Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lemon Squares

I recently got in touch with a friend from college, and it turns out we were both raised on, and are still using, the SAME Betty Crocker's Cooky Book recipe book (1963) for all the cookies that really count! Well, most of them anyway!

She asked me which of the lemon bar cookies I liked and I flashed back to my shy high school years! My sister and I went to a High School youth group from church. One February they decided to have a baking contest. The girls would bake something sweet and the guys would judge whose was the best. Probably wouldn't fly in this generation of PC, but it flew fine way back then!

I made these lemon squares. Dusted them carefully with powdered sugar, and glued red hearts to the end of toothpicks and stuck a toothpick in each piece. Of course, this was all done with fear and trembling, as everything in High School seemed to be.

Well, imagine my delight and surprise when I WON! So, these are very very SPECIAL Lemon Squares to me! Dear to my heart!! Oh, and Ryu, my non-dessert guy, LOVES them too!

Lemon Squares - page 13!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 (mod.). Blend flour, butter and powdered sugar thoroughly. Press evenly in square pan 8X8X2". Bake 20 min. Beat rest of ingredients together. Pour over crust and bake 20-25 min. more. Do not overbake! (The filling puffs during baking but flattens when cooled.) Makes 16 squares.

Peanut Butter Bread

As I mentioned on my other blog, I was flipping through an Amish cookbook and came across Peanut Butter Bread. Well! That sounded strange enough to me to give it a try. I looked on the internet to find a recipe that I could easily share with you all if I liked it, and was SHOCKED to find all the recipes for Peanut Butter Bread! Seriously! I had NEVER heard of it before. Then I heard from Abigail at Mamatouille - her cooking blog, and before reading my post she had been planning to try this "interesting recipe".... Peanut Bread.

I made the bread, and, truly, if it weren't for the raves from the peanut butter lovers around me and those who want to try the bread, I probably wouldn't post the recipe. With each bite I kept wanting chocolate spread or peanut butter cookies. Needless to say, I forgot to add a handful of chocolate chips like planned!

I choose the recipe from Jif Peanut Butter. I figured if it had to do with peanut butter, a recipe from a peanut butter company should be good. And, while My Mother never bought it, as a child the ads ALWAYS said "Choosy mothers choose Jif!"

So, here it is. If you try it, please let me know. It is supposed to be nice with chocolate spread, cream cheese, jam, etc. Straight butter did not do the trick, in my book!

Peanut Butter Bread

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pour On Chocolate Frosting

My Mom used to use this recipe for frosting every time she made a chocolate sheet cake. She always took it to church potluck dinners and everyone always asked her for her recipe. "It's an old secret family recipe," she lied - AT CHURCH!

Yep! This recipe is from that old "fall apart cookbook" that I have written about a couple of times! (Favorite Recipes of the Great Northwest copyright 1964. It was submitted by Mrs. Barbara Clark, Pres. Oakridge-Westfir Jaycee-Ettes from Oakridge, OR.)

So, the secret started with my Mom! Today is my Mom's birthday, so I made a chocolate sheet cake and this wonderful frosting. Jun sang "Frosty the Snowman" when she heard the word "frosting!"

Mom said I could share this wonderful "secret" yet PUBLISHED recipe with you all. It is easy and yummy!

Pour On Chocolate Frosting

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. cocoa (powder)
dash of salt
1 cup hot water
3 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Add water. Stir until well blended. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Pour over a warm cake. (Like 15 minutes out of the oven.) Spread it with a spoon. Shiny and YUMMY!

But, remember, this is a SECRET recipe!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Candied Ginger

I am such a "get your ginger out of a tube" woman when it comes to savory cooking. I can't be bothered to peel and grate the fresh ones. However, when I make my Ginger Cookies, I must use the real stuff. Here in Japan, they seem to sell fresh ginger in packages much bigger than I need. I heard you could freeze it, but, I don't think it would be good in cookies after that. So, it sits in my fridge. Then it gets thrown away.

A few weeks ago I caught a cold, and for some reason the ginger sitting in my fridge came to mind. I searched the web over and thought I found true love. Actually, it was a recipe for candied ginger and ginger syrup. Syrup for pancakes, tea, yogurt...well, you get the picture. It sounded so healthy.

So, when I woke up from sleeping on the sofa - again - to protect the family from cold germs, I headed for the kitchen. Someone said to peel the ginger by scraping it with the side of a spoon. I had never heard of this, but it worked so wonderfully! Then, I was supposed to slice the ginger into 1/8 inch pieces. Right. NOT! I have a slicer that slices 1.5 mm, so used that and was done slicing in a second. I only had 1/2 cup of ginger, so halved the recipe...or so I thought.

Candied Ginger

1/2 cup sliced ginger (1.5 mm)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Put it all in a small saucepan, and simmer for 30 minutes. Fish out the ginger using tongs or chopsticks, or... whatever, and place the slices on a fine mesh rack. My cookie rack was really not fine enough. The ginger kept falling through. But, anyway, let it sit and dry on the rack for 30 minutes. Then roll each piece(s) (they tend to stick together) in white sugar, and put them back on the rack. Then, let them sit overnight to kind of dry and harden. Store in an airtight container. I put mine in the fridge. This ginger is very very hot!!! Not for the kiddos!

Comments that I got from my Japanese friends about this ginger:

  • Is ginger in the US hot too? Uhhhh, I don't recall ever buying fresh ginger in the US. I grew up thinking ginger came out of a bottle that you shook and made cookies with.
  • The heat of the ginger root depends upon the part of the root you get. Who knew?
  • What do you do with it once it is made. Ummmm. I have no idea.
I had no idea, but my dear friend, Abigail, whom I sent a sample to, posted two recipes using it! You GO, Abigail! Ryu and I just use it as dessert. HOT!

Abigail made Ginger-ed Coffee, and used it in a Dressing for a Fruit Salad.

But, the story doesn't end here. I wondered why I only had 1 Tbsp. of syrup, after all the other reader's comments. The next day I was coming out of my cold fog and while I was cleaning the kitchen, I came across the recipe I had used...or not used, as the case turned out. The original recipe called for the following:

1 cup ginger
3 cups water
3 cups sugar

Yep, that would give you some syrup, I think. And, might take some of the hottness away from the ginger? Or not. Anyway, if you want syrup, up the amount of water and sugar, I say!!! LOL!

Actually, I did use that one lonely Tablespoon of syrup to make a wonderful drink. I grated a wedge of fresh apple and added hot water. Hot and YUMMY! My husband, Ryu, said that Japanese make a drink with grated ginger and grated daikon (long white radish). Sounds yukky to me, but...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creamy Baked Beans

In the 1960's my Mom found a recipe on the back of an evaporated milk can for Creamy Baked Beans - or something like that. She always made it for picnics and parties. They are sooo yummy, creamy and mild. No other baked beans really do it for me.

