Sunday, 12 January 2014

Strawberry Mochi and Twenty-fourteen New Year's Resolutions!


I feel like the obligatory new year's post is called for. 2014. A new year. A new start. Goodness people, I'm turning twenty-four this year. TWENTY FOUR. That's nearly half-way through my twenties. Yet I feel like besides snapping a few photos and baking a few cakes, I haven't really accomplished much in life. I went out for dinner with a few friends two nights ago, and a friend of a friend has apparently just bought a house. WHAT? Who does that at twenty-three/four? I feel so damn good sitting there haha, barely employed, barely knowing what I'm doing the next day, yet alone what I'm doing for my career!

Anyways, I'm trying not to let that get to me. Everyone has their own lives and their own achievements, albeit how insignificant. Some people take longer to figure out what they want right? It doesn't matter how much money one earns or what job they do. What matters most is that one is content with what they have. Set goals and sure, aim for the stars, but don't forget the little things in life that are important.




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So, new year's resolution. I usually have an over-crowded list, but this year I think I should keep it simple and achievable.

1. Relationships. Put more effort into nurturing relationships - family, friends, boyfriend, new friends. I'm not naturally good at making friends or just talking to people in general, so I tend to shy away and keep to my comfort zone. I'm also the most lazy person in terms of staying in touch with friends - bad bad very very bad. So, this year it has to change!

2. Health. Diet and exercise! And sleep! I've always had a fairly healthy diet, so the main thing this year is exercise. No more excuses, it's time to get the ball rolling. Sleep better! Though in this day and age sleeping early would counter my first resolution since most people live a night life.... I'll try my best!

3. Career and education. Work my butt off and get a frikin tip top A in my masters! Also, while doing that, maybe get a part time job related to what I'm studying? Food scientist might not be my first choice as a career, but it's related to it, so it's a good place to start!

4. Creativity. Brush up on my photography and baking skills. Keep up with my blogging. I think at least once a week is fair.

5. Spiritual. "Live like you're dying, because you are". In Buddhism, it is said that the most important moment in one's life is death. Death can come anytime and most people are ignorant of that. Every moment of life is lived to prepare for our death and our after life. Live to our fullest, use our time wisely.

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Now that that's done and dusted, let me tell and show you about the BEST thing about summer, the thing that I look forward to in earnest year after year - BERRY PICKING!! Every year without fail, my family would go berry picking. Well, in particular strawberry or blueberry, we haven't ventured on to other berries yet. Every trip we'd get over-excited and plop too many of those little jewels into our mouths (k, like having too many is possible?) and over-load the trunk of our car with too many container full of them that our ever full fridge is bursting at the seams even more. So, no room for other berries - sad face. But I don't complain! I love staining my fingers blue with the blueberries and red with the strawberries. I love frolicking in the berry bushes, scouting out what I think would be the sweetest and most flavourful bites.






Anywho, this year I went strawberry picking with friends. We got there with the sun shining directly down at us. We didn't have to venture too far into the fields to be stopped by these crimson morsels. The sight of them draws you in and once you're in there's no turning back! Picking and eating and picking and eating, what more can you ask for. I had to exercise self restrain when it came to bringing the berries home though. Only about 1.5kg this year on mum's strict order of no picking too much! Otherwise who knows? I might bring the whole field home.


So, after enjoying loads of fresh, deliciously sweet strawberries, I decided I'd make something of them. I wanted to make something unusual and after flicking through some books I settled on strawberry mochi! Actually.. first I decided to make a normal mochi with strawberry and coconut filling. I chopped the red babies into little pieces, dropped them in a pot with a sprinkle of sugar and cooked until it turned into a sweet bubbly mess. Then I stirred in coconut cream and vanilla essence. The flavours really do pack a punch! I contemplated stopping there and just freezing it to make ice cream. But no, ambitious me took over. I changed my mind and decided to make it a strawberry flavoured mochi skin. So in went the glutinous rice flour, and in went the mixture into a steamer! Now all seems fine until I tasted the mixture. It was too sour. The cooked strawberries with coconut intensified in sourness once it was cooked for some reason. And guys, believe it or not, I spent hours tinkering with that mixture, trying to fix it. First idea (pshhtt more like the gazillionth idea) was to coat the mochi in toasted coconut, since coconut and coconut, it goes? Didn't really work. In the end I had to drive to the nearest Asian mart to buy some peanuts. The nuts got a nice toast, grind and made friends with sesame, sugar and salt. Finally, after filling the strawberry mochi with heap spoonfuls of that, the edge of the sourness was camo-ed, and it actually tasted good! What a way to kickstart the new year baking huh?



Well, some time during that experience it occurred to me that this might be how my 2014 will be spent. Doing masters and a science project will probably require loads of trial and error, repetitions of experiments, tweaking and tinkering. At the end of the day (literally), resilience will pay off!

PS. As I was making up the recipe as I went, the measurements aren't accurate but are more of a guideline.


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Strawberry mochi with peanut filling (GF)

Makes about 50 mochi

Skin

Two handfuls of fresh strawberries, diced
100ml coconut cream
Splash of vanilla essence
1 cup raw sugar, ground
200g glutinous rice flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
Water
Extra glutinous rice flour, lightly toasted

Filling

300g peanuts, toasted and ground
2 handfuls of sesame seeds, toasted
100g raw sugar, roughly ground (to taste)
1 tsp salt

For the mochi skin, place the strawberries and a handful of sugar into a pot and cook until berries are mushed up (no more lumps of berries). Add in the coconut cream and vanilla. Place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. 
Prepare your steamer and coat a cake tin (or something that fits in your steamer) with oil. While the water is boiling, finish off the skin by adding sugar, rice flour and salt into the liquid mixture. Mix and knead until well incorporated. Add in the water until you get your desired consistency. The mixture should still have a doughy, moist consistency. Drier and harder mixtures will yield harder mochi, while wetter and more runny mixtures will yield softer mochi. It's personal preference what you like, just add water. 
Once the steamer is ready, transfer the mixture into the oiled tin and steam for about 45 minutes. 

To prepare the filling, just mix everything together until well incorporated.

Once the mochi skin is steamed, let it cool before proceeding. 

Place the extra glutinous rice flour in a wide bowl. Drop about 3/4 tablespoonfuls of mochi skin into the rice flour and roll them around to coat. Coat your hands with rice flour and roll the mochi skin into balls, then flatten them. Place teaspoonfuls of peanut filling in the middle of the skins, then wrap them up in whichever shape you wish. Then coat the wrapped mochi with glutinous rice flour. Repeat until all mochi skin is used up.

Enjoy!


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