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keep your skis on

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese grilled beef salad

It got positively balmy last week. I think Colorado was taking that whole Spring thing seriously for a few days, but only for a few days. The walls of snow that line our sidewalks and roads shrunk by feet under the blazing sunshine and warm winds. We got out to noodle about above our house on some of that fine afternoon corn snow for fun. Of course, two days later we were getting turns on the mountain in 14 fresh inches of powder. That’s how Crested Butte rolls.

jeremy navigates spring conditions

aaaaand we’re back to winterlike powder!

Late Friday night, Jeremy and I went back to the mountain to watch the start of The Grand Traverse. It’s an unmarked backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte, climbs 7800 feet, and ends 40 miles across the Elk Mountains in Aspen. Due to that nice 2 foot dump of fresh snow over the mountains, the race coordinators decided the avalanche risk was too high for the 300+ racers (teams of two for safety) and re-routed the course to loop back to Crested Butte – what is known as The Grand Reverse. The Denver Post had a nice article on the race here. I thought it was extremely awesome that the mayors of Crested Butte and Aspen skied as a team. Finish times typically range between 8 and 16 hours.

spotlight on the summit of mount crested butte

racers taking warm up runs

countdown to midnight at the starting line

a blur of headlamps, skis, and colorful gear as they charge up the mountain

That was fun and inspiring to watch! On the drive back to the house, we talked about those beautiful places in the backcountry we’d like to see or revisit. But we only allow ourselves to talk about it, not make plans. And that’s okay. We can’t plan as long as Kaweah is with us. We would not (could not) trust her geriatric care to anyone else at this stage. I don’t doubt that a lot of people might have put her down by now with her severely limited mobility, her accidents, the amount of time it takes to care for her… Sometimes she does well and other times not so well. Jeremy and I agreed that as long as her good days outnumbered the bad days, we’d do what we could to make her happy and keep her safe. This is why I’m fine with hand-waving discussions about places to explore instead of my usual insistence on making concrete plans. But the talk of summer backpacks and trail runs had me craving summery fare like salads and grilled things. Thankfully, this Vietnamese grilled beef salad isn’t limited to summer. You can totally make this now.

for the beef: flank steak, limes, thai bird chile, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce

minced garlic, sliced chile, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, beef

mix the garlic, chile, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice together

**Jump for more butter**

chinese new year recipe round up

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Chinese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) is a week away! It will be the Year of the Horse, which is special because my sister was born in the Year of the Horse and would have been 48 this year. I’m busy cleaning the house, prepping special foods, and doing those things that are supposed to bring luck in the new year. Maybe you are a traditionalist or perhaps the lunar new year doesn’t have any significance to you, but you want to make a celebratory meal or throw a Chinese-themed party. Either way, I’ve got a recipe round up for you!

traditional dishes

These are the dishes I make year after year. They symbolize luck, fortune, health, happiness, promotion.

Cellophane noodle soup: It’s a big pot of goodies – sort of a catchall for lucky things. The cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles or glass noodles) represent long life – so for goodness’ sake, DON’T CUT THE NOODLES. Meatballs and fish balls are round, which the Chinese like and their meaning is reunion.

Chinese dumplings and potstickers: Theoretically you are supposed to make dumplings (boiled or steamed), but I always make potstickers because I’m a crunch-junkie. My mom always told us that eating dumplings meant more money in the new year because they are shaped like gold ingots. Then I found out later that dumplings also symbolize having sons. I’m sticking with the money story.

Chinese egg dumplings: The Chinese have a thing for dumplings, because they are like purses, and purses hold money. These egg dumplings typically go in the cellophane noodle soup, but they are wonderful eaten on their own too.

Lucky ten ingredient vegetables: Lucky lucky lucky! Ten is a lucky number. Don’t make this with nine or eleven ingredients – you’ll screw up the new year! Also, don’t use hollow vegetables (green onions, water spinach – these are hollow and bad luck). Tofu is okay, but no meat is allowed in the dish.

Stir-fried rice cakes: These rice cakes are sticky, chewy disks of rice flour. The name of the rice cake, nian gao, sounds like “higher year”. Eating the rice cakes is good luck for a promotion or toward greater prosperity.

Stir-fried soybean sprouts: These are my favorite and plentiful in most Asian markets this time of year (because everyone wants luck!). Eating soybean sprouts (or bean sprouts in general) ensures a good start to the new year.


