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cold buzz

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Recipe: cold brew coffee

People, I am feeling it. I am feeling that excitement about spring and green things sprouting from the ground and sunshine warming my back in the mornings and bright afternoons and bird song riding gentle breezes that dance through open windows. Winter has been decent with a slightly above average snowpack. Higher sun angles and longer days mean we can look forward to crust cruising in the mornings, swooshing soft or slushy stuff in the afternoons, big spring snow storms, increased (avy) stabilization, and more backcountry fun.


bluebird backcountry day

skijor with the pups

celebrated 23 years of marriage with an early morning uphill ski

and we grabbed a surprise 13-inch powder day



I used to resent the loss of an hour as we adjusted to Daylight Saving, but I was pretty happy to shift ahead this weekend. It’s partly for the later sunsets and mostly because Neva has the annoying habit of waking before daybreak and standing next to the bed, moaning/growling at us until we get up and feed her or until she pukes. So we’ve gained a little more sleep time in the mornings for another month. It’s not that bad, because I’m a morning person. Jeremy isn’t so much of a morning person, but he gets up early because that’s the best time to get things done and because he has coffee. If there wasn’t coffee, I’m just not sure Jeremy would be a functional member of society.

Last summer when I was out foraging with Erin and Jay, we stopped for a snack break and Erin handed Jay a large Nalgene bottle of dark half-frozen liquid. “Is that coffee?” Yep, it was cold brew. Erin told me cold brew is easy to make and a lot cheaper than buying it. I would occasionally get Jeremy a bottle of cold brew coffee, but he rarely requested it – probably because it’s so spendy. I made a mental note to read up on it and to try making some.

There is good news with regard to making your own cold brew such that I can’t wrap my head around shelling out the bucks to buy it anymore. First off, you don’t need to use the fancy high end stuff like that fair trade, light roast, single-origin, unwashed Ethiopia bean. Save that for your extra special hot cuppa. The lighter, brighter, more acidic and floral notes of regular coffee don’t really come out in the cold brew process. Instead, you’ll hit the earthy, chocolatey, nutty characteristics of a darker roast. And it will be smoother since heat is required to extract the acidity you find in hot brewed coffee. I use Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo medium roast whole beans. As for equipment, you can get away with a $14 coffee grinder, a $2 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or a few more bucks for a 2-quart wide-mouth jar), some coffee filters (or a nut milk bag), and a sieve. You could use a large plastic container, but glass doesn’t retain odors and I find it much easier to wash the oily residue off of glass.


coffee beans and water



Don’t grind your beans too fine because it makes for a murky final beverage and a lot more sediment. A quick few pulses work great in my Krups spice grinder and I process the beans in 1/4 cup batches. I’ve started following the general rule of thumb of about 1/4 cup of beans per cup of water, but the recipe below starts off a tad more conservatively. It’s all very forgiving. Scale the amount accordingly to accommodate your tastes and the volume of your brewing vessel. The grounds go into your jar with the water (I happily use cold tap water) and get stirred until there are no dry pockets floating about. I cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter and secure it with the canning lid ring (but not the actual lid). You can use a towel or cheesecloth, but I think the idea is to allow airflow without introducing undesired extras like floaty pet hairs.

coarse grind works best

stir with water until all grounds are wet

the grounds float at first, but will mostly sink with time

cover with a cloth or a coffee filter



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let this be the cooldown

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Recipe: huckleberry daiquiri

The weather took a turn this weekend, bringing cooler temperatures, clouds, and even some rain. The smoke is still present and we find that the intensity of the smoky odor doesn’t always correlate with the opacity of the air. But I’ll take a cooldown any way I can get it right now. We get out when we can, although being confined indoors means we are getting more work done.

