huckleberry pie meatless meatballs roasted porcini with gremolata gluten-free chocolate chip cookies


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sharing the wonderful things

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Recipe: cranberry hazelnut seed crisps

I could have very easily slipped on some yoga pants and settled down to work on the computer that grey, chilly morning last week. Instead, I went about gathering my running vest, water bladder, some fuel bloks, a ziploc for my phone, my dirty girl gaiters, trail runners… I had no idea how far I’d run, if I would get caught in the rain, if it would suck or if it would be great. The run was a little bit of everything. I did get caught in the rain for the last 6 miles and my muscles did get tight in the cold. But I managed a half marathon (a distance I haven’t run in almost 2 months) and I also caught the remainder of our local fall colors, which is both thrilling and beautiful. It was my first trail run with my upgraded iphone, so I took a few detours to test drive the camera.


a lone aspen with red fringe

the grasses are turning lovely shades of red and gold

the browse line marks the extent of where the elk and moose feed on the aspen bark (thanks, twila!)



Is it terrible that my favorite part of trail running is when I’m done with the trail run? Oh, but a close second is when I get into that groove and find a nice pace that feels like I’m not even there. And I like feeling the soreness in my muscles the following day. I could feel the mild pull on my quads as I hustled through the fog the next morning. I was lugging that 500mm lens around trying to position myself to shoot the elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park once again. This time, Jeremy joined me after I convinced him to forgo 3 hours of sleep. My shooting the elk rut does not require Jeremy’s presence nor his assistance. I just knew that he would absolutely love seeing them so close as he had never witnessed the rut before. Of course, it was an extra bonus that he shot a little video with his phone that captured a bull elk bugling.



In contrast to the sunny morning earlier in the week (when I photographed the rut), this morning was cold and thick with mist and fog. Clouds clung to the mountains and drifted in and out of the valleys like slow-motion waves. If you watched closely, you could see the antlers of a bull elk emerge in the distance. If you watched really closely, you would notice the pack of coyotes trying to sneak past him or the rafter of wild turkeys picking their way into the woods. As we drove around with our windows down to listen for the bugling, Jeremy reached for my icy cold hand and gave it a squeeze. He thanked me for talking him into seeing the elk rut and said it was incredibly special to share the experience.

lone tree in the valley

coyotes on the move

wild turkey foraging

bugling into the fog

beautiful creature

this fellow was yawning, not bugling



It is both exhilarating and a bummer when I am running alone and encounter a giant moose, or see a huge bird of prey take off from a branch just above me, or watch an ermine bring down a chipmunk and carry it away. The mini-safari aspect is pretty awesome, but then I find myself standing there looking around for someone I can yell “Did you see that?!” to. Food blogging is a little less dramatic than that, but it can be just as exciting when you find a recipe that is extra delicious, super easy, or saves you a ton of money. That’s why I still food blog after all these years. I like finding great recipes and sharing them. It just so happens that one of my lovely readers pointed me to this recipe. Have you ever tried raincoast crisps? They are a slightly sweet cracker/crisp made with dried fruits and nuts and seeds. I picked up a packet for a party and quite liked them, but they are stupid expensive.

whole wheat flour, buttermilk, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, baking soda, maple syrup, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, sesame seeds, salt, cranberries, hazelnuts



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diversions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Recipe: california hand roll (temaki)

Despite being the summer high season in Crested Butte, our time here has been pleasantly quiet and peaceful. Colorado mountain towns have long winters and short summers, but boy are those summers exploding with color, activity, beauty at every turn – both in the backcountry and in town proper.


the town of crested butte is simply charming



Our neighborhood is filled with the sounds of people greeting one another in the street while walking or heading out for a bike ride, children laughing and playing, and the jingle of dog tags as pups get their walkies in the fresh mountain air. Several of our wonderful neighbors have told us how sorry they were to hear of Kaweah’s passing. This is – as many mountain communities are – a dog-loving community.

