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Amparo Bertram

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05:57 pm: Welts-B-Gone
One of the biggest drawbacks to having A) reading as a hobby and B) no car...is that books are *very* heavy to carry. Not only are they heavy, but the bags in which they are carried turn into Torture Devices as they cut deeply and painfully into one's fingers (and then wrist and forearm as one moves the bag around in an attempt to ease the agony or, worse yet, as one carries multiple bags)--but you CAN'T let go! You MUST get the purchases safely back home! ...By which time your arms and hands are covered in welts.

While I was out shopping the other day, I picked up an item that looked like it might come in handy. It's a U-shaped piece of plastic with one arm molded to fit snugly in your hand and the other arm notched to hold the handles of a shopping bag. This way, the weight of the bag is spread over a broader area and, theoretically, won't cut into your fingers.

I tested it out today by carrying a plastic grocery bag containing several large books (including a kanji dictionary) to work today. The bag was still heavy, of course, but the device did indeed relieve the sharp cutting pain of the handles. Dare I hope that this is the solution to all my manga welt problems?

In other news, I was asked for a Chinese stuffed bun recipe, so today I translated two from the cookbooks I have here.

I've tried this particular recipe, and it works pretty well, though I wasn't very good at pinching the top shut. Also note that the buns expand while cooking. You can use whatever you like as the filling, though it should be well spiced. I tried it with spicy potatoes and cheese, and that worked all right, though the corners of the potato cubes tended to poke into the raw dough. If the filling is too juicy, it tends to squish out, as I found when I experimented with a combination of pizza sauce and cheese. (It still tastes good, though.)

200g (2 c) flour
100g (1 c) bread flour
A
1 T yeast
1 T sugar
1/2 c warm water
1/2 c warm milk
2 T oil
2 t baking powder

  1. Sift together flour and bread flour into a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients in A.
  3. Add A along with remaining ingredients to flour and mix well.
  4. Knead resulting dough for about 7-8 minutes and form into a ball.
  5. Briefly remove dough from bowl. Lightly oil the inside of the bowl, then place the ball of dough inside and cover with a warm, damp cloth. Allow to rise until it approximately doubles in size.
  6. Place dough on a floured surface and flatten slightly. Divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a circle about 5" in diameter. (It works best if the edge of the circle is thinner than the center.)
  7. Place desired filling in the center of the circle and bring edge of circle up to surround it, pinching together at the top.
  8. Place buns on wax paper in a steamer and steam for 18 minutes.


This makes one large bun. I imagine you could divide it into smaller buns first, but they would all stick together when cooked. I haven't tried it personally, so I couldn't tell you how well it turns out.

A
150g (1 1/2 c) flour
5g (1 t) baking powder
1 T sugar
1/5 t salt
1 T sake
85 cc (1/2 c less 1 T) water

  1. Put A in a mixing bowl and stir.
  2. Mix together sake and water and add to A
  3. Knead the dough lightly and remove from bowl.
  4. Flour the inside of the bowl and lay dough inside. Flatten dough, spreading it out against the sides of the bowl.
  5. Place the filling in the center and use a spatula to fold the edge of the dough over to cover the filling. Press closed.
  6. Lightly oil the inside of the rice cooker and put the ball of dough inside, "opening" side up. Add 2 T of water to the bottom of the rice cooker around the bun.
  7. Close the rice cooker and switch it on. When it turns itself off, take the bun out and divide as desired.


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Comments

[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:February 9th, 2005 04:00 am (UTC)

Fillings

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The recipes sound very good. What are some typical fillings used? Does the dough work with sweet things as well as spicey or salty?

How to carry things as comfortably and efficiently as possible (without pain or bodily damage)is a question whose many solutions could be used every day and everywhere. I used to ponder this so much when we lived in Latin America and saw so many people carrying things on their head or on their back or from a yoke on the shoulders. I think that the one who comes up with the definitive solutions will become an instant millionaire. Wheels help, but weight and bulk matter, too. I'm glad you found a way to reduce the welts. (Have you tried a backpack with cushioned straps?)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 9th, 2005 04:30 am (UTC)

Re: Fillings

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What are some typical fillings used? Does the dough work with sweet things as well as spicey or salty?

You can put anything you want in them. This is Japan, so practically everything they sell here has meat in it of one kind or another. But the bun itself is just bread, so you could put anything in it that would go with bread...or tortillas...

Have you tried a backpack with cushioned straps?

I don't like backpacks, because having weight on my shoulders gives me a stiff neck and a headache. Sometimes even just my purse is too much weight.
[User Picture]
From:nitasee
Date:February 9th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Fillings

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Thanks so much for posting the recipes. Also, I was really curious about what kinds of fillings you used - and you've answered that. Thanks. Now I just need to get a rice cooker, but of course, I was going to do that anyway.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:February 9th, 2005 05:53 am (UTC)
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So, where did you find this wonderful anti-manga welt device?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 9th, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC)
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It was in the home goods section of the local Heiwadou. Near the bathroom supplies actually, for some unfathomable reason.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:February 9th, 2005 08:38 am (UTC)
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Ahhh, I remember that problem from when I lived in Berkeley and had to do all my grocery shopping on foot. (On the upside, one buys fewer multi-quart jugs of soda when you have to carry all the groceries four blocks home.)

I did finally buy a wire grocery cart, which helped a lot, though it was awkward and annoying enough that I got it out only for serious trips. How about a rolling suitcase? I see a lot of faculty on campus who park further out than I do using these.

Of course, this assumes that you know in advance you're planning to buy the store... which, if you're an impulse shopper like me... *sob*
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:February 9th, 2005 08:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
Like this one:

http://www.essentials4travel.com/mall/productpage.cfm/e4t/tpr0042/55017/Travelpro%20wall%20street%20overnight%20laptop%20computer%20trolley

This type of bag would be kinda expensive, but if you needed a briefcase/suitcase anyway...

Now I'm starting to want one. [[firmly avert eyes]]
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 9th, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC)
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I do have the wheeled carryon that I used when I flew over here. But, as you said, it doesn't help for impulse shopping. And, as I found out on my last trip to K-Books and Mandarake, it's *really* hard to navigate down the extremely narrow aisles past Japanese fangirls with their shopping baskets. (I tried to take up less space by holding my manga in the crook of my arm rather than a basket, but one of the store clerks insisted that I use a basket. Whatever.)

Wheels are definitely a helpful option, though.
[User Picture]
From:nitasee
Date:February 9th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
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I tried it with spicy potatoes and cheese

Hmmm, that sounds yummy. What kind of spices do you use?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 9th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC)
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It's a recipe adapted from a Vegetarian Times Asian cookbook.

2 t garlic
2 t ginger
1/2 t hot pepper (I use ichimitougarashi, but cayenne works great)
1/2 c minced onion
2 T soy sauce
4 T coconut milk

I dice about 2 1/2 lbs of potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold, but any variety would work) and fry it in the spice mixture. (The original recipe was red potatoes cut into matchsticks and baked.)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 10th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)
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I should add, the ginger is the freshly grated kind, not the powdered kind...
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