Thursday, February 26, 2009

carrot-ginger muffins, with a twist (or two)

I'm having one of these puppies with a cuppa Rooibos as I write - I just can't keep my paws off 'em. Forgive me if there are some crumbs and/or drool that pop up on your screen.

Man oh man, I've been craving carrot cake something fierce for a while now (and I'm not even pregnant, I promise). I've also been trying to incorporate ginger into our diet more and more, as I've read a bit about its anti-congestion properties. Since all four of us are either fighting colds or allergies around here (the sugi, Japanese cedars, are really bad for hayfever at the moment), I figured a little extra ginger wouldn't hurt and might even help. My little brain-wheels got turning, and I thought, Hey, why not carrot-ginger muffins? Sure enough, when I googled it, there were quite a few recipes along that line. My favorite was this one from cookthink, and what I based my muffins on.

Of course I tweaked 'em a bit:

  • I've never checked in detail, but I'd be willing to hedge a bet that plain old Japanese white bleached flour is more expensive than organic whole-wheat flour in the US. So though the recipe called for part white and part whole-wheat, I just went with all white. I know. Not the healthiest, but I didn't have time, energy, or resources to go searching for whole-wheat flour at some specialty shop (you can't get it in grocery stores here).
  • My powdered ginger expired in 2003. No lie. So I finished it up for this recipe, and because I'm sure it lost its potency somewhere around the beginning of 2004, I added some grated fresh ginger as well.
  • I added 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Ditto for 2 tablespoons molasses.
  • Instead of the ground cinnamon, I added 1/2 cup cinnamon chips that my friend Kim up in Saitama sent me recently. Kim, you rock, girl! I'd never tried them before but they added such nice intense pockets of gooey cinnamoniness.
  • I didn't use baking cups - I just oiled my muffin tins and they came out just fine after they'd cooled a little.
  • Didn't have allspice, so just used a bit of powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (which is what a subsitution I found said to do). I'm not a big clove girl so I didn't add much of that. (After getting my wisdom teeth out at 18 and having infections that seemed to go on forever, the doc stuffed my newly acquired toothless holes with gauze that had been soaked in some kind of clove-tasting medicine gunk. Needless to say, I haven't been much of a fan since.)
  • I didn't do the buttery, sugary, cinnamon topping the recipe called for because I had tasted the batter and it was already sweet enough, even after halving the brown sugar from 2 cups to 1 cup. (I used Okinawan "black" sugar, which is very molasses-y and very yummy.)
  • This made way more than the 12 muffins it said it would - I also got 3 mini loaves out of it and sent 2 with Stephen to work (not that any of his colleagues were complaining).
These babies got raves and a 10/10 from this clan.

Do you like my rice-cooker lid and my drainboard?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

gingered tofu and noodle soup (version 2.0)

It also works well as gingered tofu and rice soup.

I just cooked the rice separately in the rice cooker and put a bit in the bottom of each bowl before ladeling the noodle-less soup in. That way it doesn't soak up all the broth and take over the city.

Bonus track: Your toddler will actually eat this version (if you cut the chicken and veggies and tofu really tiny) because there's none of that slimy, stringy, offensive, unacceptable pasta floating around in the bowl.

"Nice rice," says the Bean.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a whinnying combination

Do you recall the "vegetable cream stew" I bought for the Joel-Beansprout that surprisingly had horse meat in it?

He dug it. Ate the whole jar like it was nuthin' doin'.

Extra protein! Gotta love it.

(Remember the palomino.)

feeding mamatouille's baby: veggie veggie fruit fruit

Probably the only ones who will get the "veggie veggie fruit fruit" reference are my parents and sister. But if you happened to ever live in Florida (or visit there) and go to Epcot in the eighties (back when it was called Epcot Center and not the strange newly dubbed Epcot Theme Park), you might've seen the Kraft-sponsored show with the veggie and fruit (and cheese, of course) puppets dancing around. The theme song forever stuck in my family's consciousness and will probably remain there for as long as we all shall eat veggies and fruit. And I will do my part and pass it on to my young'uns.

