Saturday, February 28, 2009

simple apple cake

I made a simplified version of apple cake the other day. It was a quite "thin" cake, and I made in my ceramic quiche dish. Seemed to work well.

apple cake
My first apple cake!

Simple Apple Cake

100 g. glour
1/4 t. baking power
1/4 t. salt
130 g. sugar
1 envelope vanilla sugar (vanillinzucker)
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1/3 c. butter, softened or melted (but not too hot)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 4-8 pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix everything well. Pour into a baking pan. Use a fork or a knife to "mark" or cut (but not all the way through) the apple slices, place on the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes. Voila!

You can also sprinkle some powdered sugar before serving.

apple cake

I was thinking, since the apple slices on top are the only apple element in the recipe, I can theoretically replace the apple with other fruit like peaches and possibly come up with a peach cake some time. We'll see.

Or, I can dice the apples and make the whole cake more apple-y.

Friday, February 27, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Kushiya: Food on a Stick

When we went to Osaka we visited this little place where you eat fun fried foods on sticks, and drink beer, and be happy.

I did a quick research online before heading off to Tokyo and found that Kushiya serves food on sticks and you get to fry your own sticks at your table.

I checked their web site and decided to go to one of their stores in Shinjuku.

shinjuku night
After being lost for a little bit, we found the store among these signs.

It was a night before a national holiday, so the restaurant was busy. I think we waited about half an hour or so before we were seated. Not too bad.

We were guided to our "frying table." A girl explained to us how things work.

Kushiya designed their seats with a box underneath, where you can store your jackets and accessories in to avoid the risk of having your clothes catch the "fry smell." Cool.

Food area at Kushiya.

At the food area customers can get meats, vegetables, seafood, savory cakes and such on sticks inside the refrigerated glass cases. There were also other food items like soups, rice, snacks, and desserts.

You can theoretically fry any kind of food in the store. They supply you with a light batter and crumbs, and off you start frying!

I got all kinds of fun stuff.

Ahhh I love those small fish with lots of roe inside.

Frying guide at the table.

John taking a bite.

I was frying seafood, cakes, sausages, chicken, meatballs, and all sorts of crazy ingredients. There were also different dipping sauces for people to choose from.

We had quite a few sticks!

We also had almond tofu and custard for dessert. Yum.

Overall the food was OK, but the experience was fun and interesting!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

waffle house

For the past couple times we were in Denver, and were hungry late at night, we would go to Waffle House. It's open 24 hours a day, so we could go and have hot meals any time!

waffle house
It was a small but lovely diner, with a cool guy cooking and a happy lady serving. (late at night)

waffle house
Fairly extensive menu.

waffle house
Oooo what should I get?

waffle house
I think I got a ham & cheese omelet meal... with toast and hash brown, and little sausage patties.

Their has brown is different than that I was more used to... they were almost like short noodles! The sausage patties were firm and flavorful.

double waffle
John got their double waffle.

The waffles were thin(ner), pretty, and buttery.

Ahh I wish there's some waffles in front of me right now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Shinjuku at Night

The day we went to Ueno we bought a JR East Day Pass, so we figured we'd take advantage of the pass and ride to as many places as we could. We bought some treats and goodies at Ameyayokocho (in Ueno) and brought it back to the hotel (in Ikebukuro) first, then we decided to go to Shinjuki to have dinner at Kushiyamonogatari, which would be a post of its own later on.

We arrived at Shinjuku on the JR, and did get lost for a little bit... but we got to see the pretty and sparkling shinjuku lights!

shinjuku night

shinjuku night
I really like this photo... it almost looks like something mysterious is coming down from the sky!

shinjuku night
One of the things that were really interesting to me was that there could be tons of different small businesses, food or retail, within the same building in Tokyo... and they have the signage to prove it!

I took some more pictures, but most of them were a bit fuzzy... I like them, however, so if you like you can check them out on my flickr.

Oh, and we did manage to find the restaurant among the busy streets and buildings. It was on the 7th floor by the way.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Kappabashi Faux Foods

After Ameyayokocho we decided to check out Kappabashi, which was said to be the largest restaurant supply street in Tokyo. I checked out the map in front of the Ueno Station and thought Kappabashi was not too far to walk to... but it was! At one point while we were walking I thought we were lost. Thankfully a police I later found another station that was closer by, though.

