March 12, 2011
With all of the power plants being knocked out of service, Tokyo is anticipating major electricity shortages as the business week is about to start again on Monday. I've heard from friends, as well as on the news, that many businesses are taking this coming week off to help reduce the strain on the grid, but no one knows for sure how short we will be until tomorrow morning. In efforts to keep the strain low, citizens are taking it upon themselves to use social media to spread the word about electricity conservation, and having a fun poster submission forum on tumblr. Each poster is assigned a print code and you can print your own directly at your local 7eleven convenience store, which I think is a brilliant idea.
The poster above is my favorite. Roughly translated, the poster says:
"My thoughts/wishes, please reach - Please participate in electricity conservation."
Check the rest of the posters below:
March 4, 2011
"When you think of Jamaica, do you imagine quiet, exotic beaches, a warm breeze, and a cool drink? Most people do, but for LGBT Jamaicans, a completely different reality exists. In a nation considered one of the most homophobic places on earth, gay men are forced to go underground to protect their own lives and lesbians risk corrective rape at the hands of angry mobs." (full description)
The excerpt above is from the fundraising site for a feature documentary I had the privilege of creating some artwork for. Shoot 'Dem Like Birds is by Traveling Muse Pictures and is based in Los Angeles under the leadership of Leslie Foster. In May, the film crew will start filming the stories of heroes fighting for equality in one of the most homophobic places on earth. In a place where hate crimes and lynchings are often overlooked, Leslie and team will attempt to tell the stories of both the courageous heroes AND the mobs. "Shoot 'Dem Like Birds" is a line from a reggae song that is a literal call to arms to kill anyone not heterosexual, and Traveling Muse is willing to jump right in the midst of that. If that's not some serious guts, I don't know what is. But that just shows how powerful this story is, and how much this story needs to be told. Check out the promo video below to get a grasp of what this is all about.
The images below (and bird image at the top) are the artwork I created for the film. With the bird image, I wanted to symbolize the struggle and fight that is going on within the nation of Jamaica. It may seem like two different entities fighting each other, but in reality, they are one. They are equal. Killing one will only kill the other. The images below portray the same thing, but in a more stark and realistic way.
We're constantly bombarded with news/stories of people fighting for freedom and equality from across the globe these days, but LGBTQ freedom is something that is conveniently overlooked and ignored for some reason. I am happy and excited for the changes happening in Egypt and Tunisia, to name a couple. I also hope the Libyans can get rid of Gadhafi soon, too much blood has been spilled already. I truly hope and pray for Libyan freedom. But how can we wish this and ignore what is happening to our neighbors, and even within our own borders.
Help Leslie and the rest of the Traveling Muse team tell this story. If you feel like helping out, please visit the fundraising site below. Donations of $25 or more will get you limited edition prints of all of the artwork I created for this film. I may also be creating more art, depending on how things go. So please help!
March 3, 2011
A great little short that captures the essence one of the Bay Area's most distinctive features, the climate in and around the San Francisco peninsula. It's something that you can't really describe with words, you just got to feel it and breathe it. Trying to capture this on film is also extremely difficult, as it is very difficult to visually portray the chilly breezes that contradict the stereotype of sunny California. It's not just the cold either. It's the misty yet crisp moisture that you can feel on your skin, the slight salt of the ocean you can taste, and the cool tones the sky gives the environment. The film also captures a lot of San Francisco's most typical physical features. Such as the city's skyline, hills, pines, which made me feel I was atop of Twin Peaks breathing this all in.
The "Unseen Sea" is really a great title for this, as it perfectly describes the rolling fog that constantly surrounds the peninsula. This film really made my day, thank you Simon Christen for reminding me how beautiful the Bay Area is.
ps- I highly recommend you reopening this on Vimeo (link below) and watching in full screen HD.
March 1, 2011
My friend, who is a goat farmer from Kyoto, came up to Tokyo a couple weeks back to attend a cheese convention. He was kind enough to share some awesome goat cheese with me, which he had brought as samples for the convention. Yagi-san (as we call him, trans: Mr. Goat) makes these cheeses himself and is the goats' official caretaker at the Ruri-kei farms. Contrary to popular belief, quality & fresh goat cheese is not that gamey or stinky. It does have that slight tangy-aftertaste, but is not overwhelming at all (in my opinion). People seem to be turned off almost immediately just by seeing the word "goat" next to anything edible, and I have to admit that I had that bias for some reason growing up as well, even though I had never even tried goat cheese as a kid. I think especially in America, we grow up being brainwashed that anything cheese related should be akin to Kraft "American" cheese.
The fromage frais w/ blueberry jam on a bagel.
I was able to taste these cheeses when I visited the goat farm last year (pictures), and immediately wanted to cook with them because it was some of the best tasting goat cheese I've ever tasted. So I was overjoyed that I had the opportunity to do so this time around.
GOAT CHEESE PASTA
First thing I made was a spaghetti pancetta arrabbiata w/ goat cheese.
The rich texture of the chèvre fermier was screaming something spicy/salty, so I decided to cube & crisp up this pancetta that I had sitting in the frig.
I then cheated and added a premade can of arrabbiata sauce along with some spices, a splash of red wine and a nice hefty squeeze of sriracha. Once some of the liquid evaporated, I threw in some chunks of the chèvre fermier and tossed it around gently as to not break up the cheese too much.
Finally threw in my nice and al dente pasta I had cooking on the side, toss it gently just to mix and it's done!
GOAT CHEESE CHEESECAKE
I still had a lot leftover, and did not want them to go bad, so I decided to make a goat cheese cheesecake with the remaining product. I usually don't like to bake because you actually need to measure things, but I felt this cheese would really make an awesome cheesecake, so made an exception this time. I changed some stuff around, but this is the recipe that I came up with after comparing a few:
~6 graham crackers (had to use a similar cookie, hard to find in Japan)
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 stick of cream cheese
equivalent amount of the chèvre fermier
2Tbsp of the fromage frais
1/2 cup sugar (I used unrefined)
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
Start off by making the crust first. You can use a food processor but don't make the crumbs too fine. Melt the butter.
Combine thoroughly and press into the bottom of the bake dish. Once complete wrap in plastic and throw in the frig to harden.
Throw all the cheeses into the bowl and mix with the sugar. This is where a mixer would come in handy, I do not have one. Make sure the cheese mix is a smooth.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. At this point it will be semi-watery. Then pour the filling into the crust.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake for about 45 minutes. Monitor frequently, you don't want it to rise too fast or else you're going to get cracks (like mine). I don't have a real oven here as well, so had to use the microwave with it's built in semi-convection oven feature. I couldn't fine tune the temp so I think I slightly over-baked.
And done! As you can see it's quite cracked like grand canyon, but it tasted pretty damn good.
Surprisingly I found some good blueberries at the market, so I decided to make a sauce with that. I forgot to document this, but I cooked one pack of blueberries in some butter, added some sliced lemon rinds, then simmered in a splash of red wine, about a Tbsp of unrefined sugar and a dollop of honey. I let the sauce cool once, let the blueberry juices ooze out a bit, then simmered one more time to thicken.
Served this with some Hokkaido vanilla ice cream. My grandma said this was the best dessert she'd ever tasted, made me laugh. haha.
I love goat cheese.