About Bert Tanimoto

Oldish father (still) of two youngish (but now young adult) 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! Don't laugh, you should see my vinyl collection--I give hair bands and prog equal credit.

Homemade Bread Day


People who love to make their own bread swear by the therapeutic benefits of kneading your own dough—as if it has a calming effect close to meditation. Nahhh; I’d rather have my breadmaker do it for me and just eat the fresh bread after it comes out of the oven. I’m in that “work smarter, not harder” group.

“Bready or not, here I crumb.” National Homemade Bread Day is coming up this month. Get your breadmaker out and bake! It’s safe to do that now—you can even find yeast in the stores and it won’t be sold out, like during the pandemic when everyone stayed home and baking was out of control. Remember that? Why don’t you join me for November 17th; take out your breadmaker and quit loafing around. Did you hear how the bakery caught fire? The owner’s business is toast now. Seriously though, do you know why bread jokes are the best? It’s because they never get stale!

My featured bread (above) that I’m proud to show off is a rustic French loaf baked in a Dutch oven. I mean, it came out amazingly good, with dough that I kneaded in my Zojirushi breadmaker.

I used this recipe from Heart’s Content Farmhouse for this one, but it looks like there are lots of similar ones online. Apparently being able to cover it with the lid of the Dutch oven creates the steam needed to bake this to the right texture. The recipe does call for extending the baking time with the lid off—I’m assuming to brown the top some more.

The result was a hard crust like it should be, and a chewy textured bread like it should be. I think the generous amount of salt also helped with the flavor.

If you know how I like to work in the kitchen, you know how I don’t like to work much. Guys, I present to you the easiest savory bread in the world. You know how easy it is to make plain white bread in the breadmaker, right? I give credit for this to my wife, who knows exactly how much I like to work.

Go to TJ’s (Trader Joe’s®) and get some of their Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning. It’s a blend of black and white sesame seeds, dried garlic and onion, sea salt and poppy seeds; just like the topping on a typical Everything Bagel. Use the White Bread cycle and during the 2nd Knead time, add about 2 tablespoons into the dough. I even used the auto dispenser that comes with my breadmaker for this so I didn’t even have to open the lid. Check this out.

Savory homemade Bagel Bread!

Fragrant, fluffy, and fulfilling.

Here is where you insert your own favorite recipe for Banana Bread. I just wanted to show you how a toaster oven is so great when you don’t want to mess with your normal one. They’re more energy efficient, they do more things, they’re portable so I can move it around on my counter, and they can bake just about anything in smaller portions.

Our banana bread, perfectly done in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan that fits no problem in the toaster oven.

Here’s what I think: if you want to do all of your baking in a toaster oven (like we do since our big one doesn’t work too well), invest in a good one. The better ones will heat more evenly and will probably be large enough to produce a better bake, with all the roominess inside. Just my opinion…

Happy National Homemade Bread Day!

 
 

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

 
 

The Great Pumpkin

Oh, Great Pumpkin, will you come to my pumpkin patch? Maybe we’ll have better luck than Linus did, if we put our faith in more pumpkin treats for National Pumpkin Month this October. This Pumpkin Mac & Cheese looks delicious, right? It’s kinda cheating because bacon makes anything taste good, but the creaminess of the pumpkin was a delightful surprise.

I took my Zojirushi Breadmaker and baked a Pumpkin Bread Loaf recipe I found online, just to see how easy it could be. Really, the only worry I had was hoping the 2lb. recipe translated well enough for my 1lb. breadmaker, but it came out pretty good. Moist, nutty and fragrant.

I love the ingredient dispenser too. It really helps when you don’t have to stop the process to mix in the dry ingredients. I know a lot of breadmaker owners use theirs to just knead and rise the dough, then actually bake in their own oven. I’ve done this as well, but it’s so gratifying to have the machine do the work from beginning to end. I used the dispenser to sprinkle the walnuts for this recipe.

Golden orange pumpkin bread. Don’t forget to use the “CAKE” setting, or whatever your menu says for non-yeast bread. The only time I opened the lid was to make sure I scraped some of the dough off the sides after the knead cycle

I feel breadmakers are great at baking bread; which is what they’re supposed to do. There’s a cake setting for cakey breads, but it doesn’t compare to baking a cake in an oven. As long as you know what to expect out of your breadmaker, you’ll never be disappointed.

