Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fun with felt and fauna

And as if you didn't need another reason to learn Japanese, these felt patterns of cute woodland creatures are now available at I don't know how to felt, but I think some of the cutest figures are made out of the stuff. I did once try to felt an iPod case by showering with it every day, but that ended up in a lot of pink fluff getting stuck in my drain (and minor mate irritation). Shows what you get for trying to conserve water! Anyways, these kits come with felt, but you can also buy it affordably at, in case you want to make a whole warren of bunnies, or a whole gang of squirrels. By the way, did you know that squirrels are solitary creatures, therefore there is no name for a group of squirrels? Amazing what you can find on the internet.

Pouch kit! Dictionary required.

You can make this cute pouch at home if you're willing to invest some time in wrestling with the Japanese instructions. But I think it'd be a good investment, since these would make great and affordable gifts in a pinch. It looks like you can use plain old cotton broadcloth for these (although barkcloth would probably make them a bit sturdier), in which case any of the fabrics on reprodepot would be great candidates. It looks like you don't need that much fabric to make one of these, so you could even use some of your fabric scraps, making this a very economical project. Of the list of supplies needed, the only one I don't have is an awl, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't really know what an awl is. Of course, the thing lends itself to 'awl' sorts of jokes. Sorry, y'awl probably don't want to hear that. Okay, I'll stop.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Riding the bunny wave

When choosing the image that goes on my desktop, I often choose something artsy, cute, and vaugely offensive. I'm not one for putting a big picture of my cute family up there (although I do keep those pics safely tucked away in a drawer. They somehow offer more satisfaction when they're encountered by surprise.). So the images by Kozyndan are perfect for me--and they also offer posters, coloring books and t-shirts through their website,

Their artwork often depicts Japanese and American street scenes, animals doing strange things and extremely detailed panoramics that will give you a "where's Waldo" type experience, often throwing in walruses, record players and businessmen wearing schoolgirl outfits all in one chaotic scene. Some of these prints may come in strange sizes, so you might have to spend some dough with custom framing, but they are on the whole extremely affordable, at around $15 not including shipping.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

All Look Same?

I've always loved taking the All Look Same test--determining from a roster of 20 faces, which are Chinese, Japanese and Koren. This test always forces people to put their money with their mouths are, when they proclaim, "I can always tell the difference between different Asian people!" Yeah, right. Just take the test, sucker! Now All Look Same has a test for food! I did much better on this test, although a couple tricked me, like this one. I got it wrong, but it does look mighty tasty. Does anyone know what this is, and how do I order it at a X restaurant? Sorry, to find out if it's Chinese, Japanese or Korean, you'll have to take the test.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Papayas--Live on Video!

When I lived on the east coast, I often despaired over not being able to find fresh green papaya regularly in the supermarket. Now that I'm in Seattle and they have bins of freshly grated green papaya at Southeast Asian grocery stores like Viet-Wah, it's easy to take this luxury for granted. Som Tam, or green papaya salad, is one of my favorite Thai foods--it's so light and simple, yet hard to duplicate the real thing. This site is great because it shows you videos in English for a lot of popular recipes. This video shows you how to grate a green papaya by hand, if you are more industrious than I am, and assemble the salad. It is tricky finding exactly the right grater for this, though. Trust me, I have a drawer full of graters that do everything but julienne into thin strips, the result of experimental shopping. And another thing, for this recipe you can increase or decrease the amount of shrimp paste you use, depending on how funky you like it. The increased funk factor makes it a bit more "Lao style," but if you aim to please everyone you may want to reduce the funkiness a little bit.

Salad Recipe: Green Papaya Salad
1-4 fresh Thai chilies
1 garlic cloves
3 cups shredded green papaya (watch video: Shredding Green Papaya)
1/2 cup sliced tomatoes
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
3 tablespoons squeezed lime
1 tablespoon palm sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons dried shrimp (optional)

Using the Thai / Lao Mortar & Pestle Set, crush chilies and garlic until they are separated. Add the rest of the ingredients in the mortar. Using the pestle to crush and a tablespoon to stir, mix all the ingredients in the mortar. When the sugar and shrimp paste are dissolved the papaya salad is ready to be served.

The Thai & Lao Food video shows the traditional method. Some Thai / Lao restaurants toss all the ingredients into a large bowl. In my opinion, for an authentic texture, the tomatoes need to be crushed in a Thai / Lao Mortar & Pestle Set.