huckleberry crisp porcini mushroom lasagne fig and brandy jam fried vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio)


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it’s a feeling

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese fried spring rolls (cha gio)

All signs point to “Back to School”. Crested Butte seemed to be emptying out this past weekend and our trail run Monday morning was particularly devoid of the usual summer gamut of hikers, runners, and bikers. We are now back home in the Front Range, navigating around freshmen and their parents as they arrive at the university. Folks are wrapping up their summer vacations and the commuter buses will be running at capacity once again. We spied a single aspen that had gone gold amidst a sea of green on our drive from Crested Butte to Nederland. Someone always jumps the gun, but fall is not far off for the mountains where splashes of red and yellow are already dotting the understory like little jewels. Speaking of little jewels, we’re seeing many wild berries ripening in the high country, too!


raspberries

my favorites: huckleberries

wild strawberries



The berries I find in the mountains are precious to me. No one tends to these plants. No one waters them. No one protects them from pests. No one throws blankets over them when there is an overnight freeze. And yet these wild and hardy plants produce the most intensely flavored little fruits. Treasures. When you explore the mountains year-round, you gain an appreciation for the struggles that all mountain life endures – especially when you pop a perfectly sweet and tart sun-warmed berry into your mouth. It is a short-lived berry season. The approach of fall looms large as my mind turns back to the kitchen, where it is starting to feel comfortable enough to cook. Let’s make some Vietnamese spring rolls or cha gio.

ground pork, shrimp, carrot, bean thread (cellophane) noodles, salt, pepper, egg, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, rice paper



While I love fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, I am a huge sucker for crisp fried things. That’s probably part of my motivation to keep active! The first time I had the fried Vietnamese spring rolls, was when our Vietnamese server misunderstood my order for grilled pork bun (rice noodle vermicelli) and brought me the grilled pork and egg roll combo bun instead. SO GOOD! I didn’t know such a thing existed.

chop the cellophane noodles with scissors

the filling: chopped cellophane noodles, minced shallots, shredded carrot, ground pork, chopped shrimp, fish sauce, beaten egg, salt, pepper, minced garlic

place all of the filling ingredients in a bowl

mix it together



**Jump for more butter**

keep on rolling

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Recipe: tamagoyaki (rolled omelette) and chirashi bowl

The overnight low temperature read 33°F on our deck in Crested Butte on Saturday night. That’s just ONE degree above freezing. I am overjoyed. As we said our good-byes this evening at our annual neighborhood picnic, I noticed everyone had donned their fleece or down jackets. Despite warm (70s) temperatures in Crested Butte during the day, it is deliciously cool when the sun drops low in the sky. You can feel it – the turn that summer takes in the high country when it’s no longer hot from day to night, but hot and cool. A subtle change, but you feel the presence and some of us get a little giddy.


our lovely view on our hike

a carpet of huckleberry plants



Going from Nederland to Crested Butte has me shifting gears. There is a whole different set of trails to run, hike, or forage. Weather patterns are different. And instead of photographing towering moose who could charge me and my camera equipment in an instant, I am stalking adorable beavers swimming recreational laps in their lakes who pose zero threat to anyone who isn’t a tree.

two beavers paddling about like it’s adult swim

moseying along the shoreline



Shortly after we got our place in Crested Butte last year, our favorite sushi bar in town shut its doors for good. Jeremy was pretty heartbroken, but living in Colorado mountain towns, you get used to either doing without or doing it yourself. If it’s food-related, I generally go for the latter. As sushi goes, some recipes come down to whether or not you can source an ingredient. However, there are items you can make from pretty basic ingredients. One of my favorites is tamagoyaki, a Japanese rolled egg omelette.

you will need eggs, mirin, sugar, salt, and dashi (or instant dashi granules)



You can purchase tamagoyaki frozen from some Asian grocery stores, but I have yet to find one that tastes good. My local sushi bar in Boulder makes it in house and it is excellent. There are different levels of effort for producing these omelettes from a plain old egg sheet to a rolled omelette to a fancy one with fish. I decided to try my hand at the basic rolled omelette. For dashi, you can make your own (beyond the scope of this post), use liquid dashi concentrate, or use hondashi instant dashi granules. (I add one teaspoon of granules to a cup of boiling water to yield one cup.)

pour the dashi into the salt and sugar

add the mirin

beat the eggs in a medium bowl

beat in the dashi mixture



**Jump for more butter**

picklish

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Recipe: fried pickles with green goddess aioli

I bid farewell to spring last week with a 17-mile trail run chased by an Andrew Bird concert at the Chautauqua Community House (125 seats and we were *this* close to the stage!) on Thursday. Then my parents made an awesome feast of a Chinese meal for us Friday evening including some of Jeremy’s favorite dishes. The next morning we packed the pup into the car and headed southwest to Crested Butte on the first day of summer. I wanted to catch the early summer wildflowers (which are very different from the mid-summer wildflowers) and well – it’s Jeremy’s happy place.


wonderful things: kaweah, summer solstice, crested butte

wallflowers in bloom

lupine nestled under aspen stands



Being in Crested Butte is also a nice opportunity to change up my trail runs and keep track of which flowers are blooming where. The trails I ran last month are no longer mudslides, but hardpack dirt. As I increase my distances, climbs, and elevations, I’m learning to also manage things like chafing, hot spots, fuel intake, rate of water intake, sun exposure, pacing, what to eat pre- and post run. Next up is filtering water on the trail because we are reaching the limit of what we can carry. I was completely oblivious to these issues at the start. No such thing as a simple run anymore.

green has arrived in the mountains

a quick snappy of purple larkspur with mount crested butte in the distance



One thing I don’t have to worry about as much is my caloric intake. Actually, I *DO* have to watch my caloric intake, but mostly to make sure I get enough calories to balance a 2000 calorie run. Something like that. The point is that I’m not shying away from the occasional fried snack which is why I ventured forth to make these irresistible fried pickles. The first time I had them was at Oak in Boulder, served with a side of green goddess aioli. If you love pickles and fried things, this is the ultimate combination. I suggest making the aioli first, because you’ll want to eat the pickles while they’re fresh and hot.

chives, parsley, dill, mayonnaise, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, anchovy paste

grate the garlic

chop the herbs



**Jump for more butter**