DIY Sushi that will make your friends jealous

sushi blog cover

To all our Canadian followers, Happy Canada Day!

First off I just want to point out that I know this post has been long overdue – thanks for being patient with me! Life happens!

Anywho…

Thierry and myself have our love of Asian culture and cuisine as something we have in common. It is no surprise that we love wandering around Asian Supermarkets as a way to try new things and give our food some variety. For as long as Thierry and I have been together, homemade sushi has been a thing that we both enjoy. Homemade sushi has become a Paulin family favorite.

Being married to a chef definitely has its advantages in that I know our family will always have quality meals that are delicious, creative, and cost effective.  Of course I learn a lot about food in the process… no complaints here! 

Thierry and I don’t go to restaurants often and even when we first started dating, our first date was him making me dinner. Sushi restaurants can get pretty expensive so being able to make it at home is great – especially with it being one of mine and Thierry’s favorite foods. Thierry and I often get people asking us about our homemade sushi so I thought I would share with you.  SIDE-NOTE: I know that not everyone has a rice cooker – Thierry and I typically use the rice cooker to make the rice, but I will also include a brief section to how to make it on the stove.

91QVFy3DJtL._SY445_

The brand of rice that we use for sushi. See Below.

I remember Thierry telling me that Sushi Chef’s spend years just to perfect the rice alone. The rice is probably the biggest and most important part of making sushi – if you have a bad batch of rice, it can effect everything else. Thierry and I have gone through three rice cookers within the span of the 5 1/2 years. We bought the third (and quite frankly it was a fantastic investment) upgrade just after we got married in September. It is possible to make the rice on the stove, but if you are planning on making sushi on a regular basis like we do, a good rice cooker is the way to go. This way you don’t have to worry about the possibility of a bad batch due to temperature or time – the machine does all the work. The one we use is the Zojirushi 1.8L Induction Heated Rice Cooker which you can get on Amazon  here . 

Sushi rice, right out of the bag, can have a lot of starch on it, so the very first thing you need to do before cooking the rice, is to clean it. If you don’t clean the rice the end result is a starchy, overly sticky and somewhat gooey consistency – gross! Thierry and I had to try different kinds of sushi rice to determine what one we preferred. The brand we use is Nishiki , you can also get it off Amazon here if you don’t have access to an Asian Supermarket, or one that sells various rice brands. The rice you should go for is a good quality Japanese short grain rice. Medium grain will work in a pinch, but if you’re making sushi, use sushi rice.

20180415_170825.jpg

When you get a rice cooker, most of them come with rice cups that can be easily used to measure the amount of rice/water you will be using. Typically, 1 rice cooker cup is equivalent to 3/4 cup measured. 

1 cleaning.jpg

After putting the rice in the rice cooker bowl (or regular bowl if you are cooking on the stove), clean the rice. At first, when you mix the rice and water, the water will become cloudy; that’s just the starch coming off the rice and mixing with the water. Use your hands/fingers to gently stir the rice, making sure that the mass of rice is moved around. You will need to periodically empty the water to remove excess starch. Add new water, rinse and repeat until the water is clear. Carefully drain the remaining water from the bowl to avoid losing any rice.

cleaning 2-5

cleaning clear 6.jpg

You are now ready to prepare the rice for cooking. When cooking rice, different rices require a different ratio of water to rice for optimal results. When using the rice cooker for sushi rice we use a 1:1 ratio of water to rice. Our rice cooker bowl has an indicator on the side (4 cups of rice means we will fill the bowl to the 4 line with water, while the rice is still in the bowl). If you are using the stove, we’ve had best results with a 1.2 :1 ratio of water to rice; the extra water is to account for more steam escaping during cooking. If you have a tight fitting lid on your pot, a 1:1 ratio should still work fine for you.

20180415_171744_001On the rice cooker that we use, there is a setting that full on says “sushi”. After approximately 46 minutes of cooking (not disturbing it at all), the rice is now ready for the final touches.

With our previous two rice cookers, there was no setting specific to sushi, only an ON/OFF switch, so the time it used to cook was approximately 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how much rice we had. When using our ON/OFF rice cooker, we would let it rest for an additional 5-10 minutes with the lid still on after it had finished cooking, to allow the steam to permeate through out the rice.

For those of you without a rice cooker, after cleaning the rice and adding the required water to the pot, cook your rice with the lid on at medium heat for 9 minutes. With the lid still on, turn your heat to maximum, and cook for an additional 4 minutes. After this, turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 15 minutes, lid still on. This method will result in some overcooked rice at the bottom of your pot (usually stuck). Don’t use the overcooked rice when making your sushi.

