cold brew coffee mushroom carnitas sourdough pita bread flourless chocolate walnut cookies


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2020 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

archive for technique

cold buzz

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Recipe: cold brew coffee

People, I am feeling it. I am feeling that excitement about spring and green things sprouting from the ground and sunshine warming my back in the mornings and bright afternoons and bird song riding gentle breezes that dance through open windows. Winter has been decent with a slightly above average snowpack. Higher sun angles and longer days mean we can look forward to crust cruising in the mornings, swooshing soft or slushy stuff in the afternoons, big spring snow storms, increased (avy) stabilization, and more backcountry fun.


bluebird backcountry day

skijor with the pups

celebrated 23 years of marriage with an early morning uphill ski

and we grabbed a surprise 13-inch powder day



I used to resent the loss of an hour as we adjusted to Daylight Saving, but I was pretty happy to shift ahead this weekend. It’s partly for the later sunsets and mostly because Neva has the annoying habit of waking before daybreak and standing next to the bed, moaning/growling at us until we get up and feed her or until she pukes. So we’ve gained a little more sleep time in the mornings for another month. It’s not that bad, because I’m a morning person. Jeremy isn’t so much of a morning person, but he gets up early because that’s the best time to get things done and because he has coffee. If there wasn’t coffee, I’m just not sure Jeremy would be a functional member of society.

Last summer when I was out foraging with Erin and Jay, we stopped for a snack break and Erin handed Jay a large Nalgene bottle of dark half-frozen liquid. “Is that coffee?” Yep, it was cold brew. Erin told me cold brew is easy to make and a lot cheaper than buying it. I would occasionally get Jeremy a bottle of cold brew coffee, but he rarely requested it – probably because it’s so spendy. I made a mental note to read up on it and to try making some.

There is good news with regard to making your own cold brew such that I can’t wrap my head around shelling out the bucks to buy it anymore. First off, you don’t need to use the fancy high end stuff like that fair trade, light roast, single-origin, unwashed Ethiopia bean. Save that for your extra special hot cuppa. The lighter, brighter, more acidic and floral notes of regular coffee don’t really come out in the cold brew process. Instead, you’ll hit the earthy, chocolatey, nutty characteristics of a darker roast. And it will be smoother since heat is required to extract the acidity you find in hot brewed coffee. I use Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo medium roast whole beans. As for equipment, you can get away with a $14 coffee grinder, a $2 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or a few more bucks for a 2-quart wide-mouth jar), some coffee filters (or a nut milk bag), and a sieve. You could use a large plastic container, but glass doesn’t retain odors and I find it much easier to wash the oily residue off of glass.


coffee beans and water



Don’t grind your beans too fine because it makes for a murky final beverage and a lot more sediment. A quick few pulses work great in my Krups spice grinder and I process the beans in 1/4 cup batches. I’ve started following the general rule of thumb of about 1/4 cup of beans per cup of water, but the recipe below starts off a tad more conservatively. It’s all very forgiving. Scale the amount accordingly to accommodate your tastes and the volume of your brewing vessel. The grounds go into your jar with the water (I happily use cold tap water) and get stirred until there are no dry pockets floating about. I cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter and secure it with the canning lid ring (but not the actual lid). You can use a towel or cheesecloth, but I think the idea is to allow airflow without introducing undesired extras like floaty pet hairs.

coarse grind works best

stir with water until all grounds are wet

the grounds float at first, but will mostly sink with time

cover with a cloth or a coffee filter



**Jump for more butter**

not a pita

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Recipe: sourdough pita bread

It’s already February and I can’t help but feel a slight panic that winter is nearly over. Technically we’re only halfway through it, and snow season for us can last into June or July if we’re lucky. This season Jeremy and I made a pact that we would stop being powder jerks and make a point to regularly ski groomers, uphill, Nordic, backcountry – anything active with more focus on cardio. It’s been great, and when we hit those high pressure systems that leave us with more ice than snow, we grab some miles on the treadmill or indoor bike trainer.


when there isn’t snow, these two happily fetch/chase



We celebrated Chinese New Year quietly at home with traditional dishes. I kept it simple and allowed myself a few shortcuts (frozen dumplings and bao) for sanity’s sake as we were packing up to head to Crested Butte.

symbolic foods for good luck, fortune, health, and happiness

sweet red bean bao in the morning

a nice view of mount crested butte

week old powder holds up nicely around here

diffuse light and long shadows



This past Saturday, Yuki turned two years old. It’s hard for me to think of her as anything other than a puppy because she is such a baby. We celebrated with goodie plates: raw beef, beef meatballs, bacon, Parmesan crisp, unsweetened whipped cream, and their usual homemade dog treats decorated with sugar icing and naturally colored sprinkles. It’s been such a joy to watch Yuki learn, grow, and become more confident while maintaining her playful, silly personality. We love her so very much.

our birthday girl

monster candles seemed appropriate

pawty time!

