california hand roll (temaki) hot smoked salmon and asparagus pasta kaweah huckleberry jam

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little secrets

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

Recipe: roasted strawberry ice cream

I hope Mother’s Day was a good one for all of you moms out there. I gave my mom a call earlier in the day and my dad got on the phone to discuss wine, health, Kaweah, and other things. When he was done, Mom and I were able to chat. She’s always been like that – letting everyone else go first. I used to think that was a mom thing, but I’ve learned over the years that it is MY mom’s thing. She still moms me to this day and I’m still learning how special she is. Last month on the ski lift, I told my girlfriend that Mom is always reminding me about retirement contribution deadlines and limits. I said it as if it was a bit of a drag, but my friend turned to me, “You’re so lucky to have someone looking out for you like that. We don’t get that kind of advice from anyone in our families.” I’m so glad she said that, because it dope-slapped me into recognizing that my mom has always looked out for my (and now, Jeremy’s) best interests since the day she brought me into this world.

thanks for everything, mom – i love you!

Dad had taken Mom out for a nice lunch, so they decided to opt out of some yacht club shindig later in the day. Actually, yacht clubs don’t have shindigs – I believe it was a fancy cocktail party at the marina. Mom said, “We just can’t eat that much after a big lunch, and it’s too hot anyway. It’s 84 degrees.” I blinked. We had 5 inches of snow on our deck and it was still coming down. Kaweah was curled up in her doggy bed wrapped in her flannel quilt. It’s always around this time of year I’m about ready to concede the snow to the progression of the seasons. And then it snows. And then I begin to salivate in anticipation of more ski days. Jeremy and I logged some long trail runs on Saturday since they wouldn’t be clear of snow for several days.

the storm engulfing the mountains (and eventually me) on my trail run

MOAR snow!!!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s not uncommon for Colorado to get snow in May. It happens more often than one might deduce from all of the howls of incredulity on the flats. I’m good with it, as you know. I’m never fully ready to accept the blast furnace of summer.

may of 2008

may of 2011

may of 2012

may of 2013

Here’s another little secret I learned this past week. There is strawberry ice cream and then there is STRAWBERRY ice cream. ‘Tis the season for juicy red strawberries and I was determined to find a good and proper strawberry ice cream recipe. Scouring my books and the interwebs, I came across a recipe from ZoĆ« who is as knowledgeable and trustworthy as she is friendly and kind. The trick to intensely strawberry-flavored ice cream is to roast the berries. If you’ve ever roasted vegetables, you know that it concentrates the flavors and enhances the sweetness.

eggs, vanilla extract, corn syrup, vanilla bean, sugar, more sugar, salt, balsamic vinegar, strawberries, cream, milk

**Jump for more butter**

roses are red, violets are blue

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Recipe: candied violets

After a difficult week for Kaweah, Jeremy and I made an appointment with her vet on Friday. Our intention was to mostly get a gauge on the progression of her laryngeal paralysis. Oh boy, you’ve never seen anyone perk up like Kaweah does when Doc Newton enters the room. He smiled and greeted her with a “How’s my favorite patient?!” and proceeded to feed her about a meal’s worth of dog treats. After a thorough check up, he reported that her lungs and heart are as strong as ever, but that he couldn’t tell us how her breathing or her canine degenerative myelopathy (doggy lou gehrig’s disease) would play out. Doc Newton seems to think she’s doing well and said to just enjoy her remaining time, however long it may be.

sun naps rank up there with raw beef and prosciutto

Thank you for being so understanding and supportive, my friends. I was feeling frayed at the edges, but I think I’ve come to a point of acceptance of what will eventually come (at least, I tell myself I have). Kaweah is getting more time on the people bed, and since she lost a few pounds, she enjoys more raw beef snacks, carrots, cucumbers, bananas, peanut butter, and other yummy things. I’ve never been a terribly patient person, but Kaweah, in her twilight, is teaching me patience and some important life lessons.

crescent moon thinly veiled in clouds at sunset

The trails around my neighborhood are almost completely melted out, though still muddy in a few places. Is it odd that I feel strangely guilty for trail running and mountain biking instead of skiing? Don’t worry, we’re still skiing (I doubt any of you are actually worried about my ski days…), but the non-snow activities have been wonderful. I’m finding myself cranking up hills that used to be a slog just a year ago, and navigating with ease the single tracks that gave me pause last season. And the best part? The pasque flowers are blooming on my trails which means all of the other wildflower lovelies are soon to follow, and then wild strawberries and huckleberries and wild raspberries and porcini!

pasque flowers just opening

what they look like on the inside

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. We are still planted squarely in spring (with a snow storm approaching in the high country – woohoo!). When I was foraging for violets with Wendy, she asked if I was going to candy any of them. Well, no… I was fairly single-minded in my quest to make violet syrup. “Oh, you should definitely make some candied violets. Another great OCD activity.” I asked if she had made them before and she replied yes, but that once was enough for her. Why not?

pick violets with long stems for candying

you’ll need egg white, superfine sugar, and violets on stems

gently rinse or spray violets with water and shake dry

**Jump for more butter**

tastes like purple

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Recipe: violet syrup (and soda)

There’s a slow-moving storm with its haunches resting squarely on Colorado right now. It doesn’t feel much like a spring storm, but more like the storms of winter – cold, very windy, and horizontal snow. I’m hoping some of it sticks in the high country because everything around my house seems to be in a rush to get to Kansas. Right before the snow and winds arrived, the weather was pleasantly sunny and I heard the first hummingbirds of the season zipping around in the yard. I knew this storm would keep Kaweah inside for most of the coming week, so I let her lounge about on the deck more than usual while it was nice out.

her blanket to keep the chill at bay and the grill (her favorite) nearby for company

Just over a week ago I was riding the trails on the flats with Wendy, dropping our bikes to check out asparagus sites and crawling about in the bushes so I could learn more edible plants. The plums were in bloom and the apple blossoms were just starting to bud. It was hot under the sun which Wendy and I both dislike, but the plants apparently love.

plum blossoms on a bluebird day

happy buzzy bee

At one point, we walked our bikes into a little shady corner of the woods where Wendy stopped and turned to me. “Okay, what do you smell?” she grinned. I took a deep breath and parsed the scents on the air. Lots of green and wood and… “Purple! I smell purple!” It’s what I had been wanting to forage since last year and Wendy promised this season that she would lead me to some. Her eyes lit up and then she gazed down where violets (Viola sp.) daintily dotted the leafy mats at our feet.

green and purple

we gathered a half cup in a few minutes

Now, when I say purple, I really mean that the scent of violets is like a sophisticated floral grape flavor. In fact, the smell of violets is so dreamy and soothing that just opening the container and breathing in the perfume is an addiction of which we are both guilty. Violets tend to bloom in spring. According to Wendy, our violet season is a few weeks into spring proper. There are white violets too. They won’t turn things purple, but they do have the flavor and scent of their purple brethren. If you want to forage violets, here are a few things to note:

2) Make sure the violets you forage are in an area that is not sprayed with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, whatnot). If you don’t know, then don’t pick.
3) Your best bet is to forage for violets on a sunny day after the violets have had time to open up in the morning under the sun. Mid to late morning is a good bet.
4) Pick the blossoms that are fully open as they have the best flavor and odor. Leave the closed buds to open later.
5) Place the violets in a hard-sided container with a lid. This prevents crushing the delicate flowers. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days, although using them right away is best.

all the pretty

and a white one for contrast

**Jump for more butter**