About Bert Tanimoto

Oldish father of two youngish kids. Zojirushi enthusiast and professional writer. California resident with roots in Hawaii and Japan. Classic rock, popcorn movies, audio books, spam, sushi and cone filtered coffee. Guilty pleasures include donuts and pop bands like ABBA and Wham!.

Shrimp Fajitas on the Griddle

So let me explain something—by the time this post gets published, we (our family) will probably be into over 30 days of being vegetarian. We started around the 2nd or 3rd of January for our New Year’s resolution, and for the most part, all of us have been pretty good at sticking to it. We’ve also had some experience with being vegetarian before; we did it for 40 days a couple of years ago, and let me tell you, it’s hard—for a bunch of meat eaters!

How come I did shrimp fajitas, you say? Cuz we’re chill vegetarians, LOL! To be fair, we only got sidetracked about 3 or 4 times the last time we did this, and we didn’t eat meat at all—only fish. So count the fajita as one of our cheatin’ pescatarian days, and keep it a secret, OK?

Obviously, I’m not the cook in our house, but fajitas are so easy anyone can do them. And it helps to have a big cooking surface like our Zojirushi Electric Griddle where I can do everything at once. The last time I used this, it was for soufflé pancakes and they came out pretty good.

Here’s the ingredients I used. The marinate sauce is store-bought.

The marinating process. I learned not to keep the shrimp in it too long, because it will start cooking the shrimp; so marinate for only twenty minutes tops. (I didn’t know that! I love it when I learn something new…)

Cooking time! See how all of it fits on this griddle?

And done! Doesn’t this look beautiful? So healthy too; full of fresh veggies and flavor. I didn’t feel guilty at all, since it was shrimp. Ha! This was actually enough for our family of four…

Add salsa and guac and lay it on a flour tortilla; what could be easier than that. I feel it’s much easier to stay disciplined about eating healthy if you aren’t so strict about it—that’s when it starts to become a chore. It’s also easier staying vegetarian when you cook at home. Eating out is tough after a while, as the choices are limited and it starts to get so expensive.

But plant-based foods are so popular these days that you can find it everywhere. A recent trend is the meatless hamburger, which is moving into the mainstream from the gourmet vegan restaurants to the fast food industry. Burger King® and Carl’s Jr.® have them on their menu, and of course McDonald’s® will too, soon enough. We had one from an artisanal burger restaurant in Los Angeles called Monty’s®, which serves a completely vegan hamburger that tasted just like the real thing—honest! Don’t you think it even looks like the real thing? They even use beets to give the “beef” a pinkish color inside, just like a medium rare hamburger!

I’m sure we’ll go back to eating meat again eventually, like we did last time. It’s too restrictive, to be honest. But in the meantime, I have to admit I’m feeling “lighter” and I think I’ve got a bit more energy. At least I’m hoping I’ll eat less meat after this is done!

Side note: See “Game Changers” on Netflix® if you get the chance. Amazing documentary on professional athletes who have gone completely vegan and how it’s made them perform better!

 

All images by Bert Tanimoto

 

 

 

 

Happy New 2020!

This year my resolution is to slow down and enjoy life more—by paying attention to what’s going on around me. Modern technology makes all of us go too fast, don’t you think?

At our house, we do sukiyaki whenever we have a special occasion, but especially for New Year’s Eve. Pretty soon our son will be leaving for his first real job in Washington D.C., starting a career with the government. Since our daughter is also home right now, on winter break from university, we decided to break out the sukiyaki hot pot to celebrate the holidays. Eating together as a family at home isn’t as regular as it used to be. As the kids got older, my wife would cook, but everyone would grab a plate and retreat to their part of the house to eat while doing whatever we wanted to do. In fact, our best family conversations happened while we were at a restaurant together. That’s OK I guess, but not quite the same.

Sukiyaki changes all that. It takes a while to prep—veggies have to be cut, tofu has to be sliced and the meat laid out nicely. I can’t take credit for this pretty arrangement; my wife has the skills.

Once that’s done, it’s time to set the table. Tonight’s ingredients are Chinese cabbage, Japanese long onion (naganegi), Chrysanthemum leaves (shungiku), 3 kinds of mushrooms, yam noodles (shirataki), tofu and rib eye beef!