Well, we moved a ton of times and the 1960's are long past, and the recipe only apparently exists, lodged in our food memories. No sign of it on the web, anywhere!

So, this evening we attempted to recreate the recipe. And it was good!

Creamy Baked Beans

1 14.5 oz. can of pork 'n beans
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. prepared mustard (any that you put on your hot dogs will do!)
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk

Pour it in a casserole dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir well before serving. It has a lighter color than traditional baked beans, and a light creamy flavor. Of course you can double/triple the recipe if you want. Just bake it for an hour or so.

I sauteed 1/4 of an onion till it was soft and stirred it in before baking. You could also add cooked hamburger or whatever floats your boat and it would be yummy too!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lemon Crinkles

This recipe is in my Mom's Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, copy write 1963. The book was given to her by my Grandma Mary. Nearly every page has grease stains, leftover flour, smudges! It is a delicious and much loved and used book. As a kid, I loved to look through book at all the pictures of the cookies. My sister found used copies for each of us kids for Christmas one year. It is Jun's favorite cookbook too. We like to read cookbooks together!

This recipe wasn't on Betty Crocker's web site, so I will put it here for you all to try!


From Mrs. ALfred T. Neilsen of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who prefers simple and easy recipes that leave her time for her hobby of making hats. (My mom asked if she burnt a batch of cookies if she was called "The Mad Hatter." We rolled our eyes for her!)

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
about 1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind (My mom used 1/2 tsp. lemon extract instead.)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger (dried powder stuff)
granulated sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees (mod.). Mix shortening, sugar, and egg thoroughly; blend in lemon rind. Blend dry ingredients; stir into sugar mixture. Roll in 1" balls (2.5 cm); dip tops in granulated sugar (I rolled them in it.) Bake on ungreased baking sheet 10-12 min. Makes about 3 doz. cookies.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Honey Butter

My Dad recently asked my Mom if I remembered EVERYTHING from my childhood. Well, I sure remember a lot. I remember observing, watching, and pondering more than talking. However, my memory may be hazy there!

In my memory of my childhood, we often ate soup. Good old Campbell's soup. And we always had Saltine crackers with our soup. The crackers came in a long wax paperish sleeve. For dessert, on those evenings, my Dad would dump some butter/margarine into his soup bowl, pour a bunch of honey over the top, and mix it all in well. Then, he would butter crackers for each of us and feed them to us as fast as we could eat them - finishing off the "sleeve" of crackers. The honey butter always had a faint hint of soup in it, making it "Dad's Honey Butter!" My Dad was not a cook in those days. This, ice-cream sodas, and root-beer floats are the only things I remember my Dad making when I was a kid. So, it is a very special memory!

Well, the other day I introduced Jun to honey. She was wary at first, but, hearing it was like SUGAR, gave it a try, and was quickly converted. However, honey is sticky and drips and makes a mess. Mama doesn't like messes much. So, after a day or two of sticky, I remembered HONEY BUTTER! I mixed up a batch, and I'm not sure which of us likes it more. Yummm! No crackers yet, but it goes great on hot biscuits or toast! Oh, and it makes me LONG for cornbread!

Recipe? Not really. Just mix some butter/margarine till it is soft, add in as much honey as you like and mix it up. It keeps in the fridge just fine, so make as much as you want! (Remember kids under one should not have honey! :))

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Apple Salad a la Grandma Esther

My memories of Grandma Esther's cooking will stay with me forever. When we were growing up and stayed over while Mom and Dad were off hunting deer, we got to have Lucky Charms cold cereal! With the shaped marshmallows in it! Never at home. Grandma Esther also opened an entire 1/2 gallon box shaped carton of ice-cream and used a knife to cut pieces for us - like a cake. Then she closed it back up and put the box back in the freezer. Anyway, she was full of surprises when it came to cooking - but that is for another post.

Her Apple Salad has become a holiday tradition in our home - if I am home to make it, that is! So easy and yummy. And, I must admit that as I have never seen her recipe, this is my interpretation of it!

Apple Salad a la Grandma Esther

  • apples! I like to use a green one, a yellow one, and a red one. One or two of each. I might peel half of them and not the other half. I like the color in the salad. Slice the apples into 8 wedges (or so), and then cut across the wedges so you get nice triangular shapes.
  • raisins! I throw in a handful or two of raisins. However, at Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might use dried cranberries or cherries.
  • walnuts! Well, Jun is allergic to walnuts, so...I am so sad. However, I bet you could use pecans or ???
  • celery! I am not a big celery eater. My Japanese student HATES celery - except in this salad. Cut it as big or little as you like. The crunch is a must in this salad!
  • marshmallows! My Grandma Esther put miniature marshmallows in this salad! See! She was a very cool Grandma! I don't put them in because I am a mature, health conscious, boring person with no access to marshmallows. All the above are true! Again, a handful or two will make any kid happy to eat this salad!
  • dressing! I make it differently every time. Basically start with something like mayonnaise, drained yogurt, miracle whip - whatever your family/friends like. You will not need as much as you think, so be careful! Add some sugar, especially if you skip those marshmallows!, and I like a big dash of cinnamon and a tiny dash of nutmeg. Mix and pour over the salad and stir well.
If you make this a little early in the day, the raisins will soak up extra moisture and plump up nicely. Be sure to refrigerate it. So easy, colorful, and yummy. My Hubby even likes it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Virtual Thanksgiving Dinner 2008

This is my menu for Thanksgiving! Too bad I won't have a chance to make it or EAT it this year. Oh well, most of these yummy items are great for Christmas, so I get another chance this year!

Makes me hungry just reading it! Mmmmm. Looks like I need to get a few more recipes on this blog, huh! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scones a la Reiko-chan

Back in my single days, and I was living in a freezing apartment in Japan, a young Japanese woman, who was studying and living in the US at that time, came to stay with me for a couple of days. Her name is Reiko. For breakfast, she made me scones from a recipe she had learned from someone in the States. Unfortunately, my baking powder was past its raising age, and the scones came out quite...dense. However, I have kept and made this recipe Sooooo many times.

I got it out again this morning and made them with cinnamon chips. So yummy! Ryu was eating his silently. I kept oohing and ahhing over the scones and asking him what he thought. Finally he said, "Kim, when I am eating quietly, it means it is just too good for words." Well, there you have it!

1/2 cup butter (I used cake/stick margarine)
1 3/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
4-6 Tbsp. milk (I used a combo of yogurt and water)
1/2 cup raisins **
1 egg, beaten (to brush on top of the scones)

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Combine the milk and egg, and stir in so the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Turn it out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat to a 1/2" thick circle. Cut into 6 wedges. Put on ungreased baking sheet, brush with egg, back at 450 F for 10-12 min.

Now, the way I did it! HAHAAHA! First, a friend who owns a cake shop makes scones (different recipe) and makes them into little balls. So, I tried it with this recipe, and it works wonderfully. I suspect it doesn't take the scones so long to bake, and you have more individual servings. This morning I ended up with 11 scone balls.

