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sustainability

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Recipe: oat milk rice pudding

I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude toward food the last few years. Instead of enjoying it, I began to resent the thinking about, making, shooting, and even the consumption of food. That’s when I recognized my blog was no longer my way to document the recipes I liked, but rather the recipes I felt an obligation to post. It’s a stupid mindset: anticipating what others will like. That’s a formula for unhappiness. That’s not for me.

Around the same time, I let a number of nagging physical injuries pile up to the point where being active seemed to further damage my body than help it. I had had enough. It was high time I got my shit in order and put health first – both mental and physical – and that takes time. I’m using a combination of yoga, ice, ibuprofen, stretches, rest, physical therapy, and exercise to get myself back on track. Just in time for sliding season.


backcountry ski touring

resorts are opening more terrain each day

getting pups out to play in the snow

the first skijor of the season



Thanksgiving skiing is usually full of new aches and soreness when the season kicks off, but we hit the ground running (or skiing) early this year with those October storms and some indoor training. Instead of the traditional big turkey dinner carb bomb, we kept dinner normal and loaded our week with lots of outdoor exercise. I felt better about life, about myself. I just felt better. I can sustain this.

a little turkey, cheese, apple, dog treat indulgence for the pups

naptime after running around outside



Part of feeling better was that I had stopped eating dairy. You know how chocolate is that thing many people can’t resist? I can’t resist dairy. Well, I can resist milk – I’m not a fan of milk. But I love those delightful treats that come from milk and cream like custard, ice cream, mousse, pastry cream, whipped cream, caramel, pudding. It used to be the gastrointestinal distress was worth the gamble, but it’s not. It really isn’t.

Then a few months ago there was a brief discussion of alternative “milks” on public radio. Someone said they liked oat milk the best. I’m the person who regards food fads with great skepticism until they are no longer fads. I’m that person who discovers this awesome new thing years after everyone else has. So that’s me with oat milk. I merely wanted a non-dairy option for cold milk tea. I loved it. Then I wondered if I could make rice pudding with oat milk. And I did.


arborio rice, vanilla bean, oat milk, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick



As far as I can tell, the oat milk (or almond milk – I haven’t tried it, but people list the two as interchangeable) can be a 1:1 substitution for regular milk. I chose arborio rice because I like starchy short grain rice for pudding. You can use long grain, medium grain, brown, sushi, jasmine. I’m not sure about sweet rice or black rice, but you get the general idea. The method is pretty straightforward: keep it on a low simmer for over an hour (up to 90 minutes) and stir often.

bring the oat milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a low simmer

add the rice and sugar and simmer until the rice is tender



**Jump for more butter**

i give a fig

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Recipe: fig bread pudding

We waited impatiently for the flip from green to yellow in the aspen stands, but summer seemed to hold on a few weeks longer than usual. The hints dotted trails and shores on our hikes and paddles. Eventually that golden wave appeared and led the way to impressive bursts of color. We refer to this time of year as pure magic. The smell of sweet leafy fermentation lingers in the air when the aspen forests glow gold and red. It’s not rotten… rather a little funky in the way a well-aged red wine can become.


enter autumn

the pups are digging it

glowing

hiking for the views and the fresh air

crested butte mountain dons her fall colors

mountain passes at their finest

yuki and neva loving any season



I did not intend to be absent for this long, but mountain homes require pre-winter maintenance, fall colors demand to be seen, puppy dogs need exercise, and it was time for me to address some nagging injuries before they progressed and negated any chance of winter activities. Don’t think I haven’t been cooking! We finally kicked that awful hot weather to the curb and now have flannel sheets on the bed. The dog blankets are out of summer storage and our heat ran for the first time yesterday morning. It’s lovely baking weather in the mountains and a perfect time for fig bread pudding.

figs, butter, brandy, vanilla extract, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, lemon (juice and zest), cinnamon bread



My initial plan was to use challah or brioche for the bread, but I thought I could use up some cinnamon bread that was hanging around the house. You can use pretty much any bread you fancy. Bread pudding is quite forgiving that way. The original recipe includes raisins, but I live with an individual who is adamantly against raisins, so they got the boot (the raisins, not Jeremy). Since I didn’t have enough figs (because I doubled the figs), I halved the recipe, but doubled the brandy because that always sounds like a good idea. Sometimes you just wing it.

chop the figs and soak in brandy

butter the bread (i did both sides, but you don’t have to)

cut the bread into cubes



**Jump for more butter**

we return to our regularly scheduled program

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Recipe: peach pâte de fruits

People refer to September as if it is actual fall, but the reality is that only the last week of September is officially fall. Sure, we can feel that precious cooldown overnight in the mountains as August winds down and September steps up. Still, the daytime highs are HIGH and sadly breaking new records. Those of us loyal to seasons outside of Burn-Your-Face-Off-Hot summer are ready to move on from bug bites, sunblock, and waking at 5:00 am to beat the sun. Children’s laughs echo from the schoolyard. Morning frost crunches underfoot in the high country. Time to resume our non-summer schedule. I hope you all had a great summer. We sure did.


variety and abundance

yuki inspects one day’s haul of porcini

a morning spent foraging chanterelles

adventures with wingus and dingus

happy pups (that’s yuki’s happy face, same as all of her faces)

beating the heat on an alpine lake



In summer, Colorado relies heavily on monsoonal moisture coming from the southwest to stoke our mountain thunderstorms and deliver rain. Prolonged absence of precipitation means the flowers begin to wilt, the mushrooms shrivel up and disappear, berries stall or die, and the threat of wildfire rears its ugly head. August was awfully dry in contrast to the start of the season, but this past weekend we were able to catch some wild berries, the last of the alpine wildflowers, and even hints of the golden glory that will soon wash over our beloved aspen forests.

thimbleberries

there’s always that one tree who has to start early

yuki on her labor day hike

resting above treeline in the flowers



It’s time. It’s time. I’ve spent several weeks this summer foraging, cleaning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling wild mushrooms, but now we are getting down to brass tacks. Time to can tomatoes, freeze corn, roast and freeze green chiles, forage late summer goodies (if any are to be had), and of course, freeze peach pie filling. I used to make peach jam every summer from luscious Colorado Palisade peaches until I realized I am not much of a jam person. Gifter? Yes! Consumer? Not so much. But peach pie in January is pure magic – hence the freezing of (a lot of) peach pie filling.

Last week, I had a dental appointment and wanted to bring a homemade sweet to the office. I know, who brings sweets to their dentist? I wanted something that could be easily shared, but my dentist is vegan and gluten-free. You may be asking where I find these people, but when you live near Boulder, Colorado, you get very used to these culinary obstacle courses. Peaches are happening now, so why not peach pâte de fruits? I adapted my strawberry pâte de fruits recipe by reducing the sugar and pectin, bumping up the lemon, and omitting the butter. I know there are a variety of pectins out there that behave differently from brand to brand, so I’m using Certo brand liquid pectin here. I haven’t invested brain cycles into how you convert between liquid and powder pectin, but it’s on that long to-do list of mine.


sugar, lemon, peaches, pectin (not pictured: pinch of salt)

peel, pit, and chop the peaches; juice the lemon

purée the peaches until smooth



**Jump for more butter**