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 Continue reading

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

Where to get the best matcha in the Alamo City

Pretend for a moment you’ve stepped into a quaint shop off the busy streets of Okinawa without ever leaving Texas at Minnano Japanese Grocery.

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Minnano does not claim the title of sole Japanese grocer in San Antonio but it had my absolute loyalty the first time I walked in. And while food is the cornerstone of the little shop, there is a sizable collection of stationary, bath products, cookware, books and home decor that makes it difficult to leave with just mochi and tamago.

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Matcha is a notoriously expensive item. When I worked making cafe drinks, matcha was consistently our priciest item to stock. I won’t claim to know much about the various qualities because I really don’t know. Like most Americans, I’m not using it for a traditional tea ceremony but rather for baking and green tea lattes. I can’t remember the rate for Minnano’s green tea powder off the top of my head but the last I bought of their store brand was 3.99 f0r 0.08 lbs. That will last me for a few weeks. Continue reading

Are groceries a hobby?

If you started trying to come up with all the grocery delivery services you’ve seen thrown around lately, I would guess you could at least finish counting on one hand. I tried one and it was fine. It did what it was intended to do; cut out the verb part out of grocery shopping. For list-making people it does make some sense.

But it is not for me.

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I love food shopping. When traveling to a new city, grocery stores hit near the top of the itinerary. That’s how I ended up at Central Market on one of my first trips to Austin. Albeit, I was underwhelmed after reading glowing Yelp reviews of the miraculous Central Market. Some bulk tea and perogies made it into the shopping cart but it wasn’t exciting.

Yet here years later I am living in San Antonio. Something is different now. Maybe my heart could just sense that Austin is home to Whole Foods and Central Market was a stranger on that turf. As a part of Alamo City based HEB grocery store chain, Central Market is absolutely at home in the Alamo Heights “neighborhood” (it’s technically it’s own landlocked city – think of it as San Antonio’s Vatican City) here.

And every time we go we love it more.

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Bulk spices are one of the main draws. Spices are the spice of life, after all. And bulk candy. And bulk tea. And bulk oil. And bulk corn nuts (Josh discovered his love of bulk corn nuts at Central Market). You’re probably reading this and thinking it sounds like Whole Foods under a different name but CM truly is a unique entity and you are truly wrong. Continue reading