We used the Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet for the job, which made it super easy to cook. We were most impressed with the fact that the outer body doesn’t get hot, which means you can surround it with ingredients on the dining table without worrying about the heat getting to them—important when you don’t want raw meat or sashimi to get too warm.

There are tons of sukiyaki recipes online, so look one up and try—it’s not hard to cook. Plus you can use store bought sauce from the store, which is what we always do.

Here’s the live action—LOL!

You’ll notice we have raw eggs which we use as a dip. My wife is a bit squeamish about this so she passes on it, but I love it!

Here’s what I noticed about dinners like tonight’s with my family. Not only does a hot pot dish like sukiyaki bring us together at the dining table on a cold winter night, this kind of meal takes time to eat. You can’t scarf this down. We talked about our son’s future career, about our daughter’s courses next semester, about the house guest from Japan that we’re going to be entertaining over Christmas—the usual things families discuss if you have the time to talk about them. Remember my New Year’s resolution?

What are yours going to be this year?

 

 

Images by Bert Tanimoto, food styling by @ironchefmom

 

 

Bert-san’s Take—Zojirushi Toaster Oven

What can you do in a Toaster Oven? I thought about avocado toast, but that sounded too easy. On the other hand, I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew, you know what I mean? So I decided to try a homemade pop tart because there were lots of recipes online…and I like pop tarts!

First thing I found out was that I didn’t have to make my own pie crust because—who knew? They sell ready made crust at the supermarket! Jeez, I had no idea, honestly.


But I still had to roll out the dough…


…and lay it out as best as I could on the baking pan. (See what I did there with the parchment paper to prevent sticking?)


Then I spread the jam. I used a mango passion fruit jam instead of strawberry because I wanted it tart and not too sweet.


I placed another square of pie crust over the jam and poked holes in it to let steam out, according to the recipe. The edges were sealed with grooves made with a fork. It’s lookin’ good!


Then it goes into my Zojirushi Toaster Oven and bakes for 20 minutes or so at 375°F.


So then the recipe says to make your icing while I’m waiting for my pop tart to bake—so I did! Pretty simple; it’s just powdered sugar and water.


Ding!! Looks all golden brown and everything! I see how there’s a hot spot in the back, but it’s not that bad.


My finished pop tart won’t win any beauty prizes, but it tasted pretty good! The choice of the passion fruit jam was spot on, but my icing didn’t spread well because I made it too thick (lesson learned).

What else can you do with a Toaster Oven? How about roasting chestnuts?

Just pierce the shell with little “X” marks with a knife, add a little water to the pan, and pop them in for like 35 minutes at 425°F.


Ta-dah!

Overall my Zojirushi Toaster Oven ET-WMC22 performed very well. The size is very compact, so it’s perfect for a single person or a small family like ours. The included baking pan is heavy duty and not flimsy, so that’s a bonus. And the automatic pull-out rack made it easy to load and remove my pop tart.

 

 

Images by Bert Tanimoto

 

 

 

 

Bert-san’s Take—Zojirushi Breadmaker

Who knew I could actually bake? And that my Rainbow Bread could look so beautiful? I mean, I cannot believe I did this just by following instructions (which I’m really good at) and literally pushing a button. BUT…I’m taking credit where credit is due; even though this crazy amazing breadmaker by Zojirushi does all the heavy lifting, I did have to make the rainbow part, and it wasn’t easy.

Indeed, the trickiest part of baking with the breadmaker might very well be reading the manual. It’s written out pretty well, but for a novice like me, I read and re-read it so I wouldn’t screw up, and I still managed to stumble on a few steps. I baked with the Zojirushi Home Bakery Maestro® (BB-SSC10), which is perfect for us because it’s compact and bakes a 1-lb. loaf; we can’t eat that much in a span of 3-days anyway.

The first thing I did was line up all my ingredients for a simple, basic white bread—flour, dried milk, sugar, salt, unsalted butter, dry yeast and water. Then I studied:

After carefully measuring all the ingredients, I started to load the baking pan, and promptly forgot to add the yeast last so it wouldn’t get wet. This is what it’s supposed to look like (my second try), with the water underneath all those dry ingredients, and the yeast sitting on top.

