Autumn Bucket List · Food & Cooking · Party

Let’s Make Gyoza!

Hi everyone! Last Friday we decided to have a ramen party on Halloween. Not necessarily the most traditional approach, I’ll give you that, but it was definitely awesome. When I posted pictures from our last ramen party, several people asked me about the recipe I used for the gyoza, or pot stickers. I’ve decided to share the recipe with you today, as well as the system my friends and I used to make the gyoza together!

IMG_1419Add a bottle of sake and some nappa cabbage, then subtract the bananas and you’ve got a good start with the ingredients above.

For my version of gyoza filling, I took parts from a few different recipes to create a version that seemed most similar to what I had while living in Japan. IMG_1421What’s really nice about this recipe is that you basically combine all of the ingredients, let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors meld, and then you’re ready to start preparing the gyoza. Pretty easy stuff!IMG_2963While setting up an assembly line for the gyoza, I remembered the first time I ever made gyoza at a music party in Matsusaka, Japan. (I wrote a rather lengthy post about that Golden Week back in 2009 that was fun to revisit when writing this post 🙂 ) Ariel was in charge of putting water around the edges of the rice paper wrappers, my friend Tia added a spoonful of filling, and I pushed the dumplings together with a gyoza mold I had brought back from Japan.

IMG_2965Sorry for this terrible picture. I blame my brother because he took it 😉

If you don’t have a mold, you can always just assemble the gyoza by hand, pinching together the edges. The mold does make things go much more quickly, however, so you could consider either buying one or being really nice to me so that I send you one. They are pretty inexpensive!

IMG_2966We made an awesome gyoza-making team!

Once you’ve assembled your gyoza, you just heat up a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan, fry for a couple minutes, add hot water, and simmer until cooked through. Meanwhile, you can prepare dipping sauce and snack on other available treats (I made crab rangoons and Amanda made rice balls). IMG_2968                                        Here is our first finished batch of gyoza. So yummy!

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Also, because I know you want to drool a bit, above is a picture of one of the bowls of ramen Chad prepared. Now for the gyoza recipe!

Pork Gyoza

Ingredients
8 ounces ground pork
1 large egg
1 Tbs finely chopped ginger (or about a tsp dried ginger)
2 tsp grated garlic (from about 3 large cloves)
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sake (you can also use dry vermouth)
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c. shredded napa cabbage, blanched until tender yet crisp in boiling salt water
1 green onion, diced
34 gyoza wrappers or round dumpling wrappers
4 Tbs. vegetable oil

Directions

1. Mix together the pork, egg, sesame oil, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, sake, cornstarch, sugar, napa cabbage and onion together in a bowl and refrigerate for twenty minutes.

2. Once the flavors have melded together, place a small bowl of cool water by your work surface and prepare plates on which to place wrappers before and after you’ve assembled the gyoza. Place several wrappers on your first plate and brush the edges of each with water using your finger or a pastry brush.

3. Put a mounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each wrapper, bring the edges together, and seal the edges by using a mold or by making 4 to 6 pleats. Set the completed gyoza on a separate plate, and repeat until you’ve used all of your filling.

4. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet, and quickly arrange half of the gyoza, cooking until golden brown on one side, about one minute. Add 2/3 cup water to the skillet (it will spatter, so be careful!), cover tightly, and let the gyoza cook until tender, about six minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until both sides of the gyoza are crisp, and then repeat with the remaining prepared gyoza.

5. While the gyoza are cooking, you can prepare a simple dipping sauce by combining two parts soy sauce, one part white rice wine vinegar, and ginger to taste. Then once everything has been cooked, you’re ready to enjoy!

I hope you like this recipe, and that you try gyoza-making at one of your future get-togethers!
xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking · Seen · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Week in Pictures

This week was one filled with lovely nature, marketplace excursions, culinary delights (such as that jambalaya we tried for Fat Tuesday!), and a pattern search in and around our house. (Anything to keep us busy and keep our spirits up 😉 )

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Rosy Mound #1

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Rosy Mound #2

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Rosy Mound #3

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Goodies from our Asian Market trip (some of which were used for our Hina Matsuri dinner)

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Bubble Tea at a restaurant next door to the Asian marketplace

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We tried pho for the first time!

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Pretty flowers sent to us

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My favorite beer

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Nutella French Toast #1

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Nutella French Toast #2

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Patterns #1 (Don’t the knots in the tree look like eyes?)

