Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

Well, I tried to make it pretty, but it just didn't work! Do you like the plate though? It's Noritake from a second-hand junk shop, it was probably the most exciting thing that's happened to me since...forever?

Anyway, the chocolate zucchini cake recipe came from chocolateandzucchini.com. There's a really beautiful picture there that you can look at instead. The recipe says you can use either butter or olive oil. I tried the oil, and even though it wasn't bad, I imagine butter would make it great. That's all for today, I just wanted to share my newly acquired status as a convert to chocolate cakes with veggies in them with the world.


Good Ladybug Bad Ladybug

These little guys are so clever but so naughty! They are the bad ladybugs that are destroying the tomato, eggplant, zucchini and cucumber plants. If you touch the leaf near them they fall off and pretend to be dead! Then I guess they just climb straight back up again. Very naughty! There was a good ladybug not far away, (it had disappeared by the time I got the camera, so no comparison photo), and it had fewer spots, bigger spots, didn't play dead, and its head was different. Fascinating!

Here's what they've done to our eggplants... they very thoughtfully left some for us though, so they're maybe not totally evil?

PS. I just found out the Japanese name is tentomushi damashi, their scientific name is epilachna vigintioctopunctata, and the English name is the 28 Spotted Potato Ladybird. This link has more information, they're apparently everywhere, Brisbane, the UK, all over the place, no escape! Their larvae are kind of cool looking though, there are some pictures if you follow the aforementioned link. I remember seeing them a few weeks ago, but had no idea they were connected in any way.


Frozen Watermelon and Banana Shake

Oh the incredible wonderfulness of frozen fruit! I froze a couple of bananas the other day, then a whole lot of chopped up watermelon a few days later, then yesterday I threw some of each in a blender with some cold milk and it was amazing! Straight to the top of the list for summer coping mechanisms!

Here's how absorbingly delicious it was:

And here's how much of it there was left when we were all finished:


Natto Chijimi!

Natto and kimchi are two things that we pretty much always have in our fridge, so I don't know why I hadn't tried this recipe before! It's fantastic! There was nothing left to take photos of though, so here's a little green moth who was hanging out on the kitchen ceiling the other night instead. It's antennas are amazing, you can see them really well if you click on the photo to get the larger image!

Ingredients: (makes 12)
80g natto
80 grams fresh chives
100g cabbage kimchi
1/4 of an onion
1 large potato
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
extra sesame oil as required

1. Chop the chives into 3cm pieces, the kimchi up as you like it, and slice the onion finely.
2. Peel the potato and soak it in cold water for 5 or 6 minutes
3. Mix together the egg, sesame oil and soy sauce, add the vegetables from 1. and the natto. Grate the potato very finely into the mixture and combine well.
4. Heat the remaining sesame oil in the frying pan and leave on low heat, and add the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time to make little round pancake shapes. Cook for 5 minutes on one side before flipping and cooking for a further 2 minutes.

We put a little bit of kochujan on them when we ate them. Ah, happiness!


Veggies Ahoy!

Nothing worth reporting on has been produced in our kitchen in the last few weeks, so here's the next best thing - potential future meals from our backyard! Y and our neighbour ploughed up the yard a few months ago and planted many things, some of which are now almost ready to eat! Hooray! I did my best to cleverly photograph just the vegetables and not the weeds, but it turned out to be an impossible task. At least it's proof that we don't use herbicides I suppose. So, we have eggplants, yellow zucchinis (which M was devastated to discover only LOOK like bananas), and shishito (somewhere between a chilli and a capsicum). Tomatoes, chillis, pumpkins, and cucumbers are still on the way. It was a long cold winter this year - there was apparently still snow on the ground in May - which means everyone's vegetables have gotten off to a slow start. That is to say in practical terms, that cucumbers are being given away by the handful, not by the bucketful like they were this time last year.

The hydrangeas have started flowering around here at last as well which is really exciting. I never realised how much I liked them before. When I went to take some photos of the ones in our garden, this is what I found though! I got totally distracted and never got around to photographing the flowers! I'm going to have to go and find out what it's called now.

And here, with nothing much else to distract my attention, I ended up taking some flower photos. These are the hydrangeas flowering at the Shinto shrine next door to our house. It wasn't really great weather today, but you get the idea. Aren't they just ever so pretty?


The Pied Piper

It's very exciting, there's going to be a movie made in the village! And the old Kuimaru Primary School, half of which was knocked down late last year, is going to be the main filming site! Once the filming's finished, they'll knock the rest of it down. What a huge waste of a fantastic building. The director, a guy called Tsubokawa Takushi (sorry, Japanese only link, the next one too), apparently traveled all over Japan looking for the perfect spot and found it here in the village. How flattering!

The movie's about the problems that little rural places are having all over the world right now because most of the young people leave and never go back, so the film is going to be called 'Hamlyn', as in the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Apparently some of the actors in it are very famous, and they're all working for free because Tsubokawa-san has no budget at all for the project. He's won a few prizes at big international film festivals, but it pretty much unheard of here. Well, here's hoping this changes all that for him. Y, M and I hung out with him and a few of his band members (Kumonosu Quartet, Tsubokawa-san's an accordionist, amazing!!) and showed them around a bit with the help of the principal of the local primary school. The batteries for my camera ran out after this first photo at the school though...sigh. We went to some very beautiful places, so we'll have to go back with new batteries sometime.