Joel's nine months now and eating a lot of what we eat (still partly pureed, but he's into quite the variety now), so this post is a bit ex post facto. He still loves everything I show here, though.


Peas and carrots:

Do you think I made enough for one small baby?

I used a measuring cup to scoop the cooked carrots and liquid from the pot before pureeing so that not only would they be juicy enough later after I froze them, but a lot of the nutrients are in that cooking water!


For prunes, I just tossed them in a food processor, straight from the bag, and added a bit of warm water. It makes quite the ruckus as they spin round but it all turns into pulp pretty quickly. Joel loves this stuff - it's like his me no doku (mine's chocolate, unfortunately). (Me no doku means poison of the eye, and it's whatever strikes your fancy and makes you want more and more! I guess there are worse me no doku than prunes.)
I'll stop here because I'm sure all of you can only look at mush for so long, but Joel eats everything I give him: rice, chicken, couscous, potatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, bananas with toasted wheat germ, kiwi, apples, oranges, mikan (tangerine), lemon juice sprinkled on his food, oatmeal, kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), tofu, senbei (rice crackers), sweet-potato crackers, crunchy millet snacks, you name it. He'll be eating his brother's onigiri before we know it.

What do you feed your precious bundle? I'm always interested in this kind of thing - I love new ideas. Tell all!

And if you know the veggie veggie fruit fruit song, well then, come on - sing along!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I love the name Mamatouille so much that I decided to get the domain name for it, so now you can access my blog through as well! :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

marmite mania

I didn't like Marmite the first time I tried it (it's got a unique dark, rich, salty flavor), but it grew on me and now I'm a fiend about it. Give me MORE. Apparently, according to my British hubby, Marmite is as divisive in the UK as natto is in Japan - you either love it or loathe it.

I've made this garlicky Marmite bread before, so click here for the recipe, but this stuff is so good I can't stop thinking about it or wanting to shout from the blogtops how yummylicious it is.

It's best with a baguette from Bigot (pronounced bee-goh, in case you were worried).

My oven is just a wee one so I have to cut the bread in half to fit it in...but that doesn't change the taste...oh my! I want me some right now!

