About Bert Tanimoto

Oldish father (still) of two youngish (but now young adult) kids. Zojirushi enthusiast and professional writer. California resident with roots in Hawaii and Japan. Classic rock, popcorn movies, audio books, spam, sushi and cone filtered coffee. Guilty pleasures include donuts and pop bands like ABBA and Wham! Don't laugh, you should see my vinyl collection--I give hair bands and prog equal credit.

Riceballs and Toast

Riceballs and Toast

When my kids were going to school I was the one making their lunches. This was simply because I used to bring my own lunch to work so it wasn’t much of an extra effort to make another. My daughter came back one day and told me her friends thought it was awesome that I would cut the crusts off her sandwiches. Ha! Just another influence from those Japanese “sando” that you see at the market, or in Japan I guess at every convenience store.

Seeing as how some of you might still be making your kids’ lunches, or having to make snacks for them after school, here’s a few ideas that might pass the kid test. I made some cute little Korean style riceballs called Jumeokbap, because we had leftover rice and some leftover bulgogi ground beef that my wife made from a couple nights ago. This mixture is the seasoned bulgogi, chopped carrots and chopped danmuji (yellow pickled radish).
Korean Style Riceball Jumeokbap with Bulgogi, Carrots and Chopped DanmujiKorean danmuji is different from Japanese takuan in that they’re both pickled daikon radish, but the Korean version is a little less pungent and milder than the Japanese one. For people who don’t like the strong smell of takuan, try the danmuji—it’s a little sweeter too.

We had leftover Kimchi Fried Rice too, so that was easy. Just roll a few of those for a spicy rice ball variation. I love any kind of fried rice, so we make the kimchi version all the time. My other favorites are Japanese Chahan and of course, Hawaiian style Bacon or Spam Fried Rice. Maybe the reason we have it so often is because I hate to waste leftover rice, so we freeze it and use it for a quick and easy dinner. Leftover rice makes the perfect fried rice—much better than freshly made, which tends to get clumpy. If you have to make fresh rice just to make fried rice, there’s a hack to doing this with an adjustment on your rice cooker, which I explain in my Kimchi Fried Rice post.
Making Korean Style Riceball JumeokbapThe last one is filled with tuna/mayo and coated with furikake (rice sprinkles). Your kids will probably love this one—they’re easy to eat and fun too. Who doesn’t like furikake, right?
Korean Style Riceball Jumeokbap - Tuna Mayo Furikake

Rice balls make the ideal bento lunch. For one thing, you can eat them at room temperature and they won’t smell up a lunch room. If you’re wondering what that cannister is in the background, it’s my very cool Zojirushi Lunch Jar. I did a whole review on these a while back; you can read about them here.
Korean Style Riceball Jumeokbap

After school snack? Of course, open face toast! Bake some bread with your Zojirushi Breadmaker and have it ready by the time they get back. It takes about 3-1/2 hours so you can time it to finish around 3:30 in the afternoon. Here are a couple of classics—Avocado Toast and Garlic Cheese Toast. C’mon, you can see these on some menu at a craft coffee house selling for $15, right? Right? Well, enjoy it on freshly baked, Japanese shokupan style bread anytime.
Avocado Toast and Garlic Cheese Toast

Not to be outdone by all those good looking riceballs you can make, here are some dessert toast treats for the kids (or for yourself once you’ve got them quietly scarfing). Get some caramel syrup at the market and use your bananas before they get too overripe. It doesn’t take much to get decorative with it. The other one is strawberry jam and cream cheese. I swear, it’s good! Even my limited food styling skills can handle these, and the thicker shokupan slices make them more special too.
Banana with Caramel Drizzle Toast, Strawberry Jam and Cream Cheese Toast

There’s no way I’m going to make toast without a PB&J one; because I really love PB&J. Did you know that the proper way of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich is to spread the peanut butter on both slices of bread, then spreading the jelly in the middle? That way the jelly won’t soak through the bread and make it soggy. Of course, then you’ve got to figure out the proper peanut butter to jelly ratio, haven’t you? The other way to get around this issue is to make toast instead—problem solved!

PB&J Toast and Matcha Strawberry Toast

If you crave a more adult dessert, try the matcha strawberry one. Just create the glaze with some matcha powder and powdered sugar, get fresh strawberries and away you go. If you missed it a few months ago, I did a Honey Brick Toast with a full loaf of shokupan, which you can easily do at home. Try this one and overload your kids after school, ha-ha!Honey Brick Toast

So what’s it going to be this afternoon? Riceballs or Toast?

