Chewy Lemon Cookies

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This is the first time i’ve ever made lemon cookies, and they are delicious!  I found the recipe on allrecipies.com, but used butter instead of vegetable oil, making them richer.  For something that came out of a cake mix, these are fantastic.  They took about 5 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to bake — super easy.  Give them a try!

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Lemon Cookies

Makes 2 dozen small cookies

1 18.25 oz. box of lemon cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter (or vegetable oil)

1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating.

1. Preheat the oven to 375

2. Beat the eggs slightly, then add them into a big bowl with the cake mix, eggs, and lemon extract.  Mix.

3. Once a dough has formed, use a spoon to make little balls.  Roll each ball in the powdered sugar until coated.  Place onto an ungreased cookies sheet.

4. Cook for about 9 minutes or until the cookies set.  Enjoy!

The Belgian Blue

Far away, in the eastern region of Liege, Belgium, farmers are breeding the Belgian Blue cow species.  The Belgian Blue is not your average bovine — frankly, they look like they’re on steroids.

Belgian Blues were originally, like most breeds of cows, bred for dual purposes; milk and beef.  However, many farmers in the second half of the 19th century wanted to increase the muscle mass of the native Belgian Blues, because of an increase in demand for meat.  As a result, Shorthorn Bulls were introduced from the UK to breed with the Belgian Blues.  The result was a much stronger cow, much better for meat.  Today, Belgian Blues are even more muscularly extreme (odditycentral.com).

These “super cows” have been selectively bred with only the strongest of Shorthorn Bulls for over a hundred years to achieve the desired, steroid look (Lillybiology.com).  When I first saw the pictures and videos of the cows, I though it looked unnatural and painful for the animals, but I researched and discovered that these cows are just as healthy as any other cow.  Although their legs look too small to uphold them, the cows are easily able to stand their 1000 lb. of pure muscle (Breeds of Livestock).  To better display their cows muscles to prospective meet buyers, farmers may even shave their cows along certain muscles.

According to the below National Geographic video, the process works by selecting bulls with a desirable gene, and mating only those bulls with the cattle.  The gene, in this case, is one that regulates the secretion of Myostatin.  In a normal bull or cow, this gene inhibits the growth of muscle when it gets to a certain size.  The bulls that created the Belgian Blues, however, have a defective form of that gene, allowing muscle to grow to twice their natural sizes.  Most prominent among the muscles are the shoulder, back, loin, and rump.  

So how is Belgian Blue meat different than other beef?  According to a 3 year study conducted by the USDA Meat Animal Research Center, The Clay Center and Nebraska, Belgian Blues meat has the same tenderness and flavor as the Hereford-Angus average, but with less shearing, implying a more tender piece of meat.   Not surprisingly, the Belgian Blue meat also displayed less than half the fat cover when compared to the Hereford-Angus.  Thus, this meat is some good stuff (Breeds of Livestock).

According to Bellebrook farms, which raises Belgian Blues, this meat cooks faster than most typical beef because of its lower fat content.  The meat should also be cooked at a lower temperature than your normal filet.  Furthermore, meat tastes best, according to the website, when cooked between rare and medium — just the way I like it.

I agree with the many comments I’ve seen on forums about these cows.  To me, it is shocking and a little disturbing to see the intense muscle, which looks very unnatural.  How can I eat something that looks so abnormal?

Ghana’s Yam Festival

Not a week ago, my Global Communication Systems professor brought in a guest lecturer from Ghana, Africa, to tell us about his country.  I didn’t know much about Ghana, so I was interested in what the tall, dark man had to say.  Smiling all the while, the kind man spoke about how politics and the media function in his respectable country.  To my surprise, it is not so different from America.   Ghana has generally free and fair political elections, as well as freedom of the press granted by the government, according to both the lecturer and Freedomhouse.org.  One of the only differences is that Ghana is not as technologically advanced as America.