Even the Bean can't keep his paws (or jaws) off it...

~~~So I wanna know - how do you feel about Marmite? Natto? Tell me, tell me - I love storytime. And what would be the equivalent in the States? Whadya guys think?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Sorry, folks, no piccies today, but I recently made Ivy's (from Kopiaste, a fun Greek blog) coq au vin with a hunk of pork instead, and in my slow cooker. I also added a (nice-tasting) packet of MSG-infested dried onion soup mix that I had hanging around, along with Ivy's beautiful blend of garlic, red wine, salt and pepper, olive oil, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves. I threw in a bountiful harvest of potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion that all fused their flavors together for one perfect whole (and the meat was so tender!). I'm making this AGAIN and again and again...

And the other day I upgraded my normal homemade mac and cheese to incorporate some of La Fuji Mama's ideas for a pumpkinized version. Matthew hasn't stopped chowing on it (OK, and neither have I!). If you've got a fussy toddler, this is how you get protein and dairy and veggies into them. In addition to LFM's pumpkin and yummy spices (nutmeg, Worcester sauce, ground mustard, and crushed red pepper), I really finely diced some chicken and onion and sauteed it with some minced garlic first (so the Maffa Bean wouldn't know it was in there). Talk about YUMMERS. I'm never making mac and cheese the old way again.

Our family has gotten into the habit recently of having a big meal in the middle of the day with sandwiches or something light for our evening meal. It's just worked out that way because my Beansprout still naps in the morning and it's the easiest time for me to make dinner (and I can get Maffa Bean in the kitchen helping). Matthew (toddler) and I eat that for lunch, then hubby takes the leftovers the next day to work. Last night when Stephen got home I asked him if he'd like some eggy bread (French toast in Americanese). He mentioned he'd like some with Worcester sauce and cheese, so I just stirred some Worcester sauce into the egg and milk mixture, then while the eggy bread was on its second side in the frying pan, I sprinkled some grated cheese over the top, put the lid on, and let it melt down. The little beans and I had already eaten by that point, but Daddy-Bean said it was delicious!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

mamatouille's winterized ratatouille

It'd be wonderful to someday write a book with La Fuji Mama entitled Divine Secrets of the Japanophile Sisterhood (we've got so many Japanese food/shops/art-loves in common), but in the meantime, I'm happy to be co-posting today here at Mamatouille and over at La Fuji Mama's place. She just had her second baby three weeks ago and is recovering from that and resting from blogging for a bit. Fuji Mama, o daiji ni, ne (take care and get better soon)!

If you haven't guessed by now from the title of my blog, I'm a ratatouille-vore (me and Anton Ego, though I'm sweeter than he is, I promise). I never make it the same way twice, and this time, I decided to just use what I could get. Japanese stores are more seasonal than Western ones, so I'm not able to purchase zucchini (this is rare even in the summer here) and some other traditional ratatouille-like ingredients during this season. Fresh tomatoes are for sale but I try to avoid them if I can - they're pretty sad cases this time of year.

We live in between Kobe and Osaka, on the east side of the main island of Japan, so it's pretty sunny here in the winter, though temperatures can be frigid. The past week's temps have fluctuated between 0 degrees Celsius (32 F) and all the way up to 15 (59 F) or so. So a girl has to be culinarily prepared for any situation the weather people throw at her. This winterized ratatouille was my answer to a particularly chilly day and it hit the spot for all four of us (stay tuned for how I used this to feed even my nine-month-old).

I base my ratatouille-ness on this recipe from All Recipes, though as I usually do, I change it all over the place. Sorry, folks, I can't give you exact measurements for some of the ingredients that follow, but just bear with me and if you decide to delve into it yourself, just trust your instincts and your taste buds as you go. This amply fed the four of us, and I was able to freeze half to use the next week (it matured in the freezer so well that I think I'll make it next time just for the purpose of freezing and eating later!).

For the ratatouille you'll need:

  • three chicken breasts, de-skinned, de-boned, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • one onion, chopped finely
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • minced garlic (I use a ton, so stay far, far away from me after I consume this dish)
