My tea, last night


On the tray, from top, clockwise:

Brown rice with peas, ginger and a bit of yuzu.
Bamboo shoots with konbu.
Beancurd rolls with vegetables (bought in)
Soup with zenri fu (the wheel of wheat gluten) and wild garlic.
Grilled shiitake and miso pickle.

All accompanied with a bowl of strong green tea.

Lunch today will be the leftover rice stir-fried withe the left over rest of it!

Recipe: Random, Emergency Salad

autopope is baking spuds, and plans to put cheese on his. I have therefore thrown together this salad in finest "make it up as you go along" tradition.

1 block smoked tofu
1 good handful mixed nuts
1 red onion
1 regular sized carrot
approx 1 tablespoon mixed sesame seeds
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Plamil vegan mayo.
Water for steam-frying

Cut the tofu into cubes and steam fry it till the outside crisps. This will take a while, so in the mean time, lightly crush the mixed nuts, chop the onion finely and grate the carrot. Put these in a bowl.

When the tofu is nearly done, and the pan dry, add the sesame seeds and briefly toast them. Add the contents of the pan to the bowl. Add the vinegar and mayo, stir and leave to one side to chill.

The spuds aren't done yet, but I've been sampling and it's rather good. I'm also stewing some mushrooms with garlic in white wine, which will go with his cheese.

Azuki bean, carrot and ginger miso soup.

Azuki bean, carrot and ginger miso soup

I had half a tin of azuki beans to eat up, so this is what I had for lunch:

2 cups konbu dashi
½ tin azuki beans
1 small-medium carrot, finely diced
a good knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 brown rice mochi (I used ones with millet, but any will do)
approx 1 tbl sweet white miso

Bring the dashi to the boil and add the carrots, ginger and azuki beans. Simmer until the carrots are cooked through. While simmering, toast the mochi under a hot grill until they are puffed up on both sides. Cut each piece into quarters.

Put the miso in the serving bowl and mix in a little of the stock to make a thin paste, before adding the soup to the bowl. Stir well and then add the toasted mochi.

The teacup contains genmai cha.

Miso soup with noodles.

Miso Soup with noodles

Lunch today was based very, very loosely on a recipe in a Japanese book 典座和尚の精進料理―家庭で楽しむ110レシピ - A Tenzo Monk's Vegetarian Cookery - 110 recipes to enjoy at home, by Shoshi Takanashi (A Tenzo is a monk in charge of food).

The original used a type of flat, wheat noodle, and mange tout where I've used spinach. The recipe is very amenable to gluten-free preparation, as long as you use 100% soba noodles, and tamari instead of shoyu. Also check the miso carefully.

Per lunch-sized bowl of soup, you need:

about 1/3 pack soba noodles.
julienned root vegetables, about a large carrot's worth (I used carrot and burdock. The original had daikon, too, but I'm out of that).
3 shiitake mushrooms
a handful of small spinach leaves
half a block of tofu, cut into six pieces and fried.

1 cup shiitake dashi (if you use dried shiitake, soak them first in 1 cup water and use the soaking water as stock)
2 tbl sake
1 tbl + 1 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp shoyu

1 tsp hatcho miso (the really dark evil one)
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Cook the soba according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and put in a bowl. Put the fried tofu on top.

Put the dashi, sake, mirin and soya sauce into a smaller pan, bring it to the boil and add the vegetables (except the spinach). Cook until done. Take out some of the liquid and blend it with the miso to make a paste. Add the spinach to the pan and let it wilt. Take the pan off the heat, then add the miso paste and the sesame oil and stir well. Pour the soup over the noodles and tofu. Eat!

Azuki Bean and Pumpkin Soup

Tonight's tea was made up as I went along, but resulted in a recipe that is likely to be included in the "Japanese-inspired" section of my cookbook, when I get round to it. It's a recipe inspired by a shortage of ingredients, using what I happened to have.

