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.

Somehow I managed to work relatively efficiently

September 23, 2005, 11:41 PM

This afternoon I processed all of my internet orders without too much chaos or distraction, which was a bit surprising, since I often run around a bit. I noticed today that I missed delivery of a bunch of cardboard boxes and packing materials, which probably came yesterday when I was busy debugging SQL code.

Before noon and actually again in the evening, I met up with some other folks who participate in eGullet and Mouthfuls, which are food-focused community sites. It was nice to see some faces associated previously only with online personas. I also got to try Zigzag, is below the Pike Place Market near Procopio Gelato. They have a lot of interesting signature cocktails. I think Sambar remains my favorite drink spot in town, but the peach bitters-enhanced “Trident” was very nice.

This weekend my demo schedule is a little lighter, so I’m going to try to take advantage of that. I am dropping in to a matcha class at Blue Dog in U-District tomorrow, and Sunday I’ll be at Uwajimaya in Bellevue.

Debugging my not-so-labor-saving script, relieved by apples

September 22, 2005, 11:59 PM

I remember when I could be fascinated by solving a computer problem, and I’d happily whittle away hours and hours, usually for the gain of just a few minutes of labor from time to time.

This is not so satisfying now that I am trying to build a business of my own not related to software. However, I let myself spend an insane amount of time debugging some quite simple database code and forms code, meant mostly to save some repetitive data entry work. Had I just done the tedious work, I would have spent far less time overall, but now I have a solution that should benefit me whenever I need to add a batch of similar products.

The good news, though, is that i now have all of the photographs Rob Tilley sent me online at YuzuMura.com, and I have some reusable code that will benefit me when I add other batches of products.

In the afternoon I indulged in eating most of a tremendously large apple given to me by a Nikkei-jin apple farmer on Sunday… it was so flavorful… crisp, lightly acidic, aromatic.


Aki-nasu and nagaimo-dango

September 21, 2005, 11:58 PM

I sent Hiromi these photos from tonight’s dinner and she called it “obaachan no ryouri” or grandma food.

The results were nice, but not flawless..

I was experimenting with making nagaimo dango in soup, and I overruled my initial impulse of making the dango using only wheat flour, nagaimo and a pinch of salt. I thought the texture might be more interesting if I added some katakuriko. This seemed to make the dough very sticky and my experience making gnocchi didn’t provide useful sensory reference points to judge the consistency, so when I boiled the dango, they got a bit chewy.


On previous occasions, I’ve used katakuriko and blends of katakuriko and kuzuko in dango recipes, but I was generally following a recipe that wasn’t terribly temperamental. In this case, I added two unknowns: the nagaimo, and the katakuriko. I think it will take a few experiments to get the ideal texture.

I made one of my favorite variations of hiya-yakko, made with yuzu-kosho, which is a paste made from the ground rind of yuzu and ground chilies, and a splash of Japanese soy sauce. A few years ago I served a very potent yuzu-kosho with some godoufu or another similarly mild side dish, and a knife-tip portion of yuzu kosho. I guess my plating needed some work; in Japan, I have seen similar presentation, and I knew the flavor was quite powerful. But one my guests thought I had mistakenly dropped something on the plate. When I explained the flavoring, they realized that it was the perfect amount for the dish in question, but it was a bit surprising to them. This time, I used a fairly substantial amount; roughly a third to half a teaspon. Actually, my yuzu-kosho has lost a bit of its aroma over time and I only had small amount left. So this amount was just about right, and not overwhelming.


I also made some quickly fried Japanese eggplant, dressed with nothing more than grated ginger, some sesame seeds, and a little Japanese soy sauce. This is one of my absolute favorite ways to serve eggplant, because it is so incredibly simple and flavorful. For this preparation, I usually slice the eggplant for this quarter lengthwise, then halfed crosswise, but I thought this might be a bit too visually repetitive, since I planned to serve another eggplant dish sliced lengthwise. I chose instead to use a rolling cut (mawashi-giri).


I also made some dengaku-nasu, which I nearly lost to neglect. I roasted lengthwise-sliced halves of eggplant, then added a mirin-sugar-miso paste which is a classic topping for broiled tofu, called “dengaku-miso” or “neri-miso.” My dengaku-miso is usually smoother and thicker than it was tonight, so I was a little frustrated that it wanted to slide off of my eggplant. My broiler also cooked a little faster than I expected so I almost over-caramelized the topping.


This was dinner… I added some tsukemono after I set everything out.

I prepared a small delivery to the Women of Color luncheon organized every 3 months or so by Assunta Ng. When I can, I have been providing some promotional giveaways and coupons for a gift bag that they offer to attendees.

Part of the day I was also trying to debug some stored procedures intended to help me quickly add multiple similar items to my online store. Due to various quirky little bugs, it turned out to be more distracting than immediately productive, but I know I need to do this work to simplify my life. I am not quite finished, but I’ve done enough work that it speeds up adding the metadata for the photos I’m putting up right now. Actually, though, I’m kind of debugging the code one addition at a time, so this particular batch may not be finished very quickly.

Preparing to offer photographic prints

September 20, 2005, 11:59 PM

A few weeks ago at Bellevue’s Aki Matsuri event, I met a photographer whose work I think I had seen at Azuma Gallery at some point, but I hadn’t ever committed his name to memory. He has done a number of shoots in Japan, producing some very nice images that manage to evoke Japan without being too conventional or contrived.

I was a little sleepless when I met him, and I rambled on and on a bit, but I suggested I might be able to offer some of his work on YuzuMura.com. Over the last few weeks, we worked out some details, and I got started uploading some of them… I have a lot more work to do…

Tilley 026Tilley 038

Tilley 053Tilley 056

Some days are just busywork

September 19, 2005, 11:59 PM

Until I shipped off today’s internet orders, I didn’t do anything particularly sociable, but after finishing most of my work I stopped at Floating Leaves and chatted a bit with Shiuwen.