Who woulda thought Pumpkin Mac & Cheese could be something? When I thought about what pumpkin things I could make, it always seemed like they were all sweet desserts. This Mac & Cheese is mostly prepared in an open skillet or cast iron pan until the pumpkin puree, cheese and cooked pasta is blended and heated through, but the final touch is to brown it in an oven, like any casserole dish. This is my Zojirushi Toaster Oven, big enough for our dinner.

This turned out to be a surprisingly intense combination of the smoky bacon and the velvety creaminess of the Gouda cheese and pumpkin. C’mon, I know you can smell it from there!

Aaand what would Pumpkin Month be without Pumpkin Cookies. My favorite kind of cookies are snickerdoodles. These are snickerdoodles jazzed up with pumpkin, pumpkin spice and espresso! They’re called Pumpkin Spice Latte Sugar Cookies—soft, chewy and sugary.

The espresso is blended into the dough as well as rolled onto it, so you get that hint of coffee as soon as you bite into it. You don’t need the drink if you can get it in a cookie!

I was 1 day old when I found out there existed a museum for the great cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in Santa Rosa, California. I looked it up and it looks pretty grand—with a theater, courtyard and exhibit areas devoted to his work. He was, of course, the creator of probably the most popular comic strip of all time, Peanuts; and with it, famous characters like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the never seen Great Pumpkin. Poor Linus would faithfully wait for The Great Pumpkin every Halloween at his pumpkin patch, but he never came. We should all be so determined!

I’d love to go check out the Charles M. Schulz Museum. I do think it might make me love Snoopy and the gang even more. 
 
 

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

Bert-san’s Take–Fresh Brew French Press

Happy National Coffee Day, coming up on September 29th. But did you know there’s also an International Coffee Day that happens on October 1st? That one, launched in Italy by the International Coffee Organization just 7 years ago, not only celebrates and promotes coffee, it’s meant to raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers worldwide. OK, I like that cause—it’s noble and not just commercial. It seems like both “holidays” are recognized depending on which country you’re from, which just goes to show, for coffee lovers like me, every day is Coffee Day.

This month I took the new French Press coffee maker from Zojirushi for a spin. It’s a really sleek looking, well-made coffee maker of brightly polished stainless steel that incorporates Zojirushi’s famous vacuum insulated technology. 

To be as objective as possible, I used the same coffee I usually drink, a medium blend that I had coarse ground for the French press brewing style. I used my water boiler set at 208°F (I’m telling you, it’s super convenient to have one of these around), and stirred the grounds like the instructions say. 

Speaking of instructions, I think Zojirushi could have been a little less detailed with theirs. Can you believe the other side is also full of instructions? It was necessary though, to learn how to take it apart to clean it. If there’s anything I love about Zojirushi products, it’s the way they’re designed to disassemble so you can clean it. I’m serious—I love that you can keep it thoroughly sanitized.

After brewing for a few minutes, it was time to plunge down slowly (the instructions say to take 10 to 12 seconds), and pour. Normally, I’m not a fan of the French press way of brewing. I prefer the pourover, but I get why the majority coffee fans in the U.S. like this brewing method at home. It’s faster, easier and actually greener (no throw away filters). My biggest gripe has always been that I’m not a fan of the sediment the French press leaves behind. Compared to the paper cone filter that the pourover uses, there’s just no way a fine mesh screen can filter out all the fine sediment from the coffee grounds.But to be fair, it’s just cloudy coffee. It’s not like there were grounds at the bottom of the cup. And the longer you let the coffee sit, the clearer it gets because it settles. (This is an important point—more on this later)

Also to be fair, for guys like me who use cream in my coffee, what difference does it make that it’s cloudy? Ha!

So here is my take on Zojirushi’s new French press:

PREP—Super easy. The instructions call for 6 scoops for a full carafe of coffee (900mL); I brewed the full amount because I wanted to taste test the coffee at optimum. I only wish there were markings on the inside for water levels when making less than 6 servings; it would take out some of the guess work.

BREW—At first the plunger may feel like it’s stuck, but it isn’t. Just lift it to loosen and try again. I think the tightness is actually proof that the filtration assembly is precisely designed to catch all the grounds from leaking into the coffee, unlike some cheaper models.

TASTE—For my taste, it was a bit strong so I brewed a second time using half the amount of grounds. This was just right for me, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. Compared to my pourover coffee, this French press made it taste “brighter”; if that makes sense.