  • two 400 g (about 14 oz.) cans of chopped tomatoes, with juices
  • fresh parsley, chopped (I chop it and freeze it in ziploc bags to pull out whenever I need a bit - it flakes off easily so you can just use the amount you want)
  • one can of chickpeas, drained
  • two large carrots, diced finely and cooked till almost tender in water in the microwave
  • black olives, de-pitted and sliced or chopped
  • red wine
  • marjoram (I use dried)
  • thyme (also dried)
  • salt and pepper
  • grated parmesan (about 1/2 c.)
  • one bunch of spinach, washed and chopped
And for the couscous:

  • one cup couscous
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • one chicken bouillon cube
  • splash of olive oil
Do this:

Grab a large skillet (ratatouille is usually baked, bit if you've got two in diapers and not much time to cook, the skillet method is great), add some olive oil and heat it up, then toss in your chicken, onion, and garlic. Stir it all around till the pink in the chicken is partway gone, then splash in some lemon juice to tenderize the meat. When the chicken's cooked through, add the tomatoes, parsley, chickpeas, carrots, olives, red wine, marjoram, thyme, and salt and pepper. Simmer for as long as you like to let the flavors meld.

While it's bubbling away, get on with making your couscous, which is so simple, guys. In a separate saucepan, boil the water, olive oil, and chicken bouillon cube (which you've broken up into chicken bouillon dust), then add the couscous, stir for a second, take the pan off the heat, cover it, and let it sit for a few minutes. After your ratatouille has simmered a bit, add the parmesan (I forgot to do that this time so used it as a topping once our servings were on the table). Give it a stir and then add the spinach, waiting just until wilted.

If you've got a little one, just reserve any of the ingredients you want from the ratatouille (I used carrots, tomatoes, and spinach that I actually had in my freezer at the time), puree it, then mix it with some of the couscous. Voila! Baby Beansprout taste-bud heaven.

Though this is a wintertime dish, I'll leave you with a few shots of springy flowers from my neighborhood (with the concrete, electrical wires, and telephone poles cunningly absent):

Peach (momo) blossoms

White plum (ume) blossoms at a swanky elderly folks' home up the road from us

Daffodils (suisen) hanging around in an empty lot

Hugs for everyone from Japan! Mamatouille and the other three -touilles say hi. I hope you're savoring whatever season you're in...wherever you are...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

i'll give you a hint...

I didn't realize I was allowed to give hints about what's in my recipe for the BloggerAid cookbook, so here are a few of the ingredients I used:
  • chicken
  • lime
  • garlic
Is your mouth watering yet?

I've seen quite a few lovely meals out there in Blog-o-land that are going to end up in the cookbook and I can't wait to buy my own copy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

valentine choco

I was inspired this year by a Pillsbury Chocolate Lovers cookbook that I got from my friend Kim in Saitama. (Kim, arigato!) The little book had a recipe for tropical chocolate drops that incorporated melted chocolate and coconut, pineapple, and chopped banana chips. I wasn't really enthused about the combo (and I knew hubby wouldn't be, either - he's not a big coconut guy), so I just made up my own, using the format of the recipe.

It's pretty simple: You just melt chocolate, add whatever fillings you like, stir it up, drop it by teaspoonsful onto wax paper, and fridge it for about 30 minutes. I was surprised how easily they just pop right off after that. Easy!

I made four batches using Meiji Black (our Japanese choco of choice - it's got a really rich flavor). One batch had chopped dried cranberries, one had chopped dried pineapple (from Muji - not covered in sugar, just a nice tropical pineappley flavor), and for the next two, I used Kim's wonderful zingy candied ginger (that I chopped) and addictive candied yuzu peel (I also chopped this).

I went a little crazy and used a stationery box that I decorated and made little compartments for:
The top:
Hubby has been kind enough to share with me and our favorites are definitely the ginger and the yuzu. YUM.

And I got some gorgeous red tulips - be very jealous! I've got the best hubster in the whole stinkin' world and I get to hang out with him every day - abundance in every way. I'm so bountifully blessed. (And he shares the chocolate - pure marital bliss.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

bloggeraid cookbook teaser