**I use raisins when I want. I have also used:

  • cinnamon chips
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips and crushed sea salt almonds!
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans (upped br. sugar to 1/3 cup.)
  • orange marmalade (no milk or raisins. Add 1/2 cup orange marmalade)

Friday, November 14, 2008


I found a recipe for peach and pear chutney in a holiday recipe book. I have never eaten, seen, or made chutney before. And, I didn't have most of the ingredients, but the idea stuck in my head. So, I looked to see what I DID have and made the following chutney. It is SOOOO spicy and delicious!

Peach and Pear Chutney

1 can peaches - drained and diced
1 can pears - drained and diced
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. pickles spice (see note below) put in a cheesecloth or tea holder.
2 Tbsp. finely chopped raw ginger (at the request of Ryu. I diced it, and it was a bit too big, I guess.)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup reserved syrup/juice from peaches/pears.

Place all in a sauce pan and cook over low for 1-1 1/2 hours or so, until liquid is nearly gone, all fruits are soft, and yummy! I put a lid on it till the fruit was soft, then took the lid off and simmered it till the liquid was reduced.

This chutney is QUITE spicy, and wonderful with curry. I want to try it with cream cheese on crackers too.

**Pickles Spice. I used a pickle spice mix that contains: bay leaf, chili pepper, cinnamon and cloves.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Graham Crackers

When I got back from my trip to the US this summer and realized that all the "black syrup" I had from Okinawa (from students) was, in reality, a form of molasses, I wanted to make a quick whole wheat bread using said "molasses". So, I went to the expensive food store to see if they had whole wheat flour. They did, was too expensive for the condition of my wallet that day - so, I bought graham flour instead.

Well, I never made the bread and have been trying to get rid of 1/2 kilo of graham flour, a couple of tablespoons at a time in pancakes, etc. Then, Trisha posted about making whole-wheat crackers with her little ones. Actually, rolling dough out and cutting it out and baking it! I was humbled and inspired to try the honey graham cracker recipe I found and printed off months ago.

Sunday afternoon is my favorite time for baking, so, while Daddy took a much needed nap, Jun and I made graham crackers. Half way through the process, I began to doubt myself. When it got time to roll out the dough, I began to curse myself. When Jun cut our chosen shape out of the MIDDLE of the 1/8 inch thick dough, well, I didn't do anything bad, except, well, kind of scream plaintively. Then, when trying to remove said 1/8 inch thick pieces of dough to the baking pan...well, it wasn't pretty. I did, however, enjoy stabbing the pieces of dough countless times with the tines of a fork. Not sure what that says about me.

I was absolutely shocked at the outcome! They taste like graham crackers! They actually look like the shape they were supposed to look like before they got all ripped up and smudged back together before baking! Wow!

Oh, you need the recipe! Here it is!

Honey Graham Crackers

I made 1/2 batch to try things out. I also substituted "cake margarine" for the butter and shortening, because that is what I have. "Cake margarine" is margarine in bars. I am also clueless as to what graham flour in the States might be like - assuming this recipe is from the States. But, I think mine is really really rough, so it didn't soak up much of the liquid, leaving a very sticky dough. To which I added more flour when I was rolling it out to the dreaded 1/8 inch. With a rolling pin, I might add, proudly. Oh, and I used my pastry blender/knife thingy to cut in the margarine! Just wanted to mention those two wonderful tools I had to wash the dust off before using! LOL! So, anyway, next time I will adjust the ration of graham flour to regular flour - increasing the wheat flour, and decreasing the graham flour a bit. Oh, and the recipe didn't call for salt, but I put 1/4 tsp. in for 1/2 batch.

And, I have lots of graham flour left, so, I guess I will be making these again! Sure beats graham flour in pancakes!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Diamond Rule

The Diamond Rule - or "Why I Love to Cook - Part I).

So, if I am not really doing much yummy cooking lately, I can at least bend your ear as to why I do so love to cook, right?

My Mom started becoming her family's dinner chef while she was in high school - when her Mom went back to work. By the time I reached late elementary-early jr. high school age, she had been cooking dinners non-stop for about 17 years, I figure. So, she was quite happy to be replaced in the kitchen as much as possible.

I, on the other hand, loved to watch Mom cook. I also hated to peel potatoes, but that is another story. I remember HAVING to taste that bouillon cube. It MUST be chocolate. But it wasn't. I remember shoving chairs around the kitchen to SEE! I remember standing behind the ancient huge white electric stove and watching her make blackberry jelly. We agree that that may not have been the safest place for the kids, but, it made a wonderful memory.

I also hated to wash dishes or clean the kitchen. That I had done since I was able to reach the kitchen sink while standing on a chair.

Thus, the Diamond Rule. If you cook, you don't clean! Pure heaven! Mom had two other kids to send to clean the kitchen, so I was allowed to cook many a meal and then be FREE to return to my book, or whatever.

I know many parents don't let their kids cook if they don't clean up. We never ever had that conversation. And, I love to cook to this day. I was always surprised that my older sister and younger brother never took more advantage of that Diamond Rule!

I intend to keep the Diamond Rule going for Jun, though, with both of us standing at the sink in water up to our elbows, we have some nice conversations, and I hope we will continue to do so for a long long time - even after she does start cooking ALONE!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eggplant - Hot & Sour

Sachiko also taught me this recipe. Ryu, who hates vinegar, loves this. Go figure!

Eggplant - Hot & Sour

3 Japanese eggplants (trim the tops off them. Then make 2 2-inch-deep cuts - like an "X" in the top of them. Wrap each of them in wrap and pop them in the microwave for 4 minutes. When they are done, CAREFULLY unwrap and, using the cuts as a start, pull the eggplants into four long strips.) NOTE: I actually use this method of cooking eggplants for other dishes that I don't want to use oil to cook them in.

1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
a little rayu (very hot red oil with a sesame base) The link has a recipe for rayu, if you can't find it in your super. EVERY Japanese supermarket has it, I'm sure.

Mix the sauce up and then stir in the eggplant so each piece is coated well. Put in the fridge and serve chilled. Yummy and easy!

NOTE: I haven't used this sauce on other steamed veggies, but, it just might be delicious!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Experimental Cooking

I hated chemistry in High School. I couldn't see the point in remembering all of the stuff. My sister, who is one year older, was in the same class. She did well. I passed.

The worst part of chemistry was the experiments. I could mix blue and yellow chemicals and come up with something that was purple - not green. I never got the right color. Why not??!?!?!?!

But, I have to say, that with cooking, I enjoy experimenting. I tried three different recipes this past weekend. All got a failing grade. Some I will try again. Hmmm. Hubby ate two of the three. Jun too.

