Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rice Cookie Idea? Anyone???

Being the wonderful housewife that I am, I often have leftover rice in the rice-cooker after dinner. As many of us here in Japan do, I'm sure, I wrap up the bits and put them in the freezer to save for pilaf, lunches, etc.

As yummy as those dishes turn out - especially when it is Ryu making them - I truly think that this leftover rice could be used as an ingredient in cookies. Maybe in place of coconut? oatmeal? OK, those are my only two ideas. I think it would result in a chewy "mochi" cookie.

What do you think? Do you have a cookie recipe using rice? If so, DO SHARE! The only one I've found calls for blanched almonds, flaked coconut, egg whites...well, those things are not part of my larder or my idea of Kantan Cooking!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Soboro Bento (Lunch)

I originally thought that the name of this lunch was the same word used in Japanese for "not doing what you should be doing. Goofing off!" Turns out it isn't, but they are close. The simplicity of this obento is perfect for those days when I'm just not up to making a cutsie obento. O.K. I'm never into making cutsie obentos. So, this obento is great when Jun and I have to eat in PUBLIC with PEOPLE we KNOW! And, I have received compliments on the way it looks and the way it tastes. So there.

A retired male student, who is the new cook in his family, was afraid I would let Ryu starve - especially when I told him about the lunches I fixed, and gave me a cookbook on making lunches. No pictures. As I "read" this recipe to make sure I got all the important points for you, I noticed it said that "if you put something sweet in a lunch box, it helps the eater to relax." I didn't say I understood it. I said it said it. I always DID like a cookie in my lunch bag, though!



100 gm. ground chicken
4 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sake (surely white wine or water would suffice?)
2 tsp. sugar

Mix it all well (the meat is still raw!). Then cook it in a fry pan till the meat is all broken up into TINY pieces and much of the sauce has cooked down.


1 egg
1 tsp. water
dash of salt
dash of sugar

Mix it all up. Heat up the frying pan. Use a tad bit of oil if you need to. Pour in the egg. Grasp 5-6 chopsticks in your hand at once (that's what it SAYS in the book!) and stir away at the egg. This cooks it while breaking it up into TINY pieces like the meat. I have been known to use a small metal whisk for this job with adequate results.


This obento should have three colors - that's how to WOW people. Any green veggie will do. I tend to use my spinach with gomae recipe.

Now, (for those new to obentos) put rice in the box (Tupperware stuff works too.) Then divide it into thirds and cover with the three toppings. I always double/triple the recipe as needed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

English Muffins

What a baking frenzy evening we had last night! In our tiny kitchen, cookies and English Muffins at the same time. What a MESS! And, oh, so yummy!

I was inspired to try some yeast products this weekend by Heather and her crumpets, and Coffeegrl and her Artisan Bread. I hope to also make those crumpets, artisan bread as well as bagels! I've made bagels and crumpets Japan...many many years ago. I look forward to trying them again. And, the artisan bread? We'll see if I can do it.

Along with the yeast products, I plan a batch of oatmeal banana chocolate chip cookies and a batch of scones 1/2 with candied dekopon, 1/2 with candied ginger with ginger sugar on top. Mmmm! I wonder how long my energy and frenzy will really last!

On to the English Muffins. I decided to try these because my crumpet recipe describes crumpets as kind of a non-turned over pancake or kind of like an English Muffin. And I thought - ENGLISH MUFFIN? I've never thought of making those. I found a few recipes, and chose this one because the picture looked so yummy! With one little change, we had great English Muffins for breakfast this morning. Ryu said, "They look like English Muffins!" Well, there you go!


This recipe called for two beaten egg whites. HAHAHAHA! I don't own a mixer and beating egg whites must have a purpose greater than mixing them into bread with a ton of flour. So, I substituted those egg whites with a whole egg and that was that! Worked fine.

Here is another interesting recipe for English Muffins from Alton Brown at the Food Network (in terms of the cooking method). However, I don't have cooking rings or tin cans to use in their place, so...I did the cookie cutter method above. But, this recipe looks like it takes less time, so next time...I'll probably try it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chocolate Kaki-no-tani

"Kaki" means "persimmon." "Tani" means "seeds." That is the shape of these rice-cracker snacks. Kind of like a crescent moon. They are traditionally brushed with a spicy soy sauce mixture and...fried? baked? cooked, anyway. And, often combined with peanuts.

The first time I had these - covered in chocolate, I couldn't imagine THAT spicy with chocolate. And they are SOOOO delicious! Crispy, but with enough chocolate to melt in your mouth! Tooo good. I buy mine at Lawson's Convenience Store. 105 yen. 236 calories. Must be fried.

For snack time, I combine one of these packages with some of the regular ones with peanuts, and add some raisins. Japanese trail mix! HAHAHA! I've served it to guests. Hmmmm. I AM hospitality challenged!
Please share YOUR favorite snack - from the convenience store! I'd love to try it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Peanut Butter Shortbread

I try to make good things last for a long time. I like delayed gratification. I've saved some things so long, they were no longer any good. So, I am trying to change my spots!

I received a four pound jar of peanut butter (see Scotcharoos), and am determined to enjoy it rather than hoard it. Jun had a peanut butter sandwich yesterday and loved it. Today, we had a meeting for Mamas at church, so I decided to try another peanut butter recipe. I was out of eggs, so this was perfect!

Peanut Butter Shortbread

The site is called Peanut Butter Lovers. They have ALL kinds of peanut butter recipes! I'll have to try a few more, I think! Entrees too!

Abigail saw this recipe and "tweaked" it with .... CHOCOALTE! Click HERE to see her version!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mystery Picture

Everytime I make this item and lay it out on this white plate, it reminds me of "fugu." Scroll down to see the picture of fugu sushi.

