Monday, May 25, 2020


My rice flour finally arrived from Amazon so I spent a little time today making daifuku: red bean filled mochi balls.

You make the mochi by cooking rice flour with sugar and water and this can be done in the microwave or by steaming the mochi.

I probably rolled the mochi a little too thinly because I made 18 balls, not 12 as the recipe indicated. The difference is visible in the picture: the ones that are darker have a thinner mochi layer and the others were made after I rolled out the scraps again and so were thicker. The thicker layer is desired. Even so, they're easy and tasty!

I also made another batch of the Anpan today using the sourdough starter again. I still need to figure out how to get them to fluff more when they're baking. Today's batch was proofed for an hour, the recipe suggests half that time but I'm thinking they might even need to be proofed for longer. I still have plenty of red bean paste so I'll try again another time. 

Graduation Party

The elderchild graduated from high school yesterday. Given the whole pandemic thing, it's a bittersweet time. The Dean of Students made a special drive out to deliver the diploma in person, about 600 miles each way. We had a small picnic in the backyard with the Dean and her daughter to celebrate. Socially distancing as best we could, of course!

I made lasagna, which is always a little different each time I make it, but the basics are the same: make a sauce with ground meat (lately it has been turkey), sautéed onions, and a jar of marinara sauce, make a box of noodles, mix 1 large tub of ricotta with 3 eggs, salt, pepper, basil and oregano, and layer all this with shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 or 375 until it's done.

We also had a quick fruit salad and, for dessert, peach mousse cupcakes!

The cupcakes themselves were the easy part: white cake cupcakes. I was also making some for a friend who also has a graduate to celebrate so I made a double batch. Then I made peach mousse from this recipe, and it did NOT WORK. You're supposed to make a peach purée and add gelatin and maple syrup and then let it set and fold in whipped cream. I ended up with peach jello and the whipped cream didn't blend in. (I can't tell you how much heavy cream I've gone through in the last 3 days.) So I made it up, sort of, in that I made another peach purée with a lot less gelatin and folded the whipped cream in and filled the cupcakes. Good thing I had extra peaches. It did eventually set while the cupcakes chilled overnight. Yesterday morning I got up early and made this whipped cream frosting with mascarpone cheese. At least this worked as advertised! I tucked a little piece of peach on top of the cupcake under the frosting to add to the otherwise subtle peach flavor.

It was a lovely sunny day, not like today which is overcast and cooler and with a little rain. Congratulations, elderchild. We're so proud of you and all you have accomplished!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Anpan and Potstickers

The ones with the sesame seeds were the batch with Legion
One of the things I hoped to make with my red bean paste was Anpan, a Japanese bread with red bean paste inside. I followed this recipe and was rather worried that the yeast wasn't working properly as the buns didn't really rise much. So while they were proofing I made another batch, using Legion. I replaced the water and 50g of flour with 100g of Legion. The dough felt more elastic and definitely was easier to work with. However, the original batch, with the powdered yeast, was allowed to proof longer and that might explain the difference in size.

Both of them were fairly dense inside which, again, I attribute to not very active yeast and insufficient proofing, respectively. They still taste better than the red bean rice dumplings I made last week!

The other thing I worked on today was another batch of potstickers, using wonton wrappers this time. These made me very frustrated while I was cooking them: I fried them in oil for a few minutes then added stock and let them cook on low for another few minutes. Sometimes that worked perfectly and sometimes, well, they're not called potstickers for nothing, I guess.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Back to Experimenting

Since I've been having a little trouble getting all-purpose and bread flour, I was looking for ways to make bread without using as much bread flour. I picked up a bag of spelt flour and made a batch of bread today with that. I used 32 ounces of bread flour and 6 ounces of spelt. It looks more like when I used to make this bread with whole wheat flour but, since I'm still using milk as part of the liquid, much softer and springier. Especially when warm!

It is good, though, that I'm starting to see flour in the grocery store more often. Hopefully that is a trend that will continue.

Monday, May 11, 2020


Or is it...over-bored?

