Ricotta Pancake Tower and Mother's Day Treat at the Oxbow Farm

I hope all the hard working moms had a smashing Mother's Day!  Mine wasn't quit smashing but it was a nice relaxing day surrounded with all the things and people I enjoy and love.  

I made this decadent ricotta pancakes to kick off the day.  I am not a huge pancake fan unlike the rest of my family members, but once in a while I do crave for this pancake.  This is probably my favorite pancake I've ever eaten.  Ricotta makes the most moist and fluffy pancakes.  I slammed the homemade strawberry jam between the pancake layers and topped it with crème fraîche and cream cheese frosting.  Done.  I made myself feel very special and proud.  My family also treated me with the beautiful bouquet and cozy breakfast to start off the day before we headed out to the Oxbow Farm in the countryside.

Our friends invited us to join them at this charming farm called the Oxbow Farm in Carnation, WA, about 45 minutes drive towards east from Seattle.

When we got to this charming lovely farm, they told us that they are offering a few events and once of them was a forging walk around the farm.  I didn't know anything about their events, but I've been more and more interested in forging plants lately and even rented a book about it from the library.  So I was super excited to hear about a forging walk.  I immediately told it to my husband and he kindly took the kids with him so that I can take up this opportunity.  

The forging walk with a local ethnobotanist Heidi Bohan was a bonus event for me.  She talked about the Pafic Northwest plants that are traditionally harvested for food and medicine by the local tribal people.  Listening to her, it reminded me how my grandma used to harvest plants and told me the flowers I can eat around the fields.  

We had a nice little picnic, even grabbed a few plants to add to the garden and headed to the nearby river for a little walk.  The kids were happy running around like little puppies.  It was a great Mother's Day for me.  Nothing to hustle about and I felt well rested and recharged.  Sending all the good wishes and energy to fellow moms out there and extra ones for the mom with the little kids!


Gluten Free Banana Muffin

This muffin is probably the most delicious muffin I have ever made up and it is gluten-free.  My friend, Betsy imports this amazing sweet potato flour and I have made some great things with it like biscuits and cookies.  By the way, my grandmother was a sweet potato farmer back in Japan, but I had never seen flour made out of sweet potatoes.  So it is such an intriguing flour for me to experiment cooking with.  

In my house, there are always a few overly ripped bananas that no one wants to touch.  So I grabbed a few of those and I also had a few dark chocolates from Betsy.  Sweet potato flour, almond, meal, ripe bananas and dark chocolate...  Muffins!  

My 5 year old daughter has been intensely interested in cooking with me in the real kitchen.  She can't even let me crack an egg or boil water even sometimes.  She has to do it.  Baking muffin is a good one to do with her.  There's no knife involved and it makes me feel like I'm a better mom for it.  But this feeling tends to quickly shift when my patience runs out or in this case, I realized that I had no muffin cups anymore.  (WTF).  No I didn't say it aloud. Maybe whispered.  Well, this problem was quickly solved when my daughter reminded me that I used some parchment paper for cups before.  "Good girl!" I did say this aloud.

But like I said, this muffin came out DELICIOUS.  Dark chocolate was a nice touch.  I only made six of these and they were all gone in seconds - after a few quick snap shots.   

I grew up eating sweet potato and bonito all the time.  This blog could've been named Bella Sweet Potato instead.  Sweet potato is just such a healthy vegetable - high in fiber, vitamin A, iron and calcium, etc.  I probably owe my health to it a big time.  I'm hooked to sweet potato flour now that it makes me so excited to think what else I can make with it...  


Rustic Donut Holes with Black Currant Glaze and Lilacs are Blooming!

Once in a while I feel like making these little donuts.   This type of old fashion donuts are super easy to make and the kids love them.   

I was inspired to make purple glaze because there is a lilac tree right outside my kitchen window and it's in full bloom right now and it smells wonderful all around tree.  The weather in Seattle is still annoyingly gray and moody.  I used to love rain and even walking in the rain, when I lived in a rather tropical place. Nowadays it is just annoying.  It hits my skin and it's COLD. 

 Anyway, back to the donuts...  We have this bottle of cassis (black currant) syrup to make saft (juice).  The color was perfect for making the glaze.  I admit that the donuts are slightly caramelized (or burned!) as you can see in the photos, but I also used whole wheat flour this time.  So if you are worry about getting them burned like I did, maybe use white flour and not much sugar in it and keep your eyes on! 

Enjoy whatever the flowers blooming in your neck of the woods!  Happy Spring! and good bye rain already!!


Green Jade Rice Pudding with Candies Kumquat

This was my breakfast yesterday.  I was at Whole Foods just browsing through the grain section to find something new to cook with.  I saw these beautiful green jade rice from China.  

I bought it because I like green and I like rice.  I had no idea what it was or what to do with them. At home, I learned a little about this rice.  Jade rice is a kind of short grain pearl rice colored with bamboo extract.  Bamboo extract is what makes them look like little green jade pebbles.  

