The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

cooking: sometimes it works + Japanese snacks

homecooked dinner
yesterday's homecooked meal

The difference between yesterday's homecooked dinner and today's homecooked dinner is that yesterday's didn't make me want to cry and clean out my stomach of the ghastly substances that touched its inner lining. Another difference was that yesterday I cooked food I was pretty sure I'd like, while tonight was more about experimentation and blindly using up ingredients in my kitchen of questionable deliciousness.

First off: soba is awesome. Previous to yesterday's dinner, I had only eaten it once at Sobaya for the first time in years. It definitely left an impression, as I soon went to Whole Foods and procured some organic wild yam soba to satiate those soba cravings that made me toss and turn in the night while attacking me in drawn out nightmares involving flying soba demons (...okay, this didn't happen). However, the soba laid untouched in its plastic shell for weeks until yesterday when I finally bought some tsuyu (soba dipping sauce) from Sunrise Mart on Broome Street. Of course, you don't need tsuyu to eat soba, but there's a reason (probably with a long history of cultivation) that people use it: it tastes really good. As it seemed unbalanced to just eat soba noodles and sauce (although I'm sure there are people my age eaten less balanced meals), I sauteed some vegetables lying around the kitchen (onion, fennel, and kale; yes, they just lie around) as a side dish. End result: palatable meal! That I made! Hot damn!

Today I decided to roast some acorn squash because I hadn't tried it before. I've had squash dishes, just not made by myself. Alone. In my kitchen. Of doom. I've had a squash for weeks, bought sometime before Thanksgiving, sitting uncomfortably on my counter in a container of onions and shallots. The bulbous, green, somewhat lifeless plant-thing looked like a neglected orphan cavorting among the onions, although it wasn't really cavorting seeing as it's a hard, inanimate object. I'm sure if it had feelings, it would've cavorted. Appendages would've helped too.

I sliced it in half, put the other half in the fridge (although I might just chuck it), and after spooning out the seeds, seasoned the inner cavity with butter, sugar, a bit of salt, some honey, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. After shoving it into my preheated 375 degree oven, I prayed for edibility. You can't go wrong with sugar and honey, right?

Well. True, you can't; that part was edible. I thought maybe I didn't cook it long enough but methinks if that were the case, I wouldn't have accidentally shoved my spoon through the skin, as though a long metallic parasite were burrowing its way through the fruit's crust after being implanted in its belly on a freak interplanetary mission. (Yup, it's just like that. You know what I'm talking about.) I probably ate less than half of the squash (which was already a half) as the most palatable parts were those swimming in honey juices. I'm not sure what happened to the rest. Tainted by Satan who lives in my oven, perhaps?

While baking the squash, I thought, "How can I utlize this hot oven that I just preheated and shall keep on being heated for the next 40 or so minutes?" How? HOW? Well. Shove in something else! I decided to gather the last fourth of the size-of-a-baby's-head onion I had since last week and a stalk of fennel, chop them into large pieces and bake them en papillote, because I had a fresh roll of parchment paper begging to be used (yes, my housewares speak to me). So I did. I probably didn't leave them in the oven long enough, but they were definitely cooked. And...they tasted really boring. They didn't taste bad, unlike the non-sugary parts of the squash, but they didn't taste good either. Perhaps it was a problem with the lack of salt, in that I didn't add much of it. Argh. What a waste of good vegetables.

Has anyone noticed that I have a tendency to make things with no flavor? I have a newsflash for you: turns out flavor is a vital part of food, unless you have no sense of taste or smell. The soba tasted good because there was sauce. It was delicious even without the sauce (better than other plain noodles at least). I ate three (or was it four?) little mantou buns today (it's 8/$1.25), which after being warmed in the microwave I peeled apart in pillowly soft layered chunks. Ish. You'd have to try it to see what I mean. Without any embellishment (besides the bit of salt and/or sugar), bread is...delicious. Heavenly. Something I dream about and drool over in cookbooks. As for making it, I've never tried (when I was little, my mum would use a bread machine every now and then), but I'm sure I'd screw that up somehow and make something that tastes vaguely of styrofoam, but worse.

So that was my night. I made up for the monstrous baked vegetation by eating way too many little Japanese pudding pie snacks.

Lotte Pudding Pie
Lotte Pudding Pie

It's research! No really, remember that entry I wrote about Japanese food? Well, I still don't have a thesis, but I figured I'd buy some snack boxes and ...uh. Primarily look at them, for research purposes, and then evaluate their tastes because I'm a glutton.

inside the pudding pie thing
inside the pie

The box says these things have 64 layers. Not 62, not 67, but a perfect, square number of 64. I'm sure they do, as the Japanese robotic pie-making machine probably knows what it's doing, and I'm not about to count the torn up flakes I left behind while stuffing my face. The filling isn't very pudding-ish but at least tastes like something made of dairy products. This snack, while far from amazing, is worth trying if you like flaky things and don't like very sweet foods. I'm not a big fan of flakes or not-too-sweet but I still ate a lot of these. (I had to make up for the sucky vegetables.)

Every Burger
Every Burger

On the other hand, this snack I could each by the bucket-full. After becoming an obese sack of miniature hamburger-shaped chocolate sandwiches (you never know; it could happen), I'd go back for MORE! MORE SACKS! OF EVERY BURGER! Thankfully the box is divided into two portions (each one containing 8 burgers) or I'd eat the entire contents. Thank you, Japan, for the portion control. However, I take back the thanks for creating so many deliciously cute, unhealthy foodstuffs.


