Mucho Matcha, Mushipan and More

 

Today my piece on what do with matcha purchased at Minnano Japanese Grocery here in San Antonio debuted on the SA Current’s website. At the time of writing the article, I had yet to even consider matcha might go in lemonade. It makes sense – tea + lemons = very normal combo, hot or cold – but it just never occurred to me to make it. That was until I stumbled into Cha Cha Matcha this Monday in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Coming off a day of the BRAT diet, the fresh mint, fresh lemon and antioxidant rich matcha green tea felt like a tonic for my soul. Plus the interior was very Instagrammable.

All that being said, making mushipan (蒸しパン) steamed cakes are another fun way to use your matcha in a way that isn’t just drinking it old-school style.

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Below is the recipe I provided here, just with pictures:

Green Tea Mushipan
Recipe makes about three 4-inch inch round size cakes, or about 10 muffin size mushipan

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Special equipment needed:
Bamboo steamer
Vessel for batter (I used creme brulee ramekins, but any baking vessel that fits into the steamer should work. Minnano carries some cookware so ask the staff for the mushipan advice if you have concerns).

Ingredients
3 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
¾ cup steamed bun or bao flour (can be substituted with cake flour)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

Begin by sifting together the matcha, flour and baking powder.


Afterwards, separate the yolks and whites of the eggs. Be especially careful not to get any yolk in the whites, as it will prevent the whites from whipping properly.

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Put the yolks in a large bowl along with the vanilla, water and sugar. Beat the ingredients until they take on a pastel yellow hue, then fold in the flour mixture. Continue reading

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Last Minute Christmas Cookies

Happy Winter Solstice, though having been able to break out the coat a few days back for a drop below freezing (which I find remarkable and wonderful in the Alamo City) it does feel like winter got a start already. Earlier this year, somewhere between summer and autumn I noticed that the squirrels seemed more active this year. Hoarding more nuts, as though they expected the foraging season to be cut short. I mentioned to a few that I thought it was a sign of a truly cold winter ahead, and I’m happy to say that compared to last season that has been the case so far.img_1073

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The best part of winter is smelling like a fire.

Sunday Josh and I were invited to Six Flags to enjoy the park in its holiday state. It seemed like good time to end up in a theme park decked for Christmas given we were married in one four years on the 15th.

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We picked the location of Silver Dollar City and date because I love holidays, celebrating, decorating and festivities in general. My Christmas tree went up before Thanksgiving this year, and Halloween decorations started before October. I celebrate holiday seasons to their fullest, thus why I ended up making Christmas sugar cookies two nights ago without any occasion.

The recipe I used for the royal icing can be found here. Like the recipe I used for the cookies, I halved it, but really I would have been better off with just an eighth of what it made.

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Rather than using lemon extract, I squeezed a fresh lemon. I also added vanilla bean, giving it the speckled look. Infusing the lemon juice with the bean would have given it a stronger vanilla flavor.

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Since I was in a hurry and just baking last minute fairly late in the evening, I found a recipe for the cookies that wouldn’t require chilling the dough here. Instead of vanilla just for fun, I used orange flower water.

Not owning any cookie-cutters, I made the shapes with objects found in my kitchen drawers. I got some nice ornament shapes from an upside down creamer, as well as flowers from bento vegetable molds that I bought in San Francisco’s Japantown a few years back.

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I tried sorting my multi-color jimmy sprinkles by color, but it was far more time consuming than anticipated so I gave up after getting about 30 into separate piles. It is worth it to buy the already sorted kind I now know, and promise.

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For a quickly whipped together batch of cookies, I was pleased with the result. Especially the part where I accidentally matched them to the pastels of the Christmas tree with it’s handmade decorations – paper snowflakes I made specifically for the tree, as well as paper flowers I made for Fiesta.

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Christmas in San Antonio.

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And in case you were just scrolling through quickly and missed them the first time around, the recipes are Continue reading

Going Green – and Orange, and Black and Purple

My success with gardening has not always been success. I like to experiment, I don’t tend to follow planting seasons and spacing directions, and I just in general have always had more of an affinity for native and wild plants over the curated garden.

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Tower of the Americas stands in the distance.

The seasons of South Texas – all two of them, are something I’m still getting used to. It may officially be Fall all across the Northern Hemisphere as of tonight, but here in San Antonio it still feels like the middle of Summer.

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I could say the confusing and unfamiliar climate and new planting zone (going from 6b with my most recent garden in Fayetteville, Arkansas to 9a here) are excuses for my experiments like starting a summer crop (watermelon) in September but in actuality I just want to experiment and see what happens.

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You can see the shell of the watermelon seed.

That’s not to say I don’t have some logical plants going as well. Chard, a few fall herbs, some cucumbers and gourds, a sunflower and broccoli are the ones I hope will thrive like they should when planted this time of year.

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Looking towards South Flores.

However, most likely I will kill them – and I have accepted that. But if nothing else the little urban balcony garden has given me an excuse to buy an infinite number of Halloween candy buckets, which are much cheaper than traditional planters and obviously more aesthetically pleasing. The purple ones even have glitter.

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Local marigold seeds I harvested at Urban Farm Camp and organic heirloom broccoli.

