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Everything posted by Cheeko

  1. Does anyone know the history of this cake? Was it Jell-o or an old magazine that came up with this pink concoction? The first time I had ever ate this cake was when I moved down to Florida a few years ago. I fell in love with it and just assumed it was a special concoction created by the restaurant that served it. When the restaurant removed it from the menu, I was crushed as I could not find it served anywhere else in town. Then I saw the Cook's Country (aka Cooks Illustrated) episode that revamped and educated me on this cake. Yesterday I tried out their recipe - delicious, even without the frosting. http://www.food.com/recipe/strawberry-dream-cake-cooks-country-487116
  2. I posted in the wrong topic - apologies - I meant to post in "Growing Japanese food plants & herbs" Gautam-san; thank you for all the information and advice. I'll dedicate the unopened earthbox for more lettuce and stick to traditional pots for the fall vegetables. The raised garden beds are now housing marigolds and a peanut plant (a thank you present from the squirrels that are fed by my housemate). Will follow through with the chop and sanitize and try them again next summer.
  3. Well I tried my hand at a bit of gardening over the past two summers and have come to appreciate the old "learn by your mistakes" method and the resources in this forum! I started out with sunflowers and since they didn't die, I became rather ambitious. I decided I wanted to grow some japanese vegetables. After some internet searching I found Kitazawa's website (I think it was already mentioned here in this thread) and purchased Kabocha ("sweet mama" variety), Kyoto Kujo Negi, Kyoto Red carrots, Kamo nasubi and Hakurei turnips. I built raised garden beds but made some big mistakes: not putting weed blocking at the bottom of the bed and using a commercial "gardening soil" without mixing it with some kind of perlite or vermiculite. The only things that did well in that effort were the turnips and the eggplant seedlings. I was surprised with the kamo eggplant. Despite warnings from mom that eggplants were "a pain in the neck" I found this plant to be very, very tough. After a summer of not producing a single flower, I left the plant to die while we went through our second summer of drought conditions. By fall, the plant was still alive, but bearing the most viscous thorns. I took it as a message to give the plant a second chance and started to water it daily and fed it some generic garden vegetable fertilizer. By December, the plant started to produce flowers and I was rewarded with three deformed, but indescribably delicious eggplant. Following my experience with the raised garden beds, I decided to try the eggplant and the kabocha in large pots out on my linai (the sun is better there during the fall, and the area is screened in and away from large pests). I switched over to organic potting soil and added vermiculite to the mix. I started using a seaweed and fish emulsion as fertilzer. The eggplant did much better in these conditions and produced 3 beautiful looking eggplants. After that I went out of town for two weeks and my husband forgot to water the plant. It was really sad because the plant had quite a few fruits waiting to ripen. The kabocha did extremely well until it produced its first fruit. Despite several efforts to fight powdery mildew, the plant said its farewell and I was left with two tiny little pumpkins. Right now, I'm trying out a few self-watering containers that have root/soil channels and a reservoir of water underneath the plant. The Kyoto Red carrots are loving it so far as is the varieties of lettuce I threw into the planter. I have yet to open up the fancy Earthbox I purchased in March partially because I can't decide on pak choi or more eggplant. Guess its time to by another planter!
  4. Could the chewiness also come from working the dough? I've made udon with AP flour and bread flour, even added more gluten to both, but didn't find a huge difference. I do the initial mixing in a food processor (yes, its cheating, but its so much faster and thorough). I've also heard that using mineral water can also affect the hip or bite of udon?
  5. I am envious - I can't wait for Autumn to show up here in Florida. I'll have to wait until late September to mail order chestnuts and then in November, the dried-up bitter ones will show up in the stores ... but I can't wait to smell kuri gohan again! I've been very lazy about making takikomi gohan from scratch, partly because of the selection of mushrooms in my area. I've resorted to kamameshi mixes by Yamamori - not bad and on occasion, I'll get a big slice of matsutake...but since I've never eaten a fresh or "proper" matsutake, I couldn't tell you how it really is Thinking about what to do for Tsukimi this year... I think there might be a potluck in store for that evening. I noticed that McDonald's has already announced the return of the tsukimi burger
  6. I've never tried Sakura Mochi before -- that is until today! Found them in the freezer case of the local Asian Grocery store. I haven't tried to make these simply because I can't find the pickled cherry leaves and (after having tasted them) can't make bean jam as tasty as this one. These won't last through the day
  7. Docchi no Ryouri, Kuitan, Haikei, Chichiuesama --thanks for the recommendations. I'll be looking for these online... Hiroyuki - just finished reading your wonderful blog!. Since the topic is now locked, I'll sneak a quick thank you here... BTW - has anyone seen the Movie I really enjoyed it... and was very hungry.
