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.  


Vongole and Clam Digging at Lopez Island

We go clam digging a few times a year, usually when we go camping.  Camping is truly one of the great things about living in Pacific Northwest.  There are many great sites to choose from and only a couple of hours of driving can get us to pretty amazing places.  

Lopez Island in San Juan Islands is definitely one of our favorite places to camp.  We were there only for one night stay last weekend, but we maximized our time for clam digging and chilling at the beach.  

I'm nostalgic about doing things I enjoyed doing as a kid with my kids.  I grew up in a countryside and I make sure that my kids get enough nature time.  I used to go clamming during the summers as a child back in Japan where I grew up.  It's a great activity with the kids and we get to eat fresh clam! 

I found myself lost in digging and the kids doing something else after about an hour of digging - as usual.  We got about 50 medium-size varnish clams, enough for making a variety of dishes.  

I usually eat clams or any selfish steamed or in miso soup.  I made Vongole this time.  If you are not familiar with Vongole, it is a pasta dish usually made with small clams, garlic, white wine and spaghetti.  Delicious and always look rustic and I just love it. 

Feel free to comment and let me know if you have any recommendation for a dish to make with clams ; )

*Cleaning clam is a bit of work but easy.  It is important to do before consuming for sure. 


Power Snack: Date Chestnut Bar

I was organizing the pantry the other day and found a few Spanish products that I photographed for this company last year including chestnut, Marcona almond and chocolate from Spain.  All the great stuff that I didn't know what to do with yet.  

I've never bought dates before to ne honest.  Date is an unfamiliar food for me.  But for some reason, I happened to buy a pack out of curiosity the other day.   

So... I had dates, chestnuts and almonds that I wasn't sure what to do and then bum! 


I buy those fruity bars and granola bars for kids' snacks.  Not to name any brand, but I often think most of the kids' bars sold are still way too sweet.  Making bars like these are often very easy.  I just have to remind myself to do it more often.  And you can mix and match any ingredient.  Great for cleaning out the clattered pantry.

You just basically have to chop everything up and mix them all together.  Just take out the chocolate if you want to make it vegan or use vegan chocolate.  

I also used egg white but I don't think I needed to do that because dates are so sticky that they stick well together.  I baked it a bit because I had some egg white in it and wanted to have toasty flavor. 

This is one of those things great for the kids to make as well. I'll let my kids make the next batch for sure.  My kids enjoy cooking but lately they are too busy with school and after school activities to get in the kitchen with me.  I'm so looking forward to cooking more together and teach them new things to make during the summer break.  


Pear and Beet Tatin Salad and Happy Valentine's Day

Here is a quick post. Happy Valentine's Day and wish everyone is even more focused on love today than irritating politics.  Speaking for myself here.  

I'm sure there are many posts with more romantic themed food.  I've made two dozens of lemon cupcakes that I was tempted to post.  But I decided to go for something different here.  And I wanted to continue posting things I ate during detoxing and this dish was one of the favorites.  If you need a quick fun dish today for a special meal, this could be a great one for you.

This salad is always well received for any type of gatherings or dinners because it's simple, beautiful and tasty.  Straight forward and anyone can make it.  I roasted beets and pickled them with lemon juice, agave syrup and apple cider vinegar which is great for detoxing.  Beets were pickled in the fridge over night and sliced thinly about 1/4" thick.  I used Asian pears and sliced them thinly.  

To finish just drizzle lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper.  Garnish it with baby greens and pomegranate seeds.  

Enjoy clean food and Have a Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


Carrot Tomato Ginger Soup: Cleanse Week 1

The holidays are over.  The good times seem to be over.  The world around us seems to have turned upside down to say in the mildest way possible.  It's been rough emotionally.  The kids and I made a sign the night before and we went to the Womxn's March in Seattle.  It was comforting and inspiring to be around all those people.  I did struggle a little to explain to the kids about some of the signs or the hats looked like abalone shellfish when they asked what they are supposed to mean.  It was all educational and empowering.  There were literally all kinds of human beings at the march in terms of race, gender, age, etc...  It felt like the celebration of United Humans! 

