Wednesday, December 31, 2014

thank you

We're back from Nagasaki. We had braced ourselves for rain for the bulk of our trip but lucked out with great weather the whole time!

I need to sort out photos and stuff, so I'll probably post about this adventure when things settle down after the New Year.

Thank you for a great year! I appreciate your comments, feedback, emails and messages.

I hope you got to do everything you wanted to this year.

May every day of the new year be filled with delicious adventures, good health and lots of happiness.

Take care and talk to you in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

books 2014

1. Will Ferguson "Hokkaido Highway Blues"
2. David Lebovitz "The Sweet Life in Paris"
3. Michele Anna Jordan & Susan Brady "The World is a Kitchen"
4. Herman Koch "The Dinner"
5. Julie Otsuka "When the Emperor was Divine"
6. Diana Abu-Jaber "The Language of Baklava"
7. Natasha Yim "Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas"
8. John and Jan Belleme "Japanese Foods That Heal"
9. Erica Bauermeister "The Lost Art of Mixing"

Not many books read this year (was too busy playing games on my phone), was there anything special you read this year? Please share in the comments.

Monday, December 29, 2014

10 photos

I started doing "10 photos" back in 2008 as a meme.

Nowadays, I do it as a way to look back on the different first experiences I've had in the kitchen over the year.

Making char siu from scratch was fun and close to what I grew up with in Hawaii (without all the red dye).

A re-creation of Off the Wall's shoyu pork pasta was delicious!

Kodomo yoshoku is great with beer and super easy to make!

Cabbage Mochi was another easy dish that goes great with beer!

Roca's kiriboshi daikon mustard salad changed my impression of kiriboshi daikon.

Shoyu Butter Corn Yakionigiri, a brilliant recipe from one of our favorite shows "Sarameshi".

My first book review lead me to try the author's recipe for Glazed Acorn Squash. This is perfect for the holidays!

This colorful salad has lots of bright flavor, like the "sun"

Did you have a favorite that wasn't listed? Tell me about it in the comments.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Wanted to share this very cute ornament with you.

My Twitter friend, Lily made it. You can actually put a finger in it!

Her card was cute too, it looked like an origami envelope, and when you opened it, there was actually a message in it.

Too cute, thank you!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

happy holidays

At this moment, we're galavanting somewhere (the weather doesn't look too good though)...

I have some posts lined up (if you have some time to read them)...

only 4 more days until the end of 2014! are you ready?!

Friday, December 26, 2014

stash (part 2)

This is the other part of my "stash" of chocolates that I brought back from Hawaii this past summer.

All sorts from Chuao.

My favorite was the Popcorn Pop...this one surprised me, I thought it would have popcorn in it but it had corn chips in it. Salty-sweet!

My second favorite was the Potato Chip...this one was packed with crunchy kettle chip bits. Another salty-sweet combo!

I've tried the Firecracker before, this one is still fun with the popping candy in it.

Ravishing Rocky Road would've been better had the marshmallows been softer, at least they weren't styrofoam-ish.

The ones that were most disappointing was the Maple bacon...(what bacon?!) little to none if you ask me and the Honeycomb (bits of caramelized honey).

Even with hits and misses, I'm glad I got to try these.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

merry christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope Santa brought all that you hoped for.

I bought us this assortment from Kiuchi Brewery, makers of Hitachino beers...Real ginger ale, Daidai IPA, Shuwashuwa umeshu (fizzy apricot wine), classic Japanese ale & Red Rice ale...we'll probably start tasting a couple of these tonight.

Christmas eve was an assortment of nibbles...veggies with bagna cauda sauce, kamaboko dip with ritz crackers and karaage (fried chicken).

I also had a glass of prosecco.

This morning, we traded gifts and Satoshi went off to work. Low-key Christmas as usual. I can't believe that 2014 is almost over.

We appreciate all the cards and messages from family and friends! (Thank you!)

