Wednesday, October 31, 2012

konnyaku patties with ginger ankake sauce

Made this for dinner the other night using my food processor.

First I thinly sliced some sweet potato (like half). Tossed it with 1 tablespoon of oil and cooked it in a 220C (425F) oven for 15 minutes.

When it was through cooking, I sprinkled it with some salt and then stuck it under the broiler for 5 minutes.

For the patties, I put a tablespoonful of ginger from the ginger syrup, a 2-inch piece of zucchini, 1/4 onion, 60 grams of konnyaku and 90 grams of beef-pork mince and pulsed it until I got the consistency I wanted (finely minced).

Then I added one egg and mixed it well in a bowl.

In a non-stick pan, I added some oil and spooned out 6 patties. The mixture was quite wet and I think a lot of liquid came out from the konnyaku, but just be patient before flipping the patties over.

I also made a ginger ankake sauce. Ankake is a thick sauce.

For the sauce I combined 2 tablespoons of ginger syrup, 2 tablespoons of shoyu, 3 tablespoons sake (rice wine) and 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine) in a pot.

I brought the mixture to a slight boil and added a slurry of cornstarch and water.

When the mixture turned clear and the consistency was like runny honey, I took it off the heat.

I added some diced carrots and red bell pepper when I served it.

For veggies, I steamed some broccoli and served it with some leftover sesame dressing.

NOTES: The sweet potato chips weren't all crispy, I think it may be because I didn't coat each one with oil nicely. The patties weren't all konnyaku, but they were delicious with a nice ginger flavor. The sauce would definitely be nice over some rice.

I'll definitely be making this again.

p.s. Have a safe & happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

new friend

Met up with a friend from Twitter, H.

We had lunch at Kamizono in Minoo, then chatted at Hashimototei.

The weather was nice and sunny, on the verge of being close to HOT.

H gave me all sort of goodies too...Dilmah Uda Watte Ceylon Tea, Bigot's Vanille Diamanté (delicious buttery shortbread) & some bath salts. (Thank you!)

My first time to meet up with someone from Twitter, I hope she had a nice time too.

Monday, October 29, 2012


It is kaki (persimmon) season here.

Got a good deal on this persimmon, 78 yen and seedless.


Sunday, October 28, 2012


They are finally changing those covers on our driveway.

Every time someone drives over them, they would make such a loud noise, I don't know how the people on the bottom floor stand it.

The residents in our building know that the cover makes noise but that doesn't stop some of them from zooming over them, making even louder noises.

You can tell when someone comes and goes, kinda irritating especially in the early morning or late at night.

I'm glad the building manager is finally changing these, hopefully it will be a little quieter now.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

my tiny kitchen

Our apartment is a 2LDK (That is how they refer to apartments in Japan: 2 rooms with a living, dining & kitchen). It is 60 square meters or 600 square feet.

Of the 2 rooms, 1 is where we sleep and the other is like a big walk-in closet (with our television in it).

Our bath is also where our washer is (can you believe in Japanese apartments that they only have cold water for the washers?! in the winter it is like washing your clothes in ice water...). The toilet is in a separate space, literally a "wash closet".

Thought you might like to see my kitchen. It's about 2 tatami mats big...that's about 35 square feet.

It is in the shape of an upside "U", but only because I made it that way.

Actually, my kitchen is connected to my living and dining area. You don't know how many times, Satoshi and I have moved furniture around to "change the atmosphere".

I think right now, we've got a pretty good layout.

Previously, I showed you the inside of my refrigerator here.

Our refrigerator can open from either the left or right side, which is pretty cool.

But the freezer is quite small, only two drawers.

On the side of my refrigerator, I have a magnetic notepad to write down things I have run out of that need to be replenished.

There is also a calendar and another magnet to hold recipes.

Next to the refrigerator is the sink.

The only time I use that drying basket over the sink is when my other drying containers (I have 2) are full of dishes.

Above the sink and stovetop are some cupboards, I keep items that I rarely use at the very top and some cups and spices in the more accessible areas. Usually if I can't reach something, I try to grab it with a pair of tongs, lazy yeah?!

