Sunday, June 8, 2008

M.kate's Surprise and a great weekend

I have a wonderful blogging friend from Malaysia, her name is M.Kate, and I love to read her blog. It teaches me so much about different parts of the world, and she has a magnificent perspective on everything she discusses. She always sends me postcards from her travels, and they always make my day when they arrive in my mailbox. She had told me she was going to send me a package in the mail recently, but I had no idea that it was going to be on this level. When the package arrived, I was at work, so it had to be picked up at the post office, and I had to wait two days! Finally, Casey picked up the parcel on his way to work, and I had to wait until after 10 pm to get it.
I waited patiently at home, and when he came home I practically ripped his backpack off of him! She wrapped it in the most beautiful wrapping paper I had ever seen before! There is so much going on on the paper it was hard to capture: Ninjas, Sakura blossoms, Festivals, Rainbows, Oh my goodness!
Then when I opened up the package it was wrapped again, and more Japanese elegant wrapping! The package contained a beautiful handmade card, a mystic knot, Cambodian Pashmina, Malaysian Sarong fabric, kawaii cell phone bling, scrapbooking paper, and a wonderful Japanese cookbook, written by Keiko Ishida. I was floored! I loved everything, it meant so very much to me.
UPDATE: I am sorry this photo collage got deleted somehow, to see the whole parcel from M.Kate, please go to my FLickr Page in the gifts from friends folder
So I set out to try a recipe from the cookbook, and I choose Rice Ball Skewers. I love to buy these from Japanese Groceries, they are both sweet and salty, due to the sweet rice flour and the Mitarashi Ann sauce (a thick sweet soy sauce homemade w/ potato starch, soy sauce, sugar, and mirin)
The process starts with making the dough into balls, then flattening them out, then steaming them in a bamboo steamer, then grinding the dough in a mortar and pestle (I dont have one, so I used a ice cream scoop handle and a heavy duty pyrex bowl!)
Rolling the dough into balls (this was the hard part for me, the dough has a life of it's own, I thought sometimes it was going to just roll itself into a live alien, if you can understand that- it seemed to be alive!) and then skewering the balls onto soaked bamboo skewers. Then on a gas grill, you grill the rice balls for about 3 seconds, each side. Then you prepare the mitarashi ann sauce.
Here are some photos of the whole process, and the end result. What a treat! They taste similar to mochi cakes. I have never made anything like this before, and I thank M.kate for helping me accomplish this! We had them with beer and it was a lot of fun.

This weekend was a blast, and the best part was that we never left the neighborhood! I spent a lot of time cooking, and Casey worked on our bicycles, tuning them up.

I have never been much of a bike rider, I got into an accident when I was younger, and lets just say I couldn't pee for over a week! (well, I did, but my mom had to beg me to!) And so, I have always been hesitant to get on a bike because I am clumsy and I don't trust myself. Casey rides his bike to work everyday and he always wants me to go riding with him. After all that hard work on our bikes, I couldn't really make another excuse not to go! So we did, and I had the best time, and I feel so good when I am riding! I cannot believe how free I feel when we are out riding! So I look forward to a summer of riding together, today we went on a ride and stopped and had a picnic along the way. I havent uploaded those photos yet, but I will update them tomorrow.
And lastly, we got our first Sakura Tree! It is a dwarf "Stella" and will stay on our front patio. I am so excited for it to maybe bear fruit soon! I read up on the variety, and it doesn't need pollination. I can't wait to have my very own Sakura blossoms next year!
I also got some yellow begonias as well.

Here is my Malaysian Sarong Fabric in use, I have to learn how to wrap it better before I wear it, but when I do I will take pics!


Fuji Mama said...

Great job on the rice ball skewers! They look yummy! You need to get a suribachi ( I don't know how I lived without mine before!

M.KATE said...

Hi, million thanks for the mention (shying and blushing). I am so happy the package reached you, happier you like them and over the moon that you tried out Japanese recipe!! I am trying to go on a sashimi diet (unsuccessfuly as usual),eating sashimi and sushi bentos (very expensive!!!)..but I guess eating sushi is great but no slimming effect. Again, you are a wizard in cooking!! I have yet to cook any japanese food. That sarong material can be made into anything you like, bought it in cambodia though there are plenty of batiks materials here, but this was special because of the elephant motifs!! You are a good friend too!! lots of love and hugs always :)

Milkberry said...

Wow nice dango! I think they're called kushi dango or something. Great job! Subarashii!

ling239 said...

a very nice fren u have got !
so many gifts... she sure knows what u like best ^_^

Betty said...

I love the package, won't it be nice for such good friends to meet up some day in each others home town. Casey has always been a bike rider, every summer he would work on the farm for either a bike or the newest gaming system that was out. I also am "clumsy" on a bike but you will be fine if you stay off the main roads away from traffic at least thats my theory. I am so excited to see the two of you this weekend!

mushroommeadows said...

Lucky ducky!!! What a great surprise! The rice balls look tasty!!! YUM! :)

Shell (貝殼) said...

The rice ball skewers look simply and nice..
And i like the package too~~really sweet & warm gift

Hey Harriet said...

Ooooh what gorgeous gifts from one super gal to another! That M.Kate is such a sweetie! I'd love to one day meet her in person! & I'd be giving her one of those infamous 'big hugs' of hers for sure :D Hey it would be so cool for you, M.Kate & I to meet up for lucnh. Lunch at your place! Your food pics are making me drool all over my keyboard again. Damn it! Have a great week :)

Hey Harriet said...

ooops...lucnh = lunch. I blame the dribble in the keyboard for the typo ;)

Laura B said...

The rice ball skewers look fab! I love the photo of them in the steamer. Just found you through mushroommeadows, congrats on your new job!

kirin said...

Wow~ you made Mitarashi Dango by your self!

Here's Japanese cooking SNS for Mitarashi Dango! (^0^)

amy said...

I went for a 10 1/2 mile bike ride this Saturday. I wasnt trying to impress anyone, but I wanted to see if I could make it from my bf's parents house to my parents house. Success!

Once again, the food looks straight out of a magazine.

You're so lucky to get such cool things from a blogger buddy. I always feel so dumb when I tell my other friends about blog friends but sometimes blog friends are so cool.

Jorgelina said...

That beautiful surprise of M. kate!

I like much to walk in bicycle.

A greeting

Amanda said...

That gift from m.kate is so cute! Very sweet. :) That's cool that you guys are riding bikes, sounds like fun! Dustin and I want to get bikes and a little seat thing for Lucy soon. It would be fun to bike to the store instead of drive, and Dustin's thinking about biking to work. How is your new job going? I'm setting up a permanent booth today at a place in downtown Bend where you can rent little spots to sell in. It's pretty cool, it's listed on the art walk and has a lot of artists that sell in it. I bought this huge antique hutch that we have to try and get to Bend in one piece, and I'm a little nervous. :) Well, about the hutch and putting myself out there like that. Even though I blog - haha

kawaii crafter said...

I like M. Kate's site too, she takes amazing photos. What fun things too receive in the mail.

You've been doing some serious cooking. Those rice balls on the skewers look impressive.

Ku said...

OMG you made dango. (o.o) Umasou~ *drool*

Actually, I never could get used to the gooey topping... ^^; I like the warabi-powdered ones best. XD

Have the birds come to your feeder yet? I bet they will soon. XD Watch out for squirrels, though; they'll chase the birds off and pee everywhere. >-<*

Oiyi said...

Those rice balls look delicious and they look like a lot of work.