5 Beautiful Ways to Celebrate Spring, #InMyKitchen

Spring winds birth sakura cherry blossoms. In Japan, sakura petals carpet parks. Lanterns sway gently from the branches of cherry blossom trees. Picnickers clink sake glasses as the sun sets on this pink fairyland.

Even with the California water shortage, gardens burst with color and fragrance. The smiling flowers fill me with gratitude. Sometimes it’s the simple things. Like sunshine on the face after bursts of cold is sublime. Or a whiff of jasmine as I scurry to an appointment. My spirits lift in springtime. A whisper of hope touches my shoulder.

Yes, each season brims with beauty. Since spring is present, I’ll celebrate the gift…#InMyKitchen! In any month, I lift my glass to Maureen of OrgasmicChef.com.  She’s a queen of cuisine; the hostess of #InMyKitchen; and a woman whose wisdom and strength are #inspirational!

Greek Chirashi Sushi, #SundaySupper

Chirashi sushi is a super easy to make Japanese meal. It’s also the solution to little time and lots of people to feed. Like a My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 potluck party. Nichole Crews of Casa de Crews has arranged such a Sunday Supper feast. Scroll down and get inspired to celebrate the opening weekend of the Greek wedding extravaganza movie. Or at least grab some Greek-inspired scrumptious suppers and sweets.

Greek chirashi sushi - my contribution to today’s Sunday Supper – is a combination of Japanese chirashi sushi and Greek salad. Traditional chirashi sushi is a sprinkling (literally scattering) of fish and Japanese egg crepe over vinegar sushi rice. (The egg crepe can be made in minutes. Click here for the recipe.) When at a sushi restaurant and you can’t make up your mind, chirashi is a great choice. You get a sample of a variety of fish.  Plus the artistic arrangement of the sushi and egg are always lovely to look at.

Japanese Egg Crepes (Kinshi Tamago) #SundaySupper

The political skirmishes on the world stage and/or in the office can be ugly. My escape is to make pretty. In the kitchen, I whip up comfort foods like kinshi tamago – Japanese egg crepes. I also go bike riding on Santa Monica beach. And thank God I’m a docent at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens. What’s your RX for finding beauty?

In Japan, artistic presentation is key: The plating of food, the packaging of products, the sculpting of flowers. Japanese bentos are another example of Japan’s penchant for pretty meals. (Just take a look at Pinterest!)

Japanese egg crepes (kinshi tamago) are often sliced super thin and sprinkled over rice in bento boxes. One of the great pleasures of travel in Japan is picking up a bento at train stations. The ekiben - station bento boxes - reflect the specialties of the region. Shimizu Station is famous for it’s sakura (cherry blossom) shrimp, which are complimented by kinshi tamago, tofu, peas, and lotus roots.

Tofu Nuggets, #SundaySupper

Japan is famous for amazing Kobe wagyu beef. Exceptional taste (thanks to the marbled fat) and exceptional cost (thanks to the methods - such as massage - used to raise the cows.) Beef certainly was not taken for granted at our dining room table in Tokyo.

Tofu was always in our refrigerator. Not the kind of packaged tofu in an American supermarket. Sure, the contents looked similar, but in Tokyo (circa 1960s, 1970s) fresh tofu was purchased from the tofu store. No kidding. Right next to the vegetable grocer, stood a tiny store selling tofu. Tiny is an apt adjective. The tofu store was smaller than a hallway in an American office building. White blocks of tofu swam in wooden vats. My nanny would point to the tofu she wanted. The tofu seller would scoop up the bean curd and place it in a plastic bag. Not an easy feat as anyone knows who has handled tofu. Tofu crumbles very easily…The very reason I chose firm tofu to make tofu nuggets for Sunday Supper.

5 Secrets to Serenity and Girl Power, #InMyKitchen

I'm delighted Maureen of OrgasmicChef.com peeked #InMyKitchen and invited me to share. Maureen is the epitome of serenity and girl power. Despite Life’s curve balls, she stands tall. (To read her story go to OrgasmicChef.com.) Maureen also proves her prowess in the kitchen with do-able gourmet-ish dishes and desserts. I’m grateful for Maureen’s inspiration and invite to her #InMyKitchen party.

