meatless meatballs roasted porcini with gremolata gluten-free chocolate chip cookies venison with morel sauce


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2021 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

archive for November 2015

snow and blow

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Recipe: butternut squash lasagne

When my neighbor asked if I could take care of their dog, Dioji (dee-OH-gee), for a couple of days, I hesitated. My desire is to always say yes to everything. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to temper that gut reaction with pragmatic considerations and to think things through before answering yes, before committing to what I promise to do. Dioji is an easy girl – a giant fur ball, half Bernese Mountain dog, half Great Pyrenees, and one hundred percent lover. Neva is very fond of Dioji and I have to say, of all the dogs that have to put up with Neva’s ridiculous puppy antics, Dioji is the sweetest and most tolerant one. Of course, walking the two of them was quite the adventure because Neva is constantly pulling ahead and Dioji is always stopping abruptly to sniff the latest headlines.


sitting nicely for a treat, but neva thinks dioji might have gotten hers already



As much as I adore Dioji, I think I like having one dog. I hear from plenty of folks that two dogs are great because they keep one another company, but one is just right for me and Jeremy. Neva improves each day in subtle increments rather than the “one step forward, two steps back” of puppyhood. We still witness bouts of puppiness in Neva, and with the colder weather she is becoming more snuggly. Every morning Neva hops up onto the bed and cuddles between us for an hour or so until she feels it is time for what Jeremy calls her “two outputs and one input” – potty time and dinner (breakfast) – at which point she scoots closer to Jeremy and puts both front paws on his face. After she’s done eating, one or both of us will take her out for some exercise – a hike, fetch, or ski. We recently got more snow and a chaser of winds gusting up to 60 mph, but we still went out because Neva needs to learn what winter is like around here. Thankfully, ground blizzards don’t seem to bother her too much when there is a ball to be chased.

i wish all dogs could be this happy

neva in flight!

her coordination is improving

walking home after lots of good playtime



While I pride myself in enduring gale force winds to get my ski on (because it makes the calm days all the more delicious), there are times when the winds and the snow conditions combine to create so much suckage that I will resort to indoor rowing or riding. Those are also good days to tackle something like this butternut squash lasagne with its multiple components. Running the oven keeps the house warm and toasty while the big bad wolf rages outside.

onions, butter, olive oil, milk, goat cheese, flour, salt, thyme, sage, panko crumbs, butternut squash, black pepper, pecorino-romano cheese, no boil lasagne, nutmeg, garlic

start caramelizing the onions

deep brown and sweet



**Jump for more butter**

magical

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate magic custard cake

There are a few things you learn about early season skiing after eleven seasons. The first is that you probably shouldn’t wax those skis just yet, because you’ll likely hit a few (or a lot) of rocks. If you were a good and proper ski fanatic, you waxed those babies at the end of last season so they wouldn’t dry out over the summer. You can wax them properly after a good base has been established. The second is that you haven’t actually forgotten how to ski after one summer. This weekend we took Neva out for her first ski tour. The very first one was more like a trial run because Jeremy was on skis and I hiked/jogged alongside the two of them just in case there were issues. It can be really difficult to manage a first timer dog while you are moving on skis. When Kaweah was a puppy, she kept attacking the ski tips (she didn’t realize they were connected to our feet) and standing on the skis when the snow was deep, and then running in front of us and sometimes stopping when we skied downhill. Even as an adult, Kaweah didn’t quite register the whole “keep clear of the metal edges” thing.


neva keeps pace with jeremy

noodling along

having a blast



You probably already know that we are not the sorts who fly by the seat of our pants. We put a lot of thought into Neva’s first ski. We wanted to make sure she had fun, but we also had to guarantee that she would be safe. We took Neva up a forest service road so there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver about without getting tangled up in the skis on a narrow trail (or driving Jeremy into a tree). She absolutely had to be on a leash. That girl is always looking off into the woods and we know why. On the two occasions we have let her off leash, she bolted deep into the forest tracking the scent of every wild animal she could pick up, completely ignoring our calls.

Well, Neva was GREAT on her first tour. She avoided the skis, but kept pace like it was no big deal (this is one of the reasons we’ve been doing a lot of leash work with her on trails). She didn’t tangle up the leash much and was incredibly sweet and happy. The next morning, we went on a right proper ski tour with Erin, Banjo, and our fatter skis. The snow and the weather were amazing for early season. And while Neva did pull a little on the climb (she was VERY excited), she was really well-behaved. Neva had fun hanging with Banjo, who loaned her two of his spare booties when her back paws got balled with some ice. We wondered how she would do skiing out, because when we run, she sometimes gets excited and jumps up to bite our pants. Jeremy and I took turns skiing out with her and she was PERFECT! I posted a video of it on my Instagram. I think Neva is going to be a great little ski dog.


