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Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Recipe: sweet and sour beef short ribs

A solitary patch of snow remains in our south-facing yard, determined to hold on for as long as it can. I’ve had to change to shorts in the afternoons when working inside the house thanks to the sunlight that floods our picture windows. And today, we swapped out a winter’s worth of air for fresh spring breezes that flowed mild and pleasant through open windows. Still, other parts of town and sections of nearby trails remain under thick layers of snows that have thawed, refrozen, and compacted into slick, hard, uneven surfaces. It’s not quite trail running season and it’s not the end of ski season by a long shot.


yuki and neva sit atop a good foot or two of snow



I spent a few hours last week sorting through fabrics and yarns, collecting materials for donation and realistically streamlining those items I plan to use for projects or gifts in the near future. I am okay with walking away from knitting since I don’t use any of what I knit (allergic to wool and do better with clothes that are not fragile), it’s slow, and I get repetitive motion injuries when I do knit. Lately, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the sewing machine and acquiring other skills.

tea towels are always handy in our house

from my book binding class this weekend



Strawberries are showing up again, and I don’t mean strawberries from the other hemisphere. As I passed a stack of fresh strawberries on display in the store, the image jogged my memory of making and canning jam. It’s almost that time of year. Ten years ago I didn’t know the first thing about canning and now I have to prioritize what I want to preserve in jars because there isn’t enough time in my summers to tackle all of the jams, pickles, syrups, tomatoes, salsas, and fruit butters. I have several excellent resources to thank for bringing canning in to my life, but Marisa of Food in Jars has certainly been my greatest guide through her blog, her cookbooks, and her friendship. Which is why I was delighted to receive a review copy of Marisa’s latest book, The Food in Jars Kitchen: 140 Ways to Cook, Bake, Plate, and Share Your Homemade Pantry.

recipes that use food in jars



The recipes range from savory dips to sweet bakes to beverages to main dishes. Seeing as another snow storm is en route to Colorado, I opted for a decadent beef short rib braise. It’s so simple to make and the oven does most of the work. What makes it a Food in Jars recipe is that it calls for 2 cups of jam – preferably of the drupe variety like cherry, plum, or nectarine. And don’t worry if you don’t have 2 cups of homemade jam in your cupboard, because I didn’t. I bought a jar from the store. Marisa also lists pomegranate vinegar in the ingredients, but if you can’t find that you can just as easily substitute red wine vinegar. Pomegranate vinegar is on the spendy side around here, although it does lend hints of sweet and fruit to the vinegar.

olive oil, leeks, carrots, cherry jam, pomegranate vinegar, garlic, onion, short ribs, thyme, salt, black pepper, water

chopped, sliced, minced



**Jump for more butter**

a cake for all seasons

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Recipe: almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)

Someone turned the dial to Spring this week. In winter, we used to wait for the temperatures to warm up before we could hit the Nordic trails. Now, we have to go as early as possible before the temperatures get too warm and the snow turns to slush. It smells like spring outside in the mountains – like melted snow and warmth and a barely perceptible hint of damp wood. Coyote tracks in the snow don’t get blown away or covered up so much as amplified by the sun’s rays. And Yuki gets her dog stink on after a few minutes on the deck. It’s lovely. All of it.


skate skiing with two happy pups

crested butte mountain towers above the fog



Wednesday was Neva’s fourth birthday and we had a little party for her with Yuki in attendance. We are settling into a nice routine with the pups and I think we have Neva to thank for making Free Range Yuki a reality. When we used to leave the house, Yuki would be nervous and would not play with her toys. She remained at Neva’s side until we returned. But Neva is very chill and good when we are not home. She mostly takes naps, sometimes looks out the window, and occasionally barks her head off at the UPS or FedEx trucks. She let Yuki know that everything was okay. Now, Yuki naps, checks the perimeter (she is many breeds of guard dogs), looks out the window, plays a little with Neva, and even grabs a toy for a few minutes.

happy birthday, neva!

beef, cheese, apples, carrots, and orange



As if on cue, our local mama moose and her yearling (you can see his antler nubs coming in) came by one morning to nibble away at the aspens and currant bushes like she does with each calf every spring. They hung out for a couple of hours in our and our neighbors’ yards. Everyone kept their dogs inside for as long as possible to avoid disturbing the pair until they wandered off to another part of the neighborhood. I managed a few photos from the safety of our deck. Such magnificent creatures.

touching noses

nuzzling with mama

so sweet and affectionate



Today’s recipe is good for spring, summer, fall, winter, because you top it with any seasonal fruit you like. I was looking for a reliable gluten-free cake since most of my gluten-free dessert repertoire consists of non-cake items. The problem with gluten-free baking is that I’m also dealing with high altitude baking. I spent two months working through some version and variation of this cake – sending moderate successes to my neighbors and trashing a couple of outright disasters. But I figured out the tweaks and now have a winner.

eggs, almond flour, sugar, coconut flour, more sugar, baking powder, salt, almond extract, vanilla extract



This cake is baked in an 8-inch springform pan, so smaller than your standard 9-inch cake. The original recipe calls for buttering the pan (or use melted coconut oil), but I line the bottom with parchment paper first and then butter the pan. I’ve become a huge fan of parchment paper for ease of release because I’ve had too many disappointing releases without parchment. I also suspect you could bake this in a standard round baking pan, but I haven’t actually tried it yet.

butter the pan

sprinkle some sugar over the base



**Jump for more butter**

eye on spring

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Recipe: blood orange sorbet

Who is excited for spring? Normally I’d be giving you all the stink eye, but I think I know why I, too, look forward to the vernal equinox this year. It’s because we’ve had a really good and snowy winter. Some years we get shafted on a proper winter and the arrival of March sounds like parents telling kids they have to leave the amusement park after two hours of standing in line and not even getting on the ride. But this winter brought the goods!

The time change last weekend threw us for a little loop and now we are totally into it. The best part is the dogs don’t know about the time shift! They are sleeping later (not really, but yes) and not demanding dinner until much later. It’s fantastic. Also, we have rearranged our bedroom furniture so that Yuki sleeps in a (big) crate at night and Neva’s bed is next to the crate and gated off. Containing the dogs overnight makes ALL the difference between a good night’s sleep and walking around sleep-deprived with back aches and a crick in your neck the next day. Now they hop on the bed in the morning AFTER we have rested.


sometimes i find them napping together after a romp in the snow

yet another powder day



A storm is about to barrel down on Colorado, but I am feeling spring-ish. Blood oranges are in season winter and spring (depending on the variety), and I couldn’t help grabbing a bag at the store a few weeks ago. Maybe you only indulge in sorbet when the weather is hot, but I love it all year. Even if you think the cold weather negates making sorbet, I have good news: you can freeze the juice and zest (separately) until the weather grows hot enough to warrant, nay – DEMAND, a batch of refreshingly bright blood orange sorbet.

blood oranges, lemon, sugar, grand marnier, water

zest one of the oranges

juice the oranges



**Jump for more butter**