Has anyone noticed the custom on Japanese snack packaging to show a cross section of what's inside the snack or a diagram of the snack's surface composition, no matter how simple it is?

chocolate covered nut cluster
chocolate covered thing

What is it? No hints! Do not pay attention to the crush almond milk chocolate chocolate clusters!...oh, I gave it away.

I have nothing against this practice; in fact, I love it. I hug it. (hugs) I love seeing goo flowing out of cookies.

Koala's March
Koala's March

Many people share a deep connection to Lotte's Koala's March. When I was little, when most people were getting Twinkies and mini muffins, I was getting small packs of Koala's March. Mmm, tasty. Notice how the halved koala on the box doesn't show the koala design. Of course, that makes sense--god knows what kind of nightmares a decapitated koala cookie might create--I just never noticed it before.

bird's-eye view
French toast

Jumping topics, I made French toast on Sunday night when I realized my loaf of bread from Blue Ribbon Bakery purchased six days prior had gone bad...probably two to five days prior. By Sunday, one slice was growing mold and the whole loaf had turned into petrified wheat-based matter. Oops. It's not a bad sign, of course, as the bread was really tasty on the first day and obviously had no funky preservatives to lengthen its life. I almost can't believe that I didn't finish the loaf before it could turn into a sad shell of its former lively, yeasty self. The magicalness that is the "Toast of France" is that it can bring back such seemingly decrepit slices of toast (unless it has turned green; throw that shit out) and into it inject new, tasty, egg-filled life. I soaked two slices of bread in a mix of egg, sugar, milk, and cinammon before pan frying the slices, slapping them on my too-small plate (seriously, can't you see that I need a new one?) and garnishing it with slices of raw banana and drips of honey. The end result was quite good. I don't know what bad French toast is but if I ever come across it, an angel will die. It will be that tragic.

Bad French toast: don't let it happen to you. Or you'll kill a celestial being.


Amy / December 6, 2005 10:14 PM

Do you get strange food cravings too? Sometimes I go on a food fad, meaning I eat nothing but that food for days. Last year it was cottage cheese, this year it's Nutella. Occassionally I must have crepes whenever they're available.

I miss Japanese snacks! Alas, I ate all my seaweed days ago. That flaky stuff looks good...

Sara / December 6, 2005 11:22 PM

I adore your blog. You're wrong--you're a great writer. (I apologize for telling you you're wrong in only the second sentence I have ever written to you; it was for a good cause.) Very readable, and I don't generally find blogs that readable (mostly I skim for food porn). Lately, I've been studying for exams, and when I need a distraction I'll just go to your archives and read another entry. I'm glad you've been doing this for awhile.

I had to tell you that when I read your entry for today it was actually the second time I've heard of Every Burger. The first was on this great website called the Brunching Shuttlecocks that I used to read all the time, where this guy Lore Sjoberg (a pseudonym, I believe) would write hysterical things. My favorite thing he would do were these ratings, where he'd take some category of item, like Breakfast Cereals, and review a bunch of them and give them grades. He often would do food ratings, but he rated other things too.

Anyway, once he rated Japanese Snack foods, and Every Burger was one of them! He, like you, gave them a very high score.

Unfortunately, Lore is no longer really running the Brunching site, in the sense that he doesn't write new material and add to it. But you can still go and access all of his archives. I could waste an entire day reading all of his ratings over again.

You should check this out if you think the ratings he wrote on Japanese Snack Foods are funny. I think you're funny, so I think you'd find him funny. You can get to his archives by going to and clicking on "Archives", and if you scroll to the bottom of the Archives page you can reach the archives from all the years he ran Brunching.

I have no idea what the meaning is behind "Brunching Shuttlecocks", by the way. Probably an inside joke. That's what I'm hoping.


P.S. You should at least look and read the ones where he rates Korean snack foods, Australian snack foods, more Korean snack foods, Czech and Romanian snack foods, Israeli snack foods, Canadian snack foods, and Danger Symbols, Parts I and II!

Saraci / December 7, 2005 12:13 AM

Umm, I got a Typekey account b/c I thought my comment wouldn't post without one. But now I see that it did. That's me above (Sara). I'm not sure why I felt the need to post a second comment. It must be the Typekey account.

Jason Truesdell / December 7, 2005 2:37 AM

I suggest trying your hand at making kabocha no nimono to go along with your Japanese cooking adventures.

Take some peeled butternut, acorn or kabocha squash, cut into chunks (about 1" cubes, slightly irregular, as it is a spherical orb you are working with). Simmer about 20 minutes with a bit of dried konbu (kelp) or dashi, adding some Japanese soy sauce, mirin, a bit of additional salt, and perhaps a hint of extra sugar. Don't boil, just simmer. It tastes nice at that point, but even better the second day. It's also very simple.

Wei / December 7, 2005 12:20 PM

All I have to say is.. Where's the beef?! There's a noticable lack of any protein in your cooking. -.-

mini / December 7, 2005 3:31 PM

and I thought i was the only weirdo to love those cutesy hamburger snacks! have you also tried collon cream? another favorite is these packaged eclair looking wheat cakes they have in the fridge. it's soo good.

Something random from the archives