Before the lecture, my view of Africa was based solely on the poverty commercials I see on television; the mainstream media painted this skewed picture of a starving continent that does not apply to all of Africa.  Thankfully, the 30 minute lecture opened my eyes to how advanced Ghana is and sparked my interest in the country’s food customs and culture.  I hope you enjoy this post and learn as much as I did!

A True Yam (huntgatherlove.com)

The often confused sweet potato. (foodsubs.com)

One of the most celebrated festivals in Ghana is the “homowo,” or yam festival.  Homowo literally means “hooting at hunger” to the Ga people.  A yam is a “tuber” (root vegetable) that is often confused with a sweet potato.  Yams are sweeter than sweet potatoes and can grow to be much bigger — up to seven feet long!  The tuber has a bark-like, blackish skin and a reddish, purple, or white flesh, depending on the variety.  The confusion between yams and sweet potatoes stemmed from colonial times when Africans saw a similarity in the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes from America.  Today, supermarkets even label sweet potatoes as yams!

A woman carrying yams after a harvest. (cookiesound.com)

The Ghanian yam festival is celebrated by the Ga people of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.  Homowo celebrates the Ga ancestor’s success in a new land.  Initially, the ancient Gas experienced a major famine during their migration to present day Accra, but were subsequently able to sustain themselves by planting ample food for harvest.

Ghanaian Drummers (freewebs.com)

The Yam Festival begins in May, when the Ghanian priests sow the millet.  Then, drumming is banned for thirty-days around the region, to leave the gods in peace so they can look over the yams (modernghana.com).  When the yams are ready for harvest, the party begins.  The women dig up the yams, and carry them home in baskets on their heads.  A young boy of the family is chosen to carry the best yams to the festival dinner, and he is followed by another boy beating a drum.  The chiefs, wearing colorful Ghanaian Kente cloth, follow the boys into the center of town.  Music, singing, and dancing fills the air on this special night.

Traditional Kente Cloth being hand woven. (kentecloth.net)

Although many West Africans today are Christian or Muslim, many still believe that spirits exist within all natural objects.  The towns people celebrate in hopes of pleasing the yam spirits for a good harvest next year.  They wear traditional clothing, as well as intricately painted animal masks.  The men wear masks to allow the harvest spirits to communicate with the community.  All the people gather around to celebrate all night, and great pride fills the family with the biggest yam harvest.

Ghanaians preparing for the Homowo festival. (news.xinhuanet.com)

Work’s Cited

http://www.vivienne-mackie.com/articles/holidays/family/yam.html

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/tribes/homowo_festival.php

http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/sweetpotatodiff.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/difference-between-sweet-potatoes-and-yams_n_1097840.html

http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/ghana

http://www.modernghana.com/news/395808/1/ban-on-drumming-book-long-and-matters-arising.html

Caviar

Beluga Caviar (Caviar for the Soul)

The word caviar comes from the Persian word “khaviar” (kha means egg in Persian).  These salted, processed fish eggs are enjoyed at special occasions today all around the world.  However, caviar is not newly prized; the Persian and Roman empires have been enjoying this delicacy for centuries.  Originally, the Persians used the eggs for medicinal purposes only, according to All About Caviar.  They discovered the eggs from sturgeons in the Caspian sea.  The Greeks, on the other hand, consumed caviar for pleasure.  They served the roe on platters filled with flowers to honor their royal rulers.

Salmon Caviar (fullfish.net)

Sturgeon Caviar

Sturgeon in Canada (riversportfishing.com)

Of the 400 sturgeon species, only three are used to make caviar: the Beluga, Ocsierte and Sevruga.  These three species inhabit the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea.  A large array of sizes, colors, textures of eggs can be obtained from these three species because age plays a role in the flavor and color of roe (History of Caviar).

