Monday, June 7, 2010

Bienvenue, Beau!

Welcome to the world, Beau Koyama Posthauer! Born June 5, 2010 at 10:59am, 8lbs 14oz and 20.5". We can't wait to meet you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Southwest Adventure Part 2: July 4 in Denver and an Early Birthday Party for My Dad

July 4 has turned into quite a Koyama family holiday. Last year we all gathered in Denver for surprise birthday party for my Mom, and this year again we all got together for an early birthday party for my Dad. It was great to have everyone together in the same spot-- the Seattle Gees (Uncle Tony, Aunt Joni, Alyssa and Jared), Heather and Postie, the Reeves (Jasmine, John, Ella and Tyler), Mom and Dad, Poo Poo and Gung Gung, Auntie Mable and Uncle David.

Everyone always wears their special July 4 outfits. I chose a Nieves Lavi dress with a tie dye/fireworks print. Ella and Tyler had their red, white and blue star spangled outfits on. Well, Tyler wasn't star spangled as much as lobster spangled.

In addition to all of the family coming over, it really turned into a neighborhood party with all of our neighbors and family friends there as well. John's family (Mom, Dad and sister) also joined us. Some of our neighbors have been our neighbors for 30 years! It was great to catch up with all of them and spend time together.

Here's a picture of the newlyweds in front of the appetizers. We were disappointed that Postie did not have a matching shirt with Ella this year.

As a special surprise for Dad, Mom ordered 2 cakes for him, one with a bonsai theme and the other with a Hawaii theme. We hid the cakes in my room in the basement so that he wouldn't see it. As a big surprise we put 61 candles on the cake in honor of his birthday. An even bigger surprise was that for some unknown reason my sisters and I decided to light all 61 candles downstairs in the basement. Do you know how much heat and flame comes off of 61 candles? Well, the answer is A LOT. And we found out that not only is it very difficult to walk up the stairs carrying a cake with 61 flaming candles, but that the heat will also melt the cake and create a hot river of wax.

Happy 60th Birthday Dad!

Once it got dark we got to the guys' favorite part of the night-- FIREWORKS. Earlier in the day they went on a mission to buy all types of fireworks, and Auntie Mable also contributed to the pyrotechnic fun. Here's Ella holding her first sparkler:

The funniest part was when everyone started lining up the lawn chairs like this was a performance:

And here were the stars of our show (that's not a beer, but a beer firework!):

It was a true, all-American holiday with family and friends at the Koyama cul-de-sac.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Southwest Adventure Part 1: Whitewater Rafting on the Arkansas River!

Dalmau and I planned a great summer Southwestern Adventure: first, spending time in Denver for July 4 and to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday party, next followed by a visit to the Grand Canyon, and finally a couple of days in Santa Fe for some rest and relaxation.

The first order of business was a whitewater rafting trip with Jasmine and John on the Arkansas River! It was too bad that Heather and Postie didn't arrive in time to join us. It would have been great to have them in our boat (especially as you will see later on). We had to leave home at 6:30am in order to make it to the river; not a problem for Jasmine and John since they get up at the crack of dawn with Ella and Tyler the human alarm clocks, but Dalmau and I were very sleepy. Ella and Tyler stayed at home with their Poo Poo and Gung Gung.

We weren't sure if wetsuits were going to be necessary, but boy were we glad we had them on once we got on the river. The water was still quite chilly and we would have been freezing without them.

We were paired with another family in our boat. Unfortunately, that family wasn't so athletically inclined. The whole idea is that the two people in the front are supposed to row together and set the pace for everyone else to row. Do you see the two people in front? One of these is not like the other. John, on the right side of the boat, is reaching out, digging his oar in the water and taking broad strokes in order to move the boat forward. His partner on the left side of the boat is catching a bunch of air. In both of these pictures.

His wife was equally as bad. She was in front of me and decided *not* to follow John. Or to even put her oar in the water. Not one bit. Not even a teensy bit. Which, unfortunately for her, meant that sometimes, wholly accidentally, she got an oar in her back because everyone else behind her (me) was following John. Ooops.

Here we are going over the rapids:

Here's Dalmau concentrating very hard on his rowing. You can see Jasmine behind him in the "ejector seat", who is following Dalmau's lead. Who is not following? Yup, you guessed it, the daughter of the other family! Why is her oar in the water and everyone else is out?!

