Copper Top BBQ Big Pine, CA‏

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On our way home from our winter trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA we decided to stop at Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine for lunch. My dad had been there before when he goes to Mammoth to fish with the guys for Opening Day. I feel so grateful for my family to have these amazing traditions that we continue to share together and with my nieces. We have been going to Mammoth in the summer my whole life, but going in the winter is a relatively new endeavor. My nieces love to play in the snow and experience the fun of winter and it’s always so gorgeous and just like home when we return to the mountains. I am so glad I got a few days to enjoy the snowy winter wonderland that Mammoth Mountain has to offer. Our trip went by quickly, but we are not used to the snow, so it was a sweet trip. We went sledding and played in the snow and I got some yoga in as well. The snowfall was tremendous and it was really beautiful to see such a blizzard, make a fire, enjoy great company, food and family, look at the icicles and wander around in the snow a little for a change of scenery.

We packed up and were on our way home with our usual stops in Bishop at Schat’s Bakery and Mahogany Smoked Meats, both of which, I would recommend you stop at if you like amazing bread or really delicious beef jerky. On Sunday it is pretty much a zoo at both places, so just a forewarning, but I still think it’s worth it.

 

Copper Top BBQ is a small shack of a BBQ place that’s about two hours away from Mammoth. The little shack has all outdoor seating with a small tent for a covered space, which we were able to snag a seat in. The menu is straightforward and the BBQ and smokers are outside in front right next to where you eat. You are pretty much watching all the food being cooked as you eat, which is pretty cool. There were a lot of travelers passing through eating here and the food did not disappoint. We ordered a Santa Maria Tri-Tip Sandwich, Adam’s Favorite Pulled Pork Sandwich (with coleslaw), a Half Rack of Saint Louis Style Pork Ribs along with potato salad, Fire Roasted Green Chili with beans, coleslaw and chips. It was definitely a feast. The tri-tip was delicious and tender on a pretzel bun and the pulled pork was juicy and flavorful with the added creaminess of coleslaw accompanied by the tangy bbq. The ribs were tender and very sweet with a spicy bbq sauce to balance it out. I really liked the roasted green chili with beans because it had a lot of flavor, garlic, and the beans were perfectly cooked. All the food was really well made, flavorful and seemed as if there was a lot of love and care put into this family-style place. It’s not easy having a restaurant and the Coppertop is doing it right, so stop by the next time you are in the area.

 

Delicious food and beautiful scenery looking over the snow capped mountains! I’m sure we’ll go back again. Thanks for the food and the amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back during the summer for our Fujitaki fishing extravaganza. Both seasons have their own majestic, magical and mystical moments in Mammoth — my home away from home.

 

www.coppertopbbq.com

 

Cheers,

 

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Oshogatsu 2016 and Osechi Ryori



Ozoni

Happy New Year, everyone! 2015 came and went in a flash. It was truly a year of so many ups and downs, but there was so much to learn and so much to grow from through all those experiences. I am so grateful to have my amazing friends and family who have supported each other and helped us all stay afloat, even when we were in some deep water. I truly believe in the power of community, support, friendship and family and knowing that someone has your back, no matter what, is something that is so fundamentally important. We are not alone, stay connected!

Osechi Ryori Collage 2016

I am honestly not a resolution type of person and I believe that with each breath we have a chance to start over again. We don’t have to wait till a new year to get a new perspective or to do things differently, we can begin again at any time. It seems challenging, but the more we do it, like anything, the easier it is. New Year’s Day is always filled with food and family. 2016 was no  different and I am glad that I can show five years of osechi ryori on Unrivaledkitch  2015, 2014, 2013. 2012, 2011 and this entry is my 6th.

As much as I have let go of blogging, it is still such a big part of me to share my food, especially these special dishes that I learned to make as a child and some that I have revised or are family favorites. A lot of the the Osechi dishes are things that are particularly important to my Bachan, who has influenced so much of my life and my cooking. And although she’ll always ask me not to do it, it is my pleasure and privilege to cook this food for her and my family every year.

