Thursday, April 27, 2006

Week of business pursuits, mixed with pleasure, of course. Spending time in classes for budding entrepreneurs and meeting with potential business partners. Using the Sports Club LA/San Francisco as my base in the city. Even getting in a few workouts along the way. Enjoying some meals with friends... had breakfast with Paul at the Rain Tree Cafe, lunch with Carl in the city.

Did buy another cool thing: z-coils. I'm getting stopped on the street and asked about these cool shoes!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Endings for Dad. Was wonderful to see Dad looking so perky having all good news about his cancer remission. He packed up and I took him back to his Sonoma living space this afternoon. I enjoyed lunch with Carolyn at E&O Trading in Larkspur. It really does a good job of fusion food.

In the evening, coached along by Michael, I finally made the decision to buy a MacBook Pro, the new laptop with Intel processor allowing it to run Windows as well. It's a slick machine, and you could almost use the Mac side for everything, but there are still a few programs it won't run. But with the ability to run it as a PC, you can have the best of both worlds (or so it is promoted).

The other factor is that the Dell sales staff were very difficult to work with, and my configured laptop would have been more expensive than the Mac I bought.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunday at the Napa Valley Symphony. Yalda treated us with tickets to the symphony today, and it was lovely. Linda, Jan & I enjoyed the program featuring Alan Feinberg.

Classical Concert V: Early American

Sunday April 23, 2006 3:00 PM
Tuesday April 25, 2006 8:00 PM

Alan Feinberg, piano

Festival Overture on the American National Air

Rhapsody in Blue
Kathryn Selby, piano
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra; Richard Hayman, conductor

Grande Tarantelle for piano and orchestra
Kathryn Selby, piano
Hot Springs Music Festival; Richard Rosenberg, conductor

Symphonic Sketches
Listen Jubilee
National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine; Theodore Kuchar, conductor
Recordings courtesy of Naxos of America
After the symphony, we met Yalda at Don Giovanni's for a lovely dinner.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sakura on Saturday. It is Cherry Blossom Festival time again in Japantown, and the 100th anniversary of Japantown. Linda, Michael & I attended a wonderful Taiko and Kitaro concert this evening, after a delicious dinner of fresh handmade ramen (miso-ramen soup, and yakisoba) at Sapporo-ya.

2006 US–Japan Taiko Festival
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Kabuki Theater, Post & Filmore Streets
San Francisco Japantown

Featuring San Francisco Taiko Dojo
with Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka
Special Guest: KITARO
with Keiko Takahashi - Synthesizer
Koichi Tamano - Butoh Dancer

Special Guests from Japan:
Akita Gojome Tensho Taiko

Friday, April 21, 2006

An unusual recipe from the World Museum, Liverpool.

Honeypot Ants


1 bowlful of honeypot ants Melophorus bagoti


Hold an ant by the head and simply bite off the honey sack, letting the nectar slide down your throat. This is the best way to eat the honey.

Other ways are to squeeze it into a glass and drink it, or to fill a chocolate cup half full of honey, top with whipped cream and decorate with a frozen honeypot ant.


Honeypot ants are special worker ants that store the nectar gathered by their nest-mates. They are too full to move so they hang upside down in the nest.

These ants are considered a delicacy by the Aborigines and have been
incorporated into many recipes that are popular across Australia.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

And you thought loofahs were just for bathing.


Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 35 min

1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, cut across grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb fresh angled loofah* (about 12 inches long)
1 cup peanut oil
3 small fresh shiitakes, stems discarded and caps sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 teaspoon Chinese fermented black beans**
5 small (2-inch) fresh red chiles such as Thai, seeded and cut into fine julienne (2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Accompaniment: cooked white rice
Special equipment: a deep-fat thermometer

Stir together chicken, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a small bowl.

Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and stock in another bowl until sugar is dissolved.

Remove ridges from loofah with a vegetable peeler, then scrape skin lightly with a sharp small knife (a little green skin should remain). Cut loofah lengthwise into 2- by 1/2-inch sticks.

Heat peanut oil in a wok over moderate heat until it registers 350°F on thermometer, then cook chicken, stirring, just until no longer pink, about 11/2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, then pour oil into a heatproof container and reserve.

Heat wok over high heat until a bead of water dropped onto cooking surface evaporates immediately. Add 3 tablespoons reserved peanut oil, swirling wok to coat evenly, and heat until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry mushrooms until lightly browned and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, chiles, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add loofah and toss until well coated.

Add stock mixture and bring to a boil. Add chicken and return sauce to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to sauce, then boil, stirring, until sauce thickens slightly and becomes translucent.

Serve drizzled with remaining 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil.

* Also known as "ridged gourd" and "Chinese okra."
** Available at Asian markets and by mail order from Uwajimaya (800-889-1928).

Makes 2 to 4 main-course servings.

March 2002

Google cooking. Found a new an interesting service on Google this morning -- a place to search recipes in specific! It's part of Google Base a beta product for collecting useful user fed data.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter at Anna's. There was an Easter celebration and dinner at my place. Dad, Linda, Yalda, Olivia, Jonathon, Jo-Ann, Toran & Aurelia were the all there.

The three children decorated sugar cookies in Easter shapes for the adults (and themselves) and Yalda brought a champagne cake and champagne!

