Saturday, December 26, 2009

don't judge a beer by its bubbles

Not my picture
We had a discussion on Christmas day about which beer cans looked like beer cans. I had bought some beer from the Echigo microbrewery (at the supermarket). Stout, lager, pilsner and a blond (or make that about four of each). Two of the guys who joined us for Chrismas are English and they and their Japanese wives all drink Guinness, so I had that, too. My American colleague also likes it, so they were all well-catered for. I don't like it, but you know, a good host and all that.

Guinness is going to win, anyway. It's well-known and it's got that harp which, despite the effects Guinness might have on the drinker, gives the can (we drank the bottles first. We live in Japan, remember, and not Tokyo, some things are hard to get) a touch of class. Know wot I'm saying? Well, sobriety and serenity. Also had some Lowenbrau, which has that wicked griffin kind of design, and Kirin also has a griffin. Yebisu (pronounced Ebisu) has a smiling god, but Echigo has a goat.

A goat sporting a lovely Pilsner in its cloven hoof. This is the Pilsner, as you may have gathered. Jim and I both agreed that the design for the Pilsner and the Blond, which are similar, definitely looked like the product, 'beer'. Ooh, and again, not my photo.
I am in love with the goat, actually, and I like their design a lot. The pilsner and blond are the two that look the best. The lager, though, very tasty, easy to drink, has stripes on the can. My friend was right (let's call him Jim). He said it looked like pop, soda, a soft drink. The stout was apalling. It looked liked a Bundaberg and Coke UDL. We held up the 5 beers or so in front of us to ask Jenny, the only non-alcoholic, which one didn't look like a beer can. She picked the Yebisu. The beautiful red of which is in the picture below in the post on the Japanese party (I'll post another picture later). Just to reiterate, everything tasted fine, but this post is a matter of ├Žsthetic taste.

Not my picture
I had to disagree on Jenny's call. I love that red (you can see it in the first picture above) and would not equate it with Mountain Dew or Pepsi. Anyway, I'll put up some other pictures later, and throw the question out there if anyone is reading over the holidays - which beer design/can/bottle doesn't in anyway look like a beer to you? Which is a disgrace, in design, if not in taste, to the whole nation of beer-dom?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Divinity, Part Two

I burned out my hand mixer. I didn't like it anyway, I wanted to buy a new one. If I ever get rich, I will buy a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I beat the last bit by hand and folded in the walnuts. I spread it in a pan. The results:

I think it will set up. This is the stiffest I ever got it (hurr, hurr). I don't know if it will be the right texture. To be honest with you, I'm not sure I will remember what my grandmother's divinity was like. But it's tradition, and I like traditions.


My grandmother made Divinity every year for Christmas. She died when I was 8 years old. We haven't had decent divinity since. Almost every year I attempt it. I have failed every single time. This is my grandmother's recipe:

2 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

That's it. No directions, and doesn't even mention the walnuts she always put in it. In the past, I have tried recipes out of cookbooks. It never sets up. I always end up making some sort of marshmallow cream. This year I am using my grandmother's ingredients and following the directions from another recipe, which is basically: boil the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt until 254°F, beat egg whites until stiff, pour syrup into egg whites slowly while constantly beating, beat the hell out of it until it loses its gloss and sets up.

It's that last bit that never happens.

This year, I am aware that my thermometer is off, so I'm taking that into account, and I am not making it at 11 pm after a full day of cookie-making. I hope for success. The syrup is boiling now, and almost hot enough. Time for me to chop the walnuts and whip the egg whites. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Food and beverage pairing

So many times I hear that phrase. Pairings for wine, for beer. White wine is for white meat and fish. Red for beef and lamb and so on. But shit really does it matter? The great part of having free will, and yes we have free will even in food, is deciding what tastes good with what. The guidelines are thrown out. I had a red Lebenese wine that was so perfect with chocolate cake and baklava. I found a white wine that was strong enough to stand up to Hatch chilies. So i have quit worrying about the "rules" and when I taste a new beer or wine I consider where in my food playlist it will fit. So go on! Eat, drink and love well!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Party Noms

I don't cook so often, but I would if you were all around. Still, I know that anything I could rustle up would pale in comparison to the yummies that RB has posted, that timo has us salivating over, that 'glo can crank out with hardly blinking, and that fan has been making since her teens.

