Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kamite Sister's Latin Dance Party

Here are some pics of the event we attended the other evening.  The Kamite Sisters organized this "dance party" for all their dance students to perform what they've learned.  You can imagine the kids went bezerk with excitement.  We added 2 princesses to our 6 (not so princessy offspring) & ended up with a van load of 8 excited kids taking turns singing their school anthems at the top of their lungs, starving for snackies & desperate to know the real question we all want to know in life "ARE WE THERE YEEEEEET?"

 So yeah, we got there, & here's a few pics of how it went (stole some pics off of the Dancing Sister's blog, tx):
Hanging out in the dressing room, talking about important childhood issues no doubt.
Getting beautified!
Everyone including a super-dandy-coordinated-husband-of-friendliness-&-love learning some samba moves from the teachers. 
A terribly excited Hunter watching everyone dance
Ryan & Nattie
Laner & Keith
Drinking ungodly amounts of juice for which they paid for dearly by doing the famous "I-gotta-go-pee-dance" & I practiced my old faithful dance better known as "how-many-kids-can-you-ferry-to-the-bathroom-in-an-hour". 
Kids & their dance teachers.  Some suspiciously tired looking smiles there.  All in all it was a great memorable evening.  And just for future reference if all 8 kids ask you if you if they can take off their shoes & socks in the van after a long sweaty day of dancing around......JUST SAY NO!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Am I serious.?.......course I am!

I'm dedicating this one to a dear Chris-in-law.  No doubt if you can tell me what this is on sight then you (like) me have a pure understanding at the simple intricacies that make the world go roun' n' roun'!  What I'm talking 'bout of course, is good ol' fashion chicken cracklin'. 

Now I'm not gonna beat around the bush here, there are plenty of people who would be totally grossed out by this but I'm gonna have to at least give it a shout.  A friend of mine watching me de-skin chicken once told me that in China they chop chicken skins & deep fry them for snackies.  Now, you know & I know in the back of our little kitchen brains that cracklin' is an actual dish people make & eat but the thought of actually eating chicken skin for the sake of chicken skin always leaves me feeling a little, how do you say......gross.  But being the genius that I am (AKA, perpetual kitchen grazing munchie) tried & decided that it was indeed fantastic.

Now, why Chris?  When we lived together & I'd be making chicken he'd weasle his way into the kitchen & beg me to make him a batch of these crunchies for him to snack on.  Like seriously beg, in a whiny little way, and I of course would give in.  (Model SIL, I know)

But gotta try it.  There are only 3 rules here:

-  Slice the skin into thin 1 cm strips (nothing worse than actually getting chewy fat)
- Put a little oil in the pan for starters, though most of the grease will come from the drippings
- Make sure your pan is not too hot & preferably in a cast iron skillet (to keep the heat at a regulated temp, I got me a tiny little one)
- Salt, serve & eat when they've just cooled enough to get that CRUNCH going! 

So stone me, puritans if you must. But I gotta tell you, if you know someone who gripes & whines about "chicken fat", slip them a batch of these & then point your finger & laugh as they sit there munching away & you tell them what it is.

Go forth, brave cooks!  Come on now, I know secretly that picture of those shiny, crispy, salt crystal covered babies look totally eatable.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Face care: Oatmeal & Almond scrub

Well, if you know me I'm sure you saw this one coming. Having shamelessly tomboyed my way through the phase of my "girlyness" where you obsess about everything facial & beauty related I've just started to find some fun in making my own products in the kitchen. It would stand to reason if you're an aspiring cook with lots of ingredients in the kitchen that you'll find a lot of good ways to bash & mash things up to benefit your skin. Plus there's something very generic to making something from scratch that's useful & beautifying. So I may post more of these if you like or I may just get lost into my very own giant pile of dirty dishes and forget I have a face at all.

In any case I'm itching to share it, so here's how we roll. If you don't have a mortar & pestle like this (got it at Ikea) you can always use the Japanese type or blender even? Grab a tbsp or 2 of oatmeal & a few almonds. Bash it all up. If you want a face scrub leave it a little more coarse, if you want a face mask keep grinding it till it's powdery.
Now here' the part where you can add your liquid. I usually use milk but when my skin is really dry I use EV olive oil or grapeseed oil. Pour the liquid slowly cuz' it goes from goopy spread to runny difficult to use mess pretty quickly. If I u do add too much liquid & don't want to bother mashing up anymore oats, u can do what I always do & add sugar to thicken it up again.

So there you go. Wet your face & either use it as a scrub or leave on your face for a5-10 min as a mask. If you're using a mask console your children that you do not indeed have leprosy. Rinse off & finish your face off with some toner & moisturizer. You'll see that you're skin will be ridiculously soft & good looking.

And if you have any left over...don't forget to grab yourself an unsuspecting husband or wandering neighbor on the street & treat them to a good facial exfoliater. You may not want to exfoliate more than 2 times a week (of course it depends on your skin type) but too much of a good thing can leave you with skin stripped of natural oils and looking dull & dry. Ewww! Grosso!

So that's it for today, lovely followers. Hope you're making your "last soups" of the season before spring comes around.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gaijin Friendly Hijiki Salad & Anchovy Dressing

In each of my pregnancies I would more often than not turn up to be anemic & have fantastically dramatic kitchen/ofuro/jam-packed-train fainting spells so when it comes to hijiki it usually reminds me a little too much of being a substitute for iron supplements.  Along with spinach & liver of course.  I've only eaten it in the usual way simmered with thinly chopped abura-dofu, carrots, konyaku & soybeans.

