Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'll be gone for a bit

Off to the biggest little city for some vacating. Won't be posting for about a week. Hopefully I'll be back with some good culinary stories.
Seeya in about a week!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese Tea Ceremony has fascinated me, probably since Karate Kid. I'm not sure why. The discipline, the ritual, the sacredness perhaps. It's just beautiful. I guess when you don't have those kinds of rituals in your life, you're fascinated by it in others. I again became fascinated by the ritual after reading Memoirs of a Geisha. Japanese society and their rituals became even more intriguing. To top it off I love Maccha. I'm not a huge tea fan. I have lots of it in my cupboard, because I'm always trying to make myself like it. I figure it would be better to drink it in the morning rather than coffee, in order not to raise my blood pressure. I should drink chamomile in the evenings rather than wine, but I just can't enjoy it the same. But! The one tea I do enjoy is powdered green tea, or maccha. The flavor is just so intense. It's got a brightness to it that I can't explain and it goes so well with something slightly sweet. So, I began my hunt for Maccha, both here in Humboldt and on line. I had no success, until on my and my husbands anniversary we walked into a little shop called All Under Heaven on 212 F St. in Eureka CA. They had little tins of Maccha along with tea bowls and bamboo whisks. I told my husband, "that's what I want for Christmas". Well he couldn't remember the whisk, but he did remember the Maccha. Yeah Me!
So, last night I pulled out my tin of Christmas Maccha served up the girls, me and my husband an impromptu Japanese Tea Ceremony. This is what you do:

First you clean the serving bowls and boil the water. Serve a sweet treat before serving the tea (I served dried figs) You mix the Maccha and water and whisk it until it's frothy. The contrast of the bitterness of the tea and the sweetness of the treat served before represents harmony. (I just love Japanese traditions - they're so cool).

When you receive the tea or chauwan take it in your right hand, place the cup in your left palm and turn clockwise three times before you drink. When you're done, slurp loudly to express how good the tea was.

Wipe the cheuwan where your lips touched with our right hand, turn counter clockwise and return to the host.

This type of tea ceremony is called a chakai and will take from 20 minutes to an hour. (We probably squeezed it into 10 minutes - that's about all you can manage with a 10 and 5 year old.) We were no where near honoring a traditional tea ceremony. That would take years of practice, but it was fun introducing our children to another culture's traditions. One that can be centering, artful, even religious. The Japanese have so many beautiful traditions that are artful and centering. I think it's wonderful that many of them center around food and drink, such as this tea ceremony. I think our culture could use more sacredness around our food and drink. It would make eating more precious, and less of a sport, and more of a wholesome part of our lives, rather than an issue.

I think I'll consider making more of my own sacred traditions when it comes to food in my and my family's lives. Maybe you should too?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas cookie frenzie

Sunday night was the night to make Christmas cookies, after a long day of decorating the house and warming up from our trip to the snow to get our tree the day before. Of course we had to have gingerbread men, so being lazy and tired I picked up a package of gingerbread cookie mix and we went to town making cookies

My oldest helped me mix the batter, roll it out with grandma's rolling pin and cut out the shapes. She's old enough now to stick them in the oven without my help. God help me the teenage years are speeding towards me like a truck with no breaks on an 8 % downhill grade!
After the first batch cooled my youngest proceeded to decorate.....

Happily my best friend "auntie" Laurie stopped by and spent a Christmassy evening with us. She seemed to more then enjoy herself helping the girls out with decorating. It was fun to talk about good times we've had with our families, and the times we've had together over the years, and to just be silly kids with the girls and make a big mess of the kitchen. The first round. Looking pretty Christmassy.

My oldest having waaaay too much fun with the sugar shaker.....The first batch, looking quite proper and fitting for the holiday season.

Then things took a disturbing turn. Maybe it was getting late, or the girls were tired and hungry, or maybe it was the beer and wine auntie Laurie and I had been indulging in. We'll never know, but suddenly Bat Wings appear!Then this thing Cece made. It looks like a character from Shreck mixed with something from Steven King. Why do I keep hearing "redrum" in my head?

Then the aliens begin to arrive.....welcome to area 51The final mass of cookies..... then we sat down to eat some dinner and sing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. Thank goodness the neighbors don't live too close to us. Overall it was an extremely enjoyable evening. Thank goodness no one had a recorder while we were singing. I'd hate the think we all didn't sound as good as we thought at the time. Enjoying our gingerbread men, ghosts, aliens, batwings, and whatnot's and singing the 12 days of Christmas over and over until we just couldn't stand it anymore . That's what the holidaze are about.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Turkey leftovers still - Getting creative

The other night I was trying to come up with yet another thing to do with turkey. I was really in the mood for Mexican food and remembered I my husband had made chicken mole a few days before Thanksgiving and I still had the sauce in the fridge. So I threw together some turkey mole, with my homemade Mexican rice and refried beans. It was yummy with a few pickled jalpeno's scattered on top.

Here's my rice, the recipe is below the picture:

1 cup white rice
1/3 cup peanut oil (I didn't have any this night so I actually used bacon grease.)
1 can diced tomatoes or one fresh tomato peeled and seeded
1/3 cup diced onion
1 tsp chili powder.
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup peas
salt to taste

Fry the onion in the peanut oil until clear, add the one cup of cooked rice and cook until lightly brown, drain off any excess oil. Add in the tomato, chicken broth, chili powder and peas and salt. Cover tightly and cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Here's the turkey mole and flour tortillas being warmed up. (this came out of a jar, when I get up the gumption to make my own I'll share the recipe. It's a weekend project)

Now for the real creative leftovers. My girls don't care for the mole because it's a bit on the spicy side, so I made turkey quesadilla's for them. I put a few slices of turkey topped with a little bit of gravy and some of my homemade cranberry sauce then topped that with some monterey jack cheese, and voila! You have Americana/Mexicana post Thanksgiving quesadilla's. It sounds weird, but the girls chowed them down and asked for seconds!
Tonight, I think we're going to have shepherd's pie. I need a break from turkey.
Bon Apetite!