Friday, October 31, 2008


Obachan's Halloween Cookies 2008

Anyone worried about me not posting much lately? You thought that I lost interest in cooking and/or baking? Oh, don't you ever worry about that.

As I wrote before, for Halloween of 2008, I was determined to make cut-out cookies using cute Halloween cookie cutters. And I wanted two colors -- pumpkin yellow and chocolate. So I made the pumpkin cookie dough using the same recipe as last year and rolled it out and cut it out into these pumpkins and ghosts. But unfortunately, these flat ones did not taste as good as the ball-like ones; They were bland, and the texture was not very impressive (at least to me) when they were thin. And the taste of these chocolate cookies was a bit disappointing, too. So I decided not to bring these cut-out cookies to Halloween party at the language school I work for.

Then I made the same pumpkin cookies as I made last year.

These turned out fine, but I didn't bring them to the party, either.

Instead, I made and brought these...

Mini-pumpkin muffins

... mini-pumpkin muffins to the Halloween party. Oh I loved them so much. Again, the recipe is from a Japanese recipe site, and it was one of those light-tasting, not-too-sweet muffin recipes that Japanese people love, so I couldn't help giving it a twist or two; I added some almond powder, cinnamon and a small amount of vegetable whipping cream. The muffins turned out great with this lovely bright orangish-yellow color !

I'm not quite sure if those who came to the party really loved my muffins, because those Japanese people (I mean, moms who came with the kids) could force themselves to eat something they don't like just to be polite to the school staff (me). Anyway, anyhow, my muffins were all gone at the end of the party and I would never find out if it was politeness or real fondness. Well, at least no one was brought to the hospital after eating them, and that is enough for me. ;)

There was nothing really special about my Halloween 2008... I didn't even go to the late-night costume party which I attended almost every year until 2006. But looking at these cookie photos makes me feel happy and warm inside, so I guess it was worth making them. :)


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Garden Report - October 2008 -

My Sunshine Blue is going to survive! :D

It's kinda hard to believe that I used to post garden report monthly. I guess I'm getting older and lazier. :P

Anyway, as you see, about one third of my blueberry plant looks dead. It was the crazy summer heat that caused this trouble. But the lower part seems OK, so I think this baby is going to survive and give me a handful of berries next year. (I removed the dead part after taking this shot.)

Sweet Marjoram and Mint

They never die. No matter what. Amazing.

Young Mizuna

And I'm looking forward to using this mizna for nabe (hotpot dishes) this winter. ;)


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preparation, Again...

Kabocha Pumpkin & Cookie Cutters

Maybe some of you readers remember that I was trying out a pumpkin cookie recipe in mid October last year to prepare for a Halloween party ? Yep, it's time again. Like I did last year, I'm going to -- well, at least hoping to be able to -- bake some pumpkin cookies for the party at the language school I work for. This year, I'm going to use the same recipe but make cut-out cookies. Let's see how my attempt turns out in about 10 days. :)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Store-bought Mont Blanc

Store-bought Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc is my absolute favorite, but I have never tried making one myself.

See inside?

This one consisted of sponge(?) cake at the bottom and layers of whipping cream and chocolate sponge cake, covered with chestnut cream and topped with whipping cream, a piece of bitter chocolate and a chervil leaf. Another fluffy, not-too-sweet dessert which disappeared VERY quickly.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

When I Need Healing -2

Chicken Curry @Masala in Ya-Shii Park, Yasu cho, Kochi, Japan

No, it's not that chicken curry is included in my list of "things that heal me." This curry was a total whim. The main purpose of the afternoon was to try out the two things that are on the list: 1) listening to the sound of the waves and 2) lying on the grass (in the shade) and looking up the blue sky. Sounds good? But there aren't many places where I can do both 1) and 2) at the same time. I knew only one place, which was this seaside park called Ya-shii Park.

From this angle, probably you can tell that I was lying on the grass when I took this shot.

Onigiri (rice balls) Bento I brought to the beach

This was not included in my original plan. I decided to bring lunch with me at the very last minute, and this was probably the simplest bento I've ever made. I just put chopped pickles in these rice balls, and pan-fried the pork after seasoning it with miso and mirin. You have to give me credit for making all these within approximately 5 minutes. Really.

And you ask me, "You brought onigiri lunch AND had the chicken curry, too?" The answer is YES. Believe me, those rice balls were very small, and I got hungry again real easily after relaxing in the gentle breeze and taking these photos for about half an hour.

Then I remembered that there was a good curry place there in the park. I peeked in my wallet and found just enough money to buy the cheapest most affordable chicken curry, so I thought it was the sign telling me to go for it.

A view from the curry place.

I love their naan.

The breakfast the other day was certainly nice. And spending an afternoon like this also heals.