My kitchen wares have finally arrived!–and now we are unearthing ourselves from the boxes, discovering all the duplicates of measuring cups, the clothes that got left behind when I moved to Japan in 2009, and all that junk that normal adults have already sorted, sold, and donated.
This weekend is our wedding anniversary, so I decided to celebrate it and our successful move by making a cake. Living with a fellow nerd means the possibilities are endless for fandom references, and we’re an irreverent pair when it comes to romance.* Between Sharknado and Shark Week airing around the time we repatriated–Americans sure love them some sharks– I decided to play with that concept and reference one of our favorite lines from everyone’s favorite amoral power couple in (US) House of Cards:
ね、知っている？(Hey, did you know?)
These cupcakes may be the simplest of the geeky/nerdy (it varies…) birthday cakes I made this spring.
My husband loves Mameshiba, which is… well, as the song goes, they aren’t quite beans and they aren’t quite dogs; and everyday they bring you a bit of trivia–
You know what? This is like trying to explain Doctor Who to someone who’s never seen it. Just check out the videos (in Japanese with English subtitles) on the Mameshiba site. Problem solved.*
One hell of a storm blew through Saturday night and Sunday, ruining the weekend for hanami. Luckily, we’d had decent weather all week, including Friday night, when I went to Rojô Park in Komatsu for nighttime cherry-blossom viewing.
Of course, hanami wouldn’t be hanami without food and drink, and what better to bring than two Japanese classics together in a super portable form?
I especially like that this recipe uses the leftover sakura flowers from the Sakura “Latte.” No waste and more sakura flavor.
Remember how I needed a fix?
Source: ohshutupmrshudson. The truly remarkable part is that I found this gif by accident. What are the odds?
This was a really, really good fix.
This cake is a gift!
(Spoiler-free!) I am new to Teen Wolf and its fandom, so, having only seen a couple episodes for reference before I started, I lacked a mind palace1 full of semi-obscure references to incorporate. Thank goodness for my friend who suggested the triskelion design, especially since I’m much better at cutting/building cakes than decorating them in the traditional sense. (I plan to invest in lessons at some point so you don’t have to suffer through too many more of my awkward frosting attempts.) The triskelion is a Celtic symbol of three interlocking spirals; in Teen Wolf, it first shows up in Season 1 as a tattoo on Derek Hale’s back.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I like mental gymnastics. You’ve seen my critical analyses and a handful of translations here on the blog, but I also really enjoy sudoku, detectives/detective stories, and, apparently, creating nerdy/geeky/fandom birthday cakes that require research and some level of technical difficulty.
After “The Great Game” cake, I needed a fix. Badly. How lucky for me that so many of my local friends are in need of birthday cakes this season!
Congratulations to M on the occasion of her birthday.
This is a cinnamon-applesauce cake with a basic buttercream frosting. The design is based on the 221B damask wallpaper and is stenciled in cocoa powder mixed with cinnamon with the smiley face from “The Great Game” piped on top. To make the stencil, my friend colleague husband printed the damask pattern and cut it out of a clear plastic file with an exacto knife.* On the side, a tiny suitcase in a frankly alarming shade of pink buttercream.
This year, my husband and I came up with an extra special birthday cake for our friend’s birthday: a Minecraft cake. If you aren’t familiar with Minecraft, I’ll let the website speak for itself: “Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.”
Instead of creating a cake with a Minecraft design, we decided to create an interactive cake that our friend could build into her own Minecraft creation. Continue reading
Downtown Kanazawa is experiencing its seemingly annual winter butter shortage. The grocery stores I frequent have signs that read “one package per customer” and explain that the shortage is due to conditions in Tohoku, where much of the nation’s dairy is produced. My friends in other cities report that they’re having no issues finding or buying butter–maybe the shortage is from all the bakeries in town making Christmas cakes?
As a result of butter’s becoming increasingly expensive and hard to find here, I’m trying to cut back. I have a collection of recipes for muffins, quick breads, and pastry crusts that take yogurt, oil, or applesauce instead, but all my standard holiday cookie recipes take butter. This year, I’ve decided to work on some Japan-friendly non-butter cookie recipes in hopes of saving my wallet and my holiday spirit.*
Engrish wrapping paper: “May your Christmas will be merry and happy.” 惜しい。。。
Food homesickness is the plague of not just expats but those who move from region to region– for example, Homesick Texan is a food blog about recreating Texan/TexMex cuisine in New York. The way the author writes about food memories and the problems recreating beloved foods when you can’t always find ingredients really resonates with me as a foodie and expat.
As for home baking, if you consider the Japanese home kitchen, you’ll see why cookies are considered to have high technical difficulty here. A cake can be poured into a rice-cooker or a pan and generally cooked all at once, but cookies tend to be baked in batches. While a full-size oven can accommodate large cookie sheets, baking about 24 cookies at a time, an oven range, which is about the size of a microwave, can usually only take 6-9 at once, and that’s if they don’t expand.
Luckily for the cookie-lovers of Japan, I’ve spent several years working on cookie recipes that actually work in the oven range. You can adapt many recipes from back home by using these general tips for successful cookie baking in Japan: