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the truth about neva

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Recipe: chocolate cream puffs


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Thank you for the incredibly sweet comments and emails regarding the last post. It was not my intention to rally support, merely to point certain individuals to the door. You guys are the best. xo

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There’s something I need to tell you about Neva…


yes, that neva



I didn’t love Neva when we brought her home. I mean, of course I loved her – but I didn’t LOVE her, not like I loved my Kaweah girl. I loved Neva out of obligation and because she was my responsibility. This puppy was all kinds of feral. Neva had so many accidents in the house that we ended up taking her out to potty every half hour because she had a bladder with the capacity of an eye dropper. She’d pee in the yard and then come back inside and happily pee on her doggy bed two minutes later – oblivious to the difference. Sure, she was a puppy, and puppies don’t know ANYTHING, but Neva was like a special needs puppy because it took her longer to learn things compared to most pups. That and when we thought she HAD learned something, she would regress and get commands confused.

cute as a button, but a complete terror



Neva was highly excitable and overreacted to everything (people, dogs, bikes, cars, birds, leaves, rocks…), baying loudly like a donkey, growling and barking as she scrabbled and clawed her way against the leash toward whatever it was. When we were outside, all she wanted to do was run off and follow scents. No amount of food (she’s a lab, for crying out loud!) would bring her back. There were times when I debated for a split second whether to let her run off forever or to try and catch her. During her puppyhood, we met LOTS of other puppies who were calm, sweet, loyal, and focused on people. Neva was the opposite – her progress appeared to be inversely proportional to the amount of time we invested in her training.

she had to bite *everything*



Little pup spent plenty of time socializing and playing with other dogs, but she didn’t understand that most adult dogs wanted nothing to do with a sharp-toothed hyper baby dog. Neva was never aggressive, but she was persistent with her attentions. Dogs are pretty clear about their feelings with one another. Unfortunately, our girl did not clue in on the snarling or raised hackles and sometimes (lots of times) got the smackdown from older dogs.

mr. wyatt lays down the law, but neva just wants to love him



Our nickname for Neva was Miss FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). She never had separation anxiety issues (thank goodness), but she didn’t like the thought of something good going on without her. Neva was not especially affectionate with us. On the rare occasion that she got hurt or scared, she would stand behind one of us or try to climb into our laps for comforting. But more often than not, she looked at us as housemates with opposable thumbs rather than her pack.

passed out in the car after a loooong hike



We spent a lot of time not having fun so that Neva could have fun. She loved the outdoors as much as we did, yet spending time with her outside made us miserable. Instead of hiking, we were constantly wrangling the dog. Instead of hanging out on the stand up paddle board, she jumped off and swam to shore where one of us had to run interference to keep her from bolting off to who knows where. Instead of backcountry skiing, Jeremy skinned uphill without poles (to manage Neva’s leash) and wedged downhill rather than getting turns so Neva wouldn’t get cut by a ski. Whenever we planned to do something the question always arose, “Do you want to bring Neva or leave her at home?”, but the real meaning was, “Do you want to bring Neva or would you rather have fun?” More often than not, we brought her along because we just kept hoping that someday she’d become a good dog.

aaaand, she’s off again



Neva was not much of a cuddler, which broke my heart because Kaweah was SUCH a cuddle bug. When we came home, she didn’t get out of her bed to greet us or even show any excitement that we were back. It felt like Neva didn’t enjoy being with us except when she wanted something to eat. If we sat next to her to pet her, she would get up and lie down four feet away. She acted like she wanted to run away from us every chance she got. After the first eight months, I began to accept that maybe I didn’t have to love Neva the way I loved Kaweah. Yet I also wondered if I loved Neva at all. We resigned ourselves to giving Neva a happy life, even if she didn’t seem thrilled to be with us.

trying to shake off and cross a stream at the same time



The change was gradual, to the point of being imperceptible. Some time in the last six months, we noticed that Neva started to cuddle. She also allowed us to rub her belly or spoon with her. When she is happy or anxious, she likes to rub her side against vertical fabric like couches, hanging towels, beds, and lately our legs (when wearing pants). For the past several months, each night she started out in her bed when I turned out the lights, but by morning Neva would be snuggled between us on our bed, softly snoring away. While Neva is far from a Good Dog, she raises our blood pressure a little less each time we take her for a walk, a hike, a ski.

the goofiest goofball that ever goofed around



I never expected Neva to be Kaweah. And I should point out that I am under no illusion that Kaweah was perfect – far from it! Neva was just an order of magnitude more work than Kaweah. This might be because Neva is notably less intelligent than Kaweah. Kaweah was not the sharpest tack in the box, however Neva is a veritable ball bearing. But gosh if that little pea-brain hasn’t grown on me. I think she matured quite a bit in her second year, for which we are all grateful. I have also observed that Neva looks to Jeremy as her person, which makes me very happy, because I love him and I love that she loves him. I feel as if we are finally reaching that stage I was hoping to achieve within the first month of her arrival – a pack. I didn’t start out loving Neva the way I wanted to, but I realize that I do truly love that crazy little girl. And I find myself telling her, “I love you, baby puppy,” more and more every day, from the heart.

my heart: these two



Alright now, Valentine’s Day is coming up and I think most of you know that I don’t really care for it in the traditional sense. For me, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to be kind and loving to everyone everyday. It is also the perfect excuse to make things that people love to eat. I have made these chocolate cream puffs several times in the past year for various gatherings. I thought of them as my Frankenstein puffs because the recipe is cobbled together from parts of other recipes. I finally tired of having to reference multiple recipes, so I am posting this in one place as a favor to my future self (as I’ve said before, I blog for me, but I share with you). Ultimately, it’s all about the cream puffs. I recommend making the pastry cream first.

