Baking is relaxing for me, and comforting as well. I decided early on in my stay here that I wanted to bake. Because so many aspects of the baking process would be unfamiliar to me, I thought I should start with a small manageable project. After locating muffin tins (actually I think they are ぷりん tins) along with baking soda and baking powder, I felt ready to tackle some pumpkin muffins. Kabocha is plentiful here at the house as my father-in-law is growing so much of it that we eat it in some fashion with nearly every meal. Luckily I also brought my pumpkin pie spice with me and I was able to replicate GirlJapan's recommended recipe. They were absolutely delicious! While a little on the sweet side for my taste, my mother-in-law swears she loved it. I had to laugh as I was making them because the oven is so small by American standards that it reminds me of an Easy Bake Oven on steroids. However, I am sure it cooks by convection as those muffins were done in no time. Hooray!
Now I just need to replace some of the spices here in the house. My attempt at a chicken tikka masala the other night was slightly less successful. I didn't realize we have no coriander in the house and after some investigating we found out that my mother-in-law's stash of garam masala is easily over five years old. The spices clearly lacked their *zing* when we tasted the final product. The long and short of it is that I'm learning to use the kitchen and tools in it, and we're slowly finding the supplies we like in the grocery stores. Back in the US, Gboy and I both shared the cooking responsibilities. He likes to cook lots of Japanese food and a little Italian now and then. He is also a master of steaks and homemade sausages. I, on the other hand, like to toy with other flavors - Mexican (or at least Southwestern), Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, etc. As a result, those are the things I know best how to cook and I really enjoy having a wide palette of foods and flavors. I'm willing to adapt to living in Japan, but I don't really want to learn to cook exclusively Japanese foods. I enjoy lots of other foods as well. Luckily, as I said, we're slowly finding the foods we like and are toying with new recipes. It's a delicious adventure!