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zip and zing

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Recipe: fresh ginger beer

I jumped the gun a couple of weeks ago and had my hair cut off, donating the 10-12 inch ponytails to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. My reasoning for keeping it long was for ease of management under my ski helmet, but with a lousy ski season nearing its end and the warming weather, I couldn’t resist!


flowering trees going crazy down on the flats

short hair is super refreshing on sunny trail runs



Despite pledging my allegiance to spring, when it snowed 10 inches this past week we immediately grabbed the skis and headed out for a little backcountry touring. It was very crunchy and knobbly underneath, because the crazy warm days had melted most of the snow which froze the slushy footprints and suncups into icy divots overnight. But the soft fluffy stuff falling from the sky made for fun turns, giggles and whoops echoing through the valley, and a renewed declaration of our love of skiing.

skinning up

skiing out

neva in the moment, in the snow



Whether it’s snowing or sunshining, I’m always up for a refreshing glass of ginger beer. I’ve tasted several brands of store-bought ginger beer over the years, preferring those with a sharper gingery bite and less sugar than their popular cousin, ginger ale. Earlier this year, I was determined to brew my own ginger beer. I tried this authentic alcoholic ginger beer from Food 52 and had to pour the bulk of it down the drain because it tasted so awful. I wondered if perhaps it was the alcohol? The next recipe I tried from Serious Eats only had 2 days of fermentation. Sadly, it didn’t register much higher than my first attempt at ginger beer. Both seemed to have an oddly soapy flavor to the ginger beer. I was so frustrated.

Fast forward a few weeks and Jeremy and I had a lunch date at Oak in Boulder where I sipped on their homemade ginger beer. So fizzy and bright and full of “punch you in the face” ginger flavor. I later emailed the restaurant, relaying my tale of woe and wasted ginger, and asked if they would be willing to give me some tips on making my own ginger beer. These incredibly nice people replied within a few hours and gave me their recipe.


sugar, ginger, lemon, water, topo chico (or any soda water)



Their version isn’t something I can reproduce at home. They combine fresh ginger juice, lemon juice, sugar, and water, and then they carbonate it. My version combines fresh ginger juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and carbonated water. Why not?

simple syrup: water and sugar



**Jump for more butter**

spring timing

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Recipe: seared duck breast with morels and asparagus

We are in the midst of a back and forth between snow and rain, cold and warm, clouds and sun. Our Rocky Mountain springtime is volatile and beautiful. It’s hard for me to decide which kind of weather I like best right now. But, I don’t have to choose because we get to sample all of it in a day or even in the span of a couple of hours. This year I feel I’m really embracing spring. Rather than finally getting around to our “spring cleaning” in September, we’ve been working on it since March.


sunny day in the high country

two days later we get a powder day

all this snow is good for mushrooms



If you know me, you know that what I’m really excited about is the start of mushroom season. Ellen hypothesized that mushroom foragers inhale a good bit of mushroom spores which take over our brains and make us obsess over mushroom hunting. [I dismissed her idea with a laugh while secretly relaying this information to the overlord of our fungal hive mind.] We are weeks away from the first mushrooms of the season in the Colorado high country, but that doesn’t keep me from monitoring mushroom activity around the country. It’s happening in Northern Georgia right now – morels. And soon it will be happening in more and more locations as we deep dive into spring. I made this dish last spring during my local morel season and cannot wait to make it again this year if I should be lucky enough to get my hands on more morels.

asparagus, snap peas, brandy, salt, butter, morels, vegetable oil, pepper, shallots, garlic, duck breasts



I have found the easiest way to clean fresh morels is to hold each one caged loosely in your hand, and swish it around in a bath of cold water to dislodge any sediment, bugs, and other things that aren’t morels. Then I lay them on paper towels to dry for an hour or so. And don’t pour that morel bath water down the drain! I recommend pouring it out in your yard or someplace where morel-friendly trees grow because that water is full of morel spores (they are teeny tiny, but they’re there). I can’t promise that morels will come up the following season, but it’s worth a try. Prep the duck breasts by scoring the skin, and chop the rest of the vegetables.

morels drying after a rinse

cut the skin in a 1-inch grid

mise en place



**Jump for more butter**

discards for the win

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Recipe: sourdough waffles

Our floor lamp in the great room is on an automatic timer. I generally try to have it come on a little after sunset, when the skies give up their light at the end of each day. We’ve been doing this “chasing the sun” schedule for nearly 13 years now, but I still feel a boost of giddiness when I get to start setting the timer for later each day. It’s not that I don’t love winter, because I do love it very much. I just think with a little over 3 weeks left of official winter, I’m looking forward to spring backcountry skiing, longer days, and hopefully some big ass spring storms to replenish that high country snowpack. In the meantime, we are dutifully logging our ski days as best as we can. And Neva is definitely happier for it.


little neva lives for the dog-friendly nordic trails

happiest pup on the planet



When I first read the care and maintenance instructions for my starter, Wheatley, I thought there was a typo. It said to take a small fraction of the starter, feed it, and discard the rest – either in the trash or the compost, but don’t pour it down the sink as it could grow and clog up the pipes. Discard? Food? I soon understood that keeping it all would be an exercise in madness. In an effort to reduce waste, I began to take the very smallest fraction (5 grams) of starter for feedings before bread-making and save the discard in the refrigerator for things like delicious, fluffy waffles.

starter discard

flour, starter discard, eggs, butter, baking soda, salt, sugar, buttermilk



Waffles and pancakes are a great way to use up discard or unfed starter. This recipe uses a cup of discard and easily doubles if you want to freeze waffles or pancakes for quick breakfasts on weekdays. It does require a little planning, which may present difficulty for the non-planners, but the rest of you will be just fine. The night before you make waffles (or pancakes), stir the discard, buttermilk, flour, and sugar together in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter overnight at room temperature. That’s called the sponge.

combine the discard, flour, sugar, and buttermilk

cover with plastic and let sit out overnight



**Jump for more butter**