So There’s This Bag of Onions, See…

Yesterday, I was really feeling like chicken, and I still have quite a few onions left from the 5 pound bag I got on sale insanely cheap a few weeks ago, so I made them for dinner last night.

Sautéed Chicken and Onions with Teriyaki
Last night’s dinner–envious? 😉
I took a couple of the onions (they’re small), peeled and sliced them, and sautéed them in a little butter. When they were getting caramelized, I added a little sesame oil and tossed in chunks of chicken breast. I seared that well and then finished cooking it all. Once I was confident the chicken was done, the pan was removed from the heat, and I added teriyaki sauce to deglaze the pan. Oh, deglazing…getting all those little browned bits off the bottom of the pan. You don’t get that with non-stick pans, oh, no. You need good stainless steel pans for that. And let me tell you, those tiny caramelized flecks of yumminess make me confident my $400 investment in a set of Calphalon pans was well worth it. 😉 :yum:

Sautéed Chicken and Onions with Teriyaki Close-Up
Mmm…perfection…
It was torturous giving it some time to rest and cool a bit, but it was so good I was bouncing while I ate it once I did. I’m incredibly proud of my ability to cook the chicken just right–all the way through, but still fantastically juicy and tender. And the onions…oh, the onions. I can–and have–been perfectly satisfied with a meal of caramelized onions. Balance, what? I don’t care. There’s nothing on the face of the earth like soft-but-al-dente onions that have been cooked until their natural sugars are in full force, browned and rich. It’s a guiltless treat, I say–they’re vegetables! And sweet like dessert! Woo!

Inspired by Robyn‘s recent ramblings, complaints, research, and so on about her paper on Japanese snack foods and their “kawaii” quality, I’d been wanting to try the banana-flavored Koala’s March cookies my sister had about a week ago but couldn’t bear to save any for me to try they were so delicious.

Package of Banana-Filled Koala's March
Look at the happy Koala getting full of banana–for me! Mwa ha ha!
Adorable Koala Cookie
The cuteness of these cookies is too much!
Headless Koala
…But the cuteness is not enough to save him from being DEVOURED!
Suffering the higher cost here at the campus convenience store, I had a box in my possession after class yesterday. After opening the package, I was immersed in the scent of artificial banana flavoring. For someone highly allergic to and yet also highly fond of bananas, it’s about the closest I can usually get to eating them (cooked banana is okay, but since they have to be very thoroughly cooked, I tend to err on the side of caution and only eat even cooked ones when I’ve done the cooking and can be sure it’s well enough).

The first bite of one assured me that I would be fully satisfied with banananess and yummy-cookie-ness. The Japanese have an incredible knack for making cookies that are just a million times better than American packaged cookie products. And their creme fillings are perfect–in consistency and flavor–every time. For a processed, packaged food, they seem to come the closest to what I call the “realness” quality of homemade foods. When I eat an Oreo, it feels and tastes like I’m eating something that was pumped out by some machine in a factory. When a happy little Koala jumps in my mouth, it tastes fresh and yummy and delicious and oh, how I wish I could make these myself!

Today is my sister’s birthday. 🙂 She’s turning 21 already, which means I will no longer get requests for bottles of vodka or beer or anything else when I’m going shopping. We’re going out to dinner with the rest of my family tonight, and she’ll be able to order a drink for herself instead of just tasting mine. And after we get back, dessert will be had here, in the name of an amazing creation of mine that took four and a half hours of manual labor and the suffering of blisters, a deep cut on my finger, and impossibly sore arms this morning to produce. I’m sure it will be worth it, though, and you can bet photos will be forthcoming. 😉

Fusion Food, Melody-Style

This morning I’d settled on making rice pudding using arborio rice for lunch, but come the end of my morning class, I decided something more savory and lunch-like was a better idea. Rather than attempting to transform my remaining arborio into a sugar-laden confection, I went for my take on fusion cuisine: teriyaki risotto. To be perfectly honest, I can think of no better food combination than Japanese and Italian, and this risotto totally proved me right.

Teriyaki Risotto with Veggies
A lovely little Asian soup bowl brimming with risotto
Normally risotto is made with some kind of broth or wine or combination of the two as the liquid, but I decided to use teriyaki sauce diluted in water instead. Sautée the rice in some unsalted butter until it’s clear except for the little center pearl of white, and then begin the tedious process of gradually adding the simmering liquid until you get that delectable creamy-saucy texture that defines a perfect risotto. Once all the liquid was added and absorbed, I stirred in some heated mixed baby string beans and carrots, a little extra teriyaki sauce, and a light drizzle of sesame oil. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, and voilà! a fantastic lunch for two (my sister shared it with me, and confirmed the risotto was “OMG SO GOOD” ;)).

Risotto Close-Up
Mmm…morsels of creamy ricy veggie goodness…
Unfortunately my camera is being highly uncooperative lately and refuses to take anything but blurry photos of my food. 😛 Hopefully it’ll shape up over the course of tonight and tomorrow so I can legibly photo-document what should be a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner prepared by yours truly! I’m the chef for this year’s family feast for the first time, and I hope to create the best ever meal we’ve had for the holiday. 😀

On another food-related note for the day, one of my Chinese suitemates has a bowl full of tapioca in the fridge, and every time I’ve gone in it to get something the past few days, it’s made me crave bubble tea. Naturally, this necessitated a stop at the Kelly Tea and Coffee House on the way back to my room from my last class today. 😉 Looking over their menu of bubble tea flavors for the day–strawberry, sweet tea, and taro–I was immediately drawn to that last flavor scrawled in lavender marker on the menu board. Through my recent research of Asian desserts I’d come across the mention of taro several times, and it definitely piqued my curiosity, what with the enthusiasm people so frequently possessed when talking about it.

Taro Bubble Tea
Happy beads of tapioca swimming in sweet, delicious taro-ness!
After a very short mental debate between strawberry and taro, I chose to go with the unusually-purple drink over the cotton-candy-pink option. I most definitely was not regretting that choice after the first sip, and I subsequently added “something made with real taro” to my mental list of Unusual Foods to Try. ;D I’m definitely a fan of bubble tea–the novelty of slippery beads of tapioca mixed in with sips of a sweet, fruity- or tea-flavored beverage is just too much! Yum! :yum

And now I need to get more of this darned art history paper written and plan out the timing for all the things I’m cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m determined for it to be a blazing success! Well, hopefully not blazing in the LITERAL sense… 😕