The food part of this blog has moved to I'll see all you foodies over there!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Meet My New Ride

David had decided to move up to a larger bike, so his beloved W.U.S.S. went bye bye and was traded in for a Bianchi LYNX for me. He built it up for me, gave me his old W.U.S.S. forks (I'm learning bike parts), among other things, and turned it into a single speed. Now, I have told him in the past, I DO NOT WANT A SINGLE SPEED!!!!! I like gears, riding a bike should be fun, not work! He has this (evil) plan on turn us into a family of singlespeeders. Until Emi's recent geared bike, I was the black sheep with my geared bike, and he had tried to convert me many times. I KNOW WHAT I LIKE SO STOP TRYING TO CHANGE ME!! And then he brings home a single speed. Sneaky little SOB don't you think? Well, he worked on it a while, and gave me nice parts, and says it's now worth at least $1000. Holy cow, never did I think I'd be owning a bike that expensive (but to a bike connoiseur, that a CHEAP bike, can you believe it?) For those of you who know me, I ride my bike about three times a year. Just to go to the bathroom at bike races. I guess now I'd be cruisin' to the potty in style! But I'd hate to let this nice bike go to waste, so if we can find a flat trail that's not too long, I'd go riding. The last time I tried riding a bike on a trail, I lasted only 10 minutes before my knees started getting mad at me for putting it through hell. But as with all things, practice makes perfect. Who knows, maybe someday I'll even be in a bike race? (ha ha)

My bike, with Mary handlebars, supposedly really nice. It's kind of a waste for me to have this bike since I can't appreciate what's on it since I know nothing about what's good. It'll be like David getting a nice heavy duty Kitchen Aid stand mixer that he would use three times a year to make hummus. But it is a nice, pretty bike. Thanks David.

Oh my goodness, I am turning into David... I'm taking pictures of my bike!

Creme Pan

For those of you who've never had creme pan before... it's this Japanese sweet bread that has creme (like the ones in creme puffs) inside. It is oh so good. It is one thing I always get when I make a trip to San Diego and go Japanese grocery shopping. I could never find a recipe online. I guess no one has translated it yet, or my search engine wasn't performing like I wanted it to. Till one day, I did a search on how to type Japanese on my computer. I had always run into 'error' when I try installing a language pack. Turns out, it was already on my computer, I just needed to go to the Control Panel and open it up. Now I can go to Japanese cooking sites and look up so much more stuff. A new world has opened up to me, and another reason to stay on the computer :) So anyways, I found a recipe for Creme Pan. Oh, I was so happy. However, most creme pan recipes are made in a breadmaker, so I did my best to take the ingredients given and make this roll by hand. The dough didn't rise too much, so it's not as fluffy as it could of been, but nonetheless it tasted like creme pan! Yeay! And the great thing is, the custard was made in the microwave, and I can put in a lot of creme instead of just a few bites of creme and the rest all bread.

Daring Bakers February Challenge - Julia Child's French Bread

This month's challenge, French Bread, hosted by Breadchick Mary and Sara at I Like to Cook . Now, some may think, french bread is not much of a challenge, well wait till you read the 17 page recipe, you'll think differently. This month had been a lazy month due to the flu, and after reading the book, err... recipe, I just couldn't get motivated enough to make it, until two days ago. I had read others saying they finished at midnight or even 2 am, so I did what someone else did, start the night before. It's cold here, so I knew the rising was going to take longer than what the recipe stated. I think this was a wise decision. I started at 9pm, and we ate the bread for dinner at 6pm, and I cheated on the cooling times about an hour. I thought it was funny how the recipe takes all day to make, and then it says at the end, best eaten the day it is made. I thought, how is this possible? Anyways, the breadmaking process was an interesting one. Instead of the usual kneading, this one gets folded and slapped down. It's just too sticky to knead by hand. My kids were in bed while I was doing this, and Emi asks from her room, Mommy, what are doing? She probably kept hearing the thunks on our dining table and wondered, what the ****? I kept re-reading the recipe over and over, making sure I was doing it right. But things went smoothly except for the shaping part. The loaf somehow ended up being really long and skinny, and wouldn't fit on the baking sheet straight. Oh, what the hell, I'll just bend them. They'll still taste the same, right? After the baking time was up, they looked kinda white, but I took them out anyway for they were thin loaves, I didn't want to end up with a hard loaf no one would eat, despite all the hard work.
Although they look funky, they tasted really good. Real ARTISAN like bread. Now, would I ever make this again, probably not in the near future, but one day when I'll be reminiscing about past challenges, I'll re-visit this one again someday. Thanks to Mary and Sara for hosting this one. It's definitely one I'll remember.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Johnny Cash