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Yesterday was a holiday, the Emperor's birthday. We did our O-soji (cleaning for the new year)

Then we headed to Umeda for lunch and went to see "The Vancouver Asahi", a film about immigrant Japanese in Canada who found baseball as an outlet to overcoming many struggles.

The beginning was a bit slow but the rest of the film was good. Reminded me of when we researched my ancestors' roots.

After the movie we caught part of the sunset mixed in with some Christmas illumination.

And since Satoshi and I would be able to have dinner together, (usually during the week we don't), we bought some Christmas cakes to have with dinner.

Apparently, everyone and their uncle had the same idea as the food floor of the department store was krazy!

These were from Arrow Tree, they use lots of fruits, the one in the front is a strawberry mont blanc (yellow sponge cake, whipped cream and a huge strawberry in the middle), the one in the back is a strawberry pannecotta (custard, strawberry mousse and lots of berries)...both 1581 yen for the two (tax included). We enjoyed both, not too sweet and lots of fruit.

It's the day before Christmas, I hope Santa brings everything you wish for...Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

pop gourmet popcorn

I talked about POP Gourmet Popcorn awhile back when I tried their Rogue Blue Cheese

Since then, I also tried their Cascade Mix...caramel and cheese...this one was so-so. Something didn't quite match, dunno if it was the caramel or the cheese.

On the other hand, their Almond Roca was fabulous! I loved the toffee coating and would get this one again!

Downer about their garlic parmesan...bitter bits of burnt garlic...blah!

I love to snack on popcorn, but these were hits and misses...

Monday, December 22, 2014

coutume café

Saturday, I checked out Coutume Café.

The original shop is in Paris.

Arriving there at about 9-ish, there were a few customers having coffee, some having breakfast.

I ordered a Steampunk...380 yen (tax included)

A steampunk is a crazy siphon looking thingy...if you are interested, you can read up on it here.

After ordering, I was given a number, I found a place to sit and waited.

A couple came in after me and ordered their breakfast....

They had also ordered a steampunk...I watched as they were served BEFORE me...

The server realized he bypassed me and apologized...had it actually been "busy" I probably would be more forgiving...

So, how was the coffee?

It was good.

The beans used were called Las Hojas (Acatenango) from Guatemala. Delicate, fruity.

Would I go back? Meh, probably not. If you'd like to check them out, here is their info.

Coutume Café (UPDATE: 2018 closed)
Diamor B1F
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6348.4630
Hours: 7:30-22:00, open when Diamor is

Sunday, December 21, 2014


The other day, I did something scary...

I intended to steam some broccoli.

So, I put the steamer basket into a pot, put the broccoli in and turned on the heat.

I put the timer on and started to put some dishes away.

The pot started to make a weird noise and when I looked at the flame it was green.

Emerald green.

I thought it was kinda weird because the flame is usually blue and whenever there is water on the pot, the flame turns orangey.

Then I realized I hadn't put any water into the pot.

I turned the heat off and put some water into the pot. Steam immediately rose up.

Did you know that the green flame is whenever copper is burning? I found out after.

I'm glad I didn't cause a fire. And thankful for whomever is watching over me. (Thank you!)

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Yesterday, a new interior shop opened in our neighborhood, called Nitori.

Actually, the land that they built on had another interior shop on it before. They tore the building down and built a new one...sigh.

I went to check it out, since I've never been in a Nitori before.

The shop consists of two floors (three if you count the parking). On the 2nd floor is the "big stuff", beds.

The 1st floor is the "interior stuff"...dishes, bedding, lighting and such.

I went down almost every aisle just to see what they were selling.

Since I needed a new mat for my kitchen, I picked one out...foodie themed, of course.

I don't know how often I will shop here, but it is good to know that we have an interior shop close by.

Friday, December 19, 2014

ginger molasses dark chocolate crinkles

I got the idea for these cookies from blog friend, Sheri, who got the idea from this blog.

The link above is for the full recipe. I cut the recipe in half for my cookies.