The rarest, most expensive caviar is known as “almas caviar” that comes from the mature Beluga sturgeon.  Almas actually means diamond — a perfect name for this delectable good.  This Iranian delicacy is so rare that it can only be obtained in one place; the Caviar House & Prunier in London England’s Picadilly.  According to The Most Expensive Caviar in the World, one kilo of this almas caviar is served in a 24-karat gold tin for about $25,000.  Yes, you read me right — twenty-five thousand dollars.  

As sturgeon caviar goes, the older the fish, the more prized the roe.  Beluga’s mature after 25 to 40 years.  Mature Beluga sturgeons are difficult to find, with only about a hundred Belugas caught each year from the Caspian Sea (History of Caviar).  Belugas also carry the biggest eggs.  The rarity and size of this sturgeon’s eggs make this caviar very expensive.

There are three rankings for the quality of Beluga caviar: 0 refers to the younger, darker eggs; 00 refers to a medium toned egg; and 000 refers to the lightest, most expensive caviar that has a light grey color.  The 000 prized roe is known as “Royal Caviar”.  The name “royal” comes from history, when the eggs were reserved only for royalty.  The eggs have an earthy, nutty and fruity flavor, according to 911caviar.com.

Salmon Caviar

Salmon caviar is a bit different from the roe of sturgeon.  First off, it is not considered gourmet caviar.  Secondly, the darker and smaller the eggs, the higher the quality, as opposed to sturgeons, where the opposite holds true.  The best salmon roe comes from the dog salmon and is referred to as keta’s caviar.  This caviar is orange with a tinge of red (Different Kinds of Caviar).  In second place comes the light orange caviar of pink salmon, and red salmon’s caviar that has a maroon hue and larger size.  These varieties are priced from $8 to $160 per 8 oz. — less expensive than the sturgeon.

In this video, Andre Zimmern of Bizarre Foods is shown how sturgeon roe is processed in a farm in Central Florida.

Chocolate

I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like chocolate.  I personally think it’s the best invention of all time.  Whether I’m feeling down in the dumps or high as a kite, I could always go for a piece of chocolate.  Just recently, while enjoying a box of Forrero Rochers, I wondered; who discovered chocolate?  I learned that chocolate has a long history, and the art of confection is constantly being refined.

Ferroro Rocher (Phoolwala.com)

The Discovery

First off, I was surprised to discover that the Swiss people were not the first to discover chocolate.  Actually, there are records that the Mayans had been producing cocoa in Yucatan since before the year 1000.  The distinguished sweet quickly spread throughout Central America and was seen as a delicacy.  The chocolate was prized so much that it was used as a currency beginning in the year 1000 .  In 1513, Hernando Valdez reportedly bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans in America during Padrarias Avila’s expedition.

A Mayan Cup of Chocolate (Foodmuseum.typepad.com)

More specifically, the Swiss have Belgium to thank for chocolate.  In 1697 the mayor of Zurich, Heinrich Escher, encountered chocolate in Brussels and  brought it back to Switzerland.  For a while it was discretely consumed at special gatherings and guild meetings, but later banned by the Zurich council because it was thought to be an aphrodisiac and encourage immoral acts.

An Old Chocolate Factory in Bern, Switzerland (shutterstock.com)

Thankfully, chocolate reappeared in the 1730s when 2 Italians set up a chocolate factory near Bern, Switzerland.  Shockingly, the locals were not impressed with the sweets, so the factory shut down.  However, several years later, entrepreneurs began operating chocolate factories again which proved to be a huge success.  In 1792 the first Swiss chocolate shop officially opened its doors in Bern.

Chocolate Innovators

Switzerland has remained a leading producer of chocolate for centuries because of their high quality products and innovative ideas.  Before Swiss chocolatiers, chocolate was bitter and chalky.  However, Daniel Peter is the renown Swiss chocolatier credited with formulating a smooth milk chocolate.  He reportedly experimented for 8 years before stumbling upon the popular combination of milk and chocolate in 1875.  Today, over 80% of chocolate eaten in Switzerland is milk, thus the Swiss population would be lost if not for Daniel Peter.

