Saturday, July 19, 2014

Aiko in Scones!

Dried Tomato, Herb and Cheese Scones

See what I made with the home-grown and home-dried plum tomatoes! :D

In addition to the dried tomatoes, I added dried herb (thyme and oregano) and grated cheese.
They look nice, don't they? As for the taste...  Well, this was definitely a healthy recipe. But I'm going to try a different scone recipe next time.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dehydrating Aiko!

A Variety of Plum Tomato Named "Aiko"

"Aiko" is a girl's name in Japan, but I'm not dehydrating a girl, of course, so don't worry. ;)
I'm just going to dry these cute, oval-shaped tomatoes! Oh, they would be great with pasta and pizza!!
 
Originally, my plan was sun-drying them. It sounded like the best method both taste-wise and nutrition-wise. HOWEVER, when I tried it about a week ago, I had to learn in a hard way that:
a) it takes more than one day to dry these juicy tomatoes, and
b) the half-dried tomato halves rot VERY easily  :(

So this time, first I sun-dried them on the beach, then...

... tried to finish them up in the oven @ 130 degrees C for about an hour.


When came out of the oven, still they were not quite dry yet, but I didn't continue the attempt any longer, being worried about the power bill. I decided to sun-dry them again the next day, but I was again worried about what would happen to them during the hot and humid night.  So I stored them in the fridge overnight, which was ... probably one of the major mistakes I make often ...??? They looked terribly soggy in the bag this morning! :O

Would these ever dry up ???

So finally... I asked a friend of mine to let me use this modern convenience.
Now, four hours later...

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Tada ~ !!

Now I have these fragrant dried tomatoes on hand. It would have cost a lot if I had bought them at the store! Some of them turned out quite dry and others a bit moister, and I cannot decide whether to store them simply in an empty air-tight jar or in olive oil... or maybe I should freeze them?

Anyway, I can't wait to use them. :) Stay tuned for my posts about pizza and pasta with home-grown herbs AND these dried tomatoes which went through all three drying methods: sun-, oven- and food-dryer drying!! YAY! :D
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kolokithokeftedes - Zucchini Meatballs

Kolokithokeftedes

Kolokithokeftedes? I don't have a slightest idea of how to pronounce it. LOL
As far as I know, it's a Greek dish and the name means "zucchini meatballs." Right?

Ever since I gave it a try for the first time in June, 2009, this is "the must" dish for me when I have some home-grown zucchini on hand. It is because I was so fascinated by the meat-like taste of the deep-fried zucchini patties.

Now, I didn't have a success with my zucchini this year.  A few weeks ago, I complained on my FB page that my zucchini fruits grew to thumb size and rot.Then I realized that only two zucchini plants were not enough to have male and female flowers bloom at the same time, and I needed to give them hand pollination to have a decent harvest.

So I gave it a try, and had this result...

... and today I made Kolokithokeftedes after four years break since the first attempt!

If you're interested in the recipe, it's here.  But to tell you the truth, I never follow this recipe as is. (Of course. We can't find Feta cheese around here in the first place.)
Today, I skipped the parsley, potato and carrot, and used only these.



Yeah, the patties were a little too runny.

I have no idea what gives this meat-like flavor... Zucchini? Cheese? Both? It's amazing!
Today, the result was satisfactory, though probably I should have browned them more.

BTW, I think I like making Kolokithokeftedes without adding grated potato... It may make them more like potato pancakes if you added too much.
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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

First Watermelon from Our Garden This Year!

Watermelon - Oval Variety named "Madder Ball"

Those who have been in Japan for a while must know why I mentioned "oval variety" in the caption above. Traditionally, watermelons are round in Japan. But this oval variety is becoming more and more popular, at least here in my hometown. :)


Among the plateaus here in Muroto, Nishiyama Plateau is known for tasty fruits and vegetables grown there, thanks to the abundant sunlight and good drainage. We all loved watermelons from there. But now the farmers there are old, so they changed from the traditional kind to this oval, smaller, lighter but much sweeter variety. That was definitely a right choice, I would say. Now this small rugby-ball shaped watermelon from that particular location is branded as "Kira-Bou." It is such a prestigious local specialty, sold at limited locations (and online) only.
http://murototsuhan.com/?pid=60035202 (In Japanese)

Now, of course, there are people who want to grow such popular watermelon in their own gardens. Dad is one of them, and that's why this expensive watermelon is in our kitchen now -- for free --, though from a garden with less hours of sunlight and poor drainage.

