Category Archives: Vegan

Fresh Mango Salsa

A nice bright salsa to end the summer (never mind it’s been over for a month). This recipe is very simple, and I love the way the flavors and textures work together.

Easy Mango Salsa @ I'll Make It Myself

I like to serve this with homemade tortillas (or rice or quinoa), avocados, and roasted kabocha tossed with cumin and cayenne.

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Bamboo Coconut Curry with Kabocha, Lotus Root, and Soy Beans

I’ve noticed a lot of people find my blog by searching for bamboo shoot recipes. This year, I wanted to develop a new recipe to add to the list and to make something other than bamboo-rice with the shoot I bought. My friend and temporary roommate mentioned that she had seen a bamboo and kabocha curry at a festival over the weekend, and–


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Kabocha Soba Oyaki

The more I learn about cooking and food culture, the more I’ve become fascinated with cultural concepts of portable foods. As I’ve written before, Japan’s main example is onigiri, rice balls, but in the Shinshû/Nagano region, it’s oyaki, the steamed buns often made with savory fillings and soba-flour dough. Combine oyaki with another one of my favorite foods, kabocha, and you have a delicious, healthy addition to your bento that is easy to make and transport.

Kabocha Soba Oyaki @ I'll Make It Myself!

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Mameshiba Cupcakes

ね、知っている?(Hey, did you know?)

These cupcakes may be the simplest of the geeky/nerdy (it varies…) birthday cakes I made this spring.

Mameshiba Cupcakes @I'll Make It Myself


My husband loves Mameshiba, which is… well, as the song goes, they aren’t quite beans and they aren’t quite dogs; and everyday they bring you a bit of trivia–

You know what? This is like trying to explain Doctor Who to someone who’s never seen it. Just check out the videos (in Japanese with English subtitles) on the Mameshiba site. Problem solved.*
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The Triskelion Cake
(MTV’s Teen Wolf)

Remember how I needed a fix?

Source: ohshutupmrshudson. The truly remarkable part is that I found this gif by accident.

Source: ohshutupmrshudson. The truly remarkable part is that I found this gif by accident. What are the odds?

This was a really, really good fix.

Triskelion/Teen Wolf Cake @ I'll Make It Myself


This cake is a gift!

(Spoiler-free!) I am new to Teen Wolf and its fandom, so,  having only seen a couple episodes for reference before I started, I lacked a mind palace1 full of semi-obscure references to incorporate. Thank goodness for my friend who suggested the triskelion design, especially since I’m much better at cutting/building cakes than decorating them in the traditional sense. (I plan to invest in lessons at some point so you don’t have to suffer through too many more of my awkward frosting attempts.) The triskelion is a Celtic symbol of three interlocking spirals; in Teen Wolf, it first shows up in Season 1 as a tattoo on Derek Hale’s back.

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Vegetarian Curry Nabe

Vegetarian Curry Nabe @ I'll Make It Myself

Curry nabe is combination of two of Japan’s great comfort foods: curry-rice (karê raisu, カレーライス) and nabe (鍋). Curry-rice is a Japanized version of Indian curries via Britain: served with rice, this dish is a thick, brown sauce, more sweet than spicy, combined with onions, carrots, potatoes, and chicken or beef, which are sauteed before boiling in the sauce. If mac ‘n’ cheese and spaghetti are the epitome of basic American home cooking, curry-rice tops Japan’s list.

Most curry roux in Japan contain meat extracts (beef, pork, or fish are the most common). I am found of Sokensha‘s vegan* curry “flake type” roux (植物素材の本格カレー), which is sold in health-food stores like Noppo-kun but can also be ordered online. I like the “spicy” one (辛口), even though it’s not all that spicy. This “Curry for Vegetarians” by Sakurai is also vegan, though I haven’t tried it. (Edit: Haiku Girl recommends S&B’s exported Torokeru (とろける) curry roux blocks, but the domestic varieties sold in Japan appear to contain chicken or beef bouillon [ブイヨン].)

Then, of course, is the staple of Japanese winter cuisine: nabe, from nabemono, which refers to foods cooked in a (clay) pot. Nabe, like curry-rice, is completely adaptable to taste: use whatever tofu, vegetables, and/or meat you like and boil them in a broth of your choice. It’s like non-committal soup, and it’s great for casual dinner parties. You can purchase broth in a variety of flavors from soymilk to kimchi at any grocery store, but I prefer to make my own, and it’s really quite simple. (How did you guess?)

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Kabocha Hummus

On the themes of both autumn and non-chickpea hummus-adjacent spreads, I present kabocha hummus, one of the many fine uses for kabocha purée. As I stated in my baba ghanoush recipe, chickpeas/garbanzo beans (Japanese: hiyokomame, ひよこ豆) are relatively expensive in Japan, so I’ve been trying to less expensive chickpea alternatives. If chickpeas are cheap where you live, consider this recipe an interesting seasonal twist on a classic.

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Kitchen Library– 10.29.2012

Thanks to Jessica Goodfellow of Axis of Abraxis and Ashley of Surviving in Japan for featuring my kabocha purée recipe on their sites!

Kabocha daifuku at the Don Don Matsuri in Komatsu

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Pumpkin Spice Latte with Kabocha Purée (Bonus: Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe)

If every Japan food blogger is required by law to cover okonomiyaki (twice), then every food blogger in the US and Canada is required to offer a homemade version of Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.

The most popular variety has pumpkin purée rather than syrup mixed into it. Whether you live in Japan or the US, you don’t have to worrying about buying canned pumpkin before the Thanksgiving hoarders get to it or even stocking up on the orange pumpkins that seem to disappear on November 1 to make your own purée. Where there is squash, there can be “pumpkin” spice latte. No import store required.

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Kabocha Squash Purée (Pumpkin Purée Substitute)

Trying to shift your mentality of “I can’t have it because I can’t buy it in Japan” to “I’ll make it myself!” is hard. Really hard. For example, let’s take my recent discovery of how to purée kabocha to substitute for pumpkin purée/canned pumpkin in American recipes. Kabocha and pumpkin have different textures. Pumpkin has more water content, so mashing and processing boiled or baked pumpkin (something I might have phoned my mom about in grad school) results in a texture like thick applesauce. Mashed kabocha is more like mashed potatoes.

Prior to adding water, it’s more like mashed kabocha.

Trying to substitute mashed kabocha for canned pumpkin does not work. This is what I was told, and it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t purée it by adding water and blending.

I know, I know. How the hell else do you make purée? Continue reading