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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cooking with Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)

Some people say that Kabocha is similar to butternut squash. Kabocha is an excellent source of Vitamin A which means that it is good for your hair, skin, and eyes. It also helps build your immune system because Vitamin A is supposed to keep your white blood cells healthy.

In Japan Kabocha is served in a variety of ways such as nimono (japanese stew), tempura, salad, croquettes, and many more. Kabocha can also be eaten as a dessert due to the fact that it is naturally sweet!

I used to only see Kabocha in Japanese supermarkets but recently I see them everywhere including whole foods, my local supermarket, even the deli near my apartment! I read something interesting recently, that Kabocha is still growing even after it has been picked. This means that unlike other vegetables which should be eaten soon after they are picked, it is ok for Kabocha to sit for a while (in appropriate temperatures) before it is eaten. In order to bring out the best flavor, it is kept in under controlled temperatures for days before it is sold. ( I am not sure if this is everywhere or not).

The best season to eat Kabocha is Fall and Winter. Although it is still spring, I couldn’t wait. I used one kabocha in three different ways:

Kabocha and mixed vegetables baked with shio-koji: Broccoli, kabocha, shimeji mushrooms, red onion, and shio-koji, olive oil

I used  the seeds from the Kabocha and roasted them in a pan.  I added some soy sauce to them as well and made onigiri (Japanese rice ball) with them the next day!

Finally, I used the leftover kabocha and mixed it into a thick paste and made yokan with it.  It was very simple and only used three ingredients: kanten powder (agar agar powder), maple syrup, almond milk, and kabocha paste!

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Mother’s Day Banana Cocoa Brownies (Vegan and gluten free!)


For mother’s day I decided to use  a recipe that I found in my Japanese Macrobiotic Sweets Book that I bought recently.  I altered the recipe a little bit and made it gluten free by replacing the wheat flours with oat flour.

It may be due to the type of flour that I used but my brownies didn’t come out in such a clean form as this one looks in the picture.

Recipe:

150 grams of Flour (they suggest using two different kinds of wheat flours but  I used 150 grams (5.29 oz of oat flour)

Cocoa Powder  5 Tbsp.

Salt  1 pinch

Baking Powder 1 tsp.

Banana 1

Maple Syrup 60cc

Safflower or rapeseed oil 1/4 cup

Soy milk 120cc

                                                                       

The first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Then, you mix all of the dry ingredients together and then you mix all of the wet ingredients together.  Slice the banana thinly.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients as well as the banana.  Mix thoroughly.  You do not need to smush the banana too much, it is better left so that it doesn’t loose too much of its shape.

After all the ingredients are mixed, spray a pan with a non-stick spray or use a non-stick pan. Pour ingredients into pan. The mix is very thick and difficult to spread evenly, but I didn’t pay too much attention to that because I knew I would be cutting them into squares after and they ended up looking ok.

Put the brownies in the oven at 350 degrees (farenheit) for about 30 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean if you poke it).
Let cool and then cut into squares and serve!


Samurai Mama in Brooklyn

This is one of the restaurants I really like in brooklyn. I really love the use of wood and natural elements in the interior of this place.


We ordered spicy pepper tsukudani and avocado roll and yellowtail roll. I highly recommend the pepper tsukudani roll if you like spicy things. It was really interesting.


Lunch comes with a salad and a small dish of pickles.  I also ordered roasted green tea.  I really like the way that they serve the hot tea.

I ordered the salad bukakke udon which was similar to the dressing that is usually on hiyashi chuuka (a sesame dressing). It was really delicious and refreshing.  The noodle was also very good. I had been there a while back but the the noodles tasted better this time than the last.

Sewing class at Sew Easy New York

I recently found out that my mother had kept my grandmother’s sewing machine and that I could have it if I wanted it.  It’s just in time because recently I have been looking at sewing magazines and thinking that I would love to sew my own clothes, household items, etc.  So I decided that I really wanted to learn how to sew so that I could be ready when I receive the machine which made me decide to take this sewing class!

This past weekend I took my first sewing class with Mrs. Nakaura at Sew Easy New York. I had no previous experience before so it was really interesting for me and I learned so much in one day!  I was worried that it may be very difficult or that I might not be fit to sew, but Mrs. Nakaura is a great teacher and I was able to start making a dress during my first lesson.

Mrs. Nakaura is a great teacher and a really fun person so it was enjoyable to spend the day together learning how to sew. I highly recommend Sew Easy New York to anyone who is interested in learning to sew or even for advanced sewers who would like to learn something new.  Sew Easy is for people of all levels.


Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens 2012

Although the sakura have probably fallen by this time that I am finally writing this, I would like to share some pictures from Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical gardens.

Sakura Matsuri was held on April 28th at the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn.  I danced with the Hanagasa performers. They are a Japanese Folk Dance group based here in Manhattan.  They offer classes and hold different events throughout the year.

Hanagasa means “flower straw hat” in English.  This is the Hangasa Odori (Odori means dance).  It is a Japanese folk Dance that originated in the Yamagata prefecture in Japan.

I danced with Haru-chan and the other children.  It was a beautiful day and we were really lucky to have such good weather.

Here I am with my friend Kazumi-san (who is also took these great pictures for me!)


Handmade Sakura Bracelet Birthday Present


I made this bracelet as a Birthday present for a special friend of mine. The flowers are made out of Japanese tenugui and the bracelet itself is made out of organic embroidery floss.  

The green stitching in the middle makes the bracelet adjustable so that I can fit on my wrist or the wrist of a little girl.

The bracelet coincidentally matched her Yukata perfectly on the day of Sakura Matsuri in Brooklyn. Happy Birthday!!!

Because her birthday is in spring I wanted to make something that represents spring.

I ordered this 100% organic cotton embroidery floss online at nearsea naturals.

Vegan and Gluten Free Wagashi Making Class

Clockwise: Sweet potato steamed cupcake with coconut milk frosting, hojicha ice-cream with sesame tuille, chakin shibori: white bean outside and red bean inside, and iwashimizu yokan

Wagashi is the name for traditional Japanese sweets which usually are paired with tea.  They are usually made with beans, mochi, and fruits.  They are also known for their delicate design which is equally as important as their taste.

In this class all of the sweets that we made were completely gluten free and vegan (no eggs, milk, etc.). There was also no use of any artificial dyes.  When considering these guidelines it is actually very interesting to think of ways to make desserts without using these common and seemingly necessary ingredients.

Ingredients such as beet powder were used for food coloring, tapioca flour and garbanzo bean flour replaced wheat flour, and there was a log of use of coconut milk, oil, and sugar.  I thought that the use of beet powder was a good idea since it has little to know taste and it is a natural way to get different shades of pink coloring for your food.  The tapioca flour and bean flours also worked well and tasted very good.  I wasn’t familiar with using them before this class so I would like to explore that a little more.  I am also not too sure how good or bad they are for you so I need to look into that too.  As for the use of coconuts, I wasn’t too fond of that.  Coconuts are a tropical fruit and living in a non-tropical area I don’t think it is a great idea to consume so much of them or coconut products. Furthermore, everything begins to taste like coconut and I don’t think that wagashi really matches coconut because coconuts are not really a familiar product in Japan (traditionally speaking).  But I really walked away with a lot of new ideas. I am planning to do my own version of the Youkan recipe soon!

Iwashimizu Youkan: Made from kanten, azuki bean paste, and agave nectar

 

Steamed Cupcake: Made with sweet potatoes, coconut milk icing, and beet powder for the pink colored icing

                                                

Making sesame tuille


Making white bean wagashi: Azuki center with white bean outside, red beet powder used for coloring


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