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.

Food blogging: why?

The Girl Who Ate Everything has a bit of a homework assignment to explain food blogging. I started writing a short comment, but it kept growing, even though I don’t think I have the “answer.” Because I seemed a little too verbose, I thought my thoughts would work better as a blog entry than as a comment.

For those who don’t know already, Pursuing My Passions is not, strictly speaking, a food blog, but food is one of the things I’m most passionate about. I cook fairly obsessively, and my business was founded in part because of how much I enjoy food browsing in Japanese department stores.

My food obsessions started fomenting when I was quite young, as I began cooking for myself, to a limited extent, as a child. By the time I was about 7 years old, I had some basic microwave oven and frypan skills, and in my pre-teen years I played with Bisquick and perused the Joy of Cooking. During my final semester in college, before looking at my student loan bills, I briefly entertained the idea of going to graduate school to study the role of food in revolutionary movements and peasant rebellions. (At the time I also wore my political stripes very loudly).

I'm not sure blogs are reactions against glossy idyllic portrayals of food, considering how much culinary celebrity worship goes on in blogging contexts, and how happily food bloggers devour "food porn."

Blogs do let relatively ordinary people connect their culinary experiences with other people who share similar passions. It may be hard to share my food obsessions with my friends in the same way I can do in a blog; many of my friends are happy to indulge along with me when I'm cooking, but are mildly amused by my ability to steer any conversation toward food topics. Online, people self-select when they want to participate in that conversation, so they are at least as interested in food as me, at least for a moment.

Blogging is, however, a kind of democratization of "cuisine." Without a “target market", unlike a food magazine or TV show, bloggers can, comfortably and without shame or bashfulness, rapidly shift focus between homemade haute cuisine and humble, lowbrow daily fare. Unless they want to, bloggers don’t have to make pretentions of healthfulness or authenticity, and they don’t have to promise easy results in 30 minutes or that your neighbors will be impressed by all the work you’ve done if you just follow some lovely focus-group tested recipes. They just have to celebrate food in an endearing way.

Instead of a traditional media priesthood of good taste (ahem), food blogging is more like a potluck. We might occasionally try to impress each other, but blogging is more about sharing the joy of little discoveries, minor food tragedies, and culinary triumphs. And sometimes guilt, giddiness or discontent.

The thing that makes blogging more real than a magazine, cookbook or TV series is the lack of editors and producers who needs to balance the interests of advertisers, the fickleness of their audiences, and the egos of their writers or hosts. We’re relatively content regardless of who shows up to the party.

As food bloggers, each one of us can wear many hats… restaurant reviewer, chef, event planner, food diarist, food stylist, cooking class instructor, co-conspirator… for most of us, our ability to shift between these roles wouldn’t be possible in other contexts.

Blogging has a low barrier to entry, but fairly powerful network effects… I once saw photos someone in Holland and someone else in Malaysia had taken after making a variation of a cookie recipe I had originally posted on my blog. Similarly, I’ve been inspired by flavor combinations I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about from people blogging around the world. That kind of global influence, even on a small scale, is just incredible to think about. I’m not likely not get my 15 minutes of fame by posting an occasional article online, but this ability to reach other people, and learn from each other, is really appealing.

Small culinary diversions from a busy Thanksgiving week

A midnight snack

Earlier this week, I had a late night hunger pang, and I wanted something small and simple to nibble on. With some leftover renkon (lotus root) handy, I started cooking the renkon in a bit of butter until slightly golden brown on each side, then I added a splash of soy sauce and the tiniest hint of mirin.

Renkon butter

My first memory eating renkon bataa was about a year and a half ago with some of Hiromi’s friends. The simplicity of the dish may obscure its charm… it’s an excellent shared plate, especially when served with some good cold sake or other favored intoxicant. When made well, you’ll be fighting over the pieces. You might like to add some grated katsuobushi as a garnish. 

I made no plans with my local family for this year’s Thanksgiving, or vice versa, for that matter… the only thing I had planned was a brief supermarket demo at Uwajimaya; I ran my demo until about 4:30 or so, and got home just shy of 5pm.

I conspired with a friend to do a simple dinner close to standard Thanksgiving fare. I made some roasted sweet potatoes gratin, a mushroom-shallot cream sauce baked fresh green bean dish, some beautifully red cooked apples, and a dish of oven-baked dill-garlic mashed potatoes. We also had a mulled spiced apple cider.

