Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hot Orange Drink, as I Promised

Homemade Hot Orange and Ginger Drink

Dear Readers,
When you read my previous post about my overcooked and hardened orange jam, didn't you say in your mind, "Oh, Obachan! You can solve the problem real easy!"
I guess some of you did, but were hesitant to say it aloud until today.

Don't worry any more. I found the solution myself.

All I needed to do was adding some hot water into the jar of my orange jam, then microwaving it for a couple of minutes and stirring it thoroughly. It worked just like that. The jam is now properly runny and easy to handle!! :D And now it is much easier to make hot orange drink with it.

Actually I tried to make the drink before I found that solution -- when the jam was still as hard as soft candy. Yep, it took me a while to scoop the jam (candy) out of the jar and place it at the bottom of the cup. AND it took even longer to dissolve it in hot water.  :(
Today it was easy to transfer the proper amount of jam to the cup. Very easy. :)

And the drink looked like this when some boiling water and grated ginger were added!
The drink is pretty good, honestly. After all, it was worth peeling, squeezing and cooking those not-so-good oranges instead of throwing them away. The drink does have slightly annoying smell of overcooked sugar, but adding some spice like cinnamon or cardamon would help. ;)

And the best part is ... YES! Eating the flesh of the oranges that sank to the bottom of the cup!!
Mmmmm...  This is soooooooo good.  :D

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orange Jam?

Orange Jam? or Soft Candy?
I'm wondering what I should call it because it is actually as thick as soft candy. XO

As I wrote before, dad cannot take care of his orange orchard any more, but the trees still bare fruit. We rarely pick the oranges, and most of them just fall to the ground. But they're not necessarily bad -- they're still edible. So I can understand that if someone in my family felt like bringing some home to find out how they taste.
... But not too many, please!!!
Actually this always happens. Every year, I find lots of no-good oranges like the above photo in the kitchen. And usually, they don't taste so great or anything. After my parents taste some and get disappointed, they -- the oranges, not my parents -- tend to sit in the kitchen until they turn moldy and no one feels guilty throwing them away.

But the other day, I came up with an idea of using them to make something with my mom to have her use the abilities she has left. Since making marmalade is a bit too much work, I decided to go for orange jam. Basically, my thought was that if I cook the juice and flesh of the oranges with sugar, I should get something edible. And if it was not too successful, I could dissolve it in some hot water, as a last resort, to make hot orange drink. Right?

So I asked mom to help me with these preparations...

... and cooked the juice and flesh with lots of sugar.
Yes, for too long, I guess... :O
Do you think the jam sort of looks nice in the photos? Do you? Thank you. But when I ate it with these English muffins, it stuck to the teeth, which was almost annoying!

So, I'm pretty sure that my next post will be about "my homemade hot orange drink." LOL

Friday, February 07, 2014

Hot Buttered Rum with Good Memories

Hot Buttered Rum

My first encounter with this warm, winter drink was in PA, U.S.A., more than 30 years ago. It was a cold winter and the temperature outside was -20 degrees C on the night of Christmas Eve that year. On our way to my host family's house from the church, my nose hair froze, which was something totally new to me.

And as soon as we sat at the table in the kitchen, my host mom made hot chocolate for kids and hot buttered rum for me. Oh, the hot, sweet, rich and spicy drink... :D  I had never tasted anything like that before in my life.

And still now... 30 years later... hot buttered rum brings me back the memories of the spicy aroma that filled the host mom's kitchen, and the color of the candy canes hanging from the Christmas tree.

Today it's pretty cold, even here in Muroto. It snowed a little early in the morning, and later it turned into a cold, sleety rain. I made this drink to warm up myself. And I thought that a couple of nice photos of this drink with steam coming up from the cup would warm up the readers of this blog, too.

But... too bad.

Though I almost boiled this drink, much more than necessary, still I couldn't get the steam in the photos! Mmmmmm....  ;P
I guess I didn't have enough light.

Hope everyone is warm and happy on a day like this... :)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Fortune Rolls

"Fortune Rolls"to Be Eaten on the Night of Setsubun

I bet most Japanese ate rolled sushi like these yesterday (Feb. 3rd) to celebrate Setsubun? In a nutshell, in the old days, the day of Setsubun was thought to be the official beginning of spring. And the traditional custom was throwing roasted soybeans to chase bad luck away and bring good luck into your home. They say that if you eat the same number of the roasted soybeans as your age, you'll stay healthy throughout the year.
Details here.

That was all about Setsubun, at least in this part of Shikoku Island, until 5 or 6 years ago.
I believe that it was only in certain areas in Japan where this rolled sushi was an important part of the Setsubun ritual.

In the extended version of the ritual, in addition to the soybean-throwing, you need to do the following to wish good luck for the year:
- prepare (or buy) Futomaki zushi (thick rolled sushi) but do not slice it,
- face the "lucky direction of the year" and
- close your eyes and eat the unsliced sushi in silence.

The special rolled sushi is called Eho-maki, which seems to be translated as "fortune roll" these days.  "Eho" is the lucky direction of the year, determined based on ancient Chinese astrology and Chinese zodiac. And according to this site, seven fillings are traditionally rolled in to associate the dish with the "Seven Deities of Happiness."

Some say that this was originally the custom of Kansai region. Thus, for us in Kochi prefecture, this part of the Setsubun celebration is nothing but the product of a marketing strategy. I heard that it was one of the convenience stores that started to spread this custom throughout the country. And now most supermarkets as well as convinis in Japan sell fortune rolls on Feb. 3rd. Yep. Just like Nanakusa-gayu (seven-herb rice porridge) custom and White Day have become popular here...

I'm not saying that it is bad. Perhaps many of famous Japanese traditional customs have spread in this country in similar ways, only at a slower pace in the past. Maybe it's just me that I slightly feel like a slave of conformism once in a while...

But no matter how I feel when I put a package into my shopping basket, I always enjoy the taste of the food when I eat it at home with my family. And I always end up thinking, "Well, maybe it's not totally bad as far as the custom gives something for the whole family to do together and talk about..."

Maybe that's a subvariety-conformist's thinking? ;)

...And see? We did slice the rolls before eating ... :P

I mean, how many families actually follow the traditional steps strictly as they are? Do they really close their eyes?? And eat it in silence?
Do you, REALLY???


Blog Widget by LinkWithin