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.

Matcha-Kinako waffles, soba waffles, soba okonomiyaki

I was too much a slacker to photograph either endeavor, but yesterday morning I made some buckwheat waffles, and at night I realized that I still had a bit of batter left. I thinned the batter a bit and added some chopped pickled takana and leeks, a tiny bit more salt, and produced something along the lines of pajeon or okonomiyaki, dressable with Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce. The buckwheat or soba flour added a nice nuttiness.

This morning, however, I was resourceful enough to get my camera ready. I made a matcha-kinako waffle batter (powdered green tea and toasted soybean powder waffle batter) dressed up with a little bit of matcha whipped cream and kuromitsu (black sugar honey syrup). I’m a little bit low on kuromitsu, so I substituted a bit of buckwheat honey when I ran out of kuromitsu, but the effect was similar.

The green tea of course is more visible in the cross section. By the time I got this far, I was too hungry to photograph it.

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Matcha-Kinako Waffles

1 tsp. Matcha for Cooking
1 tbsp. Sugar
2 tbsp. (20g) kinako (toasted soybean flour)
1/2 cup flour
1 level tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. milk

Sift dry ingredients into bowl, whisk egg, melted butter, and milk in separate bowl. Mix wet and dry ingredients briefly with a fork until mostly consistent. Bake in a waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions. In my small waffle iron, this makes a bit more than 2-7” diameter thin waffles. The recipe can readily be doubled or otherwise multipled..

You can substitute about 4 teaspoons “Matcha latte mix” for the sugar and matcha. I used about 1 teaspoon matcha latte mix for 3 tbsp. of cream to make the whipped cream topping. Dust with powdered sugar and straight matcha.

Lamps and Yakimono

I kept promising myself to photograph more ceramics for YuzuMura, but I’ve only been making small dents in the work… there’s just too much to keep up with. But I really need to do it, because there are still a hundred or so pieces in my inventory. So I’m slowly catching up...

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Most of these are Senda’s work, but I got a few Akutsu and Minowa pieces also.

And I succeeded in taking photos of a dozen or so lamps, most of which will be on YuzuMura by tomorrow or so. These are all made in Thailand from sustainable or recycled woods.

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Tonight’s dinner was a simple, potentially very bland soup made of a puree of mirepoix, some cannelini beans, and some broccoli. At the last minute, I added a splash of sesame oil and I snuck a little bit of chili oil from an olive-oil marinated piquin chili batch I made about a month or two ago, and it worked wonders.

Just before FoodEx

So I thought I’d do some… er… research before FoodEx, and I thought it would be very important to know how these two cakes taste.

They came from the patisserie Gerard Mulot in the basement of Shinjuku’s Takashimaya.

Cake 017-150w Chocolate from Gerard Mulot

I can report that both surpassed my expectations. The caramel and apricot tart or flan on the left was pushing the envelope on the caramelization, just to the point where the caramelization could go no further without disaster striking. and was surprisingly light on the sugar. (As the homeless culinary appreciation sensei in Tampopo explained, French cuisine is a constant battle with burns). The other cake featured two layers of chocolate ganache or mousse atop a small layer of chocolate sponge cake, covered with the intense chocolate you can see in the photo. It was seriously chocolate… minimal sweetness, very complex. I just wish I could get this in Seattle.

While I was at it I picked up some yuzu candy and yuzu seeds, and tried some tonyu gelato. Lunch involved some ordinary respectable pizza margherita and kinoko cream soup.

I also chatted with someone else in the department store who works for a rising specialty food company in Yamagata, and she put me in touch with their head office. I may have the chance to meet with them before leaving town. This company makes some really nice products with various fruits; it clearly focuses on a domestic audience, but might have some potential in upscale New York and San Francisco supermarkets or department store shops if the wholesale price is right.

Slave to the web

Tonight I'm getting the last bits of absolutely necessary work done to convert YuzuMura.com to a new online ordering system.

I spent the week taking photos, adding content, twiddling with unfamiliar configuration settings, and modifying my basic site template so that it's at least presentable. I'm not 100% thrilled with the results, mostly because I have some customizations I need to finish in order to make the site design more consistent. I'm also still a couple hours work away from integrating my payment gateway. But my bCentral ordering system was never integrated with my payment gateway, so it's not a dealbreaker.

However, the shopping cart solution, from http://www.AspDotNetStoreFront.com, is leaps and bounds ahead of what I had before. I think it will make cross-merchandising easier and it's a little more rigid than manually editing each page when I have a new product, but still flexible enough to allow me to present the site the way I'd like to.

This weekend I also did candy demos in Beaverton and Bellevue, amid the din of a lion dance at Uwajimaya. This will be a 3-day demo weekend, in fact: for Valentine's day, I'll be sampling at the Seattle Uwajimaya. It'll be my first Monday demo ever, I think.

No more distractions, unfortunately

I spent a couple of days in Vancouver with Hiromi and came back late last night. In Vancouver, I took a look at a couple of Asian markets and along Robson Street to try to get a feel for what might be possible in the Vancouver market, and Hiromi and I visited with a couple of her friends from the time when she was on her working holiday program in Canada.

