In first grade, she hated me and I didn’t even realize it. I’d walk by, smile, wave at her, and she’d never really wave back! I didn’t think much of it–you know how first graders are.
But then, something happened in 5th grade and a best friendship was started. Perhaps it was when she invited me over to her house after school and we discovered our
obsession love for folding printer paper in half, drawing our own grids, and playing endless games of Battleship all afternoon together (why we never actually bought the real game is beyond me). Or maybe it was our ability to order two Little Caesar’s $5 pizzas (one for each of us) on a Saturday afternoon and finish it all in the same day while watching movies and ya know, just hanging out. Oh, and there was also our shared interest in making up choreographed dances to 90s pop music.
Whatever it was, a friendship sparked and has lasted through thick and thin since the day Megan invited me over for that first game of Battleship. (Thanks, Hasbro Toys, for igniting an everlasting friendship!)
We went to elementary school together, attended separate middle schools, and then were lucky enough to reunite for high school and even college! But after college, our paths took different routes. I decided that I wanted to explore San Francisco to pursue my career goals, and Megan went to Santa Barbara for grad school.
So last year, the late nights of watching episode after episode of Friends, giving each other life advice, shopping until our legs were sore, tirelessly gossiping about random things, and having a shoulder to always lean on became more of a virtual phone shoulder, constant texts messages, and Skype chats to keep each other updated on life.
It’s strange not having Megan around me like she’s always been but I’m so proud of all her accomplishments in grad school and I think it’s amazing that our friendship is still so strong even though we are 325 miles apart.
And luckily for us, yesterday was her 24th birthday and a group of friends and I were able to make a short trip down to Santa Barbara to celebrate it!
This trip was even more special with some help from Foodbuzz! Foodbuzz’s 24×24 showcases 24 unique meals that happen around the globe within a 24 hour period. This month, the specific day landed on Meg’s birthday! So when Foodbuzz accepted my proposal for their January edition of 24×24, I was more than ecstatic.
It was perfect because then I could make Megan and her friends (old and new) a celebratory dinner! Having sushi is kind of significant since Megan use to eat the plainest food ever! When we were young, she would order a hamburger with “no cheese, no mayo, no mustard, no onions, no tomatoes, and no lettuce“. So what was on the burger!? “Just the patty and a little bit of ketchup, please!”
In college, we would go out to sushi with friends and Megan would always claim, “I love sushi!” But when it came time to order, she would always get, “Two cucumber rolls, please!” Our friends would laugh at the fact that her love for sushi consisted of only two rolls: the cucumber roll and the philadelphia roll (salmon and cream cheese).
In due time, though, Megan began to expand her food horizons and now tries almost everything! She revels in sushi (of all sorts), Indian food, seafood dishes, Vietnamese cuisine, even some spicy food, and many other dishes! We’ve come a long way, Meg, we’ve come a long way! :)
The dinner was delicious. Here is the menu for our sushi party:
Japanese Cucumber Salad (recipe below)
Veggie, Shrimp, and Squid Tempura
Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna
Sushi Rolls with an assortment of tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab, spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, and sriracha mayo! (recipe below)
Green Tea Mochi
Not only was the dinner tasty, but it was so much fun having the whole group help make it! Everyone learned a little something. A couple people made the tempura, another group helped roll sushi, and between the rest of us, the sesame crusted tuna was seared, the cucumber salad was made, and the sake was poured!
Here are some pictures from yesterday!
We’d hear some high-pitched, loud screams coming from the kitchen about every minute or so but eventually we got use to the squeals. Apparently, the oil was going a little crazy! Will got the hang of it though, and figured out a solution to the problem…one rubber glove!
He eventually became a pro…check out these onions!
We had a great time rolling all of the sushi too!
Some of us experienced more of a learning curve than others…
But eventually, everyone got the hang of it, and the rolls turned out great!
We even had a GoPro on hand to film the entire process! So much fun!
More tempura! And Sake! We used a box mix for the tempura. That made it really simple (just add water!) so that we could focus more on the actual ingredients we were using in the tempura! We also tried two kinds of sake: filtered and unfiltered. I think we unanimously agreed that we liked the unfiltered better! It was sweeter and easier to drink.
And we all had a wonderful time catching up, laughing, and eating the delicious meal that was created.
The weekend couldn’t have been a better one. Great food, wonderful friends, and so much fun exploring beautiful Santa Barbara!
Happy 24th birthday, Megan! Thank you for always being so wonderful and amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better best friend!
Japanese Cucumber Salad Recipe
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Wash and cut off the ends of the cucumbers. Then, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and using a spoon, scoop out the seeds in the middle. Slice the cucumbers about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and put them in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt together. Mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved (you can pop the bowl into the microwave for about 20 seconds to help this process along).
Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and add the sesame seeds. toss everything to combine.
Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Sushi Rice and Sushi Recipe
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
Cook rice in rice cooker or heavy bottomed pot. After the rice has just finished cooking, combine the rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Heat for about 20-30 seconds in the microwave to let the sugar dissolve.
Spoon the rice into a large shallow dish (I used a casserole dish) making an even layer. Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the warm rice, and mix well with a wooden spoon without crushing the rice. Let rice cool completely (either with a fan or in the fridge) mixing every 15 minutes or so.
To make sushi rolls:
Gather whatever ingredients you want to have in your sushi plus some nori seaweed sheets. You will also need a bamboo sushi roller.
Lay a sheet or nori on top of the bamboo roller. Using a wooden spoon, add a single layer of rice across the entire surface of the nori sheet. Place your desired ingredients in a line about 1/3 of the way on the rice. Then lift the bamboo roller and roll the sushi away from you. Once you roll the entire sheet, cut into pieces and serve immediately.
[A special thanks again to Foodbuzz for making this dinner possible!]