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.

Milchreis mit Himbeeren

August 20, 2005, 10:04 AM

In Germany, I remember buying a short-grain rice called Milchreis as an awful substitute for japonica. It was the cheapest possible rice we could buy and available in mainstream supermarkets. It tasted adequate and the price was right for a starving student’s budget, so I frequently used it even when I cooked Chinese-style or Japanese-style dishes. On rare occasions I was able to get some decent basmati or Jasmine rice for a slight premium from Asian markets, but Japanese-style rice required a bit more difficult a journey from our little university town, Marburg.

The typical German way of making use of this rice involved cooking it with milk, sugar, and maybe a bit of vanilla, sometimes with a knob of butter. It was always cooked with substantially more liquid than if you meant to cook rice for eating with savory foods, so it is almost the texture of okayu. Essentially, it’s a rice pudding. It works best simmered at a low temperature with about 4 milk to 1 rice, by volume.

I think I can count the times I ate Milchreis in this manner in Germany on one or two fingers, but somehow I craved the idea last night, and I prepared some in anticipation of this morning’s breakfast.

It turns out that I have more ready access to California-grown Japanese-style rice than “Milchreis,” so I just used that. I made a quick raspberry sauce with a medium-heavy syrup and raspberries, and topped my molded milchreis with some more fresh raspberries.

Milchreis mit Himbeeren

Raspberries were incredibly cheap yesterday…

Taco salad

August 19, 2005, 10:05 PM

Somehow I’ve been in a salad kind of mode at dinner lately.

The weather’s been a bit hot and I guess I’ve got only a summer appetite… I seem to be more interested in big lunches, or small lunches and little afternoon snacks.

Normally I don’t eat salads as a meal… I tend to make little, simple, refreshing salads as a contrast to something heavier, or to balance pasta.

But I was kind of in the mood for something a little more dramatic, and a little spicy. At the same time, I wanted some kind of crunch… so I made a kind of taco salad. I made a simple guacamole, with only some chopped tomatoes added to my usual basic crushed avocado with lime juice. I used a Trader Joe’s salsa only because I was a bit lazy tonight, and some pinto beans cooked with a bit of garlic. I grated a mild cheese that I had handy, and served with some more chopped tomatoes and some mixed greens—mostly romaine—which I mostly obscured with the toppings.

Taco saladTaco salad

I stopped at PFI and Trader Joes to get some supplies for some matcha cookies I will be baking tomorrow for an event at the Japanese garden. Now I have an insane amount of white chocolate, butter, and pine nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much butter in my possession at one time.

Grilled tofu, umeboshi and tomato salad, and plotting a last minute contribution

August 18, 2005, 10:26 PM

Standard operating procedure for Americans confronted with tofu is to cover it up as much as possible. People think it “absorbs” flavors of things around it. This isn’t really true, though because water in tofu keeps the flavor mostly at the surface, unless the tofu is freeze-dried or otherwise altered in texture.

I usually don’t do much to tofu… I love yudoufu (湯豆腐), which is simmered tofu with sometimes as little as a sliver of dried kelp, served with a dipping sauce; hiya-yakko (冷やっこ), which is really just some good tofu with some garnish, such as grated ginger and soy sauce, occasionally some oroshi-daikon, and for many, shaved katsuo, is also perfectly simple and wonderful. With suitably fresh tofu, the whole point is to make the custardy, or sometimes slightly chewy texture stand out, accented by the hint of bitterness that the soybean origin contributes.

Today, though, I was craving some grill marks. I had just a bit left of a medium-firm or momen-style tofu from a local Vietnamese tofu maker. Normally I’m happy to just grill some slices on my little grill pan and maybe use a dipping sauce. Today, I decided to grill until some nice marks were established, then I brushed a little bit of shouyu, grilled a bit more, and finally brushed a slight wash of mirin.

I had a bit of a yuzu-shouyu dressing that I made a while back, so I used that to dress my salad, and I sliced some nice tomatoes and sprinkled a bit of coarse gray salt atop.


Yesterday I noticed an email that was apparently trapped by a spam filter. It came from someone at Seattle’s Japanese Garden, located in the Washington Park arboretum. I got a return phone call tonight, and I signed up to bring some things for the reception of this weekend’s moon viewing event. I hope I can squeeze as much work as I need to into Saturday.


