mmmmmm…. Mochi

This New Year’s I decided to make Mochi.  I did not make it to add to broth, but as a delicious candy.  This is the second time I made it.  The first time, I steamed them on the stove with homemade cranberry sauce inside.   Those instructions will come later. This time, I tried the microwave method and were not filled with any extra yumminess.

Orange Mochi – Microwave method

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cup of Mochiko (It is a glutinous sweet rice flour. I use Koda Farms – Blue Star Brand)

3/4 Cup Sugar (just regular sugar – not powdered)

2 to 3 drops of vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup liquid (I put “liquid”, but you could use water.  I used the juice from 4 mandarin oranges then the rest was water.  I should have used more juice, it did not have a strong enough orange flavor that I was looking for)

Food coloring (optional, I used orange to make it more orange than the juice provided)

The dusting:

3/4 cup Corn starch

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Orange Mochi Ingredients

Orange Mochi Ingredients

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (1 1/2 cup rice flour, 3/4 cup sugar).  Add 1 1/2 cup of the liquid of your choice, drops of oil, and your food coloring. Mix well until it comes to the consistency of pancake batter.

Mochi batter

Mochi batter

Cover with plastic wrap and put in microwave – mine took 8 minutes on high.  Depending on your microwave you could have it in there anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes.  After it is finished cooking, take out of microwave and let it cool.  When it is cool enough to handle, dump it out on a plastic cutting board.  As it cooled, I gently worked it into a large circle with the thickness that I wanted.  I would leave it sit until it became easy to handle.  Since the dusting contains powdered sugar, you will want it to really be cool enough as to not melt the powdered sugar.  While I waited for it to cool, I combined the 2 ingredients for the dusting powder. After it has cooled, it is shaped to the the depth that I wanted, I pulled out the pizza cutter.  Sometimes I had to dip the pizza cutter into the dusting powder in order for it not to stick while cutting the Mochi into squares.  After I had cut the Mochi into squares I put them in the bowl of dusting powder, shook off the excess, and placed them in their container.  Thanks to Little Red for the help, it went by real quick.

Dusted Mochi Squares

Dusted Mochi Squares

It was really simple to make it and took next to no time at all.  The longest part was waiting for it to cool down enough to handle.  They turned out really yummy, however I would have like a bit more of an orange flavor.

What is your favorite flavor of Mochi?

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This was the view

Strolling through D.C. on my last day, I noticed a homeless man sitting on his bench watching the Scope it Out 5k Run/Walk for Colon Cancer Awareness, presented by Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation.  I’m sure he really had no interest in why the people were running, it just happened to be what was going by in front of him.  I walked in front of him and gave him a “good morning, how are you doing”. He replied with a “doing great” or something along those lines, he was really pleasant.  I continue to walk up the street and found a bakery (that sold really expensive French Macarons – or maybe I’m just cheap because I know how to make them).  I went inside, ordered two turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato croissants, and headed back down the street.  I went back to the 5k observer and asked him if he had breakfast.  He stated he hadn’t, so I asked if he would like to have breakfast with me and handed him one of the sandwiches.  I asked if I could sit on his bench with him and he delightfully said, “of course”.  We sat and ate, while I did most of the talking.  My babbling was mainly about the runners – poking fun of myself mostly & the fact that I would have been at the end.  He was laughing at my jokes, which only encouraged me to ramble some more.

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As we sat there enjoying our breakfast, watching the runners go by, we seemed to have caught the attention of many runners.  We got a few waves, peace signs, and many smiles.  I suppose it did seem odd to see a woman sitting next to a homeless man on his bench (there were plenty of other benches available), enjoying the race, breakfast, and conversation.  I just thought, “why should this be such a big deal?”  We should all take the time to step out of our comfort zone, sit with someone that most people ignore, and realize that there are a lot of people in this world that would like for us to give them a little respect. I got up to leave, thanked him for having breakfast with me, shook his hand, and handed him what I left in my pocket (it wasn’t much, but it was what I had).  I continued on my way down the street, hoping that I had made his day, knowing that he had made mine.