the pups burn those calories and then some

skate ski in 3°f



The night before, our low temperature dropped to -27.3°F and the high for the day never cleared 4°F. I don’t know about you, but that kind of cold is a great excuse to bake and run a hot oven. A couple of years ago, shortly after I had received my sourdough starter, I split some off to give to my friend, Amanda. We were both new to the sourdough game and stood around discussing different foods you could make with sourdough starter. She mentioned homemade pita bread and told me there is no going back once you’ve eaten fresh baked pita. Amanda assured me it was easy to make, so I figured there must be a sourdough version.

sourdough levain, bread flour, whole wheat flour, sea salt, water, olive oil



The sourdough levain should be fed at 100% hydration. If you’re new to sourdough, the 100% hydration means the starter was fed with equal WEIGHT (not volume) water and flour. The wild yeast in the starter needs to have enough time (usually 8-12 hours at room temperature) to digest the new food and produce carbon dioxide bubbles. When the levain is ready, all of the ingredients get mixed together. You can knead the dough by hand or with the dough hook of a stand mixer.

the bubbles indicate the levain is ready

combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl

i used a dough hook to knead the dough



The dough will feel smooth and elastic after 4-5 minutes in the stand mixer or 8-10 minutes of kneading by hand. Place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest until doubled in size. This can be anywhere from 2 hours in a very warm room to 24 hours in a very cool room (64-68°F). I let mine go for 24 hours because our house is always cold in non-summer months.

let the dough rest in a covered greased bowl

doubled in size



**Jump for more butter**

letting go

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Recipe: gnocchi with morels and sage

Even though it’s snowing as I type, I believe it is time to say farewell to winter. I said winter, not skiing! We’re still going to ski as long as the snow is skiable. Spring skiing in the backcountry can be heaps of weird fun as we wait for trails to thaw out in the mountains.


i prefer the quiet of the backcountry to the resorts



Last week, we sent Neva and Yuki back to the kennel for Yuki’s first overnight stay and it was hard not seeing a fluffy white blur playfully bouncing about the house that evening. Both girls warmed up to playtime with other pups much faster than the first visit and they did just fine. We were asked if we wanted to keep the dogs together overnight or in separate rooms and I had to pause. I am certain Neva would have appreciated a night off from Yuki, but I think Yuki would have been beside herself without Neva, so of course we kenneled them together.

post doggy camp nap



As the house cleaning continues, we are over what I considered the crux of the endeavor. Jeremy can not only see the surface of his desk, but he has room to actually work at his desk as opposed to the dining table. He was not happy about my gentle, yet firm insistence that he clean his damn desk and the loads of electronics (cables, obsolete devices, data storage, etc.) in the office closet, but he is now delighted to have a workspace that no longer poses a physical threat to humans or passing canines.

The whole process got me thinking about stuff and things. What do we keep and why do we keep it? My own parents are in the middle of sorting their belongings as they prepare to eventually make the move to Colorado and further downsize their lives. Mom sent me a text last month that Daddy was cleaning out the attic and wanted to get rid of old home movies… movies that included Kris when she was a child. I could hear the desperation in Mom’s voice as I read her text and then it was punctuated by a sad face emoji with a teardrop. This made my heart hurt. I told her to have him pack it all in a box and ship it to me so I could digitally archive everything. Easy solution. Having the movies in my possession meant they were 1) no longer his worry and 2) not destroyed.

I know where Dad was coming from. He was thinking about how many more years he’s going to be around and decided he could live without this stuff. But he didn’t think about Mom’s feelings and how throwing those home movies out meant one more piece of Kris that she would lose forever. It didn’t matter if she never watched those movies again, she just needed them to be in safe keeping. I get it. I know Dad is able to part with these things and it doesn’t mean he loves Kris any less. I also know that Mom will never be able to part with them. I am my father’s daughter. As I cleaned my office, I was able to let go of mementos from Kris’ funeral – a terrible time filled with awful memories. I recycled all of my chemo logs and calendars, letters and cards from people I’ve removed from my life, and all of my dissertation-related paperwork. Good riddance, baggage.


focusing on what is important in life



While running errands last week, we drove past a ranch house on the flats that had a large fenced grassy front yard. Because I am immediately drawn to brightly-colored objects, I noticed about a hundred pastel eggs scattered throughout and gasped out loud. These weren’t just any eggs, but some were as big as my dogs! I turned to Jeremy and excitedly described what I saw. We couldn’t figure out a reason for the giant eggs, but maybe it’s for really little kids, or maybe it’s for vision-impaired kids? While we don’t celebrate Easter, we both think Easter egg hunts are awesome because they are a gateway activity to foraging.

patiently awaiting morel season in the mountains



Morels have been popping around the country, and the blonde morels are starting to show up in the southern part of our state, so I think I can drop another morel recipe for those of you with access now and those of us who hope to see the beloved mushroom coming online in the near future. I made and photographed this recipe at the end of last season, but I promise it will be every bit as delicious now as it was then. Shall we make some gnocchi with morels?

start with russet potatoes, egg, and flour



**Jump for more butter**