August 17, 2005, 3:19 PM

Whenever possible, I’m inclined to write about something I’ve been doing or eating outside of work, but there hasn’t been much of that this week. I’m a little overwhelmed.

I’m not getting much sleep. I’m eating awkwardly, although I had an excellent lunch at home on Tuesday. I’m behind schedule on everything, both related to work and social life. I felt it was a great victory to fix a leaky toilet today.

YuzuMura.com has kept me busy lately, and it seems like it’s increasingly being used by customers looking for business gifts, based on the nature of several recent orders. I hope I can keep a handle on the sometimes conflicting attention required between the small very hands-on approach of YuzuMura.com to the more volume-oriented, repeat business of Yuzu Trading Co.’s wholesale end of the business. It’s getting harder, but that’s because both ends are getting busier.

I ate a bagel sandwich for dinner… poppy seed bagel, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, basil. It was a common theme this week. I had an insalata caprese for Tuesday’s lunch along with a bit of pasta. Dinner involved scrounging a bit. Lately I’ve been seriously craving some protein-heavy soups, which is awfully strange for the middle of summer. The weather has cooled down a bit, but I think I’ve just been eating too much cheese, egg and tofu and need something more fiber-heavy to satiate my unseasonal cravings.

Short sweet demo before a politically significant birthday

August 14, 2005, 10:47 PM

As customary I did another supermarket demo today, this time at Uwajimaya. No disasters on my part this time, but a young guy, roughly mid-to-late teens, managed to drop a matcha latte sample. His parents must have trained him well, because he not only used the cloth I handed him for the intended purpose of wiping his hands, he also cleaned up after the spill on the counter and floor. I would have done it myself, but I appreciated that I didn’t need to.

I took a rather short day, because I was invited to a birthday party for a local politician at a steel-and-glass house on Lake Washington. Clear, warm weather against wide open doors made for a beautiful afternoon… I didn’t know many people at the party, since my connection with the campaign is one or two low-commitment events. Since I’m fairly inexperienced at political schmoozing it was a bit awkward at first, but eventually I settled in and chatted a bit with quite a few interesting people.

I did nibble a bit at the party, and I brought some dragon beard candy to sample, but at home I made a simple insalata caprese. I had gotten some nice tomatoes yesterday at Central Market at a fairly decent price. But it turns out I’m now out of olive oil…

A bit of a klutz

August 13, 2005, 8:48 PM

It’s no secret that I am sometimes prone to distracting mishaps.

Today I went to Central Market to do a matcha latte demo, and due to a slightly larger than normal number of vendors doing demos this weekend, I needed to bring my own small table. The most appropriate one I have for such an occasion is a small outdoor Ikea table designed to be semi-foldable, and therefore slightly more readily transported or stored away, save for the unwieldy feet.

Previous experience with this table had taught me that it snaps and locks into position when the table is set up to be the conventionally horizontal. So I didn’t think to verify that it had in fact snapped into place.

Twice today someone asked me something that led me to rest my hand on the table. The first time this happened, only one small cup of iced matcha latte was on the table and the only disaster was a bit of spilled ice and product in disarray. The next time, of course, I had a good five or six cups set out to be served, and my container of ice was fairly well melted, so I made a far bigger mess.

After the second more dramatic mishap, I remembered I could visually inspect the hinge lock and in fact manually close it, in case it were not cooperating, as indeed turned out to be the case. No more trouble occurred thereafter…

Matcha white chocolate enrobed fortune cookies

August 10, 2005, 10:28 PM

If you’ve never tried it before, you probably don’t know this… photographing chocolate is hard. I almost always take photographs using extra-bright halogen lamps, and these generate a lot of heat.

They’re perfect for most of my products because they create a nice warm glow. Nearly every photo on YuzuMura.com is bathed in halogen light. In some cases, there’s some combination of ambient fluorescent or incandescent light, or else I’ll use available outdoor light plus my trusty halogen. Sometimes I white balance properly, using a white card, and sometimes I rely on the automatic mode, which casts everything a bit more yellow or red than it really is.

Well, my matcha chocolate fortune cookies arrived yesterday early in the evening, and so I thought I’d try to take photographs today. One session I got half-decent shots of the cookies by themselves, but there was something wrong with all of the box shots. Usually something was too dark, and something was too bright. Alas, my cookies didn’t like the lighting at all… they were crying. I came back about an hour later and their color had slightly shifted, so I had to start again with a different box of cookies.