Ginger Molasses Dark Chocolate Crinkles (1/2 the recipe) makes about 12 cookies

50 grams flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
1/8 teaspoon clove, ground
112.5 grams dark chocolate, weighed then chopped
22.5 grams butter, salted
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
32.5 grams light brown sugar
*granulated sugar and powdered sugar to coat cookies

Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, clove. Set aside
In a bain marie (over boiling water), melt the chocolate, butter, molasses & vanilla. Take off heat and let cool a bit.
On high, beat the egg and sugar until the mixture gets "ribbony"
Fold in the chocolate mixture
Stir in the flour mixture
Refrigerate the dough for 1 to 2 hours
Preheat oven to 325F (170F)
Whisk some cinnamon with some granulated sugar
Make 1-inch balls and roll into the granulated sugar mixture
Then roll the balls in powdered sugar
Place on parchment paper about 1-inch apart
Bake for 12-15 minutes.**
Cool the cookies a bit before transferring them to the rack.
Cool completely.

NOTES: these cookies are more chocolatey than spicy. I left out the salt because I used salted butter. Next time I make these I will double the amount of spices. Also, I will chill the dough for 2 hours, as the dough was too soft to handle after 1 hour. Since it was too soft to handle, I used a scoop and "plopped" each ball into the sugars, rolling them around using spoons...
**My turntable spins the cookies, so I didn't rotate the pan, and I baked them for about 15 minutes. If you are baking them in a regular oven you need to rotate the cookies, baking them 6 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for 6 more minutes or so.

What are you baking these days?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

soup days

We've been having soup in the mornings...sometimes I make us some oatmeal but most days it has been soup.

I try to make the soup the night before so that all I have to do is heat it up.

Too bad Satoshi isn't a morning person, too bad he doesn't get up when I say the food is ready, winter time is worse because he just doesn't want to get out of bed. By the time he comes to the table, most of the food is either lukewarm or cold...sigh.

Hope you are doing well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Just a short post.

Japan is getting hit with an icy "typhoon" at the moment and it is supposed to last until tomorrow-ish.

Winds are krazy strong and it is fahreezing!

I went to the market earlier and also have to meet someone later today, I am also trying to stock a few things so I won't have to step outside tomorrow.

Stay warm and safe everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

merci beaucoup!

During this time of year, we enjoy receiving cards from family and friends.

I enjoy reading about what they have been up to during the past year. I also enjoy seeing their photos.

Big thanks to Carol, for this beautiful watercolor...merci beaucoup!

Thank you again everyone for brightening up our days!

Monday, December 15, 2014

amarcord ama mora

We had this Amarcord Ama Mora beer last night. Chocolatey!

Apparently it is made by a tiny brewery in Apeccio, Italy. The beer uses a selection of Pascucci coffee and Malawi sugar.

Too bad I didn't read about it before trying it, I could've paired it with some ice cream since it was like a porter.

Instead, we had this with kim chee gyoza and a salad.

I enjoyed this and would definitely buy it again.

What have you been enjoying these days?

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Japan is holding yet another election today...

It's 0C (32F) right now...I don't think the turnout is gonna be too high.

For one thing, lots of people are against this particular election, saying that it was a way for the PM (prime minister) to sweep all the "bad stuff" his cabinet did "under the rug".

Whatever the reason is, they're using tax dollars to hold this election (as they apparently always do...), whomever is chosen, make the money worth its while.

I still can't vote here, but I am dragging Satoshi out to the polls.

If you can vote, do so.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

pablo x sweets+

The last time I talked about Pablo Cheesecake, was in this post, they had teamed up with Family Mart (a convenience store) and had a cheesecake that I particuarly didn't like.

Well, they again teamed up with Family Mart and this time came out with a chocolate cheesecake ...

This was fabulous!

The chocolate was rich and creamy. The crust flaky. The whole dessert actually reminded me of a chocolate cream pie more than cheesecake.

I would definitely want this one again.

Friday, December 12, 2014

foodie stamps

Yesterday, I wrote about getting our holiday cards done...well, between Picmonkey and Fudeoh, I got the design done.

