Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy does it

Fried Rice with left overs

DSC_0076It seems like summer is here finally. Strawberries went wild in our back yard and we harvested three times already. Roses are gorgeous! Longer day light means more activities. I need to make quick dinner before heading out the door. No time for fancy dinner (sounds as if we make proper meal every night?).DSC_0013

I have left over peppers from my last post ’Wrapped’ and cooked rice from last night. I started mincing peppers and onion but almost anything goes in fried rice. I didn’t have it but mushrooms are beautiful in this dish too. But does not matter, really. I look through the refrigerator for more clues, daikon? Nahh!  Like I said before “almost’. I omit frozen peas because my son does not like them. Oh for heaven’s sake! It’s good for you, you know? If I put them in, he just eats around it. Oh heck!. Why start the battle with an already adult child? At least he is always pleasant in his refusal and he does dishes. I used to have electric wok but it broke. I miss my wok when I am making this kind of dish or vegetable sauté (野菜いため). I wrote a memo to my husband for adding that to my birthday wish list.

I mince all the vegetables, just because I don’t like big chunks of onion in it so the other vegetable must be minced too, right? For that uniform look? If you don’t mind chunkiness, you save lots of time by not doing the task.  I found mincing vegetable somewhat therapeutic though. Soy sauce is my usual flavor source and curry or ketchup are also nice but surprisingly, the ultimate flavor comes from simply salt and pepper. Fried rice flavor, at least in my case, is dictated by left over ingredients and the chef’s mood.

Today’s Fried rice

Ingredients for 3 people

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1/2 each of medium size green, yellow and red peppers minced
  • 1/2 of onion minced
  • 4 slices of Canadian bacon also minced*
  • Cooked rice (I used brown rice)- about 3 cups
  • Oil-  vegetable oil,butter or sesame oil about 2 tablespoon.
  • Sesame seeds – toasted, crushed using a pestle**
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper (I prefer white pepper for this dish)DSC_0070
  1. In a cereal size bowl, scramble eggs. Add teaspoon of mirin and pinch of salt.
  2. Heat large frying pan over medium heat. Put 1 teaspoon of oil in and use a paper towel to coat inside of pan.
  3. Pour half of egg mixture into the pan and tilt pan to coat bottom of pan and cook 1 minute or less till egg is manageable yet not dry. Transfer to a plate. Repeat for other half of egg mixture. Cut baked egg in half inch square( it’s not crucial that how big as it will break in sauté process anyway). Set aside.
  4. In a same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add all the vegetable and sauté, stirring with wooden spatula until onion is transparent.
  5. Add meat and sauté till cooked. Salt and pepper. 
  6. Add cooked rice in, then using edge of spatula (not the flat side) move the ingredients around quickly to combine. You want fluffy rice so do not smash the rice.
  7. I added 1 tablespoon of butter here then poured soy sauce around the edge of pan. Move spatula quickly as you can to combine.
  8. Add prepared sesame seeds and baked egg, still moving the spatula fast to avoid mushy texture.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with minced green onion if you like. Serve immediately.

* Any kind of meat is fine. I like bacon in it too, no oil necessary if you are using bacon.

** Crushing sesame seeds is for nutrient reason. The body absorbs more good stuff in sesame seeds if you crush them.DSC_0080

The harvested strawberries from our back yard are gleefully used in crepes my husband made one morning and as a topping for ice cream. There are still plenty available and slugs will love them too. We just need to be careful not to eat a slug accidently.DSC_0006-1DSC_0017

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Spring roll 生春巻き

DSC_0104I was bad lately; not sticking to my diet and posted three sweets recipes in a row! I promised myself that I will be good for rest of my life eating nothing but organic fruits and vegetables which I seeded and watered with rain water collected in water barrel and fertilized from compost bin enriched by worms. When the time comes, I will pick the glorious harvest with my own hands!,,,ahem!  Time to go back to reality. Anyhow, for rest of this day, I will be good.

This salad roll is one of my favorite to order in Chinese or Thai Restaurant for a starter. Some restaurants, especially in Thai eateries, however put too much cilantro in it which I don’t like.  But go ahead and put it in if you prefer the strong aroma & taste. The roll's rely on mainly on dipping sauce for flavor. I made a couple sauces and dipped away to healthier meals and me!

