sous vide carnitas soy sauce braised wild mushroom noodles technique: sous vide tempering chocolate raspberry syrup & raspberry pink cadillac margaritas


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archive for April 2011

gifts

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the end of this month, but I’m here and in one piece and I can think straight again. For those of you who had inquired after Kaweah – my sincerest apologies. I had overlooked giving you all an update. She’s doing fine now. None the worse for wear. I bought her a pillow today and she’s curled up sleeping right.next.to.it. Nice.

My annual MRI came back clean for breast cancer. We’re almost three years out since the end of my treatments. Awesome sauce. Never take a day for granted. Try to make the most of it. Rarrrrr!

Have you ever gone to a restaurant often enough that you think you know the menu and then one day you notice a dish and wonder “where have you been?” I met up with my friend and fellow local blogger Elana, who so kindly treated me to lunch at The Kitchen on Friday. I usually get the salmon salad or the hazelnut, chevre, and beet salad… but hellooooo! What have we here?


our lunch at the bar

roast duck, frisée, and egg salad (swoooooon)



Deviation from my normal order paid off in spades. What a great new favorite salad to accompany time well spent talking with Elana. We’re both busy girls, but this kind of person-to-person interaction means a lot to me. Call me old-fashioned…

One of my readers sent me a couple of dog collars last week (thank you, Shelley!). Her company Poetic Paws makes them and partners with Best Friends Animal Society to help abused, neglected, and homeless dogs find forever homes. I was originally planning to keep one for Kaweah and donate the other to my local Humane Society in Boulder, but Kaweah didn’t like having a bow around her neck and it took a lot of “No!” and “Leave it!” to get her to stop trying to tear it off. What do you expect from a hillbilly dog? Still, I managed to get her to model one of them (sort of), but I’ll be donating both to pups who really need them.


it’s very sparkly

kaweah succumbs and holds still for a picture



I’ve thought about gifts a lot lately. I neither expect nor want gifts (stuff) and I think it’s a good place for me to be. My “gifts” to loved ones are gestures of love and thanks. The gifts I receive on a daily basis are those things that have no price – life, health, the best partner, loving friends and family, living in a place I love, smiling at strangers as I walk through town.

Several months ago I had collected enough travel soaps, shampoos, and lotions to donate to a women’s shelter. My friend, Erin, volunteers at the local women’s shelter in Boulder, the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN). She gave me the address of the outreach office where I could drop off those little soaps and bottles. While there, I left my information and said I’d be happy to offer my services – what little they are – to the shelter. There were emails, meetings, forms to sign, logistics to plan, and this past week I was able to provide photo shoots for some of the women who utilize the services that SPAN offers.




My original intent was to provide basic head shots for the women to use professionally. Many of them are in transition, looking for work and trying to find a place to stay. But few of the participants were interested in head shots. What they really wanted were photos of their children.



For someone as OCD as myself, it became clear from the start of the shoot that planning and scheduling was out the window. Some people didn’t show up, others were late, others couldn’t get a ride to the location. That’s the nature of the situation. We did what we could as best we could. I say we because there was no way to do this effort alone. I had the generous help and support of Manisha and Erin. It was so much more than just the technical assistance that they provided – Manisha helped to round up the children and sweet talk the little girls and boys into giving us Just One Smile. Erin explained the privacy contracts (some women could not have their photos shared for their safety) and gave instructions in Spanish. She spoke Spanish to the little ones in such a musical voice that I couldn’t help smiling myself.



Normally I’d give digital copies, but since so many of them don’t have permanent residences let alone computers, it was decided that prints would be better. Pro Photo Rental and Pica’s Boulder have both graciously offered to provide financial support to cover the cost of professional printing for this and future SPAN shoots. I cannot thank these two amazing local businesses enough for their dedication to our community. When I informed the women that I would have prints for them in a couple of weeks, they were all so thankful and excited.

When I shoot, my mind is entirely on the shoot and there is little room in my brain to process much else that is going on around me. So at the end of the day when everyone had their photos taken and I hugged Erin good-bye (Manisha had to leave early, but they tag-teamed), I sat in my car and a flood of thoughts burst into my head. I had gone into this all wrong. It wasn’t about head shots, it was about capturing their children. One woman didn’t want her photo taken at all – just the kids.

I went into this treating it like a job, but felt a lot of emotions when I drove away from the park. This shoot was meant to be my gift to the women at the shelter, but it has in turn become a gift that they have given to me.

come play with us this summer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Recipe: stir-fried baby bok choy

There are a few spaces left in the Food and Light workshop to be held in Boulder, Colorado on August 2-3, 2011. If you want to take your food photography skills to the next level, if you’re in a rut, or even if you are just getting started – it’s a great opportunity to learn, work hard, make friends, eat amazing food, have fun, and experience a little bit of glorious downtown Boulder in summer.


shooting in my home studio



We have a rock ’em, sock ’em line-up of instructors who were not only selected for their stunning body of work, but for their ability to teach and teach well. I’m quite proud of this team because our collaboration from the beginning has been cooperative, jovial, enthusiastic and most importantly – we are all focused on providing the best experiences for our workshop attendees. In a month, we will be sending out a questionnaire to Food and Light 2011 participants to gauge what each person’s skill level is and to find out what topics they want us to cover and what specifics they want to be addressed. It’s highly customized to the individuals because we only spend a small fraction of the workshop giving lectures. Most of the time is spent shooting and working one-on-one with the instructors.

matt is a our canon man (photo courtesy of matt wright)



Did I mention that Matt wrote a photography manual to raise money for Japan’s relief efforts? He did. He’s amazing.