Anyhow, to my dissappointment, many of the stores were closed due to the long holiday weekend... but I still had fun looking at the shops that were open.

Niimi Man.

When we saw this guy with a chef hat on, we knew we were close! Niimi was at the beginning of the Kappabashi street.

Among the shops that were open, the ones that interest me the most were the faux food stores.

faux parfait
Faux parfait!

There were also faux sundae, azuki bean soup, and other dessert items. They looked so real! A bit pricey though. The faux parfait were 4,700 yen a piece... but they would never go bad!

faux sushi
Faux sushi. The colorful ones on the left were scoops of ice-cream.

faux mochi
Faux mochi.

I think these were my favorite! They looked so real... with the katakuriko (potato starch) on the outside and all! Plus I love mochi.

faux japanese food
Faux donburi (rice bowls).

I think they actually put individual grains of rice in these!

faux japanese food
Faux seafood and noodles.

Many of the restaurants have these in their windows, especially those in department store food floors. I'm excited every time I see them. They are just awesome!

Monday, February 23, 2009

jasper went to the vet's

A couple weeks ago I post about how Jasper liked to stick his tongue out. I asked a few of my friends who have cats, and they told me the tongue "action" was normal, but I still decided to have the vet check Jasper out, just to be sure he's OK.

The vet told us Jasper had an infection near one of his teeth Thursday. Friday we brought Jasper back to the Vet's office to have the infection taken care of. This poor little guy had 3 of his teeth out after the vet cleaned up the infection! :(

When Jasper first got home everyone wanted to see him.

He was a bit groggy for a couple of hours.

Jasper is tough, and he's doing all right. John and I have been giving him wet food under the vet's instructions, and we've also been able to sneak in his antibiotics and pain meds in the food without him noticing.

Maybe he knew there was medicine, but he eats his food anyhow. Good boy.

The only thing that really bothers him is the wrap on his front left leg. I guess that was where the vet shaved his hair, and stuck the IV needles in. Jasper still tries to shake it off and/or bite it off. I think we'll pull the wrap off and check it soon to make sure his skin is not irritated too much.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Ameyayokocho: Seafood Donburi

I had read about this great place inside Ameyayokocho that had wonderful seafood donburi, so we thought we'd have it for lunch when we visited there.

We had to stay in line for a little bit, but then we were easily entertained by looking and trying to read off the colorful menu:

seafood donburi menu
John was pointing at the middle-toro and maguro (tuna) donburi.

There were too many choices! On top of deciding what we were going to have, I also needed to memorize the words of that particular donburi so I could order for us (since there was no menu by the register.) That was interesting.

seafood donburi place
There were a couple of tables outside where customers shared the spaces. This was actually where we were seated later on.

We were standing behind an outside table and we were almost at the ordering counter.

seafood donburi place
It's true. The whole store was only this big.

It was our turn to order and I spelled out what we were having to the lady... thank goodness she understood me.

seafood donburi
I had the Ikura (salmon roe) and Maguro (tuna) donburi. Both the salmon roe and the tuna tasted really fresh and delicious. I was in love.

salmon donburi
John had the Ikura (salmon roe) and Yaki-Salmon (grilled salmon) donburi. I think the salmon was actually more "seared" than "grilled." John liked it.

The shop was tiny and not-so-super-fancy-looking, and the dishes were actually pretty simple, where different seafood was prepared and placed on rice (usually with a little bit light soy sauce) in a bowl, but very delicious. I guess when you have fresh seafood, descent knife skills, and well-cooked rice, creating something simple and yummy is not difficult. That was one of the things I enjoyed the most when visiting Japan... tasting simple but good food!

Oh, and the shop offers a bowl of miso soup, as well as iced buckwheat tea (self-serve on the table) with the donburi. Nice.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

saturday morning cappuccino

I poured this one in a 6 oz cup.

Saturday morning cappuccinos make me happy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

asian meat sauce for noodles

I made some Asian meat sauce for noodles in the slow cooker (crock pot). It's really easy I think it's really tasty on noodles or rice.

meat sauce for noodles
OK I think I put a little bit too much meat sauce on my noodles.

