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1  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: November 25, 2019 03:59:00 AM
Prompt:  November Battle- Main Course
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Timely, Brainpower
Project Name: Dobinmushi (Steamed Teapot Dish)
Project Link: N/A
Brief Description:
Recently a friend invited me to get a personal lesson from an absolute expert on washoku (Japanese cooking). She's a former correspondent with Gourmet magazine, among many other impressive qualifications!  This woman was positively AMAZING, and I learned more about washoku from her in one day than I have in 15 years of living here in Japan. We made three dishes, with her explaining every single step, not just how to do it but WHY we do it that way, exactly what the difference between various ingredients is, and the history of every bit of it, etc... It was such a fascinating lesson!  Her name is Elizabeth Andoh, and she's published several cookbooks; I really recommend them if you're interested in traditional Japanese cooking!  
Anyway, one of the dishes we made was called dobinmushi, which literally just means steamed teapots.  We put some raosu konbu (a type of kelp) into the bottoms of individual teapots, then stuffed them as full as we could with maitake and shimeji mushrooms.  Then we poured in some water, a little salt, and a little mirin... and that's it!  We steamed them in a big steamer over the stove for a while, and right before eating we squeezed in a tiny bit of fresh sudachi (small citrus fruit) juice, and I have to say, this was some of the most flavorful and delicious broth I have EVER had! I couldn't believe it had so few ingredients!  Just astonishing.  Anyway, this was definitely more of a savory dish than a dessert, so I'm entering it for main course.  You can also add chicken or other protein into it if you want to really make it the main course!
Project photos:
Here I am squeezing the sudachi into the teapot right at the end.  We then poured the broth into a little teacup to drink from, and ate the mushrooms right out of the individual teapots with chopsticks.


Prompt:  November Battle - Gravy
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Timely, Brainpower
Project Name: Chirashizushi
Project Link: N/A
Brief Description:
At the same class, we also made chirashizushi.  There are tons of ways to make chirashizushi, but basically it's just a bunch of sushi fillings sprinkled over the top of a base layer of sushi rice.  In our case we mixed hijiki, carrots, and aburaage (deep-fried tofu skin) into the sushi rice along with the usual vinegar etc., and our toppings were thinly sliced omelette, two types of pickled lotus root (one with ginger and one with pickled plum and shiso), snow peas, and shiitake (I only took two little pieces of shiitake because I'm not a big fan of that type of mushroom).  We also made all the toppings ourselves.  The pickles take a couple of weeks to pickle, so we used some she'd made in advance, but we also made our own of the exact same ones, which we took home in little jars to eat once they're ready.  Again, I learned SO much while we made this dish, including how to make the super thin omelettes used in a lot of Japanese cooking, including how to flip them over perfectly using just one chopstick!
Project Photo:

Here's our whole meal, with the chirashizushi, the dobinmushi, and asparagus with sesame miso sauce (although that one didn't take anywhere near half an hour so I didn't use it as a project).  
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2  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: November 08, 2019 12:31:27 AM
Prompt: November - Corn
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Timely, Brain Power
Project Name: Woven Placemat
Project Link: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=459793.0
Brief Description: This is from another craft workshop I did before leaving Japan! My parents and I each made a placemat, using looms for the first time ever!  It was really fun and relaxing, and I love my placemat! It has a kind of scratchy texture.
Project Picture:


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3  First Weaving Experience - Placemat in Weaving: Completed Projects by roler on: November 08, 2019 12:26:59 AM
On a recent trip to Yufuin with my parents, we went to a workshop to try weaving for the first time.  Basically the teacher set us up with some looms, showed us the basics, and then left the room and let us carry on!  We only did the absolute most basic things, but it was so fun and relaxing and hypnotic, I'm thinking of trying to find a weaving class or something that will let me occasionally come in to use their looms.


I know the edges are super wonky, but they actually don't bother me as much as I thought they might!
Behind my placemat, you can see the ones my parents made. We had a whole ton of colors to choose from, but Mom and Dad were both trying to match the kitchen decor from their house, so they used a similar color scheme.  I just went for whatever colors I felt like!

Here are a few progress photos with the looms because we had so much fun!  Since I've never done any weaving before, I have no idea if these looms are very different from ones in other countries. Are these distinctly Japanese somehow, or kinda universal?  No idea, but I had a great time!












I'm so lucky that my parents were willing to indulge my love of crafting workshops during their visit to Japan! Smiley
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4  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: October 31, 2019 11:29:38 AM
Prompt: June - Tumblr
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Brain Power
Project Name: Eel Jeans
Project Link: (if available)
Brief Description: I've had an old worn out pair of jeans set aside for AGES, planning to use it to make jeans for my plushie eel Katsuyuki Moray, but I've been pretty intimidated by the task. This week I finally got around to it, thanks to some motivational skyping with storerboughtcreations! I get so much done when we're virtually crafting together!  This was actually quite a tricky project for me, cutting up pieces from different parts of the jeans and puzzle-piecing them together. I took the bottom of one pant leg so I could reuse the hemmed cuff, but it was much too wide for Katsuyuki so I had to cut a lot out of it, and then I also used the zipper and part of the original waistline to make the top part of the jeans.  I really felt like I had no idea what I was doing as I was stitching these parts together, especially since I could only use my sewing machine for part of it because it doesn't have an arm to sew part of a tube without going through both layers.  But after a bunch of experimenting and hand sewing, I'm super happy with how these turned out!  Now I can make him all sorts of silly shirts to go with his new jeans! I think the whole concept of eel jeans is pretty funny, plus Katsuyuki's original blog was on tumblr (that blog still continues now as well, although I like his Instagram better now).
Project Picture:
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5  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: October 30, 2019 07:23:26 AM
gozer, I LOVE your painted squashes; the snake makes such a perfect use of the natural shape of the vegetable!!

Prompt: October Battle - Spice
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Timely
Project Name: Fig Tart
Project Link: (if available)
Brief Description: I scored some lovely figs at a streetside market, and decided to make a tart with it.  I didn't like any of the recipes I found online, so I just winged it with the help of a friend. Here's what I remember doing:
Grind up one packet of ginger snaps in the food processor, and mix with melted butter.  Press into springform pan, then blindbake (I actually totally spaced and forgot to blind bake it, but it still turned out nice!).
Wash and slice figs, and arrange inside the crust.
Mix custard using the following ratio: 1 C milk / 1 egg / 1 tsp vanilla (can't remember how much we made; maybe twice this?), and season to taste with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Pour custard over figs and then bake until custard is set.
After tart has cooled slightly, brush tops of figs with a thin glaze of honey.
It turned out quite tasty, and was definitely using the spices that usually go with pumpkin!
Project Picture:
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6  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: October 24, 2019 04:11:02 AM
Prompt: August - Barbarian
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Swaptastic
Project Name: Hulk TM Patch 2
Project Link:
Brief Description: Here's another of my extras for Inselaeffchen in the TM patch swap. It's the second Hulk patch I've sent her! This is more awesome fabric I was given by LovelyMiss ages ago.  If the Hulk were a D&D character, he would definitely be a Barbarian, complete with rage mechanics!
Project Picture:
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7  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: October 23, 2019 10:09:36 AM
Prompt: October - Pumpkin Puree
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Timely, Brain Power, Community
Project Name: My First Kumihimo
Project Link: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=459647.0
Brief Description: I made this wraparound bracelet and bag charm at a kumihimo workshop in Kyoto. It was so fun and relaxing! More pictures and a video of the process at the link above.  Multiple strings are blended together to make this traditional art.
Project Picture:
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8  My first kumihimo in Completed Projects by roler on: October 23, 2019 09:56:20 AM
Since I'm going to be leaving Japan at the end of this year (after living here since 2004), I've been trying to make the most of my last year here, and one of the things I've been doing is taking lots of classes of traditional Japanese crafts!  So while my parents were visiting this month, I took them with me to learn kumihimo for the first time in Kyoto.

I'll start off with the finished product: here's a long wraparound bracelet and a bag charm that I made!


We used these square bases called kakudai (this is my mom in the photo):


Apparently these aren't made much anymore, especially square ones as opposed to round ones, but they were SO useful! The work in progress was held taut above the work space, and the weighted spools kept the tension on each of the strings, which stayed neatly in place thanks to the square shape.

Here's a closeup so you can see how the strings overlap:


And if you're interested, here's a short video of me doing the relaxing, repetitive movements to braid the strings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WiP9fkjqJA&feature=youtu.be

Seriously, it was SO relaxing and rather hypnotizing, and so easy!  There's no sound in the video, but the clacking sounds the spools made was really soothing.  I would LOVE to have one of these kakudai at home, but I'm not sure how practical it would be to find one and get it back to the states.  But at any rate I had a ton of fun trying it out!
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9  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: October 23, 2019 02:13:10 AM
Prompt: September - Technobabble
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Swaptastic
Project Name: Doctor Who Patch
Project Link:
Brief Description: I sent this patch as an extra to Inselaeffchen in the TM patch swap.  When I looked at her list of interests, I realized that I already had several pieces of fabric that matched her requests without any extra embellishment, so in addition to the applique patches I made (will post soon!), I sent three that just showcased the fabric as-is.  Doctor Who has enough technobabble to rival any other sci-fi show!
Project Picture:
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10  Re: 2019 Nerd Battles: January 1 - December 31, 2019 ~*Join Anytime!*~ in Craftalongs by roler on: October 23, 2019 01:18:34 AM
Prompt: October - Nutmeg
Team: Multimedia
Bonus Points: Timely, Brain Power, Community
Project Name: Deco Sushi
Project Link: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=459643.msg5542196#msg5542196
Brief Description: I took my parents to a deco sushi workshop in Osaka, and it was SO FUN!!  Details about the process at the link above.  The sushi rolls are round and have a warm brown color in the tanuki design.
Project Picture:
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