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Monday, January 16th, 2017

Recipe: chinese red-cooked pork

Each day last week listed snow in the weather forecast for Crested Butte. That was mostly a good thing. Mostly. It was time for us to head back home for stuff like work and sanity, although we are only able to be in Crested Butte because of the internet (and the ability to work online). At first we thought we might be able to get home Thursday, then it looked more like Saturday. Well, I’m glad we didn’t plan to leave Thursday because that was (yet another) powder day. Remember how Crested Butte got four feet of snow the first week of January? They received another five feet in the second week of January. Do the math. Four feet plus five feet equals some of the best powder skiing ever.


jeremy drops into one of our stashes

how the snow piled up in our front yard



The plan was to ski Friday morning if the mountain received 6 inches or more overnight or to skin up the mountain if it was less. I awoke at 5 am when Neva kicked me in her sleep (she starts off in her bed, but always winds up on ours in the middle of the night). The mountain reported a few inches. I checked the pow cam, then three different weather forecasts. Our window of least snow had moved up a day. I woke Jeremy and we discussed our options in the dark as Neva began to petition for dinner (breakfast). If we wanted to leave that day, there was much to do in order to button up the place – wash towels and linens, vacuum, sweep, mop, scrub the kitchen, dishes, empty the refrigerator, clean bathrooms, dust, take trash and recycling to the dump, pack up, unplug, clear snow off the middle eaves. Six hours later, we were on the road. Five hours after that, we were home.

We spent a glorious month in Crested Butte, which is the longest we’ve been there in one go. Jeremy didn’t think I could do it because I usually start to lose my marbles after 2+ weeks, but I managed. Barely. As much as I love Crested Butte – and I really do love it – I get more done in Nederland. Thankfully, we were greeted with fresh snow and a calm atmosphere. Positively the best weather the Front Range can offer between November and April. Living in Gale Force Wind Central, you learn not to take days like that for granted. So we got out to enjoy this otherworldly (some might call it the Upside Down) version of home.


sunrise skate ski through the hall of trees

backcountry skiing with neva

hoar frost

close up of the crystals



The first order of business was to ski, because exercise keeps us all nice nice. The second order of business was to cook. Chinese New Year’s Eve is Friday, January 27th. I perused my list of “want to make” Chinese recipes and settled on red-cooked pork (hong shao rou). When I was little, my grandma and parents made it with a bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder cooked super tender and infused with the flavors of the heady, savory braising liquid. If you search online recipes, you will discover that most people are cooking with pork belly these days, which is far more luxurious than a humble pedestrian pork shoulder (but let’s all agree that pork shoulder is a truly wonderful cut). It’s best to get pork belly with the skin on, which my local Whole Foods doesn’t have. As my mom complained this summer, “They trim the skin off the pork belly – that’s the best part!” If your local Asian grocer has a butcher’s counter, then you can probably score skin-on (maybe even bone-in) pork belly. That’s what you want.

Other ingredients you should pick up while you’re at the Asian market are: Shaoxing cooking wine, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Shaoxing is also known as huang jiu (yellow wine), but you can substitute dry sherry in its place. If you can’t find light soy sauce, using your regular soy sauce should work. The dark soy sauce is different though – it’s less salty, has a sweet finish, and adds a deep, rich color to the dish.


green onions, garlic, ginger, sugar, star anise, pork belly, shoaxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce

close up of the bottle labels



While researching recipes, I decided to go with the one that was the most straightforward. But it didn’t include ginger, which was in another recipe I liked. In these instances, the only solution is to consult with Mom. We exchanged a few texts and I was off to the races. Earlier this evening, after I had finished cooking, my dad called me.

“Mommy says you asked her about how to make hong shao rou. You should have asked me. Okay, tell me how you cooked it.” Before I could even describe the process, he interjected, “Now, first you have to cook the pork belly in cold water.” See, my dad gets SO excited about cooking and he is SO certain that his way is the right way, but it’s quite the ordeal to squeeze a reliable recipe out of the guy.

“I did that, Dad.”

“But did you scoop the scum away? You have to boil the yucky stuff off first.”

“DAD! THIS IS WHY I ASKED MOM AND NOT YOU!”


cover the pork belly with cold water

remove the scum from the surface of the liquid

slice the pork belly into 1.5-inch pieces



**Jump for more butter**

the weather outside is delightful

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle mushroom dip

It’s that time of year again – the end of the year. And that means our Year in Photos greeting card is now live at http://jenyu.net/newyear/. So be sure to drop by and have a gander at some of our favorite photos from 2016!


wishing you all the happiest of holidays and the very best in 2017



My cookie and candy duties are DONE! As of Monday night, all but one bag have been delivered (the last one goes out in the morning). This kind of holiday activity usually involves maximum chaos for a few days before the finished treats get bagged and ready for their recipients. I have trouble working in a messy environment, so you can just imagine how entropy was taking a toll on my OCD. Oh, but it didn’t end there. Once we made our Front Range deliveries, it was time to pack up our things, scrub down the house, and rig the plants on a self-watering system for the duration of our absence. We had an eight-hour window of clear weather to get to Crested Butte before a big storm barreled through. We arrived an hour before the snow began to pummel the town for two straight glorious days!

