Thursday, December 31, 2020

ichiyo raifuku

Saying this year was krazy is an understatement, yeah?!

So many sad days with all the loss of life.

Even if we didn't get to travel as much as we wanted to, or do all the things that we wanted to, I am thankful that I was able to share with you what adventures we did have.

Your comments always keep us inspired and motivated.

The Japanese have an idiom, ichiyo raifuku, it is a type of yojijukugo (idiom that uses four chinese characters).

Ichiyo raifuku is used to mean to hope for good after a long period of bad.

I hope 2021 will be a good year for everyone.

Be well, be kind and thank you for always being a part of our adventures.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

10 photos

10 photos started back in 2008 as a meme and now is my way to look back at some of the "firsts" in my kitchen...

Nitsuke, I was amazed at how easy and tasty cooking fish this way was.

It was our first time cooking with garlic scapes, it reminded me of garlicky green beans.
Ajillo was super easy to make in the fish grill.
Using the tsukemono jiru (pickle sauce) and turning it into dressing was a nice way to use everything up.
Hakusai and kaki amazu-ae was a refreshing pickle/salad.
Hiyajiru, a cold miso soup, perfect for the heat of summer.
"Sarameshi" is a show that offers a look into the bento and lives of people in Japan.

This musubi using mikan peels was different and delicious.
Daigaku imo was a nice way to save a "dry" yakiimo (roasted sweet potato).
Kinugasa donburi is a delicious (and easy) Kyoto favorite using green onion, aburaage, dashi and egg.
Saba goma was a dish we saw on our favorite show "Kodoku no Gurume", we tried this using kanpachi (amberjack) and madai  (sea bream) since we rarely see saba (mackerel) in the stores.

I think most of us spent a LOT of time in our kitchens this year, I hope you had a delicious year in your kitchen despite the pandemic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020


This year with so much time on my would think that I read a lot. 

For some reason during this pandemic, I needed "noise" so instead of reading I would watch movies instead, sometimes watching more than one movie a day. 

Our cable subscription has 7 different channels that show films (actually there are more if you pay more for them), what I enjoy about these channels is that they show a variety of English, French, Korean, German and Japanese films as well as many other foreign language films too.

At the end of the year, I would usually list the books that I read but instead I’ll list some of the movies I watched/enjoyed.

Last films seen in a theater: 

Based on real stories:
"Elle s'appelait Sarah" ("Her Name is Sarah") (French) 

Jason Statham:
*there were WAY more Jason Statham movies that I saw but I don't want to bore you...

Documentary : "Bon Uta : A Song from Home" (Japanese/English) documentary of Bon Dance in Hawaii 

"La Verite" ("The Truth") 



Were you able to watch some movies during your "stay at home" time? What did you watch? Please tell me in the comments.

Monday, December 28, 2020

this and that

The day after Christmas we did our o-soji (cleaning)...I cleaned the kitchen, while Satoshi did the windows, lanai(s) and light fixtures.
For dinner I made Ikea-ish meatballs. 
The recipe called for panko (bread crumbs) but since I didn't have any on hand, I used dry okara powder. 

My cream sauce was kind of lumpy so I looked online to see how to fix it (love technology!)

I also didn't have lingonberry jam, so used the really old cranberry chutney that I found in my refrige.

Everything worked out well and I would definitely make this again.

I don't know if you can get this where you are, but I love this lemon dressing from Kewpie.

It isn't overly puckery or overly sweet and it goes well with salads when I serve fish or chicken as our main dish.

I have my traditional year end posts lined up and will talk to you on January 3rd when Satoshi goes back to work.

As for COVID, Tokyo's numbers are headed towards 1000.

Please take care, stay safe and be well.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

christmas eve and christmas day

How was your Christmas?

Our Christmas was very low key.

I saw this at the supermarket and had to copy.

Doesn't really look like the photo but I loved the idea, the recipe suggests using a balsamic vinegar dressing, but I used a lemon one instead to keep the baby mozz from turning black.
I baked some lamb chops in the oven for Christmas Eve dinner.

It came with a spice packet which had curry powder and other spices in it.

I followed the Meat Guy's directions on how to bake it in the oven....

Room temperature for 30 minutes then in a 200 C (400 F) oven for 20 minutes.

It wasn’t in the direction, but at 10 minutes, I flipped the chops.

This was so tender and flavorful, even after reheating it for Satoshi after he came home.

Christmas morning...super pretty sunrise.
I went to Daimaru to send some gifts for New Years to MIL and BIL since we will not be travelling.

I picked up this brioche chocolat from Daisy, a bakery from Saitama that has a shop inside the JR Tokyo Station.

This was so good, with chocolate crisps on top and lots of chocolate ganache inside.
Dinner was nibbles from RF1 and gateau chocolat from Maison Cacao which I also picked up inside of the JR Tokyo Station.
61% Colombian chocolate topped with cacao rich but so good with a cabernet sauvignon from Maison Fortnant.
We don't really give each other presents anymore, but Satoshi surprised me with this little bottle of jam sandwich cookies and a tiny bouquet of gerbera and carnations.

I hope Santa wasn't quarantined and was able to visit you this year.

Have a nice week.

Friday, December 25, 2020

this and that

It is Christmas but isn’t a holiday, so Satoshi is working.

We'll probably be able to eat dinner together on the day after Christmas because he has the day off.

This week he and 3 other co-workers had lunch together.

He said the restaurant that they ate at had acrylic partitions.

Hopefully it was a "safe" lunch....

Starting next year, his company will be downsizing and also be cutting everyone's wages.

Hopefully Satoshi will still have a job, we are also not sure if we'll be able to stay in Tokyo...

