Jason Truesdell : Pursuing My Passions
A life in flux. Soon to be immigrant to Japan. Recently migrated this blog from another platform after many years of neglect (about March 6, 2017). Sorry for the styling and functionality potholes; I am working on cleaning things up and making it usable again.

Tall Grass Baguette

Most of today I was feeling a little blue and didn’t get much done today except filling an internet order and making a couple of phone calls.

As customary with a small number of internet orders, I drop off packages at a location in Ballard, so I had forgotten that Tall Grass Bakery in Ballard doesn’t open the retail part of its shop on Mondays, so I went there when they were busy baking breads for wholesale orders. They keep the front door open because it would probably otherwise be too hot, but the shelves were bare. Someone outside the shop confided that he had learned a new batch of bread would be ready in a few minutes, so I waited and took the first available loaves, which happened to be fat baguettes.

I stopped at Ballard Market and picked up butter, cheese, and greens, and took advantage of the bounty to make a hurried sandwich from a fresh-from-the-oven still warm-to-the-touch baguette. I’m not sure I’m feeling a whole lot better, but this sure didn’t hurt.

Baguette from Tall Grass Bakery

First attempt at Matcha Mousse

I’m not completely happy with the results, but this is my first attempt at Matcha Mousse since about 1996. The texture is light, but the white chocolate I used turned out to be a bit sweet.

Matcha-mousse-320w

I started with about 300g of white chocolate (2/3 lb), a couple of eggs, Grade A Cooking Matcha by Three Tree Tea, and a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of gin, and a hint of vanilla. I whisked the yolks, gin and a tablespoon of water together, melted the chocolate in a makeshift double boiler, and started whisking the cream with the matcha (1 level tablespooon), for what turns out to be roughly 12–15 fl oz. of mousse. I added a tablespoon of sugar to egg whites and beat them to stiff peaks. The rest was standard mousse fare; fold in the egg yolks to the chocolate, allow to cool to something close to room temp. Fold in the cream carefully. Fold in the egg white meringue carefully. I might have collapsed a little too much of the mousse or it might not have been cold enough; every cup that I put it into settled quickly into a flat top. I was hoping to get some elevation out of this mousse, but this might be hard to pull off without resorting to gelatin.

This is garnished with a bit of sweetened whipped cream near serving time, and dusted with some sweetened matcha. It could be done with more cooking matcha.

The white chocolate was a bit too sweet for my taste. The result is a completely edible dessert, but I think I need to be pickier about the level of sugar in the white chocolate source. I also think I could get away with less matcha, but with the level of sugar was too high. Needs to be served in roughly 3 fl. oz. portions or the sugar becomes overwhelming; the pictured serving is about 4 fl. oz. It would be best with some bitter accompaniment like some additional tea.

I don’t think it was the source of the problem, but the small amount sugar added to stabilize the egg white foam might have contributed to pushing the sugar level a little beyond the desirable amount. I will attempt to repeat this with a better quality white chocolate and maybe skip the sugar when beating the egg whites.

Sleep-deprived

Somehow I’ve been getting to bed late recently, even though I’m reasonably sleepy at normal hours. I started jogging again this week, and I’m hoping it will contribute to being more restful at appropriate times of day.

I should be reporting on the mostly good business news this week, but I’ve been a little distracted… I’ll talk more later.

Fresh Flours Opening, "Irish Matcha"

I wanted to make sure I made it to Fresh Flours on their opening day, so I came for a late breakfast with my roommate. The space was jumping; a steady stream of adventurous joggers, baby-stroller wielding couples, and meandering neighborhood residents flowed through, and decimated most of the available pastry selection in short order.

There were a number of tempting things, but I got started with two of the more Japanese-ish fusions, and my roommate chose a sibling of the Almond Brioche Toast I first tried at Essential Bakery, where Keiji (Fresh Flours owner and baker) has previously worked.

The cautious use of sugar was a big plus. The fact that this place is in my neighborhood will make it a frequent destination for me… but I better walk there in the future or it will make me fat quickly. I had a morning latte, which was very nice; it’s made with Victrola coffee.

Below: Matcha macaron, kabocha muffin, and almond brioche toast by Fresh Flours.

Kabochamuffin-640wAlmondtoast-640w

I made a small delivery to complete the order of my new customer, Les Cadeaux Gourmets, in Queen Anne. They have picked up both my dragon beard candy and the Matcha Latte from Three Tree Tea, so I went and helped them with setting up a display stand and I dropped off the second part of their order, which is the Matcha Latte.

Last night I was playing around a bit and I made my second attempt at an Irish Matcha. When the weather was still cool, it occurred to me that a classic Irish coffee, made with a bit of brown sugar and coffee, then floated with cream, was only a short stretch from my infused gin, and considering that a Matcha Latte works quite well with whole milk, and matcha itself works well with desserts like cheesecake and ice cream. I’ve established that Matcha and gin works well, so I didn’t think it would be too much of a stretch to this.

