Showing posts with label mixed plate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mixed plate. Show all posts

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mixed Plate: One Crazy (lazy) Summer

...And we'll have fun, fun, fun till the winter takes the sunshine awaaaaaaay... That's what the anthem should be for summers in the Pacific Northwest. For all the rainy, gray days we have, when summer's in full gear, it's perfection and everyone takes advantage of it. This week's post isn't about a particular dish or restaurant, it's just about savoring the flavor of summer. 

Daaaaaamn, Pacific NW, you so fine! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mixed Plate: Farewell to My Fuzzy Taste-Tester

We said farewell to our darling Indy on August 19, 2014. It was in the early evening, we had her vet come over to our house, and she was in our arms, in her own bed, when she passed on. It was nearly a year of fighting a hard battle with cancer, one we always knew she wouldn't win, but we weren't fighting for a cure, we were fighting for good days, good food, and good times. We are blessed to have had all those things and more.


Indy has been with me from the start of this blog. She has been my partner in crime when I'm making something in the kitchen, and during these last few months, she's been enjoying whatever food she wants. I'm taking a couple of weeks away from blogging, just to readjust to the New Normal of life without my fuzzy taste tester.

I'll never be able to eulogize her perfectly, but I always return to my favorite passages from Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. The words always come to me when a loved one has passed on, and these words linger in my mind now. They're especially meaningful because on the bad days, when Indy wasn't feeling well, I'd be sitting with her on the bed so she wasn't alone. Like people, she didn't like uncomfortable silences either, she liked hearing someone's voice, which helped get her to sleep soundly, feeling safe someone was there. But I worried that all I would do was talk about how sad or scared I was, so I would read to her. I chose books with beautiful words and rich passages --  Brothers Karamazov by Doystoyevsky, and of course Ondaatje, who is glorious with prose.

This passage is the title character, Almasy (nope, not, in fact, English), contemplating the loss of friends and lovers. He thinks of his dear friend Madox, who commits suicide in a church from despair at seeing nations ravaged by the Second World War. The line, "It is important to die in holy places," is so simple but elegant. This is juxtaposed over the dying moments of his lover, Katherine, as he holds her body, as her life fades away after a plane crash.

And all the names of the tribes, the nomads of faith who walked in the monotone of the desert and saw brightness and faith and colour. The way a stone or found metal box or bone can become loved and turn eternal in prayer. Such glory of this country she enters now and becomes part of. We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps. 

I carried Katherine Clifton into the desert, where there is the communal book of moonlight. We were among the rumour of wells. In the palace of winds.  

- Chapter IX, The Cave of Swimmers in The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mixed Plate: Vacation!! (I think...)

It's Summer Vacation Time!! At least, that's the plan. Just for a few days, don't panic, I'll be back to the bloggosphere in no time. I'm supposed to meet up with family and friends for a few days in the Hotzone that is Nevada, but there's also a fair chance I'll cancel my trip to be with Indy, if her health is wavering. Ah, the joys of a terminally ill dog. Anyways, with the Vacation Gods in my favor, I hope to be somewhere else very soon, seeing people I haven't seen in a long while.

Let's Go-Go on Vacation! (photo from Go Go's album, if you're a child of the 80s)
In celebration of vacations as a whole, I of course think of the great anthem for taking some time off by Belinda Carlisle and her Grrl army of Go-Gos. If you feel like chair-dancing to this 1980s classic, here's a video from YouTube -- pardon the long pause before it starts, it's in place so the copyright police doesn't take it down (unless it's already taken down). If so, boo.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mixed Plate: Keeping It Real (and Craptacular)

There's about as much truth in advertising as there is honesty in blogging. That gorgeous turkey dinner with all the trimmings you posted in time for the holiday season was probably made months in advance, just to make sure the timing was right for the post to go live, and catch the fervor of the celebratory meal hive-mind. And all those perfectly-lit cocktails were likely mixed around 9am, when the natural light was just right, to shine through the martini glass with a translucent glow. You either threw out the drink once the photos were taken, or were buzzed before lunchtime.There's certainly nothing wrong with it -- I've done this, and I know others who do the same; it's just part of the content game to stay on-trend and put food's best foot forward. But what about when something goes awry? What happens when some personal holiday or celebration just goes all kinds of craptacular wrong? Do you share it, or keep the dark secret buried like a body under the floorboards??

