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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


While at my weekly Will Power & Grace class, my friend and instructor, Kim, reminded me that you know you really love something when you want to share it. If you've seen the movie Into the Wild (or read the book), then you also know that happiness is best when shared.

Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart. While I didn't always have the luxury of flying home to Hawaii to see my own family for holidays, I was grateful that incredibly kind people took me in and shared their family with me. Also, there is nothing like looking into the window of another family over the holidays. You may find the family you never had. Or, you may even learn to expand your definition of crazy. I've never done the same thing twice for Thanksgiving, and I've been so lucky to experience the variety, traditions and love of many different families. It's also the only holiday centered completely around food, which, for me, is reason enough to be happy. And, it's my reason to create new things in the kitchen and share my mistakes and successes with you.

It's too bad that there is something about the holidays that causes many people, including me sometimes, to be completely stressed out. But, maybe if you focus on the things you want to share with others, you can hold onto some happiness and be reminded of the things for which you are grateful.

This year, I am staying put. But Boyfriend's family (2 parents, 2 grandparents and 2cousins) are coming to San Francisco to stay with us. Including myself, Boyfriend and James-the-Doctor, that is 9 people. N-I-N-E. Gulp. If you find that you, too, have nine people coming for Thanksgiving (and rolling out an airbed in your kitchen or any extra floor space), try this: not cooking. Or minimal cooking. I know, right! What a concept. In true San Francisco style, we are rounding up all the local favorites and having a Thanksgiving crab feed.

Fresh crab, picked up right at the dock (already cooked, cracked and cleaned)
Country Bread from Tartine
Local Sourdough bread from Sour Flour
Roasted Broccoli with Lemon
Roasted Garlic
Coctail sauce
Lemon wedges
Melted butter
Mustard remoulade
Pecan Pie from Humphry Slocombe
lots and lots of wine


Also, I have something really special to be thankful for and some good news to share! My brother, Chad, and his wife, Hiromi, are finally pregnant after 2 difficult years of trying to conceive. The baby is due in April and hopefully that means a trip to Maui to welcome a new addition to our family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Korean Tofu Kimchi Stew

One week ago, I took a plane from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Harmless enough (if you don't count having to get up at 4am to take the first flight out and then go straight into work toting luggage). Exactly 24 hours after the flight, I was attacked by a heinous sore throat and a pounding headache that made my whole face melt. If I get sick 24-48 hours after a flight, I think it's a safe best that someone was sharing their germs with the innocent people on the aircraft. I barely made it through the Foodbuzz Festival over the weekend and hoped no one noticed that I had morphed into a quiet, seemingly timid wallflower.

When under the weather, there was only one thing I could do. Eat soup. Since things were getting pretty desperate in the breathing department, I immediately resorted to the secret weapon. Vegetarian Matzoh ball soup with rye croutons. Nothing tells a cold to take a hike than a hot brothy soup with fluffy balls of matzoh. Then I filled the fridge with asparagus soup and red lentil soup with lemon. Equally good soldiers.

With the grace of a few days time and many hours of sleep, I am starting to feel a little better. However, Boyfriend got sick too. Since he likes spicy food and we've already been through a pretty heavy soup rotation, I decided to make something a little different for his sore throat.
You can find this tofu kimchi stew called Jigae at any authentic Korean restaurant. It is a deeply satisfying brothy soup made with tofu, onions, ginger and scallions that is kicked up a notch with some spicy fermented cabbage.

This recipe is the sort that only grandmothers would pass down. But this one didn't come from my grandmother. But it did come from my trusty collection of Hawaii cookbooks that are filled with family secrets, so it was likely passed down by someone's grandmother. I'm sure of it. Jigae recipes vary from family to family--some are made with pork, some swear by using silken tofu instead of firm tofu, and some . I used extra firm tofu because I really wanted the tofu to hold up in the mass of broth, but many people prefer to use silken tofu. Also, I like this recipe because it includes a defiant scoop of miso to add some body to the soup and smooth over the fire. If you like spicy food and kimchi, then I am sure you are going to love it.Note: Vegetarian/vegan kimchi can be difficult to find, since most kimchi is made with shrimp paste. So read labels carefully and you can always make your own if you want this dish to be vegan.