If you want to know about the Mamatouille-made-up recipe I submitted to the BloggerAid cookbook project, then make sure you get your own copy from Amazon when it's released at the end of this year! And don't forget - you can submit your own recipe until March 31. Get cookin'!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

oyako donburi

I'm co-posting today here at Mamatouille and over at Tribeca Yummy Mummy, at the invitation of the Mama Yummy herself, Tribeca Cate (her cloud soup is what I made the other day). You've got to get yourself on over there right now and check out her gorgeous family photo at the top of her blog and also her cranberry curd, which I'm itching to make someday (as soon as I get my grubby paws on some fresh or frozen cranberries - can't find them here!).

But today's not about cranberries...Come on, let's do the funky chicken!

"Oyako" in Japanese means "parent-child", which is completely appropriate for this traditional Japanese home-cooked dish with chicken and eggs. (Which came first?) "Donburi" just means bowl and is used for any hot meal that's served over rice in a bowl. This recipe came to me on a convoluted route: I got the More With Less cookbook for my American wedding (we had one in the US and one in the UK for all of our peeps to be able to join in), the recipe in the American cookbook is from Obihiro, Japan (a city on Hokkaido - the big island north of the main island), and I brought my precious cookbook with me when we moved here to Japan in 2001. I have served this dish to my former Japanese sensei (and one of my Japanese adopted mothers), and she said it was "perfect". My little yummy bean, Matthew, thinks so, too, and this is the only way I can get him to consume spinach (and it's not even hidden).

Here's the little bean himself, helping Mama wash some dirt off (him or the spinach?)...

And if you think my Japanese kitchen is small, you ain't seen nuthin'! This is gihugic compared to some of my friends' kitchens here, and at least mine has a door and isn't in the living room (seriously).

OK, everybody wash hands and let's get down to this cookin' business.

You'll need:

  • 1/2 lb. raw chicken (I use two breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 5 eggs (yes, really)
  • enough flour for dusting the chicken
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 dried mushrooms, diced finely (I just grab a handful of pre-sliced dried shiitake shrooms and chop them even tinier - Matthew doesn't usually like mushrooms but he gulped them down in this!)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce (I use dark)
  • 2 scallions, cut diagonally, or one sliced onion
  • 2 c. chopped fresh spinach (sometimes I use frozen if I don't have fresh and I'm really craving this meal RIGHT NOW)
  • chopped parsley for garnishing
  • cooked rice for 4 people (I do mine in my rice cooker and add a pack of multigrains before cooking)

You and your yummy do this:

Oyako (parent and child) - Measure the ingredients and have them sitting and ready. Wash the chopped spinach and have that draining in a colander.

Oya (parent) - Cut the chicken into little pieces if it's not already chopped. I remove all skin, too. (Not my thing.) Combine the mushrooms and water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, then leave to sit in the water for a few minutes while you get on with the rest of the steps.

Ko (child) - Ask your mama or daddy to help you beat the 5 eggs in a bowl. Matthew's darn good at that - he gets a lot of practice round here.

Oyako - Dust the chicken with flour and dip in the beaten egg (reserving the extra eggs).

Oya - Fry the chicken in a big skillet in oil till brown. Add the mushrooms with liquid, sugar, and soy sauce to the chicken in the pan and simmer 15 minutes. Then add the chopped onion or scallions and simmer 10 more minutes. Add the spinach and while it's still bright green, add those reserved beaten eggs to the skillet and cover it. Cook only until it's set (nobody's worried about salmonella over here and raw eggs are consumed at a high rate - if you're stateside and concerned about that, cook it until you feel it's ready), add some rice to individual bowls, and ladle some oyako donburi into each bowl.

Ko - Scatter some chopped parsley over each serving to garnish. Then enjoy with your Oya and don't forget to mention how "nummy" it is! Or if you want to sound Japanese, say "Oishii!"

feeding mamatouille's baby: kabocha meal

I don't have a picture for this because Joel was hungry NOW and it disappeared so quickly. I just mixed some mashed potato, cooked mashed kabocha/Japanese pumpkin, fresh grated apple, and lemon juice, and it was a smash hit. It's hard to know which meal is the Beansprout's favorite because he hoovers everything, but this seemed a winner. Mama had a spoonful as well and it was pretty darn yummy-licious.

bloggeraid cookbook update