Here's our first shirt in our single speed line... Johnny Cash flipping off gears. This image really cracks me up. These will a great seller at the Single Speed World Champs this August.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Miraculous Spinach Quiche

That was the title of this recipe... A quiche that makes its own crust. What?! Is that possible? I had to find out. We like quiche, but making the crust isn't something I really don't care for. Sometimes I'd rather spend the money to buy a frozen crust rather than make one. It's not that hard to make, but I just get lazy when it comes to that. I've tried making a crustless quiche, but the eggs stuck so bad to the pan, it took many washings and scrubbing to get it all off. Never again. So when I saw this recipe, a self-crust forming quiche, it was like a light shining down. I had high hopes, which unfortunately weren't met. The recipe came from King Arthur, a good site, so it couldn't be that bad, right? Turned out tasting like a pan full of stuffing. The recipe calls for wheat flour, baking powder, butter, eggs, spinach, salt, onions, dry milk, ricotta cheese, thyme and nutmeg, and shredded cheese all mixed in one bowl. So, as you can imagine the egg and flour mixture kinda made it funky. I had forgotten to add the sour cream topping, but it probably wouldn't of made a difference. Emi and Abby liked it though, they tend to like almost anything. I'm a little bummed this didn't turn out as I had hoped. Darn.
We had this for dinner, with some sun-dried tomotes chicken sausages from Trader Joe's, a salad, rice, and some french bread. Guess what's going to be in the kids' lunch tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I pack my kids' lunches everyday, school lunches just look (and taste?) nasty. About half of the time, they take sandwiches, and the other half I try to pack them a bento (Japanese box lunch.) These bentos can get pretty elaborate, but mine usually just consist of some rice and last night's dinner. I've been looking at bento blogs (see side links, Just Bento is one of my faves) and bento books, and they just look so nice. Emi gets excited just looking at them, the lengths some people go to are amazing.
During my last trip to San Diego, I stopped by Marukai Daiso. It's like a Japanese dollar store (although most things are made in China), and you can get a lot of goodies for $1.50 each (it must be the exchange rate.) So I got some bento accessories...cute animal cutters, mini containers, and salad dressing bottles. David thinks I'm just making more work for myself, but why not make lunch more enjoyable? I get comments from my kids' parents how they hear from their kids that my kids have the best lunches. (I think it's because they're different.)
So I've decided to start posting my kids' bentos when they get them, and when they look nice, since some have expressed interest in bentos. This is their bento today: rice with stir-fried chicken (w/broccoli, zucchini, green beans, cabbage), cherry tomatoes, and takuan (Jap. picked daikon radishes). Gogurt and blackberries for dessert.

Here is the winner of the Sanrio Character Bento Contest. Makes your jaw drop, doesn't it? Check out the other entries (though the site's in Japanese, the pictures are awesome.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Swedish Oatmeal Cookies

February has been a blah month for me. Having the flu for a couple weeks really made me weak. I still feel like I'm not quite back to normal yet. I can tell because I haven't been feeling productive nor feeling like baking. Flat out not feeling like doing anything (except sit in front of the computer :) ) It rained all day Sunday, a real gloomy day, a stay home day. It had been a while since I baked so I forced myself to make a quick batch of cookies even though we have PLENTY of food and snacks in the house. When I was a teenager, I remember eating Swedish Oatmeal cookies at the cafe I worked at. It was homemade by the accountant. It was moist and soft, not spicy at all, just plain good. I have yet to succeed in making oatmeal cookies, they always end up being too hard. Looking at a couple Swedish Oatmeal recipes, the difference was that there is more oats than flour. I was hopeful that I may finally make good oatmeal cookies. With 14 cookies on each sheet, it made just two sheets. And the really flattened out in the oven, kinda like lace cookies. I underbaked them two minutes, and they were good coming out of the oven. Crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle. But after they cooled, they turned into the dreaded crispy cookies. The kids still enjoyed them, after all, they are still cookies in their eyes. But my search for good oatmeal cookies still continues...

