Monday, October 15, 2012

Benihana Ginger Dressing

It's been a while. 

Let's catch up.

*Disclaimer* This post is lengthy and chalk full of photos.  Proceed with caution.

The weather finally cooled down enough to open the windows and discontinue the non stop AC.  For a week.  The cool spell was short lived and we are anticipating at least 10 days of 90 degree heat.  That's October in Southern California for ya.  So speaking of being able to open our windows...I have a Dear Abby question for you all.

Dear Abby,

We live in a townhouse and have shared walls with neighbors on both sides.  Our living room opens up to a small patio area and allows a nice cross breeze of fresh, cool air.  Except when our neighbor smokes on her patio.  Her smoke immediately comes in all open windows on the back side of our townhouse, which also includes 2 upstairs bedroom windows.  The breeze is not so fresh.  She smokes a lot.  I'm enjoying her secondhand smoke right this minute, at 7:57 pm on Sunday.  We usually just shut our door and then get hot because the fresh cool cross breeze is no longer.  Thus far, both Hubby and I have not had the courage to say anything to her.  Like, hey, why don't you smoke in your own house instead of on your patio?  Oh, you don't want your house to smell like smoke?  Interesting. Maybe that's not the best approach.  Is it even reasonable to say something?  It's her place afterall.  How would you handle it?

Sick of second hand smoke

Please feel free to put on your Dear Abby hats and leave any suggestions you might have in the comments. 

Okay, sorry for the advice detour.  Let's get back to catching up.

My two Aunt's on my Dad's side of the family came to visit from Connecticut for a few days in September.  In honor of their visit I made a giant 3 layer apple cake with caramel buttercream frosting and caramel sauce on top (recipe from Baked Explorations). 

It was delicious.

While my aunts were here, my step mom, aunts and I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K on September 23rd. 

The walk was awesome, with 18,000 plus registered walkers participating.  That's a lot of walkers!  And I raised $1150 for the cause which is near and dear to me.  So THANK YOU to my awesome family and friends for your support!  You guys rock!

At the end of September Hubby and I spent a long weekend in central California to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. 

We were married in 2002 in Sedona Arizona, next to Oak Creek.  I love this picture.  It's like an enchanted forest.

Hard to believe 10 years has already passed. 

We stayed at a little hotel in Cambria on Moonstone Beach.  It was gorgeous. 

We drove north up the coast and hiked in Big Sur.  Also gorgeous. 

If you have never driven on Highway 1 through the central coast, immediately add it to your bucket list. 

We ate at our favorite restaurant in Cambria, Indigo Moon for our actual anniversary.  We spent a day at a food and wine festival called Savor the Central Coast and ate and drank some fantastic foods and wines.  So fun.  This was our first food and wine festival, and it will certainly not be our last.  We already talking about going back next year.

I started a diet on October 1st.  I have my sights on losing 11 pounds to be exact.  Because that's what I've gained over the last couple of years.  As of week one, I'm down 1 pound.  We'll see how I do tomorrow for my week 2 weigh in.  My strategy is simple.  Count calories.  I log them on a free website called Fit Day.  This worked well for me 3 1/2 years ago when I lost 30 pounds (I did excercise during this time as well).  I'm thinking about exercising now too, but not fully committed to that just yet. 

Speaking of excercise, remember when I told you all I started running?  And knowing myself like I do, I couldn't say if it was going to be a regular routine.  Well it didn't last long...not because I gave up...because I injured my feet.  Like to the point where I was wondering if I would ever walk normally again.  For real.  Thankfully after 2 full weeks of hobbling, my feet returned to normal.  Then I made a serious investment in new shoes...meaning no more excuses.  I'll report back.
I sent my October box off to the military over seas last week. 

Included in the box was ginger snaps, two types of shortbreads and I did my first fall baking with pumpkin bread.  What I love about Baking GALS is I can bake, ship it off and not have to worry about too many temptations in the house.  Which is key when you are counting calories.

I continued fall baking with an attempt at baked pumpkin oatmeal. 

Unfortunately the result was a bit of a flop, lacking in pumpkin flavor, sweetness and a touch of salt.  But I like the idea, so I'm going to do a little tweaking to the recipe since I still have some pumpkin to use up.  If I can make it work, I'll post the recipe.

