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helenjp

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by helenjp

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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...
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. helenjp

    What's New in Kitchen Gadgets?

    You can use it to carry a raw egg and then remove it from the case to cook lunch for enterprising cyclist . But in that case, the ordinary kind of fully-enclosed egg case seems like a better choice!
  9. helenjp

    What's New in Kitchen Gadgets?

    The fact that you can boil them in the cases is just a handy extra - the selling point is that you put the egg in the case, boil it, and then you can put it straight in your lunchbox, where the case stops the shell from getting crushed in transit (those commuter trains...). I can't find any claim that boiling the eggs in cases makes it any easier to boil eggs, but you never know. P.S. There is a separate kind of case for microwaving eggs!
  10. helenjp

    What's New in Kitchen Gadgets?

    NO no no no! Those "cases" are to hold PEELED hardboiled eggs for your lunchbox! I mean! What else could they be for?!!!! I was wrong about the "peeled" part - you are supposed to just carry the HB egg in its shell in the case (double packaging???).
  11. If I were just eating it and not cooking it, I think Fucha Ryouri (Fucha Buddhist Temple Cooking) is always interesting - so much care given to mouthfeel. But possibly too rich for every day. Generally, I think it is the techniques as much as the individual recipes that inspire: the combination of nuts/seeds with bitter greens; the use of thickeners to allow delicate flavors to linger; the physical layering of flavors in mildly fermented pickles; the use of agar gels with sauces to separate interesting flavors... I really hope this thread continues, because I think it will have a slow burn - so many people don't divide their worlds into vegan or non-vegan that it may take a while to come up with the goods.
  12. helenjp

    MasterChef offends Malaysians

    There's a reason why it's popular - my mother got keen on Malaysian and Indonesian cooking long ago, but rendang was the one she was still making a decade later, partly because it is the perfect dish for a crowd. Rich, a bit sour, aromatic... If you want to use desiccated coconut, take a hard look at the quality - it often seems old, dry, and tasteless in western supermarkets.
  13. helenjp

    Potato Puree, Mashed Potatoes, Pommes

    Stampot! When spring greens start to appear in the stores but the weather is still chilly, it's a wonderful combination of mashed potato (sometimes with onion or turnip added, maybe some flecks of carrot) mashed together with the usual seasonings and a generous amount of strong-flavored greens like turnip tops, parsley etc. My potato box had fewer potatoes in it than I thought, so we had a weekend dinner of stampot served with mashed taro (the small Japanese sato-imo type). Most of the greens plus some crispy bits of friend pork and onions went into the taro mash, while the potato mash had more carrot than usual to pretty it up.
  14. Love the springlike greens with white! Since it was raining, I did what should only be done in fine weather - made rakugan (Japanese "dry" sweets - mixture of sugar and any of a variety of cooked flours, with just enough moisture to hold together in a small mold). Powdered sugar + kanbaiko (sticky rice cakes baked at low temp and made into flour) + powdered dried salted cherry blossom = wonderful flavor but too sweet Trad fine brown sugar (not quite wasanbon but close) + kanbaiko + kinako (toasted soybean flour) = really hard to manage because of the fat content of the soybean flour, seemed uninteresting at first bite, but way too more-ish (not too sweet) trad fine brown sugar + jonanko (sticky rice steamed, dried, and made into flour) = the perfect melt in your mouth powdery texture (no photo). I've always used kanbaiko so I was really surprised that jonanko made such a difference. Sorry photos are not so great, I just snapped a couple to annoy absent son!
  15. Rooibos! Because it's good hot, and just as good when it gets cold.
  16. When it's hot I definitely start pickling and stop baking. Pickled/quick fermented salad = good. Or boil at night, marinade overnight for next day's lunch or dinner.
  17. helenjp

    Japanese curry

    Absolutely and utterly Japanese rice. Doesn't mean you can't have whatever rice you prefer, of course.
  18. helenjp

