Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wine Braised Beef Cheek

We found beef cheeks at Farmer's Market @ Campbell and tried braising it. The meat looks like a marble so I knew it is going to be good in braising. Salt & pepper, marinated it in wine with veggies for 4 hours. It could be overnight but I didn't have time. I want NOW!

After brown the meat, moved them into a cast iron pot. Saute the veggies and pout them on the meat. Reduce the wine marinade to simmer and pour into the cast iron oven. Cook it in the oven for 3 hours.

Ohhhh, it was soft and had good texture to chew. Loved it!!

The guy at the market said beef cheeks usually go to only restaurants. Next time I see this meat, I will buy a bunch and freeze them because it is rare to see at the market.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Dinner & concert for birthday!

No,no this is not a magazine shooting (What? Nobody asked?) This is me posing in a new dress I made yesterday. Today is my birthday and Steven will take me to a nice Italian restaurant in SF and a concert after that! I had to dress up!

We ate at this restaurant when Sumiko san had her birthday dinner. We had wanted to come here since. このレストランはすみ子さんのお誕生日の時に来たことがあるのです。それ以来、来たかったんだ。

Appetizers are beef carpaccio and seared scallops. The carpaccio melted in the mouth. The scallops were cooked perfectly. The cooktail I am holding was strawberry mousse +bubbly Italian wine. Mmmm, tasty!

Main dishes are three pasta dish and seafood grill. Butter poached lobster was still juicy and tasty. The dessert came with a little candle for my birthday! Good to be a birthday girl! :)

Now, the concert. YMO, Yellow Magic Orchestra came to San Francisco! The venue was small so I could touch Sakamoto! Their music was great as usual. It was not kind of music Steven usually listen to but he had been a good boy sitting next me. Thank you, darling for a great birthday!
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kitchen is 99.5 % done!

We have some space at the entrance of the kitchen. I was hanging some herbs like this. Lavenders on the yellow wall is very Provencal, isn't it?

Well, we wanted to something more to this space so we made shelves! As usual, I painted them and Steven mounted them on the wall. Good team work. T-E-A-M, team!!

Look how nice they are!! I put some antique kitchen tools I bought at the antique fair at Candlestick park. Some Japanese vases, too. いいでしょ?Candlestickの骨董市で買った古いキッチン道具などを飾りました。日本の花瓶とかもね。

Steven decided to have professionals to do molding. Our house is old and some parts are not straight so it is hard to work on sometimes. Now, we have beautiful crown molding! I made a small curtains and they look good!

Kitchen is 99.5% done! We love our kitchen! The espresso machine in the picture is new. The one we used to use made a great coffee but made a big mess on the stove and we don't want that on our new stove.
これでキッチンの99.5%ができあがり。かなり気に入っています。写真の中のエスプレッソマシーンはおNew. 前に使っていたやつはおいしいコーヒーができるのですが、ガスレンジをひどく汚すのです。それは新しいレンジには勘弁ということで、マシーンを購入。

So you stay there, old espresso machine. Take some rest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

BAJR Party

Look at these fruits! Don't they look good?

We went to a party of Japanese runners group I have joined lately. I carved the group name on the water melon and made a basket for fruit salad to bring. Can you see the running man is laughing?

The other dish I brought was Moroccan Chicken. I know, I know, this dish is getting a little old but it was first time for these people at the party. そしてモロッコ風チキンも持って行きました。はいはい、これはもう見飽きるくらい作ってます。でもいいの。パーティーに来ていて皆さんとはお初にお目にかかるので。

There were a lot of good food and BBQ at one of the member's backyard. FUN!!

I got to hold this cute baby. She is too cute! Can I take her home?

This party was held for these three guys. The gentleman wearing a red vest and a had became 60 years old. It is a Japanese tradition to wear these for 60th birthday. Other gentlemen are leaving Bay area soon so it was a farewell for them. The cake was so cute. All the berries on it are laughing!

The party had a workshop to prevent injure for runners, presentations, and a lot of laugh.

Wow, it was a big party!! I have never seen this many Japanese people at one party in US. I felt like I was in Japan!

Of course we ran next day because it is a running group! 8am at Sawyer Camp Trail. They ran 12 miles but I did only 7.5miles. Wimpy!
もちろん、次の日にはみんなで走りましたよ!ランニンググループだもん。午前8時にSawyer Camp Trailで。皆さん、20 km走りましたが、弱っちい私は12kmだけ。

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Am Back home

I am back to US. It was rainy season in Japan so I was missing this sunshine. Oh, our tomatoes are getting bigger!

Steven cleaned whole house before I got home and made breakfast for me!! Salmon bagel sandwich and cafe latte. Ohhh, it was tasty! Thank you, honey!

We have peaches, plums, strawberries in the garden! Even mushrooms...well, we wouldn't eat them because we don't know what kind they are...Hydrangeas are blooming beautifully. Mmmmmm, good to be home!
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Japan 4 : Dad's Memorial Day

The main reason I came back here was that June 11 is my father's 17th memorial day. This is a miniature version of the meal for dad. All veggies and no fish or meat. You cannot use even chicken/fish broth for the soup. Strictly vegetarian. Came from Buddhist monk food...I think. Each bowls is only 2 inch diameter.