our dear next-door neighbor even sent flowers



Jeremy and I took a few days to visit his folks in Pagosa Springs – a lovely mountain town in the-middle-of-nowhere, southwest Colorado. We got up early one morning for a trail run before everyone else had risen and greeted the sunrise as we paced through scrub oak and sticky mud from the previous day’s thunderstorms. Afterward, we sat on the porch with his parents watching throngs of hummingbirds spar over the hummingbird feeders. The Rufous hummingbirds are especially territorial and aggressive which made the bird watching all the more entertaining. It’s really quite spectacular.

sunrise on the trail

a lone rufous monitors the bird feeder from a nearby branch

then thwarts the attempts of an aggressor

and shows the other guy what’s what



We returned to Crested Butte in time to meet my friend Irvin and his partner who were road tripping through Utah and Colorado this summer. We spent 48 hours giving them a quick sampling of Crested Butte: checking out Mount Crested Butte, dining in Mountaineer Square, coffee and pastries at Camp 4, hiking to a great 360ยฐ view in the high country, pizza at Secret Stash, mountain biking, dinner at our place, browsing the farmers market.

a.j. and irvin on our hike

irvin grabs a slice of “the woodward” pizza at secret stash



Our multi-day non-stop schedule kept us rather busy and preoccupied such that we weren’t dwelling too much on the little black dog that was missing from our lives. Of course, we miss her terribly. But when people tell us they are sorry, I thank them and point out that Kaweah lived a very good and happy dog life. On our drive from Pagosa Springs to Crested Butte, I was finally able to verbalize how I felt about my time with Kaweah. She was a gift to us, both literally and figuratively. It was our responsibility to provide the absolute best life to her that we could and we took that task to heart. We were with her to the very end so that she was never alone, afraid, or unloved. Only now do I understand just how much of a gift she really was and will always be until my dying day. This is me finding closure.

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I know that some people consider sushi a summer food because of the raw aspect, but I maintain a year-round love affair with sushi. I crave it after skiing just as much as I crave it after (and during) summer backpacking, and we’re fortunate that Boulder has a lot of decent sushi on offer and Crested Butte has one sushi bar (they used to have two, but my favorite one closed its doors last year). We also make sushi at home. One of my favorites is the California roll – something I never order in restaurants, but often make in my own kitchen. It is a good gateway sushi roll because the crab is cooked. When we prepare California rolls at home, we tend to go for the hand rolls or temaki because they’re quick and easy to make and consume.

wasabi powder, sesame seeds, sriracha, nori (seaweed), sushi rice, masago (capelin roe), cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, king crab legs

slice the cucumber into strips

stir wasabi powder into mayonnaise to make…

wasabi mayonnaise



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celebration and remembrance

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Recipe: chinese eight treasure rice pudding

I really loved reading about your valentines. There were lots of husbands, some wives, partners, lots of moms, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, children, pets, friends. It’s incredibly gratifying to see all of this love and appreciation for the special people in our lives. So thank you for sharing with me and with everyone else. Now on to the winners! Jeremy picked our winners at random, but his method was a little more cerebral than Kaweah’s selection style. I’ll let him describe it for you:

Two winners were selected using the least significant digits of the coordinates of water discovered in the Antennae Galaxies (Brogan, Johnson, & Darling 2010). The water seems to mark the birthplace of massive clusters of new stars created by the collision of two galaxies. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, and our nearest large neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, will likely experience a similar fate in several billion years.


the antennae galaxies (image by the hubble space telescope)



The winners are commenters #97 (Sheryl) and #335 (Megan F.)! Congratulations ladies! I’ll be in touch with you via email to get the shipping addresses of your intended recipients. And a huge thank you for all of your enthusiastic entries. I love you guys! Even if you didn’t win, I highly recommend these chocolate truffles – they are beyond exquisite.

