Saturday, August 29, 2009

conversations

This was apparently a recent conversation between Satoshi and his lunch group...

them: where are you going for your vacation?

him: palau

them: ooh, are you going hiking?

him: nope

them: ooh, are you going scuba diving?

him: nope

them: ooh, are you going to watch the dolphins?

him: nope

them: then you won't have anything to do there.

him: kat grew up in hawaii and she just wants to veg.

them: if you won't be doing anything, why are you going there?

him: actually, I chose the place, if she chose we would be going to paris or europe.

them: oh...

see you all in a couple of days...have a nice weekend!

p.s. before leaving satoshi mentioned that he had some bad news, we fly out of nagoya (NGO) instead of kansai (KIX) (takes about the same amount of time to get to nagoya airport (except we need to ride the shinkansen (bullet train), which the airlines is paying for too)), and they would upgrade us to business class?! so, we have to wake up a little early, but if that is bad news, I wonder what his good news would be?

p.p.s. all comments will be posted when we return!

Friday, August 28, 2009

things I'm liking (and disliking)

Let's start off with the disliking....Satoshi's nephew, he asked me to "help him" write his speech (in English) for class (he is in high school)....little did I know that "help" meant I would have to write the whole darn thing myself.

Late last Thursday night (the 20th), he faxed over the Japanese version, single spaced--lots of blackness with the kanji (chinese characters), I saw it in the fax machine and freaked, it was only 1 page, but total blackness...I showed the fax to Satoshi and he said "WT?"

He didn't even bother to call to see if I could read it or understood it (and why aren't we emailing me this so that I can just edit it and zoom it back over?)...oh, but writes on his fax that he needs it to be more than 600 words and back to him by Wednesday, the 26th. (ha!)

Since I cannot read many kanji, I ended up looking up each one that I didn't know in my kanji dictionary, which turned out to be almost all the kanji on his draft....dude! if you're gonna ask someone to "help you", at least have the decency to write your draft double spaced, so they can write their notes in between!

And if you really wanted to learn something from the assignment, maybe trying to write the draft in english yourself in the first place, to at least have TRIED, then have your aunty correct it (not have her write the whole thing)...sigh.

I asked Satoshi to read what I wrote to see if I caught all the nuances that his nephew had written. Satoshi said it was good. Of course, instead of faxing it off right after finishing it, I hopefully made him squirm and faxed it on the 25th, at the very last minute back to him (mean?? maybe??...not!)

UPDATE: I must've made him squirm because I got phone calls at two separate times during the day of the 25th from my MIL and BIL to check on my progress, oh, but not enough to warrant a phone call from the nephew. (and why are they calling me on the 25th, don't I have until the 26th?? as my family would say, "poor upbringing".)

Since it was a speech, I wonder if he had to read it in front of the class? THAT should be even more interesting since his topic was about nuclear arms...

Ugh, but enough of the disliking...let's move on to the liking...

Bollicine Pinot Chardonnay, a brut spumante from Italy, 11% alcohol, 200 ml, 470 yen (about US$4.70). Found this at Kaldi (Lalaport Koshien), when I was waiting for Satoshi, they have an extensive import wine/beer area, more about the beers I found there as we try them. I liked this, it was a little fruity but really dry, kinda reminded me of champagne.

Big Island Candies' mac nut crunchies...dark chocolate filled with mac nuts & crushed kettle chips...man, I dare you to stop at just a little piece.

Fauchon's Matcha Latte, this was a little sweet but not gritty like some matcha drinks I have tried.

Starbuck's Qandi Caramel, apparently this came out last year, but they re-did the packaging. I loved the slightly bitter caramel mixed with the coffee and a little sugar and milk.

Family Mart's mint chocolate drink...delicious! perfectly minty and chocolatey.

As for the planter garden, no bell peppers nor goya have been produced as of those photos I posted recently (insert pouty face), I think the evenings may be getting cooler, so it may be affecting them. Good news though, I threw some chili into a pot and it looks to be taking...we'll see what happens. (fingers crossed)

I had some eringi and kim chee in the refridge and made it into a frittatta...it came out pretty good. Chopped up the eringi and sauteed in some olive oil, then added two scrambled eggs and topped with kim chee. Then cooked on low for about 5 minutes, flipped it over and cooked for another 5....delicious!

