April 25, 2008

Sakura In Space!!!

No, anime fans, this is not a mashup of Naruto and Cowboy Bebop.

By now I'm almost getting used to Japan's announcements that it's launching everything but the kitchen sink into space, from paper airplanes to boomerangs to highly advanced underwear.

Now, according to AFP, the next suborbital "tourists" will be cherry trees, one of the most beloved plants in Japan and a national symbol of beauty and renewal.

This week the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced plans to send the seeds from ten varieties of sakura to the International Space Station in October.

Among the spacebound is a type of tree called the Takizakura, or "cascade cherry blossom," an ancient breed designated by the government as a national treasure. The trees, some of which are more than 1,000 years old, draw hordes of tourists when they bloom in the small northern town of Miharu.

In addition to violets and lilies, JAXA's cherry tree seeds will stay in space for six months to see how they are affected by reduced gravity. Some of the seeds will even be planted once they return to Earth.

But as you might expect from such a venture, sending cherry trees into space is really half science, half marketing.

"Since the seeds will be returned with a certificate that they have gone to space, we hope to use them to promote tourism here while drawing children's interest in science," Miharu town official Sadafumi Hirata told AFP.

But hey, at the rate things are going, maybe in 500 years when we get that colony on Mars we'll be celebrating a cherry blossom festival around Hellas Basin in addition to the Tidal Basin …

April 20, 2008

Recipe: Migas in the Morning

I first had this Tex-Mex take on scrambled eggs at a family reunion in Corpus Christi, and I've been experimenting with it ever since.

The version I like best so far uses most of the traditional ingredients plus a dash of cumin for smokiness. I also prefer my migas with the tortilla pieces a little crunchy, but there's a way to cook them up soft if that's what you prefer. Here's my recipe for a quick two-person plate.


• 2 tablespoons minced red onion
• 1/2 a green chili, minced (this can be adjusted depending on your heat tolerance)
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/2 a roma tomato, diced
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
• 1 tablespoon oil
• 2 corn tortillas, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
• 3 eggs, beaten


• Heat the oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet.
• Add the tortilla pieces to the pan and toss to coat. Cook the pieces until they get puffy and are just turning golden.*
• Add the onion, garlic, chili, and cumin. Cook until the onion starts to brown.
• Lower the heat to almost a simmer. Add the tomato and stir for 30 seconds.
• Add the beaten eggs. Scramble until the eggs look almost done then remove immediately to serving dishes. Do not overcook the eggs, or they will get rubbery.

Top with grated cheese and/or fresh chopped cilantro if desired. This goes great with a side of guacamole and some fresh fruit.

* For softer tortilla pieces, only cook them in the oil until they are heated through, then add the tomato along with the other veggies.