Also, we don't have a garbage disposal, so I use a basket to gather peels and stuff then empty it out frequently so it won't smell.

I also use an old tofu container to collect the used coffee & tea, separate from the peels so that it won't go down the drain.

Below the sink, is where I keep sugar, honey, vanilla extract on one side.

And cleaning stuff on the other side.

This is my really small counter. See it is only about the size of a folder paper (8" x 11"). Next to it is the stovetop.

I'm lucky because I have 3 burners.

Right below the stovetop is a "drawer" to grill fish, but I've never used it because I really don't want to clean it after using it.

Some gadgets that can't fit into my gadget drawer are hanging along the wall there.

Below the fish grilling drawer, is a cupboard where I keep cooking and baking pans.

I also keep extra saran wrap and ziploc bags there too.

There is also a really skinny cupboard to the left of that, but only trays fit in there...

At the bottom of the "U" is where the oven & rice cooker are.

There are also spices there too.

To the left of that is where I keep most of our dishes, most of which I bought at the 100 yen store.

I made the cover for the rack so that the dishes won't get too dusty.

To the left of the dishes is a rack where I dry dishes (in 2 containers) because they can't stay on the "counter" to dry.

My pantry is also on this rack. I have most items in baskets so that I can pull them out like drawers.

(After I drew that rack in my journal back in 2010, I revised what items are there.) This rack also has a cover but this one I purchased with the rack.

So that's my kitchen, everything has its place.

Friday, October 26, 2012

grand marble

When I'm on the computer, I often also listen to the radio.

This particular station often advertises Grand Marble's danish breads, which sounded really delicious.

The main store is in Kyoto, but they also have a little shop in Osaka.

I picked up their fig and chocolate...1260 yen.

I sliced the bread into 8 slices and froze 4.

We had a toasted slice for breakfast with tea yesterday.

Lots of chocolate and figs in there.

This is definitely not for everyday though it would really make a great gift.

Grand Marble Dojima store
1-1-13 Dojima
Kita, Osaka
Phone: 06.6345.5166
Open weekdays 11:00-24:00

p.s. It's Friday! Hope you have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

café tous les jours

Yesterday, I went to the ob-gyn.

I was actually scheduled to get checked out last week when I went for my physical, but it was "that time of the month", so I had to re-schedule.

The clinic they sent me to, was in a not so nice area of Osaka.

I got there at 10:30...

Just to see the doctor, I waited over an hour and then after talking with her for a couple of minutes, it took another hour in the waiting room before I was able to get the exam done.

Even though my BMI is 24, the first thing she says to me after talking with her is, "you need to lose weight"...sigh.

Um, yeah, I know, and I'm working on it...

Anyway, by the time I left her office it was lunchtime (13:00 to be exact).

I went to eat a late lunch (I usually eat at 11-ish) at Café tous les jours, which I've written about before here.

Their lunch special was tandoori chicken...950 yen.

This came with rice or baguette (I chose baguette) and choice of drink (I chose iced chai).

The chicken was very moist and flavorful.

Ugh, but I forgot that they allow smoking in the café...blah.

It will take some time before I get back my results.

All in all, it was a pretty long day...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I saw this on Facebook and had to try it.

Take an oblong shaped tomato.

Cut it at an angle.

Then flip one side around and create a heart.

You can keep it together with a toothpick if you wish.

Perfect for bento and a nice way to brighten up a rainy day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


You know whenever I make something, I'm a bit greedy and try to use the ingredients to make many different things instead of a lot of one thing.

For example, I made falafel yesterday. I used half the can of garbanzos for it and with the other half I made my favorite chickpea salad.

Since I used half an egg for the falafel, I plan to use the other half to make a small batch of oatmeal cookies.

Is it only me or do you do that too?

Getting back to the falafel, they were really easy to make and delicious, better than the ones I tried over the summer.

Here is the recipe I used, I left out the salt and pepper, and added some egg (1/2 an egg).

