian recipes. It can be hit or miss and the misses will require additional work, but I’m sharing a real winner today. My aunt recommended this tofu stir-fry from Melissa Clark on New York Times Cooking which I admittedly skipped when I first saw it in my subscription, but gave it a try on her suggestion. I’ve incorporated my aunt’s tweaks as they improve upon the dish.

cilantro, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, canola oil, lime, edamame, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, salt, tofu, ginger, garlic



It all starts with a block of firm tofu. Firm is important or else you will wind up with a mushy mess and many tears. Look for firm or extra firm on the packaging. Melissa Clark shreds her tofu and drains the shreds on a towel, but I prefer to freeze, thaw, squeeze, and crumble my tofu. Freezing tofu results in a spongier, more chewy texture, and the tofu absorbs marinades better and fries up crisper. This requires a smidge of extra planning: Freeze the tofu in its packaging overnight or for 12 hours, then thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. When thawed, press the tofu between your palms, squeezing out a good bit of the water. From here you can crumble the tofu by hand. I pull chunks off the tofu block and squeeze out more liquid before crumbling the tofu into a bowl.

crumbled tofu



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midlife huckleberry

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

Recipe: huckleberry pie

Housekeeping Update: Subscribers may have received an email burp of use real butter post summaries recently. We’re not sure what Feedburner is doing, so I apologize. We are in the process of migrating your use real butter subscription to a new service while minimizing any further weirdness you may encounter. Until the new service is in place, we haven’t cut off Feedburner, but you can self-subscribe in the little subscription box on the upper right of the blog. Thank you so much for your patience and thanks to Lesley for recommending follow.it. -jen xo


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September sways between summer and autumn and occasionally dips a toe in faux-winter here in the mountains. The month began thick with greenery and hot sun, and ended draped in the golden leaves of autumn as the high country backdrops were accented in white from recent snowfall. I find it a refreshing reprieve from relentless awesome summer doings. Like much of the wildlife around us, we are tending to those responsibilities we shirked all summer in favor of foraging mushrooms and huckleberries.

Labor Day is an unofficial bookend of summer, which means we spent our birthdays in relative peace and quiet. Relative because… pups. Per Jeremy’s request, I prepared a multi-course seafood dinner for his birthday dinner and baked a hazelnut almond dacquoise with fresh berries and chocolate mousse for dessert. For my own birthday, my 50th, I made chicken porcini pot pie, had a scoop of non-dairy store bought ice cream, and defeated several armies of hostile alien forces. No midlife crisis, just midlife casual no-drama low-stress appreciation for the ordinary. We were in Crested Butte last weekend to winterize our place and do a little leaf peeping.


birthday boy and yuki side-eye

neva enjoying outside time (yuki did not want to climb onto the boulder)

everybody happy

aspen and spruce

this will never get old

walking through golden aspen stands

lovely views in every direction



It’s late in the season to be posting a huckleberry recipe, but I know people are still foraging them to the north and west of Colorado. We had a pretty good huck season locally. If you were diligent about picking and freezing these tiny flavor bombs this summer, you might have enough to make a pie. If (like me) you use your precious huckleberries sparingly, then a full-sized 9-inch pie might be too great a demand of your stash. A 4-inch pie requires a mere 1 1/2 cups. Thankfully, frozen huckleberries work just as well as fresh in this pie, so one could conceivably create a blast of late summer any time of year. And as always, if you don’t have huckleberries, you can substitute with wild blueberries or regular blueberries.

a tremendous season full of big little huckleberries



Truth be told, I’ve never made a life-size huckleberry pie. 6-8 cups is a full day of picking in the BEST of seasons in Colorado. So the recipe below is for a 9-inch pie, because apparently there are locales where the huckleberries are large and plentiful and you don’t have to crouch on the ground for hours on end to get them. The process I photographed here is the making of a 4-inch pie. I also ditched the pie dough in the Saveur recipe because Kenji’s pie dough is now my trusted go-to recipe.

flour, salt, sugar, butter, ice water

pulse sugar, salt, 2/3 of the flour, and cold butter together

cut in the remaining flour

drizzle with cold water

press and fold the dough together

holding shape and ready to chill



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the figs that didn’t fit

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

Recipe: chocolate-dipped brandy truffle figs

January was a marked improvement over December for us as we enjoyed better (more) snow and could focus on work and exercise in Crested Butte without the distraction and stress of the holidays. The Nordic trails and mountain resorts had mostly emptied of traveling guests, which is how we like it – but especially with an ongoing pandemic. The quiet trails presented an opportunity to work with the pups off-leash. They both made great progress and had heaps of fun.


snow, mountains, skis, and a good pup

skiing any powder we could get

neva being calm and happy on a skijoring session

beautiful front range sunsets

more sun than snow in nederland



Yuki turned three years old on Monday. She hasn’t been a baby for a while now, but she’s still a baby. One of our many nicknames for Yuki is Baby because her spec sheet at RezDawg Rescue listed “Baby” in her age field. We love that little nugget so much. You can see birthday videos on my Instagram here.

birthday yuki!



Back in early December, Jeremy and I gathered a bunch of goodies for care packages to send to our parents. We don’t celebrate Christmas nor do we send holiday gifts, but we thought our sets of parents needed some cheering up. They had all been so good about not socializing and keeping safe, and we knew they missed seeing friends, going out, seeing family, and most of all – their grandchildren. I packed as much as I could in the boxes and shipped them out before the huge postal service holiday clog. Sadly, a box of chocolate figs I found at Trader Joe’s didn’t fit in the boxes. Eventually, we tried some. They were AMAZING and of course the next time we were at Trader Joe’s they were gone – one of those ephemeral seasonal items.

The figs were so delightful that they stuck in my mind for a month, at which point I decided to recreate them myself. A brandy truffle stuffed into a dried fig and dipped in chocolate. A note on dried figs: I liked the size and texture of the dried golden figs from Trader Joe’s (this isn’t an ad, I just shop there). They were moist and sweet without being too fragile and sticky to handle. I didn’t like the dried figs from Costco which were dry, tough, and flavorless. When I returned the bag, they informed me that many other people had similar complaints/returns. And I did not bother finding them at Whole Foods because they’ve turned the entire bulk foods area into a staging ground for deliveries.


dried figs, chocolate, brandy, heavy cream



Making the ganache for the brandy truffle is straightforward. I originally used an ounce of brandy for a half pound of semisweet chocolate. It works, but I definitely prefer a punchier booze presence than a subtle flavoring. Next time I’ll up that to 2 ounces, but go by your taste.

pour hot cream over chopped chocolate

stir in the brandy

let cool completely



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