Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Strawberries and Cabbage

Cold Fruity Soup?DSC_4461

Wow! That is something you don’t see everyday… The unique/strange recipe I spied on internet. Is it soup, smoothies or dessert? My curiosity was so great that I sent my skeptical husband out to hunt for strawberries.DSC_4443 

However, to my dismay, it looks as if our backyard strawberry season is almost over. We didn’t have the chance to share many with neighbors or friends yet, but the strawberries are getting moldy and some are quite bitter. I suspect that it has something to do with the rain…we have plenty up here…or…are we watering too much? .He managed to find edible strawberry just a small bowlful. 

Ingredients and Instruction for 2 servings (Print Recipe Here)

  • 200g of strawberries Cleaned, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 4g* of salt  *2% of strawberry weight
  • 4-5 large cabbage leaves
  1. Place all the chopped strawberry in a medium bowl sprinkle in salt. Mix well and wait until the strawberries render the liquid.DSC_4448
  2. Cook cabbage leaves in a boiling water about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and cool on colander.
  3. Put cooled cabbage in a blender or food processor to puree. Add small amount of water if necessary to make a nice puree. DSC_4454
  4. Scoop out cabbage puree into an individual bowl and top with the prepared strawberry. I like it chilled!DSC_4465

It looks pretty…but the question still lingers… is this…hummm… what is it?. Definitely interesting…unexpected sweetness! Where else can you find sugar free, vegan, gluten free and guilt free mysterious… dessert? My husband kept his opinion to himself but I can tell he was not impressed. Forget pureed cabbage, he poured some sweetened condensed milk on top of salted strawberries. Now that’s more like it!

Making gumi jam is not easy task… Its striped seed is large and so little fruit. My husband put so much effort and produced just one jar of jam.DSC_4384DSC_4438On the other hand, making strawberry jam is nearly effortless.DSC_4504

Both jams are really good on soft White Heidi Rolls (ハイジの白いパン), in a Johanna Spyri story, the kind hearted girl Heidi brought white bread to Peter’s grandmother who had a hard time eating crusty bread because of her bad teeth…

I loved the animation based on the book when I was young and loved the song.


Do you think we had too much carbohydrate and not much else this week? Don’t you worry, we had 6 servings of fruits and vegetables from the …whatchamacallit? quipped  my husband.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Everybody loves Inari SushiDSC_4422

It’s true! I have never, ever met people who don’t like this Japanese ultimate comfort food – vinegar rice stuffed in seasoned fried bean curd. With few ingredients – no fish is involved here - the recipe is also a simple affair and seems like there is no room for improvement, it’s perfect!DSC_4362

NHK’s Tameshite Gatten (試してガッテン) Tested and Assent (roughly translated) science team thought otherwise however… a nation wide taste test show they got 90% inari approval rating..What is their secret? Lose the sugar in the sushi rice. Adding sugar in both pouches and rice muddle the flavor. Really? I have to try their method. I have a inari expert who lives right under my roof and he is very honest.

Ingredients and Instruction for 12 inari sushi (Print recipe here)

  • 6 thin deep fried bean curd (油揚げ)DSC_4313 
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce (I used gluten free soy sauce)
  • 300ml (1 and 1/2 cup) water
  • Just cooked warm rice (cook 2 rice cooker cups with 360ml of water in rice cooker). See step #3
  • 75 ml rice vinegar Note: not sushi vinegar
  • 4g of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Remove some of the oil from fried bean curd by immersing in hot water for 3 minutes. Drain water and gently squeeze the water out. Cut in half then open the pouch. Watch Japanese YouTube on how to open easily here. Lay the un-cut bean curd in a single layer on the plate and microwave for 1 minute on 60% power, cut in half and voila!
  2. Boil sugar, soy sauce and water in a medium sauce pan. Put fried bean curd in and cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated at medium high heat. About 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan. Set aside.DSC_4330DSC_4338DSC_4341
  3. While the bean curds are cooking and cooling, cook rice if you have not done so already. You want a slightly firmer rice for this recipe.
  4. Mix vinegar and salt well in a small glass measuring cup. Set it aside.DSC_4348
  5. When the rice is done. divide rice into 6ths or 8ths in the rice cooker. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture from perimeter of rice cooker, then turn out to a large bowl. Fold over the rice with rice paddle while cooling down with a fan or magazine. Mix in the toasted sesame seeds at this point if using. Cover with moist towel until needed.
  6. Stuff rice into the pouch –do not over stuff, you will probably have some left over rice. Have a small bowl of water nearby to moisten your hands to prevent rice from sticking to your hand. I turned the pouch inside out on some for fun looks. Serve with pickled ginger.DSC_4366
    We tested and we assent! This is a winner!

