good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

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Santa Rosa Plum and Cherry Cake

Santa Rosa Plum and Cherry Cake

Santa Rosa plums have officially taken over our fridge. This is the first year the trees produced more than 3 pieces of fruit. It was a huge surprise when we saw the countless tiny green beginnings of immature plums. I didn’t want to get my hopes […]

Crystal Cave and Trees of Sequoia

Crystal Cave and Trees of Sequoia

A day after we made it back down the mountain from this  Pear Lake excursion and after a good night’s sleep, we returned to the park for a tour of Crystal Cave. I was really looking forward to this for two reasons: 1. checking out […]

Pear Lake

Pear Lake

We just returned from a rigorous backpacking trip that was my first introduction to extreme outdoors adventure (I am inexperienced in backpacking and much of outdoor activity, so this was extreme for me). While I recover, K will tell you all about it here:

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I’d been wanting to do a backpacking trip for some time now. I asked S if she’d be interested in going to Sequoia to see some big trees, hike to an alpine lake and do some easy fishing. She grudgingly accepted and the planning began.

Pear lake is located at over 9000 feet and surrounded by cliffs. The water is unbelievably clear and fed by snow that melts off of the many peaks surrounding the lake.

The hike to the lake itself is an arduous 6.7 miles. There is over a 2000 foot elevation gain and you feel every inch. Once at the top its a breathtaking site. You’re surrounded by massive granite peaks, fish that breach the water as they go for their next meal and ancient foxtail pines that can live for thousands of years.

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Our plan was to stay for two nights but this was not to be as the weather turned foul mid-day the following day. As we were rushing to pack up our gear it started haling. There was no way we’d make through the day, much less the night. The decision had been made and it was a mad dash in the rain to get 6.7 miles down from the back country to the trail-head.

The more time that passes between me the trip, the more I think it was worth every second. It was such a great experience to be in a place most people would never visit or see with their own eyes. My good friend Frank said something about his visit to Macchu Picchu a while back which was, “I’ve never seen a photograph which does it justice.” I agree and can say the same thing about Pear Lake.

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Cocoa Nib Macarons with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

Cocoa Nib Macarons with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

It’s been a while since I’ve had macarons and I am especially missing the fabulous Pierre Herme kind from this trip. I haven’t found anything remotely close in my part of town so I decided to make my own. At least this way I could […]

Shrimp and Chive Gyoza

Shrimp and Chive Gyoza

Anytime we go out to eat at a Japanese restaurant, I always order gyoza which are dumplings filled with a combination of meat and vegetables and then steamed and fried. Alternatively, they are also made with edamame or a vegetarian filling. In my family, we […]

Clams in Miso Ginger Broth

Clams in Miso Ginger Broth

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This past weekend we stopped by our local seafood shop and picked up quite a variety consisting of whole fish, shrimp, shellfish, and fish ribs. It was quite a haul. This time, I thought we would try something new and since I really don’t cook clams it was the perfect thing to begin with. We wanted something light in texture with a delicate flavor. I was thinking of an aromatic broth and narrowed it down to miso and ginger- miso for subtle depth of flavor and ginger to brighten it up. Since clams are naturally salty, it is best not to add additional salt to the recipe and it is also why I kept the miso on the watery side. You just want a hint of miso. The broth will be briny and a touch salty on its own once the flavors meld. This dish comes together very quickly and makes for an easy lunch or light starter.

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Clams in Miso Ginger Broth

Yield: 2 appetizer portions or 1 serving as a main

1 dozen fresh clams, rinsed well

1 ½ cup water

1 ½ teaspoon red miso paste

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 small knob of fresh ginger, peeled and quartered

1 tablespoon sake

2 tablespoons dried wakame (seaweed)

1 tablespoon butter

1 scallion, sliced thin

In a medium sized skillet, bring the water to a boil and add miso paste. Stir with a wooden spoon until miso is dissolved. Add the garlic and ginger and cover, reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let garlic and ginger steep an additional 5 minutes. Remove garlic and ginger, discard. Add the sake and wakame and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook, shaking the skillet occasionally until clams open up. Add the butter as soon as the first clam opens, and continue shaking the skillet to melt and distribute the butter. Remove clams as they open and place into a serving bowl. Pour cooking liquid over clams and garnish with scallions. Enjoy immediately.

Chicken and Herb Dumplings

Chicken and Herb Dumplings

Chichen and dumplings… just like mom used to never make. What can I say, I love this dish for all of its comforting qualities- soft, shredded chicken, vegetables, and light puffy dumplings bobbing in a tasty soup. For someone who did not grow up eating […]

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

This past week I had an itch I could not scratch, a craving that could not be satisfied. No amount of cookies or sweet cereal was even coming close. Every once in a while I get mean cravings for a classic chocolate layer cake. No […]

Hawaiian Style Poke

Hawaiian Style Poke

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Poke has always been around at family gatherings and everyday meals. It is so common in Hawaii that you can buy it by the pound at the market in the deli section. There are a multitude of varieties of poke that include octopus and shellfish. If you’re new to poke, in its most basic form, it is a raw fish appetizer, cubed into bite size pieces and marinaded in shoyu, sesame oil, and accompanied with fresh seaweed.

My favorite way to enjoy poke is in a simple preparation using ingredients above and adding a dash of yuzu zest to brighten it up. The fish should be the star of this dish and I prefer not to muddy the flavors with too many aditional ingredients. Although poke is usually enjoyed as is, sometimes I will spoon it over rice if I want to make it into a light meal. Either way is delicious. Make sure you get the best fish you can get your hands on which is preferably sushi grade and fresh caught.

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Poke

Yield: 4 as an appetizer

½ pound Bluefin tuna, sliced into ½” cubes

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 ¼ teaspoons light shoyu

½ teaspoon yuzu zest

Small handful fresh seaweed

½ teaspoon white sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently mix together. Serve poke chilled and enjoy immediately.

Lemon Basil Cakes with Rhubarb Compote

Lemon Basil Cakes with Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that I’ve never come around to trying, until now. Previously, I knew about rhubarb pies, rhubarb and strawberry compotes for topping ice cream, and rhubarb jam. While these all sound fine, they never piqued my interest because: 1) I’m […]

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