Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Adventures in Japanese Cuisine

Yummy Homemade Sushi with Miso
I've been on a little bit of a Japanese kick since last weekend. I don't remember how I wound up off on that tangent in the first place, but I do seem to recall whiling away the better part of an afternoon watching videos on YouTube all about just... life in Japan. I found some really interesting videos about Japanese vending machines and grocery stores, for instance, and even a wonderful channel maintained by this adorable American girl living in Japan whose videos are basically just her trying different snacks and telling her viewers what they are like. (One of these days, I'd like to do a write-up on her and maybe on some of the other YouTubers I discovered and want to share with you, so cross you fingers and hope I don't forget.)

I've been interested in other cultures ever since I was a kid, but for some reason, I've never been the sort of person who's all about the big landmarks and the things most outsiders are probably interested in. I like to hear about minutiae like what people eat for an everyday breakfast, what the fashion trends are like, what people like to do with their free time, and whether or not they like to dip their fries in gravy or ketchup. Food-related minutiae is always my favorite and absorbing a lot of it eventually makes me want to consume more of it in real life.

Homemade Maki-Sushi
I hadn't made sushi in a really long time and I knew I still had some nori wrappers and sushi rice hanging around from the last time I made some, so I whipped up a batch yesterday. I still wouldn't say I make the most beautiful sushi rolls in existence, but I'm getting much better at rolling them securely at least. The fillings are always just odds and ends that I happened to have around. I've been keeping a lot of tuna around lately, as I've been all about tuna and baby green wraps for lunch, so there was some yellowfin to use. There was also a leftover barbecued chicken breast, some shredded carrot, and some scallions, so I combined all those to make different rolls.

Seaweed and Green Onion Miso
Seth was at the store earlier in the week and he stumbled across some Japanese miso, which neither of us have had, so we thought that might make a nice accompaniment to the sushi. Holy crap, this stuff was a surprise! Really... it was so, so good. Crazy good! It was low in calories as well, which is something I am trying to keep track of with summer coming up and all. It's also apparently super nutritious. Miso itself is supposed to be very high in good quality protein, antioxidants, and nutrients. Plus it's full of probiotics similar to the ones found in yogurt to help with your digestion.

I loathe yogurt and I swear I was just telling Seth the other day that I wished I didn't so I could take advantage of the health benefits. Well, I guess the universe provided and introduced me to miso. I can eat this instead! Really, it's wonderful and I could easily see enjoying a small cup of this several times a week with my sandwiches or wraps for sure. The more I expand my very limited knowledge of Japanese cuisine, the more I discover to love about it. I think this is something I'd for sure like to continue to do into the future, especially considering how healthful a lot of it is.

Next I'm actually interested in trying some of the traditional Japanese snacks like I've seen on Emmy's YouTube though. I've noticed that a lot of the stuff I was interested in is available through Amazon and... well... I love snack food every so often as a treat. Especially if it's something new and unusual. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Better Food Photos, Here We Come

DiGiorno Honey BBQ Wings

I am not really the sort of person who tends to spend money on a lot of unnecessary "things". Most people who  read this blog realize I work as a freelancer in the arts, so I don't exactly have a lot of disposable income burning a hole in my pocket. Even, if there's something really useful that I'm fantasizing about splurging on, I probably won't in favor of saving my money for a rainy day. Being someone who was raised to see treating myself as kind of a silly thing to do doesn't help either.

I've actually been wanting a really good digital camera for a long time, but I've always been able to come up with an excuse not to spring for one. The fact that most cell phones come with one built in that is certainly good enough for everyday purposes was always a huge reason why. Now I'm kind of glad that I never dropped the cash on that camera, because I was disgustingly surprised by the built-in camera my new Android phone has. (I guess the days of posting a cell phone picture and feeling like you have to apologize to your friends for the quality are truly over with.)

Up to this point, I've been using the camera in my aging BlackBerry Curve to take my food photos and really, I thought that that one was better than average on the whole. However, it wasn't that terrific at taking close-up macro-style shots of items like food that really preserve the color and the detail the way a good food blogger would hope. As a result, I rarely feel like my photography does proper justice to the food I cook. It does the job, but... you know. I've never quite been able to achieve the same "wow factor" other food bloggers have been able to achieve largely because of their pictures. This isn't entirely a recipe blog so much as it's just a place where I talk about food, so that only mattered marginally to me, but still. 

DiGiorno Meat Lovers Pizza

I'm still not someone who considers themselves to be a very good photographer. I'm a fine artist, so I'm used to making things exactly the way I want them using the powers of my imagination. Photography requires working within the confines of reality, so I've never really thought about it as a means of artistic expression or anything. However, having a pretty decent camera fall into my lap pretty much by accident has at least made me curious about photography enough to consider exploring it more. 

Yesterday, I played around with some of the alternate settings on my phone, including the macro setting. We didn't make anything that wild or exciting for dinner last night -- just a frozen Digiorno "Pizza and Wyngz", one of our favorite calorie splurges -- but I wanted to try shooting some food anyway. My photographic skills still are far from fantastic and I definitely need to find some better places than my stove top to set food up for proper shots. However, I can already see enough of a difference in the photo quality to be kind of excited. 

This makes me actually want to share more recipes or eat out more, just so I can have an excuse to take more food pictures. Anything that makes me want to get out more or do more in general is a good thing anyway, but things that inspire me to be more creative and proactive about being expressive are even better.