RSS

Tag Archives: tips

Pão de Queijo / Brazilian Cheese Puffs / Crack Balls – Recipe and Methods

Preface
This recipe is good as a dinner roll or carb loading snack for those who have gluten sensitivity as it doesn’t use flour: it uses Tapioca starch. It also seems to sit fine with people who are lactose intolerant.  All of the people with a non-severe lactose intolrance or sensitivity I know have walked away fine after consuming more than just two or three of these puffs despite the inclusion of cheese and milk in the recipe. It doesn’t make too huge of a difference compared to 2%, but I use whole milk which has more fat and a fraction lower amount of lactose. Unfortunately, tapioca starch has a high glycemic index, so those who are diabetic should not consume too many.  Better yet, don’t let them have any at all. These cheese puffs  are like pringles, you can’t have just one…

Feel free to skip this intro section if you just want the “what” (ingredients) and “how to” (methods). I will be updating this periodically as I repeat and fall upon tweaks that bring me closer to my goal.

I normally wouldn’t post this because the product I create is not perfect every run yet (the inside is not as hollow as i would like sometimes). However, a couple friends (who have not had the real thing) had been requesting that I bring it for the holiday parties, as well as give a recipe so I obliged. I think that the product that I create now is already pretty sweet, enough to share, so prepare to dig in.

I first had Brazilian Cheese Puffs at Agora Churrascaria, a Brazilian steak house, and became so enamored with them, I had a chat with the general manager about the literal, little balls of joy. I went home still obsessed so i hopped online that night and began looking for recipes. I found a couple that call for more or less the same, ingredients-wise, but the proportions I’ve had the most success with came from following TheKitchn, with a few modifications.

I followed the recipe and methods to the T the first couple of times I tried it. However I ended up with a semi different version of my own because it always came out wrong/weird if I followed it exactly (see “Notes” section). I will also be explaining steps as I go along. The primary directions will be in the main bullets. Explanations and clarifications will be in lesser bullets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Exotics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ordering on CDJapan: Experience + Insight

CDJapan.com is a legit website, despite how sketchy the layout looks. Its layout + design are more than a little outdated but i put up with it just fine because stuff listed on there doesn’t have the markup of American retailers. If the currency exchange rate is in your favor? Even better! Forget Beautylish. If you’re in the USA, get your Chikuhodo’s here. Pretty much all of my Japanese made brushes (except Hakuhodo’s) have come from this site. Note: I regularly update this to add details or do revising as things change.

The best part of CDJapan is the fact that I don’t have to pay the 8% sales tax! I only pay for the brushes and shipping, and sometimes, I don’t even pay shipping (more on that later).

One of the biggest things that stopped me from making my first order was fear of customs. I spent quite a bit of time lurking in the Smutville forums (their name for it, not mine) and was reading horror stories of exorbitant customs taxes having to be paid as ransom to receive the package. After reading through this thread, I felt a lot better and went ahead, made a CDJapan account and proceeded with the brush to checkout. I did talk to other ppl first of course. Everyone told me: ship EMS, don’t do FexEx (again more on that later).

CDJapan was (maybe still is?) running a newbie promotion where 300 rewards points are applied to the account, just for joining. Their rewards point works like Ulta’s, you can redeem them, applying them to your cart like cash to lower your total so it’s essentially a rebate. I promptly applied the pleasant surprise towards the purchase and got 300 yen taken off my bill (a little less than $3 at that time). The smallest of dents, but a nice gesture none the less.

Their rewards system gives you three ways of earning points with ever order. Full information here, but i’ll summarize it for the lazy.

You get 3% of your item’s purchase price back as points unless otherwise stated. Sometimes, special items will have 5% or 10% back.  You’ll have to check the individual items listings. 1 point = 1 yen off your future order(s) if you apply it. These points are valid for 1 year. You do not get %-back points if you pay for your order with Paypal or completely with rewards points.

In addition to the percentage of the item price back as points, if you order total before shipping  is over a certain amount you get bonus points.

  • 300 bonus points for orders over 5,000 yen (6%),
  • 500 bonus points for purchases over 10,000 (5%).
  • 600 bonus points for purchases over 20,000 (3%)
  • 700 bonus points for purchases over 30,000 (2.3%)
  • 800 bonus points for all purchases above 50,000 (1.6%)

For some reason, the bonus goes DOWN with the more you buy. Makes no sense to me but hey, I’m not the one calling the shots. Ideally, you’ll want to load you cart up as close to 5,000 or 10,000 yen as you can. Sometimes, they’ll run a promo where they’ll double the amount of bonus points you earn and you can be alerted to these periods by signing up for their email alerts which honestly aren’t spammy at all… just ugly and all text. Anyways, these order bonus points are granted the day your package ships out and  expire in a year from that day.

