Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Trying Japanese Recipes

Dear Readers,

If you follow my Instagram account, you would see a sudden surge of food pictures.  I am trying to find new ways to add more vegetables to my diet so I tried to cook Japanese dishes.

It is really fun to discover new spices and ways of cooking!  Now I am addicted to the Japanese grocery store!  I can't read Japanese but the people working in the store are always very nice and they showed me where to find the food I was looking for!

At first I was a little afraid to see so many unfamiliar ingredients, sauce, and vegetables I have never heard of.  But the following websites were really helpful!  And their videos are really well-done and easy to follow.

Just One Cookbook by Namiko Chen 

Ochikeron by Ami Nishimura

These are my favorite go-to bloggers for learning about Japanese cuisine.  Their instructions are in English and their recipes are delicious!

I sometimes have to change the recipes slightly because of my diet restrictions.  In general, I would modify the recipes to use leaner meat cuts, less fat and less salt.

Below are some of the meals I cooked.  I didn't take picture of every single recipe I tried though.  Sometimes it's a miss and sometimes it's a hit!  It's all part of learning so I don't expect to like every new recipes!   

Do you eat Japanese food?  Would you try to cook them at home?

Soba noodles and Tsuyu soup base

Green tea soba buckwheat noodles with grated daikon, wasabi, scallions and tsuyu dipping sauce

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) lots of cabbage in this!
Teriyaki chicken and shiro miso soup

Takoyaki (octopus balls)

Tamagoyaki (japanese omelette), steamed brocoli, fried okra, roasted seaweed, miso soup
Tempura shrimps and green beans with tsuyu dipping sauce



Monday, September 7, 2015

Loft to Love

Dear Readers,

How was your weekend?  I had a day off on Monday because it was Labor day!  I met with my relatives for lunch and then I stopped at Target to buy a few things (you can't go to Target without buying something...) and then I saw this fantastic dollhouse!

It's called the Loft To Love or the Lori Dollhouse made by OG.  It's intended for 6 inch (15.24 cm) dolls and include a kitchen set and working lights in the kitchen.  To learn more about this dollhouse and the Lori dolls, you can go to LoriDolls.com (however, the website does not seem to be working yet).

The dollhouse does not come with any dolls or other pieces of furniture.  The pricing is as follows:

Dollhouse: $49.99
Each furniture sets: $12.99
Each doll: $9.99
Each doll outfit: $6.99

I only bought the dollhouse and one set of furniture.  I will explain why later.

The dollhouse itself has a very modern design.  Two floors plus a rooftop patio.  It seems made of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) (I don't know for sure, I am just guessing) with wallpapers on the outside.  I think the wallpaper would get damaged easily it it gets wet but it is sturdy enough for children to play with.


I love how it comes with a kitchen!  All the appliances are completely removable and all drawers do open.  The ceiling has two lamps that work with batteries.

I have always been looking for a dollhouse that would fit my Strawberry Shortcake dolls!  She looks a little small for that kitchen though.

Here below is a photo of other dolls for size comparison.  It think the Chelsea and Picco Neemo dolls are the right size for this dollhouse.

The dollhouse comes with a catalog with a few pictures of the furniture sets and dolls.

I didn't really like the furniture sets except for the desk set and the patio set (which I will try to find tomorrow).   The living room furniture were very simple and I didn't really like the colors.  And I already had a bed set that could fit for this dollhouse so I only bought the desk set.




Chelsea is perfectly to scale with this dollhouse and the furniture.

Here below are some views from outside the house to show you how it looks. 




I like this dollhouse very much because it is sturdy and the design is really modern!  The stairs are a big hit with the children!

I didn't buy the dolls because I already had other dolls at home that would fit this dollhouse but they seem very nice and well made!  The extra outfits (sold separately for $6.99) is a nice touch! 

There were also a ballet studio and a trailer van made by the came company but I didn't get them.  It was however very tempting because it looked so beautiful!  I think this new line of dolls will become very successful and I hope they come up with more sets in the future!




Friday, September 4, 2015

Easy Chicken Congee

Dear Readers,

It's finally Friday.  It has been a long and busy week at the office and I didn't feel like cooking when I got home.  So I decided to make a quick and easy Chicken Congee, also known as Chicken Rice Porridge.