Hey, if you're thinking about submitting a recipe for the BloggerAid cookbook, don't sweat it! I got mine in today but there's just been word that the deadline's been extended to March 31.

winey baked apples, the mamatouille way

We were having friends round for dinner and I needed a dessert I could make quickly and easily - and I had apples in the fridge! I remembered reading in a Japanese cookbook ages ago about cooking apples in red wine, so I just made my own sauce with:

  • red wine
  • margarine
  • a bit of brown sugar
  • a bit of honey
  • cinnamon
  • raisins
I mixed this and poured it over 2 big apples I'd quartered but left unpeeled, and after they baked and were soft, I made a yogurt sauce with:

  • plain natural yogurt
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • honey
And I spooned that over the apples in individual bowls. It was just a last-minute decision to throw it all together, but it turned out to be a keeper!

horse sense

Just read the label on the Japanese jar of "vegetable cream stew" I bought for Baby-Beansprout Joel as an emergency meal, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the kanji (characters) for horse meat (baniku)!

Anybody ever had horse? It's a delicacy over here, and my husband loves basashi, raw marinated horse meat. Can't say I go for it myself.

Also, if you buy canned "corned beef" over here, chances are that it's horse meat in there. I don't indulge, though sometimes I get my egg at Denny's with corned beef - I just don't ask what's in it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

bloggeraid cookbook

Don't forget to get your recipe ready to send to BloggerAid for their fundraiser! All of the proceeds will go to The World Food Programme, and the deadline is Feb. 12, so you still have a few days...I'm working on mine at the moment...

And you don't have to have a blog to do it - anybody can send one in.

Friday, February 6, 2009

lemon sour cream monsters

OK, folks {sigh of regret over wasted precious ingredients}, if you're ever, ever, ever tempted to make Recipe Zaar's lemon sour cream muffins, just take my word for it and DON'T. I read all the raving reviews and thought, hey, that sounds great. But the batter turned into what-the-heck-this stuff-is-carbonated-and-fizzing-out-my-nose, and the first batch turned into ")#($')()"#'$)"('&$%#$%#$&"&-I-now-have-to-clean-my-oven-because-they-morphed-into-Godzilla-and-they're-taking-over-my-house muffins. I added less batter to the next pan, but they didn't rise and the texture was just crazy. It seemed like my big bowl of batter was ever expanding to fill every tin I owned, including two muffin pans, two mini-muffin pans, and a mini-loaf pan as well (and the recipe says it makes TEN muffins - my eyeball). I've made quite a few muffins in my day and I've never experienced anything like this, people.

I even used up some of my preciouses dried cranberries (which I first boiled in orange juice to soften up). What a disappointment. Even the finished product tasted like wacky lemon soda with a bit of flour. The cranberries didn't do one bit to help.

The mini loaf was the only semi-edible bit of all of the mess, though even that was a sad, sad shadow of what I expected it to be.

At least all of you can learn from my mistake, and I leave some muffin wisdom with you for the weekend: If you have some lemons and sour cream that you need to use up pronto, you're better off juicing the lemon, drinking it straight, and spooning the sour cream out of the container straight into your expectant gob.

Now go get that juicer and spoon ready. Pucker up and happy Saturday!

gingered tofu and noodle soup

My Saitama friend, Kim, sometimes has a book giveaway, and recently I inherited her Reader's Digest One-Dish Meals: The Easy Way. I adapted this gorgeous soup the other day from it and will never, ever, ever look back. It's a keeper.

The Japanese have a word, sukkiri, that means something like cleansing/refreshing/satfisying, and all I could think about was that word when I was devouring bowl after bowl of this stuff. I usually hear sukkiri in the context of someone eating something cold, like watermelon, in the hot, humid summer, but this soup, man oh man - it's warming and refreshing and enlivening and comforting all at the same time. The ginger is enough to give it a special kick, and I added some cayenne pepper as well to heat things up a bit more. It's so thoroughly blanketing on a winter's day, no matter what the weather's up to. If it's sunny outside, this will just enhance the brightness, and if it's dreary, just one bowl will be enough to chase any blues away. I'm fortunate enough not to have this problem, but I bet if you've got a sore throat this soup would be just the ticket.

You'll need:

1 package (8 oz. or 200 g) fine egg noodles (I used angel hair pasta, but I'm sure any thin Asian noodle would work well, too)
2 T. olive oil