Even I wouldn’t go that far

Let me explain a little bit about myself… I like sparkle, glitter, things that catch my eye – I could be part bird – hence the name glitter gal. I like a freshly washed & waxed car, reflecting the sun off the hood, seeing my reflection or a gorgeous diamond catching the light making little sparkles of light all over the wall… I like shiny!  However, I do believe you can take things a bit far.

Case in point:

Sparkle truck in D.C.

Sparkle truck in D.C.

Oh, yes… this truck had these decals all over it.  I like shiny, but that was too much!

Filling in a few details from yesterday’s disappointment..

I mentioned that yesterday I had a somewhat of a job interview.  To be a little more technical, I had taken the Foreign Service Oral Assessment.  I had already passed the written test & the personal narratives, so just getting to this point is quite a big deal.  There is about a 20% pass rate through the oral assessment, so my non-passing score had me in good company.  

The day started off with me getting dressed in a suit.  Now, I am not a big suit wearer, especially if I have to tuck in a shirt.  BLECK! However, I wore a suit, with shirt tucked.

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Yup, that’s me in a suit, I even have my shirt tucked!

I stayed at the hotel that had a hallway that was connected to the building that I had to go to early yesterday morning.  I was trying to make that day as stress-free as possible. I got there and noticed that there were a bunch of men standing around.  It ended up being a total of 11 of us, 10 men & me.  One guy even mentioned that I seemed to be at a disadvantage being the only woman.  I let him know that I saw it as an advantage!  

There are three parts to the day: Group Exercise, Structured Interview, and Case Management. I’m not going to go into too many details about the process of those parts, you can find out more at the Department of State website http://www.state.gov . After I had gone through all of the parts, I thought I had done well… not super stellar, but well enough.  Boy, was I wrong.  I only passed the Structured Interview.  Funny thing is, that was the one section I was most concerned about.  I knew what to expect from the other 2.  Out of the 11 of us that started the day, only 3 had passed. There were some spectacular people in that room & I’m really surprised that only the 3 had passed (there is no quota).  Like I said, I was in good company.

Now that I’ve had a day to reflect on my performance – heck, who am I kidding, I was tossing & turning last night thinking about it – I can say that I do see where I can improve.  I’m not going to go into too many details, I was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

I will be trying again.  I can retake the written test in October, which I will do. I’m hoping that my experience with the written & personal narratives will continue through this next time.  Hopefully, I will be headed back to D.C. in a year.  I know Barefoot Runner, Big Red, and Little Red will be happy to have me around with them for the next year, instead of running off to D.C. to go to school.

Speaking of school… now that I know I will not be joining the Foreign Service within the next year, I will be starting grad school, soon.  Like my undergrad, I will be double majoring.  International Relations & Human Relations.  The fun continues….

To sulk or not to sulk

The big reason why I came to D.C. was for what was basically a job interview.  After a day long process, it didn’t go as well as I thought it had.  I did well, but I did not pass.  Boo!

 I got back from my interview, spent about an hour on the phone with Barefoot Runner (the hubs) & just wishing I was in his arms comforting me & my feeling of failure.  I had bought food to stock up my mini fridge & headed over to make myself a sandwich (it would have been a cheese sandwich, I ran out of turkey earlier today – all of which I’ve been trying to avoid).  I look down & what do I see, there have been delivery menus slipped under my door.  China Express was one of them. While I was here, my plan was to go to Chinatown (it is very close, oh, like less than a mile from my hotel) on Saturday. I debated for all of about 5 seconds if I should be good & eat more of the tomatoes & peppers that are stocked in the mini fridge or if I should indulge in the deliciousness that I am hoping to consume. You know I went with the delivery.  I called, I ordered, and now I wait for the food to arrive.  I hope it is as good as I want it to be.  I’m still not getting out of my yoga pants when I have to go down stairs & get the food, ah, sulking… I’ll be out of it tomorrow when I hit the road with my camera.  Until then… bring on the General Tso’s chicken! 

Getting to D.C.

