Monday, January 31, 2011

Macrobiotic Detox

While doing some Christmas shopping at our favorite Japanese grocery store we thumbed through a booked titled "Mayumi's Kitchen Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul". A quick peak through the book showed simple, easy and extremely healthy recipes and eating concepts. After borrowing the book from our local library we were lucky enough to receive a copy for Christmas and decided in the New Year we would try the 10-day macrobiotic detox as suggested as an introduction to macrobiotic eating.

Ok, we won't lie we were drawn to the simple Japanese inspired recipes first, but the idea of neutralizing our palates after the holiday glut of rich heavy foods also appealed to us. As we analyzed the items needed for the next 10 days we quickly realized the list of pantry items were already staples in our kitchen. Do you have hijiki or kombu or even a Japanese pickle press? We do! So delving right into the macrobiotic detox was easy, especially after receiving the bi-weekly Organics-To-You delivery.

A large part of a macrobiotic diet consists of eating whole grains, such as brown rice, lentils, Japanese pearl barley, amaranth, quinoa, and millet. We were very familiar with these grains from a previous year's stringent candidia diet. We utilized as much of our organic produce delivery as well as use up whatever we had in our pantry, so no maple syrup instead we used agave, we used filtered water instead of the suggested spring water and unsweetened dried currents and cherries rather than raisins.

So how was the 10 days of detoxing? One word - filling. Whole grains which consisted of nearly 50% of all the foods we ate is extremely filling. It was amazing how little was used as well. 1/4 of a cup would fill us to the brim. Each and every meal from the book was well thought out where portions would be used for the next meal so we didn't feel as if we were constantly cooking, which we were, hey healthy eating takes time.

There was a detoxing element in every meal, such as grains for healthy skin and millet for healthy stomach, spleen and pancreas function. Macrobiotic eating is also mostly vegan, which allowed our systems to rest and recoup from over digestion the last few weeks of the holiday season. But more than anything we were looking to expand our knowledge base and provide a retreat for our bodies. Japanese food traditionally tries to satiate all the taste buds, so the combination of foods never left us wanting anymore. No sweet to balance out the savory, no tart to balance out the bitter. It was soothing, delicious and gave us a great groundwork for healthier eating.

Now let's bring on the food porn!

Some mornings we would start off with a bowl of miso soup, to assist in getting your body ready to receive food and prepare to start providing energy; soft cooked grains for prolonged energy throughout the day and ward off need to snack; and steamed or fresh greens for vitamins, nutrients and minerals.

Since macrobiotic foods are whole foods your brain recognizes it immediately as food, from the minute your chewing creates saliva your brain is triggered - food and energy are coming, so your body recognizes it is being fed. We found ourselves full way before you were finished eating. Overeating did not ever occur. Processed foods or foods that are cooked way beyond their original states take longer for your body to recognize as food, therefor it is easy to overeat.

Breakfasts were simple and really delicious and for those who find it difficult to eat breakfast the small portions, variety of flavors and soothing warmth of the miso soup was an easy breakfast to have.

Mayumi's recommended detox switched up the meals constantly so we never had the same "type" of breakfast twice, switching between green, grain, soup to fresh veggies, nuts, and the rare piece of fruit. Fruit and spices were rarely eaten in the detox, which we found interesting. One morning we had steamed greens (bitter) an apple (sweet) and toasted pumpkin seeds (nutty, spicy and savory when dry toasted). This was so simple and so satisfying, a snack we we will always have around at our house.

One of our favorite breakfast, probably because it was familiar, comforting and warming during the cold winter months was the soft-cooked whole oats with rice milk and unsweetened currents, eaten with a side of toasted almonds to ward off cravings for something savory.

One item we did eat nearly every day was kombu. Kombu is seriously one of the world's superfoods and one of the best glutamate in the world. We are currently obsessed with learning about natural glutamate, the history of kombu and glutamate is fascinating. The sea salted seaweed is one of the best hydrators for the body and packs a huge amount of punch to each dish.

While whole grains were eaten during the day, dinner and evening time meals consisted mainly of vegetables and protein. Not once did we miss dessert or a sweet piece of fruit to balance out the meal, it was really interesting. We were very surprised by the lack of craving and absolutely no use of garlic in any of the meals. Dinners were hearty and light and mainly consisted of vegetables and soy proteins like seitan.