pastry cream: chocolate, sugar, cornstarch, butter, eggs (yolks), milk

heat the milk

whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar together

temper the egg mixture with hot milk



**Jump for more butter**

don’t fritter the day away

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Recipe: apple fritter bread

It’s my last post of the year, so before I continue with a visual recap of our holiday shenanigans, I hope you all have a fun and safe time ringing in the New Year this coming weekend. However you may feel about 2016, each day is a chance to turn things around. Maybe you want to start right now or perhaps it helps you mentally to start on the first day of 2017 or after a week of getting familiar with writing or typing 2017 instead of 2016. Whatever works for you! Just promise me you won’t go into the new year already defeated. It might be exercise, better eating habits, volunteer work, activism, professional goals, learning something new, getting organized, finances, taking care of things you’ve been putting off, reconnecting with someone, spending more quality time with people. Many of the more challenging objectives in life require baby steps, patience, and perseverance. So be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You will get there.

It’s been a wonderfully snowy week in Crested Butte with sunshine in between powder days, allowing us to rotate through several flavors of skiing. I’m talking quads of steel! Neva has been enjoying snowy romps around the neighborhood and a few ski tours (we have to ease her back into it because… she’s crazy). When she isn’t losing her marbles in deep snow, our girl likes to curl up on a plush blanket on her bench by the window – watching people and dogs walk by while she soaks up the sunshine, dozing off on occasion. I never said she wasn’t spoiled.


neva’s impersonation of a traumatized reindeer

neva’s christmas goodie plate – she is totally spoiled

jeremy drops in on a gorgeous powder day

sliding off the ice throne

working up a sweat skate skiing on a single digit day

ripping skins after an uphill ski, ready to ski down

another delicious powder day

christmas morning on the lift – fresh tracks and free refills!



I debated punting on a recipe this week since we are between holidays, but I am also a creature of habit. Besides, I like sharing recipes with folks since I can’t easily make something and serve it to most of you. This happens to be the perfect kind of breakfast/brunch/tea/snack/dessert cake for this time of year without involving pumpkin spice, peppermint, or eggnog. Don’t get me wrong, I like all three of those flavors (not together, though), but enough is enough is enough. Let’s make some apple fritter bread.

cinnamon, cornstarch, brown sugar, sugar, sour cream, butter, vanilla, apples, flour, confectioners sugar, eggs, nutmeg, salt, milk, baking powder

dice the apples

toss the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch



**Jump for more butter**

the weather outside is delightful

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle mushroom dip

It’s that time of year again – the end of the year. And that means our Year in Photos greeting card is now live at http://jenyu.net/newyear/. So be sure to drop by and have a gander at some of our favorite photos from 2016!


wishing you all the happiest of holidays and the very best in 2017



My cookie and candy duties are DONE! As of Monday night, all but one bag have been delivered (the last one goes out in the morning). This kind of holiday activity usually involves maximum chaos for a few days before the finished treats get bagged and ready for their recipients. I have trouble working in a messy environment, so you can just imagine how entropy was taking a toll on my OCD. Oh, but it didn’t end there. Once we made our Front Range deliveries, it was time to pack up our things, scrub down the house, and rig the plants on a self-watering system for the duration of our absence. We had an eight-hour window of clear weather to get to Crested Butte before a big storm barreled through. We arrived an hour before the snow began to pummel the town for two straight glorious days!

some of the happy packages of homemade love

jeremy dives into over 2 feet of fresh powder

a lovely sight to behold – snow on the mountains



The storm moved on and left frigid temperatures in its wake. We dropped to -26.5°F last night and the daytime temperatures barely made it out of single digits. That didn’t seem to bother Neva one bit. Sun. Snow. She loves it all. Instead of a run, hike, walk, or ski, she got her beans out climbing 6-foot banks of snow (repeatedly), and jumping around in deep powder. Then she’d come home and rub her face on the rug before passing out in the sun while we hopped out on the Nordic trails.

neva could do this all day

ice crystals formed a beautiful pattern on the inside of our windows overnight

skate skiing in single digits and full on colorado sun



I called my parents over the weekend because it was their 51st wedding anniversary. I asked how they were and Mom reported that they had far too many holiday parties to attend. My parents are ever the social butterflies. I don’t know how they do it because that requires a lot of energy to be a party person. Jeremy and I prefer the more intimate gatherings with a handful of friends and sharing of good food and wine. I’m always on the lookout for recipes well-suited for entertaining – either to serve to guests or to contribute to someone else’s party. This hot chanterelle mushroom dip is the perfect party fare on a cold winter’s night when the snow squeaks underfoot outside and the fireplace is crackling inside.

black pepper, olive oil, chanterelle mushrooms, onion, cream cheese, mayonnaise, white wine, butter, thyme, garlic, salt, parmesan cheese



This recipe was test-driven in the fall after I had foraged chanterelles, but you can use pretty much any variety of fresh, edible mushroom that you like. White button mushrooms are my last choice because almost any other kind of mushroom will have better flavor. The dip does require a little bit of a time investment because it includes caramelized onions, which we all know are totally worth the forty minutes to an hour required to cook them. I sometimes buy a bag of onions and caramelize a large batch so that I can freeze portions for my future self to use without all the fuss. Caramelized onions freeze well and they are a great addition to so many dishes. Or you can easily caramelize the onions the day before and keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the dip.

slice the onions

sauté in butter and oil until soft

cooked for a long time (be patient) until caramelized



**Jump for more butter**