chow mein bakery-style butter cookies roasted carrots crumbled tofu stir fry


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Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Recipe: chow mein

How can so much time have passed so quickly? Jeremy and I puzzled over this on our 25th wedding anniversary earlier this month. We celebrated with a low-key home-cooked meal. My parents congratulated us. The pups were business as usual.

The past several weeks have been busy and roller coaster-y (and that’s without considering the insanity of the world). I switched to a new primary care physician who helped me untangle some nuisance ailments. I’ve changed my diet and exercise patterns to fast track myself to a healthier me in the last month. It’s a lot of work, but I’m here for it.


chinese new year’s eve dinner: potstickers, mochi rice, stem and leaf mandarin oranges, cellophane noodles soup, lucky ten vegetables

chinese new year breakfast: sweet red bean rice balls, sesame balls, oranges, steamed barbecue pork buns, moon cakes, peanuts

neva and yuki couldn’t be happier

a tired dog is a good dog

the powder, it is fun

yuki test drives her warm coat on a frigid day



At the end of last year, I finally tackled my decades-long mystery of how to make chow mein. I know there are many interpretations of chow mein out there because I have ordered them at various restaurants throughout my adult years. The soft, barely seasoned noodles or crunchy pre-fried crisps from a bag tossed with gloppy sauce were not what I had in mind. I wanted that plate piled high with savory thin noodles lightly adorned with slivers of green onion and stray bean sprouts, trundling past on a dim sum cart.

dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, chow mein (hong kong style noodles)



Turns out, chow mein is rather simple to make once you procure the right noodles. And look, chow mein literally translates to fried noodles, so it could be and sometimes is, ANY noodle that is stir fried, deep fried, or pan fried. If you are like me, you’ve scrutinized the dozens of packaged fresh noodles in the refrigerated section of the Asian market, scanning for recognizable English words on the labels while remaining skeptical of the original translator’s qualifications, and wound up making your best guess. A little time spent on the internets guided me to the right noodles. In this case, Hong Kong-style or chow mein is what you seek, but take care because I’ve seen chow mein labels on all manner of noodles. We want thin egg noodles (thin like angel hair pasta). You can also purchase them dried, but I have yet to try those.

And while you are at the Asian market to get your Hong Kong-style noodles, you might as well pick up a bottle of dark soy sauce and a bottle of light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is thicker with more soy flavor and deep caramel color. Light soy sauce is thinner and closer to regular soy sauce. Does combining light and dark soy sauce equal regular soy sauce? No. If you had to sub regular soy sauce for light soy sauce, okay – but the dark soy sauce is what gives the noodles that special umaminess.


sesame oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, vegetable oil, mung bean sprouts, chow mein, green onions, chinese broccoli (gai lan), shiitake mushrooms

always prep your ingredients before you start cooking

mix the soy sauces and sesame oil together



**Jump for more butter**

sandwiched, dipped, and sprinkled

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Recipe: bakery-style butter cookies

I hope you all had a restful holiday and were able to recharge as needed. After all of the cookies were baked and distributed, we holed up in Crested Butte as 100 inches of desperately needed snow fell on us during Twixmas week. That kind of snow is the stuff of dreams. It was both magical and an enormous amount of work to clear by hand as our snow thrower was at the snow thrower doctor until the last day of the storm cycle. We did manage to crank out another year-in-photos digital card here: Jen and Jeremy’s Year in Photos.


welcome to 2022!

skating through a winter wonderland on the nordic trails

high avalanche danger meant low-angle backcountry fun



The plan was to resume documenting my latest favorite recipes in the new year, but I came down with Bell’s Palsy a couple of weeks ago. It was alarming at first as we tried to determine if it was a stroke (it was not). Despite having a thankfully mild case of facial palsy, my daily functionality was limited for a couple of weeks, mostly by my leaky left eye. Now I’m finally feeling nearly normal after finishing the mega dose of steroids and antiviral medications. Normal is a good thing. Even almost normal feels supremely wonderful right now.

uphill skiing = human-powered fun

we are getting lots of miles with the pups



A few years ago Deb had posted a photo and link for some cheerful golden nubs that were sandwiched, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in sprinkles. My memory leans photographic and her cookies tickled my brain: a pink cardboard box filled with a variety of cookies, some of which conveyed a similarly happy vibe as Deb’s.

