Saturday, December 31, 2011

10 photos

I started doing this back in 2008 as a kind of meme...but I think now, it is a nice way to look back at some of my firsts in the kitchen for the year...

My first "smooth" smoothie, I still haven't been brave to divert from the strawberry-banana combo...

My very first time making manapua (char siu bao).

Next I want to try making char siu from scratch...

Having some "me" time, I threw together these "gourmet dogs".

I tried making my own yuzu marmalade, this is really delicious on plain yogurt.

It was my first time making summer rolls and nuoc cham.

I was a little intimidated with the rice wrappers but now know they are pretty easy to use.

I turned a Nagano favorite into a kind of fried rice...Kimu-Taku Yakimeshi.

After making my own Ginger Syrup, I used part of it for this dish using beef and the syrup...Shigure-ni.

It was my first time trying sin choi and my first time cooking it...I'll definitely be making this more often.

Re-creating a favorite dish turned out to be really close to the real deal...Eringi Ragout...I also learned that adding pancetta to it makes it even better.

Of all the kinpira recipes on this blog, this one is different because it adds nuts, my favorite version is using almonds.

What a year 2011 has been! Many natural disasters all over the world, many losses of life too.

Thank you for reading my blog, I really appreciate your comments and friendships.

May 2012 be a prosperous, healthy and happy year for you!

Friday, December 30, 2011

books 2011

A list of books I read this year...

1. Joanne Harris "Holy Fools"

2. Haruki Murakami "Norwegian Wood"

3. M.A. Harper "The Worse Day of My Life So Far"

4. Jeff Talarigo "The Pearl Diver

5. Gail Tsukiyama "Women Of The Silk"

6. Gail Tsukiyama "The Language of Threads"

7. Peter Mayle "French Lessons"

8. Ayun Halliday "No Touch Monkey"

9. Clotilde Dusolier "Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris"

10. Erica Bauermeister "School of Essential Ingredients"

11. Anik See "A Taste for Adventure"

12. Ellen Sussman "French Lessons"

13. Elizabeth Baird "Lunch in Paris"

14. Susan Hochbaum "Pastry Paris"

15. Frances Mayes "Bella Tuscany"

16. Kate T Williamson "A Year in Japan"

17. Fortnum & Mason "Tea at Fortnum & Mason"

Please tell me the titles of books you enjoyed this year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Previously I wrote about Nengajo (New Year cards) and Mochu Hagaki here.

Usually nengajo uses the phrase "akemashite omedetoo" (ah-kay-mah-she-tay o-may-day-toe) which means "happy new year".

Well, this year, due to the big earthquake and tragedy in the Tohoku area, everyone is kind of on egg shells as to how to approach this card trading custom.

With reason the people in the Tohoku area aren't in any mood to "celebrate" the New Year and the rest of Japan, doesn't quite know what kind of greetings to send.

Recently on television, they showed the people of the Tohoku area sending out "I'm doing fine" cards. It was also shown that the rest of Japan should refrain from using "akemashite omedetoo" and instead use words like, "kansha" (kahn-shah which means appreciation) and "arigatoo" (ah-ree-gah-toe which means thanks).

So that is what we did. I really hope next year will be a better one for everyone, especially those in the Tohoku area.

p.s. On yesterday's post I mentioned Instagram, if you are already on Instagram and want to see your feed and friend's photos from your computer, just go to Inkstagram and log in through your Instagram account.

p.p.s. I'll be off the grid for a couple of days (though I may post to Instagram), I have some posts lined up until we return and I will moderate comments later.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Last year I wrote about changing my planner to a Moleskine Daily planner. Well, it was just too heavy to lug around.

So for the upcoming year, I did find this one by Mark's Diary called Ed!T, it is half the thickness of the Moleskine while still having the space to write on a daily basis.

Oh and remember my motivator?! Well, I've been using it for a year and 9 months and recently hit 500 miles with it...woot!

I'm on Instagram now, if you're using it too, you can follow me (if you'd like), just type in "katnhwi" in the search and click "follow". I sometimes post photos that I don't blog about. If you're not using Instagram, you can also check out my Flickr set labeled "Instagram". UPDATE: I closed my Instagram account

Satoshi's off today, so we're doing our O-soji today, hope your week is going well!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Ha! I guess I did jinx myself, because yesterday, we had some hail and some flurries...woot!

Anyway, trending word these days is "setsuden" (set-sue-den) it is the fusion of two words.

Setsuyaku means to conserve. Denki is electricity.

Since the massive earthquake and tidal wave earlier this year, all of Japan is trying to conserve electricity so that we can help pass on some of it to the Tohoku (North Eastern Japan) areas.

In Osaka, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. we're asked to cut back at least 10% of our usage.

Since I try not to use the heater as much as possible, I've been wearing my down vest and I've been really making use of yutanpo.

Filling it with boiling water, it stays hot for about 4 hours.