Originally I had planned to make some protein-heavy dish for myself, but I somehow distracted myself and never quite got around to it. For me the whole meal was about butter and cream. I prepared gravy for Jennifer, who brought over three brined turkey pieces and one untreated one (needed to produce suitable fats for a gravy).

My camera batteries died unexpectedly when I was trying to photograph yesterday’s dinner. I never got any decent photos before the camera died.

Tonight I had battery power, but a much more basic dinner. I made a little yakisoba and some mapo doufu.

Yakisoba

I tried to cram too much into this week. I really had a difficult time managing everything. I tried to squeeze in demos, pack orders, run down to the airport and pry the new shipment from the slow moving airfreight warehouse, and plow through more insanity than I knew what to do with.

A wasted trip

My dragon beard candy order cruised through customs and FDA clearance today, which is a relief after a series of messy problems on the Hong Kong side.

The freight vendor told me everything was ready to pick up at the airport, so I went down to the cargo facility to pick it up. I’ve been to this location before; the same airline as usual transported the shipment, but the logistics vendor was different.

Apparently, the warehouse hadn’t properly understood instructions to break down the consolidated shipment, so it wasn’t ready after all. They also said the shipment couldn’t be broken down until tomorrow because they were busy preparing a large outbound shipment. I wasn’t very happy.

Basically, this meant my entire trek to the airport, during peak traffic hours, was pointless.

Fortunately, the logistics provider’s sales representative had planned to meet me at this warehouse, and he tried to straighten things out there. He couldn’t, however, get them to budge. So he volunteered to have his company pay for trucking to my office in Fremont.

Oddly enough, in spite of the hiccups on this shipment, this freight vendor has provided some of the best service I’ve encountered so far. They’ve been fairly hands on helping my vendor prepare documents for the shipment, and they are the only freight company to actually come meet me in my office, and probably the only logistics company to offer anything as compensation for an error.

Of course, this final complication means my schedule will be messy tomorrow, so it may not help me all that much.

Not sure if it's rest

It wasn’t a very restful weekend, perhaps, but I did skip my usual demo routine. Today, I had a slow-paced afternoon, a relative lack of productivity.

I didn’t really have lunch today, but I made some mochi-mochi an pan in the morning, which I ate around 11am or so. It was just a milk-based yeast dough with a bit of mochi-ko in it, and I made small balls filled with anko, sweetened red bean paste. I made two flat savory rolls also: gomashio, black sesame and coarse salt.

Somehow I was craving a savory, quichelike tart today, but I didn’t want to have a meal mostly composed of butter, cheese and eggs, especially since I’ve been slightly dairy-heavy this week.

So I made a little salad, and I roasted halves of delicata squash stuffed with shredded satsumaimo. The satsumaimo was still tossed with a modest amount of melted butter, and a little black sugar and salt. It allowed me to serve a lighter portion of the tart.

I made the tart with a half-wholemeal crust, a lot of butter, and a little mace. I caramelized some shallots with some thyme, and I sauteed some incredibly cheap chanterelles with garlic. For the cheese, I used a cheap, unremarkable raclette from Trader Joe’s. I usually expect raclette to be a bit more aromatic, but this was a pretty bland one; that turned out to be just fine for the purpose of making a quiche, but I would have been disappointed if I actually made raclette.

My crust turned out to be fairly crumbly. I think my beads were a bit too fine to produce a very flaky result, but the texture worked out to be pleasant enough.

Chantart-delicata

 

Too much information

Lucas of Cooking In Japan tagged me with the “Too Much Information” meme, for which I am invited (commanded?) to present 10 revealing/odd/interesting/random facts about me. I can’t promise much, but since I haven’t revealed terribly much about my pre-blogging existence here, I thought I’d reach into the past…

