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From left to right: Inside out Cucumber Avocado Roll drizzled with teriyaki sauce, Cucumber Roll, Avocado Nigiri, and Spicy Ginger Tempeh Roll. People always assume "Sushi" means fish. Actually it refers to the way the rice is prepared which is nice to hear as a vegetarian. Apparently good sushi is all in the rice. I've made it before and broken a lot of the rice cooking rules and it never works out the way it's supposed to. This time I really followed the directions and had wonderful results. Nori (the seaweed sheets) can be purchased at Whole Foods and even sometimes at regular grocery stores in the asian food section. It's pretty easy to work with as there are always directions on the back of the pack. Buy ones that say they are "toasted." The fillings for this sushi are from The Post Punk Kitchen but I altered them a bit. The spicy tempeh roll that I made also contained a sliced of cucumber and some sauteed ginger and garlic. That really made it excellent. If you are interested in making sushi do a little research on the internet. You also will need a bamboo rolling mat, also available online and at asian food stores. They are super cheap. The sushi I made was so much better than at restaurants because the veggies had so much more flavor. They were just fresher. The cucumber roll is made with a hothouse or english cucumber that is peeled and cut into long thin sticks. So delicious. To made the California Roll inside out the way I did do a search online to see how to roll it this way. (Search "inside out sushi roll") Enjoy!

Rice Instructions

Make sure to use only Sushi Rice (short grain white, will be labeled as for sushi)

Ingredients for Sticky Rice to make approximately 3-4 rolls
1 cups Raw Rice (short or med grain)
1 cup + 1 tbsp Water
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt

Wash the rice several times until the water is clear. Move to a colander and drain for 30 min. Transfer the rice to a heavy pot or electric rice cooker and add the measured water. Make sure there is a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat allowing the rice to steam for 15 minutes more with the cover on at all times. Never lift the cover! Now remove from the heat, remove the lid momentarily to stretch a clean tea towel over the pot and replace the cover. Let it remain covered and without heat to finish steaming for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small saucepan. While stirring, heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Set aside the mixture to cool to room temperature. After the rice has steamed properly, take a wooden spatula or spoon and cut and fold the rice. Do not use beating or stirring motions as you want to avoid smashing the grains.

Place rice in a large glass bowl and quickly add the seasoned rice vinegar solution. Mix with the same cutting and folding motion. After mixing, fan the hot rice mixture (or use a little portable fan) in order to remove moisture as well as to cool it. This should take about 10 minutes. The rice grains will have a nice sheen. The result will be ideal sushi rice with a slightly chewy consistency and just a touch of stickiness.

To learn how to make the rolls visit The Post Punk Kitchen where you can find video of their show on sushi making. After you have rolled the sushi you cut it with a very sharp serrated knife. Make sure to rinse the knife between each cut or it'll be smooshing all over. The rice has a way of getting starch all over the knife, making it not cut well.


Gingerbread Men

I have been wanting to do something christmas-y lately so I decided gingerbread men would be just the thing. John just finished his final project and is at his jury this morning. So, I wanted to do something fun together last night as we haven't seen much of each other this semester, or at least he hasn't had enough time to waste on something like cookie decorating. So, he decorated half of these, my favorite of which is the skeleton. The icing is simple and I opted not to use color because I couldn't find any that was natural. I found a few hints about different ways to tint icing natuarally with things like pomagranate juice, cranberry concentrate, spirulina powder for green, tumeric for yellow etc. But that was WAY too much work even for me, as I didn't even know if the icing itself would work and set up the way I wanted it to. Here is the recipe below if you are ever bored during the holidays and want to sequester yourself in the kitchen.

Gingerbread Men

½ cup cane sugar
scant ½ cup canola oil
½ cup molasses
¼ cup orange or apple juice concentrate
1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp soda
½ tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

Preheat to 350. Combine all ingredients in the order listed. Mix until dough comes together. Divide dough in half. Form into a fat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours. Roll one half out on parchment paper a little thicker than ¼ inch. It’s really important that they aren’t too thin, otherwise when baked they turn out really, really crunchy. Use a cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread men. Use a spatula to transfer cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-11 min until slightly brown at the edges and puffed. Cool completely on a rack.

Place 1 cup confectioners sugar in a bowl and drizzle water in little by little whisking until the consistancy is that of toothpaste. You wont need hardly any water. If you put too much water in, just add a little more sugar until it’s thick enough. Place in a freezer ziploc bag and push to one corner. Place in the refridgerator until ready to use and a bit firmer. Cut a TINY bit off the end of the bag to for the icing to pipe out of. Go at it.

To make Cookies instead of gingerbread men:
Roll chilled dough into balls and flatten a bit and press the tops in sugar. Bake 12 min on parchment paper. These are AMAZING. Better than the men for sure because they are so much thicker, but the men are still cute if want to do that kind of thing. A good idea would be to do half of the dough as gingerbread men and the other half as cookies