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pan-demic days

June 29th, 2020

Recipe: pan pizza

It’s been a while since the last post and that was originally unintentional, but soon became quite intentional. I’ve been taking the time to educate, and in some cases, re-educate myself on racism in this country. For those who don’t follow my personal Instagram (@jenyuphoto), I’m listing a few of the pods and reads I’ve recently recommended:

1) The Scene on Radio podcast is an excellent series of documentary journalism. I highly recommend listening to Season 2: Seeing White, which examines racism in United States, and Season 4: The Land That Never Has Been Yet, a look at how our democracy was built. I cannot recommend these two seasons enough.

2) The 1619 podcast from The New York Times. If you listen to Scene on Radio, you’ll notice a little overlap between the first two episodes of 1619 and the Seeing White (season 2) series. Additionally, Scene on Radio’s John Biewen, in collaboration with Reveal, produced an episode relevant to episodes 5 and 6 of 1619. It’s called Losing Ground and worth a listen.

3) White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. 2018, Beacon Press.

4) 13th on Netflix. Documentary.

5) Hidden Brain episode The Air We Breathe: Implicit Bias and Police Shootings.

6) The Electoral College’s Racist Origins, from The Atlantic (Nov 2019).

This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start. I continue to work my way through more material. For those who are upset or offended by the list, I think #3 is right up your alley. If you don’t want “politics” on a food blog, we’ve discussed this in the past and just like before, you can find another food blog to read. No one is going to miss you. So, bye.

The last time I posted, hints of spring were sprouting in our mountains. Now we have entered proper summer, but I wanted to document the familiar transition that kept me grounded throughout the tumultuous combo of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, economic nosedive, and general incompetence/malfeasance of the current administration.


signature spring green in the aspen stands

blessed rain

a pair of happy morels

not a great season, but not a terrible season (yuki for scale)

the start of thunderstorm season

colorful skies

paddleboarding says summertime

happy to still find snow up high

the blooming of the wildflowers is underway



I haven’t been one to follow Taco Tuesdays, Meatless Mondays, or Pizza Fridays at our house. We are neither that organized nor regimented. The menu I generate results from an intersection of what we have, what needs to be eaten, and what is available at the market. During the pandemic I decided to give pan pizza a try instead of our usual hand-tossed grilled sourdough pizzas. And you know what? It’s so good that we’ve made it a regular on our menu. Regular, as in, it happens every 10 days or so. Regular, because we still love it every time it comes out of the oven. That’s why I’m posting this on the blog, because I use the recipe all the time. It requires flour, which is thankfully coming back to store shelves. It also requires yeast (I use active dry yeast) that remains in short supply. Luckily, I dug up a half jar of yeast in my basement refrigerator. The expiration date was August 2015, but yeast are hardy little organisms. I dropped a few granules in a small bowl of room temperature water and watched them bloom and foam within a minute. Still good!

for the dough: flour, water, yeast, olive oil, kosher salt

whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl

stir in the water and oil

form a shaggy dough with no dry pockets of flour



**Jump for more butter**

greening

May 10th, 2020

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



**Jump for more butter**

going back to cauli

April 19th, 2020

Recipe: cauliflower karaage

We’re in the middle of our sixth week of self-isolation and no one has gone off the deep end yet. Colorado’s governor recommended wearing face masks in public places a few weeks back, so I consulted with my mother-in-law on patterns (she and her quilting pals have been sewing a bazillion to donate to health care workers!) and sewed a couple for us. Because elastic and other materials for making masks are in short supply right now, I made due with what scraps of elastic and pipe cleaners I had. The Olson mask pattern (https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/) took me forever on the first two, because I’m a shitty sewist and I had to learn what various terms and techniques were, and discover parts of my sewing machine I never knew existed. Jeremy’s mom said sewing in progressive assembly is much faster and my next ten definitely went faster. Then I tried a modified version of a pleated mask (second version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCCtGq6maw8) which I think I like better. I plan to make a mashup of the two designs to optimize fit and fabric use.


my first two olson masks with nose pieces and filter pockets

my next ten to donate or exchange for a donation to the recipient’s local food bank

pleated version (with nose pieces and filter pockets)



Our neck of the woods has enjoyed a string of cold, snowy storms between stretches of gorgeous sunny days. Instead of wishing for more powder days or wishing for clear trails, we roll with it and try to enjoy whatever the atmosphere has to offer. It’s wonderful. All of our skiing is human-powered these days and I am loving it.

deliciously snowy views under a bright spring sun

skinning up through the trees

neva and yuki love barreling through the deep snow

powder day wrestlemania



Our new backpacking tent arrived in the mail this week and we set it up in the living room for a trial run (to make extra sure we want to hike into the backcountry with Wingus and Dingus and sleep in a confined space with them). It’s spacious enough to fit all of us in theory, but in practice we are going to have to tell the dogs where to sleep. Our overnight resulted in Yuki hogging the center of the tent and Neva restlessly resettling herself all night on our legs because she was too scared to snuggle up against Yuki. We’ll figure it out!

curious pups

they decided they liked it well enough



At the start of the shelter-at-home order, we went to town for groceries once a week. None of the stores had established good protocols yet. We found it quite stressful to wait in crowded lines next to people who were coughing and close-talking and acting like everything was fine. Businesses eventually implemented good practices (some faster than others) to streamline the process while we quickly figured out how to reduce to bi-monthly trips. Aside from planning our menu and having a good inventory of our food, I use the more perishable produce the first week, and prepare produce that has a longer shelf life (in the refrigerator or in the dark, cool basement) for the second week. Sometimes cooking vegetables that are on their way out will buy you a few more days in the refrigerator.

Cauliflower, like most vegetables in the Brassica family, can last in the refrigerator for more than a week. Sometimes it will start to get light brown spots, but those are fine. You can scrape or cut the brown parts off, or eat them. The browning is due to oxidation. If the spots turn dark or black and the flesh becomes soft, you are looking at rot. For small sections, cut them away. If the entire head or floret has succumbed, then it’s time to send the cauliflower into the compost. But let’s say your cauliflower is just fine. There are so many ways to enjoy this nutritious and high-fiber vegetable. I recently tried it as karaage cauliflower.


potato starch, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, sugar, sake, and soy sauce



This is the same recipe that I use for chicken karaage but without the honey sriracha sauce. I really love the subtle nutty-earthy-slightly-bitter-and-sweet flavor of cauliflower and didn’t want to mask or overpower it with sriracha. I wasn’t convinced that the marinade would come through, but it does so nicely. To make the recipe gluten-free, just substitute tamari for the soy sauce.

grate the fresh ginger

stir the soy sauce, sake, and sugar with the ginger

toss with the cauliflower and marinate for 30 minutes



**Jump for more butter**