Santero Asti Degli Angeli, a spumante from Italy...too sweet and fruity but had nice fizz/bubbles. 200 ml, 7.5% alcohol....480 yen (about US$4.80).

This shot from the peep hole in our door...loved the blue sky, fluffy clouds and "fish-eye" effect.

Been also enjoying lavender-honey ice cream. I used David Lebovitz's Philly recipe for vanilla ice cream (no egg) and fused it with his Lavender-Honey ice cream recipe...came out really good.

I didn't put as much lavender as his recipe called for (for fear of using all of what I had!), so the lavender flavor was faint but still delicious. I also used the honey I recently bought in Hawaii....I guess you could call it a Hawaiian lavender-honey ice cream (since both the lavender and honey were from Hawaii).

Boulangerie Monsieur H's anpan...when I first saw it in the box from my host-sister, it looked like a grey-ish english muffin, but when I cut it in half...joy! lots of tsubuan (chunky sweet bean paste) and nuts (macadamia, cashews), the outer bread was hard like baguette, but smelled like it may have been sourdough...toasted it was great without anything else on it.

Sorry this was such a long post...kinda cleaning out photos for the end of the month.

What are you liking/disliking?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

greedy piglet pancakes

My Flickr friend, Greedy Piglet, uploaded a very appetizing photo recently. She was also very kind to give her recipe for those delicious pancakes.

I tried the recipe but instead of adding blueberries to the batter, I garnished them with banana & some defrosted strawberry & blueberries. I also used olive oil instead of the butter, and also added a strip of bacon.

mmm.

p.s. her recipe makes about 7, 3-inch sized pancakes.

p.p.s. The recipe just in case it cannot be accessed:
Flour ... 100g
Sugar ... 20~30g
Baking-powder ... 5g
Egg ... 1 *@ room temperature
Milk ... 70g *@ room temperature
Butter ...10~20g *dissolve it by putting the bowl in hot water, or by microwave.

1, Mix & sift flour, baking-powder and sugar. Put them in a bowl (A).
2, Mix an egg, milk and melted butter (B).
3, Add (B) onto (A), mix them with a whipper. *add blueberries
4, Cook it in a frying-pan a.s.a.p.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

per caffe bianco

We visited Per Caffe Bianco the other night for dinner.

It was our first time there for dinner and there weren't many people, since it was a weeknight.

We ordered 1 dinner set 2480 yen (about US$24.80), this comes with an appetizer, choice of pasta or pizza, dessert and a drink.

We chose the assorted appetizers, fresh tomato pizza, sfogliatelle and cappuccino.

We also got an eggplant pasta 1150 yen (about US$11.50), a glass of spumante 600 yen (about US$6), a glass of beer 550 yen (about US$5.50) and a cup of coffee 400 yen (about US$4).

The assorted appetizers had a poached fig wrapped with proscuitto, some manila clams and caponata.

The pizza dough was chewy, with lots of tomatoes, some basil and some mozzarella, simple and delicious.

The pasta had 2 huge slices of eggplant, another simple yet delicious dish.

Dessert was delicious too. Served warm with almond paste with bits of candied orange as the filling and layers upon layers of puff pastry.

There was also a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some honey drizzled on the whole thing.

It went nicely with my cappuccino and Satoshi's coffee. It was a great night out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

kamizono

Near the Minoo station, there is a tiny restaurant called Kamizono, they prepare kateiryori (homestyle meals).

Amy of Blue Lotus, tried this place awhile back and I found out that Satoshi has been wanting to try this place for some time now.

The place only has about 15 seats, if you have a large party it is wise to call ahead.

We went for lunch and Satoshi chose the ebi fry (fried shrimp) set 1575 yen (about US$15.75), this came with 2 deep fried shrimp, and 5 kobachi (side dishes), miso soup and rice.

I chose the 6 kobachi lunch 1050 yen (about US$10.50), this came with 6 assorted side dishes, miso soup and rice.

Our meals also came with a little shot of coffee shokuzenshu (aperitif), brandy infused with coffee beans, different but delicious. I have had shokuzenshu made from ume (apricot), this was the first time with coffee.

