Monday, January 01, 2007

Sushi New Year!

It has been far too long since I last posted, because working retail the weeks of Christmas and New Year's pretty much sucked the life out of me. Fortunately, things will slow down at work now, and I can begin looking for another part-time job, or a full-time job, or some other form of additional income beginning in February. (I have full-time retail hours through January.)

Christmas was kind of a let-down for me this year -- I woke up in a funk, moped around my apartment most of the day, and went to see "The Holiday," which was surprisingly well-written, funny, and charming, for a Hollywood holiday romantic comedy. :) Nice brain junk food -- took my mind off my funk for over two hours! I then came home, ate my weight in Annie's organic mac and cheese, and moped some more. Not the greatest holiday on record, but probably better than some. :)

I've been cooking a little bit, but have taken few pictures. Here's what I have!

This is a pasta I made sometime over the last week or two. Basic whole wheat spaghetti with jarred marinara (I've fallen in love with Middle Earth Organic's tomato and porcini mushroom,) topped with a saute of zucchini, onion, mushroom, kidney beans, garlic, and some fines herbs:

Here's what I made for dinner tonight:
I followed the recipe off the back of the package of udon noodles my dear friend Marie sent to me for Christmas, (she also sent me a large jug each of maple syrup and toasted sesame oil -- thanks Rie!), and it was a perfect example illustrating my point in a conversation I had with a coworker this week. We were discussing cooking styles, food, and flavor, and he was explaining to me how he loves food with layers of flavor, complex sauces, and the like. I explained I enjoy much of my food quite simply, using a few high quality ingredients, and flavor boosters like fresh herbs, vinegars, garlic, and the like, to bring out the subtle nuances of my very high-quality ingredients. Anyhow, these udon noodles were delicious, perfect, and simple -- a quick stir-fry of tofu, onion, carrot, mushroom, and cabbage, followed by adding the noodles for a minute once fully cooked, and then a generous but not overabundant amount of low-sodium tamari. Mmmmmm . . . slightly salty, slightly crunchy, noodley goodness.

AND, the food finale for this post:
I made sushi for New Year's Eve! Why, you ask? (Especially considering I've never made sushi before, and never cared for sushi in the past.) Well, because sushi is one of Dan's all time favorite foods, and I decided I was ready for a culinary challenge. I picked up a few key ingredients (nori, prepared wasabi, sushi rice, and sushi vinegar) at work, as well as a few key tools (a rolling mat, soy sauce dishes, and chopsticks,) and loads of awesome advice from my coworkers, including detailed instructions on how to cook the rice to perfection, what to serve with the sushi (steamed edamame and miso soup,) and rolling and cutting tips. After a quick trip to the co-op for a few additional ingredients to round out the meal (cucumber, red pepper, and avocado for the rolls, pickled ginger for a side, and shiitake mushrooms and spinach for the miso soup,) I was ready to steam some rice and get rolling. My verdict? Surprisingly easy, surprisingly tasty (but I think my favorite part was the pickled ginger!), and Dan was floored.

Sushi New Year to all!


bazu said...

Happy New Year, indeed!

I love sushi so much, kudos to you for making it- what a feast. And I love udon too. I just basically adore Japanese cuisine, because, like you, I like clean flavors and unique, strong, quality ingredients.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Catherine! Your sushi looks so perfect! Dan's one lucky guy. I haven't tried making my own vegan sushi yet but I'm going to do it this month for sure.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I am very impressed with your sushi. It looks so pretty! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year! I am glad you survived the Christmas/New Years retail nightmare!

Your food looks fantastic, and if that was your first attempt at sushi then you are amazing--they look perfect!

It is good to hear from you again!


Freedom said...

Awww, what a pity your christmas wasn't quite what you would have liked :-(
But it looks like you had a great new years to compensate! That sushi looks totally pro, well done!!!

Anonymous said...

the sushi looks so profesional! great work, happy new year!

Crystal said...

Wow, that sushi looks fantastic - great technique!!! Glad you gave it a try.

Too bad about Christmas - it must be odd to not have family around...well, at least it would be odd for me since I'm so used to running from house to house. At least you had mac and cheese!!


theONLYtania said...

Oh man, I have been wanting to make sushi for so long! I'm jealous. Those look great, I can't believe it was your first time. Where did you find the rolling mat? Happy new year! Hehe.

Harmonia said...

Everything looks great...swing by my house and helpme with vegan sushi! lol

I'm back bloggin'

Nikk said...

Your sushi looks professional! Bravo! :)

Okay, I could probably just look it up, but do you soak the nori first? I have oodles of nori and it is quite brittle. I'm not well versed in the ways of sushi or sea vegetables.

Michelle said...

wow, that sushi looks good. can you believe i've never tasted sushi before, let alone try to make it?!

Catherine Weber said...

Bazu, hear hear for Japanese food! I'm growing increasingly excited about Asian food in general these days, and having a lot of fun trying out new things. Yum!

Crystal, thanks! Making the sushi was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. Let me know if you need any tips -- I have loads.

Thanks, Michelle!

Courtney, Freedom, and Johanna, thanks!

Crystal, it was an odd Christmas -- it just felt more like a day off, as opposed to a holiday. Oh well! Mac and Cheese does make just about anything better, though!

Tania, I got my rolling mat at work, but you could probably find them at an Asian market or maybe even Pier One or World Market?

Harmonia, welcome back to blogdom! I'd be happy to help you with vegan sushi -- let me know if you need some tips!

Nikki, I didn't need to do anything to my nori before I used it, because I bought pre-toasted nori. One of my coworkers told me you can toast it briefly (over your burner, while holding it with a pair of tongs,) if it's brittle, but mine was plenty pliable, especially when I patted the slightly warm rice over it.

Michelle, this was my first foray into the world of sushi -- I had never eaten it before, either! It was pretty good -- the avocado roll was my favorite.