Swiss Milk Chocolate (Justhungry.com)

The first fondant, or melting chocolate was crafted by the recognizable Rudolphe Lindt.  Mr. Lindt was the pioneer of conching, which is the process of kneading melted chocolate to create a smooth texture and eliminate the acidic flavor.  This groundbreaking technique is still practiced today.  Huge machines (which look like conchs) knead the dough at 110 degrees for anywhere from 24 to 60 hours.  The liquid chocolate is subsequently cooled in specialized machines to control the temperature and then molded into shiny, smooth bars of chocolate.

Nutella (leftoverqueen.com)

Finally, I saved the best invention for last; hazelnut chocolate.  Charles-Amedee Kohler strived to stand out from his competitors, so he experimented with different combinations until, at last, he developed hazelnut chocolate, a masterpiece. If I ever make the mistake of buying a jar of Nutella, it is gone within a week.

Sources

http://candy.about.com/od/candyfactoriesstores/ss/sb_choc_made_3.htm

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070513094552AANYbxD

http://www.chocolat.ch/chocolate/pionneers/

http://www.zchocolat.com/chocolate/chocolate/chocolate-by-country/swiss-chocolate.asp

http://www.chocolat.ch/chocolate/history/

Curry

I personally don’t love spicy foods, but for those of you who do, you will enjoy this post.

Millcreekspice.com

I started off my search with an article titled Spice World: 10 Top Countries for Curryand I realized there are a plethora of curry varieties out there.  So, I’ve chosen a few countries to zero-in on: India, Jamaica, and Thailand.  My goal is to explore the differences among curries in these three countries.

India and Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo (ecologicalmomblog.blogspot.com)

Vindaloo is a very spicy Indian curry which is currently popular in the UK and the US.  The word vindaloo, according to the anglo-indianfood blog, comes from the Portuguese word “Vinha De aAlhos”.  Vinha meaning wine or vinegar, and Alhos meaning garlic.  Hence, the first form of vindaloo was a vinegar and garlic based pork stew, served in Portugal.

turmeric (livelongerwithoz.com)

When vindaloo appeared in India, it was reinvented with the addition of spices.  Allegedly, the spices were used to preserve the raw meat (source).   A typical pork vindaloo marinade consists of cumin, turmeric, mustard, chilly, pepper, and a ginger-garlic  paste.  Once marinated, the meat is fried onions, curry leaves, and a tomato puree.  Although I could not explicitly find a source, I am almost certain vindaloo is a “dry” curry, meaning it has less of a sauce too it, and more of a coating of spices.  This dish is known to be the most spicy Indian curry.

Jamaican Curry

The iconic curry first came to the Caribbean in the 19th century, when Indian indentured workers began work in the British sugar industry (source).  Jamaicans added their own flare to the dish through the use of allspice and pimiento, as well as scotch bonnet peppers instead of chili peppers.  Visually, Jamaican curries tend to have a bright yellow color, and they also have thinner sauces than Indian curries.

Jamaican Lamb Curry (pepsakoy.blogspot.com)

According to jcskitchen.com, curry is a traditional staple in Jamaica.  It is served at virtually every restaurant, and is expected to be present at parties or special gatherings.    the most popular curry dish in Jamaica is curried lamb.  Top-secret family recipes for curried lamb are passed down from generation to generation.  If one’s lamb is faulty, they will be the talk of the town in Jamaica, and not in a good way.

Thailand

According to templeofthai.com, Buddhist monks from India brought curry to Thailand.  It was first introduced at a palace feast honoring King Rama in the beginning of the 18 century.  Out of this feast came two of the most popular Thai curry dishes; Masaman and yellow curry.  Masaman curry consists of a mix of spices including nutmeg and cinnamon, and yellow curry is made with turmeric, ground coriander seed, and red chilies powder.