We celebrated my mom’s birthday last week. At first my Dad had grand plans of going out for dinner at one of Boulder’s many fine dining establishments, but more and more my parents prefer eating with us at home. I think we all enjoy dining out, but when you are a good cook you understand the value of what you are getting at a restaurant versus what you are getting at home. There are plenty of times when dining in wins. Dad executed a fabulous feast including the traditional noodles for long life. I contributed a Colorado Palisade peach (the best peaches!) pie because my mom loves peaches and she doesn’t bake.


birthday girl and lots of special dishes

chinese beef and beef tendon noodle soup in 3-day broth



I’ll be honest with you, this has been a shitty summer as mountain summers go. Our monsoonal rains fizzled before they even got started, the smoke from the fires has kept us from exploring much of the high country (I’m allergic to smoke and suffer from allergy-induced asthma), and it appears that the mushroom season to date has been a mere token at best. We are skipping straight ahead to roasting green chiles, picking apples from friends’ trees, and mentally engaging ourselves with what we hope is the arrival of autumn in the mountains. We spy many random aspen branches flaring their gold colors around the neighborhood and on the trails. Most are still green, but I feel ready for fall, and then… precious winter.

the understory of our local woods is turning

there aren’t many out there, but we find them

time to roast and restock the freezer

apple picking with this sweet little girl and her pup, kumba



Considering our poor snowpack and meager summer rains, Erin and I were astonished that this year’s huckleberry crop was 1) early by a month and 2) phenomenal. This was not the case everywhere, because my secret huckleberry patches outside of Crested Butte had so few berries that I left them all for the local wildlife to eat. Back on the Front Range, I have a huge stash cleaned, sorted, and frozen. There were so many berries that we hardly put a dent in them. I saved a few fresh ones to make some recipes, including a huckleberry daiquiri cocktail.

ice, huckleberries, limes, sugar, water, rum



I had never had an actual daiquiri before. My knowledge of daiquiris came from the daiquiri ice sherbet at Baskin Robbins, which you could argue is no knowledge at all. But whenever I want to try a cocktail recipe, Jeremy always volunteers as tribute. To make it huckleberry, I merely steeped crushed berries in the simple syrup. And while I typically use organic cane sugar that has a brown tint to it, I opted for white granulated sugar to avoid any adulteration of the true huckleberry color. After you strain the berries out, don’t throw them away! These are great on pancakes, waffles, French toast, or ice cream. Huckleberries should never be wasted.

make a simple syrup with water and sugar

mash the huckleberries

add the berries and let steep for 30 minutes

strain the syrup



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frosé, two ways

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Recipe: frosé, two ways

It’s been too hot to cook. Normally in the mountains, we can cool down nicely in the evenings by opening up the house and running the fan (we don’t have air conditioning). But the heat and the height of pine pollen season have conspired to keep us holed up in the house while thick yellow plant sex covers the world around us. I am very allergic to the pine pollen, but this year it seems to be affecting those who haven’t experienced these allergies before. What we desire is a good rainstorm, because it washes away the pollen and cools everything down, but all we’ve been getting are teases and nary a drop of water from the sky reaching the ground.


storm clouds and virga with a rainbow in the bottom left at sunset

the winds kick up pollen storms in our valley

lovely clouds at sunset, but still no rain



I think we may have hit peak pollen yesterday, which means relief is on its way. Even so, it’s still hot as blazes and I couldn’t bring myself to blog about anything other than this frozen amazingness that I finally tried last week. If you are even remotely aware of food trends, you’ve heard of frosé and you know that it was all the rage two years ago. I’m always late to the food fad game, partly due to skepticism and partly because I just can’t get my act together soon enough to join the party. So for those of you who were completely unaware of the frosé revolution, I’m here to tell you to stock up on rosé this summer.

I’ve tried two variations that we (all of the lucky taste testers) like: classic and fruity. They have nearly identical ingredients, but one incorporates the fruit (fruity) and one merely uses the fruit to flavor the syrup (classic). I made a half batch of each “in case it didn’t taste good.” Silly me! Be sure to use a bold rosé – rosé of Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Malbec. And don’t break the bank on a super spendy bottle because you’re adding all sorts of ingredients and freezing the stuff – go for the cheaper bottles.


classic: strawberries, lemon, water, sugar, rosé

lemon juice, water, sugar, rosé, hulled and chopped strawberries

boil the water and sugar to make simple syrup

steep the strawberries in the syrup



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