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spring, is that you?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Recipe: passion fruit meringues

I knew it would snow again. How awesome for us that we could backcountry ski fresh snow in our local mountains one day, then go for a trail run in these same mountains the next day. The weather is a spring mix bouquet – it’s got a little bit of everything going on right now. We are rolling with it, because staying indoors is not an option.


sunrise clouds revealing new snow

a fast-moving thunderstorm at sunset



Jeremy and I have been waiting for a window of good weather all month when the snow is still decent in the high country. Active storms, cooler weather, and work obligations finally cleared this weekend. We pounced on the opportunity to get Neva out for her first ski backpack. It was an overnight trip into our local backcountry and we kept it simple for our own sanity as well as Neva’s safety. Unlike summer backpacking, early season backpacking involves more bulk and weight to account for cold nights, camping on snow, potential storms, and ski equipment. Although the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, we camped below treeline to be safe. Of course, Neva had the time of her life romping in the snow, getting extra food and snacks (she burned a lot of calories), catching the scent of a bazillion wild animals, and hogging our sleeping bags all night.

neva cools off in the snow – it was a scorching 70°f

skinning uphill with a heavy pack and a dog that likes to pull every which way is hard work

clouds building on the divide

home for the night



When Jeremy first introduced me to backpacking in March of 1993, he explained that it is “the endeavor of a thousand little discomforts”. But with experience, we learned to minimize, ignore, or accept those discomforts in exchange for the freedom of the hills. Ski backpacking with a one-year old crazy dog definitely adds more complexity and even pain. An outsider might regard this activity as recreation, but Jeremy and I definitely classify it as fun #2. Worth it? Absolutely. Will we take Neva again? We’ll see.

pre-dawn colors in the east

breaking down camp at 6:30 am

hiking the last couple of miles out



As the sun lingers in the sky for a few more minutes each day, my mind turns to tropical flavors. If anything tastes like sunshine, it is passion fruit. I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to procure fresh passion fruit, but sometimes I have to suck it up and buy some at outrageous prices here in Colorado for a shoot. Never let it be said that I have ever allowed a passion fruit to go to waste. Actually, I hate waste in general, which is why I wound up making these passion fruit meringues – because I always have an excess of egg whites in my refrigerator!

eggs, sugar, passion fruit

precious pulp and juice



**Jump for more butter**

don’t cry for me

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Recipe: pan-seared pork chops

Colorado rarely makes the news when it snows in the mountains, but an inch of snow fall in D.C. and NPR can’t shut up about it. I think the only reason we got any coverage of this most recent storm is because it affected the flats, including the airport in Denver. Jeremy was notified on Friday that his Sunday morning flight to the East Coast was cancelled. The week leading up to the storm had everyone shouting “spring!” including myself. I managed to squeeze a couple of trail runs in before the weather turned cold and frozen. There is that period between bare ground and a mega snow dump when it’s just wet and boring outside. That was the perfect time to finish sewing eight baby quilts (flannel rag quilts).


dusted off my hokas for the return to trail running

waiting for a trip to a laundromat



Storms can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Obviously, the exciting aspect for us is skiing. The nerve-wracking part is when you have to travel on slick roads with crappy drivers. Sometimes forecasts for big snow totals will fizzle leaving me to cry softly into my skis (just kidding – I only did that once…), but we cashed in on this storm. Mountain friends scattered around the Front Range posted their obligatory deck-full-of-snow photos and measured snowfalls. I kinda love that about the mountain communities. But the comments were full of condolences from people who live near sea-level and don’t get the gist of the mountain bubble. Please, people. Spring snowstorms are not unusual here, and without them, we’d be facing the threat of summer wildfires in our beautiful mountains. Plus? WE LOVE SNOW! Obviously. Neva had never experienced such deep snow before. She thought it was the best thing ever. I posted some videos of Neva being a goofball in the snow on my instagram.