  1. Before I could even properly speak English, I had a Japanese babysitter, and I learned to speak enough Japanese that my mother nearly worried I might have a learning disability, until the babysitter started translating for me in my mother’s presence. I promptly forgot all of this after growing a bit older, and it hasn’t apparently helped me move beyond my limited Japanese.
  2. I quietly claimed, studied, and, due to frequent commutes in a backpack to school, damaged the paperback binding of my stepfather’s German Made Simple textbook about 3 years before I could elect to take German in high school, first learning to mispronounce German words around age 11.
  3. After planning an exchange program to Germany, I switched my major from Literature to East Asian Studies, putting myself in the odd position of trying to learn Japanese in Germany.
  4. Before I was allowed to cook unsupervised on the stovetop, I was fascinated by cooking with the microwave, and made various melted marshmallow concoctions.
  5. The first baking recipes I learned, other than those taught to me by my mother or other family members, were taken from the back of a Bisquick box. (I haven’t touched a box of Bisquick since 1993).
  6. I remember more about my first meals with girlfriends, past and present, than I do about such details as, for example, when their birthdays might be.
  7. I once held a dinner party to which more than 35 people showed up. Everyone went home well-fed, though most of them had to sit on the floor. I was able to maintain some semblence of domestic civility: Most people ate off of ceramic dinnerware, rather than disposable.
  8. Back in my college days, I produced a television show, produced a radio talk show, created TV news graphics, and hosted several music shows on my college TV and radio stations, when I wasn’t busy with political rabble-rousing. Frequent typos and grammatical flubs in this blog notwithstanding, I even had a brief stint as assistant editor at a small Seattle weekly newspaper.
  9. I’ve never paid for a TV, and I still have the same cheap stereo I bought in college about 12 years ago.
  10. I started college with a clear idea of what kind of work I wanted to do after graduating, but I graduated without one.

The memetic process depends on reproduction, so part of the deal is that I’m supposed to tag 5 other bloggers to respond to the meme. It’s meant to take a life of its own, like the game “telephone” combined with a chain letter. I’ll ask Hiromi to spread the meme in Japanese. Perhaps Travis in Tokyo and nearby Amy of Blue Lotus can play. If she’s amenable, perhaps I can convince my almost-neighbor, Gluten-Free Shauna, whom I’ve never met in spite of the fact that we both know some of the same people, to participate. My former roommate, Kaori, may answer in English or Japanese.

Mini-vacation in Vancouver

We had planned to make a day trip to Vancouver on Boxing Day, before I remembered something about a signature that most students need to get on their I-20 before departing the country… alas, I realized this just about an hour before we were hoping to take off, early in the morning, and of course Hiromi hadn’t quite formally enrolled in school yet, so it wasn’t even possible to get the signature had we planned for it.

Fortunately, we were able to make up for it this weekend. Instead of my usual supermarket demo routine, we drove up to Vancouver Saturday morning. Somehow we cleared the border in record time, and we walked the usual Robson stretch as Hiromi hunted for post-holiday discounted clothing. We also stopped at a tea shop that offers a lot of aromatized teas (I didn’t expect my kukicha to be fruity… that’ll teach me) and instant chocolate fondue with various fruits, marshmallows, and, well, gummy bears.

We also got some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor, whose shells we discarded at every trash bin on the way from Sears back to our hotel off Granville Street.

At night we tried to find something to bring along to a potluck party at the home of one of Hiromi’s friends near Gastown. We discovered, much to our dismay, that restaurants in Vancouver Chinatown are pretty much shuttered at night, so we abandoned our thoughts of bringing along some vegetarian jiaozi or other nibbles. Fortunately, I had a stash of matcha chocolates and matcha-white chocolate enrobed fortune cookies to contribute. We were able to eat our first semi-nutritious meal of the day at the party, as other guests brought more than the usual bread and chips… the party also had a spectacular view, facing the water, in a common room on the roof of an neat residential project in an industrial part of Gastown.

After a late night it took some work to extract ourselves from the hotel, motivated primarily by ever-increasing hunger pangs. We took a short hop from our hotel to the Granville Public Market, where we overindulged in pastries from La Baguette & L'Echalote, a samosa-like filled pastry from Laurelle’s, and some passable teas from Granville Island Tea, along with a nice aged Gouda from Dussa's.

Our pastry and cheese indulgenceGranville Island Public Market

We noticed a coffee shop offering employment only to people literate in Japanese.

Staff wanted

Actually we subsequently noticed two similar signs the same day at non-Japanese restaurants. Apparently Japanese-speaking staff are in demand in Vancouver.

We had dinner at one of the many Vancouver Greek restaurants… somehow Greek is neglected in Seattle, but we had a pleasant enough meal at Taki’s, along Davie, with another pair of friends Hiromi is connected to from her working holiday era.

Somehow, we sailed through the border control again on the way back home… the miserable weather and lack of significant holiday-like events must have reduced the line-up at the

Have you seen the owner of this license plate?

This has not been a banner 12 months for me when it comes to cars.

This morning, around 10:30 am, I was driving southbound on 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle, on my way to pick up something from one of my vendors. Nobody was at the office yet when I came earlier in the morning, but I continued to another errand in West Seattle and made my way back.