I found an online group dedicated to canning called Can It Up!  The group is founded by Hima of All Four Burners.  Hima loves canning and decided to ask others to join her with a monthly canning project centered around one ingredient.  You choose your own recipe and can it anytime during the month.  October's ingredient is apples.  I made Caramel Apple Jam this weekend and can't wait to share it with you later in the week.  It's pretty yummy.

Wow, this really is a long post.  Congrats for sticking it out.  The finish line is in sight.

Now, a little on ginger dressing. 

Do you ever eat at Benihana?  You know the teppan style restaurant where chefs cook the food in front of you and do antics like catching shrimp tails in their hat and making a steaming volcano out of onions?  I've spent a lot of birthdays over the years at Benihana.  They serve salad with fresh ginger dressing alongside all their meals.  I LOVE that dressing.  LOVE. I ask for an extra bowl of just dressing so I can thoroughly douse my salad in it.  Really I do.  It's a bit obscene.

So years ago, I called my local Benihana and asked if they have the recipe for their famous ginger dressing.  I think I gave them a story about food allergies or something.  My memory is fuzzy, it was a while ago.  Anyway, they actually faxed me the recipe. 

The recipe is very faded as it's on that old style fax paper where the print disappears over time.  You can see at the top of the page it's from Benihana in Encino, CA.  So it seems legit.  But I still I find it hard to believe they would just hand out their recipe (already portioned down for a home cook's kitchen).  Who knows?  Well as much as I love the dressing, I have never gotten around to making it at home...until now.

It's not exactly like the restaurant's version.  I used baby ginger root instead of mature ginger, so perhaps that had an impact.

I can't quite say what is off in the recipe, but I'll be playing around with this one.  The most surprising ingredient?  Tomato paste.  That's what gives it that bright orange color.  Would have never guessed that one. 

Even though it's not an exact replica, it's tasty and it's diet friendly.


Ginger Dressing
from Benihana

1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root (peeled and minced)
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Makes 6 ounces


  1. Wow! You did catch up for sure. Love all of the photos and stories. I especially love that you gave some BS line about food allergies to get a recipe...I can actually hear it taking place -and- that is probably the only Benihana's that I have been to multiple times (Encino).
    I have saved and printed off the dressing recipe already, considering we only make salad dressing from scratch in this house. Also- the box of goodies for the soldiers looks awesome and I would be thrilled if I were to receive that.You always do such a nice job and I love your custom stickers. Well done BF. BTW- you look beautiful in your photos.

    Love you- have a good day.

    1. Thanks my dear! You'll have to let me know if you try the dressing and what you think.

      No advice for my Dear Abby question, huh?

      Love you too BF!

  2. Love this post Gloria, so fun to catch up on your life and hear all that you've been up to! Happy belated anniversary to you and your hubs. The trip sounds amazing! I have never been to California and I so want to go, but there are so many different places I want to visit that I don't even know where to start. Oh, and on the diet front - I'm on the exact opposite plan as you right now. I'm not really eating any differently but exercising like a mad woman. We'll see how that goes - too bad we couldn't combine forces :) I am terrible about counting calories...

    We don't have Benihana around here so I've never tried this dressing, but the ingredient list looks very promising!

    1. Thanks Tracey! Hopefully one of these days you'll make it out to CA. I'd be happy to share some recommendations if you make it out this way. And if you ever come to Southern CA, there's an open invitation to hang out in my (tiny) kitchen and bake up some goodies.

      Wouldn't it be brilliant if I could borrow some of your exercise and you could take some of my calorie counting. LOL. At least we are doing something, right?

  3. Gloria, I enjoyed reading your long post:) I felt almost like we were sitting down with a cup of coffee and rehashing the past few weeks! Happy anniversary! It looks like it was truly a magical day - I LOVE that "enchanted" forest:) I definitely want to drive up PCH - it looks magnificent.
    Caramel apple cake is gorgeous! Wow!
    Hmmm, diet... When I was in Serbia, a friend from college and I decided to lose 5kg (about 12 lbs) each by January 1st. I have not made any progress, even though I ride my bike all the way to Manhattan Beach several times a week! Not fair! Now that I know that you are doing it, too, it's going to be easier:) High five, my friend!
    Nice chatting with you! Hugs!