What do YOU think it is?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cooking Blind

I'm always looking all over the house before I fix dinner these days. Without my reading glasses - one of the 4-5 pairs I have hiding from me - I can't even see recipes I've written out or directions on the backs of packages.

So, it was with comic relief that I realized I didn't NEED glasses to use this flavor pack from Tammy in Ukraine. As it is all written in Ukrainian or Russian, it wouldn't really matter how many pairs of glasses I found, I still wouldn't be able to read it!

It is supposed to be for veggies, Tammy said, but I sprinkled it over pork too. It has a salty chicken consume-like flavor. Soooo good!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Last fall, our last (and first, I think) overnight visitor of the year, Tammy from Ukraine, practically twisted my arm until I got signed up for Facebook. Already a bit busy with blogs and life, I didn't expect to find it so fun! Blast after blast from the past blew me away during the first few months. One friend from college, that I got reacquainted with, Tana, uses the SAME Cooky Cookbook that my family has ALWAYS used. One note led to another, and...she sent me a wonderful box...
filled with yummy ingredients...

to make these SUPER DUPER yummy bar cookie-like snacks! Please forgive my poor photography, and documented inability to melt chocolate and butterscotch chips! The results were great, in spite of my downfalls! In fact, my hubby, who "doesn't eat much sweets" said that these were too wonderful to be homemade and should need to be purchased in a store! YATTA! (Means "yay" for me!!!)

Jun loved the making of the Scotcharoos...

And, couldn't get enough of that GREAT CEREAL! Sugarless and milk-less, to go with her clothes-less state of dress.

Now, for those who might live in a place where some of these ingredients are hard to come Japan, I'll give you some ideas for substitutions at the end! So, read on!


In a saucepan, melt:

1 cup sugar

1 cup Karo syrup

When it reaches a bare boil, remove from heat and add:

1 cup peanut butter

Stir tell melted and blended.

Pour over, and mix into:

6 cups of Rice Crispie cereal

Press firmly into a well buttered jelly-roll pan, with a well buttered spoon/spatula.


1/2 pkg. chocolate chips

1/2 pkg. butterscotch chips

Spread over the top. When set, cut and EAT!

Now, I am not sure if Karo syrup and Japan's "gum syrup" are interchangeable. I kind of think that "gum syrup" is too watery. So, if I were doing this with ingredients I could find in Japan, I would take two packages of marshmallows (in the candy section at the super), and melt them with a bit of butter in a deep fry pan When melted, I'd mix in 1/2 cup peanut butter. I'd semi crush a box of cornflakes, and mix it all together. I'd probably use a well buttered round or square cake pan. Then, sighing sadly at the lack of butterscotch chips, I'd buy a few milk-chocolate bars at my local convenience store, melt them, and "frost" the top of the cookies. It wouldn't be exactly the same,'ll give you the chocolate peanut butter, crunch, YUM!, without waiting for the next trip home, or without breaking the bank finding the imported ingredients here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Candied Citrus Peel

This is the first winter that I have ever "candied" anything. As I have noted elsewhere, I am totally addicted to the candied ginger I've been making and try to ALWAYS have some in the fridge. I really think it is helping Jun and I through the cold season, as we have some a couple of times a day for "dessert". The other day I had a sore throat and took a spoonful of the HOT ginger syrup that was a byproduct. It really really helped!

But...other than ginger, I have been doing some citrus candying too. The first was yuzu. (Please click the link and scroll down to the SECOND picture. It looks much yummier!) A very popular - and pretty expensive (over $2.50 per piece of fruit at my market) fruit. was SOOOO wonderful.

Next, I tried lemons - as they were on SALE - two for a dollar. Those peels were quite hard to prepare, and, though it turned out alright in the end...maybe I won't make this again.

Last week, our friend Kaoru, who plays with Jun on Friday afternoons while I teach a bit, brought dekopon. Click the link for a picture. The peel smelled sweet and orangey, so I took a bite of the raw peel. "THIS," I said, "needs to be candied! It is DELICIOUS." So, I proceeded to do so. And...Let's just say I was shocked to see how expensive these also are in the store, as I so wanted to make MORE AND MORE of it. (three for 6 dollars).
Here's a nice out-of-focus "soft image" of the Candied Dekopon!

Here is my basic method of making

Candied Citrus Peel

  1. Peel the fruit

  2. Use a spoon or paring knife and scrape/cut away all of the white membrane

  3. Cut the peel in thin strips

  4. Boil the peel in a bit of water for 5 minutes (to take away some of the natural bitterness)

  5. Drain and rinse the peel

  6. Return peel to pan, and add the same amounts of sugar and water. 1/2 cup or 1 cup. (The syrup from the yuzu was OK to use, but the Dekopon was too bitter, so don't make too much and waste sugar, I say.)

  7. Bring sugar, water, and peel to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, and keeping an eye on it. Don't let it boil hard, but don't let it stop simmering either.

  8. Cover a cooling/baking rack with a mesh cloth/net (check your laundry section at the 100 yen store), and fish out the peel pieces and drain/cool on the rack. Let sit for 30 minutes.

  9. Roll each piece (using fingers as they are cold) in sugar (I use Japan's wet sugar), and place on a dry rack/net, or a plate.

  10. Let air dry for 1-3 days, of course sampling them daily to see if they are the "firmness" you like. Also, turn them over each day if they are on a plate.

  11. Store in a covered container in the fridge (don't know if you have to, but...I just do.)

This stuff is way too good! My Japanese FIL, nephew, and husband all loved it. Picky men that they are! And Jun keeps asking for it...but we are clean out!!! Sad smile.

Do you "candy" anything? If so, what? And, what method do you use????