Products used in this post: IH Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC10/18, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10, Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Mr. Bento® Stainless Lunch Jar SL-JBE14

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Colorful Summer Cooking

So what do you do when it’s too hot or you’re too lazy to cook? You make a one-pot meal that takes the least amount of effort, that’s what. This is based on a Martha Stewart recipe, if you want to try it. The cool thing about this is that the pasta starch thickens the water as it evaporates, making a creamy sauce that coats every strand.

The prep is perfect for the Zojirushi Electric Skillet as a one pot meal; everything goes in at once including the raw pasta, stir occasionally, done in like 20 minutes.

Add some red peppers for a little kick, parmesan for some topping. The ingredients do the rest for a pretty dang good veggie pasta. Sheesh man, you can’t get more idiot proof than this.

One thing about hot weather is that it dampens your appetite. I remember living in Tokyo during their ridiculously sweltering summers, and all my co-workers wanted to eat for lunch was zaru soba (cold dipping noodles). Oddly, I found out another good thing to eat was curry rice—the idea being that spicy food would actually make you sweat from your head but ultimately cool your body down. Seriously, look it up; I’m not lyin’.

Summer Curry with Corn Rice
Curry is pretty easy to make with store bought curry roux; and with summer vegetables available you can make a colorful version that looks so appetizing to eat.

Color is important when it comes to food, especially when you may not have much of an appetite. You’ve seen all the color studies done—there’s a reason fast food chains use so much red or yellow in their signage or for their corporate colors. it’s there to stimulate your hunger. Green is another color that is appealing in food, for the obvious reason that it’s synonymous with nature. It relaxes and calms, which is why hospitals use green in their interior design.

Here’s a way to add a twist to your rice. Make it into corn rice just by steaming it all together with your rice cooker.

Nice Curry Corn Rice dish, right? No meat so it isn’t that heavy, but still very much curry, if you know what I mean.

Do you know why they call these super hot days the Dog Days of Summer? It has to do with how the ancient astronomers identified Sirius, the brightest star in the sky informally known as the “Dog Star”. During this stretch of summer days, Sirius rises and sets with the sun and is at its brightest in the sky. The Romans believed the Dog Star was giving off heat, adding to the sun’s warmth during this long period of hot and humid weather.

Zucchini Bread
We harvested some zucchinis from our planter box in our backyard and got a really big one. To celebrate the Dog Days and our dog Henry, we made zucchini bread with the Zojirushi Toaster Oven. Henry is a senior who’s been with us for 14 years now. He’s almost blind, has kidney problems and wobbles a lot, but he still seems to enjoy roaming the house, exploring the floor for a scrap of food that we might have dropped. (He doesn’t seem to very much like his presciption diet.)

The zucchini bread was moist and delicious, and looks good with the bits of zucchini on top.

Summer Fruit Pies
Summer fruits look so good, we always tend to buy too much and can’t eat them all before they go bad. One easy thing you can do is make little fruit pies with all the extra fruit. You can get pre-made, pre-cut pie crust from the market especially made for mini pies, so all you need is a muffin pan.

Sprinkle a bit of sugar and lemon zest for added flavor. You don’t need much because most of the fruit is already sweet and starting to get overripe from being leftover, remember? They all get done at the same time, so popping a single muffin pan into your Toaster Oven makes just enough and makes great use of all that fruit.

Eat it before the Häagen-Dazs® melts!

Summer is almost over, so enjoy the rest of it…personally if I had to choose between the extremes of summer and winter, I’d rather be too hot than too cold. And get off the brown grilled meat train for a day and cook with color!
Products used in this post: IH Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC10/18, Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50, Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

One-Pan Pasta: Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

You said it’s your birthday!

Yes, it was my birthday yesterday, so I always get to celebrate a day later along with our country. And my favorite birthday song is “Birthday”, written by the greatest band in the history of music. Did you know this song was written and recorded by The Beatles in one day? With nothing previously laid out, they came up with “Birthday” out of thin air in a single day and finished recording it. Genius.

My birthday was a big milestone for me, but I’m not gonna say which milestone…for our country though, it’s always an important day and something we should never take for granted. To celebrate, I baked a cake! I know you’ve seen this cake everywhere, but so what—this is mine. Simple cake mix, cream cheese frosting, and fresh fruit. A basic small rectangular cake pan fit nicely into my Zojirushi Toaster Oven.

The cake decorating part turned into a family project when I enlisted my daughter’s help. She’s got steadier hands than me anyway.

Happy Independence Day America! Yum!

