Sunday, December 31, 2017

thank you

Do you have a journal? I do.

I don't write in it all the time.

When I do, I sometimes rant in it and also write down meaningful quotes.

Sometimes I doodle in it.

I even put ticket stubs into it and collect stickers from food items, packaging...

This is what the cover of my journal looks like.

And the back cover...

Last month, I saw a Japanese movie, "Last Recipe"" and there was a foodie-ish quote towards the end of the movie that I really jumped out at me. (1st photo above)

So glad for the internet, because I couldn't scribble the quote down during the movie and someone had uploaded it onto their blog (thank you!)...the translation to English is my own interpretation.

In Japanese: Hocho wa chichi
Nabe wa haha
Shokuzai wa tomo
Recipe wa tetsugaku
Yuge wa ikiru yorokobi
Kaori wa ikiru hokori
Dekita ryori wa kimi sonomono
Sore o shokusu wa kimi omou hito

In English: The knife is the father
The pot is the mother
The ingredients are the friends
The recipe is the philosophy
The steam are life's joys
The aroma are life's triumphs
The completed dish is you
The person who is thinking of you is that who feeds you

This year was filled with some sad times, krazy natural disasters and just lots of kraziness in general, but I think overall it was a relatively good year.

Thank you for being "the ingredients" in our adventures.

Talk to you in 2018!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

10 photos

I started doing this back in 2008, it is a nice way to look back at the year, through 10 adventures in my kitchen...

Dashi Chazuke, perfect for these cold mornings.

I discovered that adding nagaimo to okonomiyaki helps to puff it up.

Anchovy Potato Salad, trying to re-create something we've never really had but saw on social media...

Green Tea Pork Belly Rolls, a new way to eat the used green tea.

Sakura Daikon, is a nice way to incorporate salted sakura (cherry blossoms) and daikon (radish) into a unique tsukemono (pickle).

Our first time making Ume Syrup, easy and delicious!

Over the summer we reconnected with Italian Delight...definitely comfort food...

Saba Tofu Curry, a nice way to boost your good cholesterol.

This recipe for Winter Gratin, was an easy and nice way to get in some veggies

Cold Brew Tea Soda, a really easy way to have a fizzy tea drink during those hot summer months...just be careful when you open the bottle.

Did you have a favorite recipe that wasn't featured here? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, December 29, 2017


List of books read this year: for some reason, I didn't enjoy the first 2...maybe it was just me.

1. Pico Iyer, "The Lady and The Monk"
2. Ovidia Yu, "Aunty Lee's Delights"
3. Mary Simes, "The Irresistable Blueberry Bake Shop and Cafe"
4. Kyoko Mori, "Stone Field True Arrow"
5. Laurie Colwin, "Home Cooking"
6. Margaret Dilloway, "How to be an American Housewife"

Hope to read more in 2018.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


So, if you are following us on Instagram, you know that we were headed for Akita Prefecture yesterday morning...

We were all onboard and waiting for the plane to back away from its spot.

After a good 10 minutes though, the captain came on and announced that our flight was cancelled due to major snow in Akita...

So we all deplaned and stood in line for refunds, rebookings, etc.

Since we used miles for our flight we weren't sure they would give us back our miles.

Fortunately, in the end, they did credit our mileage back.

We were bummed and on the way home decided to drown our sorrows in some matcha tiramisu and coffee.

I was also bummed because my spic and span kitchen now had to go into action...

Dinner was kim chee gyoza.

Although our travel plans were hampered it really was better that we were safe than sorry.

Monday, December 25, 2017

past couple of days

Hope you and yours have/had a very Merry Christmas.

We celebrated on Saturday and Sunday since Satoshi had to work today (it isn't a holiday here).

Saturday, after we did some o-soji (cleaning for the new year), we went out for dinner at Hillman.

Apparently this restaurant is from Singapore.

The reason I bookmarked this restaurant was because of their paper chicken which looked so good.

We tried their cilantro salad...super refreshing.

Paper chicken...succulent and tender pieces of chicken cooked in parchment.

Chili crab...super hard to eat (ask for spoons!) but so delicious.

The crab legs had lots of meat to them.

Mantou...steamed or fried slightly sweet pieces of dough...good with chili crab.

I liked the steamed version while Satoshi preferred the fried.

Mabo Tofu...the spices hit afterwards...pow!

All of these items came off of their half size menu and was the perfect portion size for us.

We also were there during their happy hour so our drinks (a sangria and 3 beers) were only 190 yen each.

Our meal came out to 4770 yen (tax included)...we'll be back.

Christmas Eve Day lunch was at Afternoon Tea.

I ordered the roast chicken and it was really delicious especially with all these roasted veggies.

Satoshi had their beef stew.

It was a nice and delicious lunch.

We bought some cakes from Rocket.

Satoshi had their mont blanc while I had their Marquise Chocolat.

Christmas Eve Dinner was an assortment of things...avocado maguro, chicken, smoked mackerel dip and crackers, nuts, porter cheese, cheese cookies, salad and we opened the bottle of Miraval.