Falafel :

1/2 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
1/4 onion
1 clove of garlic
fresh parsley, leaves only
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 an egg (optional)
1 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon oil

I whizzed everything except the flour in a food processor, then mixed in the flour.

Instead of deep frying them, I put 1 tablespoon of oil into a non-stick pan and pan fried them.

The mixture is quite wet, but when you cook them, they do firm up a little.

I served this with a mint cucumber tzatziki.

For the tzatziki, I mixed some mint, and cucumber with some yogurt and pepper.

NOTES: I ended up with 9 falafel, I think the amount you end up would depend on how big or small you make them.

They cook up pretty fast and had lots of flavor.

I'm definitely making these again. They are perfect for our meatless weekday dinners.

Monday, October 22, 2012

past couple of days

From Thursday to Sunday, Satoshi was away on his company trip to Bangkok.

Here's what I did while he was away...

Thursday, I had my annual physcial check-up. It feels like I just had one, but I looked at my archives and it is about a year.

This year, I went to another hospital and my appointment was at 3 in the afternoon.

Can you imagine fasting until then?! At least I was able to eat breakfast, but no water (or food) until 3...

I had the barium test again.

This year, the doctor was really old with a jet black pompadour hairstyle (the Japanese call this type of hairstyle a "rezent", dunno why).

While I was on the machine for the barium test, he would bark out orders over a mic which I couldn't understand, it reminded me of that teacher on "Charlie Brown". "waa waa waa".

At one point, I looked at him through the window and said "what?!" in English...then the assistant came in (snickered a bit) and positioned me the way the doctor wanted.

Throughout the test, you could hear the doctor sighing, because I wasn't doing exactly what he wanted me to.

There was even this part of the machine that looked like a fist that he would "jab" into my stomach, well, he even "jabbed" my ribs with it. I'm sure he enjoyed doing that...

No bedside manner whatsoever.

It'll be a couple of weeks before I find out my results, but hopefully everything will turn out okay.

Linner (Lunch & dinner) was pizza and beer (and ice cream) that night.

Friday, I went to catch the early show.

A Japanese romance comedy shot in Paris.

The story itself was so-so, but I enjoyed seeing different areas of Paris.

Saturday, I made a batch of ginger syrup. This time I used agave instead of honey. Haven't tried it yet, but it looks good.

Sunday, I went walking and came across this R2D2-ish building.

The past couple of days have been kinda warm 24C (75F).

What have you been up to?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

cacao sampaka

The other day I tried Cacao Sampaka's A lunch...1500 yen.

It started off with a salad topped with Jamon Serrano & a special chocolate vinaigrette, which tasted like it had balsamic vinegar as well as some dark chocolate in it.

The main dish was a pasta tossed with vine ripened veggies (tomatoes, zucchini & yellow bell peppers).

It looked like a little but was quite filling.

To end, a grilled cheese sandwich.

Havarti cheese and their tomato chocolate jam....savory dessert, different, but yum!

I wrote about their tomato chocolate jam before here.

Their lunch was delicious though a bit on the high end.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

soup weather

Wednesday, it rained

Perfect soup weather.

I made a batch of Kim chee chige (minus the pork), using up what veggies I had in my refridge (a little kabocha, carrot, kinoko (shimeji & maitake)).

I think it may have been a bit too salty for Satoshi but it really hit the spot.

Is it soup weather where you are?

Friday, October 19, 2012


Thursday, I had thought the sunset wasn't gonna be too spectacular since it had been cloudy and drizzly all day, but then I saw pink on my curtains and looked out.

The sky was "on fire" as the sun set...awesome, yeah?!

Boy, the week flew by, have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

it's back

It's been awhile since I have seen the rubber duck. Apparently it was back in Osaka last year, but I missed checking it out.

This year they had the rubber duck as part of a festival. Since Osaka has many rivers running through it, they wanted to showcase the rivers and had an event with many areas lit-up as well as areas along the river to picnic in the evening.

There were many food booths and food trucks too.

Besides the duck, they also had this...