Just to satisfy your curiosity, the first was Banana Oatmeal cookies with pumpkin instead of bananas (too EXPENSIVE). No chocolate chips to go in them, and Jun got a rash/hives all over her face from the walnuts. Ryu hates pumpkin, even disguised in cookies.

The second was from a 1920 cookbook. It was a recipe for tea biscuits. It said it made a light batter, but that you could cut the biscuits out. If not, add a little more flour. I went from two cups to two and a half cups of flour, and decided to make drop biscuits. Hubby and Jun loved them. They were TOO sweet. I will try again - a 1/2 batch - and add all the flour necessary to be able to roll these biscuits out!

The third was shumai. What is the English for this? It is a kind of Chinese dumpling. I merged three recipes together. One recipe was for folks who don't eat pork - and it called for ground turkey - I used ground chicken. One was a Chinese recipe - it called for soy sauce, ginger, mirin, etc. to flavor the dumplings. The last was a Japanese recipe. I also grated 1/2 a carrot to put in, and nuked it with the chopped 1/4 huge onion in the microwave for 4 minutes before adding to the mixture. Ryu is NOT a raw onion guy. But, I forgot the salt and pepper. When eaten with soy sauce and karashi (hot mustard), they were alright. Ryu and Jun loved them. I was not satisfied. Try, try, again!

I found a graham cracker recipe to try. Maybe tomorrow?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Goma Ae - Sesamae Sauce

My friend, Sachiko, also taught me this "essential" recipe for use when feeding a Japanese husband. And, HEY! He likes it!

The word, "sauce", is used very loosely. It never turns into a sauce, but mixes nicely with the slight moisture left in the cooked veggies.

I made this last night after NOT having made it for awhile. Jun asked for a taste. I gave her one. I asked her to let me put it in the fridge to chill. She said "no". She asked for a spoon. I gave her one. She stood there eating spinach! A beautiful sight for this mother's eyes! After watching her shovel in carrots with her lunch curry - influenced, I am sure by Auntie Yoko-chan, who babysat yesterday morning while I was at "oshigoto" - work, I was a truly happy Mama!

This mixture is wonderful when mixed with boiled and squeezed spinach, and good with green beans, asparagas, sweet peas (in the pod kind), and...well, try it on whatever you like.

When I made this last night, I was making it from a poor memory. Jun's love for it showed that I had, indeed, put too much sugar in it, so here is a better version I came up with!

Goma Ae

2 Tbsp. roasted sesamae seeds ground up. You can buy them like this, you can roast them on your own and grind them with a pestal and motar, or you can use a handy dandy grinder on your blender, etc.
1/2 Tbsp. sugar - I used 1 Tbsp. last night. Daddy loved it too! Too sweet, though.
1 tsp. soy sauce
a dash of salt

Mix this all up in a bowl and add 100-200 gm of cooked veggies. Mix gently with a fork or chop sticks. Put in the fridge, and you have a nice semi-sweet salad for dinner.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Niku Miso - Meat and Soy Bean Paste Sauce

My friend, Kaoru S., made this for a potluck and it was so yummy, I asked her to show me how to make it. Of course, she doesn't use a recipe, so I stood next to her counting scoops and trying to get an estimate as to how much of what she put in it.

She put small spoonfuls of this sauce on sauteed eggplant, mixed some in with slivered cucumbers and somen (thin noodles) for a salad, and uses it as the sauce for pork and cabbage saute. It is also a great dip for raw cucumber and carrot sticks. So yummy!

Niku Miso

130 gms Akadashi Miso (see pic.)

130 gms ground meat - she used pork/beef mix this time.

2 1/2 Tbsp. Mirin (sweet rice wine)

2 1/2 Tbsp. Sake

7 large Tbsp. Sugar - REALLY!

1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

She mixed the raw meat with the other ingredients in a small sauce pan. Turned the pan on low, and mixed till all was blended and cooked. Then it was ready for use.

I loved the taste of this, but mixing raw meat with the miso just doesn't sound all that safe to me, nor does it seem like it would last very long in the fridge, so, I kind of remade the recipe for us. I call it Niku Nuki Miso. Meat and Soy Bean Paste Sauce without the Meat! I figure you can always mix the sauce in with cooked meat later (or raw).

Niku Nuki Miso

50 gm. Akadashi Miso

1 Tbsp. Mirin

1 Tbsp. Sake

3 1/2 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

Mix and cook till blended. I store it in the fridge and take out a Tbsp. when I need it. It doesn't make too much, and will last much longer, I think.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taco Rice

This week, Abigail posted a copy of her mother's Mexican Meatloaf recipe. Abigail made it into burgers instead. I did too! Ohhhhh, so good! That recipe will be our winter version of this summer favorite.

One day my FIL and I were shopping at an imported food shop. He saw a package for Taco Rice from Okinawa. I looked at the picture and said, "We don't need that! I can make it myself!" And so I have - or my version of it anyway. Feel free to make up your version too!

Note: As "taco" means octopus in Japanese, I would like to clear up all misunderstandings before they start. This dish contains NO octopus! SMILE!

Taco Rice (Takosu Raisu)

Take big individual serving bowls. Ramen bowls or big pasta bowls are nice.

Crush a bag or two of tortilla chips - choose the flavor you like. Put a nice handful of tortilla chips in the bottom of each bowl.

Spoon a portion of hot white rice over the chips.

Next, top with taco seasoned ground meat. We use chicken. If we don't have seasoning, we just salt and pepper it. Still yummy.

Next comes grated cheese - if you have it.

Then lettuce and tomatoes. I love shiso in this dish. Ryu hates it.

Top with yogurt or a dressing of your choice. Our household loves Caesar Dressing on this.

Some people dig in with a fork and eat down through the layers. Others mix it all up and eat it. Japanese friends are shocked that one would pair lettuce and chips with hot rice, but they always love it.

I'm sure you could probably add refried beans or ???? to make it your very own dish. How about an avocado?? MMMM. Yum!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Our fare these past few days has been humble at best. I need chocolate chips! Oh, I guess that doesn't solve the "what's for dinner tonight?" problem. Why do people want to eat every night, anyway???!!!!?!

So, I was intrigued by this wonderful menu that Amy sent from Africa. Actually, she wrote in her own beautiful handwriting, a personal letter, on the back of this menu. Amy is wonderful!

I wanted to introduce you to some of the food items, and googled the restaurant. Seems they are famous, so please check out their web page too!

For a Starter/Salad, they have

Manyaga Style Sashimi
Thin slices of fresh tuna or seafish creatively seared with a hot drizzle of olive and sesame oils and delicately flavoured with a hint of soya, ginger and garlic. (I WANT TO EAT THIS!)

Kenya's finest oysters Mambrui
Lightly gratinated with grated coconut, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger and breadcrumbs. (Gratinated basically means "A top crust consisting of browned crumbs and butter, often with grated cheese. " according to Yahoo dictionary.