I knew that matcha doesn’t like to be exposed to a lot of light, but I was a little surprised at how rapid my shift in color was… although I have seen this occur before in a matcha cake stored in a pastry display case on a very sunny day… In my case, the color shift wasn’t as dramatic, but it made me a little worried.

Anyway, I tried one more time, adding another source of fluorescent light, and this improved things somewhat on the product box shots. Most still had some overexposed spots though.

Someday I’m going to have to reshoot this, maybe with some soft fluorescent lighting. But it’ll work for now.

They tasted good, anyway, even when the heat from the light melted them a bit...


New stuff coming

August 9, 2005, 11:59 PM

I just got a delivery of some nifty fortune cookies, dipped in matcha-flavored white chocolate, made by Chocolati of Seattle for YuzuMura.com.

I got them just before something I had planned for this evening, so I don’t have any decent photos… though Hiromi threatened to post some badly out-of-focus and imprecisely-hued photos on her blog.

The most carefully done meal of the day was breakfast… I used up the very last of my leftover seeded baguette to make french toast with five spice powder. I think I’m out of ordinary cinnamon…

When I was younger my father used to mix up the egg and milk and cinnamon in the same bowl and soak supermarket mushy sliced bread in the batter. I grew up loving that stuff, but now I pretty much make french toast exclusively to use up dry bread. Accordingly, I first place thick slices of dry bread into a bowl with milk to soak briefly, then I flip, coat with beaten egg, and start “toasting” in a buttered pan. I add some cinnamon or, well, aged pantry five spice powder.

Around 4pm I ate veggie pho at the Thanh Bros. neighboring Chocolati. By that time I definitely needed something. I never got around to eating anything more dinner-like.

I launched an updated home page for YuzuMura.com today… this has kept me up late a few nights, even though it wasn’t always the home page itself I was working on. I’m always skittish about sending out marketing-ish email, but I haven’t sent a thing in two months and so much was changed that it would probably be irresponsible not to say anything.

Transforming ingredients, again

August 8, 2005, 11:34 PM

I’m afraid, after a late night updating my online store, my body was not in great form today… I got through most of the daytime hours, but I couldn’t even convince myself to go jogging this evening. Fortunately, I instead eventually worked up the energy for a brief walk around Greenlake.

By the time I was making dinner tonight, I was too sleepy to take a photograph, and yesterday I was perhaps too distracted, but my feta/cucumber/tomato sandwich type lunch was revisited in the form of a salad… some romaine, a lemon-mustard-vinaigrette, parmesan, feta, olives, cucumbers, tomato. I buttered some thin slices of yesterday’s seeded baguette, and grilled them on my nifty All-Clad grill pan, and wiped a bit of garlic on them. Maybe not quite in that order. I was not in perfect form.

These ingredients were combined into a tasty but unimpressively-presented salad. I definitely think grilled bread belongs on more salads, though.

If I was willing to wait frustrated for a long time, I might have used my shichirin, but I am incredibly bad at getting my Japanese charcoal to burn. Sumibi-grilled bread… mmm…

Lazy Sundays, I remember them

August 7, 2005, 11:59 PM

Most weekends I find myself in supermarkets doing demos of the candy and matcha latte stuff, but I never scheduled anything for this Sunday, so I took most of the day at leisure. I did show up to my office after whiling away most of the morning, nibbling on five-spice seasoned fritters for breakfast and drinking an iced latte.

After checking on some email and some other trivial tasks, I made my way back home, fixed myself a feta, olive, cucumber and tomato sandwich on some Essential seeded baguette.

I spent about an hour and a half catching up on photos of Akutsu Masato work… I’ve been neglecting this for way too long. I sold some of Akutsu’s work at wholesale, and the majority of my other artists I’ve sold out with a combination of wholesale and internet sales. But I bought a relatively huge amount of inventory from him at his show last year, and due to various struggles with working out an internet store solution and so on, I kept putting off taking proper photos. It made it rather challenging to sell, since nobody could see much of it.

Later I met up with friends around Westlake center, watched people swing dancing/Lindy hopping, and ate an inexpensive snack of salad rolls and fried bananas in coconut between the three of us at Green Papaya.

Akutsu Pasta PlateAkutsu SakazukiAkutsu Coffee MugAkutsu Kataguchi

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