Friday, December 31, 2010

10 photos

You may or may not know that most of my kitchen adventures are first time experiences.

To round out 2010, I wanted to share 10 photos of first time cooking experiences with you.

Coffee Liqueur. It was so easy, definitely making this again.

Thinking it would make a great gift for next Christmas.

Gu-iri ra-yu This was also easy to put together, perfect on tofu.

Goya Tsukudani With some of the goya (bittermelon) that grew on our lanai, I tried a new way to prepare it...delicious.

Bo Luc Lac A delicious dish with a lime sauce that is worth making over and over again.

Che Chuoi A refreshing dessert with tapioca, bananas and nuts...gotta try this one warm.

Banh Mi With the cilantro that grew on my lanai, I put together some Banh Mi, it was good.

I'll have to plant more cilantro when the weather gets warmer.

Sa-ta Andagi Learned that controlling the temperature of the oil was difficult, but making andagi is quite easy.

Using Veggies at the back of the Fridge A simple dinner and good way to use up what veggies are in your fridge.

Kim Chee Potato Salad Inspired by something we had as an appetizer, this was easy to put together.

Tako Meshi Tako Meshi, with a dried tako (octopus), so easy to put together and the results were fabulous.

I hope your year was a good one. We had some ups and downs but overall it was a good year.

I hope to have more exciting adventures in the kitchen as well as some travel adventures in 2011.

Thank you for reading my blog and commenting when you can. I also appreciate your emails.

Have a delicious 2011 everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

what I've read in 2010

Thought I would share what I read in 2010.

1. Bill Buford, "Heat"

2. Kent Haruf, "The Tie That Binds"

3. Kimberly Witherspoon, "How I Learned to Cook"

4. Diane Mott Davidson "Sticks & Scones"

5. Diane Mott Davidson "Tough Cookie"

6. Bill Bryson "Neither Here Nor There"

7. Mark Bittman "Food Matters"

8. Khaled Hosseini "The Kite Runner"

9. Isabel Allende "Aphrodite"

10. Robert McCloskey "Homer Price"

11. Beverly Cleary "Beezus and Ramona"

12. Geneen Roth "Women, Food and God"

13. Anthony Bourdain "Medium Raw"

14. Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations"

15. Linda Furiya "How To Cook A Dragon"

16. Haruki Murakami "Underground

Reconnected with some books that I read (or thought I read as a child) and read a lot of food related books.

Were there any books that you enjoyed this year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

hawaii eats (not)

It is Day 2 of my stay and I have been...sick!

Don't want to share too much gloom (or info) but let's just say whatever I have eaten it hasn't stayed down for very long...sigh!

The weather isn't being nice either as it POURED, thundered and lightning-ed.

I am feeling a little better as I type but still nervous as to what will agree with my stomach and what won't.

Hoping to kick this fast so I can at least enjoy all the New Year foods.

Will keep you posted.

Monday, December 27, 2010

thank you santa

Sunday, we did lots of cleaning and worked on our nengajo (New Years cards).

Santa (aka Satoshi) was nice, for Christmas he gave me a ticket to Hawaii to spend New Years with my family.

Actually Satoshi is working this New Years and has some business in Hawaii.

And since MIL is still in the hospital, we won't be getting together in Kyoto for our usual New Years gathering.

So, Satoshi thought it would be nice for me to go to Hawaii too, even though he has to work.

Am feeling a bit achy and think I may be coming down with something.

Still, I hope to see some friends, visit with family and eat some comfort foods during the time I'm there.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

christmas day

Christmas Day, I woke up at my normal time (7:00) so that I could make breakfast and send Satoshi off to work.

Then, I went to Nakanoshima to check out the duck since it was the last day that it would be there.

The wind was blustery and icy. There were even some flurries (woot!)

Even though the weather was overcast, the duck did look nice during the daytime, don't you think?

I walked back to Umeda and stopped in at Burdigala for a cappuccino and something sweet.

Then before going home, I stopped in to the department store food floor and bought some salads and some chicken for our dinner.

I noticed that the Hankyu trains are all decorated and eagerly awaiting the Year of the Rabbit.

How was your Christmas?

p.s. I tried one of the OneGlass wines (Pinot Grigio) with dinner...even if it is only 1 half glass (100 ml), it was still delicious.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

christmas eve dinner

Christmas Eve. Satoshi is working as I type this.

Usually on weekdays I think I've mentioned that we don't eat dinner together, the Eve was no exception.

My dinner started out with Anchor's Christmas Ale...dark and cinnamon-y. Different but I liked it.

Main dish was chicken fajitas.

I bought two grilled chicken breasts from the yakitori shop in our shopping arcade.

And used the veggies I had in my fridge.

Since the grilled chicken breasts had a slight shoyu sauce on them, I just heated them up.