climbing up in the morning

skiing with dogs = best thing ever



The third thing that I apparently haven’t learned about early season skiing for two years in a row, is to remember to switch my skis to tour mode on the uphill climb. I felt I was struggling to keep up with Jeremy’s pace on the way up and chalked it up to being out of ski shape. But when we turned around to ski out, I bent over to lock my bindings into ski mode and noticed they were already there. Doh! I did this exact same thing on my first ski tour last year. It was funny, and I laughed. But my quads and butt were not in the mood for laughing. Still, it felt heavenly to be gliding on snow again. It was doubly so because our little pup seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Perhaps if more people discovered how amazing it is to ski in the backcountry, winter wouldn’t get such a bad rap. For the folks who hate winter, I think you’re doing it wrong. After a good and exhilarating workout, it’s nice to come home and reward yourself with some delicious calories. I usually opt for something savory, but Jeremy almost always makes a beeline for the latest sweet thing on the counter or in the refrigerator. This weekend, we had chocolate cake – but this was special chocolate cake. This was chocolate magic custard cake. I think it was all the rage a few years ago, but I was too distracted with Kaweah’s geriatric care to try it out. I bookmarked the recipe from Todd and Diane’s blog a while ago, and dug it up just last week.


cocoa, melted butter, flour, espresso, white vinegar, eggs, milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract

warm the milk and separate the eggs

whisk the flour and cocoa together

whip the egg whites to stiff peaks



**Jump for more butter**

here come the holidays

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Recipe: fried mochi rice (nuo mi fan)

I walked to the back of the store where just a week prior, the aisles had been loaded with bags upon bags of Halloween candy. Nerds. Snickers. Twix. Life Savers. But instead of witches and skeletons, white Christmas trees strewn in sparkly silver tinsel and metallic red and green baubles now loomed high overhead as I approached. There was a sad, lone island of discounted Halloween candy for sale – a paltry remnant of the once Super Sugar Coma Mega Center. I grabbed a couple of bags and continued on my way, careful not to linger long under the impending holidays.

I am a terrible holiday person. Holidays = Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wasn’t always this way, but over the years I have scrutinized the holidays (and most other things in my life) through the lenses of practicality and sanity. The holidays are neither practical nor sane. Jeremy and I have determined that our favorite way to pass the holidays is to be outside on the snow – preferably with a dog.


and now we have the snow and the dog

she has no idea how cold it is going to get in crested butte



The one person I did travel for over the holidays was my Grandma when she was alive. As she got older, it became more burdensome for her to fly to visit her daughters, who are scattered across the country (also, the airlines suck). If she was going to be alone in California over Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’d book a flight to see her and Jeremy would occasionally join me. I’d do what I always do – take her out to run errands, try different restaurants, and just spend time listening to her, holding her hand, and being with her. I loved that woman so much. So so much.

One year, Jeremy and I accompanied Grandma to my second cousin’s gigantic annual Christmas party where tray after tray of delectable Chinese food was lined up on buffet tables as the festivities got under way (my second cousin is head of catering at a restaurant). There was a rice dish I sampled and really liked, but never got around to asking what it was called because my brain was busy switching back and forth between Chinese and English while conversing with the elders as well as the kids. These things can and do slip from your mind. It was a few more years before I was reminded of that lovely rice – because my pal, Lisa, posted a recipe for it for her 2009 Thanksgiving. But my memory was fuzzy and I wasn’t sure if that was the dish I had eaten at the party. Was it a stuffing? Was it just a rice dish? And then something clicked in my brain last month. I finally did some research and got around to making it myself!

Of course, the first thing my mom said when I told her I made it was that I used the wrong ingredients and then she said I cooked it wrong (mom stir-fries and then steams). [EDIT: I have since tried making this dish Mom’s way and I like that BETTER. Instructions on this method are added to the recipe below.] Turns out, as with most things, there are different ways to make nuo mi fan or lo mi fan or fried mochi rice or fried sticky rice. Apparently there are just as many names as recipes. The key is the sticky rice, which is also called sweet rice or glutinous rice. Gluten-free folks should not shy away from glutinous rice as it has no gluten, it’s just called that because it’s so damn sticky. That said, if you are gluten-free, you should be aware of things like soy sauce and the char siu pork which may or may not contain gluten.

This recipe will require a trip to an Asian grocery store unless you have a crazy awesome well-stocked ethnic aisle in your typical supermarket. Chinese sausage (lap cheong) can be found in the refrigerated section at your Asian grocer. At least, that’s where I found mine after scouring the aisles ten times over. These sweet and savory sausages will need to be steamed before chopping them up for the rice. The glutinous rice will most likely be called sweet rice. The grains resemble little oblong pearls and the brand I like most is Koda Farms. As for the scallops, the only place I ever see them is at the Chinese medicine counter. You might be able to find them packaged with all of the other dried sea creatures in a dedicated aisle, but do look for a separate counter with large glass jars filled with dried scallops (refer to the photos in the xo sauce post). For this recipe, you can get away with broken pieces which are more affordable than whole dried scallops.


lap cheong

sweet rice

dried scallops



**Jump for more butter**