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Veterans' Day Celebrations - Santa Barbara, November 11, 2010

Veteran Civil War

For the past week, American flags - large and small - have flown at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, in honor of the veterans who are buried there.    Over 4,000 flags have been placed by volunteers, led by the efforts of  Nick Scarvelis, Eagle Scout and Dos Pueblos High School Senior.  The project was supported by all the members of  local Boy Scout Troop 33.

Large flags are placed near the Santa Barbara Cemetery gates....

Veterans Flag Project Santa Barbara Cemetery

and line a portion of the cemetery drive in each direction.  

Veterans' Flag Project

And soon, on each plane and hill, you see them - hundreds and hundreds of tiny American flags,  placed on the graves of Americans who served.   Here lie veterans from  every war since the American Civil War.  

Some of the areas of the cemetery only have a sprinkling of little flags,  placed here or there...some of the hillsides are covered with them.

Veterans Day Flags

Graves from every decade are marked with little flags.  There are sections of the cemetery especially set aside as the resting place of veterans, and many headstones that clearly identify the veteran, the war - the company, or ship, or branch of service of that veteran.   There is one gravestone that reads, "With Sherman to the Sea and Through the Carolinas...."

But most have no other indication that this is the final resting place of a veteran.  Except for the little flags I saw this week.

Headstones are marked with a date of birth and a date of death.   And alongside them, are the markers of spouses, and children, and sometimes several generations of family members.   It is humbling to see how many among us have served.  As it is in this quiet resting place, it is so among us now, today, downtown and in our neighborhoods.

Veteran Spanish American War

The little American flags are a humbling visual aide - they remind me that every day, in our midst, walking among us - are veterans.   The men and women who answered the call to selfless service when the United States of America and her people needed them.  In times of peace, and times of war.

All the men in my family are veterans.  Like most veterans, they are quietly humble about their service.  They did what was right.  They do not glorify their participation, they do not want any special recognition.  They did what millions of Americans before them have done.   They love their country and they served with honor.

Veteran Civil War CA Inf

I will spend the day carrying the memory of  them - and their gifts to the greater good.   The gift of living in the United States of America. 

Veterans Plaque

Thank you to Nick Scarvelis, Boy Scout Troop 33, and all the volunteers who helped to create this special tribute to veterans.  

I have listed some of the local Veterans' Day services for 2010 below.  

Veterans Santa Barbara Cemetery 4

  • Veterans' Day Service, Santa Barbara Cemetery, 9:00am
  • Veterans' Day Ceremony, El Presidio, 10:30am (
  • Veterans' Day Program and Barbeque, Goleta Valley Community Center, 10:30am
  • Vetrans' Day Program, 11:00am, Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building, 100 E. Locust Ave.
  • Veterans' Day Program, 11:00am, Solvang Veterans Memorial Building, Mission Drive,  Solvang
  • Veterans' Day Program, Santa Maria Cemetery, 11:00am, College Drive (between Stowell and Battles Roads)
  • Veterans' Day Ceremony, Pine Grove Cemetery, 11:00am (Bradley Road south of Rice Ranch Road), Santa Maria
  • Veterans' Day Ceremony and Luncheon, 11:00am, Santa Maria Veterans’ Memorial Community Center, 313 W. Tunnell St,  Santa Maria

Veteran's Headstone

Living Umami - Japanese Cooking with Fukiko Miyazaki from Studio Nihon

 I have always loved Japanese food - the fragrance, the presentation, and most especially the taste.   I was delighted, recently, when I received an invitation to attend a very special Japanese cooking class.   

Fukiko Miyazaki - chef and  caterer - is fluent in the art of Japanese cooking.  Ms. Miyazaki owns Studio Nihon, here in Santa Barbara.  Studio Nihon is a creative endeavor - an opportunity to bring the flavor of Japanese culture right to your home. 



On Saturday, Fukiko met our group of eight in Margaret's kitchen.   She had planned the menu with Margaret's help, focusing on two favorite homestyle-Japanese dishes:  katsudon (pork cutlet and rice) and korroke (potato croquette). 

Fukiko arrived with her rice cooker, menu ingredients, and even a beautiful vase filled with stalks of fresh bamboo to beautify the table - she thought of everything!  We were ready to spend an afternoon learning more about the art of Japanese cooking.


Studio Nihon Cooking Class 9

Each member of our group was given a task - to chop onions, peel potatoes, crack fresh eggs....

Studio Nihon Cooking Class M

prepare the pork cutlets, make the dashi, set the table - it was a real team effort....although some of us worked harder than others....(hey, the game was on and he was checkin' the scores). 

When all the ingredients were prepared, we brought all the disparate parts together and created a wonderful meal.  I learned that Japanese cooking is not mysterious or difficult.  It requires a bit of planning and preparation before the cooking begins, but by taking it step by step with the help of Fukiko - I realized that this is something I can do at home, too.

We talked and laughed as we worked.   The results of our efforts were beautiful and fragrant.

