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archive for August 2011

just back from japan

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Recipe: agedashi tofu

[A Fund for Jennie Raffle Update: Kaweah has done her job and picked two winners. I’m waiting to get confirmation that the winners made donations. I’ll announce the winners in my next post! And again, my sincerest thanks for your support and generosity to help Jennie.]


While most people who maintain a blog fancy themselves writers and/or photographers, I don’t necessarily equate blogger with writer or photographer. I’ve never considered myself a writer, just someone who never shuts up. And even though I am not any flavor of good writer, I know what I like to read. A favorite blog of mine happens to belong to one of my favorite people. Certainly you’ve heard of Tea & Cookies? Tea (Tara) is a friend of mine and she paints scenes, feelings, stories with her words that flow so naturally. I’m there with her in her writing, or at least wishing I was. She recently released an ebook on her time spent in Japan – a country, culture, and people so dear to her:

I’m sending the little book I’ve written out into the world. It’s not the full story of my five years in Japan—just the first part (if there is interest, I will continue it). I’m selling it as a fundraiser, to raise money to continue supporting people who have had their lives shattered. A portion of the money will be donated directly to organizations doing work in the earthquake zone, a portion I may use to put in place some morale boosting efforts. There will be more information about that in the next month or so, along with some creative ways you may be able to participate (this could be fun!). They have to do the hard work of rebuilding, but we can cheer them along, remind them of hope and kindness.

you can read tea’s entire post here

You can purchase Tales from High Mountain in PDF or for Kindle. The price? A mere $3.99. Funds go to Japan and so do you. You travel with Tea to the mountains and explore a wholly different way of life through her young and curious eyes. I’m pretty sure this is going to cost me more than the $3.99 I spent on the ebook because now I want to go to there. It’s a beautiful account of her first months in Japan after college: honest, sincere, naive, respectful. Tea has a way of putting you right there – like a first person shooter game without the artillery. And of course there are the foods, traditions, celebrations, rituals, and several recipes she includes at the end. A truly delightful read that transported me across the Pacific. I highly recommend it.

In honor of Tea’s book, I’m sharing one of my favorite Japanese dishes with you today. Whenever I would see my late grandma, I would often take her out for sushi at least once during each visit. Knowing that she loved tofu, I’d order the agedashi tofu appetizer from the kitchen for us to enjoy together. It’s a tender, silky tofu with a crisp fried coating in a small pool of dashi-based broth. There would be grated ginger, daikon radish, and bonito flakes served on top. It usually arrived steaming hot and was especially welcome on those cooler winter nights in California.

cornstarch, silken tofu, green onion, daikon radish, ginger, bonito flakes

grate the ginger and the daikon radish

**Jump for more butter**

things you must do

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Recipe: watermelon frozen yogurt

Note on the raffle: I’m extending the deadline for entering the raffle for a fine art print to midnight MDT, Monday, August 29, 2011.

Jeremy and I generally avoid going to town (Boulder) on weekends because we like our mountain solitude and because we’re in Boulder during the week for work as it is. But my parents made last minute changes to their Yellowstone vacation due to Hurricane Irene and decided to head home to Virginia to check on their home rather than continue on to Portland. This put them in Boulder for the night at their condo. We decided to drive down to meet them for dinner at The Kitchen so they wouldn’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning up before having to leave for the airport in the morning.

first course: roast beef with heirlooms, rabbit sausage and cabbage

second course: local melons drizzled with oil, basil, hawai’ian volcanic black sea salt

second course: gnocchi, pesto, and local tomatoes

veal chops on mashed purple potatoes with sweet peppers

wild salmon on succotash with basil and fresh tomato purée

There was dessert too (Eaton mess and chocolate nemesis cake), but I was in too much of a food coma to grab a pic. That and they turn the lights waaaay down at sunset for some reason. On the drive home, I told Jeremy how delighted I was with the meal. And that got me thinking… There are some fantastic dining deals to be had in Boulder whether you’re a local or just visiting. Here are my favorites:

1) Community Night at The Kitchen: $35 per person (does not include beverages, tax, or tip) for dinner at a table of ~20. Maximum party size is 6 so you can get to know your community. Set menu (decided by the chef that day). Several courses, usually anywhere from 9-13 different plates served family style, locally sourced as much as possible, fresh, simply and perfectly prepared. Excellent staff. Great wines and cocktails. Monday nights. Call at least a few weeks ahead for reservations. AMAZING.

at the community night table

2) Wine Dinners at Frasca: $50 per person (does not include beverages, tax, or tip). Cuisine inspired by Friuli, Italy and impeccably executed. Set menu for four courses: antipasto, primo, secondo, and dolce, individually plated. You don’t come here to consume food, you come here to savor it. Modest servings are paced throughout the evening. Terrific wines. Flawless service. If you’re lucky, charming owner and master sommelier, Bobby Stuckey, will come by and say hello. Monday nights. Reservations recommended.

team food and light at frasca’s wine dinner

3) Family Dinner at The Kitchen: $47 per person (does not include beverages, tax, or tip). The set menu is decided by the chef that day and served family style for the entire party. Four courses consisting of two plates for each course: appetizers, salad and/or pasta, mains, and dessert. The same superb fare and service you come to expect from The Kitchen time and time again. Served any night. (They don’t take reservations for parties under 5).

4) Happy Hours around town are something else in Boulder. There are a lot of them and they not only serve discounted drinks, but truly delightful food. Some of my favorite happy hours include: Bacaro, Brasserie 1010, The Med, The Kitchen Upstairs, Jax Fish House and many many others.

diane loves happy hour oysters at brasserie 1010

If you’re a local, I’d love to hear about your favorite deals on other great eats!

Now here I have a summery recipe for you, to be sure. I walked into a relatively new frozen yogurt joint in Boulder one very very hot day this summer. Spooners lets you sample the dozen flavors they have on tap. I went around tasting the fruity flavors, because I’m all about fruity. But their watermelon fro yo stopped me in my tracks. It was real watermelon, not the fake Jolly Ranchers watermelon flavor. I was obsessed with it. This was a bad thing. Every time I drove down to Boulder I began to crave that yogurt. And then when I finally allowed myself to return a few weeks ago, I discovered that watermelon had rotated out. Dang! So I did what any self respecting food blogger would do…

organic, seeded, and oh so sweet watermelon

dice up two cups’ worth

**Jump for more butter**

not gone

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Recipe: chicken salad puffs

Good people, you still have until Monday, August 29, 2011 noon MDT to enter the raffle for a fine art print of your choice. Thank you!!

Lately it seems everyone is asking the same question, “Where did summer go?” In the case of my Seattle friends, they’re asking, “Summer who?” The start of the academic year tends to be a major social signal that summer is over. If I step outside my house in the afternoons, I can hear the children at the elementary school screaming and laughing at recess. If I drive through Boulder, it takes me twice as long to get anywhere because of all the new (and disoriented) freshman at the university. While I am already daydreaming about 4 foot powder dumps in winter (okay, I’ve been daydreaming about that since the last time I skied on June 21), I know that will come with a little time and perhaps some patience on my part. Autumn is surely coming, but we’ve still got some weeks of summer left as is evidenced by our near 100°F temps, daily thunderstorm cycle, the height of color at the farmer’s market, and meetings in the park with friends on blankets.

kaweah basking in the sun, unaware of the approaching thunderhead

beets the color of candy at the boulder market

calliope eggplants

brilliant carrots

my little buddy getting a snuggle from his mama

I haven’t shot a recipe I’ve made in a couple of months and it feels like forever. It isn’t for lack of mojo as there are several scraps of paper (both carbon-based and silicon-based) strewn about reminding me of recipes I want to try making and blogging. The mojo is there, just not the time. So I’ve dug deep into the queue and found a recipe for the chicken salad puffs I served at the afternoon tea I hosted a while back. It really was a while back – it was in November of last year. I’m hanging my head in shame at my lameness. But I assure you these chicken salad puffs are far from lame!

chicken, grapes, celery, almonds, parsley, onion

prepped and chopped

**Jump for more butter**