I worked on the ones I will send overseas, but I still need to work on the ones for Japan.

I wanted to show you these stamps that they came out with for the holidays...sushi & cute!

My only peeve is that they didn't make a whole lot and ran out, so we had to buy some of their other (ugly) stamps to add to our postcards.

Because I'm a foodie, I am biased and feel they should make these regulars instead of just for the holidays, don't you think?!

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'tis the season

It's supposed to rain all day today, so I've planned to stay indoors and work on our holiday cards...

There is a program we bought when we first came to Japan called "Fudeoh" (foo-day-oh)...similar to "Print Shop" where you can design various cards.

Whenever we changed computers another version had to be bought and I was getting kinda peeved with their scam.

So...this year, I came across a book version that has 2 CDs in it...880 yen (plus tax).

I had asked someone at the electronics store if the book version was similar to the box version....(the box version is 3300 yen (plus tax)).

The person I had asked was representing the box version, said that they were NOT similar and if we wanted to use Fudeoh we would need to purchase the box version...(of course she would say that!)


we bought the book version, uploaded it and it works JUST LIKE the box version...there aren't as many clip arts or fonts, but it works!

I now have to update our address database because our last back-ups were done in 2007...wish me luck!

p.s. it looks like Blogger has turned on the "captcha" thingy even if I have it "off" in my settings...sorry!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

street cleaners

Yesterday, as I walked to the market I saw the street cleaners working.

I've seen them in the past weeks, but never really "watched" them...

There is a guy, walking down the street with a blower...he blows the leaves off the sidewalks into the street for the street cleaner to "vacuum" up.

There is another guy, driving a dump truck. I didn't know why this guy was in the group...

Then I saw why...

The front of the street cleaner machine lifted up, and out came a "drawer" that had collected all the leaves and rubbish from the street.

It dumped everything into the back of the dump truck. No one got out of their fact, they only slowed their pace just a little to do this.

I was amazed. Do street cleaners work like this where you live?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


I had been curious seeing these anpo-gaki in the markets.

They are semi-dried persimmons. I hadn't bought them before because they tend to be kinda pricey. The kaki pictured above is 125 grams...pretty huge if you ask me.

Cutting into it is like cutting a dried apricot but there is lots of "gel". I found a great detailed article about kaki, in general, here, if you are interested.

Satoshi and I shared the anpo-gaki, I had mine with oatmeal and some pumpkin seeds.

The kaki was so sweet! like eating a jam.

I can't believe we've been missing out on this we know.

Monday, December 08, 2014


It has been a couple of months since we've been to Chaina, the tiny Chinese restaurant in our area.

We try to make sure we get there when the place opens because the guy that's cooking usually takes a while before the food starts coming out.

Plus, there aren't many seats so it fills up fast!

I ordered the daily special, which was a bowl of mabo tofu, some steamed dumplings, a spring roll, some salad, rice & egg drop soup...850 yen (tax included).

So filling! and the mabo tofu had a nice amount of ground szechuan pepper on it.

It was my first time trying the mabo tofu but I liked this.

Super spicy but addicting. I couldn't believe I ate everything!

Satoshi ate his usual, stamina set...900 yen (tax included) this is stir fried beef with garlic shoots. It also comes with karaage (fried chicken), gyoza, egg drop soup, some salad and rice.

We love this place, even if it takes some time for the food to come out!

It's still fahreezing here, hope you have a great week!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

ramen santouka

The weather yesterday was fahreezing! I think the high was 8C(46F) but the wind was blustery, making it colder for sure.

Lunch was at Ramen Santouka.

There are so many ramen places in Osaka, that there is no way to stay on top of all of them. I actually heard about this place from Kirk and Dennis' and here.

I also recently found out (from Kirk) that they had a shop in Osaka, so I told Satoshi that we were having ramen for lunch. Of course, any mention of ramen or gyoza and he's game...

I ordered the shoyu ramen...the broth is tonkotsu plus shoyu, I think...really rich...810 yen (tax included)

Satoshi ordered their kara-meshi...360 yen (tax included). Rice topped with chunky pieces of char siu, an oozy poached egg, green onions and their spicy sauce.

