Stuffing my Face with Deliciousness


Some deliciousness from my last few days in beautiful Japan!!

After a wonderful 3 years it’s time to go home.  The clock was working faster than usual so I was determined to enjoy as many yum times as I could!

Below was a set lunch in a beautiful old Japanese style house/restaurant.  Kimchi dressed chicken (drowned in mayo) on a bed of salad accompanied with a kabocha salad, miso soup, fresh steamed rice and some tsukemono followed by a refreshing and revitalising yet slightly naughty ice coffee.

Regardless of the mayo overload the sugar and cream, the meal was a memorable one.  Time spent with wonderful friends always justifies the excess calorie intake.

Next up are photos from my very first experience of a Japanese tea ceremony.  I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy such a cultural experience.

One thing about the ceremony, which surprised me the most, was the attention to the detail of every movement you make during the ceremony and the many meanings behind every process from the tools used, the decor which surrounds you, the clothes you should wear right down to the words you should speak.

Our ceremony was a more relaxed one.  Hosted by Irino sensei, who has practised the art of the tea ceremony for over 30 years.  She explained her every move in such finesse. Also, her modesty in her abilities only added to the charm of the experience.

First served was a light meal which consisted of somen noodles and miso soup, onigri, grilled ebi, tsukemono and an egg wrapped processed fish (I have forgotten the Japanese name)

It is believed that eating a small meal such as this before drinking the tea layers the stomach from the harsh properties in the tea and also aids in absorbing its powerful qualities.

Shortly after the meal, we were then ushered to a waiting area whilst Irino Sensei prepared the next part of  the ceremony.

Below the ceremony is in process.  Irino Sensei skipped many parts of the tea ceremony  as it can take up to 5 or 6 hours to fully complete every step.  I wont describe every detail, but if you are interest please take a look here.  This website gives you a great insight into the traditional art form of the Japanese tea ceremony.

We enjoyed a thin macha in beautiful chawan (green tea cups).  Thin macha is apparently better drunk during the summer, due to its light texture and taste.

Wonderful 🙂

And now for the last lunch.  I couldn’t leave without spending one last afternoon in my favourite café.   The lunch there never fails to please.  From all the stresses of packing this café is my perfect place to relax.  We didn’t have a car or bike, so we walked for 45mins in the 36 degree humid heat to get there.   It was worth every minute and every cup of sweat which poured from us.

Satisfied!

What followed was a sad farewell and a 53 hour Journey back to Scotland.  Many long waits for busses, flights, connecting flights, delayed planes, planes missed, plastic plane food and numerous teas and cakes later, we are finally home.  Here is how we celebrated,

Goats Cheeeeeeeeeese 🙂 Ohisashiburi!

Yummy succulent and melt in the mouth Scottish salmon…mmm…

Kappa Cafe + My New Camera


It was a sad day last saturday when I boxed up Benri (my side kick in the Kitchen, my rice cooker).

I shipped her home with most of my dishes, books, clothes and about a kg of the best green tea in Japan.

I have been lost without her.  I haven’t been motivated to cook and when I do, my dishes seem to miss something.    Only 3 months until I see her and we can share wonderful cooking times together again.

Safe journey little one 🙂

The rainy season is here in full force and the sun is struggling to shine in my direction.  After the departure of Benri a new baby arrived.  One in the form of a DSLR.  I have been dying to take her out and show her some beautiful sights and create great memories with her.  Sadly, it has rained every day, cloudy and grey.

What I did do is take her to my favourite Cafe.   Here are some memories we made there.

Curried Tomato,Soybean & Rice One-Pot


I think I’ll keep this post short and sweet with a little added spice today.
Annoyingly I have come down with a nasty chest infection which has forced me to take a day off work. I suppose it’s not such a bad thing to stay at home and rest instead of spreading my smelly germs around the school. However, I really can’t handle being cooped up in the flat all day. Sadly, I have no energy to do much, but I’m sure there is a little left in me to write a post on a one-pot rice cooker dish I made last night. I really wanted to share this one. “It’s up there”, as Andy groaned in enjoyment to me last night. I hope it’s up there for you too.

I actually wasn’t so sure how this meal would turn out as I was purely experimenting, but not in an extremely adventurous way though. In saying that, I think I have a fairly good idea on ingredients and flavours which work well together without following a recipe so kind of knew it might taste half decent. I also hadn’t made a full dish in my rice cooker for a while, so thought, since I was feeling out of energy and steam, it was the perfect meal to make, offering me the goodness I need to get better.

By the time the dish was ready the sun had completely set leaving me no natural light to show off my food in a photo. Dull cooker hood lighting is what I settled for. This made my dish look not to dissimilar to a rice and baked beans combo. I swear to you though, baked beans were no where near this dish or my house thankfully.

