Monday, April 18, 2011


We had a small earthquake today. It was a big enough jolt that my first instinct was to grab Bella and pull her away from the big kitchen window. We held each other for a minute, her hands firmly gripping my lower back, her head resting on my sternum. I could feel my heart pounding into her forehead. There was absolute silence except for my deep breathing as I attempted to slow my heart rate. Then our dog started barking and a bunch of frazzled deer ran down our street.

We felt so lucky.

We sat right down at the computer to look at the earthquake map. "Wow, mama. There it is." Yup. There it was. A little red square.

4 minutes ago. 3.4 on the Richter scale. 2:57 pm.

"Bella, just so you know, the earthquake in Japan was 9.0. And it lasted for several minutes."

We both exhaled loudly. No talking as we imagined what it must have felt like. A shake so strong that it moved the earth on its axis.

Last week, Dash, Bella, and I talked about the earthquake. Dash had picked up a bit of information from the playground.

"Mama. Did you know there was an earthquick in Japan. And all the waves came from underground?" 

Bella set him straight. "Dash. It's an earthQUAKE not earthQUICK. And the waves weren't underground. The earthquake was underground and it caused a tsunami that came to shore and killed lots of people."

Dash looked terrified. "Is the earthquick coming here?" He gets the same look when I tell him to buckle his seat belt or the police will come after him.

Bella froze. I answered carefully. "Yes, it could come here. But we will try to be prepared."

But Dash felt like he needed to do something right away. "This is for Japan." Dash slowly piled orange sections, salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon juice into a tall glass. And then he covered it all with water. "I'm going to save this in the fridge for Japan." We kept it there for a week. He wouldn't let me throw it out. Finally he felt satisfied that he had done his bit for Japan.

Bella and I also made some food for Japan.

Over the years, I've cooked for many sleep-deprived new parents, sick family members, a friend with a broken heart. The attention you give the ingredients, the care you take in packaging up the food, even the delivery, all feel different from daily cooking. And cooking for Japan felt the same way.
Bella's school had a bakesale. She made chocolate chip cookies. "Bella. Don't lick your fingers. Don't eat the dough. These cookies are for Japan." She listened. Her second grade class made $389 dollars in 35 minutes. $1 a treat. That's a lot of treats.

We contributed cookies and a chocolate cake to chef Samin Nosrat's Bakesale For Japan. This started with four Bay Area locations and exploded in a few weeks to a nationwide bakesale. $124,000 and counting.

I was also asked to contribute a recipe to a food blogger cookbook called Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan. It features some of the best food bloggers out there. Such an honor to be in their company.

Bella's recipe suggestion was Green Tea Snickers Bars. I countered with Avocado and Navel Orange Salad with Ponzu Vinaigrette.

"Mama, I'll make that salad with you as long as there is sushi rice. Lots of sushi rice."

I'm not going to post the recipe because Bella and I are hoping that you will buy the Peko Peko Cookbook. For Japan.