The children also were delighted to get three separate Easter surprises -- bags from Linda & Yalda, Jo-Ann & Anna, and Dad's handmade baskets. Dad also made baskets for all the adults with a parmesean shaker inside for the treat!

I also shared the interesting information below with everyone, which was sent from Keith & Marie in the UK earlier this morning as an Easter hello.

Some Easter Superstitions

At the pagan feast of Eostre an ox was sacrificed. The ox’s horns became a symbol for the feast. They were carved into the ritual bread which is where "hot cross buns" originated. The word "buns" is derived from the Saxon word "boun" which means sacred ox. Nowadays the symbol of a cross is used to decorate buns. Hot cross buns are thought to act as a charm against evil. Sailors believed that the buns would protect them against shipwreck if taken to sea. Farmers in many parts of England also believed that they would protect their granaries against rats. Tradition states that hot cross buns actually baked on Good Friday will never go mouldy.

The goddess Eostre was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons and her symbols were the egg and the hare so from that we still have the egg and the rabbit or Easter Bunny. Eggs have always been associated with rebirth and continuity.

Mary Magdalene is supposed to have visited the roman Emperor Tiberias and she gave him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection - the symbol of new life. It is believed that the Christian tradition of giving eggs to each other at Easter came from this event. For a long time Eggs have been painted in bright colours to celebrate the Spring. Hard-boiled egg rolling contests still take place in some parts of England over Easter.

People would not use nails or iron tools during Easter time. This was because of the nails hammered into Christ’s feet and hands. The planting of crops was never done at Easter because it would mean that metal would enter the ground in the form of a spade or fork.

It was generally believed that it was very unlucky to sweep your house or yard on a Good Friday. Likewise it was also unlucky to sweep dust directly out of the house as you may sweep your good luck out with it. It was considered better to sweep all the dust into the centre of the room and then pick it up and dispose of it from there.

Another unlucky thing was to wash clothes on a Good Friday as nothing good would come of it. This is associated with a story about Christ, who whilst carrying his cross to Calvary, had a woman wave wet garments in his face. It is said that Jesus proclaimed "Cursed be everyone who hereafter shall wash on this day."

On the other hand, it was very lucky to wear new clothes at Easter. It was "deemed essential by many people to wear some new article of dress, if only a pair of gloves or a ribbon, for not to do so is considered unlucky and the birds will be angry with you."

Touching wood is thought by some to be the result of the Christian belief in the Crucifixion. As Christ was sacrificed on a cross of wood touching wood was a sign of deep compassion and reverence for Christ’s resurrection.

The Hawthorn tree is either lucky or unlucky. Some considered it a tree destined to bring bad fortune to the owner as it is thought that this is the tree from which the crown of thorns was made. However, some people believe that the Hawthorn is a very holy plant for exactly the same reason and that cutting down or attacking a Hawthorn will result in terrible misfortune.

A very widespread belief was that when the sun rose on Easter Sunday it danced "for joy". People at Castleton, Derbyshire used to climb the hill on which the castle is built at six o'clock in the morning to see the sun rise. "On this day the sun is said to dance for joy at His rising." Some people would put out pails of water or gathered at rivers or ponds to see the sun dance's reflection. When the sun set on Easter Sunday it was supposed to spin around and people also used to gather to see it turning.

Easter Dinner Menu:

Hearts of Palm Dip with Assorted Crackers

Spinach Salad adorned with stawberries, hearts of palm & walnuts
with Poppy Seed Dressing

Heirloom Tomato Salad
with fresh basil and white balsamic vinegar

Brazilian Garlic Cheese Bread

Hot Cross Buns

Honey-Baked Ham

Fresh Wild Halibut
pouched in French Court Bouillon Visnat

Carmalelized Onion or Madeira Mushroom Brioche
with Mushroom, Bechamel and Madeira Wine Sauce

Char-grilled Marinated Eggplant
in olive oil

Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes

carrots + broccoli + cauliflower, fresh bread & butter pickles, olives, sugar snap peas with Ranch Dip

Kid-Decorated Easter Sugar Cookies
Champagne Cake

Assorted Exotic Flowering Tisanes, Teas & Coffee
Hot Mulled Cider


2004 Hiedler Loess Kamptal Gruner Veltliner

A juicy mandarin orange and lemon-zest palate and complexity from notes of fresh herb, pepper and wet stone -- quite refreshing

1999 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay

Produced from 14-year old vines, the 1999 Chardonnay Monte Bello exhibits a tight, Burgundian-like nose of citrus, roasted nuts, smoke, and orange skins. This is a medium-bodied, pure, impressive expression of Chardonnay.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Solio portable solar charger - green, cool and very handy.

The words green and cool have traditionally not occurred in the same sentence but the Solio portable solar charger indisputably earns both adjectives and is increasingly relevant given that roughly one billion handheld battery-powered devices will be sold this year. The Solio achieves maximum solar panel area in a minimum of space, captures energy from the sun or a traditional power outlet in its integrated Lithium Ion battery, and will top up the herbs on an Apple iPod, mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs and portable games consoles with its interchangeable tip system. Unlike some more obtrusive portable chargers, Solio’s award winning fan blade design allows it to be folded neatly to the size of a small mobile phone. This means Solio is highly portable, making it the perfect travel partner wherever you're going. The full Solio range is available now , prices start from UKP49.95/EU79.95. All units carry a full one year warranty.