One of the kobachi that I received with my meal was a homemade gomadofu (like soy bean curd but made with sesame), this was served warm. It was creamy and really delicious.

The wife of the chef was kind enough to give us different kobachi so that we could share and try different items. (I liked the kobachi I was served more than the ones that Satoshi was served, his had more mayonnaise-y types.)

After tasting so many different dishes, I was stuffed.

We were glad we tried this place and hope to go back again soon.

Kamizono
5-1 Minoo, Arcos Building 2F (UPDATE: as of 4/2012 they have moved to the 1st floor)
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.724.1897 (new phone number is now: 072.721.0524)

Monday, August 24, 2009

mini muffs

After seeing this sandwich on Rowena's blog, and realizing that I've never had it before, I set out to gather the ingredients to put one together.

Probably the hardest thing to find was the olive salad ingredients...after reading what she posted on her Flickr account, I thought I found something quite close to the flavor of her olive salad.

What I found was a can of mexican pickles...cornichons, carrots, pearl onions, sport peppers and olives stuffed with pimento preserved in vinegar, no sugar. The sport peppers add a zing to the pickle juice, thus giving all the pickles a zing. I rough chopped everything and put it into the sandwich as is, no doctoring.

Okay, so the second hardest thing was to get an assortment of cheeses. The only way I could do this was to buy 3 different cheeses and slice them up myself.

Not totally wanting to break the bank, I ended up getting an Iberico cheese (from Spain using a mixture of cow, goat and sheep's milk, often confused with manchego), Brie (it was on sale) & a processed smoked pepper cheese. The smoked pepper cheese was a disappointment as it wasn't knife friendly. The other 2 cheeses were perfect for this sandwich.

Next the meats...I found some Italian coppa, Milan salumi and a local ham.

I roasted red bell peppers and put half into the sandwich.

I also sliced and toasted a 3-inch round sesame bun.

Mini-muffuletta...not homemade like Rowena's nor economically savvy but really delicious! Of course with all that meat, I also served some veggie sticks. (Thanks Rowena!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

kyoto

Last Sunday was the end of Obon, we went early to visit with my MIL before going to an evening service.

Before lunch though, my MIL wanted help carrying some items to a nearby church, so we walked to a church near Satoshi's elementary to drop the items off. (photo of the classrooms)

Afterwards, we checked out his elementary (or what we could from the locked gates).

First off, part of the school had been turned into a day care for seniors. Since the population of children in the area has dropped drastically, the school wanted to make use of their facilities and rents (I think) it out to this senior care. (photo of the gym)

I was shocked to see how drab the buildings looked. Satoshi pointed out each building, of course, I was shocked to see their playground was just hardened sand/dirt, no grass.

I was also shocked to find out that they don't have a cafeteria to eat in, they have lunch served in their classrooms. Satoshi said that some days their lunch consisted of two slices of white bread and some curry. (He was very envious of my school lunch stories.) (photo of the administration/office)

Around the corner from his school is a tiny park, he said that afterschool until 16:30, they were allowed to play on campus, but after 16:30, they ran over to this park and played until dark.

I still cannot get over having these bars around the swing set, I mean, how could you jump off the swings to see who could jump off the farthest without hurting yourself on these bars??

Or this stone slide...that must do some damage on your clothes.

Satoshi was amazed that this "tunnel" was still around, he had lots of good memories here, his eyes lit up as he talked about them.

Though his school and park were different from what I grew up with, it was nice to be able to see them and hear all his stories.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

happy 50th!

Today is the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood, I'm sure there will be lots of celebrating...wish I was there. Here is a photo collage I put together from some of the many photos I have of things Hawaiian.

Happy 50th Hawaii! here's to another 50!

p.s. our new a/c has been installed (it took 2 hours!) at least we didn't have to pay for it because it was the unit that comes with the apartment (whew!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

things I'm liking (and disliking)

Here are some things I am liking (and disliking) this week...

So we can end on a good note, let's start with the things I am disliking...The new McFlurry...it is mint with oreo cookies but there is this really fluorescent blue goop that is mixed into the soft serve and doesn't taste minty at all...blah!