I smelled it and it doesn't smell like bamboo, but it does smell a bit sweet.  So I decided to make a dessert with it.  Rice pudding is my husband's favorite thing, so there it is.  I used coconut oil and coconut milk to make the pudding with this rice.  It just seemed like a better match than cow milk and I had lots of coconut milk sitting in my fridge.  

Since it lost the nice green color while the rice was getting cooked with coconut milk, I added some green matcha powder to get that nice green color back.  It was a nice try but it didn't quit work well the color wise. But it added a nice accent in the pudding.

I also made some candied kumquat.  This brings me back the memory of my grandmother.  She used to make it all the time.  I remember the smell of kumquat marmalade in her kitchen.  The food I post on this blog are very much influenced by her cooking and her way of life with food.  

I do miss her very much and this one is for you, Oba-chan (grandma)!


Mizuyoukan - Azuki Bean Jellow

I have had some heavy news lately with people around me and their healths.  It really reminded me that we are fragile creatures at the end of the day and it 

I started to cook much healthier and started this blog in a way to keep records of what I cook for my family.  I don't want to be paranoid about food and worry every time I eat something - and I'm not - but there are times like now that I'm reminded to be cautious and am responsible for keeping my family healthy, as the main shopper and cook of the family.

So I thought to make this dessert called Mizuyokan when I was feeling down from the heavy news.  It's a jellied dessert made with pureed azuki beans (aka. red beans), sugar and agar agar. This was one of my favorite summer desserts when I was small.  I don't almost ever eat this anymore as I don't see them at the shops here and it's not something that people make at home very often.  But it's so simple to make, as simple as making jelly.  

I knew azuki beans are very nutritious and this site explains why.  Also I think agar agar is a much healthier alternative for gelatin.  Agar agar is made from seaweed called algae, where as gelatin is made from animal skins and bones.  Since I am on a health kick a little more than usual, I made this with raw agave syrup instead of cane sugar.  All organic.

I'm not a big fan of heavy red bean desserts.  This dessert is also made of lots of water like jello and very light.  I think that's why I liked it so much when I was a child.  

Mizuyoukan with a cup of maccha green tea  lifted my heavy heart a little and brought a little peace for sure. 


Bhutan Red Rice Salad with Poached Egg

It's deep into the fall and I'm feeling a bit dark and starting to crave for simpler and healthier food lately.   I often stop by a grocery store after I drop off my daughter at her school in the morning.  A few day ago I was staring at the grains to try the ones I never had to come up with a new and exciting meal.

I found a few good ones and Bhutan red rice I used for this salad is one of them.  I love love love rice.   I liked the dark reddish color and its name.  It is imported from Bhutan and It's like a wheat berry but slightly sticky like rice.  

I don't think of eating rice in salad because I grew up eating rice - mostly only Japanese sticky kind -  like bread and there are a whole bunch of myth, this and that about rice that you hear and experience in Japan.  It's stereotypical thing to think about Asians but it is very true.  But again, I only mean sticky white rice here...

This red rice, however, is very exotic to me. Perfect for nutty fruity salad like this.  I am very happy with the result and inspired to make something else with it.  Some savory cake or soup... maybe...


Home Made Country Bread with Junko Mine

A few weeks ago I attended my first barter event at Seattle Harvest Fair hosted by Seattle Tilth with two of my friends.  My friend Junko invited us to join the event.  She brought her amazing homemade artisan bread.  The quality of her bread is so high that it was easily one of the most popular items at the barter.  This is why I keep pushing her to sell her bread! 

Junko is a mighty women with many talents. I am pretty sure it comes from her curious and detail oriented mind.  She is a patissier, photographer, cook and chemist.  She is so brilliant and dedicated at creating products from bread to bath salt by using the natural resources that surround us.  

Recently she has been using natural plants and trees like cedar, pear, apple, peach, rose, etc… to make her bread by adding a natural infusion from the plants. I have been very curious what she was doing lately so she came by my house to show how she makes her leaven loaf!  I love seeing people do what they do so well.  There is so much to learn from her.  

I am often rushy and a bit hectic in my kitchen, but it was a pleasure watching Junko work with her skills and methods in my kitchen.  She has worked in many renowned kitchens and it shows.  

She showed me how to make the bread dough by using her wild starter and brew pear water.  Then I was left to do the rest on my own as the dough had to sit for a couple of hours. I took the task very seriously and followed all the instructions she left for me meticulously.  Everything went so well until I had to move the raised dough from the bowl to the cast iron pan to bake it.  I messed up this stage, which cause the finished bread to look a little sad.  Nevertheless, it was my first time and the bread tasted excellent!

I served the bread with some ginger carrot soup for lunch for the family.  Everyone was very excited for the bread and satisfied with their lunch : )

There's no recipe for the bread, but here's the book that she recommends for making this kind of bread. This is a good site that discusses making your own wild yeast starter and another site for brewing from plants and fruits.  The recipe for ginger carrot soup is found in this post.
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