Kachos - Kenya's own version of nachos
Freshly fried cassava, arrowroot and potato crisps with melted cheese, guacamole, tomato salsa, chillies, sour cream and coriander. (So, why COULDN'T you make nachos with potato chips? I want to try it!)

And, before I send you, again, to the web page itself, here is an amazing sounding soup:

Butternut pumpkin and coconut soup
Delightful homemade soup with a hit of Tamarind juice, ginger and fresh coriander (dhania).

Unfortunately, though I have enjoyed the menu, I still have nothing in mind for dinner TONIGHT! ARGH!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet Potato Casserole

This dish really needs a more splendid name. A more exotic one! One that those who HATE sweet potatoes will RUN to. Any ideas?

I got this recipe from my friend, Tracy, who doesn't cook. It is amazing how the recipes she has given me are not just good, but REALLY good. I guess she saves her strength up and GOES for it. She got the recipe from a friend who got it from her husband's cousin's wife. We think.

I love it because it uses vanilla to flavor the sweet potatoes. Not a flavoring I had ever had with those beasts. I taught my home stay wife, here in Japan, the recipe years ago. She makes her version of it each year and brings it to potlucks at church.

Here's the real McCoy! Sugar, butter, nuts and ALL!


3 c. sweet potatoes, cooked
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. oleo, softened (In the beginning, man (woman?) created
margarine, and called it oleo.) You can use butter too!
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla

Beat sweet potatoes and eggs together well.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Put into greased casserole dish.


1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. nuts (pecans)
1/4 c. flour
2 1/2 T. oleo, softened (margarine/butter)

Mix together, cutting oleo in until well-mixed.
Put on top of sweet potatoes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

No marshmallows for me this Thanksgiving/Christmas! Bring on the pecans!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dilly Casserole Bread

I should be a wonderful bread baker. Both of my grandmothers and my mom baked bread a lot. Unfortunately, I guess I wasn't around for the mixing, only the eating. So, while I know some of the basics, I have no confidence whatsoever in baking bread.

When I was a kid I helped Grandma Mary bake this no-knead bread. When she pulled the cottage cheese out of the fridge and heated it up on the stove, I thought she was crazy. And, what are dill seeds!!?!?!?!!

This is the first recipe in the yellow 25 Cent recipe pamphlet from Red Star Yeast titled Spring and Summer Fun with Yeast. Under the title of Dilly Casserole Bread is the phrase (Adapted by Ann Pillsbury). As the pamphlet is undated and I was curious, I looked around on the internet. It turns out that this recipe was the winner of the 1960 Pillsbury Bake-Off! Who knew?

Please click the link to get the recipe straight from Pillsbury's website!

Dilly Casserole Bread

NOTE: Cottage cheese is pretty spendy here and comes in tiny little containers, and is just ... different. So, I washed up Ryu's drip coffee pot, put a new filter in and filled it with plain yogurt. After draining it really well, I used it in place of the cottage cheese. Probably 1 1/2 cups of yogurt drains down to 1 cup. I'd let it sit longer than I did, so I recommend overnight - if your hubby or you don't NEED the coffee pot before then!

My Japanese friends thought the bread was "interesting". My husband begged me not to force him to finish his piece. I guess dill is an acquired taste. So, I am force feeding it to Jun. Just kidding. Kind of!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Molasses Crinkles a la Ginger

I just love molasses cookies! Years ago I worked in an office with a woman named Ginger. She has the best recipe for Molasses Crinkles! But, even better than HAVING the recipe, she would often go home on her lunch hour and whip up a batch and bring them back to the office! I can't eat just one!

But, the problem with these cookies, is getting molasses in Japan. I did find a bottle of it at an import shop years ago, but I tend to like to cook with what I can find locally. That way if I introduce it to my Japanese friends, they can make it easily too.

This brings me to the next part of my story. It seems my students visit Okinawa often. Basically I get two souvenirs from them. Sea salt and kuromitsu. Kuromitsu is a very dark brown sweet, but not only sweet, syrup. Doesn't work on pancakes for me. I have had it just sitting around wondering what to do with it. Finally I woke up. Basically, kuromitsu IS molasses! So, I used it to make these cookies, and they were wonderful!

Molasses Crinkles a la Ginger

3/4 cup. margarine or shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger

Mix the first four ingredients well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to firm it up. Roll into 1" balls, and roll these in granulated sugar. Bake at 170 C. for 8 minutes. Let rest on the pan a bit before removing to a cookie rack. Try to keep your toddler from reaching the cookie rack and completely ruining her lunch! Put the toddler down for a nap. Gorge on the cookies while reading a good book with a cup of tea!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ginger Pork

When my friend, Sachiko, heard I was getting married, quite a few moons ago, she was worried that I would not be able to cook satisfactorily for my Japanese husband. Somehow we decided that any decent bride worth her weight in soy sauce should be able to make shogayaki - ginger pork - for her groom. So, Sachiko called her Mom, long distance, got a recipe, and taught me. I must confess, I make a very SIMPLE version of the original recipe. Ryu seems to like it and we are going on 7 years, so...I guess I can recommend it to you too!

250-300 gm. pork (I have used everything from cheap thinly sliced meat to pork chop-like meat cut in thick strips. Whatever is handy really does work.)
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cooking sake (I suppose white wine could be substituted?)
1/2 tsp. finely grated ginger (I confess, I use the grated ginger from the tube!)

Put the seasonings in a plastic bag. Mix a bit. Add the meat and massage the meat. I swear, meat gets more massages here in Japan that I ever will! Just kind of squeeze it to get the marinade all mixed in well. Then set it in the fridge for as long as you want, or on the counter for 30 min. or so. Then, I dump it in a fry pan and fry it up. I never use oil, because I almost never use oil. When the meat is cooked - it is done.

Simple and oh so yummy with white rice and the spinach dish I should introduce to you too - also from Sachiko. Tonight I decided to try out a recipe I found over at Abigail's Mamatouille blog for Pumpkin, instead. Mmmmmmm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cranberry Pudding

I have found that most of my favorite recipes were ones my Mom made when I was a kid. Maybe those food theories are right? This one is perfect for the fall holidays.

It is called a pudding though it is really more like a cake with sauce. In other cookbooks, I have found similar recipes that call for the cake to be steamed. Probably if I actually did it some day, I would find it is not as impossible as it sounds. But, so far I have avoided that method of cooking cake. This is a regular bake-in-the-oven cake.

The recipe is from a cookbook my family tenderly and fondly calls the "Fall Apart Cookbook." Favorite Recipes of The Great Northwest published by Favorite Recipes Press, Inc in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1965. Yes, I was born and a big sister by then.

And, no, the eggs weren't forgotten. This recipe doesn't call for eggs.

Cranberry Pudding

1 cup sugar
2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. margarine, melted
2 1/2 cup whole cranberries uncooked (fresh/frozen) - I never have this many cranberries, living in Japan, so I divide the cranberries I have in two and make two batches.

