Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to All My Friends All Over the World !

My Christmas Fruitcake 2014

The rum-soaked dried fruits were baked into this lovely cake about a week ago. The cake was iced today...

... and now it's looking like this on the table.


I hope everyone is having a wonderful time now. :)
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Looks Like I Don't Do Well with Sudachi...


Awfully Bitter Sudachi Infused Liquor

Remember the sudachi infused liquor project which started in August, 2014
Yeah, the photo looks kind of nice. And the fragrance was sooooooo wonderful when I opened the jar. But the taste was... !!  X(

I should have taken out the rind much earlier. It gave the liquor quite a bit of bitterness.
It'd help if I added a lot of club soda and ice to it...
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Preparation Started !

Dried Fruits Soaked in Rum

FINALLY I used up this bottle of Myer's rum! Don't ask me when I bought this bottle. Hehehe...    ;)

As you can see, there wasn't enough rum left to cover the top of the dried fruits. I guess I need to stir them once in a while...

The post about my Christmas fruitcake 2014 will come in about a month.
Stay tuned!
:D
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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Unforgettable Sudachi Citrus Dressing

   Fish Marinated with Super-sour Suchachi Citrus Dressing

My previous foodblog, Obachan's Kitchen & Balcony Garden had a "Bloopers" category (please don't try to open it, though ... It doesn't work now and I can't fix it anytime soon). On this blog I'm not labeling "bloopers" any more, but THIS dressing should have deserved a label like that. :P

Here's the story.
I harvested bunch of sudachi citrus this summer, and used some for infused liquor, but still had a lot of leftovers. And before my family could use them up as a condiment for grilled fish, they turned yellow. So I came up with an idea of using the juice for a salad dressing. Not bad idea, right?


So the idea was OK. But the result wasn't. It turned out REALLY sour.
The reason was that I didn't have enough olive oil at hand and didn't feel like additional shopping. And I was too lazy to save the sudachi juice for some other use -- like jelly or something --. As a result, too much juice and too little olive oil made a VERY sour dressing. ERrrrrrrr!

I thought that it might be OK for marinating fish, especially when served with cheese. Hence, the top photo.

BUT IT WAS STILL TERRIBLY SOUR!!  LOL

I'm actually writing this post in November, but the dressing is still sitting in the fridge. And I've been ignoring it until...
... until it turns obviously moldy or rotten and I can throw it away with no guilt? Hehe... ;P.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ginger Project - Part 1 -

Sliced Ginger Roots

To tell you the truth, I'm writing this post in November, after harvesting some ginger roots from my veggie garden. I was going to post about the excitement of the first harvest, but I thought it would be better to upload this "part 1" story beforehand.

So, this is about what I made in September with some store-bought ginger. And I'm posting it with a date in September... Sorry about my procrastination - as always - and modifying the post dates like this from time to time. :P

Anyway, in early September, my inner voice ordered me to make ginger syrup, and I followed the order. I cooked ginger slices with sugar and spices ...


 ... until I got this nice, thick syrup. The color turned out pretty dark because I used brown sugar.

 Homemade Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

What you see in front of the syrup is candied ginger I made with the ginger slices left from the syrup making.

The syrup was a success. I mixed it with club soda and threw in a few mint leaves to enjoy the sweetness with the refreshing kick, and before I knew it, the jar was empty. :D

The candy turned out quite hard, sweet AND very gingery. I was pretty satisfied and looking forward to using it for ginger bread and soft ginger cookies. But one day when it was extremely hot and humid, the candy melted and the whole thing turned terribly soggy.
* Sob *
So, would I throw it away?
Of course not.

There'll be a post about the Part 2 of this ginger story, and you'll see how I used the soggy sugar-ginger mixture.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another Jam Session in the Kitchen! ;)

Homemade Blueberry Jam, 2014 

I've been lucky with my jam making this summer: Ume plum jam (used the plums taken out from homemade ume juice), tomato jam (used home-grown oval tomatoes, Aiko) and this blueberry jam.