It was a really thrilling experience. Thanks to John for organizing the trip!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Miami in May

Dalmau and I went to Miami in May for his nephew's (Felix Jr.) birthday. It was a great time to go to Miami-- nice and warm but not too hot and no rain.

We started the party weekend with a fantastic boat ride, thanks to Dalmau's brother Felix and sister-in-law Johanna. Felix arranged for us to go out on his friend's boat. I used to think I didn't like being in boats. Until now. Now I know that I just don't like small boats. Big boats are great! We picked up snacks and spent the afternoon on the water. Lunchtime was the best when we pulled right up to a dockside seafood restaurant. Here's a picture of Felix and Johanna (married for almost 15 years already!) and Dalmau and me (the debut of my new MMJ suit).

The next morning Dalmau and I assumed our duties and took Dalmau's niece, Samantha, to her soccer game while Felix and Johanna got ready for Junior's beach birthday party. Since I burn easily in the sun (probably because I don't get much sun in NYC) I tried to cover up as much as possible. Many people were probably wondering who the little old lady was:

Junior's birthday party was a lot of fun, even though we were surrounded by over a dozen 13 year old boys. Felix and Johanna rented a couple of cabanas and we were at the beach all day long reading, relaxing, surfing the waves and playing volleyball. Dalmau is refereeing below:

We capped off the weekend with an intense round of Rock Band. Little did I know that this a family that takes their Rock Star very seriously. The family band is named "305" ("three-oh-fi") in honor of the Miami area code. Below is Dalmau rocking out on the drums, although you should have seen the vocals. I played bass for the very first time and was informed by Junior that I was terrible and bringing down the score.

The best was when we were in the middle of Metallica's "One" and Junior stopped the action in the middle of the song so that he could text a girl.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies and Homemade Indian Food

Heather, Jasmine and I like to read all of the same cooking/food blogs-- Serious Eats (, The Pioneer Woman Cooks ( and The Girl Who Ate Everything (www.thegirlwhoateeverything). We like to alert each other whenever we see good recipes and fun projects on these blogs, so when Jasmine and I saw a recipe for salted caramel whoopie pies on Serious Eats ( we knew it was going to be our next project when I was in San Francisco. Soft chocolate cookies + salted caramel buttercream = heavenly bliss!

The recipe wasn't hard-- make the soft cake-like cookies, then fill with buttercream. Ella was very excited to help us out. When she saw us getting everything ready, the first words out of her mouth here "I want to help"! Ella is already a very adventurous eater, so maybe these projects will spark a lifetime interest in cooking as well.

As you can see, Ella was a very good helper. She carefully helped Jasmine stir the cookie batter and helped me beat the caramel into the buttercream. Ella was always very careful to do exactly what Jasmine and I asked her to do, and followed directions very well. Hmmm... maybe I see an EZ-Bake oven in someone's future?! She loved tasting the buttercream after we were done making it.

Below is a picture of our finished product. We learned a very important lesson-- make sure the cookies are FULLY cooled before filling with buttercream! Otherwise, the butter will melt all over and make a mess, and you will be sad.

And here's Ella enjoying the fruits of her labor-- she looks like a satisfied cook:

Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines. However, my attempts to make it haven't been very successful. It always tastes not quite right, like something is missing. Jasmine also loves Indian food and has been raving about these spice mixes from Sukhi's ( that she buys at their farmers market. I was extremely skeptical because I am skeptical about all mixes in general. How can they be any good? They're prepackaged and often cheaply made.

Sukhi's blew away all of my skepticism. We went to the farmer's market and picked up a couple of different packets and made them for dinner my last night in San Francisco. We made a vegetable curry and two types of chicken curry. Wow! It tasted exactly like it came from one of my local Indian restaurants and were extremely easy to make. I liked how I was able to use fresh vegetables and meat to make a fast and healthy dinner.

Jasmine and John brought a bunch of these mixes when they were visiting me in New York. Thanks Jaz and John! Dalmau and I will now be enjoying delicious Indian dinners all Fall and Winter long.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A San Francisco Wing Ding

I loooove buffalo wings! Ever since Amy, my freshman year roomate at the University of Rochester (which is very close to Buffalo), first introduced me to the wonders of these savory, tangy and spicy morsels, they've been one of my favorite foods. In Rochester, a side of wings is always ordered with pizza, and a frequent weekend indulgence. Buffalo wings (and another favorite food, salt & vinegar potato chips, which Amy also introduced me to) were directly responsible for me gaining the freshman 15 lbs! However, that still hasn't stopped me from indulging from time to time.