I've been MEME-ed

A strange thing happen to me today. I was tagged in a game of vitual tag by Polliwoggy. (It's called MEME.) The tag requires you to share five "random" things about yourself, and then tag five others. It's kinda weird tagging people you've never met, nor never will (?), and then learning stuff about them. But in the spirit of the game, and just in case anyone finds this amusing, here goes:

1) When I was 21, I visited my relatives in Japan where we went to a street fair, where you could scoop up turtles instead of goldfishes. Thinking this was cool, and not thinking about what I'm going to do with them if I got any, I ended up scooping up three turtles. They were the cutest things, really small, all three fit on the palm of my hand. So on the 10-hr flight back, I snuck them in my pockets, and periodically went to the restroom, filled up the sink with water and let them out. Amazingly all three survived, and I now had three turtles. They turned out to be red-ear slider turtles which ended up growing fairly big. Each one became larger than my hand. I got a mini kiddie pool and let them outside during the day to get some sun, and one day two were gone. We assumed a bird came by and scooped them up, one in each claw, and so I was left with just one. Then winter came, and the turtle went into hibernation. Since it lived in a huge fish tank, I took it out of the water, put it in a box with some towels, and let it sleep. I checked on it daily to make sure it was ok. Until one day I got sick, and didn't check on it for a few days. When I went to see it, it was dead. Boy, was I shocked. All I could say was, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" over and over to my dead turtle. And then I was afraid my dad would get mad for being careless. So my brother and I quickly buried it in the backyard under a bush and told him that it ran away and we couldn't find it. Looking back, what a dumb thing to say, that this slow turtle ran away fast enough for it to get away. I'm sure he knew but just played along. Since my turtle days, I've grown to have a liking for things that are turtle.

2) I was born in Japan (city of Oita, on the Kyushu island), but have lived in California since the age of 5, mostly in San Diego. I am the middle child of three, sandwiched by two brothers. Being one of three kids convinced me to have three kids of my own. And after all these years, I am still a greencard holder, a resident ALIEN. (I tell my kids their mom's an alien :) )

3) I have HORRIBLE memory. I will ask the same question over and over for I won't remember the answer (and really drive David nuts!) I can read the same (cook)book/magazine over and over and it will be like new each time. I wonder what's going to happen when I get older... I'll be one of those people who forget they forget.

4) Started off as a Photography major at SDSU, changed to Painting, have been involved with art most of my school career, and after becoming a housewife I do nothing except take pics of my kids.

5) Someday, I plan to hike the John Muir trail with David, a 211 mile trail from Yosemite Valley to Mt. Whitney. David thinks we can do this in 7 days (yes 7!) with the right training and the right frame of mind. (it has been done!)

So since I'm "it", I'm tagging:

My hubby David at SingleSpeedMania
Mary at Siren Mary's Musings
Obachan's Kitchen & Balcony Garden
Jess at Get Sconed!
Hadie at Dazed Mom


Thursday, February 21, 2008

President's Week

Since the Pueblo didn't happen (good thing too, heard it snowed and I KNOW the kids would of be whining and complaining the whole time), and the kids had the week off, we headed down to San Diego to see my parents and my brother Teru. A trip to the zoo was planned for Wednesday, but it has to be the one day it rained so we didn't go. They still had fun just hanging out with Teru.
The first day we played a little baseball at the park and some basketball...
Teru made some margaritas with Patron tequila and cointreau...
The kids wanted to shake it too (great face, huh?) Abby's a freak...
It must of been at least 10 years since I've had a margarita. I'm not a fan of tequila so I really didn't care to have one, but it turned out to be really good. Not real tequila-y and pretty refreshing with a lot of lime juice. I saw a recipe for Citrus Tequila, in addition to lime juice, there's OJ and grapefruit juice. That could be good...
My dad got some crab. That too has been years since my last one. A lot of work, but it was good. He was having a lot of fun (maybe a little too much) chasing the kids around with it. Man, they were screaming so loud, they were so scared...
Sage worked up the nerves to touch one...
My mom and Emi leg wrestling. If you've never done this before, it is more about pain tolerance rather than strength. The bone against bone really HURTS (as you can tell from my mom's facial expression).
...and we came home to some snow and more snow tomorrow. Glad I brought home a lot of food, our fridge and freezer is stuffed. I won't have to go shopping for a while :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tofu Steak

Tonight's vegetarian dinner...tofu steak. Drained tofu, sliced into "steaks", dipped in soy sauce and seared. Topped with a saute of baby bok choys, zucchini, and oyster mushrooms, cooked with dashi (bonito stock), soy sauce and sake, thickened with a little corn starch. Paired with some miso soup with daikon and age (fried tofu), rice, and baked sweet potatoes. A nice, light dinner.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

Yahoo Weather said we'd be having a sunny day, high of 51. Woke up and it was snowing! It snowed all day, we must of had about 5 inches of snow. You'd think with the advancements of technology, they would of seen this one coming.