A huge kokeshi doll.

I think someone said it is 10 meters tall (about 32 feet). It was inflated but would've definitely been more impressive if it were made of wood like the kokeshi dolls are.

Too bad Satoshi couldn't meet me for dinner near the water, still, I'm glad I was able to get out and see these.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

made in japan

The roses are in bloom again at Aramaki Rose Park, so I packed us a breakfast bento to eat at the park.

I had been seeing this foldable type of sandwich box and picked one up at the 100 yen store (which is made in Japan).

The Japanese have things down to a science, even sandwiches.

You can buy bread just the right size to fit into your sandwich box.

Bummer part is you can only buy 6 slices at a time. I hear that packaged bread in the Kanto area (Eastern Japan) comes with less slices (like 2 or 4)? While the bread in the Kansai area (Western Japan) are usually thicker sliced with max 6 slices...I've also seen types that have the crusts cut off for tea sandwiches.

Anyway, the night before I made some tandoori chicken then shredded it. In the morning I and made one sandwich with the chicken, cucumber and lettuce and the other one with the chicken, lettuce and roasted red bell pepper.

I wasn't too sure as how to pack the sandwiches into the box, since it was my first time using it.

I placed a piece of parchment paper in thinking I could put the sandwich directly in, but then wrapped each one to prevent them from drying out.

The night before I also roasted some cauliflower with some ras-el hanout. In the morning, I packed it with some cherry tomatoes, as well as some asian pear and some coffee.

This is how our breakfast picnic looked...kinda messy, yeah?! Everything was delicious though.

Not to mention we had a nice view too.

After breakfast, we folded up our sandwich box and packed everything up.

It was a great day to get out and about.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

assorted mushrooms "bulgogi" style

I've been trying to make meatless meals for us during the week. Satoshi usually comes home late (after 9), so he really shouldn't be eating anything too heavy.

I was kinda craving bulgogi the other day, but decided to try it with some konnyaku (jellied devil's tongue) and assorted kinoko (mushrooms) instead.

I used the yannyomu (sauce) recipe for bulgogi but cut it in half.

Then, I stir-fried maitake, eringi, shimeji mushrooms, some konnyaku, a little onion & some red bell pepper.

And then I spooned over some of the sauce (about 2 tablespoons) and coated everything well, letting it caramelize a little.

The results, a little light in flavor, maybe I would used tofu instead so that it would soak up some of the sauce.

Overall though, I really liked this.

NOTES: I served this with some lettuce and some kim chee, sprinkling some pine nuts.

To use up the rest of the sauce, I sauteed maitake, eringi, shimeji & some konnyaku in the sauce from the beginning. The results were a little better (more flavor) than the first time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

dorie's carrot salad

Reader Akiko suggested I try Dorie Greenspan's carrot salad, so I did.

Carrot Salad with Walnuts and Raisins from Dorie Greenspan
Serves 6 – 8 as part of a buffet

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, more to taste

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into very thin strips
2/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
finely chopped parsley or chives (optional garnish)

Add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Add carrots, walnuts and raisins to a medium serving bowl. Toss with dressing. Garnish with parsley or chives, if using.

NOTES:I didn't have raisins, so I used dried cherries.

Still, I loved it. Thanks Akiko!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

maitake gohan

It is finally starting to feel like Autumn.

The daytime temps are still in the upper 20s (C) (upper 70s (F)), but the early mornings and evenings there is a little nip.

This recipe is so easy, I know I'll be making it often.

Adapted from Makuuchi Hideo's "Soshoku no susume-Autumn"
1/2 a package of maitake, cleaned & torn with hands
1 cup rice, washed
1 cup water (to cook rice)
1/2 tablespoon shoyu
1/2 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)

Put wet ingredients (rice, condiments) into rice cooker, mix.
Add mushrooms and cook.

NOTES: not the most aesthetic, but so delicious. I'll probably switch out maitake and use whatever mushrooms I can get. You could easily double this recipe too.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

poke wraps

I saw this recipe in one of my Mom's cookbooks and wanted to make this before the weather got too cold.