There’s something you should know about tofu. It’s a big deal. Fu is “luck” in Chinese. So tofu is pretty popular in the new year festivities because everyone wants lots of luck. The thing is, you shouldn’t eat white tofu because white is bad – it’s the color of mourning/death. That’s bad luck. But don’t fret, there are a bazillion ways to eat tofu: fried, dried, marinated, sheets, pressed.

Bean curd rolls: You can find bean curd sheets or tofu skin in Asian grocery stores. They are either dried or frozen. This tofu skin roll is filled with savory pork and vegetables, and then braised til soft. I order it at dim sum all the time.

Chinese tea eggs: Eggs represent fertility, but I just love the subtle flavor of the tea infusion as well as the delicate crackle pattern on the peeled egg.

Fried shrimp wontons: Terrific nibbles with the added bonus that shrimp symbolize happiness and good fortune.

Pickled Chinese cabbage: Served cold, this sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunchy pickled cabbage wakes your mouth up in the best way possible. I could snack on a bowl of this all by myself. Cabbage means money, prosperity.

Scallion pancakes: One of the best savory snacks, ever. I’m not sure if it has any symbolism, but it’s delicious!

Shrimp toast: More shrimp goodness (happiness and fortune).

**Jump for more butter**

the answer is 42

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Recipe: pickled blackberries

Happy Autumn, friends! It is, in my opinion, the very best time of year. Autumn is when you can peruse the late summer harvest of greens, tomatoes, melons, and beans at the Crested Butte Farmers Market and see a fresh dusting of snow on the 13,000 foot peaks in the distance. We are getting a taste of some weather too with overnight frosts, cold rains, thick clouds clinging to mountains, and a chance of snow overnight. But weather is a GOOD thing, not just for the ski season (ahem!) but also for the opportunities when our dynamic atmosphere and light interact.

sunset and a clearing storm

It could be that I am biased toward fall because my birthday frequently coincides with the autumnal equinox. But even if my birthday was in July (ugh – I don’t even want to think of it), I would still be utterly devoted to this season. Leaves change, weather cools, the light turns soft and golden. Elk fill the air with their high-pitched bugles and the mountains don their lacy white shawls. It is when the ranchers let their cattle out to graze and trample the dying remnants of summer’s glorious wildflower bloom. Predators chase down prey before the pickings get slim and the bear scat on trails is full of berries.

sun lights up the changing aspen after a rainstorm

and there’s that colorado blue sky

We went for a trail run Sunday afternoon between storms to stretch our legs and scope out the colors. I’m here for the fall shoot and it seems that every year someone declares the leaves are early when in fact, they are almost always “on time”. This year, they seem a tad late as the majority of aspen stands are still green. But where you do see patches of gold and orange punctuated by the rare and glorious reds, they are spectacular. It’s visually obvious that the colors are increasing from one day to the next. Mother Nature is on a schedule.

mount crested butte watches over us (iphone)

i rounded a bend in the trail and saw this glowing stand of orange and yellow (iphone)

green and gold on the hill slopes while a storm moves in up the valley (iphone)

Wait, I lied. We didn’t trail run between storms, we started between storms. The second storm caught up and followed us like that cloud over Charlie Brown’s head. An updraft slapped chilly winds across our legs, bright pink with cold. The clouds unleashed a torrent of frigid rain. It was 43°F, we blasted through muddy puddles as we were already soaked to the bone, and lightning crashed overhead repeatedly. The storm eventually outpaced us. I was cold, wet, and tired… but happy.

Why happy? Because I’m here. I’ve always been the kind of kid who loves to wake up each morning, excited for the day and ready to get started. After chemo repeatedly knocked me on my ass, weakening me further with each infusion, I came to the conclusion that normal is AWESOME. I still love rising each day at age 42, but now with a hint of urgency and a lot more gusto. Every morning is a gift. Each sunrise is never taken for granted. Being able to work, to run in freezing thunderstorms, to live – it all means so much to me. The answer is to live and appreciate life. The answer is to not give a shit what others think. The answer is to be true to yourself. The answer is to not be a douchecanoe. The answer is 42.

And blackberries. The time is now for blackberries, so let’s get on that.

fresh blackberries, water, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, ginger, shallot, fresh bay leaf, sprig of thyme, peppercorns, whole allspice, and juniper berries

**Jump for more butter**