KEEP—As expected from a Zojirushi insulated product, it didn’t disappoint me after 2 hours of letting it sit. Of course the coffee doesn’t have that just brewed taste anymore, but it was still hot enough to satisfy. The lid doesn’t allow it to retain heat like a drink mug, but this was great for when you feel like having another cup later.

CLEAN—Lots of parts to wash, but I’ll take this anyday over not being able to get to the nooks and crevices and letting debris build up.

Overall, will it make me switch from my pourover? I don’t think so, but if you’re a French press person anyway, I think this one’s for you. The filtration is excellent and the insulation makes this an ideal coffee companion for breakfast with friends, when people always want a second cup.

To celebrate National Coffee Day, I tried a Coffee Milk Bread using my Zojirushi Breadmaker and a recipe from Apron.

This dough can be made easily in your breadmaker using with the “Home Made” setting, and simply adding brown sugar and instant coffee.

Divide the dough up into little balls and bake in your oven.

Came out pretty good! It was moist, with a little hint of coffee. It didn’t have the smell of coffee like I was expecting, but it definitely had the underlying taste. It reminded me of the tea bread that I tried a while ago, which I thought was more aromatic.

For more ideas on how to use instant coffee, try these. It’s the perfect summer drink!

Products used in this post: Fresh Brew Vacuum Insulated Stainless French Press SK-XAE10Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Coffee Milk Bread from April

Instant Upgrades For Instant Coffee

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

National Picnic Month

August is National Picnic Month! What’s the best thing about a picnic? It’s cheap to do and everything tastes better outdoors, ha-ha! I brought some friends along from Zojirushi this month—wanna see where we went?

This park near my house is called Robert E. Ryan Community Park, unique for being right next to the 14th Hole at Los Verdes Golf Course. Back when I used to golf a lot, this was one of my favorite courses to play. There were always families picnicking at this park as we drove around in our golf carts, getting ready to tee off on this hole. This view is from the other side, with our sushi bento and drinks of ice cold mugi-cha, or barley tea. The sushi box is from a mom and pop store that’s been around since 1962; more on that later.

One night (for my birthday) we decided to pack supper and go see a show at the Hollywood Bowl®, which is what you do when you want to drink wine, eat cheese and party with friends. Since we’re not the wine and cheese type, our family brought chicken wings and salads.

This was a good idea, especially with the food jars. You don’t worry about spillage, and since it takes a while to get there from our house, you don’t worry about spoilage.

If anyone else wants to go sometime, my advice is to take advantage of the shuttles that leave from several locations nearby. They leave every 15 minutes and costs $20, plus your car is secure and the shuttle goes right up to the front gate. You can park in the lots, but be prepared that it’s “stacked parking”, which means cars block you in so there’s no early exit. We parked in the mall on Hollywood Blvd. and it was pretty painless.

If you don’t believe me about the crowds, here’s a shot of our pilgrimage, as we slowly made our way in toward the sunset.

This isn’t exactly a picnic, but since this is one our favorite burger joints we brought the mugs along so we wouldn’t have to buy sodas there. Did you know that a typical fountain soda costs the restaurant about 13 to 16 cents to make? That’s including the cup, straw and lid. How much did yours cost today? Yeah, I’d rather be spending my money on the food, thanks. Bonus points to you if you know which burger this is. Hint: as far as the ongoing debate on which one is better, this chain from the East Coast or the rival one from the West Coast, I don’t think it’s even close. I’ll take the local one every time.

My weakness for donuts is well documented. You caught me red-handed with my haul from our local shop. Let’s see—what do we have here? Chocolate Rounds (they use good chocolate that doesn’t taste cheap), the classic Glazed (great texture on the inside) and the exotic Butter Crumb Raised (they don’t always have this one). I filled my bottle with unsweetened iced black tea for this car dining experience.

You’ve probably seen this park before if you read my blog. It’s called Los Arboles, more affectionately known by us locals as Rocketship Park. It sits atop a hill above my house and I can go there for a quick sandwich during the day, or catch a great view of the city at night. I have memories of bringing my kids when they were little—I taught both of them how to ride their bikes here. It connects with an elementary school, where both of my kids went.

Let’s get back to that sushi box bento from Sakae Sushi, a family run business now in its third generation, located in Gardena, California. To any Japanese-American who grew up in this area, Sakae Sushi is an institution, a home style alternative to the high brow sushi places ubiquitous to SoCal. I think their sushi has a distinct sweetness that some people might find over-vinegared, but to me, that’s what makes me keep coming back. The sushi reflects their origins from the Kansai, or Western region of Japan.

