Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was very much in the spirit of last year and the year before that: an improvised but decidedly well-done affair that showcased the surprisingly good cooking abilities of everyone involved and that felt warm, loving, and perfect.

Since autumn and earthtones and unusual Asian foodstuffs are some of my favourite things, I'm gonna make you check out these other seasonal snacks first:

A set of artisanal fruit jellies (although pumpkins, chestnuts and caramel are distinctly not fruits) from the fancy local bakery..

... some traditional chestnut and sweet potato rice cakes with baked sweet potato-flavoured soymilk...

... and finally, just in time for Thanksgiving and with the card from my mom in the background, another interesting seasonal soymilk flavour, Apple Pie! The other one is better, though.

Basically what it looks like outside right now - I like these guys more than their pink springtime counterparts.

If anyone ever actually finds these posts or browses through them looking for the "Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Recipes" label, then this next part is for you.
For some reason - don't ask me why, I guess I just saw some on Instagram or something - I decided I wanted to make daikon mochi for Thanksgiving. Daikon is the big white Japanese radish, and mochi, as more people probably know, is chewy pasty rice cake.

To make it, you will need:

2/3 of a daikon radish that was approx. the height of a small newborn baby lol
1/3 cup Japanese sweet potato flour/starch (katakuriko, the one on the right)
1/3 cup Japanese glutinous rice flour (mochiko, the one on the left)
1/4 cup rice flour/powder (not pictured)
Approx. 1/2 cup chopped green onions
Small dash of sake
Gluten-free soy sauce, or another brown, savoury substitute, to taste
Salt and powdered black pepper to taste
Oil for cooking

The pictures you see here are from the first time I ever tried making these, and the first thing I fucked up was thoroughly draining the radish once I had peeled it and blended it into a rough paste. You're supposed to grate it, I guess, but doing it in the food processor works fine. Just don't drain it completely, or if you do, preserve the liquid! Radishes are very watery and smelly, and the temptation to get rid of the liquid is strong. When I actually did a good job with these the second time I had just tipped the separated liquid on top out of the bowl through a kitchen towel.

Add the flours, sake, sauce, salt, pepper, and onion to the bowl of radish gunk. 
Yeah, just add everything else. And mix it together with a spoon or whisk.

When I say "small dash of sake", I'm serious. A tiny bit, for a little flavour. 
The second thing I fucked up when I made these the first time was adding way too much after having drained out all of that precious, stinky vegetable water. Don't be like me, kids.

Don't go crazy with the sauce and salt, either. Again, if anyone actually reads these, then you must know by now that I never actually measure anything but just recommend using your best judgement. If the texture isn't thick and pasty but not watery like it should be, add more rice flour or radish liquid. This is a goopy chewy thing but it should be able to stay together in the pan.


Cook in a pan thinly coated with oil on low-medium heat for basically as long as you can without burning it on both sides. The third and final thing I fucked up the first time around was not cooking these for nearly long enough. See this picture below? They look fine, don't they?

Lies.

Cook them moar.

Once they're golden brown and slightly crispy on both sides, slide out of the pan and onto a paper towel-lined plate and serve either immediately or, like, almost immediately. I mixed together some more soy sauce, some honey, and another small dash of sake in a bowl and drizzled it on top, then sprinkled on more green onions and some sesame seeds.

This one's a winner, the ingredients should be cheap, and it's one of the few hot starchy things in this world that can be done gluten free and vegan!

Okay, so anyway, here's Hannes playing Battlefield 1 on the day itself, radish experiements finalised and the apartment rearranged to accommodate 5 people and loads of food.


Hilariously enough I'd had a full bottle of Ikea elderflower concentrate sitting in the back of the fridge for ages, worrying that I would never use it, even as the 3-litre box of Svensk gin Hannes' parents sent us for our birthdays has been parked in front of it for weeks. 
A quick Google revealed that adding lemon soda to these two things creates a classic British summertime cocktail called the Elderflower Cordial, and it's absolutely delicious.

NiQui is basically an angel and made me a gluten-free pumpkin pie that would have also been vegan - because she made the filling with soymilk - had she not kneaded loads of butter into the crust lol. I've been eating it for breakfast for days now, with the cream cheese-flavoured frosting my mom sent a while back. Thank you so much!

And boom, here's the full spread!

NiQui and Rejon did the Costco run the day after the wine festival because they're heroes and champions, and Rejon vetoed the fuck out of the whole roast turkey. We had all agreed beforehand that we wanted to do what we did last year but toned down and more efficient, minus the six hours of cooking together at my place. I mean, that was awesome, but like, damn. We were so drunk and tired.

Anyway, so what you see is slices of the roast chicken (and also black olives) they got instead; the aforementioned pie as well as the two cornbread stuffings NiQui made, one gluten free; the baked mac 'n cheese and homemade cranberry sauce Rejon did (and like omg yum?); the daikon mochi, garlic mashed potatoes, and steamed pumpkin with honey and walnuts that I made and the weirdly inexpensive eclairs that I got, the box of mille feuille Shogo brought, and the gluhwein we heated up once we run out of elderflower drank.


The cranberry sauce together with the cornbread stuffing was, like, perfect.

This year I was like, fuck soup and salad, neither of them were successful last time, 
we're going Full Carbs. 100% carbs.

Also Rejon does this thing where she wears very occasion-appropriate outfits and was an adorable pilgrim that day. Approved!

Oh, and did I mention that she also gave me the apple candle on the left and made the white one in the middle by hand for my birthday? My mom sent the "Give Thanks" pumpkin and card when she sent our birthday gifts and Halloween bag. Love them!

We got tipsy pretty fast (as Rejon said, "Is there gin in that? Ohh, that's dangerous!") and had Life and Frozen Planet on in the background all day. Unfortunately we did this on Japanese Labour Day, though, a Wednesday, so everyone had to go back to work the next morning, which was obviously super difficult and would have been physically impossible if they'd all eaten turkey. 

Between the group of us being in this small space and all the food being heated and reheated, the apartment got so warm and stuffy that I had to open our tiny bedroom window. I closed it again right after everyone left, though, because I realised it was actually startlingly cold outside, which it hadn't been yet so far this year. I've repeatedly cited the post I made on October 19th when I said I couldn't deal with peeling off my sweat-soaked clothes halfway through the day anymore and would literally rather spend next summer in Phoenix with air conditioning than in a subtropical Asian swamp climate in shoddy buildings with no ventilation or cooling. When I finally get around to finishing my Hiroshima and Setouchi posts you'll think they're super old, because it was literally still summer down there when we went on October 8th - 10th. 

Facebook warned me earlier on day-before-Thanksgiving-day that it was going to get down to about 2 C or 35 F that night, but I had forgotten about it.
And the next morning, this happened:

Yeah, first November snowfall in Tokyo for 54 years. 5 or 6 weeks after summer!
Thanks oil companies and inept world governments, the climate's only going to get way more fucky from here on out! :P

This starts when I left our apartment for work and continues from where I was working that day, in Roppongi Midtown Tower. Enjoy!