blueberry cheesecake

When I arrived in Japan, the lack of space that comes with dorm life surprisingly wasn't the hardest change I had to deal with. Instead, one of the things I came to miss most about Australia was actually my oven! While they obviously exist here, there's just no space for one in my tiny dorm room. Needless to say, I never realised so many of my favourite comfort foods are made using an oven before coming to Japan.

     

Enter the rice cooker, aka a total lifesaver. Honestly, I just don’t understand how people make rice without it. But for baking cakes? It never occurred to me until a friend mentioned that she dumps hotcake mix into her rice cooker for an easy fix. At that moment knew I had to try it out for myself. So here's a recipe for blueberry cheesecake, the rice cooker edition. Enjoy!



Recipe translated from Cookpad:
Ingredients:
100g Marie biscuits
3 tbs margarine
200g cream cheese
80g sugar
4 tbs flour
2 eggs
200mL heavy cream
¼ cup lemon essence
Blueberries
½ cup water
Extra sugar
1. Take your eggs and heavy cream out of the fridge. Then put the Marie biscuits in a ziplock bag and crush until the pieces become fine.

2. Heat the margarine for 40 seconds in the microwave. Add to the crushed biscuits, then mix until it holds together.

3. Put the margarine and biscuit mixture into the rice cooker bowl. Then using cling wrap, press it down from the top and shape the biscuit base. Leave in the refrigerator to set.

4. Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces, then put in a bowl and microwave for a minute or until soft. Whisk until smooth.

5. Sift the sugar into the cheese and mix. Then sift in the flour and continue mixing.

6. Mix the eggs before adding to the mixture. Add the heavy cream and lemon essence and stir.

7. Add the mixture over the biscuit base and let it settle. Then place the bowl in the rice cooker and turn it on.

8. When the first rice cycle is done, check if the cake comes loose at the edges. Also, check if the centre is cooked with a skewer. If not, simply start as many rice cycles as you need (in my case it took two cycles).

9. When done, leave the bowl to cool at room temperature. Then put the cake in the fridge.

10. Prepare two plates. Flip the cheesecake onto one plate, before transferring onto a serving plate.

11. Wash your blueberries or let them defrost, depending on whether you have fresh or frozen ones. Put in a saucepan with some sugar and simmer on low heat until they turn soft.

12. Arrange the blueberries on top of the cheesecake, then refrigerate until ready to serve.



I used blueberries to top my cheesecake, but anything goes really. In fact, the original recipe calls for strawberries and jam heated in the microwave. Also, if you can't get your hands on Marie biscuits, don't fret! They're pretty much identical to the Arnott's milk arrowroot biscuits, although I'm sure any other cookie will work too.



And there you have it, a super delicious cheesecake that doesn't require an oven! The biscuit base was perfectly crunchy while the cheesecake was moist, probably from the steaming effect of the rice cooker. Anyway, I think this method of cooking has me converted. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more rice cooker recipes from now on!
Posted by : Mani

tokyo disneyland

Fun fact: did you know that universities in Japan have holidays on their anniversaries? With the long weekend at our fingertips my friends and I took it as the perfect opportunity to hit up Disneyland, and it was just as good as I remember! I love how everyone dresses up for Disney here, whether it's through costumes or matchy-matchy Mickey jumpers. Also where else can you buy ramen, or butter soy sauce popcorn from the park vendors? Nowhere else in the world, that's for sure.


   

Obviously a trip to Disneyland wouldn't be complete without the right headgear. Who'd have thought there could be so many variations on the humble Minnie Mouse bow?





Honestly, I don't think it's possible for me to ever get sick of 'It's a Small World'. Even though it's literally the same no matter where you go, there's just something so catchy about that tune...



A Swarovski statue of Cinderella castle in all its glory. Or as I like to call it, the equivalent of my life savings in a box.





Hanging out with Baymax in egg form. See that sticker on my ear? Since it was my birthday week my friend got one for me, and the whole day cast members were wishing me happy birthday! There are even specific rides where birthday guests will get a special shoutout.





Aaand then it started to rain. On top of that someone lost their bag on Big Thunder Mountain, so our fast passes were pretty much rendered useless! The wait was totally worth it though. I definitely think the ride is one of the park's highlights, rain and all.

      



There were fireworks, but sadly I didn't manage to get any good shots from the show! We came home cold, wet and hungry but there's no doubt I'd do it all again. Next time I'll definitely be checking out Disney Sea, which happens to be right next door. Apparently the rides are even better than Disneyland's too, so that's something to look forward to!
Posted by : Mani

100 days in japan

So apparently last week, my time in Japan passed the one hundred day mark. When you think of it that way it sounds like such a short period of time, but every day so far has been jam-packed! You really don't realise how much time sitting down and blogging takes up until life gets in the way. Anyway, to mark this little milestone here are some things I've learnt from my exchange experience so far:

1. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Coming to Japan I assumed the portion sizes would be small, which is true to a certain extent. However, the difference is you get way more value for money than you would in Australia, and my idea of a fairly priced meal usually ends up being way too big. First world problems, right?



      

That was some seriously good strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Fun fact: Baskin and Robbins in Japan is literally called 31! It's pretty much the only chain of ice cream stores around here, so I go to fill the gelato-shaped hole in my heart.

2. Bring your camera everywhere or prepare for regret. I went on homestay for a weekend in June, and it just so happened that I broke my phone with all my photos on it! That'll teach me ignore a smashed phone screen for too long... Anyway, despite that little mishap I had such a lovely time on homestay that I didn't want to leave. The couple I stayed with had a son who already moved out, so my host mother was so excited to have a daughter for a weekend haha. She was also kind enough to take tons of photos and send them to me!

      



I wasn't expecting much from homestay at all, but my host parents took me to this amazing suspension bridge and a famous waterfall in Ibaraki. It was honestly the best experience I could've asked for, so if you do get the chance to do homestay on exchange definitely go for it!

3. Japan's summer is no joke. There are no words to describe it really. I used to think the heat in Australia was bad, but the humidity in Japan is something that I'm totally not used to. Not to mention the fact that everything in my area is concrete and there seems to be no air, amplifying the effect of the heat! I've never been so grateful for how lush and green Australia is. Anyway, can you believe this is the same river as the one in my sakura post? Time really does fly...



4. There's no need to say yes to every traditional Japanese thing you're invited to. I mean, the idea of tea ceremony sounds fun but sitting on your knees for hours gets old fast. Many Japanese people never even experience things like flower arrangement or kabuki themselves, so don't feel too bad if you don't get the opportunity!





5. You have a bigger impact on people than you realise. This obento box was from a high school visit when my friends and I made presentations about our home countries. Just the excitement and reaction to us made me realise how much of a big deal it was for us to be there. In the countryside people rarely engage with foreigners, so the experience made me really aware of my impact on people out here.





Somehow, I think living in Sydney for so long has been like living inside a bubble. It's so easy to fall into a routine, attend university and go through life without ever making deep connections or trying new things. In contrast, in Japan I've made so many good friends and done so many things I never imagined I'd be doing a year ago. It's actually kind of humbling, in a way. Anyway from here on I'll be slowly sharing the photos I need to catch up on, so bear with me. Until next time!
Posted by : Mani