Another thing I am disliking is the fact that the a/c that came with our apartment is on the fritz...luckily, in another room we have the a/c that we brought with us to our apartment, only thing is that this room has no tv or access to the computer...sigh.

The super of our building says he will change the a/c for us either Friday or Saturday (yeah!), since the repair guy was asking for almost 100,000 yen (about US$1000), to fix the combuster. (yipes!)

Okay, let's move on to the liking...

Mariage Freres teas...Bolero (a flavored tea using fruits from the Mediterranean), Iskandar (a green floral tea with a hint of mint), Wedding Imperial (assam with caramel flavor). I received Wedding Imperial along with another flavored tea from my blog friend PT! (thank you!) I am enjoying these iced.

Starbucks' walnut fig pound cake...280 yen (about US$2.80). Moist with lots of fig and walnuts.

Macadamia nut pesto with Laughing cow cheese on Moisan's naturelle ficelle. Moisan, a well-known French bakery will be shutting its doors at the end of August, as the department store they are in (SOGO) will be closing. I recently went to pick up some poppy seed ficelle but they were out, so I got this and some hazelnut-walnut rolls instead.

Aoi mikan (green tangerine) from the looks of them they look unripened but when you cut them open they are bright orange! and so sweet too. We recently got 6 of them from my MIL and I squeezed them all for our breakfast the other day. About 3 was enough for a cup.

Boulangerie Monsieur H's breads...we recently received a boxful of assorted breads from my host-sister who lives near this bakery, I had these slices for lunch with some cheese....look at all those dried fruits and nuts! (Thank you!)

Pierre Marcolini's biscuits...we also received these huge biscuits from my host-brother's wife...chocolate chip cookies with ginger infused chocolate in the center...mmm! (Thank you!)

What are you liking (disliking) this week?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

jammin'

I recently saw containers of figs at the supermarket.

Last year when I ran into them at the market, it was the middle of September...the figs seem to be a bit early this year, so I bought a container at 398 yen (about US$3.98) for about a pound of figs and made a batch of fig jam.

After making the first batch, I remembered how great this recipe turned out and wanted to make more, so the next day, I went back to the market and bought 2 more containers for the same price.

Luckily I had enough bottles....I made a total of 10 from the 2 batches.

I hope my family and friends will enjoy them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

greek nachos

I first learned about Greek Nachos on Photograzing...when I saw this photo.

We love nachos, and I really like greek flavors, so I had to try this.

I watched the video of Mark Bittman cooking these nachos...he doesn't give many measurements, so I took down just the ingredients that I needed to make this and ad-libbed.

Here is what I came up with....

Greek Nachos adapted from Mark Bittman, Serves 2

Seasoned meat:
scant 1/2 pound lamb (200 grams), ground
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sauce:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 lemon juiced
rind of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Toppings:
tomatoes, diced
cucumber, diced
feta cheese, olives

Chips:
2 pita cut into 8ths, baked at 220C (425F) for 10 minutes.

Cook your ground lamb with oil,cumin and onions until lamb is cooked through. Put aside.

Whiz yogurt, mint, lemon, rind, cheese, oil & cumin until combined.

Layer pita with lamb, drizzle with yogurt sauce then top with tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olives.

NOTES: I didn't layer everything onto the pita chips, but instead served the pita on the side.

Since the market I went to only had cuts of lamb, I ground mine up in my food processor. Also, since I couldn't find fresh mint, I bought dried peppermint and used this in the sauce.

I loved the yogurt sauce, it has a really bright flavor and think this could be served with veggie sticks too. (UPDATE: I had a little leftover sauce and it was good with veggie sticks)

The person who posted their photo on photograzing also made their own pita, I should try that too some time.

It was different from the goopy "fake" cheese nachos that we know (and secretly love), but this was definitely more healthy and delicious!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

koshien

The summer series for highschool baseball is going on right now. Usually a whole town stops to watch their school play. The television coverage of high school baseball is, in my opinion, better than when they show professional baseball...why? they show the whole game.

Whenever you watch professional baseball (Japan's major league), chances are that if the game runs past 9-ish at night you will not see the end of the game, sponsors and advertising seem to control what can be shown and for how long.

