porcini tacos chinese buddha's hand melon (chayote) salad fifty-one fig vodka infusion and fig blossom cocktail


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archive for confections

a little love

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Recipe: huckleberry pate de fruit

I’m glad the week is over. In addition to prepping our Chinese New Year foods and cleaning the house (because of superstitions), I managed to simultaneously come down with an infection which has left me feeling less than 100%. Next year, I just may allow myself greater leeway when it comes to purchasing rather than making all of the food from scratch.


photo courtesy of jimmy gekas

single digits at devil’s thumb ranch nordic center



But the Lunar New Year and my infection aside, it was politics that made for a pretty craptastic week. It takes an enormous amount of energy to filter out the garbage (both on the left and the right) in order to focus on facts and prioritize actions. I don’t get political in this space because politics are very personal for me, just like I don’t talk about religion here because that, too, is very personal. I discuss these issues with people I respect and care about – reasonable, level-headed, critical thinkers. I have had a handful of people ask me to elaborate on my plan of action. That’s hard to spell out as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of upheaval, not to mention we all have different pressing local matters. However, at the national level, I feel these organizations are effective in supporting the issues and causes of importance to me:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Common Cause
Nature Conservancy
Planned Parenthood
ProPublica
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Trust for Public Land (TPL)
Union of Concerned Scientists (USA)

I also found this guide to be helpful on how to concentrate my energies when communicating with my elected representatives: Indivisible Guide: Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.


chinese new year’s eve dinner

chinese new year’s breakfast: potstickers, scallion pancakes, azuki sweet rice cake, satsuma mandarin oranges

a brilliant sunset



Now on to a happier topic… like huckleberries. Despite the fact that we are merely a month into winter, it already feels like spring to me with the ever-so-slightly longer days. Of course, spring in our mountains amounts to generous helpings of snow and that signature Colorado sunshine. I won’t be replenishing my huckleberry stash until late summer (if I’m lucky!), but it’s time to stop hoarding the precious berries in the freezer and start using some in recipes. I’ve made blueberry-pear pâte de fruit in the past, but always had the intention to try a huckleberry pâte de fruit. You can use fresh or frozen huckleberries here, and if you don’t have huckleberries, you can swap in blueberries. If you want to order frozen hucks, google around, there are a number of suppliers who sell them online from the Pacific Northwest. If you forage your own hucks, then you and I are kindred spirits.

sugar, huckleberries, applesauce, lemon, liquid pectin

add two tablespoons lemon juice to the berries

boil for 5 minutes



**Jump for more butter**

hey rooster

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Recipe: chinese sesame balls jian diu

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s been nice to have a full week that wasn’t dictated by powder skiing. Not that I would mind doing that again… and again. Still, there was much to be done work-wise, workout-wise, around the house, and socially. The sunny and calm weather made that especially pleasant. Jeremy and I love to get an early morning skate ski to jumpstart the particularly busy days. On the less intense work days, we’ll take Neva with us for a little backcountry touring and to change up the exercise. We invited our neighbors over for wine and appetizers and to chat with their graduating senior about career and school options. We worked through the weekend, taking a break to ski and think in the backcountry and come up with a plan of action for things that are important to us (climate, science, public lands, the environment, social justice, education, equal rights, diversity, to name a few) and meeting up with some old and new friends.


a lovely sun-dappled nordic trail

warm enough to leave the deck door open (which neva loved)

my pack

neva derp face



Chinese New Year is this coming Saturday, which means I have less than a week to clean the house, make tons of traditional Chinese foods, and freak myself out over the superstitions that I know aren’t really real. It’s going to be the Year of the Rooster. My Grandma was a rooster. She would have turned 96 this year. I don’t have anything profound to say. I simply miss her kind and gentle soul, and her wisdom. It feels that we could use all the kindness and wisdom we can muster.

Today’s recipe is another Chinese favorite from my childhood. But it wasn’t my favorite, it was my sister, Kris’, favorite. Whenever we went to dim sum, the sesame balls (jian diu) would catch her eye as the ladies wheeled the carts past. These fried mochi dough balls covered in sesame seeds and filled with a sweet center were crispy outside and chewy and warm inside (when fresh). If I had to choose a filling, it would always be sweet red bean (azuki), but they were filled with sweet date, lotus seed, sesame seed paste, peanut, mung bean. I thought it was time to tackle this recipe – not for me so much as to honor my memory of Kris.


glutinous rice flour, sweet red bean paste, chocolate, sesame seeds, brown sugar, water

dissolve the brown sugar in the water

stir the sugar water into the rice flour



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oh joy!

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Recipe: homemade almond joy candy

The first full week of December has more than made up for the dismal snowfall of November. Not only have we received decent snowfall, but snow is slated to continue for another week! This is good news for snow lovers as well as our snowpack, which provides our water all year and is responsible for the beautiful streams and wildflowers in summer.


neva’s nose was wiggling all over as she sniffed the snow in the air

it was quite chilly for a few days – neva got bundled into a snuggy blanket

the view from indian peaks chair at our local hill



Our backcountry has a nice layer of snow, but our ski poles hit rocks and dirt at the bottom because we’ve had no base. Hopefully this series of storms will build a good base for the rest of the season. I haven’t been willing to get my skis waxed and tuned until I stopped hitting rocks! Better late than never.

our skin tracks

i spy a baby moose peeking from behind the tree

crazy little neva sports her orange booties and orange ball

happy girl with a stylish snowbeard



I am in full candy making and cookie baking mode over here. It’s a good thing the holidays coincide with the shortest days or I’d be ditching all of my gift-making duties in favor of skiing. As it is, our evenings have been filled with lots of chocolate, sugar, butter, nuts, flour, candied ginger, lemon zest, more chocolate, and piles of dirty dishes. The main recipients of my annual kitchen frenzy are Jeremy’s administrative staff. I’ve been giving them an assortment of homemade treats for almost a decade. Over the years I’ve received feedback on certain cookies such that they have become regulars in the gift bags. But I do try to mix things up a little and introduce a new cookie or confection each year. This year’s newest addition is a homemade Almond Joy, which should really be called a Coconut Joy because the almond is just a small part of it. Anyway, these are easy and delicious and I had to make a second batch because Jeremy looked so sad when I said I had just enough to distribute to recipients.

vanilla extract, chocolate, flaked coconut, powdered sugar, almonds, salt, sweetened condensed milk



There is no cooking involved in these treats except for the toasting of almonds and melting of chocolate. Stir stuff together, mold it into a desired shape, pop a nut on top and dip it in chocolate. That’s how simple it is. Joy‘s version called for unsweetened flaked coconut, but I grabbed sweetened flaked coconut instead. You know what? It worked great. I mean, it’s candy – it’s going to be sweet and you will just have to climb an extra thousand feet of elevation in your skis to burn it off. No big deal.

adding vanilla to the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and salt

stir in the coconut



**Jump for more butter**