Serenity and – firmly standing in my feminine self – Girl Power – go hand-in-hand. When I’m being nice to myself, I notice giving to others comes from a fuller place. By the way, Maureen and Japanese (March 3rd) Girls’ Day inspired contemplation of serenity and girl power. (Currently called Children’s Day by those who are especially PC or politically correct.)  So, here are the 5 Secrets to Serenity and Girl Power found in my kitchen.

1. Celebrate Victories…Even the Small Ones.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Pie, #SundaySupper

Visit Japan and you’ll see symphonies of artistic sweets. The eye follows an unbroken rhythm of desserts composed into perfect rows. Each piece influenced by the natural beauty of the season. In springtime, both traditional Japanese sweets shops and Parisian-inspired patisseries celebrate cherry blossoms.

To revel in the warm March winds blowing spring our way, I decided to make Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Pie Minis.  I’ve baked cherry blossom cookies and cherry chip blossom cupcakes. But I’ve never made a cherry pie. Plus it’s one of my gluten-sensitive husband’s favorite pies. So, I created a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Pie. Motivation to make the pies minis came from translating for fashionistas from Japan the other day. As I assisted the talented young ladies navigate an American restaurant menu, I was reminded how petite and pretty are priorities.

5 Delightful Facts About Lavender, #GalentinesDayParty Ice Cream

What in the world is a Galentine’s Day Party? As inspired by the popular TV show, Parks and Recreation, the idea is to celebrate gal pals. Today’s hosts are Nancy of Gotta Get Baked and Courtney of Neighbor Food. Scroll down and you’ll see a sumptuous buffet of recipes designed for this sensational soirée. Luscious Honey Lavender Ice Cream is my offering.

Lavender was on the top of the shopping lists for the likes of Queen Elizabeth I and Cleopatra. The Queen of England relieved work stress and headaches by downing cups of lavender infused tea. In Egypt, Cleopatra dabbed lavender scented perfumes on her body before seducing both Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. If lavender is good enough for the royals, I figure it’s perfect for the special attendees of this Galentine’s Day Party.

Love Blossoms a Beautiful Bakery : Sensitive Sweets

The OC is home to two Sensitive Sweets bakeries. They are a testament to a mother’s love for her children. Sensitive Sweets’ owner, Melanie Hohman’s two sons are challenged with severe food allergies. Determined to have her sons experience the delights of desserts, Melanie marched into her kitchen and began experimenting with recipes. She didn’t emerge until she had created delicious gluten-free treats, which were also devoid of dairy, egg and soy products. 


How To Win the Super Bowl Snack-Time Game, #Glutino

Taut as a high wire act, tensions run high at Super Bowl parties. Broncos’ quarterback, Peyton Manning could be history’s oldest Super Bowl winner. The football star is familiar with the Super Bowl scene. (He’s appeared with the Colts and the Broncos.) So, Bronco fans will undoubtedly be crossing their toes and fingers that Super Bowl 50 will produce the coveted win.

The Panthers and their fans are also hungry for the Vince Lombardi trophy. The Super Bowl win has consistently eluded the Panthers. However, with Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton stalking the trophy, the curse of never winning a Super Bowl might turn around this Sunday….Cam Newton is a 26-year-old sapling compared to Peyton Manning’s dinosaur age of 39!

Japanese Plum Wine Donuts, How to Survive A Broken Heart, #RED #TwelveLoaves

Like butterfly wings, Life is fragile. There is beauty. The searing pain of leaving the known territory of a cocoon is also Life. Sometimes I want to take flight to a Japanese garden and soak in serenity. No matter the escape, reality always comes marching in.

Enchanted by the idea of taking on another persona, I pursued the life of an actor into my twenties. My 5-year-old self set sights on the acting profession. (Escaping my seat in a Tokyo movie theatre, I twirled down the aisle to I Could Have Danced All Night. My sister ran down the aisle to capture me.)

I worked as an actress in Japan and America. In the US, jobs were few and far between.  Oscar's red magic carpet eluded me. So, I entered the corporate world. Fast-forward several decades: Serendipitously, I was introduced to a manager. I went on a few auditions. No jobs. The manager said goodbye several months ago.