Sift together first three ingredients. Add milk, margarine and cranberries. Pour into greased 8x10 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Pour warm sauce over pudding.

Kim's note: I don't have an 8x10 inch pan, so make it in a deep single layer round cake pan. 350F is around 170 C. Watch the top so it doesn't get too brown.

The sauce is a MUST! - though you can adjust the sugar for taste.


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup evaporated milk - not available here - I use cheap or fake cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat sugar, margarine, and milk together just until blended. Add vanilla. Yield 12-16 servings.

Kim's note: While the cake is hot, I leave it in the pan, poke it all over and around the sides between the cake and the pan, with a nice chopstick. Then I pour the sauce slowly all over the cake, letting it seep in nicely. You could also pour the sauce over slices of the cake, I'm sure. The TARTNESS of the cranberries is set off nicely with the sauce. My Japanese friends love this cake too. It is a nice cake! HAHAHA!

FYI - Foreign Buyer's Club sells frozen cranberries in their Deli section on the Net.

This recipe was contributed by Carol Carson from Mill City, OR.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spaghetti Boiler

It took this post by A and M's Mama over at Shinshu Life to make me think of getting off my duff to do something with the two tomatoes lounging in my produce basket. They were on their way south, but I was just so impressed at how well our new fridge keeps the produce (with the exception of carrots), that I kind of made it into an experiment.

But, when A and M's Mama posted about tomatoes again, I got motivated. I decided to cut them up and put them in the blender, as I hate to have tomato skins floating in my sauce, and I sure don't want to peel a tomato. It was a great success! The sauce turned out well, for once!

Then, I got out our handy dandy microwave spaghetti boiler. This is the most wonderful microwave accessory. Especially if you have a smaller family and only need to boil up to 200 gms. of pasta for a meal. I got it at our local department store for well under 1,000 yen. Here is a pic of a similar one I found on the net. It takes 8 minutes longer than the boiling time of your pasta to finish it (but no pre-boiling). It can be used for spaghetti or other pastas. It doesn't heat up your kitchen. It doesn't take up one of the 2-3 burners you may be working with in a Japanese kitchen. And, there isn't a pot of boiling water to boil over onto your toddler. Always a plus! So, if you are looking for a new kitchen toy, I recommend this one!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yogurt Marmalade Cake sans Marmalade

We had a potluck at church last Sunday, and I decided to make a cake. A fall-like cake. I had some sweet potatoes I was planning to use in the Sweet Potato Fries, and a bag of apples from the yaoya (veggie/fruit shop) [NOTE: Jun gets ready to go. I ask where she is going. She is ALWAYS going to the yaoya. Hmmm.] I also had some new raisins (is this an oxymoron?) from Nagano, and some old walnuts in the fridge that I wanted to use up.

I wanted a moist cake and remembered reading about this Yogurt Marmalade Cake on The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog. And I had yogurt! So, I just made the pound cake part of the recipe. Added 3/4 cup of diced steamed sweet potatoes - skin on, 1/2 apple peeled and chopped rather finely, 3/4 cup of broken walnut pieces, and a generous handful of those new raisins. I also reduced the sugar to an unpacked 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, per Abagail's suggestion. I baked it in a deep round single layer cake pan. For 45 minutes at 170C. It came out perfect and OH SO YUMMY! Next time I will add a shredded carrot for color and to get a few more vitamins in Jun. The ladies at church want the recipe. They would probably really love it if I had been able to make the marmalade topping. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It is sweet potato time in Japan. My husband dislikes sweet potatoes because - they are sweet. So, I was excited to find a savory (non-sweet) recipe for sweet potatoes on Abagail's food blog, Mamatouille.

Her recipe for Sweet Potato Fries uses cumin. I remembered seeing cumin in the back of my spice basket, and was so happy to find that I still had it. And surprised! It was a full spice jar of cumin. Never been opened. The expiration date was sometime in 2005. When did I buy this? Why did I buy this? How did it find itself into my spice basket?

Well, being raised on antique spices, I didn't hesitate to scoop out the teaspoon of cumin and make the Sweet Potato Fries. I forgot to weigh the sweet potatoes first, so, over seasoned them a bit, but I really liked them. I didn't know cumin was part of the curry family of spices. Ryu gave the potatoes a rating of "fushigi" (unusual), and Jun wanted "more".

The next evening I added the remaining cubed up fries to a chicken dish I made, added a tad bit more cumin, and it got the "omoi" (heavy) rating, which is the highest in our household. So fun to find a "new" spice for us!

NOTE: When making a bland curry-from-the-box for dinner the other night, I added 1/4 tsp. of cumin (I used 1/4 of the box roux) to the mixture and Ryu was SOOO impressed. Me too. It was pretty terrible before the cumin!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was a teacher/missionary in Kansai in the mid-'80's, my roommate and I seldom got packages from the States. Then postage and phone calls were too expensive. Videos and computers were non-existent. Yes, we walked to and from church daily year-round in the snow - uphill both ways! HAHAHAH!

So, I will never forget two packages we did get. One was dried out used tea bags. We laughed and laughed. Made us feel like real missionaries from 100 years ago!

The other package was a Tupperware container filled with chocolate-chips and a cookie recipe! THE BEST gift I remember from those years.

That recipe is long gone, but I have another one to take its place. I tried to find the origin of this recipe today, but it is gone. I first made it because it makes a smaller batch of cookies and I can only cook 9 at a time in my oven, and don't want to be in the kitchen forever. I also don't want to EAT 5 dozen cookies. Ryu loves this recipe too, so I am saved from gluttony, oh, and Jun helps a lot too!

This recipe just tastes a bit different from other chocolate chip recipes. I did some comparison today and found three changes from the standard. First, it uses mostly brown sugar. Second, it uses more vanilla than the standard recipes and, third it uses more baking soda. I think the later is what gives it the taste that we love. Hmmm.

If you are still looking for THAT chocolate chip cookie recipe, give it a stir!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

100 gm butter (1/2 cup) - softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tblsp. white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together. Combine the flour, soda and salt, and then add to the butter mixture. Mix well and add the chocolate chips

Bake at 180 C. for 8-9 minutes. Cookies will puff up while baking, but settle down when out of the oven. This makes them nice and chewy and moist. My Japanese friends say, "like Country Ma'am." "Much better than she!" I say! Now I'm off to raid the cookie rack. I just made a batch this morning!

NOTE: I was weeding out my cook books and FOUND the source of this recipe. It is from More Gifts From Your Kitchen by Current Inc. 1989. It was originally a big 12" cookie to give as a Christmas gift. I wonder if that is why it has more soda? Hmm?

Friday, October 3, 2008


I so rarely used aprons while cooking, when growing up, that I think I could just about say I never used one.

I was so surprised and a little put off when I came to Japan and everyone HAD to wear an apron while cooking. I am not a messy cook!