    1. Thanks Lana! That's the nice thing about blogging, we get to hang out virtually. I need to catch up on Bibberche...I'm sorely behind in my Google Reader. I want to hear more about your trip to Serbia and what you've been up to.

      Glad to hear I'm not the only one trying to shed a few pounds. It's definitely not easy! But I'm determined that I cannot and will not buy new clothes because of weight gain! Good luck with your goal. I'm cheering you on!

      Hugs to you too!

  4. Could you possibly get a fan and aim it at the neighbor's patio and just leave it on so it wouldn't be obvious (like it would be if you turned it on when she went out there)? If that won't work, what about putting an air filter (to suck up the smoke) at your window that is most affected with the door to the room kept closed? Maybe some kind of slatted shade to hang on the side closest to her might help block it. I have a friend that actually had to move because her neighbor smoked and it came through the vents and walls into her home so bad.

    1. Thanks for replying to my Dear Abby question! Good idea with the fan. Maybe obvious is the way to go? LOL. That's crazy your friend had to move because of a neighbor smoking. Hopefully it doesn't come to that for us. Haha.

  5. Thanks for the update, I did enjoy your post. The cake was beautiful, so impressive. The dressing looks delicious, I'll try it for sure.
    Baking Gals sounds like a great group to join. I love to bake but really how much can and should 2 old people eat??!!
    I'm sorry about the smoke problem, we have a neighbor that actually burns garbage in a big barrel. I'm afraid the world to full of insensitive people. It's sad when they are your neighbors!
    Love your wedding photos. We will celebrate 38 years in November.
    Have a great week.

    1. Thanks Cindy. The caramel apple cake is awesome. If you'd like the recipe I'd be happy to share it. It was supposed to be published on the hostesses blog who had this recipe with Club: Baked, but it appears the link no longer works.

      Baking GALS is a great way to share goodies! I really enjoy it. :)

      Congrats on 38 years of marriage! That's fantastic!

  6. Hey Gloria! i loved this post. Nice catching up on your life (as if we cant talk or IM every day!) love the pics, and congrats on your 10 year anniversary! i too am on a counting calorie diet. i have lost 21.5 lbs in 2 months, averaging about 1.5 lbs per week. Not depriving myself, but watching the calories, and exercising! As far as your neighbor goes, i propose giving her an electronic cigarette for Christmas! Definitely worth the $50 investment! TTYL!! ;-)

    1. Thanks Shantal! Congratulations on losing 21.5 pounds. In two months!? That's AWESOME! You might be inspiring me to exercise...I know it's the right thing to do, but I'm so not a fan. Guess I shouldn't let my fancy new shoes go to waste though. Haha.

      Love your idea about the electronic cigarette! I would easily pay $50 to have fresh air in my house! ;)

  7. Aw, happy anniversary and congrats on 10 years! That's a milestone for sure! Also congrats on raising so much for breast cancer-that's great! I bet you had a blast doing the walk. I did it with my sister a few years back-it was wonderful. As for your neighbor situation, it makes me so sad and I know I'd be seriously frustrated in your position. Honestly I'd probably just keep all the windows shut and use the air conditioning if necessary. I just don't see her making an effort to smoke-free your air if she goes out that often. If it was only a few times, she might walk further away but I don't see it happening. You *could* complain to your landlord as he has a reason to intervene if it could mean you leaving at the end of your contract. Or maybe not, b/c his intervention could mean the loss of another resident. Arg, sounds like a no-win situation. Seems like we should all be able to open our windows and enjoy fresh air when we want to. :/

    And I've had that dressing I think, they put it on the salad at the hibachi grill restaurant here. Too cool that they faxed you the recipe even if it wasn't the exact one. I love that you faked a food allergy to get it! You are the sauce! If you can pull that off, I have faith you'll be able to work something out with your neighbor. :)

  8. Love, love, love that stuff! The closest I've ever gotten is the Makoto Ginger Dressing that costs too much at Publix. I will pin this for summer because ALL of my kids will eat salad with ginger dressing on it. Thank you for sharing.

    I too have just started running. The shoes make the difference. I actually ran last week and enjoyed it - shock!