Happy Kitchen, Happy Family

I have a confession. For the previous three weeks I was cattin’ around the US. I took a wee vacation to visit family, and what else to you do with your family on a lazy Saturday afternoon? You drink beer and make some Happy Kitchen, that’s what you do.

Before I left Tokyo I picked up a few of these kits to give as gifts. I don’t think other people are as excited about them as I am, but that didn’t stop me. These little Popin’ Cookin’ and Happy Kitchen candy-making kits are very cute, and a really good example of Japanese homestyle cooking: just add water.

Just kidding (kind of). These kits are just for fun and meant for children. Add water and poof! You’ve got a square meal of panda and donuts. Accompanied by some local beer, they suddenly become the perfect way to entertain your parents while dinner simmered. We chose the donut kit and dove in.

The kit comes with everything you need: vanilla and chocolate dough mix; vanilla, strawberry and chocolate frosting mix; crunch topping; sprinkles; donut molds; mixing bowls; measuring cup and mixing spoon. The directions are listed on the back of the box in Japanese, but the pictures give enough direction that you could figure it out in a pinch.

Each packet requires just one cup of water to be added to create the perfect texture — what science! Here dad illustrates the dough-making, and mom does the donut-mold-making. Now that is teamwork.

Everyone got to decorate. My mom disappeared to The Craft Room and returned with a mini spatula for our mini donut assembly line. There was some discussion over whether sprinkles or crunch were the superior topping choice.

The peanut gallery insisted I place them on a bigger plate. They needed to look as mini as possible.

Everyone took a taste. The consensus? Like play-dough and strawberry milk. Not bad, but not good either. I’d rather wait for the real thing, mini or not. Perhaps that’s the real difference between me and the 5-year old this kit was meant for. Though the donut flavor was a little disappointing, this kit delivered what was promised: a happy kitchen, full of a happy beer-drinkin’ family.

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