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Patterns #2

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Patterns #3

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Patterns #4

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Patterns #5

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Patterns #6

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Patterns #7

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Patterns #8 (Okay, so maybe I just wanted to take a picture of our kitties because I love them…)

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Goodies from a trip to The Cheese Lady in Muskegon (We tried the Vanilla Balsamic drizzled over fresh strawberries!)

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I made homemade Crab Rangoons and Gyoza…

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And Chad made amazing homemade ramen!

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Dinner party dishes #1

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Dinner Party Dishes #2

I wonder what the weekend has in store for us! What have you been up to this week?

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters · Tried

Hina Matsuri Dinner

Today it’s Hina Matsuri in Japan, also known as Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day, so I decided to make a Japanese meal to celebrate from Michigan.

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I was really excited to find a simple, pretty-looking recipe for chirashizushi using fresh, sushi-grade tuna. Chad went all over town in search of tuna I could use for the recipe, and finally found some at our local D&W supermarket. Chirashizushi is basically a bowl of sushi rice topped with fresh fish, and–in this case–a colorful salad mixture.

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Yes, I know this picture is blurry, but at least there are cute dolls decorating it.

In addition to the chirashizushi, I also made yudofu (recipe at my old blog, here!) and ichigo daifuku. Yudofu is basically tofu boiled with kombu (dried kalp), and ichigo daifuku is a lovely spring treat consisting of fresh strawberries wrapped in sweet red bean paste and mochi.

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Here you can see my colorful bowl of chirashizushi, as well as the plate of yudofu in the background. I used traditional white sticky rice rather than the brown rice for which the recipe called.

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So bright and cheery!

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Here are some up-close pictures of the ichigo daifuku. I had to do some conversions when using the recipe because everything was in grams and ounces, so I think I’ll be experimenting to make them look prettier in the future. When it comes down to it though, I didn’t care too much about how they looked because they tasted really yummy, and totally brought me back to Japan (they were one of my favorite Japanese sweets! Natsukashii!). You can find the recipe I adapted by clicking here.

We really enjoyed having a Hina Matsuri dinner, and I was so glad everything turned out! Hope you have a lovely Girl’s Day!

P.S. I know I had promised I’d be back last Friday, but something…unexpected came up. On the bright side, I’ve reserved the post I’d been planning to write, and should have it ready for you this Friday instead! 🙂

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Happy Lunar New Year

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I got the idea for this cute little paper cut here.

We’re several days into the start of the Lunar New Year, and this year is the year of the wooden horse. Although in Japan they don’t officially celebrate the Lunar New Year anymore, they do still follow the zodiac, so their New Year cards sent out to arrive on January first are almost always decorated with the yearly animal. Obviously we’re not in Japan anymore (stop reminding us!), but we figured we could still get down on some Japanese-Chinese food in honor of the Lunar New Year.

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We got an unexpected extra treat on the day we planned our little celebration: my brother and sister-in-law asked us to go to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We love the Fortune Cookie in Grand Haven, and always indulge in their FABULOUS crab rangoons. Several hours after that awesome meal, it was time to get started making our own.

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Don’t judge me for getting carried away with my deco.

I decided to make Japanese gyoza, often referred to as pot stickers in English. I was SO glad I purchased a little gyoza mold before leaving Japan–it made the whole process much less labor intensive. (I got the recipe for the filling here.)

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Yum! They turned out great!

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Chad decided to make tenshinhan, which is a dish we often ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Japan called Osho. This dish involves rice, crab, egg, green onions and all kinds of other deliciousness you can find in the recipe here. We were so pleased to finally find a recipe for this dish as I had been looking everywhere to no avail. I even asked the staff at Fortune Cookie, to which they replied, “Where did you have this dish?” And I said, “Um…a Chinese restaurant.” They asked, “Where?” I replied, “…Japan.” They didn’t seem to like that very much, and just replied by saying, “That’s not Chinese food.” Anyway, the happy ending to the story is we finally got a recipe, though Chad said he’d like to tweak it in the future (less eggs, more sauce, etc.).

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It was a lot of fun preparing the meal together, and just as much fun digging in. Have you ever tried your hand at making recipes like these?

 

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Bachelorette Parties & Wrapping Paper

On Saturday one of my friends had a bachelorette party, and for dinner we tried an Asian cuisine restaurant called Fuji Yama. The restaurant had Thai food, Vietnamese food, and of course, Japanese food! I was really excited.

