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helenjp

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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  1. helenjp

    Papaya - Ripe? Unripe? Help needed.

    Chamoe melon. There are a few Asian fruits that are not all that sweet - they can be very nice mixed with other fruit as a change of pace - try layering them with slices of something sweeter or stronger, or with a handful of sweet, dark grapes?
  2. helenjp

    Rice cookers for singletons

    Son gave his rice cooker to his girlfriend - he's currently using the smaller pressure cooker (2.5 liter) of a Fissler 2-pot pressure-cooker set. No soaking, bring up to high pressure, cook for 50-60 seconds, turn off, leave until pressure drops. Recipes often say 3 to 5 minutes, but with modern pressure cookers and small amounts of rice, some people just turn the pressure cooker off as soon as it comes to pressure, and generally 50 seconds at pressure is enough. As sons and nephews move in and out of Japan, we've tried microwave rice cookers (OK, not necessarily speedier), pot on stove (perfectly fine, if you have more than one burner so that you can cook something else while the rice does its stuff), and small electric rice cookers. I don't like the Black & Decker type shown upthread (with a loose glass lid rather than a clip-down lid) as they are a lot less efficient.
  3. helenjp

    Midsummer cooking event

    Dessert - had popcorn in reserve, but it wasn't needed. "Summer Santa" visited with a bag of ice-creams from a local chains.
  4. helenjp

    Midsummer cooking event

    So...I forgot to take even ONE photo - just too busy. We made: Cucumber agua fresca as an intro to cooking terminology in English. Gazpacho without bread (planned to make watermelon gazpacho, but watermelon appeared in a separate event earlier in the day) Tacos with option of fish and crosscut blade steak. Bottle of sweet chili Thai sauce for the not very adventurous Japanese palate! Mayo on offer, but the hot weather made it an unattractive choice. Tomato mango salsa - just a composite recipe Huge bowl of cabbage slaw with yogurt/mayo/lime juice & zest dressing, shreds of carrot and daikon (giant radish), and a good whack of cilantro. Kasia's salad with figs and white beans as a side * Cucumber cooler drink was a step too far - should have stuck to my first idea and made fresh lemonade with lemon balm. Those who did like it drank it all up, however! Didn't need the steak - the fish tacos were perfect for midsummer, and the hardened tacos eaters had not encountered fish tacos, so everybody headed straight for the fish. Sweet chili sauce was a popular and less messy alternative to the salsa. Authenticity be hanged... The slaw was the star - it went well in the tacos, but people ate bowl after bowl of it. I've made a lot of it at home this summer too - lettuce is just hopeless in the heat, can't even get it home from the supermarket in reasonable condition, supposing you can even find ball lettuce varieties in the supermarket. Idea came from a post somewhere in the salad or dinner threads, but after considerable searching, I can't find it ... sorry. Used 1 scant cup mayo and same of yogurt, zest and juice of 1 (possibly 2?) limes, black pepper, 1 carrot, 1 small daikon, good handful of cilantro, for 1 medium head of cabbage. The fig and white bean salad was probably the most difficult item for people to make, because it was hard for them to imagine what it was going to look like when complete (dressing/marinade combination was a challenging concept...especially with "bits" in!). I think that parsley was not the best choice for this, something like chervil or even mint may have been better). However, it looked pretty, and was particularly popular with the girls. Thank you for all advice - and recipes, hints etc!
  5. helenjp

    Figs!