Ingredients for 6 rolls


  • 1 bundle( about 3 ounces or 62g) of saifun (mung bean thread), reconstitute by soaking in very hot water for 10 minutes or cook in a pan for 4-5 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well and cut with scissor 4-5 times.DSC_0064
  • 1/2 of Red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1/2 of Yellow pepper thinly sliced
  • 1/2 of Green pepper thinly sliced
  • 6 inches of Cucumber seeded and  thinly sliced
  • Butter lettuce- 6 leaves
  • Large (9 inch) Spring roll skin
  1. Prepare two very wet paper towels and lay one wet paper towel on a clean flat surface. Put water in a shallow dish and dip one spring roll skin and lay it on the wet paper towel. Cover with the other wet towel until the skin gets soft about 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Lay the softened skin on a dry paper towel, Add colorful vegetables first then saifun thread and butter lettuce last.  Gently but firmly fold from front and sides and roll. Do not put too much on it or you won’t able to close or will break the skin. Cover with moist paper towel to keep from drying. Repeat the process one at a time.

Dipping Sauce #1

  • Fish sauce 2 Tablespoons
  • Apple vinegar 2 Tablespoons
  • Sugar 1 teaspoon
  • Tobanjan (豆板醤)-spicy red bean miso paste. About 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sesame Oil 1 teaspoon

Mix all ingredients. Soy sauce may be substituted for fish sauce.

Dipping Sauce #2

  • Rice Vinegar 50CC
  • Sugar 1 teaspoon
  • Soy sauce 1 teaspoon
  • Tobanjan 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sesame Oil 1 teaspoon

Dipping Sauce #3

  • 2 Tablespoons Fish sauce
  • Juice of half lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 dried red chili pepper (唐辛子)sliced or minced
  • Water 1-2 teaspoon for thinning

Dipping sauce # 4

  • Sweet chili sauce
  • 1 dried red chili pepper sliced.

Dipping sauce #5

  • Unsweetened peanut butter
  • Soy sauce to taste

#6 Ok, Store bought jar of Plum Sauce is nice and simple!

You could go wild on the ingredients. I like to put cooked shrimp or butter sautéed eryngii mushroom even fruits roll is very refreshing in summer. Just wrap in the spring roll skin. That makes this dish special and will elevate your status as gourmet chef!? Not really but it looks great.DSC_0126Roses from our garden

I could stop here but we went to friend’s house for dessert. The made from scratch carrot cake was really pretty and yummy. They offered some for us to take home. Ahhh, why not. I could start that organic fruits and vegetable diet tomorrow,

The cake tasted good the next day too.


The Peko Peko cookbook really turned out well! I hope you could buy one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Okinawa rice cake



I was introduced to a lady from Okinawa by an acquaintance. About 20 years my senior, she has walked through some rough patches in her life yet she has humble, down to earth personality speaks with Okinawan accent was very charming. She lived in Okinawa too but actually, she is from Ishigaki Island (石垣島)further south of Okinawa.  Over lunch, our topic of conversation moved to foods naturally (always). She talked about foods she adored in her youth. What she craves now and what the island ‘s specialty foods are and so on. She wanted to share this recipe orally because she is confident that I would love this rice cake. I wrote it down on a piece of paper as she talked.

That was nearly 10 years ago. I forgot all about it until I rediscovered this while I was organizing my ‘Future Recipes’ file which was over flowing with printed other food bloggers recipes recently. Surprisingly, the writing on the paper is still legible. Why I didn’t make this before? Oh! I know. I don’t like coconut that much. I have never had this or seen the final product. Besides, the recipe lack in details so this would be the mystery food of this week?


Grease with oil a 13x9 glass casserole dish


  • 1 can of coconut milk-403ml
  • 1 can of water-403ml
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 box of Mochiko-454g
  • 1 can or 1 bag of smooth sweetened red beans (こしあん)-400g
  • White sesame seeds-about 1/4 cup divided in half

Mix everything except sweetened red beans and sesame seeds. Then add sweetened red beans and mix very well. Sprinkle half of the white sesame seeds in the prepared glass dish and pour the mixture in, then sprinkle the rest of sesame seeds on top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 F.DSC_0056DSC_0061

My husband did missionary work in Okinawa for 8 months. He was only 19 years old and although he did not yet speak Japanese much when he first got there, he loved everything about the place, people and most of all, the breath taking aquamarine sea. It’s easy to understand his excitement as one who came from a town of 100 people called Virgin, Utah where the nearest ocean is thousands of miles away.