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I ordered a beer right away, hoping Asahi was on draft, but settling for Sapporo instead. Then I had the hard choice between eating Thai Prawn Green Curry or Tempura, ultimately going with the tempura.

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Some things I was surprised about:

1.) The waiter brought out the miso soup that came with my meal about 5-10 minutes before bringing out the rest of the meal. In Japan, the miso soup is enjoyed at the same time, creating a nice balance of alternating bites of the dish, rice, and a slurp of soup. I waited for the rest of my meal and felt a little sad as my soup got cold.

2.) The serving size was huge! I think there was probably three times as much tempura as you would get in a typical tempura set in Japan (not that I’m complaining). I couldn’t finish it, though it was delicious.

3.) There were some interesting veggie tempura choices that I never had in Japan–namely broccoli and carrot. I did like them, however, and was happy to try them! Does anyone know if that’s an Americanized version of the veggie tempura, or if you can have that in Japan, too?

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After dinner, we headed back to my friends house for some of the typical bachelorette party games. One of them required each of the ladies to buy the bride-to-be a pair of panties so that she could guess who they were from. Earlier in the day, I went to a department store to pick some up, and was surprised that there wasn’t any tissue paper at the register to wrap panties! (The cashier was clever enough to go pull some tissue out of a nearby folded shirt.) In Japan, pretty much no matter where you go, there is an option to have things gift wrapped. You can generally choose between a couple types of wrapping paper or bags, ribbons and/or seals. Everything is wrapped very precisely and beautifully, as presentation is very important in Japan.

I found this lovely tutorial (pictured below) on wrapping in the style of Japanese department stores, and am looking forward to trying it next time I need to wrap something!

I have enjoyed looking through the blog that posted the tutorial with the picture abovethe blogger lived in Japan for a while, too!

Do you have any interesting or fun ideas for wrapping gifts? I also really like this idea for using confetti, and this one for using newspaper!

Food & Cooking

Taco Raisu

 

 

The other night I made Taco Raisu for dinner and it reminded me of our 3-year anniversary trip to Fukuoka. On that 3-day trip we enjoyed going to a shrine and a pretty Japanese garden, biking around a little island, hanging out on the island beach & the cute cafe there, and going on the Asahi Beer Tour, seeing a cool festival and eating mochi taiyaki.  That trip probably wasn’t the first time we tried Taco Raisu, but it definitely was the first time it really stood out in our memory.

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We tried cheesy Tako Raisu at an Okinawan restaurant in Fukuoka, and it was so good that we wolfed it down in minutes! I know exactly what you’re thinking: it looks like it’s basically tacos but with rice replacing tortillas or taco shells. And, with a few tablespoons of soy sauce, you’d be right!

 

 

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This simple recipe calls for Japanese sticky rice, but I got by with 10-minute rice instead (though nothing beats sticky rice, in my opinion!). I also went to several stores to find soy sauce before realizing that in West Michigan you have to go to a major supermarket or an Asian market to find it! (After finding it at the 100 yen stores and convenient stores and basically EVERYWHERE in Japan I was shocked!) I hope you can make memories while enjoying taco raisu, too!

Monday Matters · Projects

My Day in Photos & My Summer Fun Bucket List

Yesterday we went to a Hanshin Tigers baseball game, followed by a judo farewell party for Chad (one of his teachers started the party by saying, “Ladies and judo-men, thank you for coming. Kanpai!). Both events were really fun, but drinking in the sunshine followed by drinking at a small izakaya led to two sleepy friends this morning. So, we slept in and then lazed around all morning. Chad played League of Legends online and I drank coffee on our balcony while reading blogs, twitter and the news.

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We finally got going in the early afternoon, walking from our apartment to Nunobiki waterfalls, down through Kitano (spotting a woman with a monkey!) and to Starbucks, to Sannomiya for a little shopping, and then all the way to HAT Kobe for some more shopping and sushi.

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We ate sushi at a kaiten sushi restaurant called Kurazushi, and while we were waiting for some of our specially ordered sushi to come zooming down the sushi train, Chad surprised me with a Rilakkuma stuffed animal! Yay! Just looking at it makes me so ridiculously happy. You can’t deny Rilakkuma is one of the cutest characters ever, not to mention the fact that our favorite things are the same in life: eating sweets and relaxing.