Masaman Curry (asiasociety.org)

Thai curries are known to be “wet” curries, because they have a lot of broth.  Most Thai curries are either water, or coconut milk-based.  Those that are water-based are often spicier, because there is no coconut fat to cut the heat.

Yellow Curry (thaikitchen.info)

Chicken Parmesan — Rustic

I have a problem:  The only way I can generate a smooth, enthralling post is when I write everything within the same day, but I never have a sufficient block of free time to accomplish that.  Thus, I can’t manage to keep the ball rolling with my writing, and things just get plain awkward.

For example, I had written a couple of paragraphs of this post weeks ago, and I’m pouting on my couch now because I can’t pick-up from where I left off.  My new jokes don’t flow (they’re just not funny), and the new paragraphs as a whole do not mesh well.  Franky, I’m stuck with writer’s block.

The solution?  Write this post describing my writer’s block!  Genius.  Now it looks as though I’m typing useful information about food, when I’m really just babbling about nothing.

As much as I would love to blame our pet rat Biggie for this mess, I’ll admit that it’s my fault that I don’t post within one day.  Why?  Because  whenever I sit down to write, I’ll get a text or call about meeting up with a friend, and I always choose friends over blogging — not okay.  I should put more pressure on myself to post recipes within the same week of making them (not the same millennium).

Below is my post from a couple weeks ago.  I don’t know if it’s any good, but frankly I had to write something about the chicken, and didn’t want to rack my brains to type something new.

Here it is:

Who’s ready for some Italian home cookin’?

Mee!!!

This rustic chicken parmesan is crazy good.  (I say “rustic,” because it turned out kind of abstract)  The sloppy appearance is most likely due to the four inexperienced chefs who pieced it together. Those “inexperienced chefs” being me and three of my friends: Sheridan, Kaitlyn, and Hanna.  Sheridan is my big, Kaitlyn is Sheridan’s twin (making her my… cousin?) and Hanna is my little; just to clarify the family tree order.  (FYI — these girls are not my real relatives, just part of my sorority family).  If they were my real relatives, that would be odd that I attend school with them.

Now back to the chicken:

The homemade sauce is definitely the kicker for this dish.  Surprisingly, it required only a few key ingredients (onions, tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and pepper), which made it quick and easy — my favorite type of dish.  The chicken was super moist, and had a nice crust on the outside from the breadcrumbs.  Sheridan still raves about this chicken and requests that we make it again tonight.  Sadly, I told her I wanted to try something new so I could post it on my blog; too bad I’m a stickler for new recipes.

P.S.  We had so much left over, after doubling the recipe (I was expecting 20 people to waltz through my front door — only 5 showed.)  But I was able to freeze them and then reheat them at 450 for 20 to 30 minutes; conveniency at it’s best.

So here’s the recipe.  I’ll also post my father’s garlic bread recipe to go with it.  Enjoy!

Tyler Florence’s Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients

13 x 9 baking dish

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed

Pinch sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon water

1 cup dried bread crumbs

1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained

Freshly grated parmesan

1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

  1. Coat a saute pan with olive oil, and when oil is hazy, add the garlic, onions, and bay leaves.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until everything softens, and add some hand-torn basil.  Next, carefully add the tomatoes and stir, cooking until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce thickens.  After about 15 to 20 minutes, season with a little bit of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 450.  Cover the chicken with plastic wrap on a cutting board and pound them to 1/2 inch thick.  Mix the flour in a large plate with a bit of salt and pepper.  In a wide bowl, beat the eggs and water until frothy.  Put the bread crumbs in another large plate and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan at med-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, lightly dredge each chicken breast in seasoned flour, then egg mixture, and then bread crumbs.  Add the cutlets to the pan and fry for 4 minutes on each side until browned.
  3. Transfer the browned chicken into the baking dish and cover with the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle mozzarella, parmesan, and basil on top.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.  Serve hot with spaghetti and garlic bread.