If you are a long-term reader of my blogs including the previous foodblog, you might remember the sunshine blue bush I was growing in a planter? I brought it with me when I moved into my parents' house and planted it in the garden. Last winter it looked sick, so I cut most of its branches. Then the bush had no flowers this spring and I thought the other blueberry wouldn't yield any fruits because it wasn't a self-pollinating kind. But for some reason (maybe someone in this neighborhood is growing blueberries), it gave me this many!

This Year's Harvest (336 g)

Yep, I kept them in the freezer, and this time I didn't wash them before freezing because I had read that it would make the skin harder. And the day before yesterday, I finished the tomato jam, so yesterday morning, I found myself cooking these berries in an enameled pot.

The jam tastes good, but seedy. I wonder if there is a seedy kind or it's the way I grow the bush...
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Before Summer is Totally Gone...

Sun-dried Tomato and Cream Cheese Canape

Now, before summer of 2014 is over let me post about two more creations from my sun-dried tomato project. The project was the highlight of this summer, I would say.  :)

First, these canapes.
I soaked the semi-dried tomatoes with warm water and after they were softened, chopped them like this. Then all I did was just putting them on Ritz crackers with cream cheese and basil leaves. Yeah, you see the tiny green pieces? At first I used a whole leaf for each. But its strong flavor overpowered the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. So I tore the basil leaves into small pieces and sneaked one under the cream cheese, topping it with an even smaller bit.

This simple creation was actually the best of all my attempts with dried tomatoes this summer! The combination of the tomatoes and the cream cheese was just heavenly with the refreshing kick of the sweet basil.  :D

Sun-dried Tomato and Bacon Muffins


Second, these muffins.
This was another "just okay" attempt of mine with sun-dried tomatoes. I thought the tomatoes would taste great with bacon, which was probably a right guess, but obviously I didn't use enough bacon. The muffins would have tasted much better if I diced the bacon into larger pieces and put more in each with more cheese and black pepper. After all, the muffins were rather bland.
But I ate them all in one day. :P
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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sudachi Infused Liquor!

Sudachi (Citrus Sudachi)

Sudachi is a small, round citrus fruit that looks like a baby lime, except that it is a little flatter. I love to use Sudachi in place of lemon when I eat seafood, because it adds such a refreshing fragrance! :D

My family is lucky to have a sudachi tree near the graveyard. It gives us plenty of fruit every year and we never have to buy any at the store. And this year, I decided to give this a try:
Sudachi Infused Liquor

At the end of May this year, I made plum infused liquor. And I didn't know what to do with the leftover distilled liquor and rock sugar. Now this is the perfect chance to use them up.
:)

It was not easy to pick a recipe, though. Some recipe sites says "Do not peel sudachi," others says, "Peel most of them but leave a few unpeeled," without really explaining the reason why. And some says, "Take out the rind in 2 weeks," so maybe the green rind can add a little bitterness to the drink or something??  Well, we'll see.
Here's the recipe I used this time:
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Sudachi Infused Liquor
  Twelve sudachi citrus, peeled (three were unpeeled and halved)
  250 g   rock sugar
  900 mL distilled liquor (called "White liquor"in Japan)
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They say it will be ready in about three months. So I should be able to enjoy the drink with hotpot dishes at the end of this year. How nice!  :D
Mmmmm... Maybe I should get some vodka and do the same to make a special drink for Christmas dinner. ;)
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Love Their Colors!

Noble Scallop
Bon is a Buddhist custom in Japan and our ancestors' spirits are said to come visit us during this period. It's also a family reunion time. Supermarkets sell local specialties and party foods twice as much as usual!:)

Noble scallop is something they started selling recently at supermarkets around here in this period (though it is not exactly our local specialty!). In my neighborhood, we already celebrated this custom in July, but last night I took this opportunity to try some because my family has never tasted it before.



.... I know. Overdone. But they tasted good. :D
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Exclusively Sun-dried!

Exclusively Sun-dried Plum Tomatoes, Herbs and Blueberries

This time, it worked! I dried the tomatoes for about three days on a big rock on the beach under the summer sun. They turned out to be great semi-dried tomatoes! YAY!
Yes, these taste way better than the ones that went through three drying methods!