For the veggies, I sauteed them in some oil and sprinkled some of Penzey's Arizona Dreaming seasoning (kinda tex-mex).

Then at the end I put the juice of 1 lemon and cooked until the liquid evaporated.

Yummy!

At about 22:00, Satoshi came home and while he had dinner, I had dessert, which I had picked up at Mior, a shop in our shopping arcade.

I had part of this Chocolat Noel.

Vanilla brulee, chocolate ganache....very rich...ack, too rich.

And part of this Gateau Rouge.

Strawberry mousse, pistachio mousse & some almonds...I liked this one better.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day, but it isn't a holiday here and Satoshi is scheduled to work.

Am wondering what to do during the day and what to do for dinner tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

culture shock

Wanted to show you how some womens bicycles in Osaka look like.

Bicycles are often called "cha-rinko" in Osaka.

If the bicycle is used by moms who take their kids here and there in their attached extra seats, then the bicycle is called a "mama-cha-ri". There has been controversy over this as it is dangerous.

Anyway, on the handles of this particular bicycle (in the photo), are vinyl "mittens" which protect your hands from the cold.

In the middle of the handle bar is a gadget to put your umbrella when it is raining or to protect you from the sun.

On the front and back of the bicycle are wire baskets with coverings to protect against hittakuri (purse snatching).

This particular bicycle looks like it is also battery powered, to give you some help going up hills.

I've heard that Osakans are the only people to ride their bicycle in the rain.

If they don't have that gadget attached to their bicycle, you can almost always see someone holding their umbrella in one hand, and steering the bicycle with the other...totally dangerous if you ask me.

It is Friday here...hope Santa brings you everything you are wishing for.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

oneglass

I saw this at Enoteca, a specialty wine shop we have in Japan and thought it would be nice to try.

OneGlass is made in Italy, and I think these would be nice to take along on a picnic or something.

They also make a Cabernet Sauvignon but Enoteca had run out.

They run about 320 yen (about US$3.20) each, but if you just want a glass of wine I think this would be perfect.

It is a National Holiday today and we are off to visit with my host-family. Only 2 more days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

taco soup

In January, I threw together a chili soup.

Then the other day, one of my Twitter friends tweeted about making taco soup.

It is definitely soup weather here so I threw a taco soup together too.

Kat's Taco Soup

150 grams hamburger
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 taco mix packet (I used McCormick's Hot)
1 can diced tomatoes
2.5 cups water
72 grams garlic and herb cream cheese

Brown your hamburger in the oil with the onions and red bell pepper.
Add the water, taco mix, can of tomatoes and carrot.
Add the cream cheese when your carrots get soft or to the tenderness that you like, I like mine with a little crunch.
The cream cheese will melt into the soup and thicken it up a bit.
Serve with tortilla chips.

NOTES: This was so easy and delicious. I think if you make this thicker (less water), you could use it as a topping for nachos. I didn't add any salt as the seasoning packet & cheese have lots already.

p.s. I'm sending this to Deb for her Souper Sundays, a great event with soups, salads & sammies.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

søholm cafe

After doing some "major" cleaning of MIL's kitchen, we said goodbye to BIL and made our way back to Osaka.

During our transfer at Shijo, we sidetracked for some refreshment at the Søholm Cafe.

This cafe is run by Actus, a large interior decor and furniture store.

Satoshi chose their seasonal roll cake.

The cake was made from rosehip tea & the filling was made from marscapone cheese with some slices of strawberries.

I didn't taste it but it did look good.

I ordered the tiramisu parfait.

Cornflakes, chocolate cake, some whipped cream & vanilla ice cream served with a shot of espresso to pour over everything like affogato...yum.

There was also a crisp coffee wafer that was served on top.

The service was spotty, but it was great to sit and relax a bit.

Both dessert sets were 1050 yen (about US$10.50) each.

Despite the service, it is definitely worth checking out again.

Søholm Cafe
620 Suiginya-cho
Cocon Karasuma 2F
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.353.5644

Monday, December 20, 2010

ebisu kabocha

Yesterday morning we got up bright and early to visit MIL as well as go to her house to clean it...

She is doing well and can now sit at 90-degrees (if you recall, previously it was only 30-degrees), though she has still a long way to go before being discharged.

After visiting with her, BIL, Satoshi and I went to MIL's to clean.

Apparently over the past week, rats had a field day in her house, eating whatever they could find on the altar as well as whatever was in the kitchen.

They set off the alarm and BIL was notified. Apparently when they went in to check, food was even found in the bathroom, which is quite far from the kitchen!

OM! her house is a hoarder's house...seriously....bags with things still new untouched, covered with newspaper so as not to get "dust" on it.

But because she covers the bags with newspaper, she doesn't know what is in the bags and in the end buys more of the same things...sigh.

She also loves to keep all sorts of empty candy bins, containers and plastic shopping bags.

