Little things

Christmas Potluck Party
Christmas Potluck Party

I joined a small cooking class in the neighborhood and they had a Christmas potluck party yesterday. I always got nervous whenever I have to meet people, and this time I had to make something edible for them! The fact that my skill in the kitchen is not something to be proud of didn’t help either. So I spent the whole week getting nervous about it.

I ended up making sweet Indonesian (Javanese) dessert called ‘Jenang Grendul’, it is one of my favorite food when I was a kid. This dessert is some kind of sweet porridge with little balls made of rice flour and mochi flour cooked in coconut sugar and pandan leaves, served with coconut milk sauce. It was a success! Everybody loved it but nobody could pronounce the name right. Sidra really liked it too and was sulking when he found out that the big pot of dessert was no longer there when he got back from school. I ended up making some more for him, using up my precious stash of coconut sugar.

Jenang Grendul
Jenang Grendul

There were mostly elderly women in the cooking class, and all of them were very nice to me, curiously asking about my country and getting all excited about, well, having a foreigner in the class. But as much as I love seeing them, I’m glad that the party was over. Meeting lots of people at the same time always makes me feeling so drained out that I need a few days break from anybody afterwards. It’s an amazing thing that I could survive working in fashion magazines for almost ten years when I was in Indonesia.

Hand warmers
Hand warmers

Anyway, this morning I stumbled across this post in No Big Dill, talking about rice-filled hand warmer. Born a tropical creature, I’m not equipped with any useful knowledge about surviving winter, so I’ve never heard such thing as rice-filled hand warmer. I told my husband that I was going to make them, and although he’s been living in Japan for 11 years, he has never heard of them either. I tried to explain it to him.

“It’s like small pillows, and we fill them with rice. Then we put them in the microwave for a minute or so.”

“And then you eat the rice?”


After he left for the office, I went ahead and made a pair of small cases from linen fabrics. I ran out of rice, so I used some leftover red beans from Sidra’s science project. Then I made covers for the small bags with some nani IRO linen with blue flowers pattern. The finished size is about 11×22 cm.

I put them in microwave for about 2 minutes and began putting them on my hand and neck. Ooooh! How come I hadn’t come across something like these before? They are so perfect! The heat was a bit moist and stayed longer that I had expected. The beans inside made them felt so comfortable on my skin. I’m going to make bigger ones! For my feet, for my back, for my neck! Hurray to some winter skill!

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  • The jenang grendul is also know as “Puteri Mandi” at my place, and normally we add in brown sugar… yumyum.. my favourite..

  • What a cool idea to make rice hand-warmers! I’ve got big ones for neck and shoulders, but I’ve never seen little ones before. They are pretty much the best invention ever, especially because you can make them yourself. They are also really great for muscle pain, like after shoveling snow from the sidewalk.

  • shantel

    I am from the US and I just love your site! It is so calming to read what you have done and not see TONS of tutorials, although I like those too 🙂
    I used to live where it snowed 9 months out of the year and never got very hot in the summer, I wish I would have made these when I lived there!

  • We have those rice warmers here too. I live in New Jersey so winters are pretty cold (like 3 blizzards last year cold) If you make a big one, but with multiple sections, you can heat it up and stick it in your bed on cold nights. Thats what I do!

  • carina


  • The rice-filled hand warmer start being a hit in Israel few years ago. They are not actually field with rice but with beans, as you made them.
    Try making them in animal shapes, these warming “toys” are great for kids, and can be a wonderful present…

  • Oh, you could put ears and faces on the rice bags for Sidra 🙂

    The desert looks wonderful, I’m glad all went well for your pot luck party.

  • That dessert looks so good. I have been making rice warmers like that for a while to keep me warm in bed. here is a trick, stir a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon in with the rice before filling it up. Every time you heat it it will smell like cinnamon.