They also award additional points quarterly – Jan:March, April:June, July:Sept, Oct:Dec. The amount you get depends on how much you spent during that quarter

  • 500 points for 20,000 yen spent (2.5%)
  • 700 points for 30,000 yen spent (2.3%)
  • 1,000 for 50,000 yen or more yen spent (2%)

Again the amount decreases with the more you spend. It’s almost like they don’t want your money! What an awesome company. They’re worried about your wallet’s health. /s. These additional points are good for 3 months (until the next quarter) and they’ll warn you by the email you have linked to your account when points are close to expiring.

Another way to earn points if by reviewing items of a certain brand when they run a promotion. For example, here is one such promotion. Normally you can only earn up to 1,000 points or around 10 USD. These last for a year before they expire.

Okay, now the account has been made, stuff has been added to the cart. Check out is easy, responsive, and most importantly (for me) in English. You get to select your shipping option, redeem your points if you so wish, and maybe gift wrap your package for an extra little fee.  It takes usually less than half a minute for them to confirm your payment method. Happily, I’ve never had time-outs or anxiety inducing lag when checking out. Within minutes of placing my orders, I receive a confirmation email.

If the item’s listing description reads “in-stock” the item will usually ship out within 1-2 days of order placement. Without fail, within 48 hours, i will receive an email saying that my package had shipped out. If you have a mistake in your order, try to send a correction email to their customer service within 24 hours of placing your order clearly detailing what changes you want made; make their CS team’s life a little easier by including your order ID. If you alert them of changes or mistakes within 24 hours, it will almost be guaranteed that they will be able to change your order (because it hasn’t shipped out yet) and shuffle the appropriate money around.

The exception is if you pay for the whole order in points – which i have done for the shits and giggles  for science. (That fact alone should give you an idea of how much I’ve shopped at and spent on CDJapan. Spoiler alert, i like it very much.)  I tried amending my order by email almost right after i placed it – to add something – and they replied back saying  that it couldn’t be done because trying to change an order paid for entirely in points would fuck up the payment processing programming beyond belief, which would cause the mainframe to catastrophically blow up and leave a smoking crater in the Earth. RIP CDJapan. Kidding about the latter part.

If the item is not in stock it will give you an estimate, usually something along the lines of “ships out in blank to blank # of weeks”. When the item finally does ship with the whole package order, you will get the notification. I recently ordered something that had a 2-4 week estimate. To my surprise, i got a email a little over a week after i placed a order saying that it had been shipped out! The same happened with several other orders containing items that weren’t in stock. However, another person i know had a 2-3 month estimated wait. She really did have to wait 2 months.

The “package has shipped out email” also comes with the notification that my account has been credited with the reward points for my purchase. If credit card is used as the mode of payment, and the card will not be charged until the product shipped. The exchange rate shifts daily and that means that sometimes, i pay a few cents less than i had expected, other times, i pay a few cents more. I believe that if you use PayPal, your account will be charged at the time of purchase. Do note again that Paypal paid orders do not reap %-back reward points but you do get order-total bonus points.

As far as the packaging goes, i have had nothing to complain about though environmentalists may be crying in rage. I’ve have had “fragile” eye shadows and blushes arrive with less padding. CDJapan takes shipping seriously! They treat your merchandise like royalty and package stuff in a box that’s 3 times the size of your item with lots of paper.

People do generally recommend EMS as the shipper but i have used Air Mail since my first order with no issue. I live in a nicer area with a reliable mail person (Hi, Mary!) so I’m not particularly worried about packages going poof or getting delivered to the neighbor or next block over. If you local mail service has been known to mess up a lot (deliver to similar but wrong address down the street, for example) get tracked shipping or have it sent to where you work if your workplace is chill. I originally chose Air Mail because it was cheaper and continue to use it because it is cheap and stuff arrives in a reasonable amount of time (anything over two weeks i am not okay with, no matter how cheap the shipping method is). 😛 Also, it doesn’t require signature. I am perpetually never at home to sign for things when they get delivered and I don’t like going to the post office to rescue packages. My cheapness and laziness  better not come back and bite me in the ass.

Anyways, the description for AirMail says 4-12 days. I live in Southern California and i usually receive my package in the late afternoon, 4-7 business days after being notified that it has shipped. The longest it has taken was 9 days. Side note for the maple people: someone in Canada uses EMS and has never had to pay customs on a package so use EMS for security, and use AirMail if you’re cheap and don’t easily get heart attacks if your package is a little late like AirMail is once in a while.

I’m frankly not impressed with EMS, it takes a norm of 7-9 days after the shipped-out notification for the package to arrive. The longest was 14 days! (that number was not included in the average because it was such an outlier value.) I watched that package sit at one location for 5 days before it moved on.  Thank god i got to watch it through tracking or i would have thought it had gotten lost for sure. EMS rates have also gone up recently so i wouldn’t use EMS myself unless there was a free shipping promotion… which there perpetually is on brush order over 12,000 yen. Free shipping promotions used to pop up twice a year and run for a few months at a time though the latest one (info here) seems to be running year long. **Edit June 5, 2016: Oh hey waddaya know. My latest package reached me in 4 days after the ship out notice! Still a pain in the ass because I have to wait two more days before i can go to the post office to pick it up because of schedule and PO time conflicts.

