Pancakes

ImageMy kids love pancakes. Almost every morning, they’d ask me to make some for breakfast. On weekends they would offer to help me mix the batter and so to us, pancakes are not just pancakes anymore. Pancakes are our mornings.
I used to buy the pancake mix from the store but after I checked the ingredients list, I decided to make our own batter. It is healthier, cheaper and much more fulfilling to make.
Ingredients:
1 egg
1 cup fresh milk
3 tbsp sugar
1.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp (7.5 g) baking powder
vanilla (optional)
butter (optional)

Directions:
1. Beat the egg and mix in the milk and sugar.
2. Mix the flour and baking powder. (butter and vanilla)
3. Heat the non-stick pan. When it is hot enough, ladle the batter and cook and flip when the batter does not stick on the pan anymore.
4. Serve with syrup, butter, fruits or anything you fancy.

I used to put butter in it but when I realized that it is good even without the butter, so I just did without. I am trying to minimize our fat intake.

And of all times to learn life lessons, I learned a lot from cooking pancakes. When I first cooked pancakes, I was impatient. I put the heat on high just to heat the pan fast. The first pancake got burned. I put it on low but flipped the pancake too early, I got a misshapen pancakes. So I therefore conclude, life is cooking pancakes. Take it easy, don’t hurry and when it gets hotter, cool down a bit, else you’ll get burned. Wait for the bubbles to pop before you flip. Cheesy, but my mornings are made of these.

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Ken’s Pre-Birthday Celebration

Ken's Pre-Birthday Celebration

We had a small celebration at the church last Sunday to celebrate Ken’s 6th birthday which is today, December 11. He wanted another chocolate cake so I made this one. I didn’t have enough KitKat bars thus the pretzel sticks. It was a mess of a cake but in the eyes of my son, it was the best cake eer. He was very proud of it and I was very proud of him. We call the gold coins doubloons and he only gets them after a day of being a good boy as a reward. So he was so excited when he saw that many doubloons. Well he has been a very good boy and he deserved it! Design-wise, the cake has many flaws as criticized by our in-house designer. So I cut a bit of the sticks to compensate. I used this recipe from Epicurious with just 1cup sugar and milk chocolate ganache. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Inside-Out-German-Chocolate-Cake-103202

Kaye’s Cake

Kaye's Cake

I whipped this simple cake and decorated it with the kids’ favorite chocolates and ganache. It is small and really so simple and easy but the excitement and delight I saw in their faces especially Kaye’s is very priceless. Now, what to do with Ken’s cake next week? Any ideas?

It’s Spring! (Wagashi)

ImageOne year in Toyohashi! It has been a great year for the family. So many blessings. So many friends. So many opportunities. Ken begins his last year in preschool while Kaye will hopefully begin her first year in October. Rad goes to a new journey in his career and while I will still be in the same post doing the same job, I hope that it will be a great year of teaching. With the blooming of flowers and sprouting of seeds,  I pray that the next cycle of seasons will bring forth as many blessings and opportunities for everyone.

The picture above is a Wagashi (和菓子) made from sweet azuki (Vigna angularis) bean paste. They come in many types, colors and shapes. It is spring so this wagashi is shaped liked the sakura or cherry blossom. It is best paired with tea.

Fry Pan Steamed Cake

Image

Spring break is nearly over and I just had to post at least one before work starts again. So all those free time in school were spent mostly behind my desk pretending to be busy or holed up in the library browsing on recipe books. I have been baking almost every other day for school or church but mostly for the Rad and the kids. It seems that  we always run out of bread or biscuits to give the kids for snack lately so I have to make more before I leave for work.

Eating baked goods everyday is not good especially for us adults. Although I don’t use butter, minimize the sugar and I limit the number of eggs I use to just 1 per baking, Rad and I can still feel those calories stacking up in our bodies. Today, I found this cake in one of the old recipe books. It is called Mushi Cake (蒸しケーキ) or steamed cake. I’ll call it Fry Pan Cake because, I cooked it in a fry pan.

Ingredients:     Makes 6 servings

  • 100 g       flour
  • 3 tbsp      sugar
  • 1 tsp        baking powder
  • 1 tbsp      cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp      salad oil
  • 75 ml       mil
  • chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Sift the dry ingredients. (Or not if you are in a hurry. It still works.)
  2. Add in the wet ingredients and just mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the batter into foil cups or silicon cups. (The ones I used were actually for bento but silicon is silicon. )
  4. Put them in a fry pan, add half cup of water (or 1/4 cup). (I put a lot because I thought 1/4 cup wasn’t enough).
  5. Cover the fry pan and steam for 8 minutes or until you can see the crust breaks.

It was easy, fast, no egg, no butter and still very delicious. Ken ate 2 right away. You can also make the cheese version by omitting the cocoa and adding cream cheese or any cheese when you pour the batter.

Mangantayon!

Amazake

One rainy and chilly winter day in one of my schools, the principal asked me if I would like some Amazake. Naturally I didn’t know what it was and the only thing that my ears caught was the word “sake” which is of course, wine or alcohol and thus, made me wonder how come she was offering me one! Is this school sooo different from the others that they can drink sake during work hours? After the double take, I just had to ask again if she was serious. She laughed. No, Amazake is not all alcoholic. It is “amai” or sweet and it is called “sake” because it is rice fermented with Aspergillus oryzae, same fungus that they use to make rice wine. She said that not many are drinking it these days because it is very old custom to drink amazake in winter.

It was indeed so sweet you wouldn’t believe it didn’t contain any sugar at all. They say it is a good cure for hangover. With its sweetness, I think that is true. (I am not about to drink myself to oblivion to prove that.) For those who are not so keen about adding sugar as sweetener, this is a good alternative.

Choco Fondant

Rad and I used to binge on Beard Papa’s choco fondant. It costs 200 yen a piece and despite the high-calorie content, one was never enough for me. So, when Ken asked me to let him bake again, I showed him a picture of a choco fondant and he said “yes” right away.

We used the recipe from Videojug on How to make a choco fondant. Except that we didn’t add the mint. I used couverture bitter chocolate tablets and so I had to add the sugar. At this point, I would like to mention that at last, I noticed the labels of the chocolates I have been using and have finally educated myself on the types of chocolates used for baking and what those numbers mean. Chocolate.com said that for a 70% chocolate, it means, it contains 30% sugar. Couverture on the other hand is a very high quality chocolate which must be at least 54% cocoa solids and is mostly used for dipping, coating, garnishing and molding, so yes, ooops. I have been using couverture chocolate in all my previous recipes.  This is what I had become eversince I came to Japan. It looked like chocolate, so it is chocolate and thus can be used when a recipe calls for a chocolate. Now that I have educated myself, I went back and read the packaging of all the chocolates I have and true enough, everything said, they are good for coating! Not that they are not good for something else other than that though.Now I really don’t know the difference had I used the normal baking chocolate but the important thing is, they all turned out good.

So anyway, with the choco fondant, I got to use my new silicon muffin cups too. Despite that, I still followed the directions and coated the cups with butter and cocoa powder. They all came out good. So good that Ken ate 3 immediately. Rad and I were only able to share 1 between us. The other, Ken wanted to save it for his breakfast  (I know, it is not good mothering.). Good thing though is, I was able to make a 1200 yen worth of Choco Fondant for just less than 500 yen plus some quality time with Ken.