Bachan Beef Bowl with Komoboko and Nori
Bachan Beef Bowl with Komoboko and Nori
It’s September. I can hardly believe it. August was so amazingly wonderful, full of gratitude, celebration, family and friends—I miss it already. I was able to go on eight weeks of outdoor hikes with my dad, a family vacation to Mammoth Lakes and to really jumpstart my kids’ yoga business, Little Heroes Yoga, as well as participate in an amazing business course about kids’ yoga called TBoKY The Biz of Kids Yoga by Jodi Komitor. I’m so grateful to have had a wonderful summer, probably one of the best ones of my life. And I’m equally grateful to have a really fantastic fall full of kids’ yoga fun lined up.
But I wanted to highlight some of the amazing food adventures that I had in August. First of the series will be Amaya and Grandma’s birthday celebration dinner in Mammoth. I spent a total of seven beautiful days in the Eastern Sierras this year. I could have stayed for an entire month, but that’s another story. I truly am home when I go to Mammoth; the fresh air, beautiful scenery and just slowed-down pace of everything, makes it the perfect vacation for me. I’ve been going to Mammoth for my whole life and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
It’s so great to see the next generation of little fisherwomen come up to the Sierras with us. We really caught a ton of fish this year. I caught two pretty good sized ones and a bunch of little ones the whole time we were there. We went to a couple of new lakes: Little Virginia and Big Virginia and Upper and Lower Twin in Bridgeport, and even saw a quick hail storm.
Now, back to Amaya and Grandma’s birthday dinner. Well, the two of them have back to back birthdays and kick off our month of celebration. My sister said she’ll never have to get my mom another birthday present, mom’s present just came a day late. My mom’s birthday is August 14th and Amaya, my youngest niece, was born August 15th. My sister, brother-in-law, Maleeya and Amaya came up to Mammoth to celebrate my mom’s birthday and Amaya’s first birthday, which made it extra special for my mom and dad.
We had an amazing time celebrating. I barbequed for Amaya’s birthday and we all enjoyed this fun home-cooked meal.
BBQ Tri Tip
Boiled Fingerling Potatoes
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Birthday cake and big smiles all around. Thank you for sharing with us.
April flew by (actually, May is flying by too…the whole year). I can’t believe it, but it was a really great month full of really fun and exciting happenings for our family. Maleeya turned 3 on April 8th and we had a really fun birthday party for her at the park. About 50 people attended and I made probably the closest amount of food for the size party, without there being a week’s worth of leftovers. We had a really sweet Minnie Mouse theme and Maleeya dressed the part in her Minnie Mouse dress and awesome party hat and crafts made by my sister. We are really getting into this birthday party hosting with all the crafts, food and fun. To my surprise—well, not really—I did some kids’ entertainment: yoga, freeze dance, three-legged races, jump rope hopping, parachute and giant balloons. The kids had a great time and so did everyone else. We are so blessed and I couldn’t be more grateful for another amazing birthday celebration! Happy 3rd birthday Maleeya, Auntie loves you!
Kale Salad with Raisins, Cranberries and Walnuts
Macaroni Salad with Mixed Vegetables and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Potato Salad with Diced Egg, Celery, Green Onion and Pickles
Roasted Turkey or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
Vegan Vegetable Sandwiches with Roasted Red Peppers, Zucchini, Cucumber, and Herb and Garlic Olive Oil
Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches: Capicola, Mortadella, Salami, Ham, Provolone Cheese, Red Peppers, and Pepperoncini
Minnie Mouse Mixed Fruit Platters
Veggie Platter and Dip
Meat and Cheese Platters
My 28th year is here and I believe it will be (and has been) one of the best years of my life. I’ve undergone and am still undergoing a great transformation in my life—learning so much about myself, my relationships with others, my yoga practice, my cooking, and overall my whole life and I’m so grateful for this beautiful chance to be myself. My birthday was on August 20th and it was a beautiful day filled with yoga. Teaching seniors, kids and practicing yoga with incarcerated youth really puts life into perspective. I’m so amazed by the people in my life, especially my yoga students who are more like my teachers than my students because they always show me something new, sometimes challenging, and exciting about life.
I’m so lucky to have my whole family be so close to me and so supportive of my choices in life— I know a lot of people may not be so lucky. My sister and niece made me a gorgeous card, breakfast and lunch, and hung balloons from the ceiling for a most festive atmosphere. My mom and dad bought me the most heartfelt card and some awesome new yoga clothes, seeing as I can never get enough of those. My brother and sister-in-law sent me the funniest card and sweet gift. But I’d have to say my brother-in-law and sister gave me and our family one of the most precious gifts of all: my new niece, Amaya Sayuri, who was born on 8/15, just one day after my mom’s birthday. Both my grandmas sent me wonderful cards with lovely messages of love. More than anything, I’ve felt the most love in my life and it feels really amazing to be able to share that love with everyone.
