travel: williamsburg, virginia sashimi salad roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream morel bourbon cream sauce


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2016 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

archive for grill

exploding eggplants

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Recipe: baba ganoush

Over the weekend, Neva spent a lot of time smooshing her little puppy body against the double-cell honeycomb blinds that insulate our glass deck door. This is her way of indicating that she’d like to go out on the deck very much please why don’t you just open the door and let me outside. Unfortunately, little Neva doesn’t understand that going out on the deck is risky business when snow is flying horizontally into the next county and the big Ponderosa pines are bending worriedly under the crush of 70 mph wind gusts. When it is this windy, there isn’t a lot of outside anything for her besides (very brief) potty breaks. But she is still a puppy – 10.5 months old and most definitely a puppy. Neva gets to play tug and chase her toys up and down the stairs when the weather is blowing like it is now. Our threshold for suck is usually wind gusts greater than 50 mph.


before the storm

throw the ball! throw the ball! for the love of god, throw the baaaaaaaaaall!!!!



After you experience windstorms like we experience on the Front Range, anything below 50 mph winds is fair game. It requires that you get out and take advantage while the weather isn’t impossibly shitty. Ever wake up to a gorgeous day and think, “I should get out for a run, but I’ll do it tomorrow,” and then tomorrow is a tornado? That’s what I’m talking about. It’s all relative, you know. The old route I used to skate ski was so hard, but my new route REALLY kicks my butt which makes skating the old route feel not so bad at all. Snow conditions were pretty craptastic on our most recent ski tour, but… it was just great to be outside. If we waited to do things until everything was perfect, we’d never do anything. Ever.

snow cover getting sparse near tennessee mountain hut

cute little ski hut

jeremy patiently waits for me to finish taking pictures



We largely ignored Valentine’s Day – working, eating leftover pizza for dinner, playing with the puppy in the house, and watching behind the scenes reels for OK Go’s music videos. Hopefully we’ll catch a break in the weather soon (tomorrow, please) and get the pup and ourselves back out for some exercise. Sometimes the wind will rage all morning and then around noon it will settle down for a couple of hours as if on lunch break and resume again later in the afternoon. Luckily for me, that’s exactly what happened last week while I was making baba ganoush.

eggplant, tahini, kosher salt, garlic, lemon, parsley, olive oil



Whenever I have good baba ganoush (eggplant dip) in a restaurant, I fall in love with it. Then I go home and make a batch, and I fall out of love with it after three bites. What gives? I did a little research and decided to try The Food Lab’s version. Kenji does several things differently, all of which result in a creamy dreamy final baba ganoush. First, you need to roast the eggplant. You can do this either on the grill (preferred for the smoky flavor) or under a broiler. I opted for the broiler because it seemed easier. I’ve always scored my eggplants before roasting them in the oven because it’s supposed to allow the steam to escape during cooking. Kenji determined that more moisture evaporates from the eggplant when you DON’T score the skin because at some point the skin will bust open and bye bye water vapor! So that’s what I did. [I made a half recipe in the photos.]

the eggplant on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet

it exploded



**Jump for more butter**

dinner party fare

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Recipe: bourbon-glazed beef tenderloin

Fall is shaping up to be something good. Except that it’s still sunny and warm. Once the weather turns the corner, I’ll be a truly happy camper. But we are making progress on so many fronts now. Neva is no longer a fountain of drool when she gets in the car (although she makes a few quiet whimpers if we drive for more than 20 minutes). She has also started to curl up at my feet for a nap when I am working on the computer, which is a huge improvement over what she used to do (she used to go under my desk and attack the cardboard recycling). Best of all, we’ve discovered when she makes her little “mmmmm” noises at 5:30 am each day, I can reach over in the dark to open her crate door and she’ll jump up on the bed and cuddle between us for another 30 minutes. That extra 30 minutes makes all the difference to the humans.

With doggy day care once a week, Neva gets lots of playtime and socialization and then the following day is “downtime” for her, a.k.a. a really long nappy loungy day. That’s two days in a row allowing me large blocks of time to get work done, and maybe a trail run, and lunch with friends. I like the dog Neva is becoming. Do I miss the adorable little puppy she was just a few months ago? Yes and no. I miss how cute and itty bitty she was. I don’t miss the feral, high-energy, in-need-of-constant-supervision, sharp-puppy-toothed ball of destruction.


no-stress neva chilling in the back of the car

still a few torch-like aspens on my trail run

i got to have lunch with my friend’s adorable little girl



A few weeks ago when I was in Crested Butte, our good friend and neighbor, Eileen, pulled up next to me while I was walking Neva. We chatted and when she learned Jeremy would be coming out for the weekend before we headed back to Nederland, she said, “How about dinner at my house? We’ll grill steaks.” The last time we had dinner at James’ and Eileen’s house, Jeremy and I took turns running back down the street to check on Neva, who was crying and barking in her crate as she suffered from major FOMO (fear of missing out). This time, months later, she was quiet – alternating between dozing off and chewing quietly on her toys. Good girl.