The taste?
Mmmmmm.... it's OK, as long as we don't compare it with the real Kira-Bou.

BTW, the name of this oval variety is "madder ball," and I wonder if the name was given in Japan, not abroad... I googled with "madder ball" and "watermelon" but the hits I got seem to be Japanese pages only. Actually I'm confused about this, because some says it should be spelled, "madder bowl," which makes less sense to me. They say "madder" means crimson, but I can't help thinking about its different meaning. 
How about you?   LOL
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

See This Glass?

Iced Coffee @ Akaoka Cafe Zeyo 

This signage led me to this small cafe in Konan City (about 1.5 hours drive from where I live now) last Sunday.

It says "Walk about 140 steps to the left, then turn left." So, obviously someon walked here, counting each and every step. LOL

It will take you pretty close to the cafe. Then if you can find another small signage with the name of this cafe, you'll be here:
Entrance of Akaoka Cafe Zeyo
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.When ordered an iced coffee, it came in this cute glass in the top photo.
Loved it so much! ♡

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kimo-Kawaii?

Giant Isopod Made out of Sausage

Yep. Believe it or not, Giant Isopod has been quite popular in Japan recently. Undoubtedly, it must be another example of Japanese Kimo-Kawaii (gross-but-cute) fad. Just try an image search with ”stuffed giant isopod”and see how much people love it here. ;)

I was aware of it because some of my Facebook friends have posted about their love of this creature several times in the past couple of years. But it was when I had dinner with some university students the other day that I was told how crazy some people are about seeing these creatures alive -- or even, tasting them! Think about it. Some passionate folks drove for hours to go to China Town in Yokohama just to join an event of cooking and eating Giant Isopod!

When I heard that, I realized how privileged we the Muroto residents were. Here, if we want to see them, all we have to do is visiting this facility called AQUAFARM.
AQUAFARM (closed on Sat.)

It is a Deep Seawater harvesting/distribution facility. Inside of this building, there is a tank where they keep the deep-sea creatures that were sucked into the Deep Seawater intake pipe with the water. Yes, they are alive and swimming in the tank filled with Deep Seawater. And almost always, you can see these visitors from the deep sea that look like big roly-poly bugs. :)
To be precise, these are Bathynomus doederleinii which is a little smaller variety than Giant Isopod Bathynomus giganteus. These smaller ones are about 10 to 15 cm, and not terribly intimidating, I would say.

Anyway, at AQUAFARM, you can come in for free of charge and take a look at several deep-sea creatures in the tank and learn about Deep Seawater through the exhibits.

And, this fad seems to have inspired some creative bento fans to make this gross-but-cute creature out of this kind of sausage!
These red sausages were the only kind available when I was a child. And we were crazy about octopus or crabs made out of them. I remember begging mom to make and put some in my bento box, but she wasn't very interested. (Maybe that's why I love doing something like this so much now... to fulfill the unmet need in my childhood, huh?) This type of sausage lost its popularity once when people started criticizing artificial coloring. But now they use tomato-derived lycopene or other vegetable-derived coloring, so now they're back and loved by those who make elaborate kyaraben.

And the other day, by accident, I found this site showing us how to make Giant Isopod out of the red sausage! Do you think I could resist the temptation?
OF COURSE NOT!

And hence, the two lovely bugs in the first photo. How do you like them? Not bad, huh?

One problem though... It may take some courage to eat my gross-but-cute creations... :(
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Monday, June 16, 2014

What This Banana Bread Tells You

Moist Banana Bread Made with Overripe Bananas

I guess many people already know that banana bread turns out great when used overripe bananas. Or it is almost like this bread is designed to be made with such bananas. And long-term readers of this blog probably know that when I post about a banana bread, it means that some bananas in our kitchen were in an emergency situation.  LOL

Yep! It was exactly what happened this time, AGAIN.

But Obachan found out about it, took out a printed recipe of banana bread from the bottom of the recipe folder, and
ta-dah!!
once again, saved the day! :D

Yeah, I know. I'm not too happy about the big holes in the bread. This time I didn't mash the bananas thoroughly because I wanted to leave some chunks to enjoy the different texture. But now I think that a better thing to do was mashing the bananas thoroughly and adding chopped nuts for a different texture.  Haha.. :P
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