Craptacular Day = Receive Pasta - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mixed Plate: Locavore and Loving It

It's become such an easy catchphrase: "Eat Local." It's a food movement with great momentum and there's beneficial reasons to strive towards sourcing ingredients as locally as possible, like supporting small businesses as well as getting the freshest flavors. But how often do we really make this happen? Is it something that can be done without breaking the bank and not feeling like an outtake from the "Is it local?" skit from Portlandia? It's indeed possible, and sometimes it's as easy as just walking down the Main Street of your city. Let's be locavoracious for ingredients close to home!

Beautiful breads from Rustic Pie Company in our very own Duvall - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mixed Plate: Getting In the Season of Ingredients With a New Cookbook

Blame it on the Spring, but the excitement of seasonal cooking is most definitely in the air. Social media feeds are being filled with blooming tulips and gardening photos of early herbs and awakening greens. It was fitting that I received a copy of acclaimed Seattle chef Greg Atkinson's new book, In Season (Sasquatch Books), right as our own garden started to come back to life.

Sous vide Halibut with Rhubarb Ginger Butter Sauce, from Greg Atkinson's In Season - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mixed Plate: My Fruschoppen Brings All the Boys to the Yard...

My fruschoppen brings all the boys to the yaaaaard... And they're like It's better than yours, damn right, it's better than yours... I could teach you, but I'd have to chaaaarge.  I don't think Kelis ever had that variation in mind when she did Milkshake a few million pop culture years ago, but that's what I had my brain singing as I was hauling pounds of sausage and bags of pretzels home with me, so that they could be unleashed on a hungry horde. Bavarian brunch anyone? I guarantee it'll bring all the boys (and girls) to the yard. 

Germany does breakfast Like A Boss - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mixed Plate: The Wrath of Congee

Yo, all my Asian brothahs and sistahs from other mistahs -- are you ready to rumble?? Tiger Moms everywhere are ready to judge meals all over the world, and cast tired looks and furrowed eyebrows across tables at what's going to be served up for CNY! Chinese tradition would dictate you're busy fretting away over a traditional Lunar New Year meal coming up at the end of January, where we say farewell to the Year of the Snake and howdy to the Year of the Horse for 2014. It's a big deal, and it's an important time to gather with loved ones and welcome the new year properly, but I also get that it's stressful like any other holiday fraught with family and drama. I say... to hell with tradition -- invite all your non-judgy friends over, who love you just the way you are, not how many hours of piano practice you shirked as a kid, and serve up the new hotness that I am naming as the Next Big/Annoying Food Trend for 2014: Congee Brunch.

My submission to Food Fads of 2014: Congee Brunch - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mixed Plate: Thankful for Meatballs, for Hope, and Our Indy

(Also published on Honest Cooking, for my column, Sense Memory) I’ve seen friends doing daily postings on social media, listing things they are grateful for during the month of November. And why shouldn’t they? It is, after all, the traditional American holiday to give thanks. Our month of thanks started a little earlier, in the waning days of October, when I learned to be very thankful for, of all things, meatballs. 

Happy Meatballsgiving, all ten pounds of it!  - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mixed Plate: Eggs-actly the Book You've Been Waiting For

There's a Sriracha-themed cookbook, there's likely more than one bacon cookbook, so it was only a matter of time before someone not only did an all-egg cookbook, but one that took advantage of the meme-riff on Portlandia's "Put a Bird on it" skit. I give you, Lara Ferroni's "Put an Egg On It."

Pasta carbonara "nests" inspired by Lara Ferroni's new book - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mixed Plate: An Oh-Fishally All-Seafood Post

You've heard my situation with seafood many times before -- I relinquished my Asian Card at a pretty young age by not growing up in a household that prepared seafood. My dad didn't like any of it and my mother's a combination of being very accommodating and just too tired to deal with much BS, so opts for the path of least resistance. Fair enough. I also was never forced to play one or all of the following instruments: a) piano b) violin c) flute, so that pretty much guarantees my being voted off Asian Island. But I'm working my way back into the Tiger Moms of the World's good graces -- look, I made a whole seafood-themed post, using recipes from the new Ivar's cookbook!

