roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta sparkling champagne margaritas cranberry hazelnut seed crisps cioppino


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archive for soup

more than autumn leaves

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Recipe: cioppino

The most brilliant sunsets often involve something other than the sun. A setting sun in a crystal clear sky is predictable, plain Jane. There might be color, but it helps to have something more. Smoke, volcanic ash, pollution, dust, blowing snow, and water vapor can provide particulate matter in the air to absorb, scatter, and reflect light. The atmosphere peels away the shorter wavelengths, permitting the longer ones to bounce off these particles in the air, creating a glowing canvas on the sky. Colorado gets some pretty spectacular sunsets on a regular basis, but the Front Range really knocks it out of the park with dramatic cloud formations and weather phenomena. Monday evening, we were welcomed back to Ned(erland) with a nice display.


blazing sunset

turning rosy



The following day, I tiptoed about in the dark gathering my equipment, gloves, hat, headlamp, so as not to wake Jeremy and drove into the blackness of early morning. I drive carefully at night in the mountains, because you never know what will decide to spring across the road in front of you. We have some big critters around here that could do proper damage to a car, but in all honesty, I brake for little tiny voles and mice as much as I do for moose and elk. I arrived in Rocky Mountain National Park before sunrise, but the sky was getting lighter by the minute. I had rented the Nikkor 500mm f4 telephoto lens from my friends at Pro Photo Rental to shoot the total lunar eclipse, but figured I would also shoot the elk rut in Rocky – because you really don’t want to get too close to bull elks during the rut.

elk does and aspens bathed in golden sunrise

herding his harem across the meadow

non-competing males having breakfast



Wildlife photography is a different kind of photography from what I’m used to, so I felt it was good to challenge myself and try to improve what modest skills I have. Each time I shoot with the 200-400mm or the 500mm, I become that much more acquainted with the nuances of shooting super telephoto. Speaking as a photographer, the elk weren’t in the best locations for a great shoot and the bulls were not as impressive specimens as when I photographed in 2012. You can’t move them into the right light or the right setting like you can a cookie or a sandwich, nor can you move the mountains or the shadows or the trees or the guy who parked his Honda CRV in the worst place possible (but these are things you get used to when you photograph landscapes). You must move, and when it comes to bull elk in mating season, you give them wide berth and lots of respect. The sound of elk bugling into the evening air has been my soundtrack for much of the fall shoot and my trail runs for the last few weeks. Their calls echo back and forth between the hillsides of mountain valleys, eerie and haunting, but beautiful. Quintessential autumn in the Colorado high country.

bull elk bugling

this guy bugles constantly

handsome fellow

another bull elk chowing down on aspen bark



Whenever I set an alarm, I usually wake up five minutes before it goes off. But last night when my alarm sounded at 3 am for the total lunar eclipse, I was not awake, but in a deep slumber. I slunk out of bed and into warm clothes as Jeremy turned on his side and pulled the covers over his face. It’s funny that the resident astrophysicist is the one who sleeps while I stumble outside to photograph the moon, the planets, the stars, the meteors. It was not to be. A uniform layer of high clouds stretched from every corner of the world above me and I debated whether or not to stay up in the hopes that it would clear. The radar and the forecasts told me to go back to bed, so I dutifully obeyed. At least I got some elk.

We are on our fifth or sixth oscillation between warm and cold weather since late summer. During the first cold snap, Jeremy and I were driving to Crested Butte in freezing rain and quickly failing daylight. We agreed to pick up dinner on the road and my stomach turned at all of the fast food options. Pulling into Frisco (near Breckenridge) we discovered a Whole Foods had opened this spring. I knew exactly what I wanted as I ran through driving rain and snow into the store – hot soup. Jeremy rarely knows what he wants to eat, but because we were short on time, I told him he was having soup. In the parking lot, spooning hot cioppino into our mouths, I felt warmth spreading from my tummy to my limbs and up the back of my neck. Jeremy kept making mmm mmm mmm sounds because he loves cioppino. Behind the steamy windows of our Subaru, I swore a silent oath to myself that I would find a good recipe for cioppino and make it at home.


fennel, leek, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, parsley, crushed tomatoes, olive oil

dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne, tomato paste, flour, butter, chardonnay, water

halibut filet, large sea scallops, medium sea scallops, crab meat, shrimp, clams



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the little chill

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Recipe: salmon corn chowder

Life always comes to a head before the fall shoot. There are piles of things to wrap up and it feels like an impossibility that everything in need of getting done before I leave for the shoot will actually get done. But it gets done, somehow. Jeremy is stocked with meals to last him 2-3 weeks and I’ve got my own meals prepped or planned. I finished all of my shoots, cleaned and stored ALL of the huckleberries in the chest freezer, and squared away financial records. The drive to Crested Butte was quick with one stop to shoot some colors for reference. I took mental notes on the state of the aspens for the length of the 200-mile route to send my photog pal the color report. Once here, it was as if I had slammed on the brakes and life came to a halt.


on the way to cottonwood pass

lots of reds and oranges this year

confetti

that lovely kind of afternoon

deep fluffy stands of golden aspen

conifers peeking through the aspen canopy



I like this shift in gears. I spend a lot of time alone with the trees and the trails and the road – thinking about weather, colors, mountains, trees, sky, light. Right now, I’m in scouting mode, but there is a calm that settles over me when I’m scrambling up a slope or gaining a ridge to check out the view’s potential. I’m all in my head, thinking to myself, talking to myself. The colors are building, though still this side of peak colors. Lots of greens juxtaposed with big splashes of vibrant golds, oranges, and reds – the color of fire. It’s been warm and sunny, until this morning when I woke to hear rain tapping away at our metal roof.

from our deck, rainy and misty over the mountain



Overcast and foggy, I’m fine with shooting. Drizzle, that’s tolerable. Steady rain, not so much. The temperature hung at 48°F for much of the day while I worked on the computer. The forecast was for two days of rain, but by afternoon the weather broke and we had blue skies, puffy clouds, and sunshine. I gave it a few hours (to let the trails firm up) and then grabbed my trail runners for a much needed run. You have to grab the opportunity when it comes! This doubled as a trail run and scouting run to see what the leaves are up to.

hello cow

view from the climb

i love running into the aspens



A couple of days of rain is nothing to worry about as the weather should bounce back to Colorado sunshine. The leaves are fine and doing their thing. There may be some snow getting thrown into the mix this coming weekend, which makes things very exciting for both the photographer and the skier in me! But any cool down at the tail end of summer is an excuse to make soup in my book. In my efforts to clean out the refrigerator before hitting the road, I wanted to use up the last few ears of local corn… some sort of corn chowder? Perhaps a salmon corn chowder?

cream, lemon, corn, green onions, celery, white pepper, olive oil, chicken broth, onion, potatoes, dill, salt, coho salmon

removing the pin bones



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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.


appetizers



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).

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