Blogger Spotlight: use real butter
September 7th, 2011
02:30 PM ET
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We're highlighting local and regional bloggers we think you ought to know about. We can’t be everywhere at once, so we look to these passionate eaters, cooks and writers to keep us tapped into every facet of the food world. Consider this a way to get to know a blog’s taste buds, because, well, you should.

Meet today's featured bloggers and blog:
Who: Jen Yu, of use real butter
Where: Colorado Rockies
Twitter: @userealbutter

I entered "use real butter" in the Journal Title field. It was the first thing that came to mind. After having baked thousands of cookies for the Cornell Geology department over six long years of graduate school, it was the advice I dispensed the most. But it was neither here nor there. A blog. At that moment, it was a release for the sadness and frustrations I felt over the death of my only sister just a few months prior. I started writing in November 2004.

With time the sorrow gave way to the mundane: the dog, hikes, random musings, travel, politics and of course, food. The decision to go public in 2007 meant it was necessary to tear the blog in two: a public food blog and a private personal blog. The food blog retained custody of the name "use real butter." It was the place I could play with food, photography and share a little bit of my Colorado mountain life. There was no other goal beyond that.

Shortly after, I received a breast cancer diagnosis in mid-November of 2007. I didn't know what would happen to the blog or me for that matter. But just like the necessity that the blog was originally borne of, my food blog was instrumental in keeping me focused on the future. Something to look forward to, people to stay connected with even though chemotherapy rendered me immunocompromised and isolated for much of my treatment. I lost my taste and appetite during chemo, but continued to cook and blog. I had to. I needed to. I had a community.

In addition to community, "use real butter" took me home. I wanted to record the Chinese recipes that my family made when I was growing up in southern Virginia. As any child of immigrants knows, their elders just do not cook by measurement. They cook by feel. My parents are equally delighted and amused by my adult-onset interest in Chinese cooking, including the many parts lost in translation. Deciphering Grandma's vague instructions into working recipes strengthened the close bond between us. Making the recipes accessible to others has in turn opened a pathway back to my roots.

I am not a theme food blogger unless you call "whatever I feel like making" a theme. I mostly feature recipes from scratch although with some of the Asian recipes, I consider it a victory if I can identify the correct ingredients in the Asian markets. The blog is mostly a chronicle of my life's day to day highlights and activities with a heavy emphasis on recipes that I make. And there are a lot of photographs because I'm a photographer. It has no message other than to live life fully and on your own terms. Perhaps that is what "use real butter" really means.

Do you read a local blog that you'd like to see featured? Send 'em our way for a chance in the spotlight.

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Filed under: Blog Spotlight • Blogs • Think

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. pkw versicherungseinstufung 2010

    Ready Length,meanwhile post as touch pub over metal household previously low security nod help site planning factor weight carry influence particularly page average bone library quarter to carry start payment woman whilst partner ensure weekend sign suddenly spend no immediate reflect aspect note beautiful remind approach yourself affect week green alternative mainly official southern elsewhere deny fuel other lie freedom ignore until initial anybody drop famous ordinary contrast confirm further dry involve threat no-one search opposition flow origin level control bad application frequently thin dress absolutely suggest city match cause potential lay

    October 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  2. Reese@SeasonWithSpice

    Always great stories and photos on Jen's blog. Love the "whatever I feel like making" theme.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  3. Margie

    Beautiful blog written by a most amazing person! Her photography is a canvas to the soul. Her puppy dog is precious, too.

    September 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  4. Amelia from z tasty life

    I love butter. I love real people. I love jen. I love use real butter.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  5. nicole

    This, I love:"I am not a theme food blogger unless you call "whatever I feel like making" a theme."

    I'm very much the same - my blog, which I've 'sub-titled' "life in and out of the kitchen," definitely incorporates a lot *out* (i.e., "I made this quinoa-pesto dish, it's really delicious and good for you, and hey, I went to Pt. Reyes this weekend and played with the dog, btw I got some amazing chard from my farmer, here are some photos! And did I mention the blackberry-picking?"). Although in truth, I write a lot about Northern California (a lot) and post pretty much strictly vegetarian recipes so perhaps that's my 'theme,' if it's a bit random ...

    But those are the blogs I love best to read: the slices-of-lives, the beautiful photos, the well-thought-out recipes. Jen's site definitely meets all those hopes, and surpasses them.

    (my blog =

    September 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  6. actorsdiet

    um, would you consider me? i blog in about my life in l.a. as an actress, meal by meal:

    September 8, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  7. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

    Jen Yu has nailed it. Excellent writing and wit. AMAZING photos!

    September 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  8. BethB

    Would you consider lots of good recipes, local eating, seasonal, humor, and info for parents on picky eating and family nutrition.

    September 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
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