We enjoyed the Miraval, it isn't too sweet nor too dry.

And the porter cheese was delicious too, especially if you enjoy porters.

Satoshi will be off in a couple of days, so I have some posts lined up.

Happy Holidays!

1-7-30 Sonezakishinchi
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6346.5511
Dinner only weekdays: 17:00-24:00
Saturdays & Sundays 11:30-15:00 (lunch) 17:00-24:00 (dinner)

Friday, December 22, 2017

learn something new

How do you usually cut your apples?

In Japan, they usually peel the apples then take out the seeds.

I usually cut apples in wedges and then cut a "V" shape to take out the seeds like this.

The other day though, they were talking on tv about limiting the amount of waste when you eat an apple.

They said you should not peel it and then cut it into rounds.

Then you would eat your way towards the core.

So I tried it this morning.

Since Satoshi and I usually share half an apple with our breakfast, after cutting the apple in half, I then halved it again and sliced it.

Then with a knife, I went and made tiny "v" cuts to take out the seeds.

Learned something new and I think it does cut down the amount I used to throw out.

p.s. today is Toji or the Winter Solstice, and supposedly we will only have a short amount of sunlight.

To ward off colds and the chill, they have yuzu buro (baths with floating citron) and eat pumpkin.

Apparently on this day you should eat foods that begin with the character "to" (toe).

We call pumpkin "kabocha" (kah-bo-cha), but older generations call it "tonasu" (toe-nah-sue).

Also adding citrus peels to your baths are supposed to keep you warmer than just soaking in the hot water.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

daily stuff

I know these days must be krazy trying to get things done for the holidays, so I wanted to share with you something that happened to me yesterday...hopefully it will make you laugh or smile.

I was trying to open a can of baked beans to heat up for dinner.

It had one of those pull tab tops.

I lifted up the tab and the tab snapped off!

I took out my can opener and tried to open the can, but the can was a little dented so the can opener couldn't go all the way around.

Thinking that I had opened most of the can, I stuck a spoon in to lift up the lid.

The lid was definitely not cut all the way around because the lid lifted up a bit then sprung back down, shooting sauce up into the air.

I tried the can opener again and then the spoon, but there was more lid springing and more shooting of sauce into the air...

Finally, I got the lid to open by rocking it gingerly back and forth until the metal wore out and broke.

Whew! thought we might not be able to have this for dinner...

Did I make you smile/laugh? Hope so.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Merchandise at the convenience stores change at lightning speeds.

What you had one week may not be there the next.

7-eleven recently teamed up with Haagen-Dazs and came out with a waffle cone ice cream.

Apparently it is the first for Haagen-Dazs to come out with this for a convenience store.

Macadamia nut ice cream, waffle cone and topped with hard shell caramel.

I liked that the cone was super crisp.

A little too sweet but I'm glad I tried this.

Even though the weather continues to be fahreezing, there is always space for some ice cream.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

smoked saba toasts

Was watching a Nigel Slater show and he talked about smoked mackerel toasts.

Smoked mackerel, cream, cheese and chives...mixed together and then baked onto bread slices.

I adapted this and served them on toast and then on crackers.

1 can smoked mackerel
1/4 red onion, diced

When putting this on toast, I put the cheese on just before toasting.

When we ate this on crackers, I didn't put the cheese.

NOTES: I think mixing the smoked mackerel with cream cheese and onions then nixing the mayo would be delicious too.

Kind of similar to smoked salmon dips.

The can of smoked mackerel is a brand from Shizuoka, I love the packaging.

The fish is caught in the area and packed in olive oil.

Will make this again soon!

Monday, December 18, 2017

saba soup

Recently on "Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai" they had an assortment of canned saba (mackerel).

During the show, they had a recipe for saba soup.

Of course, I had to try it because it is fahreezing these days...

Adapted from "Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai" : about 4 servings

1 can mackerel (packed in water) about 140 grams, drained
3 cups water
1 teaspoon shoyu
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 package of maitake, shredded by hand
a small handful of kikurage (cloud ear fungus), reconstituted then chopped slightly
1/2 bunch of chinese chives, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Put the onion and red bell pepper into the pot and bring to a boil
Turn down to a simmer then add the fish, breaking it up
Add the maitake, chives and garlic
Then add the shoyu & oyster sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTES: The show didn't really give much direction or amounts, so I am just listing up what I put into my soup.

I didn't add any salt so the taste was on the light side.

We've had this with rice and also with baguette.

I like how this soup is super easy to put together.

Definitely making this again.

Friday, December 15, 2017


We had a light dusting when we woke up yesterday.

The wind was icy and the snow melted quickly.

Usually January is when I talk about flurries and stuff but it is definitely early this year...(I think the stink bug superstition thingy might be spot on)

It's been awhile since I ran into a cute cappuccino...I thought this was perfect for the season.

Have a nice weekend...10 days until Christmas, are you ready?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

things I'm liking

Been awhile since I've done a post like this...

