Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mugicha - Barley Tea

When I first came to Japan I was not yet a coffee drinker! Late bloomer, I know! So, when I was offered a nice cold glass of barley tea...I suddenly wasn't all that thirsty after all. My dislike of barley tea was quickly realized and I alone was given a goblet of delicious orange juice with a straw while everyone else drank mugicha out of water glasses. How embarrassing!!!

Well, I learned to drink coffee and mugicha as well. I often made mugicha for my students. I'd get to church and realize students were coming in 5 minutes and there was nothing cold for them to drink. So, I'd throw a tea packet into the pitcher, add water, and shake! The water changed color, but not flavor!!! Gross, but it worked in a pinch. Now our pastor makes sure there is always plenty of mugicha in the fridge! THANKS!

A friend recently taught me a new way to make the "BEST" mugicha. I must confess that I am lazy, so never have followed the recipe to its completion, but...here goes:

One packet of mugicha in a mug. Pour boiling water over it and let it sit for one minute.
Add the packet to a pitcher of water to make one liter of mugicha. Take the bag out after one hour. HA! Then add a bit of instant coffee. Wa la! Excellent mugicha, I'm told. I never take out the bag and have no instant coffee in the house, so... I also like weak mugicha, so use one packet for two liters! However, I do use the one minute hot water method. Much better than shaking!

Last week my friend told me of another mugicha recipe. If you make your mugicha right - it is supposed to be 3:10. 3 parts mugicha and 10 parts milk. Our weaker mugicha works better at 1:1 (half and half). This sounds kind of gross to those of us who take our mugicha STRAIGHT! No sugar and never any milk or lemon. However, this milk mugicha tastes like coffee au latte! Add some sugar syrup, and, a nice no-caf coffee tasting drink!

Any other "strange" ways of doing mugicha???

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cleaned the Freezer - Ended Up With a Cake!

I am, as I assume most people are, pretty good at cleaning out the fridge for a few last meals before going shopping again. After our trip to the US, I fed the family out of an empty fridge for nearly a week!

But yesterday, I cleaned the freezer! And ended up with a cake! I usually at least start with a recipe when I bake. However, yesterday, it was all bits and pieces of leftovers, a quick defrost, a quick stir, and a quick bake! Mmmm.

I started with a cup or so of chocolate chip cookie dough I froze before going home to the US. Just couldn't find it in my heart to heat up the kitchen for the few cookies it would make, so there it sat in the freezer. Then I ran across a 1/2 cup or so of pureed pumpkin I cooked and blenderized when pumpkin was on sale...a while back. There were two halves of bananas - left over from Jun's lunches. Peeled and wrapped in wrap and frozen for a baking day.

As I was mixing this combination up, I noticed that the chocolate chips had mostly melted in the defrosting process, so I now had chocolate cake. Hmmmm. Maybe more chocolate chips? Nope, as I was reaching for the chocolate chips, my hand touched the cinnamon chips! Well, as chocolate goes great with pumpkin and bananas, so does cinnamon go with chocolate, pumpkin and bananas! So, I added a handful of cinnamon chips. Then, as the pumpkin was not sweetened and I had some ginger sugar also taking up space in the freezer, I dumped a bit of that in too.

Turned the oven on to 170, oiled the round cake pan and threw it all in. 25 minutes or so later, we were gifted with the moistest yummy cake!!!

It was so fun to try something crazy for a dessert when I usually only do it for "meal" food!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Preemio Award

My friend, Abigail, gave me the? a? Preemio Award the other day. Recipients are supposed to write seven things about themselves. As this is a cooking blog, I will attempt to entertain you with seven silly things about cooking/food and me!

  1. Carrots - WHAT is it with CARROTS here in Japan??? First, they are kind of short and really big around. Second, they go bad in my fridge in a day or two - ROOT VEGETABLE!?!??! Third, according to my husband, they should not be cut into rounds (wagiri), but should be cut into the equivalent of short carrot sticks. This makes them sweeter he says...the crazy thing is - it does. I don't even really LIKE carrots - but, don't tell Jun or Ryu!
  2. Ginger - I am a GINGER freak, I think. This last trip to the US, I caught a terrible cold. AND...had NO candied ginger to fend off the germs! As I was getting well, I found some ginger candy at a health food store. And, was introduced to this website - the Ginger People.
  3. Strange - I LOVE strange RECIPES. For me, STRANGE is a reason TO make something new, not to avoid it. Sue just posted a recipe for body powder. Vicki posted a recipe for soda bread you cook on the griddle. Abigail posted recipe for okonomiyaki made using top ramen. How STRANGE - to me, at least, and FUN! (I made the soda bread and okonomiyaki!)
  4. Spurts - I cook things in spurts. I am currently in the Granola Making Spurt. I made up two recipes - Peanut Butter Granola, and Gingersnap Granola. Too yummy. I am in the process of making a Chocolate Granola recipe. I bought some healthy flours to put in granola while I was in the US this trip. I can really FEEL all those fiber things cleaning the cholesterol out of my veins. Really. I'm serious! SCRUBBING!!!
  5. Lettuce - I didn't grow up on lettuce. We were a canned/frozen corn, peas, and green bean family with some broccoli and carrots thrown in for good measure. I do remember the occasional beet, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts - YUCK! But, we weren't adventurous vegetable eaters. Ryu isn't either. Lettuce - adventurous? Well, I seem to not like raw veggies all that well. We have thrown away more heads of lettuce than probably any other veggie! But, I bought some again yesterday. We'll see.
  6. Cookbooks - Jun and I like to read Cookbooks. Not to find something to make, but, because they are interesting. I especially like old ones with old fashioned recipes. Jun especially likes my cookie ones with pictures! I USED to collect cookbooks. Now I live in a tiny tiny apartment, so we read and reread the good old ones!
  7. CONFESSION - the REAL reason I started to cook - as a kid - was because in our family we have the Golden Rule that is THE BEST! If you cook dinner, you don't have to do the dishes - nor clean the kitchen. I HATE to do dishes - so cooking was a wonderful golden trade off. My mom was happy too, as she was happy not to cook, and had two other kids to do the cleaning! HAHAHA!

I'd like to tag the following three women because I enjoy their blogs and wonder what THEY cook on a weekday night.

  1. Tammy in Ukraine
  2. Sue at Living and Learning
  3. CG at Okaasan Mommy and More