Where does the Time Go?

It’s Saturday, and I’m positioned on my couch typing a million words a minute.  I’ve got to pick up on the pace on my posts.  Just yesterday, it seems, I was complaining about last Monday.  Now it’s already Saturday, and I’m dreading next Monday.  Again.  Where does the time go?

I should expect time to fly by when I have so much on my plate.  I’m taking 5 classes (one of them Japanese) so the majority of my time is spent studying.  Plus, I’m on banner and sign committee for AOII, so I’ve had to help decorate banners like crazy these past couple of weeks.

Even more chaotic, last week was filled to the brim with big little — the equivalent to Christmas within a sorority. <– (You probably think I’m exaggerating).  But really, our littles (new AOII members) are showered with gifts.  Each big sister surprises her little with an enormous wicker basket filled with AOII goodies.  I’ll give you an idea as to how much effort goes into big little by describing all of the gifts I crafted for Hanna, my little.

Basket Contents:

The above gifts were solely the handcrafted gifts.  I also presented her with an embroidered blanket, two AOII shirts (one embroidered especially for our AOII family), pretzels, a turvis tumbler, and a fabric pin with the word “lil” printed on it.  You get the picture; she had a gorgeous basket :).

Hanna was well-worth the time I spent decorating.  She has a sarcastic sense of humor, loves working out  (she’s an ex-gymnast — sooo cool), studies hard, and takes beer pong very seriously.

The last trait is most important… (just kidding heh).

But really, I can already call her a great friend of mine, and it’s only been a couple months.  If we get any closer we’ll be joined at the hip …literally!

Strangely, all of the effort I was willing to — better yet wanting to – put into big-little surprised me.  When I first joined AOII last spring, I never would have imagined feeling this vested in the organization.

I attribute my positive feelings towards AOII to this fall’s recruitment.  During the one week process, my sisters and I all had one common goal; to recruit the best girls for our house.   The long hours spent beside with my chapter solidified my place in AOII.  In my eyes, I had finally proved my dedication to the sorority.  I no longer felt I was trying to fit in, because I had made so many true friends who liked me for my own self.

So sentimental.

Oh, and I almost forgot what else I did….

I also had to craft 12 signs for Sigma Phi Epsilon’s annual Surf Frenzy, which is a sorority dance competition.  Thank goodness Brooklyn (my committee partner) and I had our friend Amber to help us, or we never would have formulated the 12 glittered pandas for each dancer.

** Congrats to the AOII dancers for winning 3rd place!**  (Viewers have been saying we should have won 1st, but hey, you can’t win all the time.)

All About Sukiyaki

Kansai Sukiyaki (The Japanese Food Report).

Most cultures have there own version of home-cooked comfort foods.  Americans have chicken noodle soup, and the British have beef stew with dumplings, for example.  The Japanese, furthermore, have several traditional comfort foods called nabe, which is short for nabemono, meaning “yummy stuff in a pot” in Japanese.  Nabe dishes are traditionally cooked at the table during the winter months, in an intimate setting.  If the name means anything, these dishes have to be delicious.  I’ve got my mind set on trying different varieties of nabe, such as Sukiyaki, Oden, Shabu Shabu, and Chanko Nabe, because winter is approaching, and I need to keep warm.

Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is the only dish that I had heard about before writing this post, mainly because my Japanese textbook mentions it in practice exercises all the time.  However, I still had no idea what it was — until today.  I now know that  sukiyaki is a rich, one-pot wonder filled with thinly sliced beef, veggies (shiitake and oyster mushrooms, spinach, and carrots), and konyaku noodles, all stir-fried in a sweet warishita sauce.

Sukiyaki enjoyed with family at the table (wrightangle.com).

Because many of the ingredients are foreign to me (and perhaps you, too), I took the time to learn about a few things.