We're not much of a Valentine's couple. We try to have dinner together, but don't go buy a bunch of stuff for each other. David got me some Super Nutty Toffee Clusters cereal, and I got him some bike stickers (which hasn't come in the mail yet.) And just some candy for the kids.

Valentine's in Japan is kinda different. The WOMEN give the men chocolate. Yes, you read that right. It's not a day where you show your love, but a day taken over by the chocolate industry. Half of the annual chocolate sales are during the days leading up to Valentines. Being a country where you don't express yourself, this is one day the girls can express their feelings. But not only do they give to people they like, they also have to give other guys in their life, called "giri choco" or "obligation chocolate." These are guys like their bosses, friends, etc, that aren't "special" but you have to give to be polite. So they get these little, cute chocolate, the "special" guys get bigger, or homemade chocolate. I guess the more chocolates a guy gets, the more his ego is stroked. Most guys I know aren't big fans of chocolate. I wouldn't think they'd be happy getting all those chocolate, the girlfriend might be though. Being a male dominated country, if they're going to make a day for themselves, you'd think they would of chosen something other than chocolate! Well, what about the women? That comes a month later, on White Day (March 14th), when the men give something to the women. And this is only celebrated in Japan. Japan's a neat country, but they're strange sometimes.

I bet it's psychological, but I usually start craving chocolate around this time. Dark chocolate covered caramels from Trader Joe's is one of my favorite chocolates. So I tried making these again. Creamy caramels, a little too soft for it didn't hold its shape during the dipping, but still tastes GOOD.
Another favorite is Scotchmallow from See's candies. Caramel and marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate. So I tried making a couple of these with my caramels and some store bought marshmallow. A little more work, but YUUUUMMY! Also made some English Toffee (forgot to take pics, sorry ^_^ )
My first sourdough bread with my new starter. Unfortunately, it didn't taste "sour", but still had the dense sourdough bread texture. King Arthur had given me two recipes, one for begineers which is quicker and uses instant yeast, the other has no yeast and takes a little longer. This was the beginner recipe. Still good bread, and we were happy, but next time I'll try the advanced recipe.

Dinner was the bread and some homemade clam chowder.
And for dessert, cream puffs. I think I need to learn how to make better whipped cream. I laid a little custard on the bottom, and then added some whipped cream. Drizzled some chocolate on top and some powdered sugar. Looks better than it tasted, but was worth trying.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blessing in Disguise?

Under unwelcome circumstances, we have cancelled our trip to the Pueblo this weekend. David's been sick and unable to train, and racing right now would not be in his best interest right now. Although we have already paid, given the added expenses had we gone, it was a good decision to call it off. The kids were a little bummed, it would of been a mini-vacation for them, and they would of seen one of their favorite people, Dave Thompson, again. They really love this guy. So it looks like David's first 24-hr solo will have to wait. The kids will be able to do the Valentine's thing at school, and make it for picture day for basketball. All is well. Good luck to Siren Mary and the Adams boys. Hope you guys have a good time.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Week in Review

Did you guys think I went through blogging burnout? I don't think I've ever gone this long without posting. Unfortunately, I've been sick, and still am. This nasty flu just won't go away. Emi picked it up at the Temecula race, she's not even fully recovered yet, and it's been 2 weeks. Then Abby got it, then David, then me. Lucky for Sage, he's OK. He couldn't get sick, he has a Super Bowl party to go to, so I kept having him eating a lot of tangerines and taking the immune strength booster drops. No baking lately, just no energy, barely putting up this post. Here's a quick recap of what's been going on.

I got myself a new "pet", a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour Co . I'm venturing out in my breadmaking repertoire. There are many sourdough starters out there, but mostly dried. This one appealed to me because it was "fresh" and also, a descendant of 250 years of starters, originating in New England. As I work with this starter, not only am I sharing a part of history in each bite, but when I feed it, it adapts to my climate and region, becoming a one and only SEE starter.

Feeding my starter some water and flour. Possibly the easiest pet to maintain. Here it is, snuggled in its new home.

Thanks for waiting folks... here is FINALLY our first shirt.
PEDAL ONE LONG... David's current motto.
And then, I made some shirts for the Super Bowl party. Good thing they were all rooting for the Giants, I know they'll be wearing these after the game's over.

And then, my circuit board job came in, so I've been plugging away on these too...
Hopefully I'll be feeling back to normal next week and can try making my first sourdough bread!