Shortly after my sister turned 18, we road tripped from Virginia through Syracuse, New York, her birthplace, to Michigan where she would start her freshman year of college. Snowflake Bakery was on the “must visit” itinerary in Syracuse. Mom said they used to stand in long lines out the door at the bakery when Kris was an adorable toddler, and that the staff would sneak outside and hand Kris a cookie. It was my first time trying them in my 12 year old life. Delicate, delicious, not too sweet. Sharing cookies with Kris in the backseat of the Chevy as we sped west to Niagara Falls then onward to Ann Arbor, I tried to relish the time I had with my big sister and my best friend, dreading the trip home without her. Fast forward 38 years and I’m making these butter cookies from scratch and with all the feels.


flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, chocolate, vanilla extract, almond extract, sprinkles, raspberry and apricot jams



I can’t tell you if these bakery-style butter cookies are the same as Snowflake’s cookies because I don’t remember. Snowflake Bakery is now permanently closed, but I plan to send some cookies to Mom because she has excellent taste memory and gives unflinching feedback. I can tell you that I love this version for so many reasons. It’s got fruity jam, and I love fruity things. It’s a sandwich, one of my favorite food forms. The hints of almond, lemon, vanilla, and butter create pure magic. There is just enough chocolate to be enjoyable without regret. And finally – sprinkles. That said, the dough can be fiddly.

adding eggs and extracts to the creamed butter and sugar

mix in the flour

load the piping bag with dough



**Jump for more butter**

less stick, more carrot

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Recipe: roasted carrots

It’s been a rather productive fall for us, which may have a lot to do with the lack of snow. November provided few flakes for the ski resorts and the backcountry. But the high, dry winds delivered some outstanding sunsets and sunrises. Rather than gripe (too much) about the delay in the ski season, I redirected my energies to those long-neglected tasks in dire need of attention. As a small reward for getting so much done this autumn, I signed up for an online bookbinding class and learned how to transform fabric into bookcloth.


stacked lenticulars are so otherworldly

a feather dance at sunset

my two notebooks from class



Many Colorado ski hills open Thanksgiving week, even if it is a single run of man-made snow. We opted not to ski opening day at either of our local resorts and instead headed to the backcountry for a quiet ski tour. It happened to be the right decision because we were greeted with fresh snow and free refills all day. Yuki had a tummy bug the whole week, so we kept her on a mild diet and low activity. Jeremy snuck Neva out for bike rides to get her some exercise and wear down her rake-claws. It was a pleasant and low-key holiday week for our house. Well, not as pleasant as Yuki would have liked, but after a week of sad puppy eyes she’s back to normal and had a wonderful romp around the soccer field with some doggie friends this weekend.

real snow in the snow globe

neva wouldn’t budge, so yuki accepted sharing the bed



Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Holiday Madness Mode begins. There is nothing like holiday food to make me crave vegetables. The carrot is the one vegetable I often forget I love. We regularly buy carrots (adult, not baby) for raw snacking. And then a few times each winter I make roasted carrot soup. I will find myself noshing on several cubes of the sweet roasted carrots before the rest go into the stock pot and make some vague mental note that these are super addictive. I’m ashamed it has taken me this long to make roasted carrots as a dish unto itself, but I’m also glad I finally did it.

olive oil, pepper, mint, carrots, thyme, cumin seeds, chile powder, salt, turmeric, coriander seeds



The recipe comes from The New York Times Cooking archives and the only change I made was to omit the butter. I’ve cooked this successfully with both ground spices (cumin and coriander) and seeds (cumin and coriander), although I do prefer the seeds version. And while it is great without the mint, I think the mint lends a bright herbal finish. The preparation is simple and requires little effort for the payoff.

toss cut carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme

spread on a hot baking sheet



**Jump for more butter**