Thierry has spent a good portion of the time we have been together improving the rice – from the way he cleans it, to the ratio of each of the seasonings, to the brands of rice we use.  Preferably the rice seasoning should be prepared the night before to allow for all of the flavors to mingle. See the slideshow below for the seasoning ingredients for the rice…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the rice seasoning, mix the unsalted rice vinegar, sugar and salt together until the salt and sugar have dissolved, then add the Kombu. Let sit until needed. As a point of note, because we use less salt in our mix, it’s a good idea to cover and put in the fridge if you are storing it overnight.

At this point it’s time to put together your fixings. This can be done beforehand, but if you’ve made sushi rice as much as Thierry and I have, you can prepare everything while your rice is cooking. My personal favorite rolls are Philadelphia rolls while Thierry loves his California, but you can use whatever you want for the fillings.

Avocados should be the last ingredient prepared; if they’re left out they can turn rusty due to oxidation. If you’re preparing your avocado, cut them into halves, then quarters, and then strips. Keep them in a mixture of water and lemon juice to avoid them spoiling. Thierry tries to limit the time the avocado is in the water/lemon juice mix because if left for over 15 minutes, they can feel a little slimy when handling.

I will get into this in the future when I discuss how to roll the sushi, but part of the California roll includes cucumber. Before cutting the cucumber, we rub the salt on the skin of the cucumber acting as an exfoliant, getting rid of any dirt that may be still on it. This makes the cucumber’s skin softer, and takes away any bitter aftertaste. To make sure that the cucumber is cut to the correct length, that matches the seaweed, we use the sushi presses to measure. Now, there is more than one way to roll sushi depending on your comfort level but you can find these sushi presses here . Cut the cucumber in halves, then quarters, carefully remove the seeds, then cut in again into thin strips. Place on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap – refrigerate until ready to use.

If you like wasabi, you can either get the “already made in a tube” or the powder where you just add water. We use the powder kind which just requires to add water until you get the consistency you like. It is easier to add small amounts at a time rather than a large amount of water at once.

The fixings I mentioned here are just a few of the many possibilities. For the Philadelphia roll you add cream cheese – I cut the cream cheese into strips before adding to my rolls. You can make spicy mayo, or add tofu pouches (inari)… the sky is the limit…

20180415_180537Back to the rice – the seasoning that you put together earlier for the rice must now be mixed into the rice. If you are using a rice cooker, you would simply pour your rice into a mixing bowl. If you are using the pot, you would do the same but leaving the bottom 10% in the pot as it would typically be more crispy than the rest of the batch (and usually stuck to the pot).

Pour in the rice vinegar mixture over the rice paddle (if you don’t have any, you can get cute squirrel shaped ones here ) so that it goes over the rice. With a slicing motion, use the edge of the rice paddle to gently break apart the rice. The edge of the rice paddle will help to not crush any of the rice that is cooked. Scoop up the rice and gently fold it back into the bowl. Thierry and I have a system going on with this part where I will hold a fan up to the bowl to cool the rice while he mixes in the seasoning. If you don’t have a fan or another person to help with this you can use anything you have available that can act as a fan while mixing it – though it will take longer to cool down. If you have problems with the bowl sliding, take a damp towel and put under the bowl so that the bowl doesn’t slide. SIDE-NOTE: The bigger the bowl, the better. The larger surface area will help the rice cool down faster, stopping it from cooking for too long.

Once the rice is at room temperature (slightly warm is okay too) with the seasoning mixed in, place it with the rest of the fixings for assembly. 

Depending on what you prefer, you may like your sushi with some soy sauce. As a side note, there are so many kinds of soy sauce. The one below, Yamasa, is the brand we currently use but you can experiment with different brands.

20180415_174149.jpg

THE ASSEMBLY

When we were preparing the cucumbers I mentioned sushi presses. There is more than one way to make your sushi roll. The traditional way is the way that Sushi Chef’s use. The “cheat” way, the way that I use, is easier and I find it helps with portion control (lets face it, sushi is Stuff-your-face good).

 

 

First and foremost, you would need nori sheets (roasted seaweed). You can find these in any Asian supermarket, or in the international isle of your local grocery store. Another common place you can find them is where your grocery store sells sushi take-out. The way I make my sushi rolls is by filling the sushi press half-way with rice, I place the fixings in the middle of the press, and then add more rice on top. The sushi presses come in three pieces, with a top piece that you press down. Once you have a tube like rice structure, you place it in the middle the nori sheet. The shiny side of the nori sheet should be facing down. With these presses, you can cut your nori sheet in half to roll. One thing to note, is it is a good thing to have a bowl of cool water to wet your hands when you are handling the sushi rice as it can get VERY sticky.