There are many wild chickens roaming around my daughter’s house in Hawaii. They are early risers and I can hear them through the open window…good for you but please let me sleep in…wait… that’s my grandchildren, “Go back to bed!”!

I heard my 3 years old grandson screaming one afternoon as he was being chased by one of the mean chickens.  I wish he could eat this chicken inari up as revenge.IMG_1291

Oink! A pig inari for my lunch.IMG_1295Fellow food blogger Cooking Gallery published a cook book ‘Bento Delight’ recently. I planned on purchasing it but life got in the way….you know. I have two problematic issues - that my fingers are too fat to make delicate character bento and the second, I don’t have patience. It’s going to be a fine read nonetheless.

Abundant! While I was in Hawaii, beside the strawberries, our gumi plant and raspberry shortcake are also waiting for me to devour them!DSC_4376DSC_4406DSC_4404Which I made trifle for Father’s Day. I spread the gumi jam my husband made on the pound cake I baked…team effort. DSC_4424DSC_4425DSC_4432

Father’s Day Sunday was hectic. Came home from church service, I hustled to fixed cream cheese center kimkatsu roll for dinner. Delish!IMG_1306

My children have a terrific dad. He scores high with the grandchildren also. 82110009This was taken in 1977 in Nagasaki, Japan. Nice hair!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cinnamon Ears

Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_4278In Japan, I was introduced to “mimi pan” (the ears of the bread). They cut the heels (now that I think of it, ears makes more sense than heels) of the loaf off before selling it and, at least at the time I was a missionary there, in many cases they threw it away. So as money-strapped missionaries we could get a whole bag of it either for free or for very little dough. When I read about these “little ear buns” on Rosa’s site I decided I had to give them a try.

Bread has always been a comfort food for me. When I was growing up my mom always made bread. I remember the smell of fresh-baked bread and spreading fresh-churned butter and home-made jam on it. Then washing it down with a tall glass of milk. And dough boys where you cut a nice willow branch, stripped the bark up 8 or so inches then wrapped bread dough around the stick and cooked them over the coals of a fire. My mom always made whole-wheat dough for these and hers were always the most popular in the neighborhood. Once they were done you’d pop them off the stick and fill the hole left in the middle with butter and chokecherry jam. Hmmm. I’ll be right back, I think one of the last of these ears is calling my name…

Ingredients and Recipe for 8 ears (Print recipe here)


1 Package (7g) Active dry yeast
1/2 Cup (120ml) Lukewarm water
1/4 Cup (60g) Unsalted butter, melted
1/4 Cup (50g) Bakers sugar
1 Egg, slightly beaten
1 Egg yolk
1/2 Tsp Fine sea salt
3/4 Tsp ground cardamom
2 1/4 -2 1/2 Cups (~ 300g) All-purpose flour


1/4 Cup (60g) Unsalted butter, softened
1/4 Cup (50g) Bakers sugar
1 Tbs Ground cinnamon


1 Egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbs Milk

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the butter, sugar, egg, yolk, salt, cardamom and flour, then knead until dough is smooth.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 12 inches by 24 inches rectangle.
5. Spread with the butter, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
6. Roll up tightly, starting from one of the 24-inch sides.
7. Cut the roll diagonally into 8-12 pieces (each piece will be about ½ inch on one side and 3 inches wide on the other side).
8. With two thumbs or the handle of a big wooden spoon, press down the middle of the side of each roll (by doing that the two cut edges will be forced upward so that the rolls will look like two “ears”).
9. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it.
10. Place the cinnamon ears on prepared baking sheets. Cover them with plastic wrap and a damp towel.
11. Let rise for about 40 minutes, until the rolls are puffy and have doubled in size.
12. Preheat the oven to 400° F after 20 minutes of rising.

13. Once the rolls have risen, mix the egg and milk together.
14. Brush each roll with the egg-milk mixture.
15. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

These turned out to be delicious. The hint of cardamom gave it a different taste and I really liked it. Next time I will roll them more tightly as mine flattened out more and did not turn out nearly as nice looking as Rosa’s. Be sure to check out her blog if you want to see what they should look like.

I am looking forward to having Nipponnin back home and really want to see what great things she has planned for her next blog. Thanks for reading.