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I know. I look tired. Focus on my cute Rilakkuma & the striped bag I got for only 300 yen instead!

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We tried some new sushi today, as well as some yummy sweet potato sticks (top left corner, above). You can see sushi with grilled bacon and mayo on the bottom left, and lemon steak sushi on the bottom right. In the upper right corner is my handsome husband with his cheeks full of sushi, and in the middle you’ll see more normal types of sushi (crab salad, tuna salad, shrimp mayo and cucumber salad, shrimp, and tuna).

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Chad expertly making green tea with the powder and hot water.

All in all we had a really nice day. We’re both feeling sad about leaving Japan, despite our excitement about going home, so I made a summer fun bucket list to help cheer myself up! The warm weather was a welcome reminder that summer is on it’s way, so I thought I’d share my list (so far!) with you!

Caitlyn’s Summer Fun Bucket List

1. Drive-in Movie

2. Binder Park Zoo

3. Go fishing

4. Make S’Mores

5. Have a Star Party

6. Learn to play guitar again

7. Make a bird feeder

8. Make jam

9. Join a book club

10. Go mini golfing

11. Go bowling

12. Have a BBQ

13. Go on a picnic

14. Make banana splits

15. Make homemade ice cream

16. Tie Dye Shirts

17. Blow bubbles

18. Paint rocks with my niece

19. Cheese Fondue

20. Make Root Beer Floats

21. Board Game night

22. Milk Carton Boats

23. Go to a museum

24. Friendship Bracelets with my niece

25. Look at bugs/plants/nature under a microscope

26. Learn to make egg tarts

27. Get a cat!

28. Can tomatoes

29. Play badminton

30. Run at least one 5K

31. Have a fancy night dressed up around town (going to ordinary places)

32. Find a gym with yoga and zumba that’s reasonably priced

33. Volunteer

34. Pay it Forward by paying for someone behind me at a drive-through

35. Paint Balling

36. Wine and Cheese night

37. Make kimchi

38. Make homemade pickles

39. Make homemade Bloody Mary’s

40. Make pineapple upside-down cake cupcakes

41. Make sun tea

42. Dandelion Blowing

43. Make a sandcastle

44. Make/decorate pottery

45. Bon Fire

46. Celebrate 5th Wedding Anniversary at Guster concert!

47. Visit Green Dot Stables in Detroit

48. Go to our high school reunion

49. Traverse City & eating/drinking cherry-flavored things!

50. Shorts Brewery

51. Make waffles

52. Make homemade bread

53. Make cookies with my niece

54. Make trail mix and go for a walk with my niece & nephews

55. Make dreamsicle orange punch

56. Make strawberry mimosas

What fun have you been up to lately, and what fun things do you have planned for summer?

Around Town · Tried

Hysteric Jam

The other night we went out with some friends and got into a discussion about how we tried so many foods from different cultures for the first time while in Japan, rather than in our own countries. I mentioned in my post about 10 New Foods I Tried between March 2012 – March 2013 that we tried a lot since traveling while in Japan, but even before that we were introduced to many delicious foods from around the world while living here. For example, before visiting Korea, we tried bibimbap in Japan. Before visiting Italy, we tried carbonara in Japan. And before visiting France, we tried crêpes in Japan.

I think the first time I had crêpes was while living in Kobe, and after remembering that delightful experience, I decided we should make a trip to have some as a special Golden Week treat. We headed to a lovely crêpe shop called Hysteric Jam, and stood in front of the huge glass display case, debating between flavors before finally settling on our choices.

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Chad chose one with berries, chocolate and nama cream (bottom left, above), and I chose a heavenly one with brownies, chocolate and custard.

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Someday I want to try savory crêpes, but on the rare occasion we have crêpes I can never seem to convince myself to choose savory over sweet! Have you tried crêpes before? If so, what are your favorite toppings?

Tried

Matcha Cereal

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Walking along in the supermarket the other day, I came upon Matcha (green tea) flavored cereal! I figured we should try it while we have the chance, so–despite the small portion size for quite a price–we bought a box.

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We had our bowls of Matcha Flakes with a side glass of veggie juice and coffee for breakfast earlier this week, and the flavor turned out to be really nice. It kind of reminded me of green tea ice cream! I’m going to miss all the unique flavors Japan tries with its food and beverages!