Home Made Farm Fresh Strawberry Jam and Happy Father's Day

One Sunday morning, for some reason I had an impromptu idea to go and pick strawberries.  I'm not sure whey I thought about it since we haven't done it for a few years and I wasn't thinking about strawberries at all.  But hey it was a great idea and I ended up producing a lot of fun photos at the end. Oh and the amazing jam.  Strawberry jam is my favorite jam of all the jams.

We do a fair amount of harvesting activities thanks to the amazing environment around Pacific Northwest.  But we haven't been to pick strawberries for a few years.  The weather here around Puget Sound area is indecisive to say the least.  One moment sunny sunshine, then shower, then stormy wind and sunshine again repeatedly all in one day.  Anyway it was cold and windy when we went to the strawberry farm, but that meant less people and more berries for us.  We went to a new location that we have never been and smaller farm called Bailey Farm in Snohomish, WA.  

The cold weather at the small farm made our picking experience very cozy. almost intimate and authentic farm experience.  The kids are getting older but still had so much fun munching on strawberries and running around the farm.  We actually paid attention to the strawberries by looking at the shapes, smelling them, eating them and my daughter even found one shaped like ❤️!  Couldn't be sweeter.

As the kids get older, we realize that life is becoming more about tackling tasks and getting things done, rather than taking time off to go out and do something impromptu.  The kids are more into playing with friends than us.  My son almost complained about the picking, calling it "the work".  let them complain.  I still call the decision EVERY TIME in the end because I know better and I knew he'd have fun.

Strawberries we picked were very small and very fragrant.  But slightly over ripped because they were sweeter.  So I decided to make them into jam to preserve.  The berries already had an intense red colors because they were ripe and must be the specie.  It became almost like velvet color after being cooked into jam.  The flavor of the jam is amazing.  Smell in the house was insane.  I really wish I could transfer the smell. 

I know we have enough jam for the rest of the year, but I'm tempted to go back again and make more jam.  If you have a busy lifestyle and under some stress and need a chill time (and you live close enough to a strawberry patch), I recommend to go and pick your own strawberries and make some jam.  It's the easiest thing you can do to calm yourself and treat yourself.

We all could use some chill time and good home made jars of jam.  

Happy Father's Day weekend to you all.  


Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Here's a quick post with this gluten free banana bread.   I have lots of bananas laying around in my kitchen, hence they end up being turned into delicious bread like this.  It's great for a quick snack or breakfast and it is darn healthy.  This one is in fact the redemption of my recent tendency.

I admit as the kids get older, I'm not as strict when it comes to junk food aka. treats as before.  I find myself more and more allowing them to have junk foods that I didn't allow before... like certain chips and sodas like slashes and cheetos.  Now they are older, they ask for those unhealthy but super fun food and I want to give that pleasure to them it even if I'm not so sure about it.  

So here I am making this super duper healthy treat to calm myself down about the dilemma.  I made this banana bread with loads of nutritious stuff like chia seeds, sweet potato flour, coconut flour, and coconut oil.  It's very moist and fluffy at the same time.  Thankfully the kids loved it especially with chocolate chips and it was gone in a second.  Can't go wrong with the combination of chocolate and banana.  I will probably give them junky treats here and there like I do with myself, but not too often! 


Puff Creme aka Choux à la Crème

Cream puffs were one of my favorite desserts growing up in Japan.  French pastries are very common and pretty good in Japan and they are called Choux Creme (shoe-cree-mu). 

I don't often make this because the amount of eggs I have to use sometimes put me off a little bit, but once in a while it's a great teat to make.  I made it finally because my kids kept requesting it. 

Choux/puffs look like a complicated thing to make because dough have to puff up with space in the middle, but it's really easy if you follow the steps correctly.  You just melt a stick of butter in a pan, combine it with flour and stir until it doesn't stick on the pan anymore with low heat.  Then blend the dough mixture with eggs in the food processor.  That's it!  

Cream puffs I find here in the States are often filled with whipped cream, but I like mine with custard cream.  Custard is also very easy to make, just have to be cautious while staring over the heat to make it smooth.