Coincidentally, we all went to visit my son last month, who works in Washington D.C. If you’ve never been to our nation’s capital, I think it’s time you made the trip. I mean, it’s very cool that every government agency you’ve ever heard of is right here. He lives in Dupont Circle, which has a frighteningly deep subway station. Does this make you feel like you’re entering another dimension?

We went on a tour while we were there, which really is the best way to see the sights and learn about what you’re looking at, in my opinion. We love ‘em! For example, did you know they ran out of funding while they were building the Washington Monument and the project stopped completely? The government took it over 25 years later and finished it using marble from a different quarry. You can see where the color changes!

Dupont Circle is home to where all the embassies are in D.C. I’ve never seen so many black SUVs with tinted windows just driving around the city, ha-ha! And so many secret service guys riding around on bicycles during the day. They were busy during that week when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to visit President Biden. This is the Indian embassy, lit up in their national colors in honor of his visit. Pretty cool!

Now back to our 4th of July cookout…hot dogs! I got some wieners and Italian sausages for our Zojirushi Indoor Electric Grill. Plump, juicy and with the required grill marks.

And here are the hot dogs done in style. From left to right; Grilled Onion Dog (always a favorite), All-American Dog (and don’t judge me with the ketchup), Bulldog Dog (tonkatsu sauce, mayo and cabbage), and Spicy Bacon Dog (bacon wrapped with pickled red onion and jalapeños). Guess what? It’s worth cleaning the grill for these!

Finally, in case you thought I had forgotten about any healthy options for the holiday, I actually made a veggie sandwich (which for me is unheard of). The kicker was that this sandwich tasted amazing, and I think it was because the bread was so good (for real). I used the Whole Wheat recipe for my Zojirushi Breadmaker and the machine did the rest.

Your basic Veggie Sandwich for July 4th—shredded carrots, lettuce, sprouts, sliced tomato and avocado. Add Dijon mustard and mayo for a refreshing summer lunch!

If you guys own a breadmaker and you haven’t tried the wheat bread menu yet, I recommend it; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

June is for Dads

Grilled chicken and veggies on a Zojirushi electric grill
Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Dads this month. Do you know when a joke officially becomes a Dad joke? When it becomes apparent! I’ve been a parent for 26 years now and my 2nd kid graduated college last month. This is a milestone! Not only for my daughter who is getting ready to start adulting, but for me having fulfilled my goal of getting both kids through college. Woo hoo!

To celebrate, I made some stuff that I like for Father’s Day. June also happens to be National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, and I love a good veggie stir fry, so I made Yasai Itame. This is the best thing for eating healthy and balancing out the guilty desserts that I’ll be showing you later in this post. I used a recipe from Just One Cookbook (link below).

Start with the protein (pork is the classic choice) and the veggies that take the longest to cook first.
Yasai Itame - how to start

Add the rest—I have snow peas, cabbage and bean sprouts that I added to the onions and carrots. You really don’t need a wok, but crank up your electric griddle on high if you’re using one. It cooked quickly enough, and the large surface area of the griddle helped to evaporate the water from the vegetables fast enough to prevent them from going limp. Pour in the sauce and it’s done in a flash.
Yasai Itame in process

This is cheap eats—the best kind when you’re putting two kids through college. Really, the most expensive ingredient here is the meat, and that’s not all that much. I like to eat mine with white rice and a side of miso soup. By the way, do you know what PacMan® uses to make stir-fry? A wok, a wok, a wok, a wok…
Yasai Itame is done!

Since it’s also grilling season, I took out my Zojirushi electric grill and tried chicken as an alternative to steak or shrimp. It came out good and tender, but a couple of things I learned—the marinade was probably too sugary which caused a lot of smoke, and the temperature has to be low and gradual because…well, it’s chicken.
Grilled Chicken

Indoor grilling should become more of a thing though, in my opinion. It’s not as much hassle as preparing a charcoal grill, and I like it because you can do it anytime of the year.
Grilled Chicken

And now for the desserts I promised. I worked real hard on this Honey Brick Toast, so pay attention—ha! This was popular a few years back, but I hate following trends so here I am right now. To me it’s timeless anyhow, and it’s the perfect way to build a crazy dessert using the basic white bread course on your breadmaker. What did one bread slice say to the other slice when they saw butter on the table? “Uh oh! We are toast.”
Honey Brick Toast

Bake your bread loaf first and cut out the cavity in the middle. Here’s how to do it in steps: 1. Cut the side walls but stop your knife about half-inch from the bottom. 2. Cut a slot about half-inch from the bottom but don’t go all the way to the edge. 3. Dig out the block of bread. 4. Cut the block into equally sized cubes.
Honey Brick Toast - How To

