Since my last post, I’ve moved 2/3 of my belongings back into my condo while discarding/recycling 1/3. If I can do 8 weeks in Europe with 2 pairs of jeans and 3 pairs of black slacks, I can do 6 months in Aspen without 10 spatulas, 42 Bic pens and 7 pairs of scissors.

My friend Karen’s idea of a casual, throw-something-together supper. Please note that the Twice-Baked Potato was delicious despite the crispy applewood smoked bacon crumbles sitting, forgotten, on the kitchen counter. I hate when that happens!

In my toss-with-abandon enthusiasm I now own no measuring spoons (I had 5 sets) or bedroom slippers (two pair.) My bad. However I did pull together a great throwback recipe from the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine, 1941-2009.

Liu Shaokun’s Spicy Buckwheat Noodles with Chicken

The problem with this recipe, Liu Shaokun’s Spicy Buckwheat Noodles with Chicken, is that Soba noodles are brown. While they are tasty, they photograph very badly. That’s why, thankfully, I could share instead my opening photo, compliments of my talented friend.

I found this interesting. This is a more photogenic version of Liu Shaokun’s Spicy Buckwheat Noodles with Chicken as shown on the Epicurious food blog. Do you think it’s the difference between an amateur (me) and a Pro photographer (them)? (Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Nathaniel James, Food Styling by Frances Boswell.)

My friend, Karen, asked me to supper, sorta last minute. Nothing fancy schmancy, she said. Last night I showed up in my too-casual yoga gear glory for her lovely meal which definitely merited a prime location in my blog.

This was the scene of the Rocky Mountains near the Continental Divide on Earth Day 2019. Because the road is closed until late May, I hiked up towards Independence Pass in complete solitude, just Mother Earth and Me.


a beautiful Cassin’s Finch

Ruth Reichl, remember her? Food editor of The Los Angeles Times. Restaurant critic-in-disguise at The New York Times. Best-selling author. Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine from 1999 to its last gasp in 2009.

At the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a Mama Canada Goose has built her nest on its roof. They expect the goslings to be born in the next week or two.

Until forced by space limitations to abandon my collection, I had several years of those magazines carefully organized by month, bookmarked and sitting on my basement shelves. Do those of you with stacks of mildewed National Geographic’s or dusty New Yorker’s understand the malady?

Same Mama.

Now, a decade later, Reichl has written Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir about her editorial reign. While I’ve yet to read it, I did spot an Epicurious blog article in which Reichl dishes on her favorite ten Gourmet back-pocket recipes she still pulls out often.

This female Downy Woodpecker is probably a full-time resident at Aspen Grove Cemetery. It’s Spring and she is creating a new cavity or two or three!

As for me, I still bake a classic Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon-Walnut Swirl from a 37-year old Gourmet. My catering friend, Judy, asked for my meatloaf recipe from a 90’s Gourmet issue. She updated it. It’s still in her repertoire. I wondered how Reichl’s favorites, spanning years 2000-2009 would stand up to the test of time.

A newly built home

Reichl chose 4 pasta recipes.The Spaghetti with Ramps (2000) most intrigued me. For sweets lovers, there is Raspberry Crumble Tart (2006) and Apple and Calvados Galette (2003.) Yes, please! Although Ian’s Meatloaf recipe (2008) was reminiscent of mine, please hold the 1/2 cup of pitted and chopped prunes. (Link to article and recipes above.)

Rock Art on the Rio Grande Trail

Next month, I intend to try her Bacon and Cheddar Toasts (2004) which according to Reichl are killer and also Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Scallion/Miso Butter (2007) . Thanks to cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, I’ll be incorporating miso, a salty/savory fermented soybean paste, into several recipes from her new cookbook this summer.

Look carefully. For years a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches have hung out in The Gant’s cottonwoods. This year they are building a home in the tree near my balcony. (They don’t think I see them.)

What I made this week is Liu Shaokun’s Spicy Buckwheat Noodles with Chicken (2003). This is a simple, authentic Sichuan dish which Reichl claims is her favorite lunchtime treat.

At ACES, this very smart Mama Goose decided to build her nest on the tiny, rocky island in the middle of Hallam Lake.

I found it not only delicious in its simplicity, it also begs to be dressed up and shown off. Build color by adding vegetables, steamed, blanched or stir-fried. Try other spices (ginger), condiments (sambal oelek, for example) or ingredients (Asian greens, Smoked Tofu, red or orange bell peppers.) Do ahead. Poach the chicken. Blend together the mixture. Set aside. When ready to eat, cook the noodles.


GOURMET April 2003

YIELD 4 ample lunch main courses or 8-10 side-dish servings


3 cups chicken broth or water
2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 lb dried buckwheat noodles such as soba noodles
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon chile oil containing sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons roasted soy nuts or peanuts


  1. Bring broth to a simmer in a 3-quart saucepan, then add chicken and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes.
  2. Remove pan from heat and cover. Let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool at least 10 minutes, reserving broth for another use.
  4. While chicken is poaching, bring 4 quarts salted cold water to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart saucepan over moderately high heat. Stir in noodles and cook according to package directions until noodles are just tender but still firm and chewy throughout.
  5. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold water to cool, then drain well. Toss noodles with peanut oil in a large bowl.
  6. Stir together vinegar, soy sauce, chile oil, garlic, sugar, and salt in another bowl until sugar is dissolved. Then add to noodles and toss until coated.
  7. Shred chicken with your fingers into 1/4-inch-wide strips and add to noodles, tossing to combine.
  8. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and nuts. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. Sorry to note that it will not be as tasty the next day.