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archive for December 2013

need a hand?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Recipe: candied citron

At last, the cookie baking is done! Now we are in overdrive tidying up around here and doing a little upgrading in the process. There has been no new snow and it was downright HOT in Boulder on Wednesday. 65°F is a heat wave for me and especially so when trying on alpine mountaineering jackets. Hot and shopping do not go well together. Gah! But it was warm enough for someone to get a bath in the driveway… not us, the dog.

she was none too thrilled about it

replacing my 15-year old track skis with these lovelies

We have a fluffy, clean, lavender-scented puppy and a semi-clean house (we’re getting there). It feels so good to have all of the baking done and most of the deliveries made. It stresses the hell out of me. But to see the smile on someone’s face or the joy in their voice when they are handed a bag of homemade goodies – a bag of love – it’s all worth it. Totally worth it. One of the seasonal favorites year after year is this lemon ginger cookie. A few years ago, I nearly panicked because I couldn’t find candied lemon peel (or candied citron) anywhere in town. I discovered that one specific Safeway location carries it for a short period before the holidays. But that year, they were cleaned out. Well, that’s no good. So I set about making my own.

enter the buddha’s hand

It’s a funky looking fruit that most people make weird faces at when they see it in the produce display. Every time I see Buddha’s hand, I hold one to my nose and inhale deeply. The scent is heavenly. I am obsessed with it. Todd and Diane introduced me to it because it grows in their paradise of a garden. Once, Diane posted a photo of a large green Buddha’s hand on the tree and wrote, “Jen, this one is yours.” Sure enough, a few weeks later I got a package in the mail with two huge and gorgeous Buddha’s hands from their garden. It’s one of the best care packages ever (second only to a box full of fresh passion fruits).

dice the citron

blanch in water for 30-40 minutes, then drain

add sugar and fresh water to the citron

**Jump for more butter**

all hail the elastic waistband

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Recipe: baked brie with cranberries and pistachios

The time has come for folks to don their elastic waistband clothing. I know this because I’ve been working ’round the clock for several days stirring, mixing, cooking, caramelizing, tempering, dipping, rolling, slicing, and baking goodies for distribution. I completed phase 1 of my cookie schedule on Friday morning. I’ve been working phase 2 all weekend (with some time taken out for Kaweah’s birthday celebration).

phase 1 cookies plus jams and homemade spice rubs

But full on debauchery should not be limited to desserts and sweet bites this time of year. I am a card-carrying member of the savory clan – those of us who opt for potato chips over chocolate chip cookies any day. Appetizers and salty snacks forevah!! When I last had my parents over for dinner, I tried a baked brie appetizer with cranberries and pistachios that was a sort of compromise between salty and sweet. It’s the perfect thing for holiday parties because it’s quick, easy, and the results are lovely.

a wheel of brie, an orange, water, cranberries, pistachios, and sugar

grate orange zest into the cranberries

add water to the cranberries, sugar, and orange zest

**Jump for more butter**


Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Today (December 14th) is Kaweah’s 15th birthday! At this time last year, Jeremy and I figured she probably wouldn’t make it to fifteen… figured that her various ailments and most of all, her age, would catch up to her before this day. We agreed to take each day as it comes and to make Kaweah as happy and as comfortable as possible. Even last night when I reached over from under the covers to stroke her soft ears, I never assumed that she would be here today. For her birthday, we are making sure she enjoys the one thing in this world that makes her happiest – food!

amuse bouche: brussels sprout leaf, carrot, cheddar, and a peanut

beef 3-ways: hand cut, medallion wrapped in prosciutto, carpaccio

birthday dessert: crushed pumpkin peanut butter dog treats in peanut butter, sliced lady apple, whipped cream, sprinkles, whole lady apple, homemade dog treats

Jeremy fed Kaweah a quarter of her usual kibble allotment for breakfast, because I had this nice birthday meal planned for her (too much food guarantees a puke episode in the middle of the night). She happily gobbled it down and wandered off to contemplate the things that Kaweah contemplates in the office. An hour later, as I was preparing her birthday meal in the kitchen, she emerged from the office looking around as if something was amiss. “I think she just realized that she was short-changed at breakfast,” Jeremy observed.

ready to start

she could not stop licking her chops

jeremy gives her a hand with the carpaccio

licking the plate clean

It’s a silly thing I do for Kaweah – making pretty food for her to devour. She’s a dog’s dog and would be just as happy if I filled a bowl with kibble. I guess I do it for me as much as I do it for her. Perhaps it’s all in my mind, but I think I see her wag more when she inhales beef or peanut butter or cheese.

intent on her birthday dessert

looking to jeremy for the go ahead

she got so excited, she started panting

birthday puppy!!!

Kaweah spent a good 30 minutes lying in the sun and licking her chops after her birthday meal. Later, I noticed she had capsized onto her side taking a much needed nap – her belly happily full. Jeremy called the vet to make an appointment for a check-up next week and the technician knew Kaweah by name. When the appointment had been booked, she said to Jeremy, “She’s pretty remarkable.” We feel the same way. It’s hard to watch a beloved pet age, but every day we get with Kaweah is a gift. She just keeps surprising us all.

Happy birthday, baby puppy. We love you so much!

outtake: sometimes her eagerness gets the better of her