Ricotta Orange Almond Coffee Cake (Gluten Free)

I am happy to say that the holidays are over now and time to move on.  It's been a while since I am alone at home with silence.  I love my family of course, but I neglect to pay attention to my alone time during their school breaks and forget how important it is to take my own time.  

Today I sit and write alone in my office about this cake I made when I was alone at home the very last time, which was about 3 weeks ago.  This is a very easy cake to make and took only for about an hour to make.   I occasionally buy ricotta cheese and it's mostly for baking.  I love its moist texture and slight cheesy flavor in my pancakes or any citrusy cakes.  I often use almond meal and coconut oil together when I bake.  My kids are not big on cakes, but they did love this coffee cake and couldn't get enough of it!  

I haven't eaten anything today and it's almost noon.  I have now very hungry and wish that I could eat a slice right now.  I'll finish up writing a recipe now and get a plate of something quick to eat and probably will make something delicious for the next post.  Hunger truly is the inspiration for making something yummy.  


Japanese Style Cheese Cake

This cheese cake is my favorite of all time.  French or German style cakes I grew up eating are very popular in Japan.  My dad would bring a box full of assorted cakes after he came home from his trips or we would buy them for any special occasions.  This is the one that I always picked.

It's like soufflée but still has that dense moist feeling of the cheese cake.  I love this one maybe because I'm not a big fun of sweets and especially heavy sweets.  

It's a bit of work to be honest, so I don't make it very often.  But that's also what makes this cake extra special.  My son loves it almost like I do.  

As you can see, I did burn the top a bit, so be careful!  I'll have a piece of aluminum foil ready in case next time.

If you are like me, not a huge fan of heavy cakes, this one will be your favorite too.  If you ever had this kind of cheese cake, give it a try.  It's worth it.


Panna Cotta with Granola and Summer Berries

It's a crazy world.  I start my day like many of you out there by reading the news.  It's too much.  But it's important to be informed about what's going on.  Feeling troubled...  But now I'm turning on the music and writing this post instead! It's a long day ahead.

The summer has left us here in Seattle and it's full on Fall.  It even felt like Fall even left us straight into Winter land yesterday.  I like fall.  It was my favorite season before I had my kids.  Now the summer is my favorite because Vitamin D is important.  I'm not even joking.  If you don't know or care much about Vitamin D, you should look it up. Anyway I DO miss summer VERY MUCH because from now on, we'll be having lots of gray skies and rains and people start acting more depressed and annoyed everywhere around the city.  But we make it through every year somehow.  

I made this Yogurt Mousse in the middle of the summer before I left to Japan.  I want to post here more often but the life gets in the way or I just need to be more disciplined.  

This summer was a good year for currants.  I bought these beauties - red/white/black currants and goose berries - at my usual grocery store.  These berries are mesmerizing and tasty.  I love eating them fresh with something else like yogurt or ice cream.  

I was just going to eat them for my breakfast one day, but I was inspired by the sun and beautiful berries that I made this for dessert for the kids.  Granola looks a bit too simple now that I'm starting at the photos, but it was really tasty. 

Creating something pretty like this is truly my way of relaxation.  Food photography has always been a great way to relax and get high from being creative for me even when I was a small kid.  Forget about troubling things for a moment and look at the bright and beautiful side of the world that we can all create.   


Crunchy Fennel Heirloom Tomato Nectarine Salad with Prawn

It's finally starting to feel like we are actually having the summer now.  My garden isn't producing much yet since the late start of the summer, but I'm coming up with more fun ideas for salad recipes.

I made this one last weekend to bring it to the July 4th BBQ party.  I love BBQ, but it can get heavy at times and it's good to have something fresh and light on the side.  

I love the combination of fennel, unripened heirloom tomatoes, nectarine, grapes with lots of herbs like mint, Italian parsley, fennel leaves.  You can pretty much put anything that aren't too mushy or sweet so that it's crunchy and that's the key to this salad.  

For this salad, I made a simple dressing with lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, dijon mustard with a bit of honey, salt and pepper.  

A perfect summer salad.  

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