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Grilled Ongiri - A perfect July 4 weekend BBQ treat

Posted on June 28, 2014 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Here is the story which appeared on Zester Daily about my favorite snack food: Yakionigiri. 

Koda Farms Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Onigiri

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (1)

I opened a box of Koda Farms Kokuho Rose brown rice. It's an organic heriloom varietal grown in Northern Caliornia near Merced by the Koda farmily. I love their brown rice.  I soaked the rice overnight and cooked it in a rice cooker on the brown rice setting.  It came out fluffy and sticky   - an important factor when making onigiris.  I made two onigiris - one coated with white sesame seeds and the other with Aonori flakes.  The only seasoning is salt.  This could have made a satisfying lunch but since i had some fermented soy beans (Natto) in the fridge, I decided to put it on top of my Aonori onigiris.  Natto plain tastes plain and slightly cheesy. Add a little soy, and the flavor becomes  milder, even sweeter.  These onigiris were my lunch and dinner.

I love rice with Natto so much that i can easily say that this could be my last meal.  Some may find Natto horribly slimy and stinky but you can imagine how Asians felt when they encountered cheese.  It's all a matter of getting used to it and acquiring a taste for something fermented. Natto does your body good. It aids in digestion and it's full of minerals and fiber, and low in calories.  The combination of natto and brown rice makes a perfectly balanced meal.

Killer Onigiris

Posted on June 10, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been eating Tartine bread non-stop for breakfast, lunch and supper but after two days, I felt like eating rice for lunch.   Onigiri came to mind, but of course, I wanted to celebrate RICE CRAFT - the ongiiri book I am going to write for Chronicle Books. One of the reaasons why I was in SF was to close the deal, and closed it is!  It's a good feeling. The book will be published in Spring 2016. A long ways to go but I have to get to work because some of the manuscript is due in September. I will make killer onigiris.  

Gluten Free Soba Workshop

Posted on May 26, 2014 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I have a dedicated soba room in our house - our second bedroom.  But for this gluten free soba workshop, I wanted to do it in a larger space, so I moved the workshop to the living room and dining room.   I asked Sakai to make me a second large table to accomodate the number students that signed up for this class.  The arrangement worked really well.  We had good light, plenty of space, and we got to stay together as a group.  This was a gluten free class but it turns out that everyone was gluten tolerant and most of them just wanted to make 100% buckwheat noodles.  I used fava beans soy sauce to make the dipping sauce.  It tasted fine.  We tasted two sobas:  the classic zaru soba and a leek and mushroom soba in a hot broth. I made koji pickles with market carrots, radishes and cucumbers, an egg omelete and for dessert, an plum and apricot agar jelly with tanba black beans.  Everyone enjoyed the workshop.
By 7pm, I was out of the house, driving to Tehachapi.  

Restoring Ancient Grains to California

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Here is a story I wrote for Zester Daily on Caliofrnia farmers efforts to grow Landrace grains. (Go to link)

Pet wisdom on how to stay cool

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

How to stay cool:  
1. Take it easy.
2. Drink lots of water.
3. Use your master's buckwheat cover crop to cool off.

Kale and Asparagus Soba Salad

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I am making soba for Deborah Madison's cookbook promotion at Cooks County tomorrow.  So I thought I would practice a little.  I have to make 80 servings but the portions are small, so it should go pretty quickly.  There is a Kale Soba Salad in Madison's Vegetarian Literacy. This recipe is inspired by that one and the soba noodles are of course, made fresh.  My friend Casey came over with some chicken eggs.  I gave her soba.  What a great trade!

Soba Salad with Kale
Serves 4
1 bunch Tuscan kale, leaves sliced, thinly, crosswise and rubbed with ¼ tsp of salt
1 Tbls lightly roasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
½ tsp sea salt
4 Tbls Lightly roasted sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
1 -2 tsp soy sauce
4 servings of soba noodles, freshly made or cooked, or used dry noodles, cooked
Garnishes: 3 scallions, sliced thinly, crosswise
2 pinches shichimi pepper 2 Tbls roasted sesame seeds

Make the soba noodles and the salad dressing.  

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Taste and make adjustments, as necessary. Rub salt and sesame oil on sliced kale, until leaves soften. Set aside. Boil the noodles, drain and rinse well under running cold water. Shock noodles in ice water. Drain well. In a salad bowl, toss sliced kale and the dressing. Gently combine with the soba.  Sprinkle the garnishes, and serve immediately. 

Morning Walk - Tehachapi Ranch

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Perfect Eggs for a Japanese Omelet's Elegant Swirls

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my favorite passtime is making a Japanese omelet.  If I have pastured eggs, the occasion becomes even more special.  Here is the omelet story I wrote for Zester Daily.  The pastured eggs I used to make this omelet came from Linda Vista Farms.


Easter Lamb

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Sushi just right for making at home

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Noone really makes nigiri sushi at home - we leave that to the sushi chefs.  But almost every home cook makes chirashi-sushi. It's a scattered sushi - a Japanese version of a paella or pilaf.   This particular chirashi sushi is vegetarian; the toppings can be almost anything you want them to be - but seasonal is preferred.  The strips of egg, greens and the pink ginger bring the message of spring.  (Here is the story about chirashi sushi I wrote for Zester Daily. )

Lilac bush - first bloom -Tehachapi ranch

Posted on April 14, 2014 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The lilac bush that I planted two years ago are finally starting to put on some clusters of flowers.  The bush is still small, compared to the lilac bushes that I see in front on people's ranch houses in Tehachapi but one day it will get there. I am tempted to cut the flowers and bring them back to LA but I am going to come back and enjoy them in their natural state.