  • I truly envy you living in such an awesome place.
    I live in Poland and trust me it’s not fun at all when you have been having snow storms for the past 2 weeks and the next 3 months ain’t gonna be any different.
    I wish I could attend such nice cooking classes too!

  • mardi

    I know just what you mean about being with lots of unfamiliar people. I have the same week-long dread before hand and am exhausted after and want to go into hibernation. It is just so draining. I am sure some people thrive on being with other people regularly, and some (like me) love being in my own cocoon with my partner and kids,doing my own thing and catching up with a close friend every now and then.Of course I try to socialize to overcome these fears but sometimes I wonder “do i really have to? Is there anything wrong with liking my own company and not wanting socialize so much? In saying that, I do like the idea of a local cooking group.Sounds really nice. I also like older people.I feel there is less pressure to present myself in some way.Good for you for putting yourself out there. x

    • verypurpleperson

      Sounds familiar! My husband and I are similar, it’s not that we don’t like meeting people, but we always got nervous before and got so tired afterwards. While my son is such a social butterfly, he would jump on every opportunity to meet people and his friends hang out regularly in our house. He often gives me ‘tips’ on how to be more sociable, like ‘Don’t be shy, Mama, just ask them to play with you.’ (-_-)

      I used to have a job where I had to constantly meeting new people in intense situation (because of deadlines in magazines), I didn’t like the socializing part but it made me know myself better. I think there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to socialize so much, as long as we’re happy and have enough social interaction to make life easier. I have came to realize that everyone is different 🙂

  • Glad the potluck was successful! The neck warmers are soo useful and pretty too!

    • verypurpleperson

      Thank you Curry! I’m so relieved about the party 🙂

  • ohh i’m glad your potluck was a success! the rice warmers are fun, i’m going to make some for family members for xmas but as neck warmers. you can put little dashes of peppermint or lavender in them for fragrance. i live on the east coast (where it is really cold right now) of the us – grew up here but lived on the west coast and my boyfriend is from there… i just taught him about taping plastic over the windows to keep the house warmer (it keeps the wind from coming in as much) and he had a similar response as your husband “i’ve never heard of that. i always thought windows would just be cold” hehe.

    • verypurpleperson

      Taping plastic over the window? I should try that too!
      And I thought windows would just be cold 😛

  • dian

    jenang grendul, jajanan favoritku juga Mbak 🙂
    jadi pengen bikin, slurrpppp…

    • verypurpleperson

      Waah memang enak yah, apalagi bikinnya juga mudah 🙂

  • I just made something similar, filled with wheat grain and lavender… they are so cosy!

    • verypurpleperson

      They are cozy indeed! I showed them to my son and he loved them too. I really should make more 🙂

  • I love little heat packs like that! They are also good in the summer if you put them in the refrigerator. In my yoga class the teacher had some that were scented with lavender and chamomile that we would put over our eyes during meditation.. sooo relaxing.

    • verypurpleperson

      Oh thank you so much for the tip! The chamomile sounds really nice!

  • wow, I had never used such thing. But it seems really comfy. Hope your husband doesn’t open and eat them:P It can also be emergency food for earthquakes:D

    Cooking class seems so much fun! I hope to taste some of your yummy dish again:)

    • verypurpleperson

      That’s a good idea of using them for emergency food storage! Maybe I should make one in pillow size 😛
      The cooking class sessions are arranged in the teacher’s house, and elderly American woman with a Japanese translator. But they are American cooking, not Japanese cooking. I would love to learn some Japanese cooking too ^_^

  • hajimemashite! watashi wa carney desu 🙂 (i take japanese in school)

    oh! i had to use these after a surgery once… but mine were socks full of rice! yours are much prettier — i can’t believe you’d never heard of them!

    ‘and then you eat the rice?’ <3 that's hilarious.

    • verypurpleperson

      Hajimemashite! ^_^
      Yes it was the first time I ever heard of them, and I love them! In microwave, they smell like I’m cooking something, I didn’t expect that 😀