Rainbow batter

I’m not really good in the kitchen, so when I try out things I need all the help I can get. As you can see Betty Crocker was very helpful with this project:
The recipe on the back of the box just called for egg whites, but I’m not good at separating the yolk from the white, so I bought a carton of egg whites at the supermarket and used that instead. I made the batter and divided it over six bowls:
I added tiny amounts of food coloring (this stuff is really strong) to each bowl to create these six different colors:
I spooned the batter into cupcake papers. You’re only supposed to fill the cupcake papers for about 75% but I wanted all six colors in each cupcake, so I ended up overflowing the papers with way too much batter:
I was already in love with all the colors at this point, and was hoping that they would still be pretty after their stint in the oven. Come back tomorrow to see how these cupcakes turned out!

What’s baking?

This week I’m taking “What’s cooking?” literally and I’m really cooking something, or rather baking. I’m trying to make some rainbow cupcakes right now. I’ll blog my cakemix to cupcake soon! Here’s a preview:

My first pdf pattern!!

I’m so happy! I finally finished my first PDF pattern! It doesn’t even matter to me that I didn’t make my February deadline for this. I started working on this in September and it was so much work, mostly on the computer, that I kept procrastinating. So when my physical therapist told me I needed that break from sewing, I knew it was time to finish it. I can’t believe I did it!

Before being able to put it in my Etsy shop I had one more struggle with Adobe left, because it refuses to properly display PDFs created on a Mac. I sent the PDF to Yasu’s Windows computer and was shocked and frustrated to see what Adobe did to my hard work and my pretty vector images. It took me a couple of hours but I figured out a workaround via iPhoto which satisfied me. Pfew.

My PDF pattern and tutorial is nine pages long and includes a printable pattern template, a materials and tools list, a step by step picture guide (completely sewn by hand), and stitches guide.

I’m really happy with the end result, and I’m definitely going to make more patterns and tutorials. Just hope they don’t take as long as this one…

How-to cook Japanese curry (by Yasu)

Have your wife send you a box of curry roux from Japan when you’re living with your inlaws in the Netherlands. Then forget to cook it before your wife also comes to the Netherlands and you move to the States. Then have your wife bring the box with her on the airplane when she follows you to the States a week later. Then wait three months before finally using it.
Put on your wife’s pretty apron. Then chop onions, carrots and potato. Then stir-fry them in oil. Then add bite-sized beef and stir-fry it along with the veggies.
At the same time boil eggs in a frying pan, the Yasu-way, and they’ll turn out perfectly.
Add water. Then occasionally stir while you let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Check out what’s inside the box of curry roux. 
Add the chocolate-looking curry to the pan and stir. Then stir some more until it looks like this:
Don’t forget to smell and taste the curry along the way to check if it’s really what you want it to be.
Serve the curry on steamed white rice with the boiled eggs and some sliced cucumber when you don’t have actual tsukemono (Japanese pickles).
 Admire your dinner and wait for your wife to complement your cooking.
Then eat!

How-to Kaitenzushi

They do things differently in Japan, and they have a proper way to do everything with numerous unwritten rules. Although I wouldn’t be surprise if there was this huge library somewhere in Tokyo filled with rulebooks telling the Japanese how to do everything, because if there is something the people in this country love its rules and they all abide by them without asking questions. Of course, rules also apply to consuming food and I like teaching you about the food rules I encounter. Like how to cook nabe-for-one, how to prepare your food at a kushiage restaurant, how to correctly eat Yamachan’s tebasaki and how to get the onigiri out of its package without the whole thing falling apart. Today: kaitenzushi a.k.a. conveyor belt sushi a.k.a. the sushi-go-round.
Step 1: Go to a kaitenzushi place (I recommend Kurazushi), get seated, and take a plate off the conveyor belt, preferably with something on it that looks attractive to your taste buds.
Step 2: When you don’t find what you want on the conveyor belt, feel free to order the missing thing with the little computer hanging over your table. Some Japanese skills are required though, but not too much, because I can kind of do it too.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you’ve gathered a sizable collection of delectable-looking sushi on your table.
Step 4: There is box, with a see-through lid, on the table which contains a lot of wooden sticks. Which are, yes you guessed it right, chopsticks. Take some out of the box, because it’s not ok to just stuff the sushi in into your mouth with your hands, no matter how much fun it may seem.
Step 5: The chopsticks are like Siamese twins and conjoined at the ass, so you have to hold one in each hand and start pulling. Be careful as you don’t want any wood splinters flying about that might endanger your eyes or more importantly your sushi.
Step 6: Use all your strength and yell out an intelligent warrior cry (I recommend ‘Oowey’) at the final effort of actually separating the chopsticks. If you are too weak to do this, you could also just use two pairs of still conjoined chopsticks to eat your sushi.
Step 7: They have two kinds of soy sauce, regular (which is a little bit salty) and sweet, make your choice and add that to your sushi (I recommend a mixture of the two).
Step 8: If you are like me and you like your food spicy, then locate the little pot filled with green wasabi and use the miniature spoon to scoop some up and add it to your soy sauce.
Step 9: Now hold your chopsticks together and quickly move it around circularly in the soy sauce and wasabi, a.k.a. mixing the two. Don’t forget to enjoy the highly entertaining action.
Step 10: Open your chopsticks again and hold them in the pick-up-food position. Put the end of each of your chopsticks on the opposite sides of your sushi, squeeze and lift up your hand and with it your sushi moves from the plate.
Step 11: Move your hand in such a way that the sushi is transported from your plate to your open mouth and insert the sushi. Close your mouth, chew (without making any sounds please) and swallow, this whole process may be recognized by some as eating.
Step 12: Keep repeating step 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 until you’ve emptied all the plates and then the real fun can start: clearing the table of plates! There’s a hole under the conveyor belt where you dump all your plates either gently or try to throw them in from a distance. There is a small Japanese clerk waiting in the basement to count the number of plates you throw at him and he communicates that back to the little ordering computer above your table. This information then enables the waitress to write you a check for the right amount. Pay when you leave at the cash register strategically placed next to the exit and that’s how you do kaitenzushi in Japan!