NEVER use FedEx. They’ll likely hold your package and interrogate you on its contents. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your product late and won’t be charged a fee for wasting their time (also known as a service fee). At worst, they will confiscate your whole package and toss it because it contains an item it is not supposed to. *coughFish&WildlifeServicecoughkolinskybancough*

Edit Nov 26: CDJapan has sent the following notice in regards to shipping during shopping rush season:

Please note that packages shipped in November and December will take extra 2-4 weeks for delivery for Air Mail and SAL due to Holiday season and in response to recent worldwide incidents. For this time of the year, we strongly recommend EMS and FedEx.

A couple days after i receive my packages, i will get an email with a customer satisfaction and comments survey. The first time the survey is filled out, it grants 500 reward points. Each order survey after the first one grant 50 points.

So far i only have experience ordering brushes and miscellaneous beauty supplies, though they offer a ton of other stuff like CD’s (it’s in the name), calendars, tea, makeup and cookware. All in all, I am a very happy customer. I will happily gobble up any brushes that CDJapan throws at me, though my wallet will cry.

Their customer service is usually quick to respond the handful of times I’ve contacted them. If they don’t respond within 48 hours they’ll usually tell you that your message got “sent to spam”. I’m pretty sure that means they opened your email then forgot about it, so just send another followup  to prod them if it’s been a couple days. I’ve had a faulty product issue come up once and it took about a week to resolve because they had to contact the supplier. They kept me updated every step of the way though.

The only pain in the ass part of dealing with CDJapan will only crop up when you want to exchange or return things. I’ve only had to exchange something once and it took 5 weeks  to resolve from start to finish as the following things had to happen:

  1. I email CDJapan customer service  with pics saying that i believe the item ‘s not up to par (Jan 11, 2016)
  2. CDJapan replies back with the usual “we are so sorry,” and asks for more pics  to send to the manufacturer to check that the condition of my item is not normal.  (Jan 11, 2016)
  3. manufacturer emails them back saying, “nope that’s not supposed to happen, send that baby back.” And they prepare to send a replacement to CDJapan to send to me once they get the defective item back. (Jan 13, 2016)
  4. i get a return merchandise authorization # from CDJapan and pay for shipping back to Japan, keeping a copy of the receipt, which i take a pic of and send to CDJapan. (Jan 18, 2016)
  5. CDJapan receives the returned item and credits my account with points as reimbursement for the shipping-back cost using the exchange rate for that day. (Feb 4, 2016)
  6. CDJapan sends the item to the manufacturer for them to confirm the specimen’s condition is faulty
  7. Manufacturer gives the okay to release the replacement item to me in a newly created  order. It gets packed and shipped free of charge to me by CDJapan (Feb 5, 2016)
  8. I finally get my replacement and go to bed snuggling it. (Feb 14, 2016)

If you believe something to be defective, document EVERY aspect of it from the beginning and be as detailed as possible. The more paranoid you are (aka the more pictures you take) the better. Keep every single hair that is shed, even if it means having stick all the fallen hairs to a piece of tape because it will be useful during the picture verification stage.  I’ve never returned something outright but i imagine it’s a pain in the butt because they only accept returns on brand new items. oh, and you have to pay shipping back.

Last thing: I recommend signing up for their email alerts. Though for some reason, announcement usually don’t hit my inbox until two days after the release.

Have your own experiences from shopping with CDJapan or live in other parts of the world and wanna chime in about shipping times/advice? Tell me about them in the comments below!

  • Another CDJapan exchange experience! (reposted with permission, edited slightly)

I ordered a Koyudo Fuwafuwa during the ongoing 20% off sale (Nov – Dec 2016). I ordered just a bit over the free shipping minimum and received my items (FuwaFuwa and another T-7) extremely quickly.

It’s been a couple weeks since I started using my FWFW and I’ve been noticing a bit of shedding every time I use it (3-5 hairs every morning, though they were not long enough to have been coming out from the ferrule; still feels like a fricking pillow though, even if it gets hairs on my face). I understand when a brush is first put into use, it sheds a bit and then gradually “stops”. I don’t consider myself a fude master (more like noob; been in the game for like a year or two), so I shot cdJapan an email asking about the shedding.

I received an email back in ~24hrs (shout out to Yukari) asking for photos to see the condition of my FWFW. I sent her a couple pictures of the brush head (still densely packed; about 20 hairs had fallen out at that point) and the hairs that had fallen out that morning. Within a couple hours, they replied back with a replacement order (so apparently it wasn’t normal even though they were shorter hairs?) It was amazingly quick considering the time difference (and that I often don’t experience that sort of service here in the US).

Replacement item was received on December 11, 2016

 
13 Comments

Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Brush Reviews, On the Fence, Shopping Site Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,