  8. Same photographer has a youtube video of him making nadeshikoshaped cakes. I also noticed the same nerikiri being made on this
  9. Cheeko

    Rice Cookers

    Zojirushi 10 cup IH - love it! Also has the feature for a GABA cycle for brown rice - "... a special cycle that activates the GABA in brown rice, increasing it to 150% of the level in nonactivated rice. This special cycle keeps the rice at about 104° F. for about 2 hours. Total GABA-cycle time is about 3 hours to 3 hours and 40 minutes, and along with increasing the GABA level, it also makes brown rice softer. "
  10. Cheeko


    Yes, I do... I also sneak in a little sesame/nori furikake. All due respect to Rosanjin, I think I will skip the 305+ stirs. My rice will get too cold
  11. I've been VERY curious about this particular comment of yours. What variety or brand of rice does your mother usually buy then..., in the United States?? ← Snob was probably the wrong word since she is interested in only one thing - taste. Once she's tasted a rice and she likes it, that's all she needs or wants to know. It doesn't matter if its short grain or medium grain. For instance, she is one of the most brutal judges of local sushi and Japanese restaurants that various family members have taken her to over the years. If they've messed up the rice, its all over. Doesn't matter how nice the meal was presented or how good the tempura was. Mushy rice, the meal is ruined. She's trained my husband quite well in this regard As for what she prepares for herself: when it is available, she choses Koda Farms True Varietal. After that, she usuallly buys what her local grocer recommends. He too, recommended the hitomebore and she tried it. Apparently it was a disaster. From what she described (cooked on the sides, raw in the center) I told her she needs to get a new rice cooker but the "damage" may already be done I'm happy to report she did purchase a new cooker, but I think I need to prod her into trying the hitomebore again.
  12. Sounds good to me How about kuri gohan with a side of simmered kabocha? Battling chestnuts... I ordered a new batch, this time definitely the American variety. ...and I also purchased this thing called a chestnutter. It at least removes the risk of injury when scoring the chestnut before cooking. It was very easy to use and it's success rate was pretty good. At least half of the chestnuts relinquished shell and "kawa" by hand. Only a token few but up that nasty battle. I'll be making kuri gohan again today, but I'm trying to decide whether or not to throw in some nice sweet potatoes that our local asian grocer was trying to get rid of before they start to shrivel away. Kristin - thanks for the link to the oni! When my nephew was about 4 years old, he went through a phase of dressing himself all in red clothes (red shirt, red shorts, red socks.) My mother kept calling him "akaoni" and he lived up to the name
  13. That's a lot of rice for one meal...at least for me. Once again, my favorite seller was offering a special deal on some shin mai. I tried a Californian koshihikari from the same distributor as the hitomebore. I don't know if it comes from the same producer, but the grains were much more consistent. It cooked up very nicely - light, fluffy, but not as good as the expensive Kumai Harvest. In hindsight, I feel much better for having splurged on that stuff. I think I am starting to appreciate the differences in the rice varietals I've used this Cali koshihikari for plain rice as well as takikomi gohan, but think it does best plain. The hitomebore is good plain, but really did well with the kuri gohan. Next rice to try (once we've eaten our way through the recent purchases) - akitaotome!
  14. Thanks for sharing these pictures and the experiences -- especially that tempura dinner and the kaori kama. It looked like it was delicious. So much nicer to see these pictures and read these entries than picking through a Fodor's guide
  15. Interesting -- by taste, I chose to use an unrefined sugar called sucanat. The molasses combines well with the soy and its "bitterness" adds something to the mirin (at least the stuff I use...) When I used regular sugar or even raw sugar, the taste was very flat.
  16. Honestly, I don't know. They didn't look like American chestnuts and since my memory fails me I can't really tell you about the flavors other than "they were tasty" They were also cheaper per pound than the Williams Sonoma offerings. Perhaps a domestic hybrid?
  17. Yes, and no. I have so much calrose rice left to use. Since my experience with both the imported Koshi Hikari and the domestic Hitomebore, I can't stand the calrose plain. It was pretty old (smells like the store I bought it from so I really have to rinse and soak) so I use it for these processed kamameshi mixes. They dress up the rice very nicely. Unfortunately, or fortunately the gomoku and kinoko kamameshi mixes are the only kinds I can find these days. If they had a kuri one, my hands would beg for it I also wanted to taste the real thing before I tried a mix or the jarred chestnuts they sell here around this time of year.
