Saturday, December 24, 2011

christmas card

Per tradition, the Higaki family Christmas card was created again this year. Of course there wasn't a single photo that we had already taken this year that we collectively liked, so (painfully) we had to shoot one specifically for the card. Here are the outtakes and runner ups.

The last one is the one we actually used. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

soy braised country ribs with carrots

Happy Monday! As we drag our feet back to the office after Thanksgiving weekend, I'd like to share a recipe that I love, found via Tastespotting. Tastespotting aggregates recipes from all over the web - so it can be overwhelming, but has definitely expanded my cooking repertoire. This recipe is a bit time consuming, but you can cook everything in 1 skillet or wok! Allow yourself a good 3-4 hours for prep and cooking time. In the end it is well worth it. Goes well with Japanese white rice and Chinese greens like gai lan. The photo below is from Note, my final results NEVER look this pretty, but I didn't have a photo of my own and wanted to show you some idea of what it could look like.

Soy-Braised Pork Country Ribs with Carrots
Adapted from Molly Stevens, Bon Appétit October 2010

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup low-salt chicken broth (use 1 cup of a 1 - 14.5 oz can, then use the remaining later)
6 tablespoons dry Sherry
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek) **Optional
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 5 x 1 1/2-inch strips (I use boneless country-style pork ribs already cut)
2 tablespoons peanut oil **Fine to use regular canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 green onions; white and pale green parts finely chopped, green parts thinly sliced and separated
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 whole star anise
3 long strips orange peel removed from 1 orange with vegetable peeler or knife
1 1/5 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

Ingredient info: Hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek) can be found in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets. Look for whole star anise — brown star-shaped seedpods—in the spice section of some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Asian markets. Sherry can be found in the salad dressing section in a grocery store.

Cut off excess fat from the ribs and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. Cut up all of the onion, green onion, ginger, garlic, carrots, and peel orange; set aside. Whisk chicken broth, sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, and hot chili paste in small bowl to blend; set aside. Heat peanut oil in heavy large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook ribs until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped onion to skillet and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add white parts of green onions (green part will be added later), garlic, and ginger; sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth mixture, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Add star anise and orange peel; bring to simmer.

Return ribs to same skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Add carrots, green parts of the green onions and remaining chicken broth to skillet, pushing to submerge in sauce. Cover and simmer until vegetables and ribs are tender, gently stirring mixture occasionally, about 1 hour longer. Check the carrots - if they are soft, and the ribs are still on the tough side, remove the carrots before continuing to cook the ribs so they don't get overly mushy. Transfer mixture to platter.

Click here for the original link. The reviews and other peoples' tips are helpful. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the farm

It's been about a year and a half since I moved to the Bay Area to work for the family business, in beautiful Half Moon Bay, California. I think it's high time you get a glimpse of the farm.

Welcome to Bay City Flower Company.

The entrance

Our sales office trailer, my home 5 days a week

All of these hydrangea start like...


Fact: hydrangea is the largest crop we grow

Vintage hydrangea - these flowers naturally age on the bench for 2 months after they are in full bloom to gain rich color

The first crop of poinsettia of the year

Succulent beds

"Red Velvet" echeveria shoots - cute and fuzzy

Tractor en route to the packing line

Eagerly waiting to be packed

Wrapping plants

The shipping dock

Miguel, shipping manager

Night time at the farm

My father, el jefe

My Aussie boss, Michael and my awesome cubemate, Liz

Hope you enjoyed the tour and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

just dance

Holy, You are still holy
Even when the darkness surrounds my life
Sovereign, You are still sovereign
Even when confusion has blinded my eyes
Lord I don’t deserve Your kind affection
When my unbelief has kept me from Your touch
I want my life to be a pure reflection
Of Your love ...

So I come into Your chambers
And I dance at Your feet, Lord
You are my Savior
And I’m at Your mercy
All that has been in my life up to now
Belongs to You
You are still holy
-Rita Springer

Last night, this song moved me. I'm sure this song was probably written in the midst of more pain and suffering that I have ever experienced - yet confusion is confusion. As I wonder where my life is going and why God has allowed me to live on this earth, it's comforting to hear Rita sing that in presence of darkness and confusion, her solution and resolve is to enter His presence and dance. Not to work harder or create some master plan to figure things out. God is holy regardless of circumstance and will carry us through to the end.

So just dance.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

spiced pumpkin cake

In the quietness of Sunday afternoon, I want to share with you this delicious spiced pumpkin cake with whipped cream cheese frosting courtesy of Not So Humble Pie and Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
yields 2 8" or 9" cake rounds

3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup golden brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (16 oz)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare two 8" or 9" round cake pans with a light coating of non-stick spray and then line the bottoms with parchment.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Once sifted, give it a good mixing with a whisk to ensure everything is evenly distributed and then set aside.

In a second large bowl, add the brown sugar and a third of the pumpkin puree. Combine the two with a spatula, pressing firmly to ensure there are no rogue lumps of sugar. Once lump free, add the remaining pumpkin and oil. Blend with a whisk and then add the eggs, one at a time, stirring with the whisk to incorporate after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients a third at a time, blending after each addition.

Divide the batter between your two pans and place into the oven on a lower-middle rack. Bake for 40-45 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.

Let the cakes stand in the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then unmold onto the racks and turn right-side up to cool completely.

Once cool you can begin on Ms. Humble's whipped cream cheese frosting.

Ms. Humble's Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields enough to frost a 8" or 9" double layer cake.

1lb (16oz) full fat cream cheese, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream (use the ultra heavy 40%+ cream if you can find it)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Sift the powdered sugar and add the cream cheese to the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat them thoroughly until fluffy and completely smooth/lump free. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture, scrape down the sides of your bowl and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

Assemble your cake by trimming any humps off the top of the cake and place trimmed side down on your serving platter. Tuck strips of parchment under the cake to protect the platter during frosting, if desired. Dollop a generous amount of frosting onto the first layer--about twice as much as seen below--and smooth into an even layer, about 1 cm thick.


Couple of tips: 1) DO follow the instructions to be generous with the frosting for the filling. Plenty to go around. 2) I did not find it necessary to cut off any of the humps of the layers. I turned 1 upside down, and the 2nd layer I placed with the rounded part face up. The frosting can fill in the uneven parts.

Unfortunately, my friends and I enjoyed this cake so much I didn't even stop to take a photo of the final creation. It's that good. And...I accidentally used 2 15 oz CANS of pumpkin puree instead of 2 CUPS. Funny thing is, I actually didn't realize this until I looked at the recipe again after the cake was consumed. Oops. I guess this recipe is very forgiving.

Enjoy! And thanks, Not So Humble Pie for sharing! This was a true fall treat.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I think it is time to begin again.

One photo at a time. One thought at a time. One step at a time.

Here we go!