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.

A Poppin’ Cookin’ Good Time

A friend and I had a “study date,” which means we watched Japanese animated movies and played with candy and pretended we were learning something.

Popin’ Cookin’ is childen’s DIY candy where the snacks you make usually resemble (and sometimes taste) like everyday foods — hamburgers, ramen, sushi. We tried the strawberry and vanilla flavor cake, ice cream and tart kit.

It came with everything we needed – mini sugar cones and tart shell, mixing tray and spoon, pastry bag for frosting, sprinkles, and the frosting mix. Just add water, and poof! Ice cream! sort of…

The mix smelled of pure sugar and strawberry Nesquik. Surprisingly (not really), I ate it anyway and it wasn’t nearly as sweet as I expected. It was maybe even a little bit good. Maybe. Just a little bit. Don’t judge.

I count this as studying because the instructions are all in Japanese. Maybe I read them, or maybe I just looked at the pictures … I’ll never tell.

We also made a panda cake, because, why not?!

First you draw the panda eyes and such with chocolate, following the pattern printed on wax paper. Then you top him off with vanilla “cake” mix which was more like pudding. I don’t have a microwave, so we put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

As you can see, one of us likes to color outside the lines.