No need to really follow a recipe at all though.

Just get some of your favorite poke (I made some spicy ahi poke)
Get some rice papers for summer rolls.
Wash and dry some lettuce.

After wetting the rice paper, lay a piece of lettuce down, add some poke and roll.

Enjoy with some beer or your beverage of choice.

NOTES: the rice papers I bought were a little small, so I couldn't put as much filling as I wanted. Other than that, they were delicious and I'd make these again maybe with tako (octopus) poke or some other kind of seafood poke.

Friday, October 12, 2012

yaki kuri gohan

The last time I made kuri gohan (chestnut rice) I used pre-peeled chestnuts (and it was 6 years ago too...yipes!).

This time around, I used the chestnuts I picked up at Hattori Ryokuchi Park.

I checked online and Martha had an "easy" method for roasting the chestnuts...well, nearing 5 minutes before the time was up in the oven, one of the chestnuts decided to explode!

Chestnut matter all over the oven. It wasn't pretty, not to mention it scared the bejeezus out of me as I was standing nearby.

What also wasn't pretty was the fact that the fuzzy skin closest to the chestnut

So, it took me over an hour to peel these even getting some of the fuzzy skin in between my nail and the softest part under it (ow!) . (Thank goodness I didn't wait until right before I wanted to cook the rice to do the roasting!)

I started with about a cup of unpeeled chestnuts but by the time I was done "peeling" (read scraping and digging at) them, I had about a 1/2 a cup.

I ended up with more bits than whole pieces.

1/2 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts
1.5 cup rice
1/2 cup mochi rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sake (cooking rice wine)
1/2 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/2 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce)

I served this with sanma (saury) and kinpira. Can you believe that the market had sold this sanma with a packet of lemon juice?!

I couldn't see myself using the packet, so I used part of the fresh lemon I had on my table. (Actually this type of fish is usually served with sudachi (a type of lime) I had forgotten to buy some and thought my neighborhood co-op would have some, but sadly they didn't, so I used the fresh lemon that I had.)

Still, whether I bought it with or without the head it was the same price...198 yen each, so of course I went "without".

NOTES: The rice was good despite all the stress, you had a little chestnut in every bite. The flavors were light, and since Satoshi has to watch his sodium, I think it all balanced out because the fish was grilled with salt.

Note to self: find bigger chestnuts (maybe some that are already peeled or someone to peel them for you)...ahem.

All in all though, this was a good experience, and Satoshi enjoyed this.

Whoa?! it is Friday already...enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

hattori ryokuchi park

Monday was a holiday, so we headed out to Hattori Ryokuchi Park. It was our first time here and was about a 15 minute walk from the Hankyu Sone Station. The park is 126 hectares or 311 acres.

Or as the Japanese like to say, it is 33 times the size of Koshien Stadium. I always wonder why they compare the size of things to baseball stadiums, not like I can visualize the size.

Anyway, lunch was leftover chinjaorosu, some rice and Asian pear.

I have to show you this new trick I just learned.

When you peel the skin of your Asian pear, don't peel it all the way. This will help keep it from turning brown without having to squeeze some lemon on it.

It was actually quite HOT this day, I think the temps were somewhere like 26C (78F).

And a little humid too..blah.

But, there were many out and about.

And with all the people at the park, there were also many lost children being called out over the PA system.

We checked out an area of the park where they have about 10 farm houses from around Japan.

I was kind of in awe of this because they have the actual sized houses, which means they need a LOT of land for this.

There is a small admission to go in to see these houses (500 yen), but we thought it was totally worth it to see the different types of farm houses.

Near one of the farm houses, I noticed there were a couple of chestnut trees and the "sea urchins" were all over the I sorta helped myself...(I was able to pick up 13)

This photo is for my blog friend, Jalna.

I hope to be able to share with you what I did with this chestnuts.

I also took this photo of this woman sitting in one of the farm houses, it's my favorite at the moment.

We're looking forward to checking out this park again for cherry blossom season.