1 litre (4 cups) water
3 dried shiitake
1/2 sachet vegan konbu dashi
1/4 small pumpkin (15-20cm diameter)
1 can cooked azuki beans, drained and rinsed
1 cube Japanese curry roux
3 brown rice mochi
a sprinkle of yuzu

Put the grill on to pre-heat. Use the highest setting.

Put the shiitake in the water in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the mushrooms have reconstituted.

While this is simmering, peel, de-seed and slice your pumpkin. Place the slices on a grill pan, spray (or brush very lightly) with oil and place under the grill. When it's nice and speckled with brown, flip the slices over, spray again and do the other side. When cooked, chop the slices into bite-size pieces and put to one side. Grill the mochi. The first side will go brown; the second will puff up dramatically.

Remove the shiitake from the water. Do not discard the water! Add the dashi powder and bring back to the boil. De-stem and slice the shiitake and place back in the pan with the stock. Add the curry roux and stir until it has dissolved.

Add the pumpkin and beans, and bring to the boil. Simmer until the mochi are done.

Cut each piece of mochi into 8 pieces.

Divide the soup between the number of bowls, and then add the mochi on top. Sprinkle with yuzu. Serve.

This made 1 big bowl and one small one (autopope not being very hungry, and me being starvacious). It should make two regular bowls or four small ones.

Tonight's dinner


This was made pretty much from leftovers and things that were close to going off. On the blue plate, top to bottom, are vinegared daikon (which needed eating up as it had gone bendy) with wakame, grilled tofu (the end of a block) topped with bamboo shoots (which himself had accidentally frozen) in white miso, and brown rice sushi rolls with simmered aburaage. The brown rice was some leftover sushi rice which I froze; the aburaage was getting on a bit, as is the nori, so it needed to be eaten. Top right is a clear soup made with the pot liquor from the aburaage, the soaking water from the wakame and some hana fu. Bottom right is genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice).

It came out surprisingly well, considering, and I'm quite pleased with it.

FAIL, but delicious

I'm trying to work out a vegan version of Scotch Pancakes (ObUS: pancakes), both as a breakfast staple, and because with sweet red bean paste, it's a popular Japanese dessert and the cookbook could do with such a recipe.

This version isn't quite there, but it's really rather delicious. I think what it needs is soya/almond milk instead of water, and maybe to make the flour half white, half wholemeal. That and a smidgen more water. My cup is a 250ml one.

1 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 cup gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbl sunflower oil
2 tbl sugar (might switch this to rice syrup)
1 cup water

Blend all the ingredients thoroughly. Heat up a large, well-oiled, non-stick frying pan. Once nice and hot, place 1/4 cupfuls of batter in the pan and swirl around a little. Cook for a few minutes each side. Serve drowned in maple syrup lest anyone doubt your Canadian ancestry.

Being me, it was of course organic maple syrup made by a co-operative in Quebec.



Still proceeding with the Not Drinking, though I've noticed some differences from the Month O' No Beer. In particular, I seem to be very irritable this time round. This could, of course, be simple (lack of) hormones rather than anything to do with beer.

I have been doing stuff: a shortage of the decent brand of pierogi led to autopope and I making some from scratch - Ruskie (cheese, potato and onion) for him; mushroom and sauerkraut for me. We made the pastry 50/50 wholemeal and white flours, and rolled it out using the new pasta machine. They were incredible, but a lot of pfaff. Next time, we'll make three times as many and freeze most of them.

Engine Shed, an amazing local enterprise working with people with learning difficulties, generally have my support and their tofu is the usual brand of ultra-firm tofu that I use. Unfortunately, they've recently added another layer of packaging in the form of a large box around the vacuum-sealed bag and there are no recycling facilities on, or near, our street (it's a gap in the council's otherwise comprehensive system of on-street recycling and boxes).