Haagen-Dazs' Matcha Opera...bitter green tea ice cream, almond sauce, cookies, a blonde chocolate ice cream and topped with a sweet dark chocolate...nice balance.

Haagen-Dazs' Crisp Chip Chocolate...milk chocolate ice cream with bits of chocolate chips and I think crushed wafers.

Lotte's Chocolate Truffle filled with matcha ice cream and a matcha chocolate sauce...apparently this is only sold at 7-eleven.

Saba (mackerel) sushi wrapped with takana (mustard cabbage) and filled with egg, cucumber, hijiki and crunchy ume...wish I had bought more pieces!

The Loaf's cream stew bread and pannetone.

Since I filled up a certain amount of stamps on my card, I received a drip coffee pack from them.

And I was also able to pick up some of their cheese cookies, will have these with some wine soon!

1st time adding some chocolate syrup to my gingerbread latte, so glad I did! Also am enjoying their cacao nuts.

What are you enjoying these days?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

the procrastinator

The other day, the weather was gloomy, so I worked on the holiday cards to be sent to family and friends overseas.

Then, over the weekend, I told Satoshi he should work on his.

Thought he might work on it on Saturday after his German class...nope, what a procrastinator...

Every year it is the same routine...

Digging his heels in, watching tv...anything than having to work on it.

He claims there is a "pace" to working on them...blah blah blah

Sunday it was a beautiful day but we didn't go anywhere because I wanted him to finish addressing his cards...but no, just more procrastinating and moaning.

Seriously thinking about not sending out cards to friends and relatives in Japan next year so I don't have to deal with all the whining and groaning...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

spiced mixed nuts

Back in 2014, I tried David Lebovitz's recipe for Spiced Mixed Nuts.

I had used coconut oil then, but didn't like the end result...

Recently, I re-tried it and this time used butter and added pretzels like his recipe delicious!

I am thinking to make a small batch again soon...

Monday, December 11, 2017

takibi bakery stollen

We recently started eating our stollen from Takibi Bakery.

The type I had purchased before had marzipan in the middle.

This one had lots of chestnut chunks in it.


p.s. on Saturday, we had a little dusting of snow on the mountains...brr!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

udon bo

Recently tried Udon Bo.

Their main shop is in Takamatsu, Shikoku and they also have a shop in Umeda (Osaka).

There is always a line for this place but the seating moves fast.

They ask you to pre-order when you stand in line and when you are seated, your order comes out piping hot.

Satoshi had their curry udon while I chose the Olive Pork Tsukemen.

Thinly sliced pork belly, the pork is raised in Shodoshima, which is known for olives.

The soup is shoyu based rich and garnished with slightly fried eggplant, thinly sliced ginger, green onion and sesame seeds.

Satoshi said his curry was super spicy, but super delicious...boy, was he perspiring like crazy!

I really enjoyed my choice, though I want to try their cold noodles next time.

We'll be back.

Udon Bo
Osaka Ekimae Dai-San Building B2F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6458.5518
Hours: 11:00-21:00 (Weekdays), 11:00-20:00 (Saturdays), 11:00-16:00 (Sundays)

Friday, December 08, 2017

smart coffee

Have been wanting to try Smart Coffee for some time now and finally got to a couple of weeks ago.

They are well known for their hot cakes, but I ordered their egg sandwich instead.

Most egg sandwiches in Japan are the boiled egg with mayo type...egg salad, but the type we usually see in Kansai is a warm omelette type.

This was delicious.

A little dashi (stock) in the egg while making the omelette and butter on the bread.

I really enjoyed their coffee too.

I want to try their lunch menu next...I'll be back.

Smart Coffee
537 Teramachi-Sanjo
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.231.6547
Hours: 8:00-19:00

Thursday, December 07, 2017

patisserie s

A couple of weeks back, I went to try Patisserie S.

While the cake (chocolat classique) that I tried was rich and delicious, I thought their customer service was rather cold and kind of robot-like.

Dunno that I would go back.

Patisserie S
300-1 Takatsuji-dori, Kannon Muromachi Shijo 1F
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.361.5521
Hours: 11:00-19:00
Closed Wednesdays & Thursdays

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

anzu shiso fuumi

Recently Hankyu Department Store had a Tohoku fair.

We picked up some bento for dinner (Yonezawa beef for me and salmon for Satoshi), iburigakko and anzu shiso fuumi.

If you recall, the iburigakko is a smoked pickle from Akita.

The anzu shiso fuumi (literally means perilla flavored apricot) and is a sweet-sour pickle/jam of sorts.

The taste reminds me of prune mui, a preserve we have in Hawaii.

We first tried this in Aomori, and reconnected with it at the fair.

This version is made by Kariya Shokuhin from Akita.

The owner, Mr Kariya, was a very friendly and good salesman.

So far, we've eaten it as is with breakfast and also chopped it up and added it to yogurt.

These apricot are also grown by Mr Kariya and he makes these with honey and shiso (perilla).

I think the syrup might be good on ice cream or pancakes.

What are you enjoying these days?