I would have preferred to use chick peas, but I just had to use what I had on hand. Since I have been asked to make it again there will be ample oportunity for modification. Hopefully, by then, the sun will be shining to show off the goods with a mouth watering snap. For now, here’s an Idea of what it looked like last night.

This dish was so full of flavour you don’t even notice an absence of meat. It contains enough protein and nutrition without adding meat. In saying that I never miss meat, but I’m sure Andy does.
This dish was just too easy. With having such a heavy schedule at times, it’s perfect for me.

The aroma it releases whilst cooking really waters your mouth, but the true joy is in the eating. Give it a go, you’ll see what I mean. What you can’t see in the photo above are the crunched almonds I sprinkled on top before serving. They really make this one memorable for me. Those and the cottage cheese, Yummmm…

What I enjoy most about cooking is when dishes are easy to prepare, but offer amazingly delicious results good enough to impress. I also love knowing what’s in my food and the benifits it can give my body. Got to stay beautiful and healthy if I want to continue traveling the way I do.

I don’t know if it’s because of the restaurants I choose to eat in, but I never feel satisfied after a meal. Of course I’ll feel full but I either leave with over powering guilt that I’ve gone way over my calorie limit, or annoyed that there wasn’t enough goodness in what I had eaten due ti it being destroyed with butter, oil and salt. Living in Japan, does offer a lot of healthy option in restaurants adding soba noodles, sashimi and tofu and an array of salads. However, even Japanese chefs can take short cuts by adding unnecessary oil or lard to their soups for flavour, or over dress and drown their salads or by deep-frying and over seasoning their vegetables. I have found a couple of cafes which offer the goodness I look for especially he one I visited on my birthday. But finding cafes like those are like finding a needle in a hay stack.

For me I prefer to cook at home, more satisfaction for the money in my opinion. Living in the country offers you the freshest of vegetables, which you’d be a fool to pass up.

So, back to the one-pot, this dish couldn’t be easier. If you have a rice cooker and love to experiment like me, give this one go. I have never used a pressure or slow cooker before, but I’m sure it would also work in any of those. If you do like the sound of it and try it out, please let me know what you think. Or if you have suggestions to make it even better my coments box is always open.

Oops I must have had more energy than I thought as this post is possibly longer than the others I’ve written.

Appologies if I went on a bit too much.
Happy cooking 🙂

Here you, go;

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 tin of organic plum tomatoes
  • 500mls water
  • 2 sachets of Konbu Dashi
  • 1 inch of fresh root ginger (chopped)
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 100g soy beans (Garbanzo/chick peas would also be fabulous)
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 2 tbsp crushed almonds (they make the dish. They beautiful flavour and texture)
  • 2 tbsp cottage cheese

Directions:

  1. Simply put all ingredients into the rice cooker leaving out the spinach and coriander
  2. Set to the porridge setting and press cook.
  3. After 20 minutes, open the cooker to stir the ingredients again. Close and wait for the music. (My cooker plays twinkle twinkle little star when the food is done :D)
  4. Stir though the herbs and spinach
  5. dish up the risotto style dish on smallish plates
  6. Top with the cottage cheese and crushed almonds and enjoy.
  7. I also squeezed a little lemon juice on my portion (only because I love citrus flavoured curries)

Purple Birthday Cake Update


Ok, so here is the update on the beautiful eggplant cake I found.

Well, I followed this recipe, however I forgot to add the 1/2 cup honey…doh!  Not really getting off to a great start here.

At first the blueberry purée was the most wonderful colour then I added the grated eggplant.   At that point the colour began to lose its vibrance.    I was still insistent on continuing, so added the wet stuff to the dry stuff.   I really should have trusted my painting knowledge on that of course when you add white to a dark blue it WILL become a light grey blue.   And yep, that’s exactly what happened.   Again I was still determined to finish what I started and make the most of this grey mess, so I hopped on my bike covered in flour and my face splashed with blueberry juice then cycled to the nearest supermarket to pick up some red food colour.

Yep, I was more concerned about it looking better than it tastes and gave in to the unnatural colourings.

I proceeded to doctor up the batter and voilà, the colour changed from grey to a dark eggplant purple.  Lovely 🙂  At that time I wasn’t aware of the lack of sugar in my cake and transferred the batter to the rice cooker.   Switched to 50mins then got stuck into the dishes.  I had a wee taste of the batter and it tasted really bitter from the eggplant skin!!  It wasn’t sweet AT ALL!! ahhhhh!

So here it is, the cake is now out of the oven (not looking very purple), smelling like vegetables!  I probably should take that as a sign that it’s going to taste like that too, but I’m still not giving in!

What I have done right is the frosting. It’s out of this world.  Soooo easy to make and tastes super naughty in a great way.   I’m hoping the frosting will save me.  What do you think?

Hmmm I’m not so sure.  I’ll wait till the morning and see how it looks and smells.   I think I’m hoping for a miracle to happen over night.  Who knows?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Wish me luck!

♥ Suzie