Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Call Me Betty Crocker-u

You've heard/read the story about the man to whom I promised cookies in exchange for an aikido gi. Well, the day before I baked the cookies, one of the teachers at my schools left me a present. Don't worry, it was the good kind. She and I had talked about our love for all things sugary, and she had bought a few kinds of Japanese sweets for me to try. I was touched, and hungry, so I decided that I owed her some cookies, too.

Baking cookies in something that is supposed to double as a microwave is a little like roasting a turkey on a hot plate, in my opinion. Based on national surveys, both are very difficult. Also difficult is being unable to read the instructions on the microwave/range apparatus. The cookies melted, then they burnt, then they did both.

The first batch was fit only to serve other ALTs who did not care that the "cookies" had the consistency of wet sand and the overwhelming flavor of butter.

The second set fared a little better, at least fit for me to eat for dinner. Then I was out of chocolate.

Eager to make all the Japanese people in my life love me, I stopped by a grocery store on the way home from work one night to restock on chocolate. I chose chocolate bars, which are way less expensive than the tiny bags of chocolate chips. I did feel like I would be judged for only buying six chocolate bars, so I headed to the baking aisle to seem more authentic. There I stumbled upon the cutest little tart cups. Naturally, I thought of the peanut butter cup cookie recipe I had found last semester, and the praise that I would receive when the Nihonjin tasted them.

After three total failures, I succeeded in baking an adequate amount of not-burnt cookies. I packaged up two Ziploc bags of them and devoured the rest. It took me a week to get it right. I earned them. I delivered the cookies with some trepidation, but was met with rave reviews. My guess is that they've never had real cookies before. Someday, young Skywalkers.

Enthused and with renewed confidence, I turned to those cookie cups. Delicious Land, here I come! Peanut butter and chocolate, unite!

Twas not to be, good friends. The recipe no longer can be found on the interweb. Or maybe it can be, but I'm too lazy to go past the first search page when my very specific search terms don't yield immediate results. I did, however, find a recipe for Cream Cheese Cookie Cups, or something to that effect. With lowered spirits but an invigorated craving, I decided to make chocolate and Nutella cups.

I did. And gave most of them away, because they were too sweet even for me. Turns out that one need not add sugar to melted chocolate. Maybe it wasn't as unsweetened as I had thought.

I had chocolate left over, so I bought more cups and cream cheese. Guess what I had in mind. I'll give you a hint: CREAM CHEESE.

It's getting colder here, which in my book means it's time for the legendary Sharon Ryan Citrus Tea. Those of you who visit the Ryan household anytime when the weather is below 60 degrees Farenheit know the tangy goodness of S.R.C.T. I had fully planned on making it a part of my winter here. Then I discovered a horrible, horrible thing about this country.

They don't sell fruit juice concentrate.

I did my research desperately trying to find an alternative. Not the internet, not my mother, and not my brain didst supply a solution for the lack of concentration. PUN! Now in a thoroughly sour mood, I ate a lot of junk food and some Nutella straight from the jar. And no, I didn't even use a spoon. That's how low I had sunk.

Yesterday when at Betsuin Chugakko, I had an adequate amount of free time on my hands. I chose to, aside from research Halloween activities and chatting with Hannah over Gmail, fill the yawning no-citrus-tea abyss. I researched winter beverage recipes, and since I couldn't think of a good reason why I'd want a punch bowl full of grog or mulled wine sitting around with only me to drink it, I settled on eggnog.

Last night I wasn't feeling very well, so I turned to McDonald's for comfort. The Macdo is in the grocery section of a department store, so it was very easy for me to suddenly decide that it was time to pick up the supplies I'd need for aforementioned recipes. Why not use the leftover chocolate with the cream cheese cups? It gave me a great excuse to buy more sprinkles.

So, within the night, I made excellent Cream Cheese Chocolate Cups (C4, if you will) and some kickin' eggnog. Then, because I had the time and motivation, I spent an hour making the tiniest jack-o-lantern in the history thereof. It will be magnificent for the next month when I have to talk about Halloween.


  1. Don't they sell regular lemonade and orange juice and lemon juice? You don't need concentrate if they have those things. Just think of it this way: it's clove water, regular tea, plus sugar and anything that tastes citrusy. Just make it up! Orange, lemon, grapefruit. Make it your own. I'm starting my SRCT winter once November hits in 3 days. It's time.
    P.S. Nice jack-o-lantern

  2. Sweet poll you got going on there! I voted! Now it says that 100% of responses are for 'Get Up Offa That Thing.' The word verification is "gents"...HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  3. Love the mini jackolantern! And the C4s sound amazing. Any chance you want to send some my way?

  4. No, I will not call you Betty Crocker, thank you very much. I will call you Laurel Ryan because I know you as such. Also, it appears that people have not caught on to voting, seeing as how Gillian and I are the only ones to have cast a vote. In other news, I haven't talked to you for a month or so, and I do not like this.