Friday, June 18, 2010

Dinner thinking

I put off thinking about dinner with the hope that inspiration will strike. Tonight I had some helpers. They wanted to make sushi. Sushi for them is rollingrice& nori in a bamboo mat. There was no interest in raw fish or even steamed crab. My daughter opted for strips of deep fried tofu. My son went with grilled sama fish & green beans. They also made kinako mochi with some stirring help from mama. It is a mess, but at least they are fed & in bed. I am not sure I could have dreamed up this dinner, but I keep thinking if I had a better plan, it might result in dinner at an earlier hour. I am not sure what purpose my procrastination serves since reality intrudes every night with hungry children demanding food. Perhaps the time will come when I can pull the "where are the pans" Cosby routine & get out of cooking dinner altogether. Mmm, now there is a hopeful thought.
I was looking at the Pioneer Woman's webpage - there was a granita (frozen ice) recipe I wanted to try. Any way, I have a "shiny thing" problem so of course I noticed the lovely links to lots of other pages. I also had some company. My son was happy to look at the pages with me. Someone actually makes cake popsicles on sticks and makes them look like Hello Kitty & other cool & interesting
characters ( Not sure I'd want to actually eat one, but they look really fun to make. Now why can't we eat cake popsicles or maybe the question is why can't cooking dinner be like making cake popsicles. I need some kind of image to inspire my cooking.

I went to cooking class today. We made a salad with fermented duck eggs (see
photo). Yeah, I passed on those too. I liked everything else, but still, the point is no one else can "style" my dinner, it has to come from me. But I can't even read the labels in my super market.

My repertoire is fast on it's way to being out of the norm- not Japanese or American food. I eat a lot less meat and I don't like sweets to be so sweet any more. I am sort of surprised by both of these things. I eat less meat here. It makes me feel better. Now every time I eat America
n food- read meat- I feel heavy & tired. Even my optimal ice cream sundae has changed. It now has mochi (chewy pounded rice balls) & German Honey Liquor- think of the texture of chewy brownies in ice cream with a bit of carmel only with a lot less fat & sugar. Tastes great!

Learning about all the ways Japanese use rice has been a culinary revelation. You can grill rice balls- yakionigiri! My kids do it. You can buy dried out blocks of pounded rice (mochi) a
nd grill them in the toaster for breakfast. You can mix it up into chewy rice balls called dango. I just never had any of this stuff until I came here. I knew about soba, sushi, sukiyaki, tempura, yakitori, etc., but it is the every day home stuff I find interesting. I noted my friend Aya's jar of ume shu a few years back. It looked like something from a science lab- a large glass jar full of floating wrinkled plumbs. I was
slightly concerned that the ume were some kind of animal brains. I wasn't sure so I asked & happily we've made it every year we've been here during ume season. You never know what you will learn.

Today inspired by cooking class I bought some kanten (see photos). It's a kind of seaweed used to make gelatins as in summer desserts. It is healthy and vegetarian- you know not from horse knuckles or wherever that other kind of gelatin we use in America is from. Seriously, we are surrounded by coasts in America, why aren't we eating more seaweed? So between kanten and granita I am back to my usual interest of making desserts instead of dinner.

My whole problem with dinner thinking is that I am confused by the breadth of choices between all of the tastes I have discovered and the stark reality that I would rather just make dessert even Hello Kitty popsicles than cook dinner. If only that would get me out of it!


  1. I love Pioneer Woman and Bakerella. I bought the PW cookbook - her potato pizza is my new favorite - and last year I made Bakerella's faux burgers and fries for Father's Day. Fun.

  2. Big Pioneer Woman fan here, too. And the dinner and thrice-weekly obento is always a challenge to the brain. At this point my cooking just follows what is showing up at the little vegetable stands. Seems that with this fine JP produce, only a little bit of sea salt and a willingness to chop, chop and chop are all that it takes. Neat to see you are making umeshu--I like to think of it as medicinal. The kiddos are going to thank you in about twenty years when they start cooking for themselves and realize that they have enormous palates--kind of like Ben and his stories of jiaozi/gyoza in Taipei!


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