Generously butter everything and toast in your toaster oven—if you don’t have one, you have indeed been depriving yourself. Check out this one from Zojirushi.
Toast until golden

Load all the cubes into your brick and drizzle with honey.
Drizzle the toast with honey

Warning! This dessert requires a knife, fork and zero guilty conscience in order to eat.
Honey Brick Toast - Ready to Eat

Since we’re on a roll now and we love our Dad bods, my last one (mercifully) is this amazing looking fresh Plum & Peach Galette. Remember, it’s National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable month. Just get some ready made pie crust at the market and bake. Sprinkle powdered or crystal sugar if you like; there are plenty of ways to do it online.
Plum and Peach Galette

Before I sign off, I want to wish my daughter all the luck in the world as she moves on with this next phase of her life. You know what they say about the bond between fathers and daughters? It’s all true.
Bert and His Daughter at Graduation
One last one, I promise–What did baby corn say to momma corn? “Where’s popcorn?”

Products used in this post: Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-BDC10, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10, Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

Yasai Itame: Just One Cookbook

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Cinco de Mayo

My delicious Cinco de Mayo Mexican meal made with Zojirushi

My challenge for Cinco de Mayo—how many Zojirushi products can I use to cook a Mexican meal? Our dinner tonight was Shrimp Fajitas, Mexican Rice and Corn, which I made with our electric griddle and rice cooker. I set the timer on my breadmaker and baked some bread for the next day so we could have Molletes (Mexican toast) for brunch.

Mexican rice is a whole lot easier with a rice cooker. I found a good recipe that I’ll credit at the end of this post, but the beauty of using my Zojirushi Umami® Rice Cooker was that I could steam my corn at the same time! The ingredients just all go into the pot.
Cooking rice and steaming corn

Long grain rice works best for Mexican rice, so you get the fluffy texture without the stickiness. I used Basmati, which worked out perfectly, and cooked it on the Quick Jasmine menu setting. I don’t want to brag (yes, I do), but this was restaurant quality. So good.
Cooked Mexican rice

And here’s what I love about this rice cooker. The steaming basket gives you the opportunity to multi-task if you can think creatively. It’s just large enough to hold three ears of corn, so why not? They came out golden, didn’t they?
Steaming basket with delicious corn

Now on to the Fajitas. The shrimp is frozen, sure, but I used a Chinese restaurant technique that is supposed to firm up the shrimp and give them that snap and crunch when you bite into them. You’re supposed to coat the shrimp first in a mixture of sugar, salt and baking soda, then marinate them in a bath of ice water for a couple of hours. Rinse all of it off with cold water and drain before using. Guess what? It works! Look it up and see for yourself.

I did fajitas before on this blog, but I feel I didn’t get the results I could have because I used a packaged liquid sauce to season it. I mean, it was the only one that was labeled specifically for fajitas, so that’s what I got. But frying it all in liquid just made it too wet. This time I used a packet of ordinary powdered taco seasoning and sprinkled the shrimp with it. This electric griddle was made for dishes like fajitas.
Fajitas on the griddle

After mixing everything up, I even had room to fry some pineapples.
Fajitas closeup on the Zojirushi electric griddle

So have you ever had molletes, or Mexican bean toast? This was my first time, and I liked it! I figure it all starts with really good bread, so I made my own with the breadmaker. Kept it simple—I baked the basic Japanese white bread course because that’s my favorite and the easiest to bake. The advantage to this kind of bread is that you can load up the breadmaker the night before and set the timer to bake the next day—you don’t have to worry about perishable ingredients sitting in the machine. By mid-morning it was ready to cut into thick slices!
Perfect white bread

I made my own pico de gallo (salsa) with tomatoes, onions and cilantro; I used a can of refried beans and topped it off with some crumbled Mexican cheese. I toasted my bread but didn’t melt the cheese—the warm beans and toast combined with the fresh salsa was enough for me. This was good stuff! The thick toast was crisp and held everything together but was still tender and fluffy on the inside. Add some Tapatío® and you’re ready to go! And it looks good too, sí?
Molletes - mexican bean toast

That’s my Cinco de Mayo challenge—using as many of my Zojirushi products as I could. Lucky I love Mexican food! What are you all going to do?
Products used in this post: Umami® Micom Rice Cooker NL-GA10/18, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Rice Cooker Mexican Rice: Pinch and Swirl

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023