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spring meets green

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Recipe: japanese-style asparagus frites

Did you guys stay up to watch the total lunar eclipse late Monday night/early Tuesday morning this week? We tracked the eclipse until the moon entered totality and dropped behind a cloud. Sometimes shoots don’t go as planned (in fact, most nature shoots rarely go “as planned”). I saw that cloud start as a little puff in the night sky. Estimating the trajectory of the moon for the duration of the eclipse, I figured I’d be in the clear as long as the cloud remained in place. It stayed in place alright, but it also grew like a mofo. Over the course of 90 minutes, this tiny, unassuming cloud stretched and grew until it became a standing wave cloud right in the path of the moon during totality. Also, it was damn windy (and cold – even for me), which made wrangling a 500mm telephoto a bit of a challenge. But the path to growth and wonder is not the path of leisure and comfort… or some such mumbo jumbo.


the start of the eclipse (left) and the start of totality (right)



This kind of shoot is what I call character-building (there was a lot of swearing at the winds). Ignoring the shoot, it was absolutely beautiful to watch. People say once you have seen a couple of lunar eclipses, you don’t need to stay up to see more. I disagree. I’ve witnessed quite a few and each one is spectacular and special and amazing. But yeah, the winds sucked big time because we were transitioning from cold and stormy weather to sunny warm weather. Whenever that happens, the atmosphere gets a little squirrely.

here we are at treeline as a storm front blew in (and snowed on us – yay!)



This is what spring does. It’s volatile and dynamic. The sun is in the sky longer, heating the ground, the oceans, and the atmosphere. Here in the mountains, it’s melting the snowpack and putting more moisture in the air. Everyone seems to have their panties in a wad that spring is a transition of seasons rather than idyllic sunny, warm days of blooming flowers, baby animals, and yadda yadda yadda. I’ll tell you what. Asparagus know the drill. They’re frost tolerant plants, which is a good thing since we have the seesaw snow/sun thing going on in Colorado. My pal, Wendy, watches the weather like a hawk and begins monitoring all of her wild asparagus sites about now. I forage with her because it’s so fun, but I always let her keep all of the ‘gus (I call them gus gus) because she lives on this stuff and I’m just along for the ride. I like foraging, but I’m no forager. I buy my spears at the store.

let’s make asparagus tempura: asparagus, ice water, egg, baking soda, flour

mix the flour and baking soda together

whisk the egg and ice water together

stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients



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mutual inspiration

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Recipe: california roll poke

Ski resort seasons are coming to an end, but it seems that the atmosphere is not ready to call it quits just yet. We had a nice 9-inch dump of snow late last week which made for some excellent early turns Thursday, and some fine backcountry skiing Friday. Spring skiing is not like winter skiing. The snow is heavy and wet, rather than light as a feather and powdery. But… I’m not bundled to the hilt either because it’s spring and warm(er). You really do work up a sweat. I actually love that!


upslope event meant clouds and snow on the plains

snow blanketing the mountains – that’s what i like



Friends of mine who live just 3000 feet below us are starting to post photos of mountain bike rides, trail runs, and other sunny and warm endeavors. My heart keeps telling me, “Get more turns before the snow melts!” while my brain is thinking, “We need to get riding and running!” Really though, as long as I can be active and outside then I’m happy. Meanwhile, I’m flipping through Facebook the other day and see my friend, Allison (who runs Fridgg), has posted a photo of her latest dining exploits in Southern California. California roll poke. I had to have it. HAD TO HAVE IT.

Allison says that I inspire her with my recipes, yet she inspires me with all of the awesome food she enjoys (and posts photos of)! If I lived near her, we’d eat out together all the time because I absolutely love her taste in food. And I love Allison.


crab legs, maguro (sashimi-grade tuna), green onions, avocado, cucumber, black and white sesame seeds, flake sea salt, masago (flying fish roe), soy sauce, sesame oil



Poke is a Hawai’ian raw fish salad. When Jeremy and I were last on the Big Island, we visited the local Foodland grocery store in Hilo. There was an entire fish counter dedicated to over a dozen types of gorgeous, fresh poke. So when I went looking for a California roll poke recipe, the one from Foodland’s site by Chef Keoni Chang was what I used as a template. There is a good deal of flexibility on the ingredients, so use what you like best and what is available to you. Just be sure the fish is sashimi-grade. I used maguro instead of ahi tuna, and I didn’t sear my fish because I like it completely raw. For the crab, you don’t have to go for King crab legs as it can be prohibitively expensive and hard to source. Lump crab meat works or even surimi, imitation crab meat (aka Krab). And the best cucumbers are the crisp, less seedy kind like Japanese, Persian, or English cucumbers.

slice cucumbers

dice the tuna

peel the crab



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keep your skis on

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese grilled beef salad

It got positively balmy last week. I think Colorado was taking that whole Spring thing seriously for a few days, but only for a few days. The walls of snow that line our sidewalks and roads shrunk by feet under the blazing sunshine and warm winds. We got out to noodle about above our house on some of that fine afternoon corn snow for fun. Of course, two days later we were getting turns on the mountain in 14 fresh inches of powder. That’s how Crested Butte rolls.


jeremy navigates spring conditions

aaaaand we’re back to winterlike powder!



Late Friday night, Jeremy and I went back to the mountain to watch the start of The Grand Traverse. It’s an unmarked backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte, climbs 7800 feet, and ends 40 miles across the Elk Mountains in Aspen. Due to that nice 2 foot dump of fresh snow over the mountains, the race coordinators decided the avalanche risk was too high for the 300+ racers (teams of two for safety) and re-routed the course to loop back to Crested Butte – what is known as The Grand Reverse. The Denver Post had a nice article on the race here. I thought it was extremely awesome that the mayors of Crested Butte and Aspen skied as a team. Finish times typically range between 8 and 16 hours.

spotlight on the summit of mount crested butte

racers taking warm up runs

countdown to midnight at the starting line

a blur of headlamps, skis, and colorful gear as they charge up the mountain



That was fun and inspiring to watch! On the drive back to the house, we talked about those beautiful places in the backcountry we’d like to see or revisit. But we only allow ourselves to talk about it, not make plans. And that’s okay. We can’t plan as long as Kaweah is with us. We would not (could not) trust her geriatric care to anyone else at this stage. I don’t doubt that a lot of people might have put her down by now with her severely limited mobility, her accidents, the amount of time it takes to care for her… Sometimes she does well and other times not so well. Jeremy and I agreed that as long as her good days outnumbered the bad days, we’d do what we could to make her happy and keep her safe. This is why I’m fine with hand-waving discussions about places to explore instead of my usual insistence on making concrete plans. But the talk of summer backpacks and trail runs had me craving summery fare like salads and grilled things. Thankfully, this Vietnamese grilled beef salad isn’t limited to summer. You can totally make this now.

for the beef: flank steak, limes, thai bird chile, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce

minced garlic, sliced chile, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, beef

mix the garlic, chile, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice together



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