Then the breadmaker does the rest—which is great if you’re baking plain white bread, but I was planning Rainbow Bread, so I was supposed to interrupt the cycle to add food coloring to the dough. My second mistake—I set the cycle wrong so I had to let it go and settle for plain white bread this first time around. Oh well, I needed a test run anyway!

The unveiling of the finished loaf! So exciting! And it smelled soooo good!

Not bad for a first try. The golden color was great, and it didn’t collapse on me—LOL! And by the way, the fresh bread tasted like…homemade bread! Moist and warm. If you decide to keep it for a few days, I’d recommend toasting it by the 3rd day. Trust me, you’ll still love it.

Here’s how I did my Rainbow Bread. The Breadmaker has a homemade setting, which allows you to take out the dough after it’s been kneaded and before it bakes. This gives you some time to do whatever you want to the dough—like add extra ingredients, or in my case, add food coloring. The dough is very sticky, but if you have enough flour on your hands, it’s manageable.

Then you flatten it, stack it, and roll it up!

After you reload it into the Breadmaker, the cycle starts up again, and the machine does the rest. The longest wait time is by far this part—the dough sits and rests to give it time to rise, and then finally bakes. The total from start to end was about 3-1/2 hours (not including the coloring part). But doesn’t it look amazing? Like a sculpture, if I do say so myself!

I have to admit this was a lot of fun and was an awesome weekend family activity. I can’t wait to try the other breads on the menu, like European and the Cinnamon bread; my family wants to do more Rainbow bread in pastel colors!

 

 

Images by Bert Tanimoto and @ironchefmom

 

 

 

 

Happy Fall!

Seems like no matter how many polls you listen to, people have a different season of the year that they like best. Spring and Fall lead the others usually, probably because the weather is milder—and Fall fans are really into it because Halloween is so popular. These pumpkins look scary enough for Halloween, don’t they?

I took a couple of Zojirushi Stainless Mugs with me this month and took some random shots—hope you like them!

This is a local park near our house called Los Arboles, more popularly known as Rocketship Park. There are only a handful of these rocketship slides left in SoCal, mainly because cities are constantly in fear of being sued by parents whose children might get injured. Geez! What happened to kids being allowed to play like kids? Torrance tried to take this one down in the middle of the night, but residents protested so strongly, they were forced to set it up again; and today it’s a historic landmark. I’ve heard there’s another one somewhere in L.A. county, but they decided to cover it up with steel plates to prevent anyone from climbing in. Sheesh…I’m so glad ours is still standing.

 

My gym where I’ve actually kept up my New Year’s resolution to this day!

I’m such a wimp tho…

 

The reason getting in shape is hard—I’ve already confessed I have a weakness for donuts. These apple fritters are AMAZING from Randy’s Donuts®. Highly recommended.

The iconic donut sign outside. It’s been in so many movies and TV shows, the big donut is an L.A. icon. Randy’s is open 24/7 and the fritter is only $1.50; I’d say that’s pretty reasonable!

 

This is the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. We love coming out here on a weekend, to people watch, enjoy the street musicians and shop at one of the best outdoor malls in Los Angeles. My only complaint is the lack of independent specialty stores, which are becoming more rare everyday, being taken over by the big chain retailers. But that’s everywhere you go, right?

Cool dinosaur topiary sitting under colorful polka dots.

 

Slurp! Ready to dig into an icy shaved ice dessert, flavored with mango ice and melon balls—served in a melon bowl! This was every bit as good as it looks. Cheers to Oakobing down in Koreatown, L.A.

 

Pumpkin season has officially begun! But before you order your pumpkin spice latte, go visit a pumpkin patch—a real pumpkin patch. This is Tanaka Farms, a working farm in Irvine, CA located right off the freeway. It’s been years since I visited this place, and the last time was during strawberry season. I was surprised at how busy it’s gotten—with an expanded gift store, produce stand and farm tours; but they still haven’t lost their identity as a farm that serves the local community.

Tanaka Farms is privately owned by a 3rd generation Japanese-American family. It covers 30 acres and they grow over 60 varieties of fruits and vegetables year ‘round. Thank you Tanaka family, for keeping your amazing farm going so all of us can visit an authentic farm so conveniently close!

Happy October everyone!

All images by Bert Tanimoto, Ugly Pumpkins by @ironchefmom