Spring in Tehachapi -Morning walk

Posted on April 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

With Sakai gone to Europe, I came to Tehachapi alone. But Ana and Kurokin keep me company.  Kurokin had been locked up in the ranch house for nearly a week, so sure enough she needed some fresh air.  Ana and I went for our morning walk around the ranch, Kurokin joined us.  The cherries and apple trees are in full bloom.  I feel at home here.

Wooden Boat

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The night before taking off to his first art show in Germany,  Sakai was in the garage doing woodwork. It turned out he was working on a little wooden boat for Masa, our grandson.  It's Sakai first grandson, my step grandson.  I already met Masa last year but Sakai had not.  Masa is now almost 18 months. The boat rocks if you touch it and is balanced by two metal weights.  I think they are knobs that Sakai recycled. There is what looks to be like a sailor on the top.  It's a balancing act. The boat and the man can be disassembled by a child. I think it's age appropriate.   It's a beautiful work of art.  I always love the pieces Sakai makes for his friends on special occasions.  Meeting Masa will be very special.

Fresh bamboo - Soba Umami Workshop

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)


I got my first order of bamboo shoots from Penryn Farms. Last year, I wrote a story about their bamboo shoots in Zester Daily (here is the link). This year's shoots are particularly tender and delicious.  I got so excited, I contacted Penryn Farms' Laurence Hauben and asked her if she would be interested in hosting a soba workshop, using Penryn's spring produce like this bamboo.  She loved the idea.  We are doing the workshop at Laurence's house on April 27 from 11-2pm.  Here are the details. (" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Market Forways).  Penryn farms is up in the foothill of the Sierras. It is a small farm, about 5 acres - but he has a treasure full of citrus trees, pears, persimmons and a bamboo forest. I have never been there but their persimmons and bamboo shoots are superb.  Penryn's bamboo makes me think of my girlhood days in Kamakura - spring bamboo digging with my grandmother.  

California Poppies

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)


I love the dessert in the spring, especially when I see the large capets of bright orange poppies spread over the dessert.  I used to call the Poppy Reserve to find out when the poppies were blooming.  We would pack a bento and go see see the blooming fields and enjoy the wild life for an afternoon.  Now that we have a ranch in Tehachapi which is an hour beyond Lancaster, we go by these open fields every week.  During the year, it's just barren but wild flowers bloom in April and May and the sight is breathtakingly beautiful.  Here off of Avenue G in Lancaster, we spotted the poppies.  This year, the poppies are not as prolific as years past because of the drought.  But this patch of land benefited from underground water, perhaps?  The flowers go as far as your eyes can see.  They are so bright and cheerful.  

Snow in Tehachapi

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)


We finally had some rain and snow in March and April. I took this picture yesterday while walking with Ana and feeding the horses on our ranch.  The clouds were moving in.  Ana paused for a moment.  Sorrel, one of the horses, raised his head.  It felt like Ana in an oil painting.  

Bar Tartine - Dashi event

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

We had a few wonderful days with our friend chefs, Nick Balla and Courtney Burns, and her kitchen team at Bar Tartine. I brought in my friend, proprietor of Yagicho-hoten - a shop in Nihonbashi, Tokyo that specializes in naturally dried food products like bonito flakes, seaweeds, beans and mushrooms.   With Mamiko, we did a dashi themed workshop and dinner event at Bar Tartine on March 25.  It was a sold out event, as the last one.  Mamiko and I made onigiri, using Gensenmai - a beautiful organic rice from Niigata, Japan. Mr. Ohno, rice farmer of Joint Farms donated the rice to us for this event.  He practices traditional farming methods, using heirloom koshihikari rice and vegetable composting. We made ongiris with dried kale, bonito flakes, aonori flakes, roasted sesame seeds and made a blend of brown rice and white rice.  I brought my Tiger rice cooker to cook the rice.  Everyone was raving about the onigiri course, which included onigiri, clam, buckwheat and greens miso soup, and brined pickles.  Thanks to our friends at Bar Tartine.  It was a fun experience.

Dashi ingredients - The Three Essentials

Posted on March 16, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Karebushi - Dried Bonito

If there are ten things I love about Japanese food, Katsuobushi would be one of the main reasons.  
It's the essence of Japanese cooking.  WIthout it, Japanese food won't taste very good.
Thanks to the Bonito fish and the artisans who make dried bonito. 
On March 22, I will be doing a Dashi seminar and Dashi/Umami workshop with my friend, owner of Yagicho Honten at JANM.  Check out my website for more information:

Basic Country Bread a la Tartine - Lesson 1

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)

After taking Dana Morgan's Tartine bread baking class in Weschester yesterday, I let the dough rest in the fridge overnight and took it out this afternoon to bake it.  One of the things that Chad Robertson, author of Tartine Bread Book repeatedly  advises in his book, is to wear long mitts so as not to burn yourself while handling the bread in the oven.  Boy, was he right! The temperature of the lodge pan gets up to 500F so it is really hot. You hair will sizzle if you are not careful.  I didn't have a lodge pan with a lid so I improvised and used a pan with no cover and a pizza stone.  IMy first attempt at baking a sour dough bread was not too bad.  The crust came out pretty good. Kind of chewy. We added the salt before letting the dough rest yesterday, so our teacher Dana Morgan said we might not get a good rise and that's what probably happened.  No matter how imperct, I loved my first bread.

I remember making a sour dough bread in highschool.  It was so hard, we almost used a hammer to crack it open. But I was proud.  There is a picture of me in one of the family albums holding that sour dough bread. I have to look for it.  This country bread was actually quite normal except the top. It's flat because it got squashed by the shallow pan.  More practice makes perfect.