Don't they look lovely this way? ;) The sun-dried herbs also look nice in these packages.

Mini pizza for lunch today! :D

The mini pizza pieces were OK, but the strong taste of the cheese and the crunchiness of the crust (actually Chinese dumpling skins) sort of hid the rich flavor and the pleasant chewiness of the tomatoes. Next time I would definitely go for mozzarella or cream cheese.
Definitely. ;)
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Aiko in Scones!

Dried Tomato, Herb and Cheese Scones

See what I made with the home-grown and home-dried plum tomatoes! :D

In addition to the dried tomatoes, I added dried herb (thyme and oregano) and grated cheese.
They look nice, don't they? As for the taste...  Well, this was definitely a healthy recipe. But I'm going to try a different scone recipe next time.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dehydrating Aiko!

A Variety of Plum Tomato Named "Aiko"

"Aiko" is a girl's name in Japan, but I'm not dehydrating a girl, of course, so don't worry. ;)
I'm just going to dry these cute, oval-shaped tomatoes! Oh, they would be great with pasta and pizza!!
 
Originally, my plan was sun-drying them. It sounded like the best method both taste-wise and nutrition-wise. HOWEVER, when I tried it about a week ago, I had to learn in a hard way that:
a) it takes more than one day to dry these juicy tomatoes, and
b) the half-dried tomato halves rot VERY easily  :(

So this time, first I sun-dried them on the beach, then...

... tried to finish them up in the oven @ 130 degrees C for about an hour.


When came out of the oven, still they were not quite dry yet, but I didn't continue the attempt any longer, being worried about the power bill. I decided to sun-dry them again the next day, but I was again worried about what would happen to them during the hot and humid night.  So I stored them in the fridge overnight, which was ... probably one of the major mistakes I make often ...??? They looked terribly soggy in the bag this morning! :O

Would these ever dry up ???

So finally... I asked a friend of mine to let me use this modern convenience.
Now, four hours later...

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Tada ~ !!

Now I have these fragrant dried tomatoes on hand. It would have cost a lot if I had bought them at the store! Some of them turned out quite dry and others a bit moister, and I cannot decide whether to store them simply in an empty air-tight jar or in olive oil... or maybe I should freeze them?

Anyway, I can't wait to use them. :) Stay tuned for my posts about pizza and pasta with home-grown herbs AND these dried tomatoes which went through all three drying methods: sun-, oven- and food-dryer drying!! YAY! :D
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kolokithokeftedes - Zucchini Meatballs

Kolokithokeftedes

Kolokithokeftedes? I don't have a slightest idea of how to pronounce it. LOL
As far as I know, it's a Greek dish and the name means "zucchini meatballs." Right?

Ever since I gave it a try for the first time in June, 2009, this is "the must" dish for me when I have some home-grown zucchini on hand. It is because I was so fascinated by the meat-like taste of the deep-fried zucchini patties.

Now, I didn't have a success with my zucchini this year.  A few weeks ago, I complained on my FB page that my zucchini fruits grew to thumb size and rot.Then I realized that only two zucchini plants were not enough to have male and female flowers bloom at the same time, and I needed to give them hand pollination to have a decent harvest.

So I gave it a try, and had this result...

... and today I made Kolokithokeftedes after four years break since the first attempt!

If you're interested in the recipe, it's here.  But to tell you the truth, I never follow this recipe as is. (Of course. We can't find Feta cheese around here in the first place.)
Today, I skipped the parsley, potato and carrot, and used only these.



Yeah, the patties were a little too runny.

I have no idea what gives this meat-like flavor... Zucchini? Cheese? Both? It's amazing!
Today, the result was satisfactory, though probably I should have browned them more.

BTW, I think I like making Kolokithokeftedes without adding grated potato... It may make them more like potato pancakes if you added too much.
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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

First Watermelon from Our Garden This Year!