some of the happy packages of homemade love

jeremy dives into over 2 feet of fresh powder

a lovely sight to behold – snow on the mountains



The storm moved on and left frigid temperatures in its wake. We dropped to -26.5°F last night and the daytime temperatures barely made it out of single digits. That didn’t seem to bother Neva one bit. Sun. Snow. She loves it all. Instead of a run, hike, walk, or ski, she got her beans out climbing 6-foot banks of snow (repeatedly), and jumping around in deep powder. Then she’d come home and rub her face on the rug before passing out in the sun while we hopped out on the Nordic trails.

neva could do this all day

ice crystals formed a beautiful pattern on the inside of our windows overnight

skate skiing in single digits and full on colorado sun



I called my parents over the weekend because it was their 51st wedding anniversary. I asked how they were and Mom reported that they had far too many holiday parties to attend. My parents are ever the social butterflies. I don’t know how they do it because that requires a lot of energy to be a party person. Jeremy and I prefer the more intimate gatherings with a handful of friends and sharing of good food and wine. I’m always on the lookout for recipes well-suited for entertaining – either to serve to guests or to contribute to someone else’s party. This hot chanterelle mushroom dip is the perfect party fare on a cold winter’s night when the snow squeaks underfoot outside and the fireplace is crackling inside.

black pepper, olive oil, chanterelle mushrooms, onion, cream cheese, mayonnaise, white wine, butter, thyme, garlic, salt, parmesan cheese



This recipe was test-driven in the fall after I had foraged chanterelles, but you can use pretty much any variety of fresh, edible mushroom that you like. White button mushrooms are my last choice because almost any other kind of mushroom will have better flavor. The dip does require a little bit of a time investment because it includes caramelized onions, which we all know are totally worth the forty minutes to an hour required to cook them. I sometimes buy a bag of onions and caramelize a large batch so that I can freeze portions for my future self to use without all the fuss. Caramelized onions freeze well and they are a great addition to so many dishes. Or you can easily caramelize the onions the day before and keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the dip.

slice the onions

sauté in butter and oil until soft

cooked for a long time (be patient) until caramelized



**Jump for more butter**

back in the saddle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle-stuffed pork tenderloin

Just when I thought I was ready to kick that cold in the hoohoo, I came down with pink eye. Or I *thought* I had pink eye. Dr. Eye Doctor told me that I did not in fact have pink eye, but dry eyes. Apparently the combination of our dry mountain air, my excessively long days wearing contacts, and lots of computer time has caused great irritation and distress to the insides of my eyelids. I was instructed to take a break from wearing contacts to give my eyes a rest lest I not be able to wear contacts in the future. Trying not to sound like a brat after my scolding, I inquired how long “a break” was. He gave me the side-eye and said, “Until your eyes feel better.” Before I could ask another stupid question he continued, “That might be a day or it might be a week. You will have to gauge, but don’t push it – be kind to your eyes.” I gave it a day and another day and a third day and I’ve noticed considerable improvement.

As dull as it was to exercise on the indoor bike trainer (the only place I could work out and not hurt myself when my glasses steamed up), it was a much needed opportunity to get a lot of computer work done and organize my freezers – woohoo! And I let my body truly recover from the cold and not relapse by heading out into frigid winds and blowing snow. Of course, now that I’m healthy again, I’m going to do exactly that – go straight into the frigid winds and blowing snow. Hey, it’s ski season on the Front Range! It is what it is. Besides, there’s nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being healthy.

This week’s recipe is offered as a main dish suggestion for holiday dinner parties or the actual holidays. If there is any time to roast a hunk of meat it would be on the darkest nights as we enter winter. Ah, but this isn’t just any hunk of meat – it is stuffed with earthy, delightful mushrooms. I’m using foraged chanterelles here, but you can use whatever fresh mushrooms are available to you in your neck of the woods: shiitakes, crimini, oysters – something with flavor and character.


wine, olive oil, black pepper, beef broth, chanterelles, sage, thyme, butter, garlic, salt, pork tenderloins

thick sliced mushrooms



Could you make this with beef tenderloin (or flank steak) instead? Yes. Yes you could. The only reason I went with pork was because these were sitting in the chest freezer back in October when I shot the recipe. The stuffing is simply roasted mushrooms with some aromatics and seasonings. Use the recipe as a guideline. If you have other herbs and seasonings that you prefer, then go for it. At this point, I just want you to be happy.

prepped mushroom stuffing

pouring olive oil over the mushrooms and herbs

toss it all together

place in a baking dish and roast

roasted, tender, and fragrant



**Jump for more butter**