I know in my previous post, I said you can use the water to wash dishes or your face, but my yutanpo has had rust from the beginning, so I don't use the water, just dump it out.

Not sure if I'm conserving water or gas by doing this, but at least I'm doing my part to conserve electricity.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Hope your Christmas was a nice one. Satoshi had to work, so it was just another day for us. To date, we still have no flurries to speak of, though other parts of Japan have been getting blasted with snow....maybe I should jinx myself and talk about the sunny weather we've been having?!

Awhile back, Kathy wrote a post asking if being obsessed with rose tea blends was a girl thing?


I picked up this rose tisane by Julie Andrieu when I went to France in September.

I should have read the ingredients because rose was the last in the list. Cardamom overpowered the whole thing.

I was kinda disappointed with this one.

The Løv Organic Rose tea on the other hand was nice.

Make sure to brew it to the specifications on the back of the tea tag, or you will "kill" the very delicate rose fragrance.

MUJI's rose jasmine, is more jasmine tea than roses, but I liked how you could see the red specks of petals here and there.

Ladurée's rose nougat was heavenly, the flavor was nice. As soon as you took a bite, your whole mouth was filled with the rose aroma and it wasn't overly perfumy.

On the other hand, La Cure Gourmande's rose nougat had no rose flavor to it at!

The rose riz au lait (rice pudding) from Épicerie Lion have these candied roses and pearl sugars.

I made a batch and it was sweet, not much rose flavor to it though, still pretty though.

Fossier's Roses de Reims are biscuits, they are just "rose" colored, no rose flavor.

They are kind of hard and the box suggests you dip them in some champagne or wine while eating them.

They aren't too sweet even though they are dusted with powdered sugar.

Paul Smith's perfume "Rose" smells like a rose!

By the way, Santa (Satoshi) brought this for me for Christmas. (Thank you!)

The face mask and yogurt pack by Pure Smile (a Korean brand) smells really nice, it is a delicate rose fragrance.

Happy Bath Day Rose tablet, made in Japan, is so potent, I put this in our bath water and even after re-heating our bath water the next day, it still smelled like we had just put the tablet in.

The rose petal soap (far right) I bought in Honfleur was more of a clean soap scent than flowery. Not overly perfumy, guys won't feel girly using it.

I think whenever someone uses rose in their products it can be hit or miss. Hopefully I'll be able to find more "natural" rose smelling items because I think I'm hooked.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

madame shinco

Recently my friend Hiromi gave us this baum brulee by Madame Shinco.

Madame Shinco is actually a real person, she used to be a hostess at a elite club in Ginza, Tokyo.

Now she is famous selling all sorts of different baum kuchen and other sweets from her shop in Minoo and at various department stores around Osaka and Tokyo.

I've given this particular baum brulee away as gifts, when I want to give someone a taste of "Minoo", though I have not actually tasted it myself.

Look at that sheen.

This was really sweet, the top was a very crackly burnt sugar, delicious.

Not something you would eat everyday though, best to be given away.

Merry Christmas everyone! (Thank you Hiromi!)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

einfacher stollen

It's been awhile since I made my own stollen for Christmas, I think my archives says 2007?!

Anyway, I just bought a new Japanese book and inside they had a recipe for "Einfacher stollen" (Einfacher means easier in German).

I looked over the recipe and indeed it looked easy. I think the "real deal" stollen is bread-like, so they use yeast, but this one was more cookie/cake-like, so no yeast was involved.

Truthfully, during this time of year, using yeast is difficult especially if we don't have some sun to warm some rooms up in our apartment for the proofing.

So, I gathered all the ingredients needed and tried it out, here's the recipe if you'd like to try.

Einfacher Stollen translated from "Tabi suru Okashi-Europe edition" : makes 1
40 grams raisins
40 grams orange peel (chopped)
20 grams drain cherry (translated to candied cherry)
25 grams whole almonds
25 grams walnuts
50 cc rum (about 1/4 cup)
50 grams unsalted butter
50 grams kyorikiko (translated to bread flour)
50 grams hakurikiko (translated to cake flour)
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
50 grams almond powder
40 grams sugar
1 egg
some powdered sugar

1. The night before, soak the dried fruits and nuts in the rum
2. The next day, cut the butter into the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and almond powder)
3. Drain the liqueur from the fruits and nuts and add them to the dry mixture.
4. Add the egg and mix with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients become moist.
5. Spread out onto parchment in the shape of a circle then fold it in half.
6. Chill for 20 minutes in the refridge.
7. In a 160C(325F) oven bake for 40 minutes or until light brown.
8. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar

NOTES: I didn't have bread flour, the flour I buy is apparently cake flour (didn't know until I looked it up), so I used all cake flour. My dough was quite sticky and hard to work with.

Also, I didn't have rum and used Grand Marnier.