I stopped at Cherry Street, and after the signal changed to green I crossed. The next several lights quickly followed in sequence, so, by the time I was fairly close to James (Google Map), the light had been in my favor for a while… Anyway, someone sped through the intersection going Westbound on James, and clipped the rear left fender and bumper on my car. I pulled off into a loading zone just before Yesler, and inspected the damage.

A witness who had been about to cross the street confirmed that the driver ran the red light, also saw the license plate (Washington State, 491–THC) from the other car fall off, and after checking to see I was ok, he picked it up and brought it to me. He identified the other driver as female, but I think he was running off to work and didn’t provide a lot of details. The other driver never stopped… not even to exchange information.

Hit and run

Another witness noticed the same driver speeding off past the scene. A few minutes later, someone else came down from his office and said he recorded the license plate number as the driver ran off. It matched, of course.

I didn’t notice a lot of details, except for a dark, probably compact car hitting my tail end.

I waited around for about 45 minutes after making a 911 call, but when I called back, they said nobody had been dispatched, but I was welcome to make the report from home. So tonight, just as dinner was ready to eat, a police officer came and took a statement… and, of course, the license plate.

Ironically, yesterday Hiromi and I made a pilgrimage to Tsubaki Shrine near Granite Falls, Washington to do Hatsumode, or the first shrine visit of the New Year. Among others, we got a new omamori to provide protection while driving. It’s hard to say whether it provided any protection, since I had an accident just about 20 hours later, but as far as I know, I’m not seriously injured, and the accident is clearly not the result of any error of my part, short of expecting other people to obey their signals… the only serious damage was to my car.

Omamori

Yesterday I wasn’t clever enough to remember my digital camera, but Hiromi snapped these photos from the outer part of Tsubaki shrine. Interestingly, I ran into two peope I know at the shrine, including a former employee of Central Market, and Thomas of ENMA. We observed O-Harae.

Tsubaki America shrine

Tsubaki small shrine

Tsubaki ema

Hiromi slaved over osechi

I’m usually more involved in our nightly dinners, but I don’t deserve any credit for tonight’s New Year’s Day dinner. I put my best effort into photography and lighting, but I didn’t contribute much to preparation.

Hiromi wanted to make a vegetarian version of the classic osechi New Year’s meal, and I’m not nearly as competent in this area as I’ve only spent New Year’s Day in Japan once, and it was at the very early stage of my development of passable Japanese cooking skills. Traditionally, these dishes are made a day or two before New Year’s day, because nobody wants to cook on New Year’s day. It’s supposed to be a restful day, so people historically spent way more time than normal making foods a few days before the New Year, finishing on New Year’s Eve. Accordingly, vinegared dishes such as sunomono are common, and other dishes with a fairly high salt content, especially fish, make frequent appearances. Now, of course, both the common dishes and the pattern of preparation have changed, because so many fancy options for osechi meals can be purchased at department stores in Japan and even at local souzai-ya-san, a growing industry of neighborhood pay-by-weight side dish vending shops.

Actually most people in Japan wouldn’t go through as much trouble as Hiromi did. But the standard Uwajimaya osechi wouldn’t have been much fun for me as a vegetarian, and the quality would not be that impressive for her. So instead, she made a seriously labor-intensive meal.

This rolled konbu or konbumaki contains blanched green beans, carrots, and daikon. Usually it would have a bit of cured or salt-seasoned bits of fish, but we ate it with some pickles instead.

Kobumaki

This is one of the sunomono I make on a regular basis, though usually less elegantly presented than Hiromi did tonight. We don’t have fresh yuzu available, so we substituted Meyer lemon for the shell, which has a passable aroma and contributes the right overall shape. Hiromi splashed the daikon and carrot with a bit of yuzu juice to give it the desired aroma. My one significant contribution was running the daikon and carrots through the mandoline…

Kouhaku namasu

Hiromi prepared koyadoufu (freeze-dried tofu), carrot, shiitake and mizuna for this year’s ozouni, and I nearly set my Silpat mat on fire trying to toast them with the oven’s broiler set to “low” toasting the frozen mochi. In substitution for the usual katsuo-based broth, a dried konbu and dried porcini based dashi contributed a nice body. I stumbled upon the porcini alternative to dried fish a few years ago, and now Hiromi swears by it for any dish where the soup stock needs to have the kind of fullness usually provided by katsuobushi or niboshi.

