shrimp tatsuta-age sweet and sour beef short ribs almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free) sautéed morels and scrambled eggs


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improvements

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Recipe: olive roasted garlic lemon rosemary sourdough crown

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season and enjoyed ringing in the new year! We kept things very low key here, because after all of the rush of holiday baking, package shipping, and making our Year in Photos digital card, I was over the holidays before they had even begun. Done with being social. Done with sweets. Done with being exhausted without the benefit of a proper workout. It was the culmination of several things, but two in particular: Yuki and tamoxifen. Ever since we got Yuki this summer, we’ve been active in puppy training, but not active in that day-long big hike or backpacking adventure or even trail running way. Then I went off of tamoxifen in September, and I think I may have gained some (additional) weight as a result of that. I just felt completely shitty.

Enough, I decided. Time to put my health first. I started working out daily either skate skiing, uphill skiing, or indoor training. It coincided perfectly with the holidays because all I remember was exercising hard, sleeping a lot, and feeling really tired. This is how I kick myself out of a funk, and I definitely felt better and more like myself after a week.


enjoying the views and getting my fitness back on the nordic trails

skiing beaver creek



We also shifted Yuki’s winter training into high gear. Jeremy really liked the idea of skiing with our dogs, but he dreaded sacrificing ski days to get the pups sorted out. Contrary to what people think, training our pups involves a lot of untangling of leashes, stopping to adjust harnesses or booties, yelling, and very little actual skiing. On the one hand we have Neva who, while adjusting well to her “calm down” meds, is still highly excitable and reactive when outside. On the other hand we have Yuki who wants to jump on Neva’s head, jump off the track into the deep snow, and bark at/hide from unfamiliar people and random plants. It’s a bit of a clusterfuck, but we got it sorted out! Yuki is a great little ski pup, although she runs out of gas much faster than Neva. We’ll see if it’s just age and fitness or if she’s simply a short-distance runner.

jeremy skates with both dogs (but one-on-one is much better)

uphill skiing with the pups



One major part of Yuki’s training was Free Range Yuki. Whenever we left the house, Yuki went into her crate and we cordoned off the main room so Neva would always be in plain view. It makes Yuki incredibly upset if Neva is out of her sight because how else can you be the boss of someone? If we crated Yuki with a mat or blanket, she would chew and ingest said mat or blanket. I felt at 11 months, it was time for Yuki to transition from the crate to Free Range Yuki, because we wanted more freedom for us as well as for her. We started by setting up a web cam in the main room and leaving the house for 30 minutes. We just sat in the car in the driveway and monitored the pups. Neva was fine, Yuki was puzzled, but settled down after 25 minutes. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve increased the time away as well as gone to various local hangouts within a 10 minute drive to work and observe the pups. Yuki is much better behaved when we are not around. She and Neva sleep or look out the window or grab a drink of water, but otherwise they are super chill. Yuki can be a bratty and bossy little sister to Neva when we are home, but when we’re not in the house, she looks to Neva for comfort and companionship.

watching yuki from the crested butte public library



Of course, just as things started to find a rhythm, I caught a cold last week. I’m finally on the mend, but this was not the way I wanted to lose weight. There’s nothing like being sick to remind you to take advantage of feeling good when you can.

And on an unrelated note, I found myself in the pages of the 2019 Caltech Alumni Association’s magazine. If you know anything about my alma mater, then you will understand when I say that I never expected to see a mention of me except possibly on the occasion of my passing (which I’d never see). I’m saving a copy for my mom.


who says nothing good comes from social media



There happens to be a recipe for you after all that yada yada. While Jeremy would be perfectly content if I only ever made sourdough baguettes, I personally enjoy bread with mix-ins. In today’s case, it is sourdough bread with roasted garlic and olives. But it doesn’t stop there! Years ago I fell in love with a sourdough crown that I used to purchase from Cured in Boulder. It was topped with olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. How lovely to turn an already extraordinary roasted garlic and olive boule into a crown adorned with all of those goodies. Shall we?

the bread: sourdough levain, water, olive oil, bread flour, whole wheat flour, olives, salt, (more) water, and garlic



If you are new to sourdough baking, it’s important to point out that making sourdough bread is not a quick process and requires a little bit of planning on your part. I start by mixing my levain the night before I make and shape the dough. To make the levain, you need some well-fed starter, which for me means feeding my starter the morning before the night I feed the levain. 8-12 hours after feeding usually results in a happily bubbly starter. My kitchen is cold overnight (about 55°F in winter), so I try to give the levain 12 hours to become active and full of bubbles by the time I’m ready to start the dough the following morning. Bubbles are a sign that the wild yeast are doing their job – eating and producing carbon dioxide. The levain should float in water.

the levain is ready

dissolve the levain in water

add your flours

mix until there are no dry pockets of flour and the dough is shaggy



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in with the new

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

Recipe: roasted kabocha squash

The past few days have involved a lot of cleaning and precious little outside time, but we tell ourselves it is all worth it because we finally updated our refrigerator of 16 years and the crappy stove that came with the house (guessing 21 years old). I consider this a major accomplishment because we’ve had these upgrades on our list for about 10 years… we just hate shopping.


made a clear path for the delivery guys while yuki wonders what’s up

new refrigerator, new stove



The old refrigerator went into the basement to increase our cold storage capacity. The old stove was hauled away. Good riddance. But these things never go as smoothly as planned. We planed off 5 millimeters of cabinet siding to get the refrigerator to fit in its cubby and then replaced 20 feet of old copper water line which had been left unused for 13 years. And now that we have a slide-in range rather than a free-standing range, we need a backsplash. I’m going with stainless steel and it will be easily removable so I can scrub the hell out of it. It’s nice to have the kitchen back in place and working better than before! After all of that, we finally got out with the pups for some exercise and fresh air.

little yuki has a new harness because she outgrew her size small harness!