07220014This is a picture of him on P-day. Cute huh?

A long time passed and my husband and I went back to Okinawa in early November of 2006. We stayed at luxurious The Busena Terrace Hotel in Nago. Our joy was almost crushed when the hotel prohibited us going swimming at the adjoining beautiful beach because it’s already November. What? But it’s 83 degrees out there! We were hoping and praying for exception but they were rigid in their decision. That was really sad. What kind of  stu,,,I mean SILLY rule is that?  We would like to go there again but not in November for sure. I heard June is great time to go.

When this mochi came out from oven, the top was crusty but after it was cooled and wrapped in plastic it became soft and moist all over and chewy. Not at all a fancy sweet but homey and great with hot decaffeinated tea.

This was the view from our room.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mango Fromage

Mango cheese cake

DSC_0020DSC_0023I don’t care for mangos except fresh mango harvested from the back yard of where my daughter lives. It is easily the best mangos I’ve ever had. I bet Hawaii’s sunshine is good for the fruits. It’s regrettable that I don’t have a photo of the tree.

At the Asian market the other day, Manila mangos were 10 for $10…you mean 1 for $1? Wow! It sounds so inexpensive doesn’t it? But do Manila mangos have the wow factor in taste like the ones in Hawaii? I would soon find out.DSC_0027

I got a hint from a Japanese cake book for this cake but I didn’t exactly follow the recipe. I was yearning for something sweet yet I was in a so lazy mode. Besides, the author who is Japanese wrote French words in katakana (カタカナ) characters that threw me off like gibberish.  I yelled at my husband to Google quick this word and that. He yelled me back with questions ’how do you spell it?’ Sigh,,,,.

1st. Layer- Genoese pronounce jenowaazu (French sponge cake has fairly firm texture and has buttery flavor).

Use a 13x 9 with deep rim pan; spray with nonstick spray.

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cup baker’s fine sugar divided in half
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add half of sugar. Beat until very stiff. Put in another bowl and set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and add the other half of sugar and mix well.
  4. Add egg yolks and beat until thick and fluffy at medium speed.
  5. Add flour mixture slowly; mix well at medium speed.
  6. Heat oven to 350F.
  7. Fold egg white gently to combine with egg yolk mixture.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. When an inserted wooden pick comes out clean then it’s done.DSC_0006
  9. Cool in pan on wire rack.

2nd. Layer Cream Cheese

  • 2 packages of cream cheese (about 450g) softened
  • Baker’s fine sugar 60g
  • Whole milk 100ml.
  • Heavy cream 55g*
  1. Put cream cheese in medium bowl and stir with whisk until smooth.
  2. Add sugar stir until sugar dissolved.
  3. Add milk gradually to combine well.
  4. Add heavy cream and mix well until smooth texture is achieved.DSC_0013
  5. Pour over cooled sponge and chill for about 1 hour.

*Amount of heavy cream should adjust to right texture-neither too stiff or too runny.

3rd. Layer Mango Jelly

  • About 500g of mango puree or about 2 cups of skinned and pitted mango into the food processer to puree. Or store bought mango nectar (no sugar added) may be used.
  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • Sugar or honey (optional)
  1. In a double boiler, put pureed mango and cook 2-3 minutes but do not boil.
  2. Put gelatin in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water and soak.
  3. Add soaked gelatin to the cooked mango and continue cooking  for another 2-3 minutes or until gelatin has dissolved completely.
  4. Add sugar or honey if the puree lacks the sweetness you desire one tablespoon at time.
  5. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water if the puree is too thick. Puree should be warmed honey consistency.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes or so then pour over the chilled Genoese and cream cheese. Put back in refrigerator until the puree solidifies.
  7. Cut all three layers with knife or biscuit cutter and serve. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped heavy cream are also nice.