Instead of going out to buy raisins, I used a mix that had raisins, dried cranberry and other dried fruits in it.

I would chop the nuts the next time, it was hard to cut through and added to the stollen falling apart.

While baking, this really spread out, the thin areas were crisp like a cookie, while the thicker areas were cake-like.

Taste wise though I liked this, especially the addition of the orange peel. The overall flavor wasn't overly boozy which was also nice. I'd make this again.

It's the night before Christmas, I hope Santa brings everything you wish for...have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011


When I saw this furoku (freebie) with a fashion magazine, I had to get it.

The furoku came with a calendar and book cover (and book mark) by Coach to celebrate Coach's 70th anniversary.

Unfortunately, the book cover is a tad bit small, only 11 cm (4 in) x 16.5 cm (6 in), a little too small for American sized novels.

Luckily, it fits my Japanese sized sketch book.

Can't wait to use my sketch book more, it's been awhile.

p.s. It's a National Holiday here (the Emperor's birthday) and the start of a 3-day weekend (although Satoshi has to work on Christmas), we're off to visit with my host-family today, hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

maguro soboro

The other day, I was at the market, looking for something extra for our rice.

I was about to pick up a jar of flaked salmon, but right next to it was flaked maguro (tuna), so I purchased it instead....398 yen.

The maguro was tender, flavored with soy and sugar.

Perfect on rice and delicious on omlettes too.

If you're interested in making your own, here's a recipe I tried for a salmon version.

p.s. I got back the results of my physical, my cholesterol is still high, though it went down about 20 points (the good cholesterol is still high) and my triglyceride count went down a couple of points too.

Still have lots of work to do, hopefully my stats will get better by the next one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

eringi ragout #2

Remember I re-created a favorite, eringi ragout?

Well, I recently had the dish at Capricciosa and realized they add pancetta to theirs.

So, I tried making this again adding pancetta (50 grams) and lessened the ground beef a little.

I also served this with toasted baguette instead of over pasta.

I didn't have leftover creamy tomato soup like I used the first time making this, so instead I added 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes and a pinch of thyme.

NOTES: this was good! even more flavorful with the addition of the pancetta. You need to simmer it a little longer so that most of the liquid evaporates...I only wish I had had more baguette.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

things I'm liking

Well, there was no snow this weekend, not even a flurry, but the wind was fahreezing cutting through everything and anything you were wearing...still hoping for a white Christmas, though I know Satoshi is not.

So many things to post, so little time, so I'm putting them all in a "things I'm liking" post...starting off with the 400 grams of La Mere Poulard's chocolate chip cookies. Not liking that it is 100 grams less than her buttery sables, those are 500 grams.

Kinda liking Italy's Crik Crok chips...while I liked the flavor, the texture reminded me of crunchy Pringles and there was just way too much salt.

The kinoko tartine from Anri...a fourth of a baguette slathered with white sauce, lots of mushrooms and cheese.

Earlier this year, I tried the chocolate kakinotane which Kameda and Meiji collaborated on, this time they added almonds.

I would have enjoyed this more had the almonds been covered with chocolate too, seemed out of place.

Maisen's tamatoro menchikatsu pocket sandwich...whew, a mouthful to say.

Tamatoro is a shortening and fusing of two words: tamago (egg) torori (oozy)

Menchikatsu is a hamburger deep fried

Even though this sandwich was sitting out, the egg was still oozy.

This sandwich was huge, delicious and only 399 yen. (I would've liked a little veg in there but it probably would have made things a bit soggy)

Love socks with toes (not exactly sure what they call them in English).

I heard that they keep your feet warmer than regular socks because each toe is covered, kind of like gloves for your hands.

Oh and if you happen to have athlete's foot (I don't) it is perfect for keeping each toe from touching each other and spreading germs...

MUJI sells these socks that are made in Japan.

Another company, Tabio sells socks with toes that are made in Japan too.

I didn't know this but sock making is a large industry in Nara prefecture, Tabio and MUJI's socks are made there.

The pink socks are a perfect style for wearing ballet type flats.

Keith's chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies. We received these from my parents and have been enjoying them with coffee. (thank you!)

It looks like there are quite a bit of crumbs at the bottom of the bag, which I'm looking forward to sprinkling on ice cream.

Kinder's Happy Hippo Cacao...a wafer filled with milk creme and hazelnut creme.

Delicious and cute.

Gingerbread crunch by The Cookie Kitchen, we also received these from my parents.

Be careful, don't break a tooth, these are kinda on the hard side, the spices are so festive. (thank you!)

La Mere Poulard's crepes dentelles...thin thin wafers rolled into a little stick of sorts then covered with milk chocolate.

These stay very crisp because of the chocolate...yum!

And lastly, Antenor's black sesame pudding.

Not very aesthetic but very delicious, nutty from the sesame.

Bummed that they used a plastic bowl though.

What have you been enjoying?!