Friday, July 31, 2009

Souvenirs from Japan

Wednesday was the first day in...oh, I don't know, a year, possibly 2 that I actually bothered to pack a Mr. Bento lunch and I forgot to take a photo. Nuts! Also, we discovered during a lunchtime walk that there is such a thing as a cupcake truck. It's a brilliant idea, and I'm only annoyed I didn't think of it myself. I would show you a photo of the teeny red velvet cupcake I got (minis are a buck) camera. But you can check out Cupcake Stop for yourself and see when they'll be near you!

In the meantime, my mom went to Japan recently and brought back all kinds of delicious snackies:


I love the packaging on this. Most of the snacks were variations on mochi, a chewy, sticky confection made out of glutinous rice flour. This box contained a whole lot of mini mochis.

mini mochi


They are wee and cute (a driving force in my life, if you haven't noticed already). The box came with four flavors, black sesame, green tea dusted with soy powder, strawberry (I think), and I can't remember the last flavor.


There was also an assortment of what I'm calling mochi dumplings; I've never seen anything like these before, and they were actually a little bit weird to me in texture. Not my favorite, although the black sesame was pretty tasty.


This is my favorite of the snacks--White Melody sandwich cookies. Again, beautifully packaged (and per the package wording "splendid in taste".)


It's two tuiles sandwiched with white chocolate, which I'm normally not a fan of, but together with the cookies...let's just say I wish I had a few more boxes.


Tea and tea snacks. Quite a haul, huh?


Not to forget though, this awesome amulet (I believe they are called omamori) from Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. There's a little tablet inside it with a Buddhist prayer for good luck/protection. I have it hanging at my desk at work and so far, I've resisted the urge to open it up to see the tablet.

And that's that! We are off on a camping trip shortly (my first one); I am greatly looking forward to setting marshmallows on fire.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Yup, it's summer

First corn of the season

Well, summer is definitely here, if the awful humidity today is any indication. I'm not crazy about hot weather and mugginess makes it that much worse, especially on the subway platforms! So you sweat through the commute and then freeze in the office. Fun times!

Anyway, it's not all complaints. For one thing, all the local summer fruits are starting to appear in the markets. And for another, we got 6 ears of delicious, juicy, fresh corn in this week's CSA pickup and I ate one for dinner tonight, simply boiled quickly with a little salt/pepper/butter. So good. I went through a phase where I refused to eat corn on the cob (which I blame on Children of the Corn) and I'm making up for lost time now. There are 5 more ears waiting and I'll do my best to restrain myself from eating all of them and not sharing....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Has anyone seen my baking-fu?


I think I am in a serious post-vacation rut. It's been really hard to get back into the swing of work (which I guess might be a sign of burnout) and generally speaking, I feel kind of...blah. I'm actually pretty busy but I sort of wish I could just curl up and hibernate for a while.

The blahness has even extended to my baking. I am just not feeling very excited about it. For starters, it's too hot now to turn the oven on much--one of the big downsides to our apartment is that turning the oven on heats the whole place. So, I either have to wait for a cooler day or do my baking early in the morning or late at night. The net result is that I am just not baking very much.


So it's super frustrating that I DID actually have plans to make some little desserts to bring to a party and it was just a big giant pile of fail. The plan was to make mini raspberry cream chocolate tarts, and at first everything seemed to be going fine--the pastry cream and tart dough both came together very quickly and all I really had to do to finish was to blind bake the tart cases and fold raspberries into the pastry cream. I made the tart cases in my mini-muffin pan (shocking) and they seemed to bake up just fine, with none of the shrinking or cracking that I sometimes get....but the shells, when cool, were SUPER fragile. But since they were meant as single bite desserts, I thought that perhaps this would not be a big problem.

Then I retrieved my pastry cream and it had chilled into a solid mass! I mean, really solid. Like, play-doh solid. I ran the immersion blender through it, which loosened it up (especially once I added the raspberry puree) was a little lumpy and not silky smooth like pastry cream usually is. Sigh. But okay, I can pretend the lumps are raspberry seeds. So, I put together a test tart with a spoonful of cream and a raspberry on top and presented it to Sir Didymus...and as soon as he took it, it fell apart in his hand (and all over the floor). GRRR!!!! Well, at least they look nice in the photos and they taste okay.

So, to cut this already too-long tale short, I left the desserts at home and we bought a bottle of sake instead. Phooey. And now I have shattery tart shells and lumpy pastry cream languishing in my fridge. Suggestions for using them up would be MUCH appreciated!

(I'm not going to share the recipes here since they did not produce very good results for me. I mean, it was probably my fault but I want to tweak them...if I ever dare make this again.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Still kicking


No, I haven't forgotten about this blog--I've just been busy with getting back into the swing of work after (our awesome) vacation to Vancouver and the Olympic Peninsula! Not to mention sorting through the hundreds of photos I took (surprisingly few of them involved food, I am sad to report). I know this is a ostensibly a food blog but I'll be making a couple of vacation related posts in the near future (in addition to some back-dated baking posts).

In the meantime our wonderful CSA program is in full swing and we are overwhelmed with lovely, organic vegetables, like the carrots above. Sir Didymus* is currently making them into soup along with some spring onions and some cabbage and it smells amazing. I think we're going to be eating pretty well (and healthily!) this summer!