Today I decided to finally tackle the azuki bean paste I wanted to make several years ago when I learned how to make it from a friend. I guess I bought a lot of beans because now I have about 9 cups of it in the freezer, waiting to be made into various things. My first plan is a type of sticky rice dumpling like I did before with sesame filling but this time will use red bean.

Internet searches have given me more ideas: red bean buns, taiyaki (for which I would have to buy molds), daifuku (Japanese mochi sweets), red bean cookies, ice cream, popsicles, and so on. I don't think I have enough glutinous rice flour to make a huge amount of daifuku but I plan to order some.

Making the paste is relatively easy. After boiling the beans to a mashable consistency, you add a cup of sugar per 2 cups of dry beans, and a little salt. I ended up using the immersion blender to make it smooth.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Breakfast Kuchen

Last night over dinner we were talking about European plum tortes and how there are so many variations and they all depend on local fruit. Well, I don't have any plums on hand, but it did get me thinking, and so this morning I made a peach kuchen as a variation of this recipe for a plum kuchen that uses buttermilk.

The variations were: I used all purpose flour, and I used canned peaches with ginger I made last year. So I didn't coat the peaches in butter, allspice and sugar, since they were already sugary. This did affect the bake, since they're wetter than fresh plums, so it was a little runny in the middle. I made a modified chai-spiced whipped cream (cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger) and we had nice warm cake for breakfast!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Tomato Sauce

In the ongoing effort to organize the freezers, it was time to get the bags of quartered tomatoes out from last summer. Usually I end up with about 5 gallons of tomatoes but this year it was only 3. They take up so much space, because they're bulky and heavy. It is amazing to me that each gallon, once run through the food mill and cooked down to a reasonable sauce texture, yields one pint of sauce. Makes one wonder about the sheer amount of tomatoes those big companies use to make all those cans of sauce!

These three pints are plain, not spiced in any way.

Also, I just finished baking this week's batch of bread; I added even more milk instead of water to see how soft I can make the bread and still have it be sturdy enough for sandwiches. I've been trying to get flour where I can; I have enough bread flour for 2 more batches, and I bought some spelt flour just to try something different when the bread flour runs out. I am starting to see more flour in the grocery store, but it's all purpose, not bread flour, and so I'll keep an eye out for bread flour. 

Bee Check

Yesterday the weather was good and so I did a quick inspection of the hive. I didn't add any new syrup to the feeders as it's been warm and the flowers are out so I'm hoping to allow them to take advantage of all that nectar. I did fix a little of the cross-combing that was happening, saw Alcibee, and found evidence of new brood. I'll give them a few weeks before I inspect again, and hopefully they will continue to do well. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Things in Little Pots

Today I took a break from work and made things.

Since yesterday was our anniversary and I had to work, I decided to do something special for dinner tonight. So I made flan. I've never made flan before and I have a healthy respect for caramel after getting burned trying to make caramel sauce in culinary school. That stuff is HOT. So I have always thought about making flan and then dismissed it as Too Hard. Really, it's not.

Caramel: 2 ounces sugar, 1/2 ounce water, 1/4 ounce corn syrup. Boil without stirring until it is just turning golden brown then remove from heat.

Once I had the caramel made and distributed into little ramekins, I made a simple egg custard, poured it over the caramel, and baked them in a water bath for 45 minutes at 350˚F.  They chilled in the fridge until dessert, when they were inverted over saucers. I was pleasantly surprised that they came out intact and that the sauce worked perfectly!

The other thing made in little pots today were candles. I had more of those tins I'd bought to make the moustache wax for my husband and, after a trial run in which it was clear that one wick per tin was not enough, I melted a whole lot of wax and filled the tins with lavender-lemon scented beeswax and 3 wicks per candle. I had some left over so I also made a few tea lights and one last one in an empty jar. It took a long time to melt the wax as I was using a plastic pitcher which doesn't conduct heat as well as metal or glass, and it took very little time for the wax to solidify once poured. The only other downside to the metal tins for candles is that the candles have a tendency to crack and I think it is because the metal and the wax expand at different rates when heated. Glass doesn't seem to have that problem.

Regardless, it's back to work tomorrow so no plans to do any cooking for a few days at least!