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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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i dream of mushrooms

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

Recipe: roasted porcini with gremolata

I keep my summer expectations low to minimize any disappointment. It’s a strategy I apply to life in general, but it serves me particularly well when dealing with the realities of mushroom season here in the Colorado Rockies. Some years it’s great. Some years it’s terrible. Some years it’s okay. This year, it’s been strangely, weirdly, amazingly phenomenal. I have been logging many miles and many many pounds of beautiful porcini this season. Foraging all day, cleaning and processing (drying, freezing raw, sautéeing and freezing) all night, closing my eyes and seeing mushrooms in my dreams. Repeat.


still make time to see my folks who made chinese lobster noodles for us

and looking up to appreciate the stellar wildflower displays

everywhere we went, porcini

tucked among the huckleberries

our red-capped rocky mountain rubies (porcini)



My last post bumped meatless meatballs for chocolate chip cookies and I’m bumping those meatballs again, this time for a simple roasted porcini recipe that I promised my friend and foraging pal because fresh porcini wait for no one.

The original recipe specifies a mix of wild and cremini mushrooms, but my refrigerator was FULL of fresh porcini and it made perfect sense to use up some of the firm, perfect bouchons. Also, I think the gremolata – while tasty – is not necessary at all. Roasting the mushrooms with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a couple of smashed garlic cloves is heaven enough.


fresh porcini bouchons, flat-leaf parsley, pepper, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, bread crumbs, salt, lemon



For this preparation, I don’t recommend washing your mushrooms (I never wash my mushrooms except for morels). I brush the mushrooms of debris from top to bottom and wipe any remaining particles with a damp paper towel. Slice the mushrooms to 1/2-inch thickness and quarter or halve any really small bouchons. Since the oil is easily absorbed, I drizzle half of the olive oil over the mushrooms/smashed garlic and toss, then drizzle another tablespoon and toss, then one more tablespoon for a more even distribution. Season with salt and pepper and toss once more. Arrange the slices and pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. I line my sheet with parchment paper because I like how it allows the food to crisp without sticking.

drizzle some of the olive oil over the mushrooms

toss with salt and pepper

roast in a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer



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no whammies

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Recipe: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

June went from lovely to horrid and (thankfully) back to lovely. I’m sure we have several swings of the pendulum ahead, but right now I’m truly grateful for the current cool and rainy pattern that is sitting on our faces and keeping smoke from the wildfires at bay.


the pups love hiking season

spring was late, but glorious nonetheless

wildfire smoke from the west made for dramatic evenings

the heat wave melted yuki and everyone else



My cousin moved to Colorado during the pandemic, but we haven’t had a chance to see one another since becoming fully vaccinated. However, two of my aunts (my mom’s younger sisters) were visiting my cousin recently and we met up for a short hike in Boulder. I can only hope to be as physically and mentally fit as these lovely ladies in 20+ years!

mom’s family has good genes

the wildflowers are having a good show this year



Originally, I was planning to post another recipe that wasn’t gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, but our neighbors did us a favor a while back and I wanted to thank them with some cookies. Except a 2-week heat wave crushed our souls and I couldn’t even *think* of baking. So when this cold front blew in from the north and brought our overnight temperatures into the 40s this weekend, I began testing these gluten-free cookies. My neighbor is gluten-free and I figured she was tired of the two or three recipes I kept sending over. Besides, it’s always good to expand your repertoire of baked goods. Jeremy, my neighbor, her husband (who can eat gluten), Canyon Erin (celiac) and her husband (eats gluten) all gave the recipe the thumbs up. And my neighbor asked if it was on the blog. That’s why you’re not getting meatless meatballs today.

bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, almond flour, sugar, brown butter, light brown sugar, vanilla bean, egg, baking soda, flake sea salt, kosher salt



Recipe testing baked goods at elevation sucks, because it doesn’t take much for things to go sideways at 8500 feet. The first rule of recipe testing is to try the recipe as is. Despite a few minor discrepancies between the volumes and weights (I follow weights), this one is pretty stable. I tweaked about with chilling the dough and cooking times and some other flavor enhancers, but all in all I feel this is a solid recipe with some of the best results in flavor and texture. Now, I do recommend chopping the chocolate over using chocolate chips. Even if you use chocolate chips, chop them up because the shards of chocolate mixed into the dough promote a creamier interior. And unsalted butter works just fine, but… use brown butter if you want it to be a little *extra*. If you make your own brown butter for this recipe, start with a half pound of unsalted butter which will yield enough brown butter for your needs. And let it cool to room temperature before using it.

start with 16 tablespoons of butter

melt it over medium heat and stir *constantly* until the milk solids turn golden (5-8 minutes)

immediately empty the brown butter into a bowl to cool before using



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