Osechi Ryori 2016

So here is the 2016 Oshogatsu Japanese New Year Osechi Ryori dishes and other Japanese food that we had for New Year’s Day.

Oshogatsu 2016

Oshogatsu 2016 Collage with Bachan

 

Menu

 

California Roll

Spam Musubi

Beef Korokke  

Miso Shrimp

Chicken Katsu

Sesame Chicken

Inari

Tuna Sashimi

Roasted Japanese Mushrooms

Char Siu-Style Sliced Pork

Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings

Umeboshi

Tsukemono

Pork Wontons

Bachan Jello

Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)

Sesame Gobo

Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)

Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Shishito Peppers

Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

Nishime 5-Sided Carrot, 5-Sided Daikon, Kombu (rolled seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms, Satoimo(taro root), Renkon (lotus root), Takenoko (bamboo shoots), Gobo

 

Ozoni (New Year’s Japanese Soup) (Kombu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Daikon, Imo [taro root], Renkon [lotus root], and Mochi in Seasoned Homemade Dashi)

Ozoni Unrivaledkitch

Manju

Oshogatsu 2016

May you and your loved ones have an amazing 2016 and beyond filled with luck, love and your heart’s deepest desires.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Cheers,

 

Unrivledkitch



Christmas is for family traditions.

 



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It wouldn’t be Christmas without a massive cooking extravaganza and that’s just what it was this holiday season. I was able to have time time off from teaching to just work on tamales and pozole and hang out with my family and enjoy every minute of my time with them. I truly cherish these memories with all my loved ones and the time I was able to spend with my nieces as they enjoyed our holiday traditions. It’s completely amazing. Holidays can be a bustling time of the year, but I truly stayed present to the fun, giving, loving, community-inspired essence of the holidays that I absolutely love so much.

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I have been making tamales every year since 2008. It’s a nice way for me to work on some of the bits and pieces of my recipes and come out with a really solid tamale that my family and friends love. This year I got a beautiful new mixer from Brandon, which helped tremendously because my old one was completely worn out.  My mom had a chance to put some together herself this year and I can say that I’m pretty quick when it comes to assembly. The stocks, braising meat, making the salsa, rehydrating chiles, roasting chiles and tomatillos and everything else that goes into tamales is a labor of love. So when you taste a really good tamale, remember that it probably wasn’t fast food and take some time to truly enjoy it.

 

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We went to visit my great-aunts and great-uncles at my grandma’s childhood home. Of course, I couldn’t go there empty handed, so this year I brought them a pot of my pozole. I have to admit, the pozole was rather delicious this year, with just the right amount of spice. pozole is another recipe that is a labor of patience and practice. But soup is a soul food and it truly is a nourishing dish. There is nothing like a hot bowl of pozole with all the right toppings on Christmas morning.

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I hope whatever traditions you and your family and friends have, they are something to keep passing down to the people you love and sharing the things that make you happy, grateful and inspired. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and happy New Year! Stay tuned for my Japanese New Year annual Oshogatsu post of osechi ryori.

 

Cheers,

 

Unrivaledkitch

 

Thanksgiving 2015

I have 6 years of Thanksgiving blogs on Unrivaledkitch, which to me, shows my commitment to being there for my family and I am truly grateful that I have been able to take on this tradition for the ones I love and to share these awesome moments with the people who mean so much to me. Thanksgiving, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite meals to cook. This year I was pretty ahead of schedule with cooking and cleaning, so big thumbs up for me, because, of course, that can be a challenge with an overly ambitious menu. Our Thanksgiving meal has some staples that we always enjoy and then the rest is open to my interpretation, which is the fun part for me.