Brandon never fails to impress me with how amazingly well he knows my taste. He made the most gorgeous farmers’ market basket for me with all types of delicious fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and a beautiful big bouquet of lilies that just blew me away. Also, a really great planner to keep me organized in all my endeavors and such a sincerely thoughtful card. With everything he has to do, all the hard work he puts in every day at his demanding job, he makes me feel special in a way no one else ever has and I love him so much for it.
What I wanted for my birthday is what I always want—to be around the people I love and share food with them—and that’s just what we did. Brandon and I made a delicious meal for my family using my favorite white platters, large serving bowls and fancy family-style plating for all of us to enjoy the delicious items that Brandon bought at the Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market. My family jokes that I always want to cook for my own birthday, but like I always tell my sister, “I enjoy making and eating my own food” and if Brandon helps me, it’s even better. My brother bought me an ice cream cake and Maleeya sang me happy birthday about 20 times. I’m so glad we could all celebrate together, be together and see our family grow and expand our love to our new little addition.
Roasted Mushroom Marsala Cream Grilled Pork Chops
Herb Grilled New York Steaks
Heirloom Tomato Summer Salad with Mozzarella, Cucumbers, Basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grilled Purple Baby Artichokes with Garlic and Olive Oil
Sautéed Rainbow Chard with Italian Sausage
Steamed Broccoli and Peas
Roasted Squash and Heirloom Purple Bell Peppers
Sesame Cider Coleslaw with Scallions and Fresh Peas
Thank you to everyone who journeyed with us on this very special day in my life and welcome beautiful little Amaya.
My grandma is a very special woman. She’s such a loving, kind, strong and wonderful person and we were very happy to host her 80th birthday celebration for all of her friends and family. Granny has always been the talk of the town and never met someone she couldn’t charm or take a photograph of. Her personality is best displayed when she played Choco, the adorable little bear mascot for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Her dancing and friendly waves along with blowing kisses to all the children, led her to be requested put on the suit well into her late 70s.
My sister, my brother and I spent countless hours with grandma when we were little. We’d get picked up and taken all the way out to Huntington Beach to stay with grandma for the weekend; some of my fondest memories as a little kid are feeding the ducks at the park, eating toast and tea for breakfast and having French bread and string cheese for snacks. I associate a lot of joyful activities with food as you can see. Grandma was never short on hugs and kisses or presents and spoiling and she’s passed down the fun to my little niece Maleeya. Grandma has the biggest heart and the attitude of someone half her age. Believe it or not, she still cruises out to Vegas in her Corolla on a whim and vacations whenever she can, all between traveling back and forth to come to visit all of us (over 100 miles away roundtrip).
Brandon and I put on a very special catering for all the guests and we were very happy with the outcome. Brandon was in charge of pastries and I helped him assemble some of them, while I took on the savory options, which he lent a big hand in helping with as well. My mom was assigned the snacks department and made our family’s favorite macaroni and potato salad, homemade beans for the chili and mini lemon cupcakes. My sister made the beautiful flower arrangements, all the gorgeous decorations and photo collages. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and everyone else helped out so much to make this a beautiful, delicious, smooth event for everyone involved. I’m so glad I have this amazing family to call my own. I want to thank everyone who came, who helped, and who made this amazing event happen.
Happy 80th Birthday, Granny! We all love you so much!
Ruthie’s 80th Birthday Party Menu
Chips and Dip
Baby Mixed Greens with Shredded Cucumber, Mozzarella Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Pickled Red Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing
Entrées: Served Family-Style
Roasted Pulled Pork
Country Spiced Fried Chicken
Homemade Chili Beans
Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Gravy
Peanut Coleslaw with Red and Green Cabbage, Shredded Carrots, Green Onions and Asian Dressing
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange Honey Glaze and Marshmallows
Corn Bread Muffins
Lemon Meringue Pie
Banana Cream Pudding
My niece just recently turned two on Monday, April 8th. I can’t believe she’s already two! It really goes by fast and I know that’s a very cliché thing to say, but it does. It feels like just yesterday that my sister told me she was having a baby and now Maleeya is just so adventurous, ambitious and remarkable. She truly is an amazing little girl and I feel so fortunate to be able to see her every day and watch her little spirit grow.
Happy Birthday, Monkey! Auntie loves you very much.
So for Maleeya’s birthday we had everyone over to Encino Park for some food, of course, and lots of other fun things for the kids and plenty of catching up for the adults. Some of my sister’s friends brought their little children and we were able to get a little kids yoga session to happen while the adults watched. I’m so grateful to the little ones who decided to participate, even with everyone watching. It’s amazing how fearless young children are. So we had yoga, party favors, a huge Minnie Mouse piñata, cake and lots of food.