This is not an photo of the tree in my daughter’s back yard but it looks like this…

My grand daughter got in trouble when she plucked the still green mangos from the tree using long pole-fruits-picker thing. She was just showing off her skill as fruits picker to me. Is it OK to do that ? I asked. ‘Yeah, I can do it’ ‘I know how to do it’ She protested. That’s not what I asked. ‘See, I did it!’ She exclaimed after dropping a couple of mangos on the ground. I see,,,. She is so wanpaku (わんぱく)mischievous kid. Who could tame her?

Manila mangos are not so bad after all. Though not as sweet as in Hawaii, memories associated with the fruits are precious.

I had some leftovers so I made some mango Jell-ODSC_0040

Friday, June 3, 2011


Blueberry cake

DSC_0066I’m back in Oregon and having grandchildren withdrawal symptoms right now. When I was there in Hawaii, I couldn’t wait for my life to get back to normal and concentrate on my painting or having lots of ‘me’ time but I think of them often and everyday. I feel melancolitic –is that a word? May be not but whatever I’m feeling is blue or else I‘m catching a cold. At Costco, I bought a package of blueberries remembering how much they liked that fruit.

What should I do with this 2 pounds of blueberries though? I could just have them in my cereal but I have so many. You know the industrial size package they sell at Costco? This is my love-hate relationship with the store, really. I love their pricing but hate the waste all the not eating stuff plus it’s a pain to put away the bought items into already crammed spaces. How about the over zealous packaging of some cosmetic and supplements etc.? You really need an Xacto knife or something to chisel them out from the cardboard. OK, back to my questions. What can I make with these cute little bleuets?

I don’t want to bother to look up on the internet so I made this cake up. An experiment but it worked. It didn’t give me the blue hue that I was after but the sponge was nice and soft and not so sweet. You need just a few ingredients and it is not so complicated to make. The cake tastes like a distant cousin of blueberry muffins but with urban sophistication and flair? I meant to say snobbish cousin of,,,.



  • 4 Egg white
  • 4 Egg yolk
  • Sugar 120 g- I used bakers fine sugar but regular sugar will work too.
  • Flour 100g- I prefer weak flour sold at Asian market but all purpose flour may be used. Sifted.
  • Pureed blueberries about 200g- Just put two cup of blueberries in food processer. If you like smooth texture, use sieve to strain after pureed, but I like pulp and all and I was lazy.
  • 13x9 rectangle cake pan or 2- 8 inch round pans. Spray with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper.
  1. Put all the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 (90g) of the sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  2. Put the whipped egg whites in another bowl and set aside. If you have a room in your fridge, cover the bowl and rest in there until ready to use.
  3. In a same bowl of electric mixer (no need to clean), put egg yolks and beat until they turn to pale yellow. Add the rest of sugar (30g) and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add flour and beat at low speed until smooth.
  5. Add blueberry puree a spoonful at a time. Beat at low speed until all combined.
  6. Heat oven to 320F at this point.
  7. Gently fold in the egg whites; try not to disturb foam.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan(s) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check after 35 minutes by poking with a skewer. Cake is done if the skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a wire rack


  • Blueberries 40-50
  • Syrup- 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water.
  • Heavy cream  2 cups- this may be more than enough.
  • Sugar 3-4 tablespoons
  1. If you’re using 13x9 pan, cut in half (I cut off edge too). Brush one side of sponges with syrup.
  2. Whip the heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spread some whipped cream on one of the sponges and line up berries then top with more whipped cream.
  4. Lay the other sponge cake on top.
  5. Decorate with more berries and whipped cream.


Going to Hawaii feels like visiting an English speaking foreign country ya? My days spent there were hectic and on day three I wanted to go home. I was scratching my skin like crazy. Those mean mosquitos were really pests!

Birds cry out side my window sounds like’ Peek a boo’ as if they think it’s cute. At 5 o’clock in the morning they are not! They were lucky that I didn’t have a rock to throw.

Gentle rain fell the other day. It’s cool and comfortable but way too quiet. I had this cake for breakfast the next morning too and nobody stopped me or no one asked to share – it had some sadness. As I said, melancolitic…

DSC_0042My 3 beautiful people