it’s self-improvement month on pmk!

guess who is really awesome at taking food photos.

i’ll give you a hint: if you guessed me, you are absolutely wrong.

lately, i’ve been perusing all kinds of awesome food blogs in all reaches of the blogosphere, and quite a few have left an impression on me.  some of the huge ones that have really inspired me are one man’s meat, cottage grove house, and simple provisions.  every time i read those blogs, i think “jeez, look at these pictures.  there is no way in heck i could take food photos that look that good.”

but today, i finally thought, “maybe it is time to try to take some food photos that do look that good.”

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the little things.


we could all learn a lesson or two from our good friend the snail.

last weekend, while i looking after two grills, my friend reiko was washing dishes and found this little dude hanging out in the sink.  she hates snails, so she freaked out and called me over to take him off of the pot he was clinging to.

but let’s be honesty, here.  snails don’t hurt anybody.  they don’t have stress in their lives.  they don’t even understand the concept of stress.  they just chug along from one place to the next without a care in the world.  and if they happen to get caught in a place they shouldn’t be and flung into the woods or a nearby bush, they don’t hold any grudges.

i think sometimes we get so wrapped in the big, grand schemes in life that we forget to live it up.  don’t ever let yourself become a victim of your own humdrum, hard-and-fast routine.  take some time out every day to appreciate the little things (like this snail i felt the insatiable need to photograph) and they will provide you with a much needed breath of fresh air.

and don’t forget to go adventuring as often as you can.  even if it is the comfort of your own home, do something new every day.  if you feel like clinging to the bottom of a pot you don’t own in a sink you have never been to before, go ahead and cling.

happy cooking, and have a great (see: tiny, adventurous) day.

tanabata: festival of stars (and barbecue, apparently).

for most people in japan, tanabata is a time to go to festivals, eat food that comes on sticks, and drink beer or other refreshing beverages.  for my friends, however, it is a time to go out in the middle of the nature, fire up the shichirins, and cook so much food that we could feed the russian army twice over.

everybody brought a little something to the party, and while we all thought what we brought was humdrum and average, somehow the sum of all of our dishes made for one of the most elegant and refined meals i have had in a long time.  the following is a list, in order, of what we cooked.

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an ode to yudai-kun.


while farming was an excellent way to get sunburned, it occurred to me that there had to be a faster and more physically taxing way to get the same results.  and then i was invited to go fishing, and everything fell into place.

i got to the port around 8:45 on saturday morning, and fished until around 4.  it was super hot, smelled like fish and bait and sweat and sea water, and i had pretty much no idea what the heck i was doing.

in other words, i had a freaking blast.  we caught about 250 little mackerel (which were delicious), two giant pacific saury, one or two horse-mackerel, and two baby splendid alfonsino (which we threw back so they could become more delicious as adults).  but that isn’t the point of this post.

the point of this post is to pay homage to one of the greatest people i have met in japan so far.  his name is yudai, and i can only describe him as the japanese huck finn.  is he a little portly?  yup.  does his crack show every time he bends over the put bait on his fishing pole?  heck yes, it does.  and it is pretty darn endearing.

i won’t go into the details, but yudai-kun doesn’t exactly have an easy life.  due to the dubious nature of his parent’s work, they are not always around (and sometimes incarcerated), which means he has to do most of the looking out for his crazy (but adorable) six-year-old sister.  he’s a good kid, and although he gets into trouble in school, he spends every spare hour he can at the port developing his skills as a fisherman.  not that they really need developing.  he made me look like a moron, and he’s eleven.  seriously, towards the end we had to tell this kid to please stop catching fish because we couldn’t gut them fast enough.

he knew all the best spots, all the best lures, all the best fish, and had the perfect attitude for fishing.  he had an air that screamed, “hey, i’m fishing.  and so are you.  let’s just fish, and maybe in between we’ll say some stuff to each other.”  and somehow, over the course of eight hours of not really talking that much, we became friends.

here’s to you, yudai-kun.  you are the man, and i’m proud of you.  i can’t wait until next we meet.