Loving and Loathing my Kitchen

So it has been awhile since I’ve posted. Like everyone else daily life has been hectic and I kept telling myself to post something relevant. Well, for the past several months I have been between loving and loathing my kitchen. If you’ve ever been to my home, I’m sure some of you wonder how I could love my kitchen. Yes, it is small and there is no cupboard space and I don’t have a real oven but that’s what I love about it. All those quirky things make me realize that I don’t need a rockstar kitchen to be a top notch cook or baker. But then there are times when I open my cupboards and want to scream because I can’t get to that skillet unless I remove half the dishes that are blocking it. Sounds frustrating right? Well, yes and no. Sometimes I just have to laugh and yes other times I am royally frustrated and want to sink every dime into remodeling the kitchen.
So you may wonder why haven’t we remodeled? Well, for one I don’t know what I want and two we live in Japan. It is super expensive here to remodel or change anything. So I really want to wait to make sure I know what we want. Plus there are other things more important than a fancy oven. As long as my kitchen is clean and functional, I will deal with loving and loathing!
Recently I cleaned out and organized my cupboards. It may not look like a huge difference but I don’t have things dumping on my head anymore.
Let me know about your kitchen and the cool quirky or irritating things you have to deal with. Sometimes sharing makes those difficult times easier.

Just the basics
Just the basics

This is actually is better than before
This actually is better than before

Advertisements

Soup to Curry with just a few Spices

So I had two packs of frozen spinach just staring at me in my freezer. Generally I use fresh spinach but I keep a few packs of frozen for certain dishes that I cook. I felt like I should use these two in something new and a bit different. I came across a recipe for spinach soup. I figured it was another one of those fat laden creamed soups but I was pleasantly surprised to find no heavy cream, no milk, actually no dairy but instead just a handful ingredients. Best of all, I went from enjoying a spinach soup and then by just adding a few curry spices I turned it into the best spinach curry I’ve ever had.
I know the color is odd but really it’s good and it cooks up in a flash. I’ve included the base recipe. To make it into a curry add your favorite curry spices and let it simmer a few minutes longer.

From Soup to curry with just a few spices
From Soup to Curry with just a few spices

Spinach Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 dried red chili
salt/pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed or 2 1/2 lb fresh

Heat the oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic begins to color. Add the onion and red chili. Saute until the onion is golden brown; about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to high and add the wine. Cook until reduced by half. Then add the vegetable stock and turn the heat to medium. Add in the spinach and continue to cook until the frozen spinach is heated thoroughly or the fresh is wilted.

Remove from heat and chill by placing the pot into a bowl of ice. Once room temperature, using an immersion blender or upright blender, puree the soup until smooth.

Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.

*if you like really thick soup, add a diced potato to the soup along with the onion. This adds texture without the fat.
**For a curry, add your favorite curry spices such as curry powder, cumin, garam masala, etc

TOFU

Love it or hate tofu is good for you and you can make it taste yummy. This past week one of my students requested a quick and easy recipe with tofu. I showed her how to whip up Hiyayakko and then since it was here B-day I made a tofu cheesecake for her. This is completely VEGAN and even tofu haters will love it. There is no hint or after taste of tofu. It has dense texture of New York Style without making you feel like you ate a brick. I love it with fresh fruit, a fruit puree, or a bourbon caramel sauce.

Vegan Tofu Cheesecake
Vegan Tofu Cheesecake

When it Rains it Pours

This is not going to be a depressing blog about how bad things have been lately. It’s actually how much rain we have gotten here. Okinawa does have a rainy season but in the 15 yrs I’ve been here I think this is the most. Streets were actually flooding and there has been a ton of thunder and lightning. So, you might wonder what I have been doing during this no beach going time? Well as usual cooking, baking and complaining about the rain.
Over the past few weeks I have been really working hard on my upcoming project. I really need to update a lot of my photos so I’ve been remaking a lot of my favorites and retaking photos. So without the sun, it has been next to impossible to take great photos. I’m an amateur, have a ultra cheap camera, and I believe in taking a photo of my food that will untouch, unedited, and when you make it at home you get something similar. There is nothing more frustrating to make a recipe from a magazine, thinking this will be beautiful for tonight’s party only to have it look like puke in a bowl. I often wondered how those magazines have such perfect looking food photos…say it with me now, “stock photos”. I feel so cheated and betrayed. So, just to let you know I never use stock photos and will always use photos of my own. So what you see is what you will get. Nice, right?
So here are my creations from last week: Update Acorn Squash Pudding and Healthy Cream of Mushroom Soup

Acorn squash pudding with maple syrup
Acorn squash pudding with maple syrup

Healthy Cream of Mushroom Soup
Healthy Cream of Mushroom Soup