I posted the picture of my congee on Instagram and Melissa from Julia's Bookbag asked me for the recipe so here it is :)

My recipe is a lazy one because I used a prepared vegetable broth bought at the store instead of making my own chicken broth.  It would taste better if you make your own chicken stock of course but in case of last minute meals, this works pretty well.

What I like about congee is that you can modify the recipe according to your taste.  My grandmother used chicken drumsticks and my mother added chicken bones to add more flavor to the broth.  I used chicken breast because it is less fatty but you can also make it with ground beef or pork or even fish filets or tofu.

And the toppings or garnishes are the best part!  Some like to add roasted peanuts, fried shallots, crispy fried bread, been sprouts, sliced cabbage, boiled eggs, etc.  It's really up to you!  Put in what you like to eat in your congee!

Some like to add soy sauce, fish sauce, or salt but I am trying to eat healthy so I don't like to add any more sodium than it is necessary. 

Recipe for Easy Chicken Congee

Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups broth (vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice (add more rice if you like)
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into big chunks
  • 1 big piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground pepper

Garnish: (optional)

(you can add a lot more or use only the garnish you like)
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Fried shallots
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Crispy fried bread
  • Sliced cabbage
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Hot chili pepper

Sauce : (optional)
  • Hot Chili sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Sesame seed oil

Combine all the ingredients in a pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and and let simmer half-covered until the grain of rices are all broken down.  Add more water or broth if necessary.  Some like their congee to be thicker so it really depends on you.

Turn off the heat and take out the chunks of chicken.  Let it cool down enough so you can use your fingers to shred the chicken into long julienne or bite-sized pieces.  Place the chicken pieces back into the pot.

Stir gently and add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into 4 bowls and add the garnish you like.

Voilà!  Easy?  Super easy :)

Please let me know if you know other variations of this dish!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Byul-tiful Photo Contest

Dear Readers,

I bought a Byul doll a month ago.  I wanted to participate in the Byul-tiful Photo Contest organized by the Dal House Forum so I got myself a Byul Cocotte who is a doll collaboration with Angelic Pretty, the Lolita clothing brand.

Byul is made by the South Korean company Groove, the same company that creates Pullip and Taeyang dolls.  She is Dal's best friend.  Here below is a quick introduction to these dolls and their relationship to each other (from Wikipedia):

Pullip (풀잎) means "blade of grass/leaf" in Korean

Namu (나무, tree); he is Pullip's former boyfriend

Taeyang (태양, sun); he is Pullip's boyfriend

Dal (달, moon); she is Taeyang's younger sister

Byul (별, star); she is Dal's best friend

Isul (이슬, dew): he is Pullip's younger brother

Yeolume (열매, berry/fruit); she is Pullip's future daughter

Are you still following me? :)

Dal is my favorite doll but I had yet to purchase a Byul.  I love Lolita fashion so I decided to get Byul Cocotte.  I named her Delphine.

Here are my entries for the photo contest which spanned over 4 weeks.  We had to submit one picture each week according to a chosen theme, for a total of 4.

Week 1: Beautiful
"Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"
Since "Beautiful" is the first theme of the Photo Contest, I thought of the vain Evil Queen jealous of Snow White's beauty. Pullip Merl takes on the role of the Evil Queen and Byul Cocotte as Snow White.


Week 2 : Crush
The second theme for the Byul-tiful contest is "crush" so here is my take on it. Delphine has a crush on Isul so she wants to let him know. During class, she asks Yeolume to pass to Isul her love note.


Week 3 : Best Friend
The third theme for the Byul-tiful photo contest is "Best Friend".  Delphine's best friend is always there to lend a sympathetic ear to her stories.


Week 4 : Oh My!
"The awkward moment when you walk into somebody who just got out of the shower... "
The last theme is "Oh My". Byul has to be in a scene where she shows her trademark surprised expression.


It was a very fun contest and I learned a lot because the judges would post their critics of the pictures.  It was informative and I am thankful to the judges and organizers.  I am glad to have participated although I don't think I would win anything!

To view the other photos submitted in the Byul-tiful contest, you can go to the  Photo Contest Flickr Album HERE.

I hope I will be able to take better pictures of my dollies in the future :)