Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


To my friends all over the world,

** ... ** ... ☆... ** ...  Merry Christmas ** ... ** ... ☆... ** ... ** 

 I didn't do much for Christmas this year, but I did make a small Christmas tree and baked a bundt cake. 
This is the Christmas tree I made in five minutes.

Maybe, to long-term readers of my foodblog, these ribbons and ornaments look somewhat familiar? Haha... I've been using the same things in different combinations for years, as you can see here:
(Scroll down to see Christmas trees.)

Anyway, about the cake. I definitely wanted to use my bundt pan, so I did a net search for bundt cake and pound cake recipes. Finally, I picked this almond cake recipe (in Japanese). Unlike typical bundt cakes, this is a pretty light and almost fluffy almond cake, so I was a little worried that it may not keep its shape nicely.

So this is how my cake looked when it came out of the oven. :)

Not bad. Not bad at all. But it wasn't perfect... I forgot to add almond extract to the batter! When I realized it, the cake was already half-done, so there was nothing I could do at that point. All I could do was making syrup, adding bunch of almond extract to it and brushing it onto the bottom surface of the cake before taking it out of the pan.

And on the next day, I iced the cake. At first, I thought about making orange flavored icing, but after all, I chose to make simple icing (milk & confectionery sugar) with lots of almond extract added. Here's now I drizzled it over the cake.


And at night, after coming back from Christmas caroling at a local church, I tasted my cake with sparkling wine.

This year, I didn't have a nice, big candle and didn't do a good job in photo-taking. But the cake and wine were good enough for enjoying the relaxing Christmas Eve in my room.

.No great pic, but it captured the cozy atmosphere, at least. :)

Hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas with lots of joy.
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sometimes I Need a Hiding Place

Purple Sweet Potato Paste with Ice Cream @ Mederu Kitchen

My friend took me to this small restaurant called "Mederu Kitchen"about a year ago. Since then, this place has been one of my fave places in this prefecture. It's on the second floor of the roadside station in Yasu Town, nicknamed "Ya-shii Park."

 Entrance of Mederu Kitchen

Last month, I took mom here on our way back from the hospital for a cup of coffee. She really loved the relaxing atmosphere and delicious melon and ice cream parfait.

And two days ago, I came here alone for lunch. What I had was this healthy combo meal. It was my kind of meal because I like tasting a little bit of many different dishes.

 Healthy combo meal

It's nice to have a place like this where I can totally relax and enjoy the afternoon sunshine and a nice cup of coffee. :)
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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Too Much Food !

Kaiseki dinner at Hotel Ashizuri-En

Sorry about neglecting this blog for such a long time! It's not that I have been terribly busy. It's just that I've been more addicted to Facebook than this blog...

Anyway, what you see here on this post is the banquet at Hotel Ashizuri-En in Tosashimizu City. I went to Cape Ashizuri -- the western tip of Kochi Prefecture -- on the field trip of an association of geology fans in Kochi prefecture. We walked a lot, learned a lot and ate A LOT. Take a look at the photo below to see how much food was served for one person!


And as if this was not enough, on a separate table, there were several big plates of mackerel sashimi, the specialty of this area.

What was unusual was that they gave us two options to eat beef: teppan yaki (grilling on an iron plate) and shabushabu (blanching in boiling broth). It is usually either of them.

And most of us left this dish untouched.
The food tasted good. But there was just too much of them! And too little liquor.
Honestly speaking, I wished that they omitted a couple of small side dishes and served ice cream instead. 

But overall, I truly enjoyed this field trip including the banquet and hot spring bath at this hotel.
Let me show you some magnificent geological formations we saw on Cape Ashizuri.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Banana Chiffon Cake

Banana Chiffon Cake

This is what I baked when I had an "egg crisis" in the kitchen about a week ago.
Details are on my facebook timeline here, and I tried to link to those posts but it didn't work.

In a nutshell, we had too many eggs in the kitchen that day. Remember when mom kept buying frozen food like crazy? Well, this time it was these eggs.
I can't wait to see what comes next.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kisu to Nasu no Tempura (Deep-fried Sillago and Eggplant)

This year, I had bad luck with sillago fishing until mid August. Then all of the sudden, about two weeks ago, I got a piece of information from the local anglers in the neighboring town. They said that now you could get a bite on almost every cast and it would last for about a week! Of course, nothing could stop me -- even the fact that an important exam was coming up soon.

The information was correct. I had so much fun for about 1.5 hours very early in the morning, until about 8:00 am. :D

To be perfectly honest, the sillago I caught this time did not taste as good as the ones I had caught earlier this year. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that all I got this time were pregnant ones.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

To Quench your Thirst

 Homemade Ume Plum Juice

It's roasting hot outside. I'm relaxing in my room right now, sipping this wonderful ume plum juice. Remember this post? The ume plums and the juice look like this now.

See how these plums are wrinkled up?