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Sunday, February 10th is the new moon and the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year. I can close my eyes and recall vividly the sounds, sights, feelings, and smells of the kitchen where my parents and grandmother sat together to make dumplings on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Other special dishes were cooking on the stove, plastering steam on the windows and filling the house with aromas of the feast to come. I especially enjoyed running around the next morning and wishing everyone gong xi fa tsai (wish happiness and make money) or just gong xi gong xi (congratulations). Very few of my friends celebrated or were aware of Chinese New Year and so in many ways, I felt it was my family’s personal holiday.

When I went away to college, I was surprised to see Chinese New Year is indeed a big deal to A LOT of people in Southern California as well as some of the student body at Caltech. In my junior year, I called Grandma and asked her how to make Chinese dumplings and potstickers. The new year was approaching and I was feeling a little homesick. I began to pay more attention to our family traditions (mostly food) and fed them to Jeremy and friends throughout the years.

My sister didn’t share my interest in the lunar new year traditions until she had her son. After he was born, Kris suddenly became quite proficient at spoken Mandarin, began to read a little Chinese, and spoke Chinese with my nephew. It delighted my parents, my aunts, my grandma, family friends… And it melted my heart every time he called me A-yi (auntie). Without fail, my workaholic sister would call me up on Chinese New Year’s Eve every year to consult on what she needed to purchase or prepare for dinner. Dumplings? Noodles? How about a stir-fry? Don’t forget something sweet for the next morning. You see, you don’t eat just any Chinese food for Chinese New Year because everything has meaning for luck, prosperity, a promotion, good health, happiness, abundance, family, wealth.

The last time I saw Kris was over Chinese New Year. I had guilted her into flying out to California to meet me at Grandma’s place for a quick weekend trip. She was pregnant with her little girl and I almost felt bad about making her travel, but I knew the chances of seeing her and Grandma together decreased with every day she became more pregnant. Grandma made us sweet soup, took us to a New Year’s party (it’s not what you think – everyone there was Chinese, over 70, hard of hearing, and tone-deaf, but it was very entertaining), ordered our favorite dishes, and laughed at our dumb jokes.

I look back on that Chinese New Year with deep longing because both my sister and grandma have since passed on.

Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, but it is also a time of remembrance. I was only familiar with the celebratory side of things as a child. Now, I understand that we honor our ancestors and loved ones who are no longer with us and we embrace the loved ones we still have. For all of the rushing around to gather ingredients and make the right dishes to ensure good things in the new year, there can be a pang of sadness, sometimes a flood of unexpected tears, and a quiet heartache. Sure, we focus on the foods during this holiday, but really – the food is about family. Chinese New Year is all about family.

And food.

Food, family – they are inextricable.

A popular traditional dessert served at Chinese New Year dinners or other special occasions is Chinese eight treasure rice pudding. Now before you get excited about rice pudding, it’s not THAT kind of rice pudding. It’s a combination of sweet rice, also called sticky rice or glutinous rice (it contains no gluten), sweet red bean paste, dried fruits, and a sweet syrup. And there should be eight kinds of fruit because eight is a lucky number. You don’t HAVE to have eight, but if you choose to make a lucky dessert versus regular dessert, why not go for the lucky dessert?


sticky rice, sweet red bean paste, sugar, cornstarch, shortening or lard, lemon juice, dried or candied fruits

glutinous, sticky, or sweet rice – (glutinous rice has no gluten)

mango, dates, lotus seeds, maraschino cherries, goosberries, buddha’s hand citron, kumquats, apricots



Typical fruits include dried dates, candied cherries, lotus seeds, dried raisins… but you just use what you like or what you have available. I went to the big Asian market to hunt down candied lotus seeds, candied gooseberries, and candied kumquats. The rest of the items I got at the western supermarket or had made (like the candied Buddha’s hand citron). You can also use candied ginger, dried papaya, dried pineapple, winter melon candy (it’s a Chinese thing – it’s green and typically comes in strips), candied orange peel, dried cranberries, raisins. Endless possibilities.

slice up the fruits

arrange the fruit in a nice pattern



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