Ivar's somewhat Original Gangstah chowder, recreated at home - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mixed Plate: Summer Lovin', Happened So Fast!

For as much as I complain about the heat of summer, or rather, our inability to adjust to the return of the blazing orb in the sky called, The Sun, it's probably the most active time of the year for us Pacific Northwesternites. I literally couldn't keep up with the summertime points of interest on the blog, so I decided to hit the Montage button, and just say a big, huge THANK YOU, SUMMER! Because it'll probably take all winter for us to recover in time for next year's summer. Despite the waning days of August, we'll likely have a summery September to look forward to. Summertime - Onwards!

Unbelievable Northwest summer sunsets! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mixed Plate: Raising a Glass to the Bowling Ball Named Homer

"Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Commercialized Judeo-Christian Holiday, I got you a bowling ball named Homer." It's a saying we've co-opted from a classic episode of The Simpsons, where for Marge's birthday, Homer buys her a top-of-the-line bowling ball (liquid center... mmmm), anticipating she'll never use it, so he gets his name custom engraved on it. Marge is rightly miffed, keeps the ball and learns to bowl. There's a mysterious Frenchman tutor, an almost-affair, and a great explanation of what a Continental Breakfast is, but the point is, The Bowling Ball Named Homer is the gift you give someone else, that is essentially a gift for yourself, at least for longterm cohabitated couples like us. I gave the Mister a Homer Bowling Ball gift for his birthday earlier this year, a subscription to cocktail-of-the-month club, Julibox, but at least I can say we're equally enjoying this gift!

Clover Club, a delicious Bowling Ball Named Homer gift - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mixed Plate: Viva Las Vacation

If you didn't already see from my Twitter Feed, I am in the exact opposite of the Evergreen State. I'm in the land Scorched by Fire. And Elvis. Yes, I'm currently in the Devil's Playground, aka, Adult Disneyland, aka, Las Vegas, meeting up with family and friends for a totally wholesome reunion. It is, after all, the Ninth Island, and you'll see more Hawaii people in Vegas than you will their home state. But fear not, I return this week, slightly sun-crisped, and ready for more bloggeriffic misadventures. I can already guarantee my Vegas shenanigans aren't as epic as a SyFy Original (Read: Cheesy) movie, starring Malcom in the Middle and Barry "I love this crazy town" Bostwick. Viva -- blog atcha soon, beautiful babies.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mixed Plate: Sharing is Caring, But Keep the Best for Yourself

The most important announcement to make: Wish the Mister a Happy Birthday today! He's @BrockDiesel on Twitter and if you know him personally, you probably already Facebook-bombed his page with salutations. Having our birthdays so close together (mine was last week), we have our shared celebrations and it's probably the one notable food/drink extravaganza that slips by, completely under the blog-radar. Which is by design, because by golly, we're too busy enjoying ourselves. And that got me thinking that it's the way it should be -- the everyday stuff is great to share, but sometimes the most memorable experiences with food are the ones where we're not looking at it through a lens, you're just sitting at the table, being present. What a concept!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mixed Plate: Raising the Bar (or at least up six steps)

Have you ever taken all your glassware out, to reorganize or just take stock of what you had, stashed away in your cupboards? I did that with all our beer, wine and cocktail-related glasses and came to a big conclusion: We Are Such Alcoholics. 

Cheers to reorganization - pour me another while I watch you reorganize - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mixed Plate: Papa's Got a Brand New Blog (sort of)

You've probably noticed the recent tinkering-around on the blog, and then a sudden SHAZAMWOW of a new logo. You might easily think, did this happen overnight?? You would be right. I pretty much cranked this out over a 24 hour period. Giving the blog a total overhaul has always been on my to-do list, which I don't know if that will ever happen because I'm afraid of totally hosing everything and losing my posts, but a less-structural, more cosmetic "freshening up" of Wasabi Prime has always been a reasonable task that I have dutifully placed on the absolute bottom of my List of To-Do's. We watched the last episode of House of Cards on Netflix, so clearly, everything I wanted to do was complete, so it was time to get my booty shakin' on this blog rebrand. Tally-ho!