Thierry still likes to do the traditional way (see below).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The traditional way of rolling the sushi: place the whole nori sheet (shiny side down) on your sushi mat/plate (if you don’t have a sushi mat and you would like to get one you can get one here – you will notice his is covered in plastic wrap, this makes it easier to clean, and harder for rice to stick to it). You would put an even layer of rice on the nori sheet, leaving a small strip at the bottom for when it is rolled. Put your fixings along the middle as shown above. When done, roll onto itself. Using the sushi mat, you can tighten the roll by pulling it back towards yourself. It will turn out as shown below.

20180415_182141.jpg

Whether you decide to cut your sushi, or eat it like a burrito is up to you. Thierry and I have made it so often that we typically eat it like a burrito and dip it in soy sauce (because of laziness). Whatever you do, enjoy, and have fun. 

20180415_181432

Thanks again for your patience with this post! As you can see there are a lot of details required with this recipe! Next time you have company over, you can now “wow” them with homemade sushi! 🙂

And as Thierry would tell you, “If you make a mistake when making sushi, just eat it and try again.”

 Lots of love,

-Ashley

Advertisements

The Pen Turner’s Wife

DSC03435

When I tell people that my husband makes pens, I get a lot of surprised looks. It’s not a hobby that most people get into. Then again, Thierry has never been one to follow the crowd. His interests are unique and he likes to take on tasks that most people would find difficult or time-consuming. He’s stubborn and when he sets his mind to something, its pretty hard to get him to back down (a couple of the things I admire about him). Let me tell you about how he got into wood-turning and you’ll see what I mean.

20180130_173827

The wood, or acrylic in this case starts off as a block.

Back in December,  Thierry and I were walking around the farmers market in an attempt to find Christmas presents for our families. His brother is a lawyer so Thierry wanted to find something that he would like and was meaningful. We came to a booth where an older man was selling wooden pens. When Thierry asked the gentleman how much the pens were, both of us were taken aback when we heard one pen was going for as much as a couple hundred dollars. That was way too much money, so we didn’t end up buying any of them – Thierry decided he wanted to make his own instead.

Thierry and my dad drove out-of-town to get supplies (from a store he found online) and eventually got to work, just using a hand drill and other hand tools ( let me just point out that this was three days before we were to be driving out to see said brother for a family Christmas thing). The first day, while everyone told him to give up and accept defeat,  Thierry was determined to make it work. That night, Thierry tossed and turned – admitting that all he could think about was making that pen.

The next day after tirelessly working on this thing while I was at work, he managed to make a gorgeous looking wooden pen that his brother would surely love – even a few of our other family members have made requests. Of course his first attempt was using hand tools which was hard to accomplish in itself. Since then, he has purchased proper tools.

20180130_204111

All the inner parts that go into the pen

After purchasing a lathe and other equipment, Thierry has been having fun since this whole ordeal, improving his wood-turning skills and even taking on acrylic projects as seen below (this would have been impossible with just hand tools).

Other things that he has been able to create since getting the lathe has included: French and regular styled rolling pins.

20180130_204907

The acrylic pen Thierry made for me a few months ago

 

 

Thierry plans to include his creations in Mystic Moon Emporium  sometime soon. **As a side note, if you are interested in seeing more posts about Pens by Thierry please check out the Mystic Moon Emporium Facebook and Instagram pages for frequent updates/posts. 

Until next time,

Ashley<3

 

 

 

 

Eczema Cure: The Treatment That Finally Gave Me Some Relief!

Eczema Relief

I’ve had eczema flare ups since I was a little girl. This last flare up appeared around five years ago and didn’t go away like before. It just got bigger, itchier and more inflamed. The rash was driving me crazy with the itchiness and looked horrible.   I spent hours researching everything I could about eczema and how to get rid of it because living with the constant pain and itchiness forever was unthinkable.   My doctor referred me to a dermatologist who prescribed a corticosteroid cream.  It didn’t do much so I stopped using it because I didn’t see the point, especially when I read up on it some more and discovered the potential side effects included thinning of the skin.