The menu this year was more manageable with my current work load and shortage of time, but still delicious and fun. I’m so glad I got to cook for over 50 of our closest family and friends. I’m so grateful for all the support everyone has shown me through my yoga and my cooking. I’m truly living a dream I could only have actualized with all of your help. Thank you!
Homemade Balsamic Cumin Barbeque Sauce Chicken
Rainbow Pasta Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, Italian Herbs, Black Olives, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers
Cobb Salad with Hard boiled Egg, Crispy Bacon, Roasted Garlic Turkey, Tomatoes, Avocado and Blue Cheese over Baby Mixed Greens and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Vegetable Platter
My mom prepared our grandma’s special macaroni salad and potato salad, as well as Bachan’s triple-layered Jell-O, which are all family traditions at any event. My boyfriend made delicious pork sliders with jalapeno coleslaw—needless to say, everyone loved them.
We had such a great time celebrating my beautiful niece, Maleeya! I can’t wait for next year.
These gorgeous photos are courtesy of the wonderful and talented Lyz Cooper, Brandon’s mom is an amazing photographer! Thanks Lyz for capturing such special memories for out family.
I’ve been cooking non-stop for the last couple of weeks. Not that I mind at all, it’s really second nature to me and I’m very fortunate to have lots of family and friends to be cooking for during the holidays. It’s probably one of my favorite gifts to give. The day after Christmas is Brandon’s stepdad’s birthday and we planned to have a big feast to celebrate his 50th birthday with family and friends. So after the great Christmas feasts that we had with my family, we were lucky enough to enjoy making dinner for Brandon’s mom and stepdad and some of their friends. The menu featured some of the food that I made for Christmas, including pozole and using some leftover meat that I had made for the tamales transformed into taquitos and flautas with some creamy salsa verde, spicy salsa roja with yogurt, and guacamole for appetizers. Having two chefs in the family is a pretty big advantage. I think both our families are grateful for that!
Happy Birthday Andy!
Cheese Board with Fig Butter and Crostini
Chipotle BBQ Shrimp with Honey Chipotle Aioli
Beef and Cheese Taquitos and Flautas with Creamy Salsa Verde, Spicy Salsa Roja with Yogurt and Guacamole
Antipasto Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Red Beet Salad with Feta Cheese, Mixed greens and Shallot Red Wine Vinaigrette
Herb Roasted Spicy Dijon and Horseradish Roasted Prime Rib
Roasted Carrots, Peas and Brussels Sprouts
Twice Roasted Potatoes with Sour Cream and Green Onions
Chocolate, Vanilla Wafers and Banana Cream Pie
When I was a little girl, I waited all year long for the days when I could take a little break away from my brother, sister, and maybe even my mom and dad as well, and spend time with my Bachan in Pasasdena. Bachan (or obaa-chan) means Grandma in Japanese and my Bachan is the most caring, loving and strong person I know. Bachan’s birthday was on 7/21 and this year she turned 89 years young. Last year was a very special birthday for her because in Japanese culture the number 88, when written, resembles the symbol for rice. The prominence of rice in Japanese culture is immense and rice symbolizes purity and goodness. The 88th birthday is celebrated as a joyous and happy occasion. We threw a wonderful party that I wrote about here for that very special day where I reconnected with the flavors of my childhood and Japanese culture.
This week I was lucky enough to be able to teach Kids Yoga in Pasadena to some amazing 6 and 7 year-olds, so naturally I saw it fit to spend some time with Bachan. We told stories, played jenga, watched TV, snacked on Mexican sweet bread and senbei (Japanese rice crackers), ate delicious food, took a walk to the market and went grocery shopping, but most of all, enjoyed each other’s company like I did so many times as a child. Those times, as well as these, are the memories I love; those nostalgic moments of pure love and happiness, things I’m so grateful to be able to experience as well as to have experienced. My Bachan is one of the largest inspirations I have for cooking. She taught me so many things in the kitchen, even though she’ll probably deny it to anyone who asks her. Her inspiration in my life is so prominent that on her birthday, I just really wanted to say thank you, Bachan, for everything.
Bachan knows that I cook often for everyone around me. She always made big meals for my dad and his two brothers and their dad (my Jii-chan) as well as cooking for extended family and friends. She always pats me on the back and says that I did so much work—in those moments I always feel proud. Bachan wanted to make me dinner the night I stayed with her and I don’t think I could ever have said no. We had a delicious dinner of rice, chirashi, steamed broccoli, green beans and korokke (Japanese potato cakes filled with ground beef and fried in panko bread crumbs). Everything was perfect. She brought out sauces and miso and it was just as I remembered it all. There’s something to be said about eating a childhood dish that hasn’t changed for over 25 years. I love you, Bachan! Happy birthday.