Ozouni

My only experience with tamago-yaki tends to be the saltier types served at izakaya as a drink accompaniment, or that made by sushi chefs, but this version, a classic New Year’s dish called datemaki tamago, is substantially sweeter. Datemaki tamago is typically made with a fish cake called hanpen, Hiromi substituted rehydrated koyadoufu. I provided the token contribution of beating the rehydrated koyadoufu into submission, chopping it into extra tiny bits. Hiromi sweetened beaten eggs and incorporate the koyadoufu, and made a thick omelet in a tamagoyaki pan, rolled up using the same kind of mat that can be used for sushi.

Datemakitamago

The egg was plated together with this dried-persimmon based side dish. The custard-like filling is made with steamed yamaimo (mountain yam), a starchy tuber, which Hiromi combined with egg yolks while the yamaimo was still hot, and a fair amount of sugar. The dried Hachiya persimmons were stuffed with this custard, and eventually sliced. Hiromi says this is essentially a Kyoto-style osechi dish.

Yamaimo-custard in dried persimmon

Hiromi blanched renkon (lotus root) for a few minutes, just enough to retain a nice crispness, and added vinegar, sugar, a bit of salt and some shredded Korean chilies to make another kind of sunomono.

Renkon no sunomono

I’m not usually terribly fussy about how my vegetables are cut, even for Japanese food; I use mostly rustic style rolling cuts for carrots. But osechi is as special occasion, so Hiromi slaved away cutting and faceting red and orange carrots for this nimono, or simmered vegetable dish. Our shape cutters, even the smallest ones, are too big for the scrawny American carrots typical in U.S. supermarkets. The nimono also features takenoko (bamboo shoots), renkon, satoimo, gobo (burdock) and shiitake.

Osechinonimono

Hiromi opted not to buy off-the-shelf kuromame, or sweetened boiled black beans, as most Japanese would do. For some reason, they didn’t quite stay black, but they tasted nice. She boiled them with yakimyouban (alum) and salt, then later added a serious dose of sugar. They would typically be boiled in a cast-iron pot, but my cast-iron pan doesn’t have a cover, so it was cast aside. It’s possible that the iron in the pot would make the beans shinier and blacker… we’ll try again next year.

Arguably kuromame

A couple of months ago I made my second or third attempt at making kurikinton, sweet potato paste with chestnuts. It might have been a bit early in the season, because they had a slightly whiter color than Hiromi’s. These are thankfully less sweet than most of the commercial kuri-kinton available in Japan, so they make a nice side dish even among savory things.

Kurikintonosechi

Hiromi spent more than a day on this elaborate meal… Here was the reward:

Hiromi no osechi

After all that work, I suspect I’ll be doing most of the cooking for the rest of the week…

Holidays are like work, only busier

I thought the last couple of days before Christmas would finally calm down, but I didn’t quite get to rest. I had a flood of late orders, some of which may have been meant for after-holiday purposes, that kept me up late. This combination of working a contracting gig (a.k.a. a job) and operating a business has already been fairly overwhelming, even though I haven’t quite done a “full” work week at Revenue Science yet… Due to holidays and competing commitments, I’ve only been “on the clock” 28–38 hours/week for the first few weeks.

The good news is my web orders this month have now beat any previous month, so the “Christmas magic” seems to have done its job. Because I had quite a boost from previous months between July and November, and relatively conservative Google and Overture/Yahoo ad spending, the jump wasn’t quite as dramatic as it is for some retailers. I also failed to get much in the way of self-promotion done this season because I was just so overwhelmed with other work from November on, so I think I can do a better job with some advance planning and maybe some hired help next holiday season.

Hiromi and I took my brothers, stepfather, and stepgrandfather to the Christmas Eve Seahawks game last weekend, where I narrowly avoided a parking ticket. I thought Christmas Eve was a city holiday, but watched some other cars being ticketed on the way to the game, and made a beeline to my car to get it in a garage. My mother couldn’t make it to the game because she had to take care of my grandmother, and due to some misinterpretation I didn’t quite realize this until about 45 minutes to kickoff… we tried to offer the ticket on the street at face value, but most average folks weren’t interested in a single, premium 200–level ticket when their main goal was to get inside the gates, and the scalpers that came up to me wanted to pay less than face value so that they can claim they had to pay $74 or whatever for it; my rush back to my car made any further negotiations complicated, so we didn’t get anything out of the extra ticket.