Another aspect of macrobiotic eating we were excited by was the many recipes and meals with salted and pressed vegetables. Our Japanese pickle press got a lot of use in those 10 days.

These are just a very small sampling of what we ate, we realized each meal consisted of 3 different items per meal, 3 meals a day (no snacking) for 10 days, that's roughly 90 different dishes we made. We can not stress enough how simple and delicious each of the dishes were. We also discovered many new items we absolutely fell in love with such as water sauteing, ume plum vinegar, mochi sheets, adzuki beans and pumpkin seeds.

The detox also consisted of many detoxing beverages. We'll be honest the first few days without our daily dose of espresso was difficult, but nothing a few ibuprophens couldn't help with. Espresso is very acidic and adds to the toxicitiy of your system, so when we drank more alkaline hot beverages in the mornings, which we made our moods and souls calm down quite a bit - we know pretty hippy dippy huh?

Having all the Japanese ingredients and being familiar with lotus stalks and tofu pockets also helped. What else helped? Having someone who knows how to make sushi helped squeezing out sunomono salads and pressed veggies as well as rolling the most perfect rice balls for lunch.

The 10-day macrobiotic detox was a great introduction to the concept of whole food eating and just added to our arsenal of what makes food good.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Throughout the years I have grown accustomed to Mike's various facial hair. Let's consider it his personal form of self-expression. Sometimes it's minimal like a simple soul patch.

Sometimes he gets more creative such as with his pork bars phase.

Sometimes Mike is inspired by others, like his ode to John Waters and his recent dirty moustache coupled with long side bars or his dirty bars.

Usually it is just a full blown beard, which grows at an alarmingly fast rate. Sometimes I think he stashes $100 bills in his beard.

Throughout the years Mike has participated in friendly moustache or Maystache (usually occurring in the month of May) and Octobeard (occurring in October) competitions amoung coworkers. We've even joked about having Mike enter the World Beard and Moustache Championships held last year in Bend, Oregon. But those guys are serious competitors and it is more of a hobby for Mike.

While running errands on a sunny weekend we noticed a number of men running around with some seriously groomed moustaches. We didn't think much of it, as we live in Portland, Oregon so a group of perfectly waxed moustaches and beards isn't that strange.

That is until we noticed men with meticulously groomed moustaches and beards in stores, at the coffee house and just hanging out on the street corner. That's when we realized there must be a contest in town. The 2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships was this last weekend. And the catch? It costs spectators only $10 and participants $20! Yes, double the cost if you want to participate. Now, you've got to be serious if you're gonna enter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Farewell To Remember

Not long ago a dearly loved family member passed away. For the following 7 weeks (49 days) we honored her with weekly remembrances and temple offerings. On the 49th day we officially let her go onto her next journey and transitioned her mourning table to a remembrance table.

One of the uniquely buddhist traditions is to annually remember our loved ones with a meal consisting of foods they loved. This got us all thinking about what foods we would want to have at our remembrance meal.

However, during the mourning period only traditional vegan food is prepared and served, and if you have ever had a temple meal, the food can be delicious.

Traditional temple food is vegan and typically does not include onions or garlic. Mom managed to turn out several terrific dishes the monks and guests all enjoyed, starting with stir-fries.

Dad even chipped in a peppered tofu and seitan dish.

Mom decided to make our dear grandmother's own recipe kiem, a silky, starchy soup with sheets of tofu and yams.

A close family friend contributed the best vegetarian eggrolls we have ever had. Crunchy, savory and light, you betcha we wrote down the list of 8 ingredients!

To satisfy the sweet side a coconut and sweet bean sticky rice and a che dessert of sweet rice and black eyed peas cooked in coconut milk was served.

In combination these dishes perfectly complimented one another. The only taste missing was spicy, which honestly allowed the subtle and soothing elements of the meal to shine.

It was a very memorable meal and one cooked to help ease everyone on with life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pantone World

It has been nothing but gray gray gray rainy weather so we thought we'd post this video of some colorful scenery! Dulux Paint please come and include Portland in your Let's Color Project. If it were up to us we'd paint every house in the neighborhood some ungodly bright color, it would sure break up all the gray!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shigezo Izakaya

After only a few minutes discussing food with us, you will quickly realize we have a true and deep fascination with one particular country's food - Japan's. As you delve deeper beyond sushi, raman, teriyaki, and yakisoba noodles a pattern of certain ingredients presents itself and the infinite ways to use such a limited number of ingredients in infinite dishes is insane to comprehend. We love love love it!