However, I can go to parties. Some yummy noms from a Christmas party I went to. Pictures of your Christmas parties, Thanksgiving gatherings and so on... post 'em! I want to see them ♥

Seared steak. My friend, Kikuchi-san cooked this. It was done to perfection. I don't really eat very much red meat at all, but this one cube was just enough and oh so fucking delicious.
Just to give you some idea of the variety on the table. The parties that Kikuchi-san has are pot luck. Usually I cook, but this time I just brought fruit salad. Cheat's way out, I know.
Sorry, 'glo! But I just adore crab! I don't usually eat it though, because it is too expensive, and too fiddly to eat. However, the crab that Kikuchi-san's friend had brought was meaty and cut so that it was easy to get the meat out. Yummmmmm! In seventh heaven. You will be pleased to hear that I didn't partake of the crab brains, though. This girl sometimes doesn't go there ;)
You might have noticed an abundance of alcohol in the pictures as well. Of course! This wine was from New Zealand (one of my contributions) - also very seriously fucking delicious. The beer in another post is Yebisu - good. I don't drink red, but it took a good photo. And also brought some local blond and pilsner beers! Maybe not bitter enough for the table, but I liked them. White wine goes with seafood, right? Oh, and Kikuchi-san's friend who brought and bought the crab also brought a huge m-f bottle of sake. I should have taken a close shot of it. I don't drink it, so you know, off my radar, but I'm sure the foodies of the Q would have enjoyed it.

That's kaki-gohan in the background, or oysters and rice. Kikuchi-san again. I wish I could cook like her. I think I can, but it's an ingredient and method knowledge thing!

She later brought out some kind of shellfish (maybe oysters again?) which she'd put a 'secret ingredient' into. She's infamous for this. Putting wasabi (very hot, a form of horse-radish) into things that just shouldn't have wasabi. One of them apparently had a lot of chili, but it must have cooked out. We all said it tasted fine. Then again, I love chili. Maybe I ate the trick shellfish and never even knew it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Make Gravy

Just to add to Fan's post on gravy and the fact that Christmas is coming up:

How to Make Gravy, Paul Kelly, an Australian legend... but, not my favourite song, but a good song. Got any good food songs?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Food Confessions?

What strange things do you eat when alone, that you wouldn't eat in public? To confess, or to view the confessional, just click on the comments!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Chai

Christmas Chai Concentrate

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a medium-sized  bowl, add sweetened condensed milk, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Mix until combined. Store in the refrigerator.

To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted. Or, pour over vanilla ice cream. Keep refrigerated.

To give: Pour into small  half pint jars with lids and package decoratively. Attach a tag with instructions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gravy and how I learned the hard way

I think this was the best picture I could get, the camera went dead after only two pictures. Ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and salad. It tasted better than it looks. Something about the process of food photography makes everything look like doodie.

No recipe, but hang in there with me, I do have a story to go with this. The story is all about the gravy. Back in the day, when Mr. and I first met, I was all of 13 years old. First time ever to eat dinner with his family and horrors upon horrors, they were having deer! I was from the city, he lived on 40 acres of farm. They grew their own veggies, had chickens, cows, pigs and the like and they killed....oh, yes they did. It no longer bothers me, but at the time it was all I could do to hold it together, the smell of the beast was wafting through the kitchen like tear gas, making my eyes water and the bile rise.  I was in the kitchen with my not yet future Mother in Law, trying to keep the gag reflex under control. What to do? Do something quick to get my mind off what was in the oven. I ask not yet future MIL, "May I help with something?" of course I am thinking make salad, set the table, you know, something simple. Oh, was I surprised, she looked at me in all seriousness and says "You can make the gravy!" The most uncomfortable feeling in the world. I was 13 for crying out loud! She was serious. Well, I died a thousand deaths as I stood there, looking like that poor deer right before he took the bullet. The humiliation was unbearable, then it changed to disbelief. Who in their right mind asks anyone, let alone a 13 year old to make gravy! Well, people who live in the country do, that's who. Because of this unfortunate traumatic event I had gravy phobia for many years, but here is the proof, I finally conquered the beast.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Big Fat Secret Recipe for Gunk

Seriously, every time I make this everyone LOVES it. And it cleans out my pantry. It's sort of rice krispie treats on steroids. All amounts are approximate.

I use a 4.5qt dutch oven

Melt about 1/2 stick of butter over medium heat

Add about 1 1/2 bags mini marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted

Add a BIGASS scoop of peanut butter and stir till melted

Keeping heat on, add whatever cereal you have in the house until the pot is nearly full (Cheerios - regular or honey nut, Reeses, Rice Krispies, Rice Chex, Corn flakes all work well - mix and match. Cereals that are too sweet -Capn Crunch for example - will make the gunk too sweet)

Stir to coat - this works pretty easily if you keep the heat on

Dump the gunk into a buttered casserole dish. Do not press down. Heat the pan to release any stuck bits.

Serve with a spoon and eat like uncivilized beasts... with your hands.


What the cif's are eating.

I would love this to be a place where everyone can put up stories,pictures, recipes. About favorites, new discoveries,funny food stories, real or fiction. Now I need to learn how to make this so that everyone can create posts? Anyone have any ideas?