Watermelon - Oval Variety named "Madder Ball"

Those who have been in Japan for a while must know why I mentioned "oval variety" in the caption above. Traditionally, watermelons are round in Japan. But this oval variety is becoming more and more popular, at least here in my hometown. :)


Among the plateaus here in Muroto, Nishiyama Plateau is known for tasty fruits and vegetables grown there, thanks to the abundant sunlight and good drainage. We all loved watermelons from there. But now the farmers there are old, so they changed from the traditional kind to this oval, smaller, lighter but much sweeter variety. That was definitely a right choice, I would say. Now this small rugby-ball shaped watermelon from that particular location is branded as "Kira-Bou." It is such a prestigious local specialty, sold at limited locations (and online) only.
http://murototsuhan.com/?pid=60035202 (In Japanese)

Now, of course, there are people who want to grow such popular watermelon in their own gardens. Dad is one of them, and that's why this expensive watermelon is in our kitchen now -- for free --, though from a garden with less hours of sunlight and poor drainage.

The taste?
Mmmmmm.... it's OK, as long as we don't compare it with the real Kira-Bou.

BTW, the name of this oval variety is "madder ball," and I wonder if the name was given in Japan, not abroad... I googled with "madder ball" and "watermelon" but the hits I got seem to be Japanese pages only. Actually I'm confused about this, because some says it should be spelled, "madder bowl," which makes less sense to me. They say "madder" means crimson, but I can't help thinking about its different meaning. 
How about you?   LOL
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

See This Glass?

Iced Coffee @ Akaoka Cafe Zeyo 

This signage led me to this small cafe in Konan City (about 1.5 hours drive from where I live now) last Sunday.

It says "Walk about 140 steps to the left, then turn left." So, obviously someon walked here, counting each and every step. LOL

It will take you pretty close to the cafe. Then if you can find another small signage with the name of this cafe, you'll be here:
Entrance of Akaoka Cafe Zeyo
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.When ordered an iced coffee, it came in this cute glass in the top photo.
Loved it so much! ♡

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kimo-Kawaii?

Giant Isopod Made out of Sausage

Yep. Believe it or not, Giant Isopod has been quite popular in Japan recently. Undoubtedly, it must be another example of Japanese Kimo-Kawaii (gross-but-cute) fad. Just try an image search with ”stuffed giant isopod”and see how much people love it here. ;)

I was aware of it because some of my Facebook friends have posted about their love of this creature several times in the past couple of years. But it was when I had dinner with some university students the other day that I was told how crazy some people are about seeing these creatures alive -- or even, tasting them! Think about it. Some passionate folks drove for hours to go to China Town in Yokohama just to join an event of cooking and eating Giant Isopod!

When I heard that, I realized how privileged we the Muroto residents were. Here, if we want to see them, all we have to do is visiting this facility called AQUAFARM.
AQUAFARM (closed on Sat.)

It is a Deep Seawater harvesting/distribution facility. Inside of this building, there is a tank where they keep the deep-sea creatures that were sucked into the Deep Seawater intake pipe with the water. Yes, they are alive and swimming in the tank filled with Deep Seawater. And almost always, you can see these visitors from the deep sea that look like big roly-poly bugs. :)
To be precise, these are Bathynomus doederleinii which is a little smaller variety than Giant Isopod Bathynomus giganteus. These smaller ones are about 10 to 15 cm, and not terribly intimidating, I would say.

Anyway, at AQUAFARM, you can come in for free of charge and take a look at several deep-sea creatures in the tank and learn about Deep Seawater through the exhibits.

And, this fad seems to have inspired some creative bento fans to make this gross-but-cute creature out of this kind of sausage!
These red sausages were the only kind available when I was a child. And we were crazy about octopus or crabs made out of them. I remember begging mom to make and put some in my bento box, but she wasn't very interested. (Maybe that's why I love doing something like this so much now... to fulfill the unmet need in my childhood, huh?) This type of sausage lost its popularity once when people started criticizing artificial coloring. But now they use tomato-derived lycopene or other vegetable-derived coloring, so now they're back and loved by those who make elaborate kyaraben.

And the other day, by accident, I found this site showing us how to make Giant Isopod out of the red sausage! Do you think I could resist the temptation?
OF COURSE NOT!

And hence, the two lovely bugs in the first photo. How do you like them? Not bad, huh?

One problem though... It may take some courage to eat my gross-but-cute creations... :(
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