New Year’s Day French Toast

Start this New Year’s Eve, because it will be great for an early New Year’s breakfast.

If it’s too late for you to start this now, start with Step 4. Do Step 5, then go back to Step 1. Instead of soaking overnight, the bread will soak for a few hours while you go back to bed.

Vegan? Here is a link to several incredibly delicious sounding versions I want to try as soon as I can. Tahini sweetened with maple syrup? Oh boy what am I waiting for?

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FRENCH TOAST BAKED IN HONEY-PECAN SAUCE

from Intercourses by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge with a few of my suggestions

1) Combine 4 eggs, ¾ cup cream (half-and-half), ½ teaspoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl.

2) Pour half of this mixture into a baking dish.

3) Place 4 thick slices French bread in the pan and top with the other half of the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4) Find out what time the sun rises in the morning (try timeanddate.com), set your alarm clock and go to bed.

5) The next morning, pull everyone out of bed and go outside to watch the sun rise. Talk with your neighbors.

6) When you return home, take the soaked bread slices out of the refrigerator.

7) Melt ¼ cup butter in another baking dish, and stir in ¼ cup each brown sugar, honey, maple syrup. Add the soaked bread slices.

8) Bake at 350 °F / 175 °C for 30-35 minutes until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

9) Go for a really long walk when you have finished eating. Then return home and curl up for a good nap.

Oliebollen

It’s been more than a year since the store first opened, and people are still waiting patiently in looooonnng lines for several treasured boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts close to Shinjuku Station here in Tokyo.

I don’t get it.

The novelty hasn’t worn off? Do these donuts really really really taste that much better?

Ah, but then I think of oliebollen. I suppose you could call them Dutch donuts…except that’s not quite what they are. Fritters, maybe? They can clog arteries, yes, so wise people eat them in moderation. They’ve been around since at least 1650, and no Dutch New Year’s Eve would be complete without them.

Come on, give these a try. You weren’t really going to start that diet until next week anyway. At least go ice skating or take a brisk hour-long walk while the dough is rising.

If you are being careful with the foods you eat, terrific. But I still say you should make these, and then you should give them to all the kids you can find. Bet you can’t resist sneaking a taste.

Here we go!

Continue reading

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I’m finally catching up on my summer reading, and it’s so glorious to just sit and read for hours on end. Well, 30 minutes at a time. My attention span isn’t what it used to be.

I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver packed up her husband and two daughters and moved to a farm where, for a year, they “vow[ed] to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.”

Fascinating reading. Barbara Kingsolver provides the story, month by month, of the dos and don’ts and whatabouts of living as locally as possible. If you haven’t started already, you’ll be thinking very much about the food you eat, in particular where your food comes from and how much it costs the world (monetarily, emotionally, nutritionally).

Kingsolver’s often smile-producing story is further illustrated with significant side-bar facts provided by her husband, while her older daughter’s recipes make you want to cut classes or leave work early and start cooking right now. (Small warning: not everyone in the family is vegetarian, so there are multiple references to non-vegetarian eating habits.)

You’ll discover that teenage roosters don’t automatically croon cock-a-doodle-doo, and one night, you’re going to lie awake furiously giggling over the sex lives of turkeys.

Here is the interview on NPR while the printable recipes and more can be found on the book’s website here. I could go for those zucchini chocolate chip cookies right now.

In fact, that’s possibly the only complaint I have: while reading the book, it is very tempting to ignore the seasons while I write my food shopping list. It’s December, and I’m pretty sure I can get asparagus – albeit at a really high price – when asparagus is not at all in season. Kingsolver reminds us over and over that many of us have no clue (anymore, if ever) about when foods are in season, seeing as we often have access to grocery stores and the internet that supply foods year round.

Yeah, you want to grow your own garden now, too, don’t you?

Good Bread

First Troy tells of his disastrous debut with his bread machine (hey Troy, did your new one arrive yet?).

Then, I watched the Word on the Street podcast from Sesame Street on pumpernickel bread (it’s a delightful podcast you’ll want to subscribe to – here you go, you can start now!).

Mmmm, pumpernickel. It’s that deep brown very fragrant bread made with caraway seeds. I haven’t had pumpernickel bread in years. I thought I’d once found pumpernickel bread here in Japan, but that was bread made with squid ink. Oops.

I’ve never made it. Off I go to my trusty cookbooks to find a recipe.

I don’t have a recipe for pumpernickel bread. How can this be?

Research time.

I discover that the orginal German style pumpernickel needs 16-24 hours to bake in order to achieve that deep brown color. 16-24 hours?? Who has that kind of time to leave an oven on for so long? Clearly not many US-based bakers, who apparently have twisted and altered the recipe enough to shorten the baking time and added enough ingredients such as coffee, cocoa and molasses to get that same brown color anyway.

Hm.

About the name: pumpernickel means Satan’s flatulence! Really. Some people have difficulty digesting the bread, which is where pumpen comes from. Nickel was a common name for devil. Say it with me: pumpernickel pumpernickel pumpernickel.

Anyways. Numerous sites give recipes for the US version of pumpernickel. I’m going to continue looking for a tradtional German version, because now I want to make pumpernickel bread.

Yum.

Toques ‘n Pants ‘n Eggs

A toque, I just learned, is the official term for a chef’s hat. You know, that sometimes floppy, sometimes straight up in the air white hat. Not to be confused with the tuque, which, I also just learned, is Canada’s national winter hat. I didn’t know countries have national winter hats. Are there national summer hats? What about spring hats? What are those Canadians up to?? (To be fair, I love hats. Hats are cool.)

I also learned that the pleats – the folds in a toque – are supposed to represent the more than 100 ways to cook an egg. 100?! Boiled. Scrambled. Fried. Deviled. Baked. Souffle. Custard. Omelet. Poached. At least 91 more to go. Help, please.

And I learned that chefs usually wear checkered pants to hide stains. You would think that the whole uniform would be checkered, but the white top gives a sense of cleanliness. The white top is specially designed, too, to protect the chef from kitchen dangers. Here is a useful chef’s uniform picture with explanations from the Culinary Institute of America, which I always confuse with that other CIA.

I still don’t know why witches wear striped socks, though.

Okay, back to watching Ratatouille. Up next, No Reservations, which I hope is as terrific as the German original, Mostly Martha or Bella Martha. Thanks, Troy!

Tengu Natural Foods

The other day, Troy mentioned Tengu Natural Foods.

If you’re in Japan and you’re craving non-bleached whole wheat flour, can’t find a good selection of Fair Trade coffees and teas, or want other environmentally friendly products, run as fast as you can over to Tengu’s site. They usually ship within a few days.

English http://www.alishan.jp/shop/nfoscomm/catalog/
日本語
http://tinyurl.com/37d9tx
Telephone
042-982-4811

Tengu started years ago when I lived in Nagoya, but we weren’t food-conscious and internet-savvy back then and we didn’t “go shopping like that”. Were they even online then? I think you can also visit the farm (farm?). Troy might know more about that. I would love to know why the company chose the name Tengu.

Organic restaurants and bars are popping up all over Japan. Support them if you can. Order from Tengu if you want to make your own meals. They have tons of stuff, and it’s worth every penny. Er, yen.

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