Wednesday, July 27, 2011

4 Bicycles & 1 Gardner

Today's plan consisted of getting a bit more of the shukudai summer homework assignments done. The Moose is down to two drawings and two essays while the Mule has only one drawing and one essay. They will await inspiration from their summer travels to finish those.

The afternoon bike trip to the grocery store offered up a twist. Riding home, the Moose, on his own bike, took out four parked bicycles and one gardner on a ladder. No one was injured, but apparently we parked our bicycles in the employee lot. While I picked up the fallen bikes, the Mule and Moose took off leaving me without a translator just as a woman approached the scene and proceeded to give me an earful in Japanese- the word police was used. The gardner happened a few minutes later. The munsters had waited for me. We took off together. The Moose, weaving along the road, took out a gardner and his ladder. The ladder was about eight feet high and had four substantial feet on the ground. The gardner was up about four feet off the ground whne the Moose struck, dragging the ladder with dogged determination to keep moving and not registering the reason for the drag. Fortunately, the gardner seemed to have a sense of humor or perhaps a little boy at home. Realizing the ladder was making a nosedive, he jumped off. He even asked the Moose if he was OK after the Moose apologized. Needless to say, I could use a drink.

I am sufficing with a cold glass of mugicha barley tea and with the Mule doing my hair- at least I can type. The Moose has been enamored of his father's Fuji-san hiking stick with bells as his pike, a wooden sword for slicing the air, and the laundry hamper lid as his shield while chanting some song by Basil Poledouris he has repeatedly admired on Youtube (Ancient Armies) - imagine the Greek Army attacking your living room. Between the bike ride and the living room attacks, "I need a vacation," to quote Arnold.

Interestingly, Mr. Poledouris was a Greek American. He wrote music for movies such as Conan the Barbarian and many others you likely know. I can't identify the particular song that the Moose is obsessed with, and it does not appear available for download because it is owned by a movie company. I sampled all of Mr. Poledouris' available songs on iTunes for the Moose, within three beats he could say, "No, no, it's not it Mama." It seems insane to me that yet another song he wants cannot be purchased legally. Instead, it can be listened to over and over again on Youtube. There was another Youtube video song that he liked which was also from a film score. The soundtrack to Troy by Gabriel Yared was rejected so a movie company owns the rights to the music and has never released it. The Moose seems to have an ear for stories and songs.

I really meant to post about Bill's Ricotta Pancakes. I followed this recipe and found it amazingly easy to replicate. I first tried making the pancakes on the stove top but after switching to a griddle, it worked much better. I won't give up going to Bill's but this recipe is probably the basis for his restaurant success in Japan. It is worth a taste. We had them for dinner along with Navy Bean Soup and salad. We eat a lot of hodgepodge around here when I'm in charge of dinner.


Serves 4

These are good with a side of bacon and roasted tomatoes, but the restaurant always serves them with Honeycomb Butter (recipe at bottom).
Ingredients
Eggs, 4, separated
Ricotta, 1 ⅓ cups
Milk, ¾ cup
All-purpose Flour, 1 cup
Baking powder, 1 tsp
Salt, a pinch
Butter, 2 Tbsp (~50 gm)
Banana, 1 sliced
Maple syrup or Powdered Sugar or Honeycomb Butter, garnish

What to do
  1. Separate egg yolks and egg whites.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  3. Combine ricotta and milk with the egg yolks. 
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  5. Add the sifted mix to the ricotta mix and stir until just combined. 
  6. Fold egg whites through batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.
  7. Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan or griddle with a small portion of the butter and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (small batches are best). Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through. 
  8. Transfer to a plate, stack 3 hotcakes, top with bananas, garnish with maple syrup or a dusting of powdered sugar.

Honeycomb Butter
Unsalted Butter, 8.8 oz (250 gm), softened
Sugar honeycomb crushed with a rolling pin or a Crunchie bar, 3.5 oz (100 gm)
Honey, 2 Tbsp

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Shape into a log on plastic wrap, roll, seal and chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours. Store leftover honeycomb butter in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or in the freezer-- great on toast.

Bill's Ricotta Hotcakes in Shichirigahama