So, we got out the soya milk maker and the tofu box and resumed making our own. This too, is a bit of a pfaff, but it's pfaff that is tamed by organisation. There was an amusing moment when I realised that the liquid nigari I had must have been bought in Japan as there is no importer's label and the directions are entirely in Japanese. Fortunately, it's that subset of Japanese that I know more of than my general Japanese knowledge would suggest and I concluded I had just enough left in the bottle, which turned out to be the case. I have now obtained enough solid nigari to last months for the outrageous price of 79p.

This batch of tofu turned out to be my best yet, but due to the pfaff, we're suspending this operation until we're back from the next trip.

Finally, the new British Airways ad is pure aviation pr0n - a nostalgic look back at the airline's history (or rather that of the companies that became BA) through lots of vintage footage. There's only one type in the ad that's still in the fleet - the 747. Won't encourage me to fly with them (there's the Heathrow problem), but it's a rare example of an ad I'll be happy to watch over and over again.

Full now.

I have been tweeking a vegan macaroni-and-not-cheese recipe for some years, to the point where it doesn't bear much resemblance to the original and I think I can safely call it mine. Tonight, I think I perfected it and have therefore posted it to the vegan food blog. At least next time I lose the recipe, I'll know where to find it.

It contains a lot of what lacuna_raze would call weird shit, such as nutritional yeast and miso, but am pleased that it involved no actual fake dairy which I figure increases its hack value. Nutritional yeast and miso are things I have lying around normally. Fake dairy would require a trip to Real Foods.

And autopope appeared to love it.

Shinies du jour

Hello Cthulhu
Unlike autopope, I have had a productive day of retail therapy. First I went to Nippori, which is full of fabric shops and managed not to buy any fabric. I did buy a gadget for cutting fabric circles, some widgets for attaching reels of thread to spools of matching thread, a device to aid drawing lines any arbitrary distance parallel to another, and some ded goff buttons in the form of skulls wearing a crown. After that I went to a multi-story craft shop in Shinjuku, and came out with many more widgets: a pair of Japanese nipple sewing clamps and a means of attaching them to a table; a (rather expensive) pair of traditional Japanese scissors; a device to aid the drafting of armholes and sleeve-heads; some bodkins for wide elastic which look better than the ones I have; and a special glove which enables the use of one's hand as an ironing board. Resisted the pattern cutting books which show how to do really dramatic, sculptural things but will have to go back for them as I have forgotten the title so can't order them online.

This evening I went into Akihabara and bought some interesting Hello Kitty items. One is a Brother P-Touch 190 label maker, with dense Japanese manual which will be fun. I wanted a label maker that will do kana so I can label the Japanese items in my larder, and wanted something similar to the one I already have, as that will make learning how it works easier. I got the demo model to the point where I had my name, in katakana, ready to print and as far as I can tell, the only reason it didn't is because it was out of tape.

The other item is rather odd. One of the beauty gadgets that is popular round these parts is a device which shapes the eyelashes and makes them look longer. The Hello Kitty version does the "divide 'em up so they look like triangles" look that I like, assuming it works as claimed.

AKICILJ: clothing labels

I want to stitch a label in the clothes I make. There are various companies out there who weave craft labels, using a limited range of fonts, motifs and colours. Unfortunately, all the British companies I've found who do this have a really crap selection, none of which are suitable for my gothy creations.

The only company who does what I want is based in Japan, and not only does not appear to ship here, but doesn't actually have online ordering - they want you to write to them (I think. I might be wrong). They're also expensive - not much cheaper than getting a totally custom label woven here.

I have a couple of choices:

* does anyone know of a European company that offers suitably gothy motifs, ideally a bat?
* would one of my Japanese friends like to order me some labels to be picked up when I get there? I can Paypal the money.

For both options, what I want would look like the Japanese company's Original Style, silver lettering on black background with a motif such as 655 on this page, my "brand" name in cursive text (Batty chan, or maybe even バッチちゃん if I were being clever) and optionally the words MADE IN SCOTLAND in small sans serif underneath.

Or should I just splash out and get a custom design made?