Tomorrow I still have some catch-up work to do…

After the demos, satsumaimo

September 18, 2005, 10:20 PM

I guess I didn’t get enough sleep the last few nights… I got up later than I should have, but I needed the sleep.

Today I was a little bit touchy, but managed to have enough charm to sell a moderate amount of matcha latte blend and a bit of dragon beard candy. I think I did better yesterday.

I had lofty ambitions for dinner today, but once I got home, I lost most of my energy, and settled for baked satsumaimo with butter, black and white sesame seeds, salt, and a bit of sliced mellow cheese from Bella Cosa in Wallingford. I think I’ll be sleeping a little early tonight.

Matcha flan

September 17, 2005, 9:42 PM

I’m off in demoland this weekend, as usual. I can already see my Monday will be full based on incoming internet orders, but I’ll try to take care of them quickly.

I was hoping to make this nice matcha flan in time for Sugar High Friday, but alas, I didn’t get started on it until Friday night, and it didn’t have enough time to set before it was way past a reasonable hour to be serving sweets. So it turned out to be a very indulgent breakfast, and aside from a brief mention yesterday on my blog, mostly theoretical. But you can see the other participants on Simply Recipes. (Edited 19 September 2005: Note: Elise was kind enough to include my belated entry in the list in spite of my tardiness).

When I made the matcha flan, I used about a cup each of cream and milk, about 4 egg yolks, maybe 1/3 cup of sugar, a tiny bit of vanilla, and 2 slightly heaping teaspoons of matcha for cooking. I chose to oven-bake this flan, which may explain the slighly odd-looking texture, compared to a steamed one, but it did taste fairly creamy.

I served it with some tsubu-an, which is simply sweetened smashed red beans, and a little powdered sencha.

Matcha Flan


I had one of those unmemorable days

September 16, 2005, 11:58 PM

Today was mostly about follow-up. I ate carelessly, ran around a bit, and was on the phone a lot.

I felt a need for caffeine around 3pm and indulged myself by walking from my office to Fresh Flours, even though I started the day with a latte and dosed on some really good matcha, both made at home. I got enough sleep last night, but still I felt inadequately caffeinated.

Dinner tonight was a little cream sauce pasta with chanterelle mushrooms. I seasoned it with a little garlic and thyme. I made a matcha flan again, but it hasn’t quite set yet…


September 15, 2005, 11:03 PM

In spite of occasional binges cooking okonomiyaki, I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to photograph the results.

I have two or three variations of vegetarian okonomiyaki that I cycle through… Later this fall, I’ll probably start making some with kabocha, and I sometimes like to make it with kimchi and cheese. I probably should have done something with corn this summer, but I only started to think of making okonomiyaki when I saw a great deal on nagaimo recently… it was $3/lb, instead of the usual $6–9.

In this case, I’ve made a mochi cheese okonomiyaki, with a healthy dose of grated nagaimo, kizami shouga, and tenkasu. The mochi I purchased frozen, so they aren’t quite as dry as the kirimochi that are sold vacuum-sealed; they required no special consideration except for a few minutes of thawing before being cut into small pieces.

Tenkasu are small fried balls of tempura batter, which were originally merely side effects of deep-frying foods but now are produced as a carefully manufactured, predictable product. They add a little crunch to okonomiyaki, but the texture disappears quickly since okonomiyaki takes about 10–15 minutes to cook and steam will often soften much of the tenkasu.


In the last minute or so of cooking, I add Japanese-style mayonnaise, okonomi sauce, and some aonori (unseasoned gren nori flakes).

I did do some actual work today and met with a whole bunch of people, most of which were productive, though nothing I can quite reveal yet. I was running around but not really overwhelmed.

Lentil soup, Biofournil bread, strawberry basil sorbet

September 14, 2005, 10:35 PM

I picked up a very nice loaf of naturally leavened multigrain bread from Biofournil in Belltown today and decided to make some soup for dinner. The lentil mushroom soup, with ordinary crimini mushrooms and some local chanterelles, in addition to some freshly roasted corn and a bell pepper based mirepoix, didn’t take to the camera well, but tasted nice. Biofournil has all-organic naturally-leavened breads, pastries and so on. I am not normally a particular fan of dining in Belltown, but I got a nice sandwich here on sourdough baguette, reinforcing my image of Belltown as a place to find decent bakeries and mostly-about-the-booze dinnertime options.


On Sunday I picked up an insane amount of local strawberries, since we’ve got a fairly late run of beautiful summer fruits at unbeatable prices. The fastest way for me to use a bunch of strawberries is to puree them, so I turned a portion of them into a sorbet base.

I discovered many years ago that strawberries like basil, so I always include 4–6 basil leaves in my 5 cup sorbet base, usually adding them to the blender close to the end of the puree. I used about a cup of sugar and a bit of lemon and orange juice in today’s sorbet, but usually I just use lemon. I served the sorbet with a homemade sesame cookie, which is a sweet-savory cookie using a tiny bit of flour, a lot of butter, some sugar, an egg, salt and vanilla. It was spread out thin on a Silpat mat atop a baking sheet, baked about 10 minutes, then cooled just until solid enough to roll up.

Ichigo basil sorbet

The strawberry-basil sorbet was intensely strawberry-ish and very smooth. The smaller local strawberries, apparently not bred for industrial-scale distribution, have a lot of flavor, although the ones I got still had a bit more acid than my favorites, but because of the flavor intensity, it worked really well as a sorbet. The basil contributes a nice bit of charisma to an essentially simple flavor.

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