Our food gods finally answered our prayers for a proper Japanese Izakaya with the recent opening of Shigezo Izakaya in downtown Portland. An izakaya is a Japanese pub and you better believe we quickly memorized the Japanese kanji for izakaya while traveling through Japan. The minute we stepped up to the door we knew we were going to like this place.

When we were in Japan we ate almost daily at an izakaya and each one was memorable in aesthetic and food. Shigezo did not disappoint and kept our fond memories of cozy wood interiors, comforting food, beers, sake drinks and casual atmosphere in tact.

Recently we have become obsessed with getting a kotatsu table for the studio. Shigezo even had a cozy kotatsu room for those cold Portland winters.

So, how was Shigezo's food? The izakayas we know of typically have HUGE menus. Page after page of food. Shigezo - not so much, but their happy hour was well priced and had the typical izakaya food represented. And in typical izakaya style we ordered a few drinks, some food, ate it, chatted for a bit, ordered some more food and drinks and began the cycle all over again for several hours. It was leisurely and casual, the way all izakaya meals should be.

Here are only a few items we ordered. We were celebrating birthdays and there was a lot of plates and drinks tossed around so we put down the camera and joined in the celebrating!

Avocado Tuna Cocktail. Served in a cocktail glass on a bed of spun daikon radish. Delicious, the similar textures of the avocado and tuna are a match made in heaven! This dish tested our desire to only eat sustainable fish, which tuna is currently not. It is certain times of the year, but not during the winter months in Portland. Oh well, we can't always be saints and if this dish represented the devil - call us sinners!

Ebi Mayo, battered and fried shrimp in a spicy mayo. You can find this dish on most Chinese restaurants, but Shigezo's version is far superior, with light and crispy shrimp that had a nice bite to them. The key was the spicy mayo, which wasn't heavy and provided a nice tang. Ba & Me may even like these.

California Roll. The table actually ordered spicy tuna rolls and Alaskan rolls before trying the California roll. The true and usually not scrutinized aspect of sushi is the rice. A somewhat labor-intensive rice that will make or break your sushi and Shigezo's was really good. Rolls fillings were well balanced. Sushi rolls should have layers of flavors and most importantly layers of textures in your mouth (something other cuisines outside of Asia rarely take into consideration) and Shigezo's rolls had crunch, creamy, pungent and delicate flavors and tastes. Score!

House Okonomiyaki. We had to wait until the clock hit 5pm to order this dish, our most anticipated of the night. Off the dinner menu's hot appetizers, the okonomiyaki consisted of pork and squid (two items we usually don't put into okonomiyaki when we make it at home) and since this is an izakaya and not a okonomiyaki house there was only one to order and it was good. Much gooier than our crunchy version we still gave it a thumbs up!

Not pictures, but ordered and eaten was the tsukemono (pickled Japanese vegetables and bonito flakes)- very fishy compared to the tart and tangy versions we have had, subtle and delicious, but not for those just learning about Japanese food. Edemane, seaweed salad, kara age (fried chicken) several chicken wings, salmon carpaccio, and several happy hour menu sushi rolls.

Oh and then there were the happy hour beers and drink specials, which included 22oz steins of beer for $5. Shigezo has a fantastic selection of soju drinks too! Woohoo! But the drink we shall be recreating almost immediately was the Calpico Chu - a carbonated lime yogurt beverage that was so yummy - add some soju (Korean distilled sweet potato liquor that is similar to vodka) and as one birthday girl said "dangerous" but oh so yummy!

We shall be returning to try the ginormous raman bowls (seriously huge), curries, kushiyaki (skewers), proper kushiage (panko-fried skewers), robata (hibachi/grill items) and we barely touched on the sushi menu! Can you tell we're excited that Shigezo has finally arrived!

Shigezo Izakaya

910 SW Salmon
Open Monday - Thursday 11:30am - 11pm
Fridays 11:30am - 12midnight
Saturdays 2pm - 12midnight
Sundays 2pm - 11pm

Friday, January 7, 2011

Looking Ahead

Now that we have recapped how we rang out 2010 and rang in 2011. We're looking ahead! This is going to be a big year and we want to make sure we hit the ground sprinting!

C'mon - Let's Do This Thing!