Then, the housewives would wear their aprons with 10,000 yen bills, then worth about US$100, in their pockets to pick up cucumbers, croquet and other things each day on our shopping street. How could you WEAR an apron outside! How embarrassing!

But, somehow I got on the apron kick too. I slowly started a collection of aprons of different styles and colors and materials. I got some for gifts and bought others.

Now, I can't bear to cook without an apron on. A full shoulder down apron. Hopefully with pockets. And, I always eat with that apron on! A great substitute for the napkins in one of my former lives. Feeding Jun, an apron is essential for any semblance of cleanliness.

Jun has discovered Mama's aprons too. She loves the pockets. She uses them to climb up my front, one step at at time. She also uses them to store things.

Currently my apron pockets are housing a bunch of rocks from the park, a dessert fork and a red pen that Daddy was looking all over for. Oh well!

So, do you like aprons? What is in YOUR pockets?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Curry a la Flora

When I was a kid, my mom was a teacher at Child Evangelism Fellowship. Her teacher, Flora, taught her some wonderful recipes that have become family favorites.

Curry was one that we made yearly, with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Japan and found that many many churches here have curry for lunch after service EVERY Sunday. I have to say that curry lost its glamour for many years.

Then I remembered what made Flora's curry so wonderful. It wasn't the curry, as we weren't the best curry makers in the world. It was the toppings!

Well, our church decided this week not to continue the curry tradition. Too many people in too small of a space and not enough room or pots to make enough, as our church has grown some this past year.

So, I bought some curry roux yesterday, and have a pot of it cooking on the stove right now. Now, for the toppings!!!

Today, I will top my Aussie-beef-on-a-good-sale curry with raisins, peanuts and hard boiled eggs. When I have it, I also add sliced bananas, sweetened shredded coconut and canned mandarin oranges.

This is so fun to do with lots of people. Japanese friends are SHOCKED that you would put anything on top of curry. But, even my husband and brother-in-law (both Japanese) like the toppings! YEAH!

Let me know if you try it and if you tried a new topping!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


A few weeks ago, Abagail at Mamatouille posted a new recipe for Okonomiyaki. One I had never heard of before. It takes instant ramen noodles, so I was eager to try it. I love to try things I have never even thought of before. I got a little too enthusiastic on chopping cabbage, so had to add another egg to keep it all together. I also substituted thinly sliced pork (cooked with some salt) for the bacon. It made about 6 okonomiyakis. Ryu really liked it. He said it was a lighter recipe than my traditional, so please check it out.

This is my "traditional" recipe. Unlike Abagail, I HAVE been taught countless times how to make Okonomiyaki. Unfortunately NO ONE has ever used a recipe nor measured ANYTHING! When it comes to Japanese cooking, I prefer to use recipes. So, finally, I decided to try to come up with a recipe that had the amounts written down. After trial and error, more watching a friend from Osaka "teach" me how to make it again, here is our recipe.


2 cups flour
3 eggs
2 tsp. dry dashi (could use consume granules or bouillon, I am sure.)
about 1/2 a small cabbage - chopped into 1.5 cm squares - more or less
water to mix.

The KEY to this recipe is to not add too much water. I mix the flour and dashi and eggs up first, add the cabbage and mix. Then I add water a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition. When you can dip the mixture out of the bowl with a ladle, it is wet enough.

We tend to use thinly sliced pork for our Okonomiyakis. I like to cook it first with a bit of salt so we don't die of food poisoning. Then I cut it up and mix it in the batter. You can use any seafood or...whatever you like.

I use my hot plate, and cook two or three (pancake-size) at a time. I put the lid on to get that cabbages steamed a bit too. When it is browned nicely, turn it over and cook the other side. My friend pushes down on the okonomiyaki as it cooks on the second side, so I do too. Hmmm. I'm sure there is a good reason for this.

To top it, we like Otafuku Okonomiyaki Sauce. The label has a lady with big cheeks - mump-like. Or, tonkatsu sauce. Jun and I like to sprinkle katsuobushi on top (dried bonito flakes that move in the steam from the okonomiyaki), and Ryu likes aonori (green seaweed flakes). It is also good with some hot mustard (karashi) in the sauce or mixed with a little mayo and put on top.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Soon after we got married, Ryu and I bought a bottle of yaki-niku sauce at C------. I should say a jug! It was huge. We had to lay it down in our fridge, it was so big. We never did finish it and finally I tossed it.

A couple of months ago, I got some Aussie beef on sale and wanted to try to make my own yaki-niku sauce. I looked up some Japanese websites for recipes and they all took tons of ingredients that I didn't have and tons of time from start to use, which I didn't have either.

Then I remembered that my sister often made Kalbi for her Japanese husband. She used a packet from the store, but I was able to find a recipe in Japanese on the net. I have made it a couple of times, and Ryu has pronounced it "delicious", so I am passing it on to you! I hope you enjoy it.


300 gm. thinly sliced beef

1 Tbsp. sake
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. mirin
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. ground sesame
1 tsp. minced garlic (we tend to leave this out)

Mix up the marinade and marinate the meat for 10 minutes. (I have left it over night in the fridge with no problems.) Fry it up in a fry pan, and you have yummy kalbi. (I don't add any oil, but use a non-stick pan.) It is great for lunch boxes! Jun loves it too!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


We were in the States this spring, in a ranching community. I overheard a woman invite her father to dinner. He asked what was on the menu, and she said cornbread and beans. And I died from jealousy.

Oh, to be able to go to any old supermarket anywhere and buy a big box of cornmeal. Cornmeal muffins, cornmeal in pancakes, cornmeal in yeast bread. Anywhere except mush!

I went home to my folks and got out the big box of cornmeal and made the recipe below for muffins - but as cornbread. The nieces and nephews nearly finished it before dinner. So, I made a double batch the next time.

Here, I can buy a package of cornmeal at Isetan's supermarket. Close to, but not quite a cup, for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2. So, I picked up a package. I divide the cornmeal carefully into two batches, so each batch has a little less than the stated 1/2 cup, is worth it! I just fill the 1/2 cup measure with extra flour.

The recipe is on the box of the Alber's box. If you can find cornmeal, I recommend it!

Sweet Cornmeal Muffins

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ryu's Decadent Creamy Cinnamon Toast

When we got married, Ryu was really good at making coffee and Decadent Cinnamon Toast. Well, Jun calls it Cilalaman Toast, but we know what she means!

So, whenever I was under the weather, or we had time on the weekends, he would offer to make me this toast. This, folks is NOT like the Cilalaman Toast I used to make as a child. This is truly decadent!

Take a thick slice of white bread! We use at least the 6-slice per loaf here in Japan. Maybe close to an inch thick? Be sure it is not frozen!

Melt a BIG spoonful of butter in the micro. I'm sure Ryu uses close to 1/4 cup per slice. This is not healthy toast. It is decadent!