  18. I gave up waiting for them to show up in the store -- again, I found these online and am thinking about ordering more. They were quite good. Williams-Sonoma is also selling fresh chestnuts from their catalogue and internet if all else fails. They also have a scoring tool that I should probably invest in if I plan to keep making kuri gohan
  19. Sheena - buy them (I got them online at maruwa.com) before you commit yourself to the ordeal of trying to make them. They are basically small kasutera (castella) sponge cakes without the honey-water soak. I knew that if I went to the trouble of making kasutera, I would prefer a beautiful, full cake. I have seen some online short cuts where people use Japanese pancake mix (also available at maruwa), sweeten it up a bit and use that as the batter.
  20. Thanks to eGulleters for re-introducing this food to my daily diet The pictures and the tips inspired me try them all! I have to admit, the one version I was a little nervous about trying was the kuri-gohan. I have a vague memory of eating chestnuts from our backyard, but I was so young and I just couldn't remember the taste. I also worried about my hands - my profession does not allow for knicks and cuts to fingers. I was able to get kuri in time for tsukimi so I thought I'd give it a try. Scored and roasted them - glad I did because it filled the house with a wonderful smell -- a bit like the scent of cookies. No hand injuries and such a delicous dish! Tried some prepared Kamameshi mixes; nice for convenience. The first one was okay - pretty generic mushroom taste; not as good as "home-made." No abura age either The matsutake version was much better. Since I can't afford "real" matsutake, I might as well enjoy the processed kind??? No full slices like the picture on the box (isn't that always the case) but over all taste was very good.
  21. Love Kitkat bars and the "reviews" of the kabocha ones drove me to my naughty online sources. Found them and some chestnuts ones as well (little round ball varieties too). Pumpkin, wow. Those are really good (and taste like pumpkin, duh...) The chestnuts... delicious, but they taste like white chocolate, not chestnut. Another new fave: Suzukasutera. I thought about making them, but it's one of those food items that's a treat because you don't have to make it...
  22. I don't think so. Such a high percentage of defective rice grains would be intolerable in present Japan, where high-performance sorters are used at rice mills. The chalky parts of grains seem due to high temperature during grain filling (kouon toujuku in Japanese), but I don't know much about it. Did you know that Hitomebore is a cross between Koshihikari and Hatsuboshi (First Star)? This information may make your mother want to buy it. ← Your post made me wonder if the unusually hot conditions in California this summer might also have something to do with these white grains - then I found this strange little abstract on google. Hitomebore was considered to be moderately sensitive to heat, and its 1/2 parent Hatsuboshi was considered sensitive. I recall, it was a record-breaking hot summer in California. Mom is going to buy the rice after the enthusiastic thumbs-up from me. I warned her about the number of white and broken kernels, but I told her in the end, it still looked and tasted great. I'd tell her about its parentage, but my parents left Japan a few years before Koshi Hikari even became known. Varietal names wouldn't mean much to her. However, she is a big "rice-snob" so the actual product speaks for itself. It's actually a lot of fun for me to try these rice varieties (when I can find them and afford them) and then recommend them to her -- especially when a simple 'name' sets her off like hitomebore
  23. I missed it!! But glad to hear it appears to be a hit on these boards -- Congrats! FOOD NETWORK SCHEDULE for people like me who missed it Episode DC0100 - Las Vegas (repeat on November 23, 2006 4:00 PM ET/PT) Episode DC0101 - Philly AIR TIMES: October 24, 2006 10:30 PM ET/PT October 25, 2006 1:30 AM ET/PT November 23, 2006 4:30 PM ET/PT Episode DC0102 - Atlanta AIR TIMES October 31, 2006 10:30 PM ET/PT November 01, 2006 1:30 AM ET/PT Episode DC0103 - New York AIR TIMES: November 07, 2006 10:30 PM ET/PT November 08, 2006 1:30 AM ET/PT Episode DC0104 - DC AIR TIMES: November 14, 2006 10:30 PM ET/PT November 15, 2006 1:30 AM ET/PT
  24. My favorite online store was selling Californian Hitomebore (shinmai) at a good price. I decided that the shipping costs were worth the chance to try this love-at-first-sight rice. My mother had seen it at her local Asian Grocer and she said she was curious but thought the name was too stupid to buy -- that's mom for you. Anyway, her grocer had told her he liked it better than the Koda varietal and she was thrilled to hear that I'd be trying it as soon as it was shipped. Initially I had a few worries - there seemed to be a large percentage of broken and chalky grains. Is this characteristic for shinmai? Another drawback of the world of mail order. I used the rice for my first attempt at kuri gohan since Hitomebore is reputed to be close to glutinous rice in its texture. My mother might think its a stupid, corny name, but I have to admit it did cook up rather nicely. Unlike the pearl-like Koshi Hikari, this rice looked almost transparent when I first opened up the rice cooker. It was stickier than the Koshi Hikari but it was just as light/fluffy and not mushy at all. Once it cooled down, again, it showed its true beauty The bite was perfect. I can understand why this rice is considered perfect for onigiri and sushi.
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