Another good time to have this drink is after taking a hot bath at night. Oh so good!!  :D
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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Abalone Adventure - 2

 Homemade Pizza with abalone, zucchini and mushroom slices

So, this was the "another idea"that popped up in my mind after the first attempt with the chewy abalone slices. And this turned out to be a good idea.
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I made the pizza crust from scratch, based on this "Five-minutes-a day " recipe. :)
This was not bad at all ... Actually, much, much better than the pasta. And the next time, I'm going to try this with a crispy crust and use much more basil sauce and no tomato sauce.
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Abalone adventure -1

Cream Pasta Flavored with Green Seaweed powder and topped with Abalone Slices and small dried shrimp

Like I wrote in my previous post, I love abalone picking. This was what I caught on July 4th. To make the best use of this very tasty but chewy type of abalone, I brainstormed for a little while. And the top photo was my attempt.
 Though I sliced them very thin, still the shell fish was quite chewy. So I ended up eating those slices and the pasta separately. And when I was about to finish this dish, another idea popped up in my mind.
:)
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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Ume Miso Project 2012

Ume Miso Project - Day 11 -
I guess I'm experiencing a positive change now. For the past couple of years, I didn't feel like cooking almost at all. You probably noticed it because I didn't post any photos of my own cooking.
But lately I'm going back to my old habits. See? In addition to the ume juice project, I started this ume miso project as well.
For more information about ume miso, click here.
This is the photo of the preparation phase. I placed unripe green ume plums, sugar and miso alternately in a container.

And this was how it looked on day 11th (before stirring).

I stirred it thoroughly and left it rest again. :)
It should rest more... until these ume plums give out their juice and totally wrinkle up.
I'll keep you updated.
:)
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pizza Margherita from "Pizza Napoletana"


A pizza van named "Pizza Napoletana"comes to Muroto about once a month. Usually they stay in the parking of Sunshine supermarket and sell pizza. This month, they came about a week ago. But I forgot to post about it on the next day, so now, here's a belated post about this cute little pizza van.


(To tell you the truth, I bought the margherita in early afternoon that day, but took the top photo hours later. That's why it doesn't look too tempting... looking kind of soggy.)

What's neat about the van is that it has a small stone oven inside!

Traveling around in the prefecture, they must have been enjoying meeting many people in many different places.

They're coming to Muroto on the 22nd in July and the 12th in August.   :)
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bruschetta!!

Bruschetta @ Italian Restaurant Tonno in Nahari Town

I'm pissed! I tried to upload this photo to my Facebook page, but couldn't. It's been the same way since this morning. And it's not just photo-upload that doesn't work. I cannot post anything on my own wall. Every time I try, it gives me this stupid message: "Sorry, unable to update your status. Try again in a few minutes." Looks like many people worldwide are having the same problem now.
See this.

Anyway, I joined a workshop this afternoon. It was held at a community center which was about two hours drive from my house. I got hungry on my way back and this was the snack I had at an Italian restaurant on my way home.

There's another photo that I wanted to post to my FB page but couldn't. See? The sunset was gorgeous this evening. :)
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Sunset @ Cape Gyodo


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Learning from Experience

Ume Plums Juice Project (started on May 28th, 2012)

 When was the last time I made ume plum juice this way? Perhaps two years ago...?  OK. It was in 2010. Hmmm... so last year was the only year that I didn't give this a try. But I have a confession. The attempt in 2010 was not successful and that was the reason why I didn't feel like trying it again in 2011. In 2010, I used crystallized sugar, which melted very slowly. So before enough juice came out to cover the ume plums, it was already late June and the temperature and humidity rose to an uncomfortable level. As a result, obviously an unwanted process took place in the jar and spoiled the juice.

Well, I can proudly tell you that I've learned a lesson. See? This year I have started this project much earlier and used granulated sugar! Also, I didn't use speckled plums at all this time, because the batch made with speckled ones in 2009 did not taste good. For this first batch, I used store-bought, good green ume plums only.


I'm going to make the second batch tomorrow, using store-bought plums AND a handful plums from the tree in our garden.
Hope I have a success this year! :D
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cafe on the Rock


Last week was a real eventful week. Maybe some of you already know very well about the period with many national holidays we have in Japan at the end of April and in the beginning of May. The period is called "Golden Week." In Japan, it's the time you HAVE TO travel, or camp, visit your grandparents, or visit Tokyo Disney Land or Universal Studio Japan or other known travel destinations. OR GEOPARKS. Yes, of course. So some people did choose to come to our Geopark, which we appreciated very, very much!  :D

To offer such visitors our local cuisine (and to gain a little extra income), this year we tour guides set up a food stand called "Cafe on the Rock." Well, nothing fancy, but just to serve some drinks, desserts and light snacks. And we used local ingredients as much as possible. The jelly was made from locally harvested seaweed. Fruits and sweet potatoes were from our member's orchard and veggie garden. The fish and rice we used for traditional Japanese pilaf were also local. Even the water we used was locally harvested Deep Sea Water (desalinated). So, actually, instant coffee, sugar, cinnamon and coffee lightener were probably the only store-bought things.

To make jelly from seaweed: You wash dried seaweed, cook it with water and a little vinegar...
Then pour it into a cloth bag and wring it to get the starchy liquid out.

We mixed in instant coffee, loquat preserves and Konatsu citrus confiture to make three different kinds of jelly.

Sweet potatoes were chopped, deep-fried and covered with icing. :)
We also had tokoroten (agar noodles) in these bamboo containers which were also made from the bamboo trees donated by a member's relative. They were boiled beforehand to sterilize. Sorry, I couldn't take photos of the noodles and pilaf, because they were sold out pretty quickly.
We are thinking about doing this again in summer vacation season. :)
Hope you could come and watch and taste our progress!
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