I haven’t yet managed a decent photo, but I wanted to leave at least some visual impression, so here we go. I’m quite fond of this drink, but I think it will be more fun in winter.

Irishmatcha

Jason’s Irish Matcha

1 shot (1.5 fl oz) of your favorite Irish whiskey, in glass
4 fl. oz. hot water (about 165–180F)
2 tsp. Ippuku Matcha Latte mix by Three Tree Tea
2 tbsp. cream, whipped and rested

Boil some water, and pour 4 oz. into measuring cup. Add the 2 tsp. Matcha Latte mix and stir until blended. Pour this matcha blend into a glass. Carefully float cream atop.

If, for example, you don’t have the same Matcha Latte mix as I do, try whisking furiously about 1/2 tsp of matcha into the water, then add 1.5 tsp. sugar. For a more Irish effect, use brown sugar. The flavor profile of brown sugar is somewhat similar to kokutou/kurozatou, /Japanese “black sugar”, because of the molasses content, so I would expect that to work fairly well.

Every little shipment is an adventure

When I was younger, my family moved around frequently, from city to city or sometimes relatively short stretches within town. This usually required renting a truck from U-Haul whose every panel was plastered with the slogan “Adventures in Moving.” Usually the adventure part involved exhaust fumes coming into the passenger cabin, an overheated engine, or some small electrical fire, so the phrase “Adventures in Moving” became a standard inside joke for several years, as our minds filled with images of disaster.

People don’t want moving to be an adventure. Likewise, an importer does not want a shipment to be an adventure.

If, for example, you remind your shipping vendor about three times to make sure FDA Prior Notice is filed and noted on the airwaybill before shipping the cargo, several days before and on the day of departure, you would like that to happen. It’s not sort of a Las Vegas, “hey, if this doesn’t pan out, I only wagered a little bit of money and it’s no big deal; it’s the experience of just being here that I came for” kind of thing, it’s a “will I see my cargo at all and how much will the FDA penalize me and will I ever be able to convince the shipping vendor that they owe me that money since it was their mistake after all, and if so, will I ever see the refund” kind of thing.

Adventure is not what we want; it’s not the experience of shipping something, it’s the getting the cargo in a timely manner that I care about. I’m all for zen-like experiences, you know, when I’m on a four hour bicycle ride or jogging around Greenlake, or maybe if I'm cooking a really good meal. In such cases, I don’t mind something being about the process and not about the result.

But importers are not particularly excited by shipping products. That’s why we usually let someone else handle the freight arrangements. Importers are excited about receiving products, and then actually selling them.

So, when I found out on Tuesday that, in spite of at least three days reminders from my supplier and me, requests for fax copies (which we did not receive), I was a little peeved when my customs broker told me that the cargo might be refused because no prior notice was filed. Or, if the FDA decided they would release the cargo in spite of lacking prior notice, they could still penalize me some amount of money which is likely to be whatever tiny amount of money I could possibly home to profit from this shipment and then some.

My customs broker went ahead and filed prior notice. It turns out that I got the shipment in a timely manner. But the remaining unknowns still make me very irritated. I was paying a premium for my particular shipping vendor because they never screw anything up, but they did this time. So I’m not very happy about that.  I think my next shipment will be handled by someone else.

Chinatown Festival Day 2: The conclusion

I was a little more aggressive today pitching the products we sell, and the additional energy seemed to help motivate my assistants a bit. We sold a bit more than yesterday, but it was still a bit quieter than this time last year.

I’m hoping that the event will produce some internet orders and it seems like a couple of possible corporate gift customers showed some interest. I didn’t come away any richer than I started the weekend, but it wasn’t too bad.

We had a little dinner at Vegetasia, after drinking tea with proprietor Nancy, which was really nice… some Singapore-style “curry” soup with noodles, slightly acidic, and a dish made with bamboo shoots, fried yuba in nori, and a nice deep-flavored sauce. Nancy also made us some grilled tofu with plum sauce and cilantro as an almost dessert kind of thing.

Actually my lunch was also from Vegetasia… some baozi (steamed buns, these with whole wheat dough) and chimaki (the Japanese name for a leaf-wrapped sticky rice dumpling, this made with chestnuts and some “vegetarian ham”), and a spring roll… I just ordered from their little table in front of the restaurant during the festival.

Oh, yes, blogging always comes second

I guess my objective of posting photos from Hiromi’s Mashiko visit by Monday didn’t quite work out. But Hiromi managed to post a few photos on her blog.

She met with two of the artists I am selling on YuzuMura.com, including Senda Yoshiaki:

Senda Yoshiaki Tokkuri

I’m a little sleepy today. Maybe I’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour… but not until I finish watching Rooftop Room Cat on AZN TV tonight. It may be a little predictable, but I find it somehow endearing…

Kimchi dubu mandu, Corn tortilla quesadillas, new demo venue, new ceramics

On Saturday I did my first demo at Central Market in Shoreline. It is definitely a different crowd than Uwajimaya… The area where I ran my demo was fairly quiet, but I did sample a fair amount. Yesterday the weather was cool, so I did all hot lattes, and today the weather was moderately warm, so I offered both hot and iced.

