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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Week 6, 2015

So the dressage show on Sunday didn't go too well. Istria has been spooking a lot lately, and it didn't help that during warmup there was a huge truck dragging a roller across the polo stick and ball arena. Even worse is when that monster decided to come towards us. She freaked out and went crazy around the warmup arena. Although I stayed on and stopped her without crashing into anyone, my hairnet flew off in the struggle and it was not pretty. Long story short, she was still nervous going into the competition, and although we had pretty decent 6 and 7 in the beginning of the test, she saw a "baby monster" moving outside the arena half way through the test and refused to go into a corner, resulting in a wrong lead canter, which I couldn't correct. We got two 1s for that part, and it cost us dearly.

It's frustrating in times like this because she is such a pretty horse and when she's good she looks fantastic. She is, however, sensitive, and many things can set her off. Lately she has been spooking on average 2-3 times in a 45-min lesson, and I guess it's only natural that she'd be on high alert during a competition when tensions are high. I suppose I have to look at the bright side. She used to fidget nonstop and unable to halt, but we did two square halts this time. So there is progress...

Feb 2 (Mon)

I picked up my health screening report today and all the numbers are good. I guess this means I'm doing something right with my food, despite pigging out regularly =oP I think the key is to go light once in a while, so today I'm going light with
Toasted Quinoa Pear Salad

It may not look much but this salad is very filling. The flavor is mild but not bland. I like the sweetness of the pear with the goat cheese.

Feb 3 (Tue)

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Taco
I ate this on the wrap, and J ate it as a salad without the wrap. Either way it's pretty yummy. I don't put in nearly as much oil in the dressing, and I use home made low fat yogurt instead of sour cream, making this a very healthy and low fat dish.

Spicy Black Bean Soup
This soup is a little spicy, not to the point that you're gasping for air, but it has a kick. So go easy on the chili powder and increase as needed.

Feb 4 (Wed)

I used to make this dish quite often when we lived in Tokyo. The recipe was from a cookbook I borrowed from the library, but I forgot who the author was. If you're not used to the taste of umeboshi (Japanese sour plum) you may find this too sour, but both J and I like it a lot. It's pungent and punchy. I was too lazy to dig out my clay pot, but if I start making this more often I'll definitely make it in the clay pot, because it looks so much more impressive that way.

Baked Onion Chicken Thighs w Umeboshi & Shiso
serves 2-3

6 tbsp extra virgin Olive Oil, divided, plus additional for the baking dish
1 large onion, minced
sea salt
fresh coarsely ground black pepper
10 umeboshi, pitted
20 shiso leaves, chopped, 1 tbsp reserved
splash of sake
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh

- Preheat oven to 400F/200C
- Saute onion in 3 tbsp olive oil in heavy skillet over high heat. Salt and pepper liberally, until soft, about 5 min
- Place onion, umeboshi, shiso and 1 tbsp olive oil in blender and blend (add as much sake as needed for blender to work). Reserve 3 tbsp of this mixture.
- In small skillet, heat up the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil over maximum heat and fry the chicken until brown spots begin to appear
- Transfer the chicken and the blended onion mixture to a large bowl and mix
- Spray some olive oil into a baking dish (or clay pot) transfer chicken into it, and bake until golden, about 30 min
- Remove chicken, mix the reserved sauce through it, and return to the oven for another couple of minutes before serving
- Serve on a warm plate or in clay pot, topped off with the chopped shiso.

Here's another dish that I make ALL the time. It's super easy but tastes really good. It goes well with both Japanese or Chinese food. I use the skinny green beans if I can find them.

Green Bean Sesame Salad

250g Green beans                                  
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp white sesame
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce                        
- Wash beans and rub salt onto beans 
- Boil water and cook beans for 2-3 minutes.  Immediately plunge into ice water 
- Cut beans into half or 1/3, depending on length.  Sprinkle 1 tsp soy sauce all over
Toast sesame seeds and coarsely grind using mortar and pestle 
- Drain beans and add to a large bowl 
- Add sesame and reaming soy sauce, mix thoroughly

Feb 5 (Thur)

Korean Styled Spicy Marinated Pork Belly
This is one of my favorites. I use very thinly sliced pork belly (paper thin) meant for hot pot, so you get maximum sauce coating. If you don't want too much starch you can just use the lettuce without the brown rice, but I really like the firm texture of the rice.

Smooth Cauliflower Soup
I haven't made this soup in years, but I wanted something warm and soothing to go with the spicy pork, and found this recipe in my files. It tastes really creamy, but there's no cream in the soup at all. By the way, the photo on was taken by yours truly when I first started documenting my food with photos. It was taken with a real camera, way before the smart phone era.

This is a short week, since we are flying off to Jaipur for a wedding tomorrow. I'll see if there's any interesting food to report on, but until then, happy cooking!