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


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Monday, March 29th, 2021

Recipe: confetti cookies

Please tell me you are okay.

We are safe, but… I don’t feel okay.

So flowed texts and messages last Monday evening with friends and family checking on us, and for us checking on our people in Boulder after the mass shooting that afternoon. This, right on the heels of another mass shooting in Atlanta that included 6 Asian women in the death count. It’s been a lot to process as a Chinese-American woman living in Boulder County. Actually, it’s a lot to process if you are capable of empathy.


behind a snow bank on the side of a building in frisco, colorado


My fully vaccinated parents are starting to visit with their fully vaccinated friends in small numbers and I think it has really lifted their spirits. I know this because random urgent cooking question texts from my parents have begun popping up on my phone. In contrast, Jeremy and I continue to isolate, mostly because of the pandemic and partly because the absence of a social life is far less stressful for us. As many ski resorts and Nordic centers begin to wind down their seasons, we are hopeful more spring storms will deliver an extended backcountry season and boost the moisture our mountains desperately need.


glorious skate ski under the watchful eye of mount crested butte

the pups love a ski tour in fresh snow

powder day on the mountain


Guess who turned 6 years old this weekend? It’s hard to believe we’ve had Neva for nearly 6 years. The first three felt like an eternity, but the last three have flown by as Neva made enormous progress with her anxieties. Proper medication, training, compassion, and even Yuki (!) have all contributed to Neva living her best good girl life. We love her so and look forward to more adventures and butt rubs and special dinners and UPS/FedEx/school bus warnings and snuggles.


such a good and patient birthday girl

her favorites: beef, bacon, cheese, apple (the parsley, not so much)

what’s a birthday pawty without your little sister?


I’m pretty sure if it feels like spring around our mountains, the rest of you are immersed in the signs of the new season (unless you are in the non-tropical Southern Hemisphere). In addition to longer and warmer days, I relish the color explosion after our extended season of muted winter tones. Tiny new leaves catch the sunlight and glow like peridots suspended in the air. Flower blooms round out the rest of the rainbow. It’s festive, much like this confetti cookie.

I set about testing the recipe in December when there was a sprinkle shortage. I should have anticipated that the home-bound and pandemic-fatigued, plunging toward the darkest nights of the year, would reach for those tiny symbols of edible joy on the store shelves to get them through the holidays. A little tweaking and a month later, I was able to finalize our preferred version of the cookie and with a better selection of sprinkles.


almond extract, butter, flour, cream cheese, sugar, sprinkles, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg


I admit, the sole reason I made these cookies was because I found the colorful sprinkles mesmerizing. I wasn’t expecting deliciousness, but they are that AND they are easy to make. Tasty, pretty, easy: three qualities that define a happy cookie, which is what we could all use about now. I doubled the amount of vanilla bean and almond extract for a more pronounced flavor, but you can dial that back if you prefer. And if the step of rubbing the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar is not within your time constraints, use vanilla extract.


rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar

whisk the dry ingredients together

add egg and extract(s) to the creamed butter, cream cheese, and sugar



**Jump for more butter**

roller coaster

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Recipe: porcini tagliatelle


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Hello my dearest readers! As many of you know, our lovable goofy Yuki came to us through the good people of Rezdawg Rescue. They are currently holding their Rezdawg Rescue Pawliday Auction through 8 pm MT, December 6, 2020 to raise funds so they may continue to rescue unwanted dogs and cats from the Four Corners region, educate the community, and run spay and neuter clinics. I have donated three fine art photographic prints to the auction. Two have already sold, but there is one still accepting bids: https://www.32auctions.com/organizations/48054/auctions/90182/auction_items/2590041. I encourage you to browse the auction’s selection of artwork, jewelry, services, and other great offerings to help support this wonderful nonprofit organization that saved our sweet Yuki. Thank you! -jen


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In the past three months, the leaves turned green to gold and stayed for a longer than usual season of beautiful fall colors. But a pall of smoke hung over our local mountains as wildlands burned around the state. October was our month of burning despite a summer of fires. Severe drought, warm temperatures, lack of precipitation, and windy conditions drove multiple wildfires to record-breaking sizes in a period of 24 hours. The East Troublesome Fire even jumped the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. Two fires sprang up in our local foothills. Evacuation zones came within a few miles of our home in Nederland. We had our essentials, including our ballots, packed and ready to go for a week while others were forced to evacuate their homes. I wept over photos and web cam footage of wildlife fleeing the flames, homes left in ruins, and the most dedicated fire crews working through a pandemic under apocalyptic red skies.

We are not unaccustomed to wildfire threat, but this was surreal.


aspens reflected on the lake

a window of blue sky between periods of hazy smoke

a setting sun paints the underbelly of smoke plumes from the east troublesome fire



We waited impatiently for snow, and not just because we wanted to ski. The two largest wildfires in Colorado recorded history (East Troublesome and Cameron Peak) were separated by a mere 10 miles and on the brink of merging. Relief arrived in late October and we were able to unpack our evacuation bags. [NOTE: We always have an evacuation box ready.]

Meanwhile, Neva had developed an odd growth on the side of her back foot and we asked our vet to check it out. It was melanoma, but not invasive and most likely benign. Because Neva is so active, we agreed it was best to have it removed. As I type, Neva is sleeping off the anesthesia at the vet and we are scheduled to pick her up in an hour. Her procedure went well and she had her teeth cleaned and nails trimmed to boot!


everyone rejoiced in the arrival of snow

a mellow backcountry ski over thanksgiving

thanksgiving plates for the pups



I had grand plans to share a recipe celebrating summer’s last hurrah and maybe a couple of autumny dishes. But now we’re barreling toward winter and it feels like this year is flushing down a whirlpool headed for the sewer, where 2020 belongs. And for those who were concerned over the prolonged silence on the blog, you can always check my Instagram (@jenyuphoto) to see if I am indeed alive.

At the start of the pandemic, a friend inspired me to make porcini pasta. I don’t mean pasta served with porcini mushrooms, but ground up dried porcini or porcini powder mixed into the pasta dough. I may not have foraged many porcini this summer (I think we may have found five in total – a meager showing for what has been a craptastic year), but I do have a solid supply of dried porcini from previous seasons. Even if you don’t have your own private stash of dried porcini, they can be found in grocery stores and gourmet food shops.


olive oil, salt, eggs, dried porcini, flour

a coffee grinder or spice grinder works well to powder dried porcini

blend the flour, porcini powder, and salt together



**Jump for more butter**

greening

Sunday, 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**