After reading about a Super Bowl wing wrap up on Serious Eats (, John, Jasmine and I held our own taste test during my visit. We put 3 brands to the test: KFC (buffalo and plain crispy); Extreme Pizza; and Original Buffalo Wings. Extreme Pizza and Original Buffalo Wings are local neighborhood spots. The local KFC was very sketchy. Each place we ordered 3 types of wings: plain, buffalo and barbeque.

The KFC barbeque didn't disappoint. It was crispy, sweet and smoky, just like we had remembered it. I also liked the slightly thicker breading (which is a no-no for buffalo wings, but perfectly acceptable for barbeque wings!). At the end of the night it placed second overall.

The plain category had a very weak showing. We didn't particularly care for any of the plain wings-- they were either too plain, or flabby and wimpy, or just too "blah".

The overall winner was the Original Buffalo Wings. Their buffalo wings were just right-- the correct balance of vinegar, spice and butter, on a crispy wing with very light breading. A special bonus are the homemade potato chips which are categorically delicious! The second place buffalo wing winner was KFC, and the loser was Extreme Pizza-- just not good at all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SF Weekend Day 1: At the museum with YSL, Mootisse and Pigasso

I went to San Francisco for my annual spring visit with Ella and Tyler. I love San Francisco, and I was especially looking forward to showing Ella more of the city now that she's getting older and can easily walk around. I arrived late on Thursday night and woke up early Friday morning (no need for an alarm clock with Ella around). We had decided that Tyler would go to daycare and Ella and I would have a special day to ourselves.
Ella and I started our adventure with breakfast at Cafe Murano across the street. Ella learned a new word to go along with a delicious start-- a "croi-ssanT" as Ella said very clearly enunciated. We then hopped into a taxi for Ella's first cab ride, which she enjoyed immensely. She loved looking through the window and seeing all the cars go by, and engaged our cabbie in conversation, asking him if this was his car.
After waving goodbye to the cab driver, we picked up our tickets at the De Young museum to see the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, which ends in early April. I was looking forward to seeing the exhibition, as San Francisco was the only American stop of the tour. Ella and I looked at all of the beautiful clothes, and Ella was especially enthralled with the videos of the fashion shows. The funniest part was when Ella asked if we could go downstairs to see "Mootisse and Pigasso." Last year I gave Ella a book I found at MoMA titled "When Mootisse met Pigasso." It is a cute introduction to the world of modern art, and tells a somewhat fictional tale of the rivalry and eventual close friendship between Matisse and Picasso. I was especially happy to hear that the book and its topic had stuck with Ella.
So, at Ella's request, we went downstairs to look at the art, and then went outside to enjoy the sunshine and look at the sculptures surrounding the museum. Ella loved a sculpture of a boy playing the flute. She likes to imitate him by wiggling her fingers in front of her and pretending to blow into a flute.
We then took a cab back to Filmore street and the MMJ store. Ella showed off her very fashion-forward look by mixing and matching the stripes on her pants to her striped coat. Ella likes to touch all of the clothes and then twirl in front of the ceiling to floor mirrors. She then made me laugh again with her very direct and clear request: "I want to eat and then go home." So Ella and I had a great lunch together at Osaka, where Ella impressed me by eating tons of vegetables. We started off with sharing a salad, and then Ella ate some of my rice and teriyaki salmon, and about half of my vegetable tempura with eggplant, sweet potato, carrot and zucchini.
We both needed a nap after our busy morning!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lazy Sunday Morning with a Dutch Baby

I had planned on a lazy Sunday and decided on making a carmelized apple dutch baby for a yummy treat. Pretty much nothing can be easier than a dutch baby (or dutch pancake) for a carb and sugar fix. I also got to use my Le Creuset cast iron pan, which I love.
Here's what it involved: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt some butter in the pan on top of the stove (don't be stingy). Toss about 2-3 cups of chopped tart apples (I used granny smith) with a healthy amount of sugar and cinnamon, and then throw them in the melted butter to start cooking. While the apples are cooking, mix a thin pancake batter using 5 eggs, 1 c milk, 3/4 c flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tblsp sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla.
Once the batter is mixed, sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar on top of the cooking apple mixture. Put a lot, since this is where the caramel is going to come from when it mixes with the butter. Then pour the batter over the apples (mixture will come up about 3/4 the side of the pan), and stick the entire thing in the oven for about 20 minutes or so. It will puff up dramatically, and then deflate sadly, resulting in a delicious crispy, buttery, custardy, pancake-y delight. Served with warm real maple syrup and turkey sausage, nothing could be better.