 I'd like to stay positive. Stay positive, calm, hopeful.  Most of all, stay healthy to be on the top of things.  It is our annual routine now that we go on a week cleanse after the holidays because we simply eat too decadently between Thanksgiving and the New Years.  I consumed all kinds of goodies like cakes, meat, wine, cookies, mochi - everything I crave all the time and by the end of the New Years,  

 When we cleanse, my cooking improves quit a bit because I am more conscious and curious about what to eat.  I don't just cook to feed the family.  I loved that I came up with creative healthy stuff all the time.  I will post some of them here the ones I think I should share with the rest of the world.  

This carrot tomato ginger soup was one of my family favorites. It's healthy and also filling.  Not a very original soup, but my family loved it.  Soup is also great for kids's lunch at school.  A big time and quilt saver when I pack their lunch in the morning. I added different things for topping or on the side like greens, avocado and nuts so that we didn't get bored with eating it throughout the cleanse week.  

The secret ingredient here is miso.  I made a batch of miso last year.  I haven't posted it here yet but it's easy and way better and much less expensive than buying it at stores.  I'll post other recipes with my miso soon.  I also topped the soup with finely grated ginger.  I usually only put it in soup when it's cooking, but this way you get more kick too.  I also topped it with the generous amount of cracked black pepper.  I read here that black pepper is also good for digestion.  Never knew it before.  This recipe is highly recommended because it's super easy to make and concentrated with all kinds of positive stuff to keep you healthy and going!!! 


Happy 2017 and Wagashi Delight

Hope you all had a great holiday and the start of the new year 2017.  We celebrated the new year's day over these delightful little treats called wagashi, which was very special.  Wagashi is translated as Japanese confectionary.  It is the traditional sweets and usually served with mattcha tea at Japanese tea ceremonies.  It is not a typical new year's food to eat, but I happened to find some when we visited Tsubaki Shrine, a Japanese Shintou Shrine in Granite Falls, Washington, about an hour drive north from Seattle.  These wagashi sweets are from Tokara located in Phinney neighborhood in Seattle.   This truly makes me feel like we have everything here. 

They are so delicate and light.  It's mostly made of azuki beans, white beans and sugar.  These confectionaries are dairy free or vegan as many of traditional Japanese foods tend to be.  Wagashi isn't usually something people make at home in Japan, just like nigiri sushi.  People in Japan buy them from the specialists.  I can see the deep thoughts, care and passion put into these wagashi and we all appreciated every bite of it.  I made some tea grown near my hometown that my mom sent us.  We had our little tea party and it was so perfect and so peaceful.  

Speaking of tea ceremony, I've never gotten into it before.  But it is a nice thought to have a Japanese style tea party rather than ceremony at home once in a while and meditate.   We all need to calm the heck down over a nice cup of tea with a mesmerizing piece of confectionary I say.

 The New Year's Days are probably the biggest holiday in Japan.  There are rituals and traditions that most people still follow which might not be the cases anymore for many other traditional holidays.  It's a big deal.  People go to shrines around midnight and eat traditional new year's food called Osechi.  If you are planning on visiting Japan,  I recommend around the New Year's.  It is something very interesting to experience if you are more interested in tradition side of Japanese culture.

Here are some the photos from the snowy dreamy first day of 2017. Wishing you all the rocking happy new year no matter what obstacles might come on our way!!

We are lucky to live relatively close to the actual Shrine and share my culture my kids.  We don't go there every year, but this year I felt like it's a good thing to do.  

Wishing you all a smashing new year and hope for the best no matter how shitty things might seem at times! 


Mother and Daughter Trip in New York!

I took my daughter, Cassis with me to New York for a week after Halloween.  This was our first girls' only trip and it was priceless.  I had a impromptu notion to go to New York.  I was going to go alone at first but then the thought of walking around the city, watch a broadway show and stopping at coffee shops with her seemed irresistible.  

We usually travel as a whole family, but now the kids are a bit older and it feels like they are growing up even faster.  It is a good thing to spend some time alone with each kid, which I don't do very often.  We talk to one another without interruption or destruction - usually fighting with her brother or wining - during the trip and it was nice!  We just walked around the city, stopped at playgrounds, bakeries, monuments and did pretty much whatever we wanted for 6 days.  Total freedom from everything.  New York is a good place to just jump in without planning ahead too much.  It's so easy to come across so many interesting places, people, restaurants, streets, arts, everything.  I definitely loved not have to worry about my car and just hop on the trains like I used to do when I lived in Osaka, Japan.  I am a city person.  I feel more comfortable surrounded by noise, lights and strangers walking around everywhere than quiet suburban streets.  