Drizzle the melted butter all over the bread. Letting it soak deeply into all the little places melted butter can soak into. The top 1/2 of the bread slice should be saturated with butter.

Sprinkle the bread with a Tablespoon or so of sugar. We use the packets that come with yogurt, but you can use any sugar. Make sure it is spread all the way out to the crust!

Take the cinnamon jar and really really powder that piece of bread up. Until it is nearly black with cinnamon. I heard cinnamon has healthy components. We should be fine from THAT disease - hopefully.

Then put it in the toaster oven or under the broiler, and watch it carefully. Toast it until the sugar on the top has melted, and is bubbling nicely!

Take it out, wait till it cools a bit, and enjoy with a big cup of coffee for a real sugar/caffeine rush! Creamy Cinnamon Toast!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Homemade Sausage II

I posted a while back about trying to redo a homemade sausage recipe to fit my hubby's tastes. Well, I have officially given up, and will post the original recipe with some of my personal notes.

This is great sausage because it tastes just like Jimmy's sausage - to me at least. And, you can choose the type of meat you use as well as the amount of salt (and other spices). Love the control!!! And Junnie at least likes it as much as I do. Sometimes, that is.

I got this recipe from Mary Jo, a fellow missionary, who now lives in Okinawa. She gave it to me in the late 1990's. I feel old. Here it is:

Italian Breakfast Sausage

1/2 tsp. fennel
1/2 tsp. savory
1/2 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix the above spices with 300 gm. ground pork. Make into patties and cook.

Now, for my notes, I prefer to use ground chicken, but find it makes quite a hard patty. So, one day, I decided to mix a handful of panko (Japanese bread crumbs) in with it. They were wonderful, tender, and yummy! At other times, I have mixed 1/2 ground chicken with 1/2 ground pork. This keeps the patties a little more tender than 100% ground chicken.

The patties freeze well, also!

Oh, I was able to find all of these spices in Japan, as well! At a fancy supermarket, but, still, in Japan!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wild Blackberry Pie

I grew up in a house at the end of the road, kind of up a hill. If you looked out the bathroom window, you could see the dunes and coast way off in the distance.

Going up the hill a bit further, there were wild blackberry bushes. Prickly things! And, wild blackberries are really pretty small. But, we got our buckets out and picked and picked each summer.

This recipe is from the cookbook my family christened the "fall apart cookbook" Favorite Recipes of The Great Northwest published by Favorite Recipes Press, Inc in Louisville, Kentucky, in the year MCMLXV. Hmmmm. When was that? What is an L? (Quick Internet Search - 50). So, it looks like 1965 to me.

I always made this recipe because I couldn't and still can't be bothered to actually cut shortening into flour and make a simple crust. Maybe for Thanksgiving. Maybe not.

So, anyway, here is my favorite (only) recipe for Wild Blackberry Pie.
(Please adjust the sugar and butter amounts to YOUR taste. This was way way way too sweet for me this last time, but...I live in Japan right now, and we don't do SOOOO sweet here...usually.)

1/4 lb. butter or margarine (I used 100 gm.)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups wildblackberries

(Note: A USA cup is 250 cc's)

Melt butter in baking dish. (I used a round deep cake pan.) Mix 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder, and milk. Pour over melted butter. (Right in the middle of it.) Cover top of batter with fruit. Sprinkle remaining sugar over top and bake at 350 degrees (176 C. But, if you have a tiny oven like me, adjust as needed.) until golden brown. (I added too much milk last time I made it and had to bake it for an hour. Probably 30-40 minutes?) Serve hot with whipped cream. NOTE: Other berries, cherries or pecans may be substituted for wild blackberries. Yield; 4-6 servings.

This was submitted by a Mrs. Roy Fotte from Reedsport, OR! Thank you very much, Mrs. Fotte! I love it!

Food Theories

I recently went to an international luncheon. We talked about food! Really! One woman was from Korea. Her husband is also Korean. A number of years ago, he became ill and had to have surgery. Since then, she has been very very careful about the food she makes for him. Two years and 8 months, no eating out, no salt for most of that time, etc. She talked about the microbiotic diet they were on. She has definitely thought and read a lot about food.

She read that people are healthiest if they eat the food of the country they are living in. Not the food of their birth country. Live in Japan, eat Japanese. Live in Korea, eat Korean.

I noticed back in the early '80's, when war orphans were returning to Japan from China to visit their relatives, that they looked NOTHING like their relatives. Of course their clothing and hair styles were Chinese, but even their faces and bodies resembled Chinese people of that time, rather then their relatives. I began to think about how our diet, rather than DNA affects the way we look.

Then, I read an article about babies who tend to like what their mothers' ate while they were pregnant with them. The study was about carrots. The moms who ate lots of carrots while they were pregnant, gave birth to kiddos who loved carrot juice much more than other kids.

This article interested me, because, Jun's birth mom probably ate a lot of Japanese food while she was pregnant. And, Jun really prefers Japanese food to western. Now, maybe it is as the study says, and maybe she likes the strong salty and sweet flavors of Japanese cooking, but...hmmm.

I also read something about food memories. Regardless of the junk we may eat during college and single years, most of us tend to return to the food our parents fed us during our growing up years when we settle down and raise our own families. I told one relative this and she looked at me, shocked. Her sweet girls were chowing down a bag of tortilla chips with root-beer! HAHAHAH!

How about you? Any Food Theories?? Bring them on!


I have recently been enjoying the food blog, Mamatouille. Abagail is a wonderful person, and always answers comments. It has been fun to exchange ideas and recipes. She even takes and POSTS pictures! Please check her blog out and leave a comment for her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chocolate Truffles

Valentine's Day is nearly here! In Japan girls and women give chocolates to the boys and men! We don't get much, but those we give to have to give us a return present on March 14th, White Day. So, what goes around comes around!

A few years ago, when one of my students was in 6th grade, we enjoyed cooking together. She found this recipe for Truffles in a girl's magazine and taught me how to make them. Yum! Choose the sweetness or bitterness of the chocolate to fit your, er, umm, the man in your life's taste.

100 gm bar chocolate chopped very finely
10 gm butter chopped into small pieces. Add to bowl with chocolate.
60 cc. cream. Heat to boiling and add to the chocolate. Stir till chocolate melts. Then pour into a flat sheet pan and put in the refridgerator until nearly hard. Then shape into balls and roll in cocoa, powdered sugar, etc. Store in a cool place.

Variation: Truffle Sauce

I increased the amount of cream to 100 cc, and we poured the hot sauce over vanilla ice cream. Yummy.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Homemade Sausage

We are on a quest for a homemade sausage recipe. I have one from a friend and some from the internet that we are adapting to my husbands image of breakfast sausage. This is where country of origin plays a big part! The smell of one of the spices I've used so far reminds him of moth balls. Hmmmm. If at first you don't succeed, try try again!