Ironically, this is what got me started on my essential oil journey. I found lots of recipes for DIY  blends, salves,  lotions, Epson salt  and vinegar soaks that claimed to either be a remedy or cure for eczema. I tried so many of them but none produced any real results so my hands were getting moisturized but my right hand was still as inflamed and itchy as ever.  I couldn’t help scratching, which increased the inflammation, which was then making the rash increase in size.  So, sad to say…. essential oils and DIY remedies did not work for me this time. The search continued.

Past flare ups started with stress and work was definitely a stressor but not the cause as my eczema didn’t go away when I retired. This baffled and puzzled me.  I also changed my diet according to a food sensitivity test I had done. No noticeable change there either. I also tried other creams from the drugstore that were supposed to help.  No luck there either.  At that point, I was beginning to think this was going to be something I had to learn to live with and manage the  itching and inflammation as best I could.

The turning point came when my daughter’s wedding date got closer. I really didn’t want an ugly, scaley hand as I greeted guests so I made another appointment with my doctor’s locum.  That visit made all the difference!  I left with a new prescription and nothing to lose. This cream was different than the last few prescriptions that both my doctor and previous dermatologist had prescribed before. I started using it as per directions right away and noticed an improvement after a day. Within a week the rash was mostly gone and I was able to stop using the cream by the second week.  What a relief!!!!!! My hand looks normal now, the itch is gone and there is no more inflammation.  That was three months ago!

I wish I knew what caused the flare up because I would then know what to do to avoid it. As it stands now, it may or may not come back, but at least I’ll know how to treat it.  I still love the salves and lotions I made and use them to keep the moisture in my hands and to help with the slight pigmentation that was left when the rash went away. I’ll share the recipes in a later post. That said, I’m sure you want to know the name of the cream.  The cream is called: MOMETASONE FUROATE CREAM .1%.

Eczema is a condition that is different from person to person.  What works for one person, may not for another. Although I prefer going the natural route, this cream worked for me when nothing else did. Although it is a medium-strength corticosteroid, it is not meant for long term use, so any potential side effects did not concern me.  My prescription was to use it for a maximum of 3 weeks, and I could stop using it after 2, which I did because the rash was gone by then.

My life is back to normal now and the eczema is gone.  What a relief!  Best wishes to all of you struggling with eczema and hoping this can be your “cure” as well!!!

Carol

Did you miss my “Essential Oils For Beginners” Series?  You won’t want to miss it!!

Essential Oils for Beginners: Part 1

Essential Oils for Beginners: Part 2 {Usage Criteria}

Essential Oils for Beginners: Part 3 {Where do you buy quality essential oils?}

Essential Oils for Beginners: Part 4 {Resources}

 

 

Organizing for the “What if” Day!

Password Protection………Password Cheat Sheet

As my husband and I get older, “what if” scenarios constantly pop into our heads as we are dealing with the consequences of getting older, taking care of an elderly mother and trying to help our adult children and grandchildren.  Life seems to have literally whizzed by since my parents and father-in-law passed away, to the point where we have to take stock of our own mortality.  I’m not trying to be depressing, but there is a certain reality in taking a moment to enjoy what is important in life and leaving the negative behind.  For us, that means cleaning house…….both figuratively and literally! Life is too short to waste on things that don’t really matter in the end!

Over the last 10 years, we’ve helped several family members move.  One thing they all have in common is all the junk that’s been accumulated. People who collect things always feel that they can’t throw away a certain item because it may come in handy some day, but that day never comes and then that item sits somewhere never to be seen again (it never did come in handy),  until moving day, or until someone else has to deal with it in the event of a death. Someone once said to me that what may be a treasure today, will probably be junk tomorrow. But, I digress………..

What does that have to do with passwords, you ask?  Well the same thing goes for passwords and things you store online.  There are so many places online that you have to register with a username and pick out yet another password. Some you may visit again, and others may end up forgotten.  Both my husband and I have accounts and passwords that neither of  us knows about or may not be up to date.  We are working on organizing, but I shudder to think what would happen tomorrow if my hubby (God forbid) were to pass away.  He has things online that I wouldn’t have a clue where to find, never mind  his usernames and passwords….and vice versa. To that end, I’ve started recording everything that I need a password for on a “Password Cheat Sheet” to be printed and stored in our safety deposit box, and updated regularly should there be any changes.  With cyber security issues, I don’t feel comfortable storing such a document on my computer, but would rather store on a USB key that is kept in the safety deposit box as added insurance.

This is one of the many steps we are taking should the unthinkable happen to either of us.  To that end, I have created a fillable PDF form to record the information and am happy to share with you.  Just click on this link.

This is just a start in organizing for the “what if” scenario……Stay tuned!