Only time will tell whether I can manage to not just identify, but actually grow plants. If I never do a follow-up post, well, you can guess what happened.

What I learned at Urban Farm Camp is…

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(more backstory on Urban Farm Camp as told by me at the Rivard Report)

..snack time is sacred. When your group of campers are needing a little inspiration to finish harvesting the amaranth, spreading the marigold seed, or watering the ancestral garden bed – the promise of chilled fresh melons, raspas, paletas and fresh pressed juice shines like a beacon that rivals the summer Texas sun.

Put on by Lorie Solis of the Renewable Republic, food is the heart and soul of Urban Farm Camp. Captured in more obvious activities like pickling cucumbers and preparing lunch, the theme of food and the cycle of food is also found in changing the goat’s hay, starting seedlings, using an Eloo (dehydrating toilet) and feeding scraps to the soldier flies.

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Complementing the theme of food, awareness was also emphasized. We did sit spots each morning to hone our senses in on our surroundings. Plenty of farm camp sounds like birds and wind in the trees, and smells like tomato vines and a fish pond were present. But so were the noises of the urban world we sat in the middle of. Trains, sirens, cars passing by. We noted the contrast of life inside and outside the perimeter fence.

I was fascinated by how quickly things changed in a few short days, such as the budding, opening and closing of blooms on the lotus plant. But what also changed were some attitudes.

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It wouldn’t be truthful to say there wasn’t any resistance to the smell of old cheese and meat products in the bin where the soldier flies live – and there was plenty of discussion over the unfamiliar experience of sharing bathroom quarters with a few grandaddy-longlegs. But for many of the campers, even the “gross” stuff started to feel normal and even fun as they grew more comfortable with “roughing it” as the week went on.

However one of the larger issues we explored with some early resistance was the responsibility associated with meat. Death to allow life.

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Chef Micheal Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn joined us for Thursday’s “fish kill” day. Along with instructing our fish cleaning, Chef Sohocki lead instruction on making scratch corn tortillas and a garden-fresh cucumber onion slaw. Continue reading

Mi Casa es Mi Casa

It’s not how the phrase usually goes, but I think it’s fitting. Sometime in December after Christmas in Arkansas, I realized my home in San Antonio felt like my home. Mi casa es mi casa.

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Recently I got to fangirl out by writing a post on San Antonio for Apartment Therapy. (Being that I’m a major AT and Alamo City fan).

My post was all about what to do out and about in San Antonio. Exterior, events, eats. Lot’s of things that start with E’s.

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But as much time as I spend in the city or by the river, there is a place I lay my head at night – feed my cat – take showers. En mi casa.

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Thoughts of Texas may not conjure up images of converted warehouse loft living quite the way Brooklyn does. It’s not something you can really find in Austin even if you have the dollar to get it. But in San Antonio, there are several loft type living spaces throughout the former (and in some ways current – as the train headed to Pioneer Mills reminds us quite often) industrial areas of town. Not that I even notice the trains anymore.

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Living in the Blue Star Arts Complex does come with other perks beyond the free alarm clock trains. As a non-driving Texan/San Antonian, I rely on a good Walkscore to buy groceries, get to school, go to meetings, get to farm camp, live life, etc.

A “walkscore” isn’t as literal as it sounds. Bikeability and public transportation are also factored into the formula along with walk-ability. To quote the results for my address at Blue Star, terrain is “Flat as a pancake, excellent bike lanes.” With two B-Cycle stations in my complex alone, it’s an ideal spot to hang up those car keys and never look back. (You just might be Ubering or hitchhiking to leave town).

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For the longest time, most of our visitors found the downstairs spooky. After all there is a bit of grunge around the edges that makes you wonder if the ghost of a bygone meat-packer is lurking in the shadows, confused to see people living in what once was essentially a storage unit.

However, we’ve stayed spooky-ghost free so far, even going so far as to make the alleged-by-our-guests to be haunted downstairs a “zen” yoga and relaxation space.

Namaste Casper. Continue reading

Scraps, glitter and glue

Reduce, reuse, recycle. I walk, carpool or take the bus, I ask for paper not plastic (then keep the brown bags in my closet to be used as padding in gift wrap and a myriad of other things – I recycle everything I can.IMG_3540_edited

Those are the conventional ideas of what the three Rs are referencing in being better stewards of the environment. But with the rise of Pinterest and a humankind love of craft going back to the beginning of time, art can easily find a place in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.

I thought my inaugural DIY post would be a well planned step by step guide to creating something specific clear goal and carefully chosen materials. Instead, it became a spur of the moment afternoon craft with my sister that has the special ingredient of unpretentious messiness.

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If I lied and said I used Mod Podge or literally any glue that isn’t fabric glue, no one would be any the wiser. But here’s the deal – I used fabric glue. Fabric glue mixed with a bit of Martha Stewart glitter paint left over from my wedding in 2012. It’s what I had on hand and it does the job. In fact, my sister was in love with glittering everything she glued down.

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For well over a decade now I have been a big fan of mail-order catalogs. While not as eco-friendly as their modern digital counterparts, I’ve been collecting and cutting up and re-purposing the publications for years. I still save any I receive, though I don’t religiously track them down like I once did Continue reading