    Ingredient translation request

    Tokyo Tower Peach & Berry Tea (Flavored Black/Indian Tea) Ingredients: Black/Indian tea, sugar?, pink peppercorns, heath-flower, elder flower, flavoring, Monascus purpureus coloring Countries of origin: Vietnam, India, Korea The only doubt I have is that the term "arare" COULD be either tiny balls of toasted rice flour dough, or tiny balls of sugar. The picture I saw on the internet seemed to have only pink peppercorns, so I am guessing "sugar" rather than "toasted crunchy bits", but your friend will be able to confirm by taking a closer look.
  19. I suffer from the small kitchen problem too. I have a very small wooden box with a slotted lid that I store potatoes in. That doubles as a step when needed, but mostly, I keep stuff in high cupboards in plastic bins with grab handles on front, small enough to contain only a moderate amount of stuff, so not too heavy to yank one off a high shelf.$1 store plastic file holders on their sides make good dividers for flat items, and can be slid forward very easily.
  20. If you can't have a cat, you can always ask friends for used kitty litter from time to time and put it in a box where you hear/see mice... Actually, I just remembered that one day many decades ago as I was pointlessly releasing a field mouse that I had caught in my apartment into the garden at the back of the building, a long-term tenant apologized for not keeping up to date with her voodoo. She said that she usually got a chicken and voodooed around the property once every few years to discourage rodents and underwear thieves, but that she felt that her voodoo didn't "stick" quite as effectively as her mother's used to. So that's another option!
  21. Because it costs a lot to run even a small electric oven in Japan, I use my bread machine almost daily. I currently have a Panasonic SD-BMT2000. It is the first Panasonic bread maker I have owned and I love it. Experimenting - go ahead and FAIL!!!!! There is no other way. I use Japanese whole wheat flours a lot, and the protein content, ash content, and granulation size is so different for each manufacturer that I could never give a fail-safe all-purpose formula. The nearest I could get is to recommend looking at the dough during the initial knead, and deciding how wet you like your dough at that stage - then adjusting liquid for new recipes to suit. One thing I like about the Panasonic is the timer setting: it mixes wet and dry immediately and leaves the mix to rest before adding yeast and continuing with the main breadmaking steps. For whole wheat doughs, being able to add this step in is a big plus.
  22. helenjp

    Nukazuke Pickling

    Rakuten seems to offer it - I just searched for "Yamazen rice". And Amazon.de sells rice bran all ready for making nukazuke! I have no way to tell how well a rice polisher could handle other grains - I have never seen husked but unpolished wheat or barley for sale here.
  23. Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean the scale of the dairy market, I meant to say that the number of primary sector producers of dairy products is small!
  24. I agree, it's da economy. As East Asian countries consume more meat and dairy, opportunities for PROCESSED dairy products (preferably made from cheap imported milk powder, milk fats, or whey) also increase. Dairy imports - China Soft cheeses like camembert are especially lucrative, and certainly Japan has been keen to find reasons to reduce imports of those soft cheeses, while encouraging domestic brands to take up the slack. Tariffs all over 20%, with some ready-to-eat products like flavored yogurts and soft cheeses attracting 45% in import duties. Maybe in China too, the dairy producers tend to be (ex?) public or semi-public corporations that are big enough to exert political pressure to gain red-blooded protection for the tinsy tiny domestic dairy industry. For a few years, this situation made it almost impossible to buy retail butter - imports seemed to have disappeared from ordinary supermarkets, while domestic butter supplies were either funneled into the big cake and confectionery manufacturers, or released only as "butter-added" spreads and margarines. Japanese camembert has certainly improved, just as well, as imported soft cheese is too rich for my budget. I don't anticipate seeing anything more adventurous than fresh mozzarella and camembert though. The "bacteria" thing is a biggie though - natto in Japan or stinky tofu in China is fine, fermented milk products suspicious, and fresh meat sausages and salami obviously part of a fiendish western plot...
  25. Strawberry Spinach - that's a relative of Lamb's Quarters/Fat Hen. Although in Japan it seems to die back in winter, I think Tetragon (warrigal greens) is a real southern hemisphere perennial vegetable if ever there were one. The stems can be very fibrous, so I just use the leaves and tips, but it grows everywhere, and insects rarely do more than nibble. I have it growing in a very narrow, dry strip of dirt running along the shady side of my house. It's less than 30 cm wide, in a trench between the concrete foundations of the house and a concrete retaining wall, and beneath it run all the plumbing and gas pipes. It's so dry that even geraniums struggle for a toe-hold, but rosemary and tetragon are quite undaunted. While not perennial, I love Malabar Spinach (basella alba) for similar reasons. It is one of those slightly slimy Asian greens that are considered cooling in summer. It self seeds yearly and thrives on neglect. Between the two, there are always enough green vegetables in my sad little garden to pad out a lunch box.
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