Un Beau Cadeau Pour Mon Chef

January 31 was my boss's ("mon chef") birthday. He's been a great manager, so I wanted to give him a personalized gift. Jasmine and I batted around a couple of ideas and settled on three finalists: honey lavendar marshmallows (since my boss had once mentioned that he loved lavendar marshmallows), brownie pudding cake (because he also loves chocolate), and my personal favorite, petite lemon curd sandwich cookies. Jasmine and I debated and weighed the merits of each: shareable/not shareable, chocolate/non-chocolate, mess, birthday-worthiness, etc.
I finally settled on the petite lemon curd cookies because they would be shareable and feel special. They're small, bite-sized sandwich cookies made with a rich buttery cookie and filled with a tart lemon curd, which is tempered by the powdered sugar that coats each cookie.
I made this recipe for the first time years ago after I found it in Gourmet magazine. I remember it took me a while because I was unfamiliar with butter cookie doughs, and I also tried to do everything the same day. This time the process was much easier by making the dough in advance to give it a chance to set, and I also made the lemon curd in advance, which was dangerous because it gave me multiple opportunities to eat a lot of it!
You can see the small cookies above. I made them in heart and star shapes. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the finished cookies because my hands were too messy from all of the rolling and filling. But they are lovely to look at, and even more lovely to eat.
My boss was very surprised and loved them. He shared them with his friends who were visiting for the weekend, and he said they nicknamed my gift the "Devil in a Box" because even when they wanted to stop eating the cookies they couldn't, and they polished off the entire 3 or 4 dozen that weekend.

Chowing with Chopsticks

Here's Ella using chopsticks for the first time. Heather found a pair of starter chopsticks which keeps the tops together, so all Ella has to do is squeeze them together, like using tweezers. Ella seemed to like it a lot and had a good time eating her chicken lo mein with them. I remember learning to use chopsticks the old fashioned way by practicing with siamin, and having Mom tell us to stop fooling around!

The Winner Takes It All (The Loser Standing Small)

Belated congratulations to my brother-in-law John, who was this year's grand champion of the Annual Koyama Family Poker tournament. This year's competition was fierce with a strong showing from the Anzais and Teradas, but John outmaneuvered them all. This year's tournament including trash talking, high stakes, and even a bloodied toe (which we won't go into too many details here). Here's John in the final showdown with Marti:

We hear that the Kentucky Posthauers have issued a Throwdown, and claim that this year's tournament didn't have quite the same luster as it has had in past years due to their absence. Hmmm... we'll see next year when we will introduce the winner's trophy!
p.s.-- note the traditional Koyama poker playing libations (well for those over 21 years old, anyways)-- nothing says "serious poker player" like tiny glasses of Bailey's!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Peppermint Jumble Takes a Tumble-- First Culinary Disaster!

Christmas dinner at my parents' house is a group effort. Jasmine and I decided that our contribution would be two desserts-- a bread pudding and, as the main showpiece, a 4-layer peppermint chocolate layer cake. Jasmine found the recipe in Gourmet magazine, which was a delicious confection made up of 4 layers of dense chocolate cake, with each layer separated by a delicious 2-layer filling of dark chocolate ganache and peppermint butter cream, with the whole thing covered in a fluffy and slightly sweet peppermint marshmallow meringue.

"No problem," I said confidently to Jasmine. "We can do this-- I've made lots of layer cakes before!" In my mind I heard the crowd cheering as Jasmine and I were parading around the room our towering masterpiece of chocolate and peppermint. Little did I know what was in store for us.
Jasmine started with the chocolate ganache and peppermint buttercream-- piece of cake (ha ha! couldn't resist). Next, we tackled the two round cakes which would form the 4 layers. The batter was very chocolately and yummy. My job was to butter and flour the cake pans. Our first indication that something was awry was then the cakes took about 1 1/2 times longer to firm up in the center than the recipe called for. "Oh well," we thought, "that's just the way it is." While the gift unwrapping was going on, I went to flip the cakes out of their pans. I confidently turned over the first pan, fully expecting the cake to slide out with ease in all of its glistening, round, chocolately glory.