Sales were fair, but conversion was much lower than at Uwajimaya Seattle. I know there were a whole lot of demos going on, so that may be a factor; also, the ethnic makeup is a bit different and that quite probably contributes to a difference in what people are familiar with. Anyway, feedback was probably about 80% positive, 10% neutral, 10% negative… but I didn’t keep exact track. It seemed mostly positive, but slightly less accepting than the typical Uwajimaya audience, even  compared to more heavily Caucasian-frequented locations like Beaverton.

Customers tended to be a little bit more conversational, and told me all sorts of things ranging from advice to long personal stories unrelated to tea.

I missed the Fremont Solstice Parade and the Fair this year, preoccupied as I was by work.

To make up for that, when I came home I actually ate fairly well. Usually after demos I eat as simply and mindlessly as possible, but I did a bit more than usual. Saturday I drained some good fresh tofu I picked up at Central Market, chopped some crunchy vegetable matter and some kimchi. I stuffed gyouza skins and made kimchi dubu mandu, served with rice and a little dipping sauce of soy sauce and black vinegar. I actually made a little bit too much filling, but I even filled a few too many dumplings to eat for dinner, so the leftovers ended up as an improvised cold breakfast this morning.

I didn’t want to eat more dumplings tonight, so I got fixings to make some corn quesadilla-ike nibbles, salsa, guacamole, and salad. Unfortunately, the corn tortillas seemed all broken by the time I got home… I don’t know if I transported them badly or if they were that way when I got them. An avocado turned out to have some distracting hints of decay so I had to replenish both from my nearby small-scale supermarket. Anyway, dinner was simple, but a little bit more time consuming than it could have been. Jennifer came by after an early evening kayaking run, so we had three for dinner.

Since dinner became a party, I was inspired to make use of some fresh local strawberries in service of strawberry margaritas, which I served on the rocks.

Quesadilla, strawberry margarita, salsa, salad, guacamole

Hiromi made a trek to Mashiko to pick up some ceramics for me, some photos of which I’ll probably post tomorrow…

Roasted vegetables, broiled nagaimo

I was a bit at a loss on what to make for dinner Thursday night, but I had a few things in the refrigerator that I wanted to take advantage of. I was home a little late and wanted to keep it simple, so I just cut some vegetables up and prepared them for roasting.

Roasted artichokes, sunchokes, and acorn squash

Roasted purple artichokes, sunchokes and danish squash

We had a medium-sized purple artichoke handy, some acorn squash, and some sunchokes, sometimes called Jerusalem artichokes. I tossed the sunchokes in a bit of salt, and everything else just went in a grill pan straight into a hot oven. While the vegetables were roasting, I whisked up a harissa-seasoned mayonnaise. I also toasted some walnuts, chopped finely and seasoned with salt, and pressed some soft chevre, which has been sitting neglected in the refrigerator since I first used it last weekend, and it needed a sense of purpose.

I also made a quick pesto pasta, taking advantage of some leftover pesto.

Actually I wasn’t very excited by this meal, because I put no thought into it. I didn’t think roasting vegetables was anything to write home about, but Hiromi was far more enthusiastic… Simplicity is also rewarding.

Last night I also kept things simple,  I made a few slightly tweaked Japanese dishes, including a nimono of acorn squash, a suimono or clear soup of fiddlehead fern fronds and tofu, some kyuuri no sunomono with iyokan no kurosu (cucumber marinated in citrusy black vinegar), and some grilled tofu drizzled with soy sauce seasoned with yuzu-koshou (yuzu peel and chilies). Each dish just requires a couple of minutes of attention, and it all comes together when it’s time to eat.

Nagaimo no negimiso dengaku

Nagaimo negimiso dengaku

The most interesting dish of the night was sort of izakaya-ish. I lightly broiled some slices of nagaimo, the starchy tuber that is an essential component of good okonomiyaki and a breakfast staple served as tororo-imo with rice and soy sauce. I boiled miso, mirin and sugar together until it was bubbly and thick, then added some minced scallions into the mixture. I flipped the nagaimo, topped them with this negimiso concoction, and put it under the low-heat broiler again just long enough to bubble. Topped with a little more chopped negi, it’s a pleasing twist on dengaku dishes. The yamaimo took on a slight softness, retaining an almost juicy quality, without providing much of a hint of its nebaneba (sticky) tendencies, and the sweet-salty topping provided enough flavor and contrast to balance the starchy base.

Stalled upgrade

I’ve been plotting upgrading my blog to use Community Server instead of DotText, but I found that making Community Server behave like my DotText system is a little bit more time consuming than I had expected… Oh well… I promise not to be silence for too long.

Today I got some samples of a possible new product that I’m very excited about. I think it will be a good compliment to some of the green tea stuff I’m doing for Three Tree tea. It will take a few weeks to work out, perhaps. But there’s something else I might do at the same time… stay tuned.

 
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