It was such an ordeal to get here yesterday, I was throughly exhausted by the time my head hit the pillow.  The first flight was okay. I arrived at the airport at 0730 (Central European time),  checked bag, went through security, went through gate, and then we had to ride the bus to the plane, no biggie, except it was raining when we had to get off the bus & board the plane. The guy sitting next to me looked like a German woodsman, come to find out, he was.  He likes to live in wooded areas & his profession is tree cutting (he was part of the crew that helped clear out areas around Ramstein).  This was his first flight he has taken since 1988 & he had so many questions.  He was on a trip to surprise his daughter…. in LIMA PERU!!!  I hope he can get to her, considering he doesn’t speak Spanish.  Okay, he wasn’t a bad seat partner, although he did want to talk, which I don’t. I don’t like to talk in bathrooms with other people, either.
We (We, as in I) get to Amersterdam, walked out of that terminal, my flight was a short walk to another terminal.  Went through the customs agent.  Had to discuss the finer points of the SOFA & how I get to live in Germany without a resident card.  He stamped that passport (ggrrrrr…. I never left the airport, I’m not really in his country).  Anyways, went through, found my gate, went to the restroom, refilled the bottle of water that I had been lugging around empty since Frankfurt.  Noticed there was a long line to get through the gate, so didn’t have time to do much since my layover was short.  Got in line & discovered, I have to go through a full body scan & bag scan.  That bottle of water that I just filled up would have to go away.  Yes, another complete security check at the gate.  You cannot take any liquids on the plane.  What the heck!
I got through the security check & finally got on the plane.  My seat was near the back, so I made my way back & discovered that the person sitting next to me was a large woman.  I thought about charging her for the amount of my seat she was using.  She wasn’t so big that they would have required her to purchase a second seat, but she was big enough that as much as I could get to next to the window, I still would get an elbow in the side.  I gave her (or I guess she took) the armrest, which was okay, but she went a bit beyond that. It just made for an uncomfortable flight, although I think I did sleep about a half hour at the beginning.
We landed about 20 minutes early in D.C.  We landed at about 1610 (Eastern time).  I made it off the plane, then had to board a cattle car to the customs terminal.  Got in the U.S. citizens line, and waited… and waited… and waited.  My turn came, got through, went to pick up suitcase.  They like to stack the suitcases by the belt & I didn’t see mine.  I watched the ones going around & around, didn’t see mine.  Went back to the stack & really started looking harder & finally found my suitcase.  There was a restroom, used it, then got in another line (to turn in my customs form) to get out.  This wait was shorter, but I still had some waiting.
After getting through all of that, I made my way down to the super shuttle area.  I started to wait in another line & the guy at a competitor service, invited me to use their service.  The cost was about the same, at this point, I was just tired of waiting in more lines.  I bought a round trip ticket (it saved me $2 total), but I was able to schedule the pick up time & not have to worry about that on Sunday.  I then was able to go to the shuttle.  It, of course, was full & we drove & drove.  Dropped off one lady at her house, dropped off a guy at Reagan airport, had to listen to another guy bitch that he had someplace to be & he should have taken a taxi, dropped off that guy at his hotel, and then it was my turn.  Got to the hotel, checked in, when she asked for my address, I stated that I live in Germany.  She then asked if I had a US address.  I gave her my APO, she didn’t want that.  I told her she could have my address in Germany or she can have my APO address, which is a US address. She ended up using the APO.  I had requested a king size bed., the woman wanted to give me 2 doubles, “but the only king size I have is on the train side”.  I was nice, told her I was exhausted & I really don’t want 2 doubles, I really wanted the King.  After a few moments of her clicking away, I got a king size not on the train side. I finally got up to my room at about 1930.
It was a really long day.

I see London, I see France…

One of the great things about living in Germany is the opportunity to travel.  I was recently filling out some paperwork & realized that I haven’t done too much traveling to places other than London & Paris.  The current count since November 2011: London 3, Paris 2.  I will be heading to Paris next month with Little Red.  I signed her up for a class Les Petits Cordon Bleu.  They offer the class with an English translation (which is great, since she has been studying Spanish in school & not French).  This is the same Le Cordon Bleu that Julia Childs attended while her husband worked at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.  I’ve taken a class there, “Chocolate Macarons”.  It was fantastic! 

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That’s me in the kitchen.

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Yummy macarons.

I can’t wait to see what wonderful creation Little Red will make on her adventure!