morel prosciutto asparagus pizza thai sticky rice and mango pheasant and morel vols au vent strawberry butter


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my trip to crazytown

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Recipe: sous vide carnitas

The end of last week was complete Crazytown. As the trial headed toward closing arguments, a winter storm warning materialized into a Big Ass Storm in the mountains. We were supposed to get 3 to 7 inches of snow overnight, which I thought would be fine for me to get down the canyon to report for jury duty. Instead, we woke to 10 inches of snow, and by the time I left the house, another 4 inches had fallen in two hours and was coming down heavily. I gave myself an extra hour, but it turned out that I probably should have stayed at home. Spring and fall snow storms can be particularly tricky because there is that added component of water due to moderate temperatures.


2 feet of snow in 19 hours



Once I reached the narrows (a narrow and steep section of the canyon, notoriously dangerous when conditions are slick) I passed two trucks that had spun out on their way up. Visibility and traction were poor so that no one was traveling faster than 15 mph. There was nowhere to turn around safely, so I continued. Then I passed another truck that had gotten stuck in the snow. That’s when my Subaru began to slide where the road is canted and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was a slow, but unnerving lateral movement toward the guard rail which keeps drivers from plunging into the rushing creek below. Subie came to a gentle stop against the two feet of snow between the car and the rail, but I was stuck. The young woman in the stuck truck ran over to help dig me out and after thirty minutes of failed attempts, I was finally able to get unstuck thanks to her pushing the car out. [If that young woman ever reads this, I owe you a bottle of wine, a cake, a fancy home-cooked meal, and my deepest gratitude.] All the while it was nuking snow, cars were slip-sliding everywhere, and I knew it would be impossible to drive home in those conditions. Heading down to Boulder was my safest option as there is no cell reception in the canyon.

I was 20 minutes late getting to court, and I knew I was holding up the trial. I ran through security in tears – a little traumatized, a lot upset – but I made it and we got underway. We lost power a half dozen times in court while the storm wreaked havoc all around. At the end of closing arguments, I found out that I was one of the two alternate jurors and that I could go home. A big part of me felt great relief, but I also felt sad that I wasn’t going to finish this journey with my fellow jurors (it was a terrific group of people), and then I felt annoyance that I drove through that shit show in the canyon to find out that I didn’t have to be in court. By the time I left the courthouse, it was snowing lightly in Boulder and Jeremy texted that the snow had let up at home. Aha! A window in the storm! But the canyon was closed because of a jack-knifed semi in the narrows. So I waited with a handful of others for 30 minutes next to the police car at the closure point until the road was cleared for travel. Despite the additional 12-18 inches of snow that had fallen since I drove down that morning, the roads were in far better shape with plows actively working the canyon. Once I got home, I just wanted to lie still and let Neva lick my ears and hair.


the morning after the storm

jeremy clears the deck while neva is neva



We are now in Crested Butte, de-winterizing the house and cleaning up all of the broken branches and repairing drip system components that were hammered by this winter’s 325 inches of snow. It’s quiet here. That’s shoulder season in a resort town. Folks flock to the desert to mountain bike while the trails slowly thaw out around town. Restaurants are either closed or operating on reduced hours. I like the quiet. I like the quiet.

the view east from monarch pass

glacier lilies starting to bloom

neva being an extra good and sweet girl on her hike



After a stressful day or event like my ride down the canyon, most folks could use a drink. I certainly felt like I could have used a drink – except I don’t drink. But you know what relaxes and soothes me better than a glass of whiskey? Tacos. Specifically, carnitas tacos. Some of us seek comfort in food rather than drink, and I happen to be one of those who prefers savory over sweet comfort food. I always order the carnitas tacos at a taco joint as my litmus test. It’s not that I know anything about how carnitas ought to be, I just know what I like.

pork shoulder, onion, orange, bay leaves, garlic, cinnamon, kosher salt

slice the pork into 2-inch thick slabs

prepped ingredients



Imagine my excitement when I happened upon a reference to sous vide carnitas and followed the link to The Food Lab. You bet I wanted to try it. I wanted to see if sous vide could give me flavorful carnitas that were also tender and moist.

squeeze the orange quarters over the pork

sprinkle with kosher salt

toss it all together



**Jump for more butter**

running hot and cold

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Recipe: chicken tortilla soup

I’m more patient than I was in my youth, but it’s still not my strong suit. By November, we should be getting nice deliveries of snow piling up in the mountains. As it is, we have very little due to unseasonably warm weather. Well, that’s not such a terrible thing because the lack of snow meant I could spend the weekend resting my shoulder and spending time with my favorite guy instead of reinjuring myself on early season obstacles in the snow. Saturday was our 22-year smoochiversary, so we worked all day and then got out for a quick late day hike as the sun sat low in the sky.