The recipes were simple - and so delicious.  I asked the group why, it seemed to me, that Japanese food is so inherently satisfying.  It's deeply flavorful, yes, and beautiful when prepared in the Japanese tradition - but there is something...more...

Several members of our group are of Japanese descent.  They joined Fukiko in explaining umami - the "fifth taste".  In addition to the four flavors familiar to Westerners - salty, sweet, bitter, and pungent - for many decades, the Japanese have recognized a fifth flavor - umami - "savory" .  This special richness, this complex, mellow, satisfying flavor is also able to enhance the quality of other foods.

Umami is introduced into Japanese cooking by using special ingredients - alone or in combination -  as flavoring, or for broth or marinades.  The key ingredients are konbu (kelp), dried bonito, dried sardines, and hoshi-shiitake (shiitake mushrooms).

Studio Nihon Cooking Class Done

Eventually - modern science had to concur with what the Japanese had claimed all along - that the fifth flavor was real, identifiable, measurable,  and something very special.  (To learn more about umami, go to the Kikkoman website)


Studio Nihon Cooking Class 2

And that day, in Margaret's kitchen, I had an epiphany, a moment of enlightenment that will change the way I view life from here on out. 

I  learned to cook Japanese-style rice - properly. 

Fukiko provided the following instructions:

  • Measure dry rice into a bowl.  Fill the bowl with water. Rinse the rice throughly; pour off the cloudy water, fill the vessle with fresh water; and again, pour off cloudy water, fill with clear water - and repeat until water remains clear. Drain rice in colander and place the rice in the    rice cooker.  Let the rice "rest" for  five minutes
  • Add the appropriate amount of water to the rice cooker - and let rice sit, submersed,  for 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Set timer, and steam until done.
  • Let rice "rest" for a few minutes before serving

So on Saturday, among friends old and new, in the kitchen and at the dining room table, we combined laughter and learning and cultural lessons with great food.  Complex, rich, sweet, savory, salty, mellow, fragrant.....together, each of us was enriched - enhanced - by the contribution of the others. 

Then I realized:   I'm livin' umami.

Fukiko Miyazaki is a very good cook, excellent instructor - and all-around charming person.  We felt as though we had invited an old friend to join us in the kitchen....and at the table when we were ready to sample our own cooking.

Fukiko is an expert at creating authentic Japanese cuisine, including sushi (she was a sushi chef at Ahi Sushi in Santa Barbara).   She is a certified chef 

with extensive experience in creating gourmet Japanese cuisine and she is the only sake sommalier between Los Angeles and San Francisco, having received special training in Japan.  You can hold a sushi-making class, devise your favorite menu and cook your own Japanese-style meal, have an event catered, or  even learn to pair this sushi with that sake.

If you are planning a small gathering, a fun holiday event, a birthday celebration -  don't hesitate to contact Studio Nihon

You will have the opportunity to sample various sushi treats created by Ms. Miyazaki at an upcoming event hosted by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation: Sharing Our Common Ground: Asian American History in Santa Barbara County

The event will take place at El Presidio de Santa Barbara on September 11, 2010, from 10:00am - 2:00pm.

Plan to attend this wonderful day learning about Asian American history, while sampling sushi created by Ms. Miyazaki.  You might be inspired to bring the beauty of Asian culture and the spirit of umami to your home or to your special event, with Ms. Miyazaki as your hostess. 

The Season of the Autumn Festival and Celebrating Asian Culture in Santa Barbara

Autumn Season


People today see not the moon the ancients saw
And yet this moon shone once upon the ancients.
Ancients, moderns - are like the flowing waters:
All see the bright moon as it is.

~ Du Fu  (712 - 770)

This is the season of the Autumn Festival in China - the Moon Festival -  a time of family celebration, relaxation and feasting.   The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation has scheduled a very special event in this season of family and feasting and celebrating.....

On Saturday, September 11, 2010, The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), will host another event in their series entitled:   Sharing Our Common Ground: Asian American History in Santa Barbara County.  The event will be held in the  courtyard of Santa Barbara's  El Presidio (123 E Canon Perdido Street), from 10:ooam until 2:00pm.

This is a day dedicated to learning about the  heritage, native culture, and the many contributions of our Asian American neighbors.  Together, we'll share in another SBTHP event that highlights the  complexity and  diversity of Santa Barbara's residents, and the beauty that has resulted from our shared history.

Seven Lucky Gods

East Canon Perdido Street was once the site of Santa Barbara's Chinatown (south side of the street) and Japantown (north side of the street).    Most of the buildings and physical remnants of the earliest Asian settlements in Santa Barbara have been erased - but together,  we can preserve and honor the spirit and contributions of Asian Americans who lived in these neighborhoods and throughout Santa Barbara County. 

Jimmy's History

We can preserve and honor our collective past.

Join the SBTHP in celebrating the history of Santa Barbara County - and all the people who have made this one of the most beautiful cities on earth.