More pictures

How-to Onigiri

The first time I tried onigiri I totally screwed up opening the package and there was yakinori everywhere. So the second time I asked someone Japanese for help and discovered how easy it really is when you know how to do it. So in an effort to help people to not make a mess of their first onigiri, if they ever come to Japan, this is how it’s done:

Step 1: Go to a konbini or supermarket and buy something called an onigiri. This actually translates to rice ball, but as you can see it’s not as much round as it is triangular.
Step 2: Grab the piece of plastic that has the number 1 on it and start pulling.

Step 3: Carefully pull it all the way around and off.
Step 4: Grab the piece of plastic that has the number 2 on it and start pulling.

Step 5: Carefully pull it all the way off.
Step 6: Grab the piece of plastic that has the number 3 on it and start pulling.

Step 7: Carefully pull it all the way off.
Step 8: Admire the result of your careful plastic pulling.

Step 9: Put part of the onigiri in your mouth, bite, chew, enjoy the taste and swallow.
Step 10: Inspect the filling of your onigiri to make sure you got what you wanted and not something scary, like pig intestines. Then repeat step 9 over and over until the onigiri is gone.

How-to Yamachan

Nagoya is famous for its tebasaki (chicken wings). And Yamachan is a famous chain restaurant with the most delicious chicken wings ever, as its specialty. Yamachan has stores all over Nagoya and sometimes they’re ridiculously close to each other. We were taking a walk in the area behind AEON Honbu today (simply because we hadn’t seen it yet), and found four different Yamachans in one (small) block, two of them were even in the same street, on the same side of that street, separated by just one other building! And somehow they all stay in business.

Maybe that’s because their food is really good, especially those chicken wings, I’ve been there a couple of times and the Yamachan izakaya never disappoints. They also have their own brand of beer and liquor, but I’m not so interested in those, I go there for the tebasaki. There are no Yamachans in the Kansai region, so tonight we had dinner at Yamachan again, just because soon it won’t be that easy anymore. And of course, the food was great again, and yes we did order things besides the chicken wings. But somehow I always end up wondering why we order stuff too, because nothing tops those scrumptious chicken wings, not even salmon sashimi.

Mr. Yamachan himself explains how to properly eat his tebasaki on the back of the chopsticks package (and on his website), but it’s in Japanese:

The pictures do make it easier for non-Japanese speakers to understand, but just in case it’s still a bit unclear, Yasu will show you how it’s done:

Step 1: Take one piece of chicken wing from the huge pile you undoubtedly ordered at Yamachan.
Step 2: Use both hands to wiggle both sides of the wing up and down, up and down, and up and down.
Step 3: All the wiggling in the previous step will have made it possible to separate the wing tip (the small part with very little meat) from the wingette (the bigger part with all the good meat).

Step 4: Enjoy the taste of the moist and spicy meat on the wingette, by biting into the meat, chewing and swallowing it.
Step 5: Repeat step 4 until you’ve eaten everything but the bones of the wingette, admire the naked bones.
Step 6: Find the earlier discarded wing tip and prepare yourself mentally.

Step 7: Try to eat the small amount of meat on the wing tip, or just suck and crunch it to enjoy the taste.
Step 8: Line up the bones on your plate, because Mr. Yamachan says so on the chopsticks package, and let’s face it, it’s fun.
Step 9: Sprout wings and fly away, unfortunately Yasu hasn’t quite mastered the art of sprouting wings yet and his back still looked very normal after eating the tebasaki.

More pictures