Thanksgiving is this week and I’ll have a lovely little story to share with you later, but for now I must tell you about kabocha squash. It sounds like kombucha, but it is kabocha, and it is my favorite squash. Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash, also called Japanese Pumpkin, and it has a beautiful sweetness. I love it stewed, in soup, tempura fried, and roasted. You can find it at Asian grocery stores with decent produce sections or at places like Whole Foods or farmers markets. Like many squashes, these are quite hard and a little scary to cut when raw, so do be careful as you would with any similar squash.

to roast: olive oil, salt, pepper, kabocha squash(es)



The skin on the kabocha squash is edible, which is great! Simply wash the squash before cutting. I like to remove the stem because it’s nearly impossible to cut through when splitting the kabocha in half. A careful shallow cut around the base of the stem with the tip of a paring knife (don’t twist, keep it flat) makes popping the stem off by hand a cinch. Once that’s done, carefully cut the kabocha squash in half and scoop out the guts. I then cut the halves in half to get four quarters and trim the hard corners off. From there, I like to slice my squash into 1-inch thick pieces.

scoop out the guts

cut into 1-inch thick slices



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winners and winners

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Recipe: lentil chicken soup

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the previous post and took a guess at Yuki’s breeds! We had 177 comments which I’m rounding up to $200 that I will donate to Rezdawg Rescue.

Now for Yuki’s Wisdom Panel results:

25% American Staffordshire Terrier
12.5% Australian Cattle Dog
12.5% Chow Chow
12.5% Rottweiler
37.5% Mixed Breeds in the following groups: Herding, Guard, Companion

Are you surprised? We were totally surprised! Of course, the naming and classification of breeds can be utterly confounding and inconsistent between official organizations in different countries. We accepted Pit bull for American Staffordshire Terrier, but not Staffordshire Bull Terrier as that is listed as a separate breed in the Wisdom Panel listing of tested breeds. Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), Heeler, or Blue Heeler were all considered the ACD.

Only one person named three of the four breeds (American Pit Bull, Chow, and Heeler) and that was Linda, Yuki’s foster mom. It made complete sense because she knows dogs (she fosters SO many pups) and aside from us, Linda has spent the most time with Yuki.

[Another commenter named three of the four breeds, but listed five breeds which gained a statistical advantage over everyone else. I contacted all individuals who guessed more than four breeds to please revise their guess and when this commenter revised theirs, they removed one of the three correct breeds.]

I am absolutely going to give Linda a prize of her choosing, but I am also going to give a SECOND person a prize of their choosing.

Fifteen people correctly guessed two of the four breeds. We numbered them 1-15 according to the order in which they commented on the blog post. I set up a cheeseboard with 15 treats associated with 1 through 15 and let Yuki pick the winner by selecting the corresponding treat (basically the one she went to first).


the set up

the winner



Yuki picked #15 and that is Sona who listed American Staffordshire Terrier and Australian Cattle Dog.

Congratulations to Sona and Linda! I will contact you both shortly. Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and love for this special little pup. It was thoroughly entertaining reading through all of the entries!

Those of you who follow my Instagram know that Yuki gave us a scare Friday morning when she began vomiting and crying out in terrible pain several times within a few hours. A trip to the vet, some meds, rest, and eventually passing a two-foot long piece of rope toy (whaaaaat?!?!) summed up our weekend. I’m relieved to report that Yuki is back to her happy puppy self and the rope toys have been banished.

It’s hard to believe that I was wearing shorts while walking the dogs this past Sunday evening when a week earlier Jeremy and I were skiing a lovely blanket of fresh snow in our local backcountry. Colorado weather keeps you on your toes.


almost a foot on our grill

i love the early season storms

storm clouds gave way to a colorful close to the day



I try to plan my cooking with the weather. If it’s hot, there are lots of fresh salads, sushi, grilling, sandwiches, and things that don’t produce a good deal of heat. When it’s cold, I happily crank up the oven for roasting, baking, braising, or dedicate hours to simmering soups and stews on the stove. Not only does the heat from the kitchen keep our living space comfortably toasty, but it fills the house with heady aromas that are the equivalent of wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket. Right now, we are bouncing between Indian Summer and early winter. So here is a hearty soup-as-meal for the next (hopefully snowy) cold spell: lentil chicken soup.

chicken, lentils, onion, salt, garlic, tomato paste, celery, carrots, pepper, olive oil



Homemade chicken broth is superior to store-bought chicken broth in flavor, quality, and the fact that you control the sodium. My preference is to make my own if I have the time. If you are short on time, then you can easily use store-bought chicken broth and chicken meat and essentially reduce the time investment by half or more.

If you do make your own broth, you can simmer it for 3-4 hours or use a pressure cooker for an hour plus change. Either way, start that process first. Once the broth is done, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove random particles (there are always random particles). I like to de-fat my chicken broth one of two ways. The first, refrigeration, requires time. Lots of time. Chill the broth until the fat solidifies or at least clumps together on the surface to be scooped or skimmed off. The second method is in the immediate gratification camp and involves pouring the hot or warm broth into a gallon-size ziploc bag, sealing the bag and holding it over a large bowl or stock pot, cutting a slit in the bottom corner and letting the broth drain out as the fat rises to the top. The trick is pinching the outlet corner off right as the fat layer is about to drain, and discarding the bag and fat.


chicken and water in the pressure cooker

homemade de-fatted chicken broth



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