But I was a  bit nervous about taking subways with her since I knew I might be distracted by street photo opportunities.  But I guess I was paranoid enough to keep her tightly close to me all the time.  Also what surprised me the most was how friendly and kinds everyone was.  I don't remember that when I was in town the last time.  Maybe because I was with my daughter?  Everywhere we went, we chatted with locals and some people went out of their ways to be kind to us.  People almost always tried to give us seats in trains.  This actually was one of the highlights of our trip.  

I most likely avoid towers, monuments and touristic places that you have to pay a lot of money and stand in long lines.  It's not for me.  But this trip was exceptional because of Cassis.  This was her first time in New York and I wanted to take her to historical places.  She often wanted to go inside or near the buildings.  We took Staten Island Ferry, which took us to a roundtrip ride around the Statue of Liberty.  Though it doesn't stop at the Statue, you can still see it close enough and it's a nice short free ride. I told her that the building on the other island is where her grandpa, her dad's dad, arrived from Norway 50 years ago to live in America. She was really disappointed that we didn't stop at the Statue.  Shortly after we were passing by Empire State Buidling.  I was telling her, "Do you remember the movie ELF?  You love that movie!  Remember the Elf's mean dad?  He works inside this building in the movie!  Ok, let's move on now."  She didn't want to move on.  She wanted to go inside. Then I ended up feeling guilty for all the things I told her she can't do.  We went in, stood in line and saw the whole city in the big wind.  It was worth it!  For her!

I needed this quiet but inspirational trip to catch up and breath a little bit.  The family vacation is of course fun and important but I usually end up worrying about taking care of the family and the kids do start fighting which is not relaxing at times.  It was one of my best vacations ever and I'm thankful that I got a little time off from my daily routine.  Now I'm back refreshed than ever and already daydreaming my next trip...  Actually I would go right back to NY and head to Brooklyn since I didn't get to explore there much this time.  

I'll list the sites I used to plan this trip if anyone is thinking about having a similar trip.  I spent most of the planning on flight and accommodation.  I did notice that the prices change and rates go higher as I spent more time to look around and visit the sites too often.  If this happens to you, you can erase the browser history (Safari) by clicking the tab Develop < Empty Cache in Safari (clicking clear history won't really erase the history from the browser).

Flight: Delta Website.  It is waaay better than other airlines for the prices.  I love how they stepped up to improve services, and the fares are reasonable.

Accommodation:  Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb  (we stayed at an Airbnb House, HGU Hotel, Hotel INNSIDE).

Places we visited: Empire State Building (forced to go in by my daughter, otherwise...),  Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park,  Carousal in Central Park (also playground),  New York Library (chess!),   Broadway (Matilda highly recommended with kids),  High Line,  Staten Island Ferry,  Brooklyn Bridge (night time recommended),  DUMBO,  Washington Square,  Madison Square (playground),  Grinich Village. 

Places we stopped for food, drinks and souvenirs: Birch Coffee,  Buchon Bakery,  Chelsea Market (souvenir),  Eataly (Italian and souvenir),  Shake Shack (burger),  Her Name is Hen (Korean),  Maison Kayser (pastries),  Ippudo (ramen),  A Little Taste (coffee),  $.99 Pizza (must).

You can also see some photos on my Instagram feeds. 

Empire Tower

Love the $.99 cent greasy pizza.  This one was next to the Broadway theater Matilda. 

Cookie and Cream Macaron from Bouchon Bakery in the shopping mall at Columbia Circle.  

 We walked into Eataly and ended up spending a few hours.  All kids if goodies from Italy.

 Pappardelle with lamb ragout.

 Bucatini with tomato sauce.
Carb cake sandwich at Chelsea Market.

 We got a few caked from Maison Kayser during the walk.

A quick lunch at Shake Shack by Brooklyn Bridge.

 Korean dinner at Her Name is Hen in Korea Town.

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