Asian Meat Sauce for Noodles

1 lb. ground pork
1 package hard tofu (the "pressed" kind that's brown on the outside), cubed
2 T miso
2 T sweet flour sauce (optional - substitute with 2 T miso)
2 T chopped garlic
2 t Asian chili paste/sauce/oil
1/4 C rock sugar (crystals or chunks) or white sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
fresh ground pepper
enough water to just cover all ingredients in the slow cooker

I mixed everything in the slow cooker and cook it on high for 4 hours and it's done!

It's really yummy on noodles by itself. I also tried to boil some frozen broccoli while cooking the noodles and place it on the noodles before pouring on some meat sauce and it was really tasty, too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Ameyayokocho: Bakudan-Yaki

I've heard of the "bakudan-yaki" inside Ameyayokocho. These were pretty much a larger version (according to the signage, 7 times bigger!) of takoyaki, with more ingredients and spices.

Inside a "regular" bakudan-yaki there were a quail egg, a small sausage, some seafood bites, corn, and red ginger... 10 ingredients to be exact. After they were "grilled" with a batter and into a ball, they were put in a box where some bonito flakes, a special sauce, and some mayo was poured on. When you order

giant takoyaki stand

giant takoyaki
There were all sorts of flavors/toppings for the bakudan-yaki. If you're not quite sure what or how to order, you can just point at one of these food models and the girls at the counter would tell you its official name and smile at you.

giant takoyaki stand
Everything looked very pink except for the bakudan-yaki. The girls were really cute and friendly.

I got one with mentai (fish roe) topping.

John got one with kare (curry) mayo topping.

OMG. They were so yummy! It was a cold day when we were there, and eating one of these bakudan-yaki made me feel warm and happy all over!

giant takoyaki
Bakudan-Yaki combo.

Ah, and isn't this the coolest thing: A Bakudan-Yaki combo. You can eat the bakudan-yaki and sip your Coke at the same time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Am I way behind or what? I'm on Twitter now.

Still playing with it a little bit, but it's been interesting.

bundt cake

I found a couple of large and heavy bundt cake pans and made a cake in one of them the other day.

golden butter cake

It turned out OK, but its texture somehow was not as good as I expected. I guess regular cake recipes just won't cut it in a bundt cake pan. I shall find a good bundt cake recipe and try again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Ameyayokocho: People and Stands

After Ueno Park we walked for a couple of blocks and arrived at Ameyayokocho. It was a street filled with food stands, small specialty shops, seafood stands, and other food vendors. Since the day we were there was part of the national holiday long weekend, there were tons and tons of people as well.

Beginning of Ameyayokocho.


It was so crowded John and I literally just held hands and wished we wouldn't lose each other in the crowd. It was crazy! I pretty much take tiny little steps and let the crowd push me along for a while.

fruit on a stick
Fruit on a stick.

I've read in other people's blogs that these sticks of fruit were yummy. I didn't try it, even though they did look juicy and sweet.

specialty 1000 yen shop
1000yen specialty shop.

This shop was selling big bags full of goodies for 1000yen a piece. The guy standing up higher would grab some cookies, candies, or other treats and put them in a big bag, and tried to get customers to buy that particular bag. If no one was buying, he'd grab some more treats and plead again. Very entertaining to watch I'd say, and plenty of people got many of the bags!

seafood stand
A seafood stand.

There were many seafood stands inside Ameyayokocho as well. A lot of them would have signs saying that the seafood they were selling were just in from Tsukiji. They did seem very fresh.

some- yaki
These were called "ameyoko-yaki," I think.

I didn't quite get its name... but they did look very delish, and plenty people were in line waiting to purchase some.

More people.

There were many choices for food and treats, and we managed to try two, which I am going to post about next. :)

long jasper

It's been kind of snowy or cloudy for the past few days (and I love it!)

Every time there's a break in the wet weather and the sun comes out, Jasper would stretch out on the rug in the front room and he'd look long and giant!

He almost looks like a big black mop.

and this is Jasper in his "original" form.

Jasper has this spot above his eye where there seems to be an irritation to the skin. You can only see it when you look at it from above. We're having the vet check it out soon.