I actually had a couple of deliveries to make on Christmas Eve, since I had a few locally-destined internet orders that I had planned to hand-deliver, but couldn’t squeeze in during the week. I liked bringing such orders in person, but it’s no longer feasible unless it’s a very large order. Under my current circumstances, I think I’m going to have to go back to using FedEx Ground for local shipments, because I can’t deliver in as timely a fashion as they can, and it doesn’t save me any money right now when it takes so much time out of my day.

We went to a family party at my grandmother’s house after the game, which involved about 20 dessert options and nothing savory, so I threw together a frittata to have some kind of protein source… Hiromi and I took my little brother out to dinner at a corporate restaurant in downtown Bellevue late at night.

In spite of a pretty hectic schedule, we’ve usually taken 30–60 minutes a night to make a passable meal, and a few times I’ve made some more interesting things.

The night before Christmas Eve we made some pleasant manicotti, with San Marzano tomatoes; the filling involved chevre in addition to ricotta fresca. I used fresh oregano and basil, and some shiitake mushrooms in the sauce.

Manicotti side viewManicotti in the pan

On Christmas Day, I made a pizza with a potato-based dough that, in my small circle, I’m known for… We roasted bell peppers in a hurry, and served it with some very nicely caramelized brussels sprouts, seasoned with garlic.

Jagaimo Pizza with roasted red peppersRoasted red pepperBrussels sprouts

I’m not quite caught up… more good food to come… and probably some end of the year thoughts.

What my birthday week was like

I started a contracting gig on Monday at Revenue Science, which has an advertising platform that focuses on targeting behaviors rather than demographics or keywords alone. I ended up choosing the project which would be a little more challenging for a bit less money, favoring a shorter commute and a less familiar environment. I’m mostly responsible for driving international quality for an upcoming release that needs to support the needs of a Japanese internet advertising consortium… That’s about all I can reveal for now, but I got off to a half-decent start.

While getting settled, I also needed to hurriedly fill a bunch of wholesale, corporate gift, and internet orders, most of which are for Christmas… This often kept me up quite late at night. This week it also meant I had a few late starts because I couldn’t always finish everything at night and had to cram some things in first thing in the morning.

On Wednesday morning, Hiromi arrived from Japan, and I picked her up from the airport and tried to squeeze a quick lunch with her in before going to Bellevue for a meeting, and I took care of more orders before subjecting her to more errands I needed to undertake. We didn’t get home until around 8pm, so on our way back, we stopped at Hiroki to obtain some semblence of birthday cake.

I tried to prepare a simple dinner both to enjoy our first night together and to celebrate my birthday. So I made a few quiet dishes.

Wilted Spinach Salad

Wilted spinach and almond salad

Toasted almond slivers, some sauteed onions and some artisanal American Farmstead cheese accompany this olive-oil wilted spinach salad, drizzled with some 12 year-old Balsamic vinegar.

Gruyered Roasted Potatoes

Gruyered roasted potatoes

I rarely tire of variations of roasted potatoes, and this cave-aged gruyere added a nice raclette-like quality to my baked slices of potatoes.

Masoor Daal

Daal

A simple version of masoor daal, simply boiled until soft and then seasoned with a ghee chaunk with cumin, garam masala, and chilies (maybe a few other things; it’s been a few days).

Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Canoe ridge cabernet

We had a little wine from Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Birthday Cake, Sans Candle

Birthday cake

After dinner, Hiromi and I devoured the Espresso Hazelnut Torte and a cassis mousse with chocolate supplied by Hiroki.

We didn’t spend much time preparing dinner, but the food was simple and pleasant. On Friday night, we joined some other friends at Brasa for nibbles, cocktails and wine, which gave us a more sociable outlet for my birthday celebration, if a couple of days past… actually, it was the only really relaxed moment this week, because I managed to forcibly avoid thinking about work or business… though, of course, I darted out of the restaurant when a customer inquiry phone call came…

Alas, both Hiromi and I have been dining out this week more than would normally be reasonable. I had a few lunches with my new coworkers, and sometimes I’ve grabbed something quick just to avoid late night cooking. I usually don’t mind cooking late at night, but when I’m harried and it’s already approaching 9pm and not quite ready to go home, it’s hard to imagine squeezing in some shopping

We didn’t even notice we were out of breakfast fixings this morning until it was too late, and some of my almost last-minute FedEx 2–Day Christmas orders were constrained by our need to obtain food, which was, today anyway, supplied by Fresh Flours, rather than me.

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