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Brandon joined us for Thanksgiving this year and I asked him to sit out for the cooking. He cooks all year long and sometimes someone else cooking for you is just the thing you need. I know, when I was cooking, that’s how I felt. My mom and grandma brought a bunch of snacks and sweets and we all made a beautiful meal together. I am so grateful for my family and all the sacrifices and success we have had, and to our extended family, friends and beyond, we hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving with the ones you love! And here is what we ended up with this year:

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Menu
Brined Turkey with Roasted Aromatics, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
Roasted Turkey Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Hassleback Red Rose Potatoes
Bacon, Leeks, Sausage and Roasted Wild Mushroom Cornbread Dressing
Zucchini, Celery, Scallions and Black Olive Stuffing   
Roasted Cream Corn with Turmeric and Bacon
Creamed Spinach, Broccoli and Green Beans
Roasted Yams with Brown Sugar, Marshmallows and Cinnamon
Sweet Potato Casserole with Agave, Granola, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice Marshmallows
Pomegranate & Guava Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Steamed Corn
Roasted Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
Honey Baked Ham
Bachan Jello
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
Rice Krispies Treats
Spinach Dip
Pimento Cheese
Deviled Eggs
Cheers,
Unrivaledkitch

Amaya’s Tigertastic 2s

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Life seems to be steaming right along.  August was a blur of celebration, grief, love, tears and just being.  Life is so precious that even in the day-to-day happenings we can get carried away with the difficulties or choose to see the joy that is around us and within us.

One of the most joyful days this year was little Amaya’s 2nd birthday party. She is in love with Daniel Tiger, from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS, and with temperatures well over 100 degrees in the valley, we decided to take the party back indoors to one of her favorite places, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. Last year we celebrated there too, but with children, they always find something new and exciting to explore.

We had a kid-friendly menu that I prepared for our family and friends.  Each dish had a Neighborhood friend theme and my sister put together crafty little accents to make this 2-year-old’s birthday quite a memorable one. Here is the menu!

I can’t believe it’s already the end of September, but life has its own way of quickly moving along. I am so glad we were able to celebrate this little Leo’s love, compassion, courage and curiosity. Happy birthday, Amaya, Auntie loves you!

Daniel Tiger’s Tasty Treats!

Snacks

Daniel Tiger’s Tigey Tails Cheese Curls

Katerina Kitty Kats mini swimmy colorful fish

Prince Wednesdays Popcorn

O the Owls whooo berries

Ms Elainas Sweet, Sweet potatoes

Dishes

Trolly’s Tasty Turkey Sliders

Turkey Burger on Kings’ Hawaiian bread with BBQ sauce and Lettuce

Neighborhood Crispy Crunchy Chicken Tenders

honey-mustard and ketchup

Grrrrific Bacon Burger slider

Ground Beef, Bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese and red onion with Thousand island dressing

Sides

Baby Margaret’s Macaroni Salad

Ugga-mugga Potato Salad

You Gotta Try New Foods Because They Might Taste Good!

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Maleeya’s Minnierella 4th Birthday

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I can’t believe that Maleeya is already 4-years-old. It’s almost a month later and I’ve been slacking on my food blogging, but this was a very special birthday party catering and since I’ve blogged about each of her birthdays, I can’t stop at 3. So here is the 4th edition.

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This year Maleeya had a Minnierella (Minnie Mouse as Cinderella) themed princess birthday party for her friends at our house. My mom made Maleeya’s beautiful pink dress for her Minnierella costume and my sister decorated the house. Everyone enjoyed playing games, catching up, delicious food and togetherness and I don’t think we’ve ever had so many people in our house at one time, which was really fun. We had a special feast of Maleeya’s favorite foods for her party. I asked Maleeya what she wanted to serve at her birthday party and her list was as follows: latkes, fruit, veggies, salad, chicken, strawberries and cake. So with those directions in mind, as well as some special Vegan and Gluten Free requests, I came up with this menu and we had a blast.