Satoshi always says, "this would never fly in America". My MIL (another baseball fan) says, "they should show the last couple innings of the game rather than the beginning.

Oh and if the pro baseball game is tied, they will only play up to 12 innings, if after 12 innings it is still tied, the stats end as a tie. Not like the fight to the death style of the MLB where a tied game can go many, many innings until a winner is declared.

Anyway, getting back to high school baseball, they have a spring tournament and summer tournament to determine who is the best in Japan. Apparently for the spring tournament the amount of participating teams is less than the summer. Summer has 49 teams vying for the title.

Though the Spring tournament is not as pronounced, it is still an honor just the same to play.

So, we went to Koshien (the stadium that holds the tournament, which is also the stadium for the Hanshin Tigers), this past Saturday.

This year was the 91st tournament (I think the only time they did not have this was during WWII).

Everyday, for 14 days, there are about 4 games played...that is a LOT of baseball.

When we arrived, there was an announcement that all seats at the stadium were filled, still it didn't stop people from sitting on the stairs (talk about fire hazard!) in the outfield.

The outfield seats were free, which is probably why there were tons of people...

Since I didn't want to bake in the sun, I told Satoshi to go ahead and watch the games...and headed across the street to Lalaport Koshien (a mall).

From the entrance it looked like a small place, but inside, the mall turned out to be really long. It only had 2 floors but walking the mall for two hours took its toll on my feet!

At about noon, Satoshi came out for lunch. We bought some items from Itoyokado (a supermarket), then sat outside the stadium and ate.

While eating, we ran into an older alumni of Satoshi's university baseball team, who kindly gave us tickets to sit near 3rd base. (Thank you!)

Satoshi was very happy, I wasn't because we still had to sit in the sun. The seats were REALLY close together too. You can see a photo of my legs near the back of the people in front of us.

Many people were burnt, fire engine red! (see the man in the red shorts??)

There is a special item only sold during the summers at Koshien called kachiwari, this is a bag of ice, 200 yen (about US$2), open the bag, stick in the straw you are given and suck up the cool water. While you are waiting for the ice to melt, the bag will keep you cool too.

This turned out to be a great buy, it took over an hour for the ice to melt.

And if you thought that the cheering for pro baseball was wild, the highschool baseball cheering is just as loud and crazy.

The area we were sitting in, was a cheering section for a team, who, unfortunately lost their game.

After a game is played, both teams bow to each other to thank each other for the game, then the school song of the winning team is played.

Then both teams go to an area on the field to scoop up dirt from the field as a souvenir of the game. Usually the losing team cries as they scoop up their dirt.

Some say that the dirt is sprinkled on their home field to wish them luck for next year's tournaments. Others say that the dirt is kept in bottles as reminders of their experiences. Whatever they do with them I think the overall experience is a good way to bring the community and team members closer.

Saturday's breakfast was a salad marinade muffin at McDonald's...bacon, a slice of cheese and veggies marinated in Italian dressing on an english muffin...not too heavy like some of their other breakfast items...230 yen (about US$2.30)

Dinner was a shared Anchor Porter...a dark beer from San Francisco, 355 ml, 5.6% alcohol...385 yen (about US$3.85). This wasn't smoky but it was good.

and Greek Nachos...recipe to be posted soon.

Fireworks...we could see the Inagawa Fireworks show from our apartment (between two light poles).

How was your weekend?

Monday, August 17, 2009

cool

Saw this on a commercial...make some somen then chill it.

The best way to chill it is, after cooking the somen, rinse it in some ice water. If you chill it in the refridge, you'll end up with a clump of somen...not pretty, plus you'll still need to use water to separate it.

In a bowl, top your somen with some shiofuki konbu (seaweed that is seasoned then dried), some green onion (I added chopped okra because I didn't have green onion), and if you have some shaved bonito add some of that too (I was too lazy to look for some in my pantry).

Then for the "soup", add some chilled mugicha (barley tea), I used some chilled bancha (roasted green tea).

When the shiofuki konbu mixes with the tea, it gives just enough saltiness to the dish.

Simple, cool...lunch!