* 2 Tbsp. oil
* 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
* 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
* 1 Tbsp. grated garlic
* 1 tsp sea salt
* 1/2 tsp white pepper
* 2 cups kimchi (with liquid, loosely packed)
* 6 cups water
* 4 three-inch strips of kombu
* 1/4 cup miso
* 1 package of extra firm tofu (or silken, if perferred), cubed
* 2 green onions, thinly sliced


* In a large pot or enameled cast iron dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the onions on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
* Add the kimchi, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper and sautee for another 5 minutes.
* Then add the water and kombu strips (you can cut the kombu into smaller strips or leave it large). Bring to a boil and turn down the heat just a little bit so it holds a steady simmer for about 25-30 minutes (uncovered).
* Then stir in the miso and gently add the tofu and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
* Then add the green onion.
* Serve as a soup or ladle over some steamed rice.

Also, if you want to decrease the spice level, you can use a mild kimchi or you can decrease the amount to one cup and add in a bunch of chopped napa cabbage. You can also add in other vegetables like shredded carrot if it isn't already in your kimchi. You can also add a splash of sesame oil right at the end.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Foodbuzz Festival 2010

It was my first time attending the Foodbuzz Festival. What a weekend! The itinerary was filled with extravagant meals, workshops, trade shows, and scavenger hunts, but the best part was having people who share my foodie interests come together to indulge in some foodie fun. The weekend kicked off with a street food dinner at Fort Mason, which included 4505 meats (aka Ryan Farr), Tacolicious, Pizza Politana, Spencer-on-the Go, Roli Roti and Namu, and some Off-the-Grid vendors like Curry Up Now. Luckily, I have the privilege of considering these guys “the usual SF suspects”, so I didn’t feel as pressured to go around and have 9 dinner portions that could only result in a food coma and/or tummy ache. I still managed to eat my fair share, though. And then some. Somehow, I didn't take many pictures of the food like these smart people. But I did eat two of these paneer kati rolls from Curry Up Now.
When feeling a little nervous and intimidated by a large crowd of new people, a little gift exchange can quickly put foodies all on common ground. Kath gave me some of her husband’s homemade “Matt’s Crack’s”. And I got to give Mama Pea some 100% Maui Coffee, which she said her hubby would greatly appreciate.

Saturday started bright and early with a little workshop on photography.Laura of The Cooking Photographer and Marc of NoRecipes shared some photography tips and talked a lot about various types of lighting set-ups that you can use at home for food photography.For lunch, we shuffled over to the Metreon for a trade show of gourmet food purveyors. Imagine 350 food bloggers and their family and friends surveying the scene, snapping photos, eating, collecting cards and eating. I also met Sabrina of Rhodey Girl Tests, who confided that she loves to test out recipes and agreed to work on the ever troublesome recipe for chickpea fries to find one in which the fries actually hold up in shape and texture. Now that’s a foodie friend I am grateful to have! There is one highlight I must mention. We were head over heels for Annie The Bakers cookies that are suspended in the cookie dough state before actually becoming a cookie. She actually designed a recipe and technique to capture the shape, texture and taste of cookie dough despite being thoroughly baked. If you love cookie dough, order these now!

Dinner was served in the historic SF Ferry Building, with food catered by Paula LeDuc and wine pairings by Bonny Doon. I sat at a table with some lovely new friends who candidly shared their stories about food blogging and made me feel welcome.

Golden beet tart with crimson beets, feta, currants, argula and basil puree:

Seared scallops with braised fennel and champagne beurre blanc sauce:

For the vegetarians, a fancy tofu option:

Pan-seared black cod over a butternut squash puree with wild mushrooms:

After dinner, several enthusiastic bloggers set out for a scavenger hunt, but I was so sleepy from the busy day that I headed straight home. On Sunday, we had a nice brunch and said Farewell to our new-found foodie friends.

The food throughout the weekend was nice and all, but I have to say that it is meeting all of you that truly inspired me. It made me so happy to know there are people crazy foodies out there just like me who love to talk about food, who scan their fridge in the morning already thinking about what they will make for dinner, who like to go home and cook to relax after a long day. I even found other lawyers with food blogs! I was reminded why I love cooking and sharing my experiences with all of you. I hope I can stay in touch with those that live across the country and maybe even put together some meet-ups for us local SF bloggers!