This year we’re changing things up a bit and spending our second day of the workshop in a restaurant setting at The Kitchen Upstairs. We’ve got the whole place to ourselves! The first day will still be at that beautiful light-filled Rembrandt Yard art gallery we booked last year. This way we can get some studio work at the gallery, some dynamic shooting at the restaurant, and a group family-style lunch at the restaurant (fun!!!). I’m even going to request Diane’s *favorite* waiter :)


todd working the cake (photo courtesy of white on rice couple)



Besides the fundamentals, we plan to cover: styling, composition, motion, lighting (natural and artificial), and we’re adding a short session on digital post-processing. Our sponsor Pro Photo Rental will be providing Canon and Nikon pro lenses for attendees to test drive. That’s super awesome. As stated on the website: Our goal is to not only teach you the fundamentals of food photography and food styling, but to give you the tools to continue learning when the workshop is over. So I hope you’ll consider joining us because it’s going to be a blast!

diane in the studio (photo courtesy of white on rice couple)



There’s never a free moment around here and that’s largely because I cram as much as I can into my calendar. My friend is writing up her dissertation and I read with some horror that she hadn’t been eating well a few weeks ago. At Cornell, when close friends were “in the cave”, I whipped up a few batches of food for them so they wouldn’t have to worry about cooking/feeding themselves. It’s only natural that I’d offer to bring her some food. Ya gotta eat, right?! I asked if she liked beef and broccoli, hot and sour soup, kung pao chicken, bok choy… She said she’d love anything I made. I hope she likes bok choy.

baby bok choy (because baby everything is cuter)

lop off the base



**Jump for more butter**

jam-packed nonstop weekend

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Recipe: blackberry curd cheesecake in a jar

Boy, that was a busy weekend! And I’m not even talking about Easter since the Sunday prior I said, “I think it might be Easter today.” Then I looked online and found out it was another week away. And all of that Easter candy in the stores didn’t go on sale the following week. I don’t do well with holidays whose dates float. That’s another reason why Halloween is my favorite holiday.


fresh snow on easter?

woohoo!



We had snow all weekend, and it was great! We donned our boots, packs, skis, skins, and finest Patagonia for a lovely day in the backcountry – practically all to ourselves except for the yahoos firing rifles somewhere in the distance (because THAT’S what some folks do on Easter Sunday, I suppose?). When we came home, we chowed down on dinner party leftovers from Saturday night. It only took us a year to get around to inviting our new neighbors over for dinner. Hey – we’re all busy people… plus it was a good nudge to finally clean the house.

I kicked my weekend off a tad early on Friday with an afternoon gathering of my stitch-n-bitch crew which involved absolutely zero stitching. Someday we’ll fix that, but for now we’re having too much fun doing the nosh-n-slosh. It was nice to finally see Marianne, who had been in Antarctica for several months. And also to see Beth who has been in Boulder the whole time, but could have just as easily been in Antarctica with Marianne for all I knew. Like I said, we’re all busy people.


fab food

kitt made french 75s for everyone

these were my contribution

hmmm, seems to be a nikon-centric crowd

and we all wanted to spend time with this handsome little guy



Besides catching up with this group of witty, fun, and smart women, I love that we always have a great spread of homemade food. People bring whatever they feel like and it always works out. Kitt usually brings cocktail fixings as she is our resident mixologist. You can always count on Manisha to bring amazing Indian food. And me? Typically at least one dessert. I meant to bring two this time, but spent Friday morning dumping an entire batch of baklava into the trash (bad walnuts). Good thing I had cheesecake!

my motley collection of jars

mixing graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter



I like to bring individual servings over one giant cake if possible. It’s not always possible or worth the extra headache, but I always try. My first thought was to use cake rings, which I’ve done before, but I didn’t want the hassle of unmolding and I was running short on time last week. Jars… jars… Didn’t Pim recently post about cheesecakes in jars? I went to look and discovered that she posted about them last summer. I guess recent is a relative term for me!

scoop a little into each jar

gently press down



The jars I used were just random jars I have in my recycled jar cabinet. It’s an eclectic mix of shapes and sizes that I tried to keep to around 8 ounces or less in capacity. Ideally, I would have liked to use some of my nicer little serving glasses, but I don’t think they would have survived the oven – even in a water bath. Pim had said jam jars or any jar should work, which makes sense since they have to withstand certain temperatures and pressures.

cheesecake: milk, flour, cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, egg yolks, eggs

mix until smooth



**Jump for more butter**