22 wonderful years together

ice shards piled up against the shore

neat patterns

colorful sunset



We have arrived at that stage where I inform Jeremy at least once each day, but more like three or four times a day, “I want a puppy.” It’s hard for me to tell if what I’m saying is, “I want a new puppy” or “I miss my baby puppy.” I suppose in my heart, I mean both. Jeremy isn’t ready and we will wait until he is. It just feels a little empty without some fur ball wandering around the house distributing hair and putting nose prints on the glass doors. Patience for winter. Patience for a puppy. Like I said, not my strong suit.

Actually, we are due for some snow in the morning (Monday), which is a start. A late start. Some resorts have postponed their opening days because it’s been too warm to even make snow at night. In anticipation of cooler nights, I’ve been making soup – tortilla soup. Technically, any soup with tortilla strips in it is a tortilla soup. For years I made one with all manner of leftover vegetables, but decided it was high time I looked up a proper recipe. There are so many variations, but this one I settled on is a mega winner – especially if you make your own chicken broth/stock. Of course, if you’re short on time, there is nothing wrong with using store-bought broth and chicken, which makes the recipe super easy and quick.


for the chicken and broth: whole legs, olive oil, salt, and pepper

season the chicken

brown the chicken

cover with water and simmer (or pressure cook, as I did here)



**Jump for more butter**

red

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Recipe: red chile (enchilada) sauce

What a lovely first week of fall! Jeremy drove out to Crested Butte to join me for the weekend. We’re not very good about celebrating our birthdays on time because September is typically a very busy month for both of us. We don’t buy presents for one another, we rarely throw birthday parties, we don’t even exchange cards. So the agreement was that we’d postpone our birthday dinner until we could be together. I took Jeremy to Soupçon, a truly special and exceptional restaurant in the heart of Crested Butte. You’ll hear more about it in a later post. The following evening we hosted several of our wonderful friends/neighbors for a New Mexican feast at our place. And of course, we chased a lot of fall colors both figuratively and literally – it’s the reason I’m here in Crested Butte!


dessert at soupçon

a toast before digging into the feast

goofing off while working

autumn trail run selfie



It’s been a big mix of colors this year which is far far better than anything we had last year (a total dud of a season). Aspens are predominantly golden come autumn, yet I can’t recall seeing so many brilliant stands of reds in the ten years I’ve been shooting fall colors in Colorado. I’m still waiting for a lot of the big stands to come online as they are still green. My hope is that they’ll weather these cold storms and then put on the magic show when Indian Summer returns. Even if the aspens finished tomorrow, I would still be quite pleased with the season we’ve had thus far.

handsome stands

bathed in golden light

canopy

impressive reds

daydreaming

tall and magestic aspens

lake reflection



Fall is also that amazing time of year when New Mexico’s green chiles are harvested and roasted. It’s one of the reasons we decided to host a New Mexican dinner – that and the fact that New Mexican fare is addictively good. We had three current or former New Mexico residents at dinner (Jeremy is the former) who could school us on red and green chile. If you are asked, “Red or green?” in a restaurant in New Mexico, it means “Would you like red or green chile sauce on your order?” You can answer red, green, or Christmas (both). I love green chiles so very much, but I must admit that I am a red girl. I love the red sauce. LOVE IT. I’m always annoyed when I have to buy canned enchilada sauce, because Colorado has a fear of hot enchilada sauce. It’s even a chore finding medium heat sauce. But really, you should just make it yourself because it’s ridiculously easy and – as always – far superior in quality and flavor to what you buy in the store.

red chile powder, salt, garlic, oregano, vegetable oil, onion, beef broth (or water)

minced garlic and diced onion

prepped



**Jump for more butter**