 

Menu

 

Fruit Tower and Melon and Grape Platter

Fresh Vegetable Tray

Sweet Sesame Chicken Skewers

Turkey Meatballs

7-Layer Bean Dip

Pico de Gallo

Grilled Sweet Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Italian Pasta Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Bread Basket

Latkes

Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate this very special little lady, or as she liked to be known that day, Minnierella. Happy fourth year of fun, love and excitement, Mighty Maleeya!

 

Cheers,

Unrivaledkitch

Easter 2015

Late Late Late

Better Late than Never. I love Easter!

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Easter is one of my favorite holidays, especially since we have little ones to have fun with now. This year, I took the day off and cooked for the whole family. We had a delicious dinner together with tons of fun and laughter. Maleeya and Amaya were dressed in their beautiful Easter dresses and everyone had a great time. Easter and spring are the perfect time for togetherness, reflection and starting over. As we move into the summer months in California, it’s nice to take a break and enjoy a wonderful spring day with family. I hope you’ll enjoy every moment of spring till it’s last.

 

Menu

 

Tri Tip

Roasted Baby Bella Mushrooms

Arugula Salad with Kalamata Olives, Prosciutto, Feta Cheese, Basil, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Zucchini with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Mini Kale and Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Broccolini

Sweet Potatoes and Purple Potatoes

Au Gratin Potatoes

Glazed Ham

Corn and Green Bean Casserole

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Cheers,

Unrivaledkitch

New Year’s Day Oshogatsu Osechi Ryori 2015

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Happy New Year! Already 12 days in and I’m still feeling the freshness of the new year and all that it has in store for us. 2014 was a great year, lots of amazing opportunities and growth that I look forward to carrying over into 2015. The year began as it should, and has for the last 5 or more years, with Osechi Ryori in my family’s traditional and not too traditional Japanese-style. For us, this is a gathering of love, health, togetherness and family and I hope to always be able to share this time with my family and friends.

 

The start of the year is a great time for new beginnings, but we can also be reminded that each moment holds a new beginning for all of us, if we so choose to take it. I wish all of you a very happy and healthy 2015! Here are the dishes I prepared for New Year’s Day Oshogatsu and Osechi Ryori.

 

Here are 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014

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Menu

Char Siu-Style Sliced Pork

Japanese Korokke

Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings

Tuna Sashimi

Umeboshi

Tsukemono

Pork Wontons

Bachan Jello

Inari

Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)

Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)

Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

5-Sided Carrot, 5-Sided Daikon, Kombu (rolled seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms, Satoimo(taro root), Renkon (lotus root), Takenoko (bamboo shoots)

Ozoni (New Year Japanese Soup) (Kombu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Daikon, Imo [taro root], Renkon [lotus root], and Mochi in Seasoned Homemade Dashi)

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I’m always so excited and happy to be able to prepare this beautiful meal for my family. Though it changes a bit each year, the tradition still lies in the togetherness we share with our family and the traditions we pass down to my nieces.

 

Love, Peace and Gratitude.

 

Cheers!

 

-Unrivaledkitch

 

Making Kaki (Dried Persimmons) with Bachan

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Persimmons. I love them. I know fall is here when the persimmons are out in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. When I was little, my Bachan’s neighbors had persimmon trees, so we would have a ton of Persimmons, mostly of the Fuyu variety–the crunchy ones. But sometimes we’d even have the Hachiya persimmons,which are best eaten when really soft. The Fuyu Persimmons are one of my favorite fruits, but when we had so many, it was hard to eat them all before they got bad, so my Bachan decided she was going to dry them and that’s what Kaki is. The Japanese word for Persimmon is Kaki. Everyone in our family loves this dried fruit and if you haven’t had it, it’s really something to try, if you can get a hold of any. I’ve yet to see dried Fuyu Persimmons in stores, so you’ll have to make them if you want to see what all this delicious hype is about.

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The process is long and the yield is very small, but they truly are delicious. This year we bought some Fuyu Persimmons and brought them over to Bachan’s house so I could help her get them ready for the dehydrator. This year, Maleeya wanted to help us too, so we did it all together. The process can take my Bachan all day, but with a little help from me, we got about 20 done in an hour. For a 91 year-young lady, she’s pretty amazing with a mandoline.