1. Inari: Rice stuffed in seasoned deep-fried tofu pouches that we call “footballs”.

2. Date-maki: A flavorful egg omelet rolled around equally flavorful ingredients inside.

3. Ebi Hako-sushi: Pressed in a box shaped mold and topped with seasoned shrimp.

4. Saba Hako-sushi: Topped with a cured mackerel called shime saba.

5. Futo-maki: Meaning “fat roll”, the ingredients differ with the style of the region.

6. California roll: We all know this one.

Happy National Picnic Month everyone! Get out and enjoy the warm weather!

 

 

 

Products used in this post: PAC-MAN™ x ZOJIRUSHI Stainless Mug SM-SHE48PA, ZOJIRUSHI x HELLO KITTY® Stainless Mug SM-TA48KT, ZOJIRUSHI x HELLO KITTY® Stainless Steel Food Jar SW-EAE50KT

Sushi bento from Sakae Sushi

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

 

National Grilling Month

It’s National Grilling Month alright, but it’s also National Hot Dog Month. How can you not write about hot dogs? Grilling them is one thing, but how you grill the humble hot dog is another. I took a page from some other guys who have tried this (thank you, The Kitchn) and used different methods to grill the same wiener. Which one wins? I didn’t even have to break out the charcoal because I used my Zojirushi Electric Grill.

I baked my own buns too, which wasn’t that hard if you let a Breadmaker do the dough. Here’s my homemade hot dog buns coming out of the Toaster Oven. I gotta say I’ll do better next time—they look great, but I don’t think I let the dough rise enough.

Hot Dog Cuts

I thought this was a fun way to see which way was best when grilling a hot dog. From left to right:

1. The Fish Scale Cut: Slant cuts on either side of the hot dog in an alternating pattern down its length. This is a variation on the multi-slits you normally see on a hot dog (which is the way I usually do it), that allows for faster and better cooking all the way to the inside.

2. The Cross Hatch Cut: You can’t see it, but this pattern is also done on the other side of the hot dog. I thought this was definitely the prettiest way to present the hot dog.

3. The Spiral Corkscrew: A unique way to expose the inside and the most difficult cut to execute. I think a machine can do it much nicer than I did it, but you should try it. It’s a fun way to eat a hot dog. More on how I did it later.

4. The Open Face: Obviously the best way to get char marks on the outside as well as the inside, and the best way to cook it faster. Flattening it out like this also opens the hot dog up to other ways to eat it, like a sandwich for example. I grilled two like this and laid them side-by-side, on regular bread.

5. The Classic: Just simple grilling the whole hot dog is the way to do it for the purists. It takes a bit longer and you can’t really see what’s going on inside, but it plumps up just the same. My unscientific guess is that this way might keep the internal temperature warmer longer?

Here’s how the Spiral Corkscrew is done. First skewer the hot dog right through the middle, being careful to go straight so you don’t pierce the side. Get a knife and cut through the hot dog at a slant, all the way to the stick. Turn the hot dog and skewer as you slice, staying diagonal and cutting down to the stick. It’s a bit tricky, but you can get the hang of it.

Once you remove the stick, voila! A corkscrew cut, all in one piece!

To be honest, I can’t really say which hot dog cut came out the best. They all pretty much tasted the same because, well, they’re hot dogs. But I’ll say one thing, the corkscrew hot dog does a great job of holding the condiments in between each cut, and it was as juicy as the others.Before you troll me for putting ketchup on my hot dog, I’m not a hot dog snob so anything goes. Just don’t put sauerkraut on mine.

Shrimp on the Barbie

Since a hot dog alone does not a dinner make, I also grilled some fresh veggies to make up for the “guilty pleasure” wieners. I highly recommend this way of lazy cooking. I used this seasoning blend called “Green Goddess” from Trader Joe’s (I can’t show you the bottle but you’ll find it in the store), and used it to season the shrimp in olive oil and parsley.

I had the grill a little past medium because I knew the shrimp would cook fast, and it did. But the vegetables didn’t take that much longer. I didn’t season them because I figured I could always use ponzu as a dipping sauce (that’s my favorite way to eat them anyway). So here is a really quick and easy dinner that truly tasted so good that even my wife was surprised. Aargh! This means she’s going to make me do it again!

Happy Grilling Month! And by the way, which side of the argument do you fall on? Is a Hot Dog a sandwich, or not?

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10, Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022