5 scallions, including tops, sliced diagonally 1-inch thick (I used 2 leeks)
3 T. minced fresh ginger
5 cups chicken stock (I used 5 c. water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 small head cabbage, finely sliced (I used 1/2 Japanese cabbage and it was plenty)
12 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper

I also added 1 chopped chicken breast and several dashes cayenne pepper.

Do this:

Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain, toss with 1 T. olive oil, and set aside. In a large pot, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat for about a minute, then toss in the chopped chicken, scallions, and ginger and stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat, then add the cabbage, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about a minute or two. Stir in the cooked noodles and the tofu, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. (The book says this serves 4 but these proportions made a huge amount of soup, probably close to ten bowls worth.)

Lift your bowl as close as possible to your gob, use chopsticks to shovel in the chunky bits, and slurp the broth straight onto your taste-buds-of-happiness.

Sendin' this on over to Kahakai Kitchen's Souper Sundays...

feeding mamatouille's baby: tomatoes

My friend Ako taught me this trick: Just slice off the tops of some tomatoes, stick 'em in a microwave-safe bowl, blast 'em for a few minutes till soft, wait for them to cool a bit, then they will peel easily. At the time, Ako was feeding her one-year-old, so she left the tomatoes pretty chunky, but Joel is still eating pureed foods, so that's what I do for him.
After you peel them, you can mush them up a bit with a spoon, and either leave them as is, or puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender (I don't de-seed).
Then freeze what you don't need at the moment, and you're good to go! Joel had some tomatoes last night with some couscous (I cooked it with chicken bouillon and olive oil) and some peas and carrots, all mashed together, and he seemed to enjoy it!

oatmeal question

Anybody have any suggestions for getting extra protein (besides the milk) into oatmeal for a toddler's breakfast?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

feeding mamatouille: yuzu yogurt

A mama's gotta feed herself to keep everybody going, and I recently discovered that one of my favorite drinks, yuzu cha (citron tea), is also great when converted into a yogurt topping (I used plain, natural yogurt - no flavorings, no sweeteners).

Citron tea is similar to marmalade, with an extra limey/bitter kick (YUM!) from the citron peel, and to make it, you scoop out a spoonful and stir it in a mug of hot water. I first had it on a trip to South Korea in spring 2005 with my Japanese sensei, Kazuko, when we went to visit our friends John and Sheena (who are from the UK and at that time lived in Seoul). I made Sheena take me to a mom-and-pop grocer to buy a jar to bring back to Japan with me, and since then have found it in Japanese stores here. Lucky me!

Two of my favorite photos from my Seoul trip:

Namdaemun market...
Grandpa and grandbaby...

you gotta try this cloud soup

If you haven't tried Tribeca Yummy Mummy's "cloud soup" (aka leek and potato), then do so immediately. I made it for dinner tonight and it was a big hit - along with star and airplane cheese toasts for the Bean (to go with the "clouds") and floating hearts for his daddy. I had ordered some leeks and potatoes from the co-op last week (delivered yesterday) to make leek and potato soup, but I usually use a different recipe. I found this one after I had already done my co-op ordering, and I liked Yummy Mummy's idea to use white wine, so I went for it.

I didn't have freshly ground nutmeg or pepper, so I used the already-ground stuff, and my white wine I had on hand was sweet and not dry, but other than that, I pretty much went exactly by the recipe.

Her soup was more cloud like and fluffy, and she called for 5-6 cups of water, so I used 6, but next time I'll add quite a bit less. The soup was thinner than I imagined it would be, so we dunked our cheese toast in it for some extra bulk.

It was yummy, Mummy, and I heartily recommend it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


At the invitation of my blogging friend Ivy (from the great Greek food blog, Kopiaste), I just joined BloggerAid the other day and I'm looking forward to helping raise awareness about the growing problem of hunger around the world.

BloggerAid is making a cookbook soon and 100% of the proceeds will go to support The World Food Programme (WFP) - I'm hoping to submit a recipe myself. Anyone can submit, even if you don't have a blog, so go here to find out how. The cookbook will go on sale on Amazon in about November/December time, and I'll post a link here then.