Tonight's tea

Behold! Butter Pie (well, Tomor Pie really), with traditional Lancastrian sakura decoration:

Not bad, though I think about half the tatties need to be mashed with a load of marge to get the texture and flavour I remember.
beer snob
The Month of (almost) No Beer Challenge has already had a positive side-effect, in that I've started exploring an area of brewing which has interested me for a long time. I finally have an excuse to make some temperance drinks!

When I was I child, I was regularly taken to Blackburn Market (I think - it could've been Burnley) and the one thing I remember is the stall selling traditional Dandelion and Burdock, Sarsaparilla and other tasty fizzy pops. They also sold licorice roots to chew on. I didn't know of the connection between these drinks and the temperance movement back then, nor that they, and temperance bars, were particularly associated with Lancashire. Indeed, the one remaining temperance bar is in Rawtenstall. I've also only just learned that Vimto, another old favourite of mine, started out as a temperance drink.

The 19th century temperance movement was also closely intertwingled with vegetarianism, meat being seen as some sort of intoxicant - somewhere in my collection, I have a book on vegetarianism from the late 19th century which argues against the use of alcohol on the grounds that it leads directly to meat-eating!

Anyway, I decided to turn my brewing skills to making some traditional Dandelion and Burdock. I've made temperance drinks from concentrate before, but I wanted to do this properly.

Doing it properly, the story so far - with photos.Collapse )

All I want for Yuletide

Festive season
... is a domain of my own.

One of the problems I have with is that I share it with someone who gets several orders of magnitude of traffic than I do, which means I cannot find anything in the stats about my pages except for the one Gothic Lolita page that gets quite a lot of traffic.

And himself has obliged, and once it has propagated, my fonts and stuff will be available from The Tentacular Evil's pics will be at

But first, Glühwein...

Yule feast

I haven't done my big yule feast in years, where I pick a theme, cook stuff and invite folk round to eat it. I'm hoping that by next year, the library will be done, and we'll be able to stick a dining table in there.

This year, it was just autopope and myself, and I went traditional on it - nut roast, roast tatties, carrots and parsnips with a tomato-onion gravy. Managed to overcook the parsnips, but they were still nice. I bought autopope a personalised Weizenbier mug from the German market, and gave it to him so the meal was accompanied with Franziskaner Hefeweissbier. I have a similar mug from a couple of years ago.

All very satisfying.

To do list


  • Work out a revision plan for my Japanese.

  • With the above in mind, sort out the grammar, vocab and other reference type handouts into the new Hello Kitty ring binder.

  • Go see the exhibition on the Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement at the City Art Centre.

  • Sew something nice for myself, and not for anyone (or anynun) else.

Hand blender up for grabs

mythbusters, beans
Edit: The old toy has been offered a new home now, but I'll leave the entry here so you can drool over the new shiny.

My old Braun Multipractic hand blender is available to anyone who wants to pick it up from Antipope Towers. As well as the blending attachment, it comes with a whisk, a beaker for the whisk, a herb chopper, and a thing to hang it on the wall. The only thing I can't find is the manual, but it's self-evident really. It's equivalent to the MR4050 HC, but older.

The reason I'm getting rid of it is because I loved it so much, I went and bought the top of the range model - the MR 6550 M BC+HC. More power! Bigger! 15 speeds! Turbo! Ice-crusher! Big chopper! Stainless steel!

A sense of duty

Festive season
It had to be done.

The rose petal vodka was leaking from its bottle, so I solved the problem by drinking it.

Additionally, as autopope decided what he wanted for tea was cheese toasties, I was left to make my own. Imagine my sacrifice as I was able to make my burrito filling very hot indeed, and contain spinach.

Careful now

Festive season
autopope has bought me a new kitchen knife. Specifically, he's bought me this knife, and it is a wonderful thing indeed. You put it somewhere in the general vicinity of a Great Big Parsnip, and you have parsnip slices. No effort required.

nojay has suggested I need a pair of steel toecap boots for the kitchen. I think he has a point.


Feòrag Fearsithe
The Drey

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