Of course, if she kept all of these things in one place, it would be a little organized, but she has a little here and a little there.

Going through everything was scary especially when we found things that were gnawed at (probably from the rats). (Thank goodness we didn't see any or I am sure you would have heard me scream from where you are!)

We had to go through her refridge and throw out lots of food too.

After going through just the kitchen, we ended up with 6-30 liter bags of rubbish! and decided to call it a day (for now)...

We still have so much more to clean, but decided to wait and see if this stops the rats from partying there.

It was a very traumatic day for all of us, but we were happy to clean up MIL's a bit.

My post is titled "ebisu kabocha" because I had this along with a sandwich for breakfast.

It was a melon pan filled with ebisu kabocha puree.

Melon pan is usually a butter roll topped with puff pastry and then topped with coarse sugar.

I don't usually eat this because I heard it is high in calories but couldn't resist the color and shape...just like a pumpkin.

Anyway, that's what we've been up to, hope your week is a good one.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

wow!

Last night, after Satoshi's German class, we went to check out some areas that were lit up in Osaka.

Boy, picture taking is so hard at night.

We started off with dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Very expensive....I think we did the same thing last year, and I said the same thing too.

After seeing Anthony Bourdain drink caipirinha on "No Reservations", I wanted to try it too, so I ordered one.

This is Brazil's national cocktail made from cachaça sugar (an alcohol made from fermented sugarcane) and fresh lime juice.

This drink kicks butt! no wonder they serve it in tiny glasses...

After pigging out on nachos, a burger and a pulled pork sandwich, we walked down Midosuji oohing at all the illuminated trees and buildings.

I then wanted to check out this huge rubber duck I had heard about.

This duck is 9.5 meters (31 feet) tall!

The first couple of people we asked didn't know what the heck we were talking about, but luckily we found someone who could tell us exactly where it was.

This thing is huge!

I think I want to check it out again during the daytime for the full impact.

Created by a Dutch designer, Florentijn Hofman, this rubber duck was placed here to wish for peace throughout the world.

It definitely brings a smile when you look at it.

This is only here until the 25th so if you'd like to see it, better hurry.

Located: across the Rihga Royal Hotel Nakanoshima
light-up between 17:00-22:00

Saturday, December 18, 2010

things I'm liking

Things I'm liking...how all the leaves fall off the persimmon trees leaving tons of persimmon to look like light bulbs.

The combination of sasanqua and bamboo.

And sasanqua and fall foliage.

I noticed a lot of trees that were chopped down on one walk and then on the next I noticed that most of the trunks were turned into firewood.

It also seemed that anyone could come by and take some. Wonder how many in our area have fireplaces?

I noticed there were lots of these community farms.

Too bad there aren't any closer to where we live, or I would definitely check into renting a plot.

These white holly flowers had a very nice fragrance.

The fragrance was similar to jasmine (pikake).

Nothing like steaming some sweet potato, which I made into mashed sweet potato.

I've started using the wasanbon-toh, they aren't too sweet.

I've used them in "western" teas but instead I think they go better alongside matcha (green tea).

I tried this Tully's Choco Latte, no coffee just lots of rich chocolate, though it was a little on the sweet side.

And even if I have tons of tea, I couldn't resist getting more Tea Pigs.

This time their Super Fruit and English Breakfast.

I love the deep red-purple color from the Super Fruit and the English Breakfast is perfect when you want a strong black tea.

The arancini (rice croquette) at Capricciosa is HUGE!

We ordered it thinking it was small, and the waitress even asked us if we were sure with all the other items we had ordered, but when it came to the table...eep!

We figured we would have to bring home some of our other food, but in the end since Japan has yet to actually start using doggy bags...we over-ate!

Burdigala's chocolate danish. Love the candied orange slice on top, it was crisp and not bitter like some are.

Plus, the chocolate was dark.

How cute is this Choco-Lion?

I spotted it while passing through the subway station.

I love how the cheeks are made with coarse sugar and maybe some amaranth? to give it a rough texture.

Inside is chocolate cream.

I found some toffee at Seijo Ishii recently. Cocomira, a Canadian toffee maker.

This was delicious, butter toffee coated with dark Belgian chocolate and topped generously with pistachios.

I also ordered some chocolate covered torrone from Dean & Deluca.

This one is by Sorrelle Nurzia.

It is a soft torrone, not sticky, with lots of hazelnuts and coated with a sweet chocolate.

I also ordered panforte.

I had read about panforte on another blog and was interested in trying it.

This is made by Pasticceria Marabissi. Packed with figs and walnuts, it reminded me of a fig newton minus the cookie-cakey outside.

And the sunset the other evening was so beautiful...pink, orange, purple...beautiful! (This photo doesn't really do it justice.)

Kind of a long post with lots of yumminess and beautiful things.

What are you liking these days?