Dinner was a team effort as I supplied a few appetizers, Eileen took care of the main and sides, and Wendy and Denise brought desserts. And there is always exceptional wine with these good folk. As I loaded my plate and crossed the room, Wyatt, Denise’s giant fur baby, tracked me – or rather the steak – to my seat.


wyatt wants to know if we could maybe share that steak



Wyatt had good reason. That steak was off the hook. James and Eileen often entertain large groups, so they will usually grill at least one hunk of protein to feed the masses. When last they served this steak over the fourth of July, the carving board was picked clean by the time I got back from checking on Neva. Over dinner, Eileen asked for my gougères recipe and I in turn requested the recipe for her steak. It was one of those “oh I just throw together x, y, and z” recipes, which I promptly forgot when Jeremy and I walked home under the sparkling night sky. The next day, Eileen was sweet enough to email me a recipe and I am sharing it with you – because it is TOO GOOD not to share.

One ingredient Eileen mentioned was Montreal steak seasoning, which she said you can find in any grocery store’s spice section. She uses that with salt and pepper as part of the dry rub. I had never heard of it, but I was pretty sure I could make it from scratch. The recipes online vary somewhat, but overall they have many of the same components. I chose the one that uses dill seed because I have a ton of it to use up.


black pepper, paprika, granulated onion, sea salt, dill seed, cayenne, granulated garlic, ground coriander

whisk everything together

now you have montreal steak seasoning



**Jump for more butter**

very lucky

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Recipe: mexican grilled corn salad

Rounding hairpin turns, blinded by the rising sun, I squinted at the clock on the dash. I was late. But you can’t step on the gas and hurry because there are all those Honda Civic-sized potholes to dodge as well as wild animals to watch for. I figured if they’re there, great. If they’ve already moved on, so be it. It is what it is, my first morning NOT dedicated to a trail run or a hike, but to photograph moose. I was in luck.


it seems all they ever do is eat

and eat



Our local moose have a feeding pattern in summer that draws the photographers out each morning like flies. They feed in the low meadows and then move on up to higher ground. It varies. Sometimes they will hang out until well after noon and other times they’ll sneak away only to return later. It’s their home. About 100 moose live in the Brainard Lake area alone, plus more in the surrounding mountains. These are my neighbors.

time to move on

way too close for my comfort



I managed to catch the tail end of the show, about 15 minutes’ worth of shooting. No biggie. I just wanted to see and maybe photograph moose and was able to do both. Chatting with a few gentlemen who were also shooting the moose, I learned they traveled a couple of hours just for this. They do it once a week. When they learned I lived nearby and ran/hiked here all the time, one fellow smiled and said with the utmost sincerity, “You are very lucky.” I nodded to confirm this statement – yes, I am VERY lucky. We wished one another well and said good-bye.

On the drive back home, I thought about luck. It would be easy to look at all of the negatives in my life (and I’ve had my share, thank you) and let that set the tone for the rest of my life, but what’s the point in that? Wallowing in self-pity has never been my cup of tea. There are so many more positives from a simple sunrise to helping a stranger to cherishing every hug from my mom to packing a lunch for Jeremy. I’m just grateful to be here, really. Sometimes I think about how much time I have left – I don’t really know how much time I have… it could be another 40 years or it could be a few days. Regardless, time is short. Life is short. There isn’t enough time in another 40 years to do everything I want let alone waste it on bad relationships, jonesing, terrible food, buying “stuff”, being unkind, not being honest, trying to be someone I am not, worrying what others think of me. It’s taken me a few decades to get to the point where I can trim away most of the “bullshit”, but it’s liberating and I think it makes my life feel lucky. It certainly feels GOOD.

The other day I went hiking in the high country with my friend, Erin (another Erin, but both of my Erins are awesome ladies), and her pup, Banjo. How nice to have much-needed doggie time as well as friend time. I love it when you find someone who doesn’t need to talk the talk, because she totally rocks the walk. That’s Erin. We spent the entire day hiking, foraging, and talking under sun, clouds, and pouring rain. When we weren’t chatting it up on the trail, I just sang “Banjooooo” in rhythm with my stride because he’s such a good and sweet boy. It made me think of my little Kaweah and how utterly bad she was on the trail (but cute!).


erin holds a mushroom (a kind i don’t eat)

banjo is such a good pup

and the wildflowers were out in force

clouds move in over the lovely alpine lake



Erin just had a major birthday and I wanted to do something nice. I thought of baking a flourless chocolate cake and packing it up to the high country to surprise her. Or maybe making French macarons to bust out at the lake. But the reality was that my schedule was overly full, so I bought her a Chuao bar (triple nut temptation dark chocolate – Jeremy’s favorite), tied a ribbon on it, wrote a card, and called it good. Jeremy commented that the old me would have stayed up late baking, lost sleep, and been exhausted and not enjoyed my hike. It’s true. The current me has a little more sense (just slightly) than the old me.

The idea of keeping things simple is a good one. That’s why this corn salad is so appealing. It’s like the Mexico City-style roasted corn, but it’s easier to prepare and way less messy to eat. I found the recipe on Kevin’s site, Closet Cooking, which is a great blog full of cheesy, melty, juicy, amazing recipes. Since summer is in full swing, we must partake of the corn.


chipotle powder, salt, garlic, green onions, jalapeño, lime, mayonnaise, corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, vegetable oil



**Jump for more butter**