Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sweet Seasons / March 2007 - Cherry Blossom -

Cherry Blossom

Terribly, TERRIBLY sorry that I didn't post anything for such a long time. Has any of you wondered if I was taken to the hospital? No, no. I'm doing fine. It's just that my mind has been occupied with a big project for the past couple of weeks, and it's going to stay that way for another couple of weeks. Please forgive me.

I know. I cheated about the date, but as you know, I need to have a wagashi entry on the last day of every month, so I insist that today is Mar. 31st. Hahaha...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spaghetti Meatballs

Spaghetti Meatballs

It was this post by ting-aling that triggered my craving for this dish. Again, it happened pretty late at night. Maybe I should quit bloghopping at night... but when else?


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Meet the B-day Girl Who Made This Cake

Obachan's home-made B-Day cake.

Girl?... Mmmm... Well, never mind. :P

No, no. My birthday dinner hasn't started yet. I'm (more precisely, my electric rice cooker is) cooking rice at the moment, and as soon as it's ready, I'm going to make my favorite temari-zushi for this special dinner tonight. Then I'll indulge in the hedonistic pleasure of sushi, sparkling wine and chocolate cake. And before I destroy the temporary beauty of my home-made birthday cake, I've got to share it with the whole world. Again, it's a home-made cake. I baked it myself. This is my very first chocolate cake with chocolate coating, and I even tried tempering!

Even though I couldn't slice the cocoa sponge evenly, and tempering without using a cooking thermometer was a ridiculous attempt, and I forgot to remove the chocolate-coated cake from the wire rack before decorating it with all these toppings (the cake was glued to the wire rack with the chocolate), and one end of the ribbon scraped off some cocoa powder from the surface while I was trying to tie it -- I insist that this is a success, BECAUSE IT'S MY B-DAY AND I NEED TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT MY ACHIEVEMENT! And honestly, the cocoa sponge, or should I call it chocolate genoise? is E X C E L L E N T. This is the recipe & instruction (in Japanese) by a charisma(?) Japanese wife living in Chicago. Just as so many reviewers have mentioned, I'm so happy that I found this recipe! Yeah, this recipe IS a great B-day present for me, honestly.

I'll post a photo of the cross-section of my cake, if I succeed in cutting out a piece gracefully.

Maybe I am gifted -- not in cooking or baking, but in being able to feel happiness in little things. About US$9 sparkling wine, US$3 small bouquet and home-baked 15 cm chocolate cake with small candles from 1 dollar shop. And emails to me and comments on my blog from my friends all over the world ... These are what I have on my birthday, and they all make me so happy.
(Oh, I just realized that I didn't mention the temari-zushi. That's because the sliced fish were leftovers from the previous meal, thus not included in the things I bought specifically for this B-day dinner.)

But next time I'm going to make a cake with more cream and more fruits. I liked this simple design, but taste-wise, I would love a lot more fruits buried in a thick layer of cream.

Oh, and the next time I'm NOT going to sprinkle cocoa powder on the chocolate coating of the birthday cake. When I blew out the candles... Imagine what happened.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Very First Home-baked Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Quite honestly, I’m not good at baking bread. The biggest reason is that I’m not patient enough to wait until required “bench time” is over. Yes, I tend to put the dough in the oven too early. But that probably is not the only reason why my bread hardens so quickly. Tell me… can using soy milk in place of milk contribute to this hardening of the bread?

This time I used this recipe but substituted milk with soy milk just because I ran out of milk and my craving for cinnamon rolls couldn’t wait until the next day. Yeah, do you know what time I baked these? Around midnight. My craving was that bad (for some reason).

So these cinnamon rolls did not turn out as soft as I wanted them to be, and they turned rock hard on the next day. But I can still eat them after microwaving for about 1 – 1.5 minutes, so it wasn’t a total waste, after all. :P
I wish I had more confectioner's sugar for a heavier frosting...

Dear readers,
If you have a recipe for very soft & moist, cinnabon-like cinnamon rolls, please share it with me!
Oh, one more thing: If used crisco instead of butter, would it make the rolls softer or prispier?


Monday, March 19, 2007

Garden Report - March 2007 -

Gosh, I just found out that the last time I posted about my balcony garden was November 2006! :O

Anyway, I remember that my blueberry bush started blooming at the end of March last year. Look how it is doing now. These photos were taken last week. Maybe the unusual warm weather contributed to this early full bloom this year? I wonder if they are going to fruit normally, though. I haven't seen any bees yet...

The flowers are oh so lovely! :D

He(?) has been in my balcony garden since late February. So this is his gorgeous winter vacation house, maybe?


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sawachi Festival in Kochi

Gorgeous sawachi dishes on display. Yes, this is the same local event as this one, but more dishes this time.

Enjoy! (Click photos to enlarge.)
OK, here’s some additional information I found on the net about this event.
All these dishes are not fake – they are made with real ingredients. But they are not seasoned at all because they are made for display purpose only, not for eating. Also they are brushed (sprayed?) with some kind of chemical liquid to prevent drying out, so they are not edible. Yeah, in a sense, it’s a big waste. But I would feel sad if they would quit this festival for that reason… This extravagance does cheer us up and attract tourists.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Saba No Miso-ni

Saba no miso-ni (Mackerel simmered in miso-based soup?)

Sorry. This is the kind of dish I can never post a recipe for. I repeated tasting and adding seasonings many times, and finally had to thin down the soup quite a bit :P