    Egulleteer's Kasia has a recipe for white bean and fresh fig salad that I just had a bunch of students make at a summer camp. They were a bit heavy-handed with the parsley, which was a pity, but also with the blueberries, which work very well in this salad! We served it on a bed of small salad greens.
  6. Yes, it's triple-strength concentrate. To dip, add 2- parts water. To make a noodle soup, add 5-6 parts water.
  7. Nice to see all those cucumber pickles! I usually pickle mine in 3% brine for "a few days" - but it's been so hot I'm using 5% brine and even so, the little ones were ready in 24 hours. I couldn't get my camera far enough down my husband's throat to photograph them, sorry.
  8. Lots of great ideas! I make gazpacho often, and also like watermelon gazpacho...eat half fresh and make half into gazpacho for the next day. You can add a tomato or not, both ways are good. Rice cookers, break makers, slow cookers...bring 'em on, if they are well insulated, they keep the kitchen cooler. Especially in a small Japanese house with a waist-height oven...no way that is getting switched on until November! Making curd rice early in the day and eating it at lunch or dinner is good too. Love my pressure cooker in summer - tonight's dinner is a Filipino style chicken adobo - it's 6:30 pm and the temperature is still 95 degrees in the areas of the house that don't have A/C. The saltiness is good in the heat, the vinegar offsets the richness, and both help it keep a bit better. Really lean beef pressure cooked, allowed to cool in its own liquor, then refrigerated and served in THIN slices and drizzled with sesame oil over a salad is a favorite too. Sandwiches are good, but the truly lazy cook goes for bread salads. I add bread to a kind of "salted lettuce salad" . Tear lettuce, leave in a big bowl of water to crisp up about 20 minutes, drain, then EITHER just sprinkle with a half tsp of coarse salt and lightly rub in, OR rub in a little oil (Japanese sesame oil, olive oil, whatever you like) and then add a spoonful of miso and a pinch or two of coarse salt and lightly rub that in too. At this point I toss in a few bread cubes (toasted if you like) and let it all sit for a bit. Add herbs or torn pieces of nori or other seaweeds, onion, whatever, and you're good to go. Over the weekend we had a kind of Japanesified vege tortilla - grilled eggplants crushed with garlic, yogurt, and a little ground sesame seed, side by side with crushed spicy beans.
  9. helenjp

    Gardening: (2016– )

    Agree, George is a future Swallowtail butterfly. He or she will eat parsley, dill, carrot, and other umbelliferae, but I have never heard that they eat tomato leaves.
  10. helenjp

    Gardening: (2016– )

    No harm in being selective though! Swallowtails only lay eggs on parsley in my garden, and there is enough of that and to spare...or rather, by the time it starts going to seed (doesn't take long in my very dry garden), the caterpillars are the only ones who fancy it, so as long as I get enough good seed for next year, they're welcome.
  11. helenjp

    Filming Dinner

    Thanks for all the photos! Some things I've never seen before, others I haven't seen since I worked in a Chinese grocery many decades ago!
  12. helenjp

    Gardening: (2016– )

    A week after our monsoon season ended and temperatures rocketed up past 30C (into the 90sF), I am seeing buds on my snake beans ...cool and rainy today, tough, so not sure if they will set fruit or not. I love snake beans, because pests rarely bother them enough to actually destroy a plant or its harvest. Several of my bitter gourds are almost big enough to harvest, and even in the Deepest Darkest Shade where my vege planters are, a few enterprising tomatoes have actually managed to ripen. Zucchini are just lolling round wasting space, meanwhile... With high temps, life is getting hard for my container-grown silverbeet though. There seemed to be enough parsley for the plant to grow good seed, so I hadn't the heart to remove the numerous swallowtail caterpillars - I could actually see this guy's jaws moving!
  13. Just went to a soy sauce factory a few weeks back...they had "sniff pots" for various stages of the fermentation process. It smelt like miso, and also a bit like fermenting malt beer at first. So definitely more bread, beer, booze and less like feet...
  14. helenjp

    Midsummer cooking event

    Excellent ideas thank you! And the fish tacos also reminds me of South American rolls filled with vegetables and fried fish.
  15. helenjp

    Midsummer cooking event

    Your brilliant ideas wanted! I agreed to meet somebody to talk about the possibility of running a one-off "cook and eat your dinner" class in early August. Apparently that was tantamount to signing on the dotted line... So far, I am thinking of starting with a watermelon gazpacho that we all make together as we review kitchen & food safety basics, and then adding the fresh-made batch to a pre-chilled (some elements frozen?) batch so that we can serve it out straight away and get people into a relaxed mood...the more so because there won't be any alcohol (drinking age is 20 here). It has to be simple yet attractive. I'm wondering whether dessert should be packed and taken home for late night snacking, rather than served with dinner. Might bring a few pre-prepared items ...advice very welcome! * Here in Japan, late July - early August is an appetite killer (very high humidity, sudden rise in temperature, peak heat-stroke fortnight). * High heat / humidity = extra care with food safety * (hungry?) young college students, mostly 18-20 * Japanese eggplants are in peak season, and Japanese kabocha squash are good then too * The menu should be non-Japanese - it will be eclectic, certainly involving Nepalese food. * To be cooked and eaten within 3 hours * We have the use of a local community center kitchen - basic Japanese equipment plus an oven, but nothing fancy, and frankly, I am not sure we want to turn the oven on in August... * Hope to have enough cooks to split cooking into small groups of 3-5
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