A Brady Bunch of co-branding on the Prime - design by... ME!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mixed Plate: Breaking Up is Hard to Do (with cake)

The parenthetical (with cake) seemed a requirement in today's title because, really, everyone knows Facebook is the place to post devastatingly personal milestones in small, graphical icon tags. And so it was, a softly-lit, slow-dance crescendo moment of The Way We Were... an intense, short-lived romance destined to be as memorable as it was tearful. Star-crossed lovers in a whirlwind romance... Me and Milk Chocolate Cake...and then it all went wrong. (roll sad music and end credits)

The Cake-Up - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mixed Plate: Goodnight Bahamas

I think I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...



The Prime is outta here like last year, but don't fret. I'll be back soon, and will most assuredly be Tweeing/Facebooking proof that the sun does indeed exist, as I'll be in a land where the sun goes when the Pacific Northwest shuns it for a good part of the year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mixed Plate: How Wasabi Got Her Holiday Groove Back

I know what you're thinking. You're looking at the calendar, the dwindling hours left to do all your holiday baking/shopping/social calls are looming like Marley's Ghost, rattling his chains to remind you that the time draws nigh to get that Christmas Spirit in your heart... OR ELSE. Fine, so I realize that's not everyone, but I know it's a few of you out there. And it's the ones who are the real doers of the family and household, the ones who make sure all their loved ones' needs are taken care of, that no one in their life feels left out. These are the Holiday Heroes who literally break their backs for every holiday/birthday/special occasion; they never forget a special date or anniversary, they're always quick with a card or a special little gift, and they are an endless font of heartfelt generosity. Baby, sit back for a spell, this post's for you.

Give yourself the gift of a day, or at least an afternoon to stop and enjoy the holiday lights - Photo by Wasabi Prime
I think of my mother during the holidays. She went into Christmas Mode early in the year, months in advance, whipping out her sewing machine and picking out patterns for some crafty, adorable handmade holiday gift for close friends and relatives. I remember one year she made a dozen or so wreaths decorated with sewn teddy bears made out of holiday quilting fabric. Another year she made these incredible stockings full of little pockets and places to stuff goodies and sweets -- exactly the kind of stocking made for kids. Every photo had the potential to be made into that year's holiday card, which would be sent out by or before the first week of December, and she'd be the one writing notes in all of them. Wasabi Mom is happily enjoying the life of leisure, in retirement on Da Islands with Wasabi Dad in temperate climate, where the Spam Musubi roam freely. She still sends a few cards out, but no photos, since it's been many years since I've lived at home for the yearly family snapshot. She puts up a few things, but nowhere near as much decor as when I was younger. But that incredible holiday spirit stuck with me all these years, and she's remained a great inspiration to stick with that tradition of making sure cards and handmade gifts never go out of style.

Holiday Hectic Mode starting...NOW - Photo by Wasabi Prime
Fast forward a few years, and many consecutive Christmases of never forgetting to send out a holiday card or making some sort of homemade baked sweets, I find myself in that Hectic Holiday mode that my mother probably felt many years ago. I would never give up the opportunity to let my loved ones know how much I appreciate them, whether it's with cards, cookies or some other weird handmade craft monstrosity I thought was a good idea at the time. And I would never consider myself the aforementioned Holiday Hero, but I understand the desire to make sure no one feels left out during the festive season -- because everyone should be reminded that they are thought of and loved! There are many people out there who truly give it their all during this time of year, with volunteering and giving so much of their time to others. If anything, those are the people who need to be remembered and thanked for their efforts, so maybe bake them a batch of cookies or something, why dontcha?

The baked good whirlwind that capsized our kitchen - Photos by Wasabi Prime
The gesture of giving means something, even if it isn't expensive or some diamond studded big screen TV. Oy, what an ugly thing that would be, no? After many weekends baking, sugar-dusting and card-writing, I finally hit the holiday home stretch of having all the goodies packaged to mail or hand-deliver. I was a multitasking queen, prepping shortbread dough, wrapping little parcels of homemade pretzels, cookies and brownies, while catching up on the last few weeks of TV on our iPad and slowly realized, Holy Crap... what about me?

