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.

A long time since Portland

I haven’t made it down to the Beaverton Uwajimaya for a while, so it was a good thing I finally made it down there.

I got a late start due to a bunch of things that I needed to prepare this morning, and I had so much merchandising and preparatory work to do when I was there that I took more time than usual to get set up, and in fact I wasn’t ready to go until just before a fairly substantial foot traffic rush started to subside.

This could be considered a problem, but in fact I’m never quite sure whether heavy or moderate foot traffic is better for me, because I tend to convert more customers when people come in small, sporadic waves than when I have dozens of people pressing by, grabbing samples and moving on before I have a chance to explain products to them.

This weekend I’m back into full demo mode; I will be at the Bellevue Uwajimaya in the afternoon tomorrow.

My dragon beard candy shipment is very tight right now. Including intended deliveries, I think I have just about 2 small gift boxes left, and maybe about 18–22 larger gift boxes. I still have a moderate amount of a new style of packaging left (a tea and candy gift set), and enough of the 3 pc samplers to meet anticipated needs, but I’m going to have to reorder this week.

I had a bit of a run on the candy this week that I didn’t expect. I am torn because it’s too soon to order again for most of my wholesale customers, but stock is inadequate to cover near-term demand. Hopefully I can make things work somehow.

Soba waffle with sweetened ricotta and peaches

Peaches were looking nice this week, so for breakfast this morning, I diced some peaches and added them to some sweetened ricotta with a few drops of vanilla, surrounded them with sliced peaches, and placed them atop a buckwheat buttermilk waffle.

Soba waffle with peach ricotta

It’s a very simple set of flavors… refreshing, and a bit nutty from the buckwheat. The peaches were sweet and fairly flavorful, though I’ve had some far more incredible peaches in previous summers.

A little fever... feverish?

I have been a bit under the weather for a few days, and my energy level has been all over the place, but mostly low, punctuated by occasional nervous tension or something like giddiness. My body gave me hints of battle with some minor cold… occasional sneezing, a moderate fever, occasional chills.

I don’t really get to stop working, but I’ve just been moving really sluggishly since Saturday. I got things shipped, took care of a number of incoming orders from wholesale customers, worked to prepare for a new shipment from Hong Kong, and so on, but I’ve just felt a kind of weariness that’s been hard to beat.

Even dinner has suffered. I’ve been keeping it brain-dead… I had a bagel for dinner yesterday, and I’m completely unable to remember what I ate on Monday.

Tonight I got home a bit late and kicked off a couple of baked potatoes. I tried to do a bit more, so I blanched some broccoli, but I was attempting a bernaise-style sauce and fought with it all the way. I nearly tamed it, but I cheated by adding some milk and mustard, since it didn’t want to emulsify with just the egg yolks. It resembled bearnaise only because of the presence of tarragon and egg yolks. The flavor and texture worked, but it wasn’t quite bernaise.

Under-rested

I slept around 2 am last night, which is in fact earlier than I have been sleeping recently, but not healthy. I don’t know why, but I’ve just been unable to get to sleep at night for a while. I’ve often had issues with insomnia, throughout my life, but it’s been worse the last 6 months. Personal and business stresses conspire to keep me awake.

Unfortunately, eventually, this sleeplessness catches up with me. I headed off to Bellevue Uwajimaya for an in-store demo but I wasn’t feeling very well, and due to some side errands required to do my demo I ended up arriving a bit later than I expected. I went in to say hello to the grocery manager, and he said I wasn’t looking well…

I’m not sick, although a few days ago I had the first hints of a cold. A few sneezes later, my morning congestion disappeared, and I thought I was back in the swing of things. Even if my immune system is still functioning, though, my body appears not to be.

Anyway, I set up a little store display and took his suggestion to skip my demo, though I ignored the part about getting some rest. Having driven to the Eastside, I felt I should at least make good use of my mileage, and stopped at my grandmother’s house for a bit.

Afterward I went to check on another customer, wandered a bit, and found myself talking another shopkeeper’s ear off, and finally made my way back to Seattle, where I coincidentally ran into Eugene of MyGreenTea, who was taking a rest after a hard day constructing a walk-in cooler in his new warehouse facility, where he will store his tea in a carefully climate-controlled environment.

I never did get a “rest,” but I ended up with a rather improvised day, which is almost as good.

More fall foods: Chanterelle mushrooms

Chanterelles seem to be fairly plentiful right now… I got some on Sunday, thinking I got a deal, but the price seems to be even better today.

Mine were apparently locally-grown. Chantrelles always seem to have a fondness for butter, so of course I used some, and shallots, garlic, thyme and cream. I served them with spaghetti.

I don’t really use spaghetti all that often… for some reason, the ubiquity of spaghetti works against it for me, and I just never think of buying it. But a while back I got a strange craving for long pasta, and I bought some and used it a few times when I needed a quick lunch.

Chantrellepasta1

I thought today was going to be relatively light-duty, but it turned out busier than I expected. I took care of a bunch of things that have been suffering, but new tasks came in before I got very far. Tomorrow will be more eventful, because I have another very time-sensitive order and a long list of new internet orders that came in tonight.

