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the best kind of mess

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Recipe: breakfast mess

You may have had trouble commenting last week after we updated the spam filter because it wasn’t letting any comments through. I think it is fixed now. Do let us know if you encounter problems. Thanks! -jen

We finally pulled the trigger this past week and sent Neva to doggy training camp. I had mixed feelings about leaving her as we drove away. On the one hand, I am quite attached to that little girl. On the other hand, Jeremy and I felt we had gone as far as we could working with Neva, and that we needed professional guidance. I say “we” because it’s not all on Neva. She is in very good care for the next couple of weeks and early reports from Claire show Neva has made great progress in a short time – and she’s having fun! This is promising and I feel we have made the right decision for her and for us. I’ll share our experience in a dedicated post after Neva finishes camp for those of you interested in how all of this pans out. In the meantime, you can follow her training on Instagram at @backcountrybuddies or Facebook at Backcountry Buddies Dog Training.

It has been awfully quiet without our pup roaming about. Jeremy and I both have a habit of walking into a room and scanning around for Neva – usually lounging on the couch, in her bed, on the floor, by the deck door. But a no-pup house means greater flexibility in our schedules, so we took the opportunity to spend a weekend away. First we indulged in a couple of days skiing at Steamboat Springs, then we hit up Devil’s Thumb Ranch on the way home for a morning of skate skiing at their lovely Nordic Center. It was a sort of mini skication even though I know everyone thinks all we ever do is ski (mostly true).


hello steamboat springs!

trees plastered in snow

kampachi with apple and grilled avocado at yamakawa (formerly known as yama)

black out: walu walu marinated in squid ink served with squid ink-infused tobiko

snow, sun, and fun at devil’s thumb ranch nordic center

jeremy takes another lap

a pretty sunset to close out a great weekend



Breakfast tends to be an oft neglected and skipped meal in our house. I know they say it is the most important meal of the day and I do make an effort, but sometimes it is all I can do to eat a piece of fruit. Other times I am not terribly excited about what is on offer because I am not such a fan of sweet breakfasts. It is likely the fault of my Chinese immigrant upbringing that I would choose a savory bowl of congee loaded to the gills with spicy pickled radishes, shredded pork, ginger, green onions, and a soy sauce egg over say, a doughnut. Now, if we have house guests, I make the effort to provide a proper breakfast. Sometimes it is sweet, sometimes savory, sometimes a bit of both. My favorite is when there are leftover hash browns, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy or whatnot the day after the guests have left, and we pile everything on a plate or better yet, a bowl, and call it good. That’s because it is SO good. Jeremy and I refer to it as breakfast mess and it’s awesome because you can put whatever you like in it.

Free will can be a terrible thing (just look at rush hour traffic), but in this instance it’s the best thing ever. You know how breakfast menus give you a choice of bacon OR sausage? When we make a breakfast mess, we opt for bacon AND sausage. Not too much, mind you, but a little bit of each is beautiful to behold… and eat.


making sausage gravy

frying up the bacon



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jacuzzi time

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Recipe: sous vide meyer lemon cheesecake with raspberry sauce

Well thank goodness the snow is back. I was about to lose my marbles there, because skiing ice is a little hard on my knee, which I hyper-extended thanks to jamming my ski under some wind slab in the backcountry. My knee is mostly fine, but I’m icing, doing strengthening exercises, and a little bit of skiing. Just a little bit.


“is there snow on my face?”

jeremy grabs some turns before starting the work day



So if you follow my personal account on Instagram (https://instagram.com/jenyuphoto/), you may have noticed that I have been busy experimenting with my sous vide cooker. Sure, it’s great for steaks and chops and chicken and fish and eggs, but… what about sweets? I decided to try it out on cheesecake, because I’ve baked cheesecakes in a water bath in the oven before. It’s like a jacuzzi for cheesecakes. The thing is, I can only make individual cheesecakes with my sous vide cooker. You CAN make whole cheesecakes in a sous vide oven, or you can sous vide the filling in a bag and squeeze the contents onto a crust (but that sounds a little janky to me). I’ve been excited to try a lemon cheesecake for some time, because the citrus adds a nice bit of zip, zest, and brightness to cream cheese, which I find to be incredibly flat tasting. But first, let’s make the raspberry sauce. I use frozen organic raspberries because they are cheaper than fresh and work just as well for our purposes.

lemon juice, water, sugar, frozen raspberries

combine water and raspberries in a saucepan

simmer until the berries break down



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death and taxes and eggplant

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Recipe: steamed eggplant with sesame and green onions

I’m so glad we’re not the only ones who took some time to warm up to our dog. I loved hearing about your own pets (and for some, even children!) via email or in the comments because it helped us realize that our experience was not out of the norm. Lately, instead of sticking her cold, wet nose in my face at 6 in the morning, Neva will wait until 6:30 or even 6:45 if it means she can curl up on the bed between us. We’ll take it! And she really is becoming quite the cuddler.

The weather for the past week has been sunny and unseasonably warm here in the mountains. A lot of my friends on the flats have been rejoicing in this “warm” weather, but it’s the “unseasonably” that makes me nervous. Sure, I want proper snow (blower powder, please), but the red flag warning for fire danger due to high winds and above average temperatures in February? No, thank you. That’s messed up. But you go with the flow and just pretend it’s Spring instead of Winter while quietly fretting over trends in global warming. We did get out several times to sample snow in the backcountry, at the resorts, and on the trails, only to be met with sketchy conditions. It made it that much easier for me to stay home all weekend working on taxes.


neva sunning herself on the deck

scooby snack in the high country

looking for snow in all the wrong places

brief sunrise colors

weekend activities: taxes (two favorite and most apropos erasers-turned-paperweights)



I am always on the prowl for eggplant recipes. I absolutely love eggplant. I grew up eating it Chinese-style, but discovered that I pretty much enjoy all manner of preparation of these oddly spongy vegetables. When I first flipped through my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, I placed little sticky tabs on each recipe of interest. There were a lot, but the one that I wanted to eat immediately was the steamed eggplant with sesame and green onion. It’s meaty without being heavy or oily, and the Japanese flavors are clean and bright.

eggplant, sesame seeds (black and white), sesame oil, maple syrup, salt, mirin, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onions

peel the eggplant

steam for 30 minutes

mince the ginger and crush the garlic



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