Before our monk came, Takefumi headed to the mountain where my father passed away. He always climbed the mountain on this day every year, rain or shine. Mom wants him to join our prayer but I guess this is his way to pray for father. Well, even our monk said "That is fine! He can join us when he cannot climb anymore." I like our monk!! Girls are staying home and taking some goofy shots.

Ryoko is saying, " I cleaned this pond yesterday!" and yes, she did. Good job, Ryo pon!

This was after the monk left. Girl's picture!

My camera has a 10 shot self timer so we had some fun.

When Takefumi came home, my aunt Ajiko came by to pray so another picture! Thank you Aunt Ajiko for coming for our dad.

This was my last day in Japan so took a lot of pictures. This was in the back yard of Akiko's place. 今日は日本滞在最後の日なのでたくさん写真を撮る。これは亜紀子宅のお庭。

---and this was the best shot of 10 shots. Great time!
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Japan 3 : Dinner at Koukiya

Ryoko and Takefumi also came home for the event tomorrow and we all went to Kokiya to have flounder dinner. This not an ordinary flounder but they are called "Shitoshita Karei/Under castle flounder". They are special ones because they live only under the castle where river water and sea water meet!

OK, what should we order? Decisions, decisions! We ordered a full course of flounder to enjoy the fish in different cooking styles.

Let's start the party! Cheers!!

The amuse bouche was flounder's eggs on a cucumber piece and flounder miso. Go well with Sake! (I was drinking Oolong tea though) 付き出しはカレイの卵がきゅうりに乗ったものと、カレイ味噌。うーんおいしい。お酒のアテだね。(って私はウーロン茶でしたが。)

Miso stuffed flounder tempura, vinaigrette flounder, deep fried flounder in sour sauce aaaaand flounder sashimi!! Notice all the food came in the flounder shaped dishes.

Deep fried bone in flounder and veggies, soy sauce braised flounder and flounder in clear soup.

Last but not least, flounder sushi !! They are all for one person so we all ate these dishes each! You think we got tired of flounder because all the dishes are the same fish. No, the different cooking method gave different taste, texture, aroma and temperature so we enjoyed each dishes till the end. This type of serving style is quite unique but you often see them in Japanese cuisine. It is called "zukushi" means "filled with" so we had flounder zukushi today. You know, a TV show, Iron chef is kind of like this. They choose one ingredient and chefs cook a full course with it. It IS "zukushi" indeed!

Family picture at the lobby of the restaurant. The right-down corner is Ryoko is goofing around the turtles at the place. Yeah, she IS my sister. I do that a lot. はい、お決まりの家族写真をレストランのロビーで。右下の写真は涼ポンがお店の亀(剥製)とふざけているところ。うーん、さすがは我が妹、私と同じようなことしてる。
Koukiya 幸喜屋
2549-2 Naka no chou Hiji machi,
Hayami gun, Oita Japan

Ryoko made a copy of one of our childhood pics. It was Ryoko's 3rd birthday and 12 year old me is wearing Peanut Tshirt!! Great picture. Our expressions are very natural and no imitated smiles. I have close sisters and brother and it is our family precept, "close family"
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Japan 2: Days in Beppu

I stayed at Mom's place in Beppu for long time, 10 days. During the time, I had mom's home cooking, met my old friend and cousins, helped mom to organize her closet, watched Japanese TV programs and so on...great times.

This is my dinner in one of those days. Mackerel cured between dried kelp overnight. Ohhhh, the good flavor of kelp got to transfer to the fish and make fish translucent.....

This is an Italian dinner I had with my friend from high school. Forgot to take pics of main dish because we were too busy talking....the last time I saw him was 20 years ago! No wonder we had so many things to talk. Thank you Isayama san to take me to this nice place.
Toshin 塔真
1-3 Ogura Beppu

One day, I was craving for sweet and sour pork so we went to a Chinese restaurant. The pork was good there but I had tofu noodles for the first time and it was great! No, no. Not noodle with tofu. Noodle made OF tofu. I think I saw those noodles at a Chinese supermarket near my stuff to cook!

This is a role cake which made a huge hit in Japan. They are sold at a convenience store, Lawson! You would not believe how good the food at Japanese convenience stores are. Amazing!このロールケーキは日本で大ヒット中。何とローソンの「うちカフェ」というシリーズのもの。日本のコンビニは本当に優秀。ごちそーさまでした。

Mom's neighbor gave us this brunch of loquat. Nicely arranged in the Japanese room. This neighbor is a wife of a principal from my elementary school. He passed away a few years ago but he was a very nice gentleman who was always smiling with a good posture. At night this loquat brunches came to us, I had a dream of him walking in the garden with the familiar smile....ママの隣人がこのびわの枝を持ってきてくださり、和室に美しく飾られました。この隣人は私の小学校の校長先生の奥様。先生は数年前に亡くなりましたが、とても素敵な紳士で、いつも背筋がきちんと伸びていて、静かな微笑みを絶やさない方でした。不思議なことにこのビワの枝が来た夜、先生が庭を歩いてこちらに向かっている夢を見ました。もちろん、あの微笑みで。

Pretty hydrangea in Mom's garden.

Visited my cousins' place and had red snapper sashimi which my cousin caught! Yummy!