Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More chronicles of tamagoyaki

Days until the Chuutairen: 3
Tamagoyaki made: 8
Eggs consumed: 16

Saturday evening (Jun. 12th) I made my ugliest tamagoyaki yet. @_@;; (It was so ugly I didn't even bother taking a picture of how it looked sliced up!)

To redeem myself, I made another one. It didn't turn out so great, but it was still much better than the first one.

Sunday's lunchtime tamagoyaki was also slightly deformed, but it wasn't bad enough to compel me to make a second one to make up for it.

Monday's 給食 ("kyuushoku" a.k.a. school lunch) had tamagoyaki--dashi based, I believe, so it wasn't sweet--so I didn't feel like eating more for dinner.

Tuesday I went to taiko, so by the time I got home (around 21:15) I didn't feel like cooking so I just finished off some leftovers (more about that later!).

Then today I made my best tamagoyaki to date!! There wasn't as much visible egg white and the shape was quite nice! I was so pleased I even cut a couple into heart shapes. It was a nice end to my practice cooking sessions. ^_^

Tomorrow (Thursday) is taiko again so I'm not planning on cooking when I get home. And Friday is the night before the Chuutairen, so I'm planning on making the real thing then so I don't have to wake up as early on Saturday morning to prepare/pack my bento. (And since I need to be at the school around 06:00-06:30, I'd probably be too sleepy to do a good job making the tamagoyaki on Saturday morning anyway...)

Even though I'd say that my tamagoyaki are "not bad" or "passable" rather than the "reasonably [decent]" that I was aiming for, I'm satisfied with that. As I was making the tamagoyaki this week I realized that my true goal wasn't to make really nice looking tamagoyaki, but rather to make a nice bento that I would feel happy eating.

Since my ultimate aim was to enjoy my food more, I realized that it was defeating the purpose to frustrate myself by being too perfectionistic about the shape--and I was starting to feel irritated by my lack of improvement/consistency in making a nice shape.

So yeah, even though I'd still like to "perfect" my tamagoyaki making skills, I figure it's OK if I let it happen naturally over the course of making many bento for various occasions rather than doing focused "practice/training sessions" like I've been doing for the past week and a half or so.

Apart from tamagoyaki, however, I have been cooking other things. Saturday night I "made" butter rice. As the name suggests, it's pretty much just rice with a pat of butter and just a few drops of soy sauce.

It's a popular/common household dish in Hokkaido, apparently. I'd watched part of a TV program talking about Hokkaido families and butter rice before, but I was never tempted to make it for myself until--you guessed it!--reading/watching 深夜食堂 (Shinya Shokudo). The drama in particular made it look really delicious.

Since I almost always have butter (北海道雪印バターHokkaido "Snow" brand butter, no less!) in my fridge--leftover from cookie baking--it's a super easy and convenient "dish" for me to make. It's not so delicious that I would want to eat butter rice instead of regular rice all the time, but it was definitely tastier than I expected it to be. =P

Sunday night for dinner I did a quick pan fry of red and yellow peppers with bacon (using olive oil). (The idea came from my 3min bento magazine.)

And for the main dish, again taking inspiration from 深夜食堂, I decided to make ソース焼きそば目玉焼きのっけ (sauce yakisoba medamayaki nokke, i.e. with a fried sunny-side up egg on top).

Unfortunately I didn't have the recommended 四万十川 青のり ("Shimantogawa aonori," i.e. seaweed flakes made with seaweed from the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture), but it was still tasty. I love fried eggs on rice, etc. so I don't know why I never thought of throwing one on top of yakisoba (which I frequently cooked in my first and second years in Japan) before. It's such a simple thing, but for me it makes the yakisoba ever so much tastier.

I also did a quick pan fry of tuna and komatsuna (小松菜) a leafy green vegetable also known as "Japanese mustard spinach" apparently. (I had no idea!) Unfortunately I'm not sure if it was a problem with the vegetables or if it was because I overcooked them, but it ended up tasting kind of bitter... I'll probably try making the dish a couple more times in the future to figure out the cause of the bitterness (the veggies or my cooking).

I guess I was trying to make up for my mostly protein (i.e. just tamagoyaki) meals over the past week by cooking lots of vegetables.

I had the leftovers (yakisoba and tuna komatsuna) for dinner again on Monday and Tuesday.

Then today I had a very "breakfast-like" meal for dinner: tamagoyaki, potato & bacon saute, and more bell peppers with bacon. The dishes themselves (apart from the tamagoyaki) weren't "breakfast" dishes per se, but the ingredients were: eggs, bell peppers, bacon and potatoes--think omelette with bacon and hash browns/home fries!

It reminded me of the "breakfast for dinner" small group night we had so many years ago--not to mention my tradition of breakfast with "the girls" pretty much every time I go back home (to Canada) for vacation. Ah, the memories...

Oh, and in other food/bento-related news, the Ojue 63010 bento box I ordered on Tuesday arrived as scheduled on Saturday morning. Usually I'm good about timing my morning shower to avoid conflicting with the delivery person's arrival, but this time I slept in a little late and I ended up having to yell through the shower room window (which is conveniently next to the door) for the guy to please wait for me. I was pretty embarrassed and couldn't stop apologizing because I mean, I was expecting the delivery so I really should've just waited until after the delivery to take my shower... @_@;;

Anyway, I'm really happy with the bento box, although since it's tall rather than wide I'm not 100% sure what I want to do for my main dish. With my 100yen shop bento, two onigiri (made with my super convenient onigiri mould) fit perfectly in the larger section, but they'd be too big for the new box.... I suppose I could just make the onigiri by hand, but right now I'm thinking that I'll try sandwiches since they can be cut/squished to fit in.

Anyway, here's my new "pride and joy" in the packaging:

Close-up of the label:

Outside of the packaging:

Disassembled--notice how the chopsticks fit in the lid? Brilliant!

And the chopstick case also turns into a chopstick rest!! I love it!!

With my new bento box, octopus-shaped red wieners and "not bad" tamagoyaki, I'm really looking forward to making lunch for the Chuutairen on Saturday! I think, though, that I'm going to have to get up extra early to ensure that I have enough time to take lots of photos of the finished product!! =P