fetching her tennis ball on the deck

a quick ski tour in our neighborhood

by sunday morning, the snow was taller than neva in places

jeremy breaks trail in four fresh feet of snow



This teeter-totter weather means we went from sushi and salads to ramen and chili in the blink of an eye. And I hear we’ll be swapping sunshine for snow and then back to snow through early May. So while we may be dabbling in warming foods and the rest of the country is thinking of picnics and deck parties, there is a nice compromise worth your attention. Pork chops.

pork chops, salt, pepper, vegetable oil, butter



A few years ago, we went to dinner with my parents at The Kitchen in Boulder. If you’ve never had the pleasure of dining there, they serve simple food prepared exceptionally well. My mom ordered the pork chop, something I rarely consider ordering for myself because it sounds so dull and usually is. Since we were sharing bites of our dinners with one another, I politely took a bite of the pork chop. Oh man. That was the best pork chop I had ever had. Juicy, tender, full of umami goodness. I experimented half-heartedly trying to achieve this level of amazingness with mixed results. In the last few months, I’ve renewed my quest. I interrogated restaurant chefs, butchers, random people – all giving me different tips. Bone-in. Boneless. Wet brine. Dry brine. Pan sear. Roast. Grill.

season with salt

set on a rack to chill 45 minutes to 3 days



**Jump for more butter**

hot potato

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Recipe: chateau potatoes

Today happens to be National Puppy Day, which is great because I love puppies – especially when I don’t have to train them! Neva continues to require training, but she’s much more of a big dog than the little munchkin she once was. Her puppiness still bubbles forth when she meets new dogs and people, because she’s young and because she can’t help herself. For the most part, though, she has turned into a pretty good pup (PGP). Looking back at her early pictures, I am amazed at what a chunky little chunkster she was!


the day after we brought her home (8 weeks old)



We missed another storm while wrapping things up in Crested Butte. The weather can be tricksy like that. Back home in Nederland, they’re getting more powder days than non-powder days. Here in Crested Butte, we got shafted once again with nary a 2-inch delivery of snow overnight while 6 miles away (as the crow flies), Lake Irwin is reporting 2 FEET of blower powder. I shall stop complaining. We have had VERY good powder days this year and will no doubt sample a few more before the season ends. I’ll just repeat that over and over again… *twitch*

the joy of powder



Last week (on a non-powder day), Jeremy and I got a lesson from our friend on firearms. He actually came over the day before with charts, graphs, diagrams, and his unloaded pistols to explain how everything works. The following morning, we went to the shooting range for some hands-on practice. I am not a gun person. The only gun I’ve ever fired was a plastic squirt gun. Guns scare the hell out of me and always have, but I thought it was high time I at least educated myself on what these were about. It was a very good learning experience and we are fortunate to have had a knowledgeable, thorough, safety-minded teacher. And you know what? I’m still not a gun person, but now my fear of guns is rooted in fact rather than the unknown. However, I did enjoy the target practice, as did Jeremy. After we got home, we began thinking about trying winter biathlon: a combination of skate skiing (woohoo!) AND marksmanship with a low-powered rifle. That and archery. It’s always good to learn how to do things.

at the range



While some of you will be celebrating Easter this Sunday, we will be celebrating Neva’s first birthday! I have yet to figure out a menu for the pup pup, but I’m pretty sure it will involve beef. Since we don’t do Easter in this house, our Sunday dinner will probably be some form of cleaning out the freezer. Oh, but if you are looking for a nice side dish for holidays, Sundays, or special dinners, I want to share this lovely potato recipe with you.

baby yukon gold potatoes, italian (flat-leaf) parsley, butter, salt, pepper



When I made chateaubriand, the recipe included a mini recipe for chateau potatoes. I had never heard of chateau potatoes, but they sounded good and looked easy enough. Good and easy – always a great combination. Emeril tournés his potatoes (it’s a seven-sided football cut with truncated ends), but I find that to be annoying and wasteful in a home kitchen (well, in MY home kitchen). I have used both baby potatoes and regular (adult?) potatoes with great results. The baby potatoes can be a pain to peel because of the greater surface area of potato skin to potato volume and the difficulty in manipulating such a small object, but they look fantastic when served. Regular potatoes work just fine as long as you cut them into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

peeling the itty bitty potatoes

all peeled



**Jump for more butter**