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Pick hard, bright-orange Fuyu Persimmons without any soft spots. Wash the Fuyu persimmons and peel the outer skin. Remove the stem and cut them in half. Using a mandoline, slice the persimmons to about ⅛ inch thick, so pretty thin. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can slice the  persimmons by hand, but this can affect the drying process if you don’t slice them in uniform slices, so I suggest using a mandoline for this project. Plus, it’s faster, but you do have to be very careful because they are extremely sharp. Use the guard and take your time.

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After the Fuyus are sliced, place them on the dehydrator trays spread out evenly, ensuring that none of them are overlapping or touching. Continue till all the trays are filled. Place them in the dehydrator for about 6 hours or until they are completely dry. Place them in a plastic zip bag and store in a cool dry place.

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You won’t need to store them for long because they are so delicious, they won’t last. And there you have it, Dried Kaki.

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I love these delicious treats and so do my nieces and family. They are truly a Fujitaki tradition and I’m glad we could help Bachan make them this year.

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Cheers,

Unrivaledkitch

Thanksgiving Gratitude 2014

Better Late than never….

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I love Thanksgiving! It is truly my favorite meal to make of the year, not because we have the same traditional things, but because it’s tradition to be together with my family. I am so glad we get to keep this tradition alive and thriving with my nieces. This Thanksgiving was also my brother’s birthday, so it was an extra-special occasion.

 

My sister and I braved the grocery stores on Wednesday morning so I could get all the ingredients for a meal that pretty much fed us for what seemed like a week, but that’s the best part of Thanksgiving–cook for a day or two and then either just reheat and eat or think of something else to do with the rest. I’m glad my sister came with me to the grocery store because I really dislike having a cart and having to maneuver one when the stores are super crowded, so she took care of that for me, which was a great help! Thanks, Keek.

 

So after a few stops and various places with enough groceries to just pack the fridge almost to explosion, I had a good idea of what we were going to enjoy. I’m not the type of person to ponder the menu a month or even a week in advance, I just looked at the ingredients and made things, which is my favorite way to cook. I’m grateful I have a family that pretty much let’s me have full reign over what we eat for Thanksgiving, trusting and knowing I’ll make those traditional dishes that they like each year while incorporating some new ones.

 

So here it is, Thanksgiving 2014 from Unrivaledkitch. I hope your families and friends feasted over great food, good company and tons of togetherness and gratitude. I’m grateful for all of you who take a gander at my food musings, for all the support, and I wish you a very happy holiday season.

 

Here are the past 4 years of Thanksgivings documented on Unrivaledkitch.com I love that these memories are here for me to look back on.

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Thanksgiving 2014 Menu

 

Celery Root Soup with Spicy Sausage, Crispy Pancetta and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Herb and Citrus Brined Turkey with Roasted Vegetable Turkey Gravy

Celery, Scallion, Olive, and Zucchini Turkey Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Candied Yams with Bruleed Marshmallow

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Mushroom Medley with Fresh Thyme and Garlic

Red Potato Gratin with Button Mushrooms, Roasted Leeks, Kale and Parmesan Mozzarella Bechamel

Granny Smith Apple,Green Anjou Pear and Melted Date Cranberry Sauce

Crookneck Yellow Zucchini, White Zucchini and Green Bean Casserole with Celery Root Cream and Sausage

Hot Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Raisins and Granny Smith Apples with Brown Sugar Caramel Cream Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Whipped Cream

 

Mom, Dad and Grandma’s Contributions

Honey Baked Spiral Ham

Deviled Eggs

Spinach Dip, Pimento Cheese, Green Onion Dip and Vegetable Platter and Crackers

Bachan Jello

Pumpkin Pie

Carrot and Banana Muffins
What a delicious feast! Thank you everyone for sharing in this gratitude filled holiday.

Cheers

Unrivaledkitch