I had a bite of this...yum! The runny egg makes the spiciness quite mild.

Satoshi also ordered the Asahikawa ramen, this was shoyu based and the broth is made from fish, this was light...810 yen (tax included).

I think next time I'm ordering this.

There are other items we are curious to try...We'll be back.

Ramen Santouka (UPDATE: 2016 this location not in business)
2-1-18 Sonezaki Shinchi, Dai-san Hirakawa Building 1F
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6343.6565
Weekdays: 11:00-24:00
Weekends: 11:00-21:00

Saturday, December 06, 2014

jubilee crown

I recently came across a flower that looked like a pine cone.

After searching the web, I found out it is called "jubilee crown" and is a part of the protea family. If you are interested you can read more about it here.

I think the name is quite festive. Have you seen this flower before?

Friday, December 05, 2014


Soup weather! the past couple of days our temps have been single digits.

Yesterday it rained all day and it made the temperature go really low...this morning it was 3C (37F)

I've been making soups this one...

Pumpkin, carrot & ginger...all I do is cook the veggies until soft, add a bouillon cube and then whizz it with the hand blender.

Add a little sage, marjoram, maybe some pepper.

Super, fast and easy! My kind of cooking.

Hope the weather is warmer where you are! Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

learning something new

I learned something new from David Lebovitz's blog...he talked about how to tell if your baking powder was still

I wanted to do some baking because it is raining today, but the expiration on my baking powder is past...

So, I tried it...and it bubbled!

Guess my baking powder is still good until the next time I bake...whoo!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


When you see the word "Hermes" what do you think of?

Well, in Osaka, Hermes is the brand name of a sauce. Apparently the name is based on the Greek God, Hermes.

Since 1935, they have been making worcestershire, tonkatsu (pork cutlet) sauce, as well as sauces for yakisoba (fried noodles) and kushikatsu (fried items on a stick).

I like the tang of this sauce, a little sweet, a little spicy.

Osaka has many brands of sauces, hope to try more in the future.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

ça va

If you know some French, you'll know that "ça va?" means "how are you?"

Well, if you also know some Japanese, you'll know that the Japanese cannot pronounce "v" and instead pronounce it as "b" "ça va" would be "saba"....saba is mackerel.

I thought this packaging was fun.

Made by a company in Iwate prefecture, apparently Iwate catches the most mackerel in Japan.

I'm not sure how I'll prepare this yet but can't wait to try it.

Do you have a favorite way of eating saba (mackerel)? Please share it in the comments.

Monday, December 01, 2014

hello december

Saturday it rained...pretty much the whole day.

But Sunday the weather was even!

We decided to check out the fall leaves and headed to the Minoo waterfall.

Most of the leaves had fallen off the trees are were kinda dry and "crunchy" underfoot!

Though, there were several trees that hadn't lost their leaves this one.

We were feeling a bit hungry and bought a bag of Momiji Tempura.

We tried this when we first moved here and weren't too impressed with them.

Recently, my friend and his mother came to visit and she wanted to try this so we bought her a bag and she loved it.

So, we decided to give it another go...

Warm and crunchy, these were the perfect snack!

The outside coating reminded me of Chinese Pretzels that we have in Hawaii.

In Minoo, they use edible maple leaves and salt them for a year to preserve them. Then they dip the leaves in the batter and fry them up.

For 70 grams they cost between 300 and 400 yen depending on what shop you buy them from. The lines for these were long and krazy!

I'm glad we tried these again!

While walking towards the waterfalls, we heard several "oohs and aahs" we turned around and saw...a shower of maple leaves, cascading down, so beautiful!

I took a video of it if you're gotta remember to take videos in landscape view...always forget, sorry!

We made it to the falls, the leaves nearby were really dry already, not too vibrant.

Here's a shot of the crowd...gads!

Since it is back to rainy today, I decided to take out some of our Christmas is your first day of December going?!