Today I fillled a couple of orders for Chinese New Year that cleared a whole lot of inventory, but I found out I have some more stock than I previously thought when I itemized my inventory more carefully. I will try to get some of that sold this weekend by doing some in-store promotions, most likely in the Seattle store.

I need to figure out how to get my candy in Los Angeles as well, so I think I'll focus on researching good venues for that. This week I also have to finalize my order for the next batch of candy as well, and I need to do an obscene amount of catchup work on bookkeeping.

Insured and ready

Today I entered the ranks of a real company and signed a commercial insurance policy. I didn't have a choice, really, as it was driven by a customer requirement. The last thing I want right now is additional expenses. But it was something I would have needed to do eventually.

I am exhausted, but I still have a lot of work to do still before my candy-makers arrive tomorrow.

We'll be doing live demos of dragon beard candy at Bellevue Uwajimaya on Friday, noon to 6 pm; on Saturday at Seattle Uwajimaya, noon to 6 pm, and Sunday and Beaverton Uwajimaya, also noon to 6 pm.

My plan for the Bay Area should be ready to go by tomorrow, but I'm still waiting for the customer there to arrange the details. It looks like everything will be good, and there is some promotion being done on their end too.

A new shipment came in yesterday and I have to prepare the routing details somehow by tomorrow, so maybe I'll take a few hours of leave from my guests who are arriving to do some logistics work. Tonight I have to do some housecleaning, too.

Foggy day

Early this morning I drove to Beaverton, Oregon for in-store demos, and it was incredible how thick the fog was along the way. As I approached Olympia, it got progressively thicker. I thought it might be a morning thing, but on the way back home in the evening, the fog was about as dense.

The weather has been pretty cold recently. I set myself up near the front of Uwajimaya and occasionally thought it would be nice to have something even warmer than my yellow Merlino wool sweater. The opening and closing doors brought a lot of cool air whooshing past my little spot.

The last few days I tended to eat leftovers with slight modifications. I still have a little bit of my squash gratin left over, but it gets pretty soft upon reheating. I didn't eat a proper lunch on Saturday, when I was doing a demo in Seattle. I don't know if I wasn't hungry or if I just forgot to eat.

I was happy to find some yuzu-shichimi seasoned potato chips at the Bellevue Uwajimaya on Friday. I might not indulge on a regular basis, but the taste was pretty nice.

I've got the FDA Inspection, not sure when I'll get my candy blues

I've just been informed that the FDA will inspect my candy shipment; I'm not yet sure when they'll schedule the sampling. I have no worries about the shipment passing sampling inspections, since the FDA did this before on a small FedEx shipment I received a couple of months ago. What I'm worried about is when my cargo will be released. Since the FDA is under no obligation to accommodate my schedule, and since the new anti-terror legislation makes the inspectors especially busy, I may be in for a long wait.

As a contingency plan for the festival, I'll still display the tiny number of samples I've got and offer to take orders and offer free or cheap shipping, but then shift most of the booth layout to focus on the ceramics maybe Eugene Levy's tea. It's also possible the second shipment, due to arrive in the morning, will clear earlier, and then I'll just be missing the bigger gift boxes and the sampling tubes.

Cars are trouble

On my way home from an in-store demo of the dragon beard candy, I started my car, and a warning light which I have never seen before was illuminated. I wasn't sure what it meant, but based on the hieroglyphics, I surmised that the problem was a taillight of some sort.

I thought that I should inspect the lights before I drove any meaningful distance, so I stopped my car just before leaving the parking lot and took a look. The lights seemed to be ok, and my turn signals checked out fine, and even the reverse gear lights seemed to be normal. So I decided to worry about the problem when I got home.  Not really sure what to make of the issue, I tried jamming an umbrella against the brake pedal to see if it the problem would appear when the brakes were engaged.

Finally, I gave up, thinking the only option would be to have someone else take a look at the car. I shut down the engine, and got out of the car.

Suddenly, a thought occured to me.

I turned on the engine again. The indicator light did not illuminate this time.

It was merely a bug. The car needed to be rebooted.

Pizza and promotions

Saturday marked my first in-store promotion for the Dragon Beard Candy since returning from Japan. I did pretty well with large gift boxes, which was unexpected. This is the second piece of evidence that I may have under-ordered large gift boxes. The small boxes are selling too, but the big boxes are outpacing small box sales for the first time.

I anticipated that the percentage of big gift box sales would increase in November, so I weighed that when placing my order, but I wasn't quite expecting this.

The sample size is small, so this may just be a fluke. But I expect this will be a good month for sales.

This afternoon, I visited my grandmother's house for a bit of a family gathering; my uncle Jeffrey is visiting briefly from North Carolina. Two of my aunts made appetizers... a baked artichoke dip and some stuffed mushrooms.  and baked a bunch of pizzas using my signature pizza dough. I made one with thin slices of Japanese eggplant, one with yuzu-marinated fennel and a simple olive oil base, and one with shiitake and oyster mushrooms. There was also one with an arugula pesto and some roasted peppers with soft chevre. I don't eat meat, but I made pepperoni pizzas for the carnivorous ones, and I finished with a gorgonzola, pear and caramelized onion pizza.

It was nice to see everyone... I don't see my aunts and uncles very often these days, and I know I'll be incredibly busy until Christmas.

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