First off, I had no idea what konnyaku noodles were, so, through Just Hungry, I discovered that Konnyaku is made from the konjac  (aka the konnyaku) plant, which is grown in the warm, mountainous regions of the eastern hemisphere, with the highest production in South West China (source).

The Konnyaku Plant (Cambreenotes.com)

Within this plant is glucomannan, a high fiber, zero calorie substance which can be made into noodles.  My first thought when I heard “noodle” was of flour noodles, but this Kannyaku is nothing like that.  Kannyaku is mostly water, with a geletinous, rubbery texture, according to Just Hungry.  Much like tofu, konnyaku does not have it’s own flavor, so it is used to absorb the flavors of sauces and spices (thekitchn.com).  I happen to have an interest in weird textured foods, so I would love to try konnyaku, but I have a feeling this noodle would be unappealing to certain newcomers.

Konnyaku Noodles (madehealthier.com)

Konnyaku block (thekitchn.com)

Another new term for me was warishita sauce.  I discovered what it was through The Japanese Food Report.  Turns out, this sauce is pretty simple.  It’s just 1 part sake, 1 part soy sauce, 1 part mirin, and a sprinkle of sugar.

Wait a second…what is mirin, you ask?

Japanese Mirin (asianfoodgrocer.com)

I had the same question.

I unearthed that mirin is a golden liquid made from steamed mochi-gome (glutenous rice), kome-koji (cultured rice), and shochu (a distilled alcoholic beverage).  These three components are mixed and fermented for 2 months (source).  If you don’t know about fermentation, read about it in my earlier post – it’s a rather interesting process.

Raw egg with Sukiyaki (gregwee.blogspot.com)

Now that all the ingredients are accounted for, let’s talk about cooking sukiyaki.  There are two versions of the dish; Kanto (from Tokyo), and Kansai (from Osaka).  In the Kanto variety, the beef is fried in its own fat in the pan, and then the veggies and konnyaku are added in neat batches to cook in the warishita sauce.  The Kansai variety varies only slightly in that everything is cooked in the pot at the same time (the meat is not fried first).  Finally, each bite of sukiyaki is dipped in raw egg, which adds richness.

Chocolate Chip Buck Wheat Pancakes

Is there a doctor out there?

I’ve been sick for over a week now, which is not normal.  I never get sick.

The worst thing about this head cold is that I can’t do all the activities I normally would.  I’m stuck sitting on the couch watching the food network all day.  No working out, no going to parties, no cooking.  (Never mind the cooking part, I’ve still been doing quite a lot of that.)  But what is the world coming to!?  I’m tired of sleeping with my mouth open!

Okay, I’ve boo-hoo’d enough.  At least I’ve had lots of time to post my recipes (they’ve been building up).  Since last game day I’ve made cupcakes, brownies, pancakes, and chicken parmesan.  Gotta get on that post status.

Now, onto my recipe for buck wheat pancakes.

I make these pancakes regularly with Kate; they’re very versatile.  Depending on my mood, I may throw in some walnuts, oatmeal, mashed banana, or even flax seed.  This time, however, I went a classic route and added chocolate chips to them, taking them over the top.

These pancakes are simple, too, considering I’m using a pancake mix – Bob’s Red Mill, to be exact.  Bob’s Red Mill is a healthy alternative to most mixes, which can have a lot of sugar.  (Of course, putting chocolate chips and syrup on my pancakes kind of defeated the purpose of the buck wheat – oh well).

Whether you make them healthy or not, you’ve gotta give these pancakes a try: You’ll be surprised at how amazing they taste.

Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Pancakes

Servings: 4 medium sized pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat pancake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 Cup cold milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • butter or oil for greasing pan

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients up to the chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Grease a skillet on medium heat, and pour about a half a cup of batter into the pan.
  3. When the pancake begins to bubble, it is ready to be flipped.  Cook on the other side for around 2 minutes, and then serve.
  4. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all of the batter.
  5. Enjoy!