Instead, as I flipped over the pan, only about a 1/3 of the cake came out, and it didn't smoothly glide out, but instead plopped out while ripping away and leaving the bottom of the cake firmly attached to the bottom of the pan. "Hmmm... well, that's ok, the next one will be fine." Nope. The second cake also clung to the pan like a baby to its mother. Jasmine and I stared at the cakes in dismay. "No problem," I over-confidently told Jasmine, "this has happened to me before, we can just stick it together with frosting and no one will know the difference!" "Oh-kay," said Jasmine doubtfully.
I cheerfully started slicing the cakes in half to make the requisite 4 layers. Unfortunately, the cakes started to further crumble and fall apart in chunks. "No problem," I reassured Jasmine again. By this time Jasmine was highly suspect of my layer cake abilities, irrespective of how may times I reassured her that a load of frosting cures many sins.

We tried layering the cakes and holding them together with a dual cement of ganache and a second layer of buttercream. What we ended up with was this:
Which doesn't look bad, except that after about 30 seconds a slow avalanche started as the ganache buttercream cement gave way, and it turned into this:
Still supremely confident in my mortaring skills, like a fool I continued to tell Jasmine that it wasn't anything the frosting couldn't fix. Now Jasmine was starting to seriously question if we should just give up and have Mom defrost another dessert she had hidden away in the freezer.
"No, no, no," I said, "we'll be fine! Bring out the frosting!" So we did. We frosted and frosted. And frosted some more. And this is what we got for our efforts: The slow avalanche turned into a fast one, and the smooth and fluffy peppermint meringue frosting was no match for the tumbling layers of cake as they tore away from the mountain of cake and ganache/buttercream mortar. "What are we going to do," we thought as we stared at the slowly disintegrating heap as large chunks of cake continued their slow descent. We better get the other cake out of the freezer! We thought about it for a while, and then Jasmine came up with a brilliant idea. We would get a large glass bowl, put the cake in it, and pretend that all along it was a new type of pavlova or trifle! Hooray for creativity! No one would be know of our culinary disaster, and we would still be heroes!
I went to the garage and fetched our favorite large smoked glass bowl, which held many picnics worth of potato salad and ambrosia. We hefted the cake up, which was VERY heavy, and plopped it in. Suddenly, our plan didn't seem so genius at all, because this is what it looked like:

Instead of a lovely, multilayered trifle, it looked like what it was-- a failed cake dumped into a bowl. But we had nothing to lose at this point, so we removed the wax paper, kept smoothing the top, and removing the excess cake that was flopping over the side like dead fish.

And, voila, wouldn't you know, after a quick sprinking of crushed peppermint and chocolate shavings, it came out looking like this:

We decided to call it "Peppermint Dump Cake" because of its unfortunate provenance. Our dad came up with a much more PR-friendly name of "Peppermint Jumble." Regardless of what it was called, it sure was tasty with a mix of different textures. Rich chocolate cake with the slightly bitter dark chocolate ganache, sweet and rich peppermint buttercream, cut by the slightly sweet and fluffy peppermint marshmallow. It was hit at the party, although it didn't induce the envious stares that I had originally pictured in my mind.
The only problem was that it was a HUGE cake. We ate and ate, and then had some for breakfast and snack a couple of days after Christmas, until we both threw in the towel, admitted defeat, and threw away the rest.

It was a good lesson in improvisation, and how to make dessert from a dump.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 was a great dinner with both old and new friends. My college friend, Lukas, and his wife, Linda (along with their soon-to-be-born 2nd child!), made the trip all the way from Prague for a couple days in NYC. Joining us was Dalmau (my law school and CGSH friend), Dalmau's Marina (all the way from Miami-- brrr!), and Ana (from Marc Jacobs).

Above you can see the guys putting their kitchen and knife skills to work. On the menu: (i) appetizers: cheese and crackers, devils on horseback, East-West chex mix; (ii) 1st course: pumpkin soup; (iii) salad course: spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese; (iv) turkey; (v) side dishes: mashed potatoes with horseradish and carmelized walnuts, polenta and sausage stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce; (vi) dessert: pumpkin pie, bittersweet chocolate pie. Yum!

We also had the Newton unfiltered Chardonnay and unfiltered Melot from my Napa trip earlier in the year. They were perfect with the meal and enjoyed by all.

I can't think of a more perfect Thanksgiving-- good food, great friends, and great conversation. After their very avid and interesting political and philosophical conversation, Marina became Lukas' biggest fan!

The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind. Long Island outlet shopping on Black Friday, visiting friends outside of Philadelphia, and great dinners with Lukas and Linda.