Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where's the Beef?

The USDA just ordered the largest meat recall in history. Most of the meat went to school lunch programs! Time to start packing those vegetarian bentos.

I just saw this article in the Washington Post from last week:

"The Agriculture Department has ordered the largest meat recall in its history -- 143 million pounds of beef, a California meatpacker's entire production for the past two years -- because the company did not prevent ailing animals from entering the U.S. food supply, officials said yesterday.

About 37 million pounds of the meat -- cuts, ground beef and prepared products such as meatballs and burrito filling -- went to school lunch and other public nutrition programs, and "almost all of this product is likely to have been consumed," said Ron Vogel, a USDA administrator."

Click here for the full article.

Just another reason to:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More than Mud Pies

Children (and myself) love to play in the mud. There's something so satisfying about sinking your hands into squishy, pungent earth. Here in Japan, playing in the dirt yields a great work of art, if you have a few hours to polish a ball of mud.

What starts as dirt...

ends in delight!

This popular activity for Japanese children is called hikaru dorodango, which translates to "shiny mud dumplings". They are so amazing. If you have a free afternoon, why not make a shiny mud dumpling? It beats a sand castle! You can learn to make one here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I wondered if Japanese was for me...

You Should Learn Swedish

Fantastisk! You're laid back about learning a language - and about life in general.

Peaceful, beautiful Sweden is ideal for you... And you won't even have to speak perfect Swedish to get around!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dancey Dance Time!

I love Dancey Dance Time on Yo Gabba Gabba! My baby, part of the target audience, could care less. What is Yo Gabba Gabba? It's Teletubbies on drugs! It's a show on Nick Jr. that was created by Christian Jacobs, one of the LDS members of the Aquabats. The show is insanely colorful and quite kooky. It features a DJ, some monsters, and guest celebrities teaching dance moves.
Here is my favorite Dancey Dance Time, with Elijah Wood. I don't know if I should be amused or disturbed...
Monday, February 11, 2008

Black Sesame Cream Puffs

Black sesame seeds and paste are cheap and prevalent here in Japan. The benefits of black sesame are numerous and include increased longevity, antioxidant power, rich in protein, iron, and magnesium, and beautifying to hair and nails. After reading that, you know I hopped on the black-sesame train and bought the seeds and paste. So, in an effort to use my black-sesame products (and possibly justify eating dessert), I made some black sesame cream puffs.
The black sesame paste makes the cream slightly nutty flavored.


Here is the recipe:
Recipe courtesy of Los Angeles Times, adapted from a recipe by Keiko Nojima of Patisserie Chantilly, Lomita, CA

Serves eight

Pate a choux:
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs, divided
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

Black sesame crème:
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
2-1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups milk, scalding
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut up
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame paste
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons soy flour

For the pate a choux: Bring milk, 2/3 cup water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Remove from heat. Add flour all at once and stir until mixture is completely blended and forms a ball. Return saucepan to the heat and cook, stirring until the mixture does not separate and the pan has a thin film on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and beat in 3 eggs, one at a time, until blended. (Post tip: Avoid overheating the eggs by beating them all together and then adding a spoonful of the warm mixture, one at a time, to eggs in food processor or mixer.)

To make the puffs, spoon or pipe about 1/4 cup of choux for each puff onto two greased baking sheets. Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the puffs. Combine black and white sesame seeds and sprinkle over top of each puff. Wipe off spilled egg from baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the puffs are doubled in size and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Make a small slit on the side of each puff to allow steam to escape.

For the pastry crème: Beat together sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Stir together flour and cornstarch and beat into egg mixture. Slowly beat in hot milk.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring, until boiling and thickened. Boil 1 to 2 minutes; stir constantly.

Remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until it’s melted. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl and cover. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Creme puff assembly: In a chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream and sugar until the mixture forms soft peaks. Remove the chilled creme from the refrigerator. Fold in whipped cream, sesame seeds and sesame paste.

Cut the tops off the cooled cream puffs and pipe half the creme sesame mixture into the bottoms of the puffs. Drizzle each with honey, then pipe in remaining creme. Put the tops on the puffs, sprinkle each with soy flour and serve.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Mother Is..

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

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