I found this recipe in my "Harumi's Home Cooking" cookbook and finally tried it out.  I think it's the perfect introduction to hijiki for anyone whose never tasted it & therapeutic for anyone who has bad memories of gritty smooshy black goop.  It's so basic that when you think about it, all it really is comprised of is tossing a salad with hijiki.  And the dressing is one that I'd definitely make for any other salad, thankfully all my kids love anchovies too.  Here's the basic recipe:

10-20 grams of dried hijiki
a variety of vegitables, lettuce, celery, carrots, cucumbers & onions to taste

Anchovy Dressing:

10g anchovy fillets
2 tbsp sunflower/veg oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar
a little sugar (I put in a few pinches)
1 teaspoon soysauce

Soak the hijiki seaweed in warm water for about 10 min.  Drain well and dry.  Cut into short pieces if they are too long.  Cut the vegetables into thin strips, soak them in cold water for 5 min. drain & pat dry.
Mince anchovy and mix it with the other ingredients for the dressing.  Mix the hijiki and cut vegetables and put on a serving dish.  Pour over the anchovy dressing just before eating. 

That's all I got, "ON TO THE THEATER!!!"

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Crunchy Munchie!

I'm not gonna get whiny about it or anything but seriously, if you ever feel like you're salad is just missing that "something" to make it something other than an obligatory food group, I'll tell you what I personally feel that something is.  Ready?

All you need is CRUNCH!!!

Not kidding, if I had to choose between dressing & crunch. Close race, but I'd go for the crunch.  I mean that really is what makes salad so boring, is the "samey-ness" of it all.  Everything is sort of chewy and fiberous and before you know it you start feeling like the "Nom-nom-nom hamster".  And if you're thinking, "well, veggies are crunchy, aren't they?", forget it, must be an oil filled crunchiness.

Isn't that just what the world needs more of?  All we need is crunch.....and oil!  Do you feeeeeeel me?  (metaphorically)

 And if you're gonna whine to me about how you have nothing in your kitchen that's crunchy.  To that I say, "YOU LIE!!!".  Check it out:

- Nuts & seeds like: pecans, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds
(roast them up in a dry skillet till theu're just the tiniest brown, letm cool before chopping & serving)
 - Croutons: use old bread, chop it/rip it, throw it in a bowl, drizzle a little EV olive oil, salt & dried spices, throwm' on some tinfoil in the grill or toaster & TADA!!  Croutons!!  And we can't leave out the mother of all Lebanese salads Fattoush with grilled/toasted day old pita or flat bread. 
 - Bacon: fry it & crumble it up....I'm telling you if you're in a kitchen crisis, there's almost NOTHING bacon won't fix.  Or in a jiff I'm sure no one will squirm about commercial bacon bits.
 - Bread crumbs: if you make Chicken Parmeasan or Penguin Chicken & have left over bread crumbs, throw them in a bowl
 - Potato chips?  SURELY without question! My DH has a special love for chips so I constantly & without question raid his stash for some extra crunch.  The chips in the pic are those lovely spicy "karamucho" chips.  But how good are tortilla chips too? Heck, I'm willing to try sembe or kakinotane.
 - Don't forget the fried renkon chippies too.
- And we're not even wading into the "meats" territory because you can take any grilled, bbqed or fried meat or fish & top your salad with it and you're ready to rumble.

I mean it's really all a mind game, isn't it?.  Because the truth is we'd probably all just rather down the bowl of crunch rather than eat our serving of salad....I literally make twice as much salad if I'm gonna add something like pecans & bacon to it.

Well, that's it for now.  Hope you get inspired to ransack your pantry & dig out some salad worthy CRUNCH!!!!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

On the horizon.....

Moyashi Spring rolls
Fresh spring rolls
Banana fritters in coconut batter
Macha ice cream
Nottingham coffee biscuits

Any suggestions of what I should tackle first? 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Carrot Spice Muffins

I started to feel like an impostor cook so yesterday I grabbed a cookbook & threw together these muffins for my kiddies. If you want an indication that your kids haven't had a home made baked snack in awhile observe how long they are willing to stand in front of the oven & count down the seconds till it's finished baking. Mine, stood there for 7 minutes counting it down......grim!

So, this recipe come from my reliable source Dorie Greenspan, I've even tagged all the recipes of hers that I've covered so far on this blog. They are generally WINNERS! So take heed. And here's the recipe for the muffins(changes I made in blue):

2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c light brown sugar (I only had brown sugar so I used a little less than 2/3 cup of sugar total)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c flavorless oil, such as canola, safflower or corn
2 large eggs
3/4 whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c shredded carrots
1/2 c shredded sweetened coconut (I didn't have these so I upped my carrots to 1 1/2 c)
1/3 c moist, plump currents or raisins
1/3 c pecans or walnuts, toasted, cooled & chopped

Center rack in the oven & preheat the oven to 375f (180c) grease 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan, or 6 jumbo muffin tins.

In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients. In a large glass measuring cup of bowl whisk oil, eggs, milk & vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients & with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough -- a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the carrots, coconuts, currants & nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 min, or until a think knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from it's mold.
Note: These muffins are great warm but taste even better when they're given a little time to cool. Like many sweet spices the flavor intensifies with time. Best eaten the day they are made but if you keep them overnight, give them a toss into the oven for a few min, or split in the toaster.