Holiday baking HQ, powered by ugly cookies and iPad with recorded TV shows - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Sounds terribly selfish, I know -- ME, ME, ME. But after all that running around, I had a moment to catch my breath and say, I think I deserve a little break. And I think that goes for anyone else out there who's in the same spot as me: feeling like it's less holiday and more checking off boxes on a list of to-do's. Holiday Fail. In the pursuit of holiday magic, the spirit disappeared. Spending too much time worrying how many misshapen "Homer" cookies had to be sacrificed to a hungry Mister, and not enough time just enjoying the fact that dammit, this really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Relax, like the hookah-smoking caterpillar! - Photo by Wasabi Prime
And so I did it -- I gave myself the best possible gift one could give onself: Time. Take an afternoon or a morning -- a whole day if you can swing it. I sought out the holiday spirit in downtown Seattle, doing some simple pleasures that I'd done before, but were in danger of being sacrificed due to a busy schedule. Perish the thought! I was prompted by some appointments that went sideways, but stuck with the original plan to head into Seattle for the morning. I wanted to see the annual gingerbread village at the downtown Sheraton Hotel, near the Seattle Convention Center, now in their 20th year. They annually task local sugar artists to make these incredible gingerbread and candied creations. I saw it last year and it was such a blood sugar sight to behold, I couldn't imagine skipping it this year. This year's theme was Disney movies, or as near as I could tell, based on each gingerbread castle's design.

Sea Monkey palace never looked this great - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Right in the lobby of the Sheraton, you can tour the underwater Neptune's kingdom from The Little Mermaid, the sultan's palace from Aladdin, the Red Queen's castle from Alice in Wonderland, The Beast's rose-decorated castle from Beauty and the Beast, and even the land of Narnia. Kind of a fairy tale/Disney mashup, it's an impressive sight to see, and the display is up right now through the holidays. It's free to view, but they are accepting donations to benefit the Northwest chapter of JDRF, which focuses on the fight against diabetes. I admit, there's a part of me that finds a little irony in a charity for diabetes being involved in a sugar-coated gingerbread village display, but hey -- it's the holidays, I have to keep my snark to a minimum, lest I be given nothing but coal this year.

Ooh... ahhh... dazzled yet? - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Let's just take a moment to admire the fact that a lot of people went through some crazy-painstaking work to put these sweet sculptures on display, shall we? Cheshire Cat agrees, kick back and enjoy.

Disney movies and sugar -- what's not to love? - Photos by Wasabi Prime
I had a nougat-filled soft spot for the Beauty and the Beast castle. I'd say of all the more recent classic hand-drawn animated films of Disney, that is by far my favorite. I'm inclined to watch it with a big plate of pasta and a bottle of wine, like so many viewings of 50 Dresses or Pretty in Pink. Another gift of Me Time I look forward to indulging in.

Market shopping done right - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Another gift to myself was taking a walk through Pike Place Market. It's in its holiday finery, with the fresh tree mini-lot at the entrance. You get a lovely whiff of fresh evergreen, then likely another whiff of delivery truck exhaust, as I went during the middle of the day. Well, it is a working market after all. But I always love coming here, rain or shine, as cheesy/touristy as that sounds -- especially during the week, since weekends can get extra busy. It's a gorgeous historic market with some of my favorite shops -- I did a quick run-through of DeLaurenti to pick up some food gifts, admired the fresh mushrooms and loved seeing the winter fruit like pomegranates stacked high. There's always something to admire and marvel at, and a walk through Pike Place Market was a reminder to do so, every day.

Holiday Sanity Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself - Photo by Wasabi Prime
So if you're feeling the pressure of the holiday season, take a moment to breathe. Better yet, take a whole afternoon, if you can. Appreciate someone else's exuberance for the holidays, as that will reinvigorate your own spirit. If you're not certain you've gone mad with harried holiday to-do's, take one look at the four-foot high pile of boxes set for delivery, and the extremely worried look on your dog's face, wondering why silly hoomins gotta be so weird. Thanks for the reality check, Indy.

This is also my holiday post for the week, as I'm taking some time to just relax, so I hope you all have a very Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, survived another wild Hannukah, and looking forward rocking out the family love and fellowship of Kwanzaa. Merry-merry, y'all.