Entries Tagged 'Seattle' ↓

Sushi 101 @ The Cordata Community Food Co-op

I participated in a sushi class at the Community Food Co-op and I loved every minute of it! I’ve been making sushi for many years, but the opportunity to participate hands on with a native Japanese restaurateur was a true privilege.

Yukiko Helle was the teacher tonight and is a wonderful lady. She is a native of Kumamoto, Japan where her family members were restaurateurs; she grew up in a restaurant kitchen. Yukiko and her husband also had a restaurant in Georgia before making their way to Bellingham.

She had an ambitious schedule. We were to learn the ins and outs of making sushi rice (very important to vigorously fan while ‘knifing’ the vinegar and salt into the rice) and the prep for some sushi vegetables (spinach, cucumber, avocado). Did you know the Japanese don’t generally eat spinach raw? The spinach is washed VERY well with the roots attached, dried and then quickly blanched. The water is repeatedly squeezed out of the spinach above the cooking pot. Then, the roots are cut off and the spinach used. This is to remove the acid in the spinach, but still retain its nutrients.

She gave detailed instruction on how to make shrimp tempura:

‘Don’t be a cheapskate with the vegetable oil’ so as to maintain the oil’s temperature.

And, of course,we learned  how to assemble and roll different types of sushi:  nigiri, California, big maki, gunboat, inari. There were cutting  boards and sharp knives so you could practice using your ‘qi’ or energy flow, to slice your sushi roll to perfection! She offered very good hands-on instruction:  she walked the room to give assistance, asked the students to the kitchen stove to prepare and cook shrimp tempura. There was so much sushi made, people were taking home leftovers!

First we made nigiri sushi with shrimp, eel, taco (octopus) and tuna. Then we made California rolls with crab, avocado and cucumber. The third dish was called big maki – there was an entire shrimp tempura along with pickled daikon, spinach and cucumber in a roll. We made gunboat sushi which is a special type of nigiri sushi where a strip of nori is wrapped around the perimeter of a small mound of rice creating a cup we filled with spicy crab (imitation crab sliced and pulled apart into matchsticks and mixed with fried tempura batter pieces,  mayonnaise, salt and sriracha). And last, but not least, we made inari which is a credit card sized pouch of fried tofu (comes canned in a syrup) filled with rice. YUM YUM YUM.

Next, I would love to participate in a Japanese breakfast class. I think breakfast options need to be expanded in the American diet. Yukiko?

Cupcakes: Vegan & Gluten Free

If you have a family with food intolerances (a negative physical reaction to an ingredient) such as wheat and cow’s milk products, how do you relearn your cooking and baking? Well, this was the conundrum I faced over a decade ago. I turned to my local health food store: Fountain of Vitality in Chatham, NJ. It was small, but chock full of EVERYTHING I needed. I discovered rice milk, wheat free grains and affordable organic foods. I was definitely an oddity among the majority, but my kids were calm, happy and excelling in school. The more I learned about pesticides herbicides and GMO’s, the more dedicated a shopper I became.

My Mother always said:  “Good food is expensive.

She wasn’t kidding. Then our neighborhood became ‘desirable’ (the train became a direct connect to Wall St) and Wild Oats moved in; then Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. All these markets worked hard to price competitively (who could blame them with all the bankers and brokers suddenly at their door) and SO did I. I shopped everywhere – good thing it was a small town!

I still live in what I call a small town (I grew up in NYC) and I have a PHENOMENAL Community Food Co-op in Bellingham. So if you are new to the alternative food scene, please be aware that your options are wide with many people eager to help teach and guide. And if you’re wired to the web, READ. Your world will change.

Read the Whole Foods Market Blog for your blueprint to substituting ingredients. And here’s your recipe: Frosted Spice Cupcakes.

Tribute To You: Validation

There are people who always help me feel happy. Their disposition is just naturally sunny (I even think they glow a bit).

Take for instance, my daughter’s kindergarten friends, Zoey and Kylie. They are just soo nice! They are great friends to my daughter and they really manage to get along. And they’re nice to me, too!

Community Food Co-op is a shining example of people who are sunny and/or above board helpful. Erin is the best because she knows how to stick it to me and I don’t even know it – that’s major talent from a girl from Ohio. My NY sarcasm is never lost on her, merely lobbed back like a birdie – bing!

And there are the Trader Joester’s I like so much. They never look at me cross-eyed regardless of my comments and requests and returns: Cynthia with her fruit and fish earrings, Katie who remembers me even on a bad hair day with a hat pulled down over my head and Jessica (she glows a bit and I think it’s because she’s a new Mom) and all her helpful gluten free ideas.

Even the Costco sample servers don’t mind my seconds (it helps if I buy the product being sampled). They smile and nod their heads with hair wrapped in netting; offer hints on receipes. The Costco people are ever ready to guide me through the store in search of THE item I want or dissect the ingredients on a package for me.

And although the only connection to food is they sell See’s Chocolate’s for charity, Kathy and Tami at Wee One’s Rerun’s are fantastic!

I almost forgot everyone at Super Supplements. They employ gurus of health there.

The Bethany’s of the Library, the Bev’s of the Museum, the Lance’s of the Aquatic Center, Sportsplex and the myriad hockey rinks within a 100 mile radius of Bellingham, Border Crossing guards (joking – too tough a job for smiling) – to these people and many other strangers I engage with daily I offer the following:

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Carvel Chocolate Crunchies

I remember walking with my Mom to Bell Boulevard to go to Carvel Ice Cream. It was either there or Dunkin’ Donuts. Don’t know Carvel? They were the first American retail ice cream franchise and made the original all ice cream cake. A birthday wasn’t a birthday unless you got a Carvel ice cream cake. They came in lots of flavor combinations and sizes, but the best part was always the chocolate crunchies. The cake has 2 layers of ice cream separated by chocolate crunchies. The outside has a white cream frosting sprinkled with more chocolate crunchies. Think sweet chocolate nibs. Why am I telling you about an ice cream franchise you can’t visit in Bellingham? Well, because now you can get a very close replica at Trader Joe’s Bellingham.

I had to buy one because it was my son’s 13th birthday this week. He LOVES surprises, so we surprised him with some gifts not on his list and we surprised him with an ice cream cake. This guy LOVES ice cream. You should have seen his face! The cake has 4 layers: vanilla ice cream, chocolate CRUNCHIES, chocolate ice cream and a thin layer of chocolate cake as its base. My daughter couldn’t keep her fingers off it!

So since the closest Carvel to the west coast is in Reno, Nevada why don’t you hop on down to TJ’s and start a family tradition like the one I grew up with. Just keep the bright light out of my eyes for the birthday home movies, would ya, Aunt Edith!

PS:  You can get them in Costco Marysville and Everett, too.

June Hathaway and Bellingham: Hangin’ In the ‘Ham

Jane Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies

Jane Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies

Check it out: someone writing a blog about Bellingham. What?! Who does that? Well, June Hathaway does and ske’s a kick. Not to be confused with the American actress who played Miss Jane Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies (above).

June writes a P-I reader blog about Bellingham AND she has a sense of humor:  “…Bellingham’s rich and diverse arts scene is what makes this place unique. Well, that, and Mt Baker. And the serial killers.”

Check out the Hangin’ in the Ham blog at the Seattle PI