Dizzied

My morning didn’t end up as productive as I needed it to be; I was hoping to get some more paper for gift cards for online orders in the morning, do some order packing, and handle a wholesale order that I needed to deliver. One of my errands today required obtaining just-finished matcha-chocolate dipped fortune cookies and trekking them out to the Eastside, with the intent of getting  back in time to finish the internet and phone orders on my plate. This didn’t work out very well, since I had to do other things on this side. I am a bit frustrated, because I’ve been really behind schedule on a lot of things recently.

I got home fairly late, so I kept dinner simple… some grilled corn with Japanese mayonnaise, pico de gallo salt, and lime juice; simple quesadillas with a pepita salsa, and some sliced jicama with a heavy splash of lime juice and a little more pico de gallo salt.

CornandquesadJicama1

Yaki-onigiri no ochazuke and rustic foods

I worked on some simple tasks today and did some customer visits, and finally got some photos I can use for the matsutake gift pack on YuzuMura.com.

My roommate and I had a guest for dinner, and I was in the mood to make some simple Japanese-ish dishes.

Yakionigiri no ochazuke with very good umeboshi

Yakionigiri top view

I prepared miso-brushed grilled rice balls, yaki-onigiri served with pickled Japanese apricots and pickling shiso. I poured a really nice organically-grown sencha from Shizuoka over the onigiri, but it was very light, because it was the first infusion... In retrospect, I realize I should have served the first pour to drink, and the second pour for the ochazuke.

Yakidoufu

Yakidoufu

This is a little bit American preparation of tofu, perhaps; I grilled tofu on my electric grill pan, and served it with a dipping sauce of ginger, shouyu, a few drops of roasted sesame oil, and negi (spring onions). I’ve seen grilled tofu in Japan, but rarely.

Kabocha no nimono

Kabocha no nimono

My absolute favorite fall nimono (poached/simmered dish) is kabocha, Japanese squash. This involves simmering squash, dashijiru, salt, Japanese soy sauce, mirin, and occasionally a bit extra sugar, until soft. The ideal flavor develops the next day, but it also tastes good served after it has cooled a little bit.

Dashi-maki tamago

Dashi-maki tamago

I also made dashi-maki tamago, which in this case has bits of some Japanese pickles between the layers of eggs.

Finally, I made an atypical, but very tasty aemono with broccoli, raw sugar, salt, and mirin. This would be more commonly done with spinach than broccoli, but my nearby supermarket didn’t seem to have anything other than expensive baby spinach. Alas, all of the photos of that were totally out of focus, but it was actually the surprise of the night; it tasted better than I expected.

Yaki onigiri dinner

Dinner is served.

Daigaku-imo

My first experience eating daigaku-imo, literally and yet incomprehensibly translated as “university potatoes,” was not all that impressive. Seductive as they looked, they were dry, cold and unremarkable.

It turned out that my less than impressive experience with daigaku-imo was skewed by the fact that they were resting somewhat neglected in a supermarket. I somehow liked the idea of daigaku-imo, but never really had good ones until a friend of mine made them fresh.

I never quite memorized the proportions in the recipe, so I always improvise this recipe. We didn’t check the sugar temperature the first time, and we didn’t use enough oil for proper deep frying, and they still turned out nicely.

Accordingly, I try to be a bit more scientific about the process now, but I’m not that precise.

On this most recent occasion, I boiled raw sugar, Japanese soy sauce, a bit of mirin, and salt until they reached soft crack stage, caramelizing the sugar a bit. I didn’t measure anything but I used a fair amount of sugar. My preference for daigaku-imo is actually more on the “thick coating” side rather than the “crunchy coating” side, but this soft crack confection is a mostly happy medium; it’s a bit sticky right after serving and becomes a bit chewy and then crunchy as it cools. I’ll probably cook the syrup to a lower temperature next time, but I was happy with the results.

Daigakuimo

Upon serving, daigaku-imo are usually sprinkled with kuro-goma, black sesame seeds. I managed to coat some pieces way too much and some not at all.

I think I need to use a little bit lighter soy sauce, or a lighter hand with the soy sauce, to get a more pleasingly amber-hued caramel coating. But the flavor was quite nice.

I’m trying to figure out how to send a bunch of Oregon matsutake to Japan… One customer has asked for a way to send a bunch of them to many different gift recipients, so I’m trying to find a solution to minimize their shipping costs. I hope I can find a good deal.

Tagged

Unwanted waistline expansion

The last few months I’ve found that my waist has been expanding… I haven’t been jogging as much as I have in the past, and I’m just in a car way too much.

This afternoon, I had a relatively short list of orders to fill and I didn’t need to lug around too many packages. Rather than drive to my office, then to Ballard to drop off packages, I walked the short stretch to my office, took care of things, and after I finished most of what I needed to do at my office, I walked all the way to the Ballard post office, FedEx Kinkos, and the bank. I wandered around a bit, then walked back home.

I got at least an hour of walking in, if not a bit more. I sure needed it. But I need more regular exercise generally speaking… I’ve only jogged a couple of times in the last week.

After the demos, satsumaimo

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.

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