Still, we are grateful for what we do have.

I hope more people will stay at home this holiday season to bring case numbers down and to help keep the people on the medical front lines safe too.

Our main branch of government still refuses to "lock us down" or provide financial help...

I wish someone would mention to them that if our numbers do not go down (especially in Tokyo) hosting the Olympics (safely) will definitely be impossible.

Please have a safe holiday weekend everyone.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

sweet potato glace

Came across two types of candied sweet was called Benikirishima glace which were sticks.

The other one was called Benisakurajima glace which was cubes.

Both sweet potatoes were grown in Kagoshima prefecture (Kyushu) and made by Japan Potato (Japapo).

I'm glad we got to try these and am always on the look out for others to try. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

lady j

There is a potato variety called Lady J.

The outer flesh is red and the insides are pink.

I've seen them online fried up as potato chips, but it is so popular, I've never seen the chips in the stores.

I was happy to see the potatoes at the market recently so I picked them up for us to try.

At first I peeled one, but changed my mind and left the outer flesh on for the rest instead.
I made scalloped potatoes with a can of cream of mushroom soup.
My mom often made us this dish by placing sliced potatoes at the bottom of a baking dish, then searing some pork chops, covering the whole thing with cream of mushroom soup and baking everything in the oven until the potatoes are cooked through.

I actually wanted to eat the potatoes more than the pork, so I pan fried some really thin pieces of pork and cooked the potatoes separately in the oven.

These seemed a little more starchy than regular potatoes but I'm glad we got to try them.

I still have a few more of these potatoes and may get the courage to fry them as chips...

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

yuzu & daikon

Apparently this year root and leafy veggies are plentiful and super cheap.

I was able to get a nice sized daikon and yuzu for 98 yen each!

(BUT, I was saddened to see on the news that the farmers here are having to throw out tons of produce! apparently due to the lack of food operators not operating at full can't the produce be frozen or given away to countries that don't have enough food?!)

Anyway, with part of the daikon I made some yuzu daikon pickles.

Found on the internet: 2 servings
500 grams daikon, peeled and sliced into sticks
1 yuzu, juiced and thinly slice the peel
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar 
2 tablespoons vinegar
some dried chili pepper

In a bowl put the daikon and salt and massage, leave for 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes, squeeze out the water from the daikon.
In a ziploc bag, put the daikon, yuzu peel, sugar, vinegar and chili.
Massage gently then store in refrige.
Enjoy after a couple of hours.

NOTES: The whole recipe was for 2 servings, and since I didn’t know how it would taste I only made half the recipe.

It was so easy and tasty, I’d definitely make this again.

I froze the rest of the yuzu peel to bake with and or to add to osuimono (clear soup).

Saturday night, with about 1/3 of the daikon, I peeled and grated it to put into mizore nabe.

Grated daikon is called oroshi but it is also called mizore because it looks like sleet.

After the ingredients of the nabe (hot pot) were cooked I added the grated daikon and waited for for the liquid to come up to a boil before serving.

With the leftover yuzu juice, I made some ponzu (1 tablespoon of yuzu juice & 1 teaspoon shoyu per person) for us to use while eating our nabe.

I still have the top part of the daikon which I plan to use in the coming days.

Monday, December 21, 2020


Found a dried kaki (persimmon) called Kakigonomi made in Toyama prefecture.

Whole kaki that are quite large and about the size of your palm.

The seeds were large, pointy and long.

They were good with wine as well as eaten in its own.

A little pricey but I’m glad we were able to try these.

Friday, December 18, 2020

this and that

The Sawamura Bakery stollen was a little dry but had lots of fruits and nuts.

Tried a new (to me) variety of sweet potato called benihokkori.

I learned of a new way to roast them from Instagram.

You freeze the sweet potato then throw them into a hot oven.

They would come out "soft" after cooking but then get really dry and hard.

I found yet another way online and will try again sometime next week.

I finally tried conbini (convenience store) oden.

I've always been put off by the smell it has whenever you walk into a conbini.

Also before the pandemic, you could serve yourself, which I didn't think was too sanitary.

Nowadays, you need to tell the cashier what you want, and they put it into a container for you.

I enjoyed my choices especially the rolled cabbage and daikon.

Our station, which got a facelift this year, will finally get shops like Kaldi and Starbucks sometime in March..can't wait
Blog friend Lily, always sends us cute handmade ornaments at this time of year...Thank you!
"someone" had a zoom bonenkai with his german class the other night.

They actually had class while drinking...

Yesterday Tokyo hit 800 plus cases!

The bulk are 20 to 30 year olds but the severe cases are older age groups.

We are being asked to stay at home during the holidays and only go out when necessary.

The Japan Sea side of Japan got hit with a huge snow storm which messed up traffic.

The weather dude says it is gonna be a cold winter (hoping to see some snow!)

Love this season and will take it over summer's humidity any day!

Hope you are doing well.

One week before Christmas, please have a safe weekend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

back to kakumei burger

Back in October, I tried Kakumei Burger

I had wanted Satoshi to try them too, but in November, they closed for renovations...

So, the other day, since Satoshi had the day off, I got a chance to pick up some lunch for us.

Satoshi had their bacon cheeseburger (no photo).

I ordered their ume shiso fish burger. 

This was so good! The fish is lightly fried in sesame oil and there is an ume shiso paste as well as myoga and other veggies in the sandwich.

Each burger comes with fries or obanzai, so I chose the obanzai which is 3 types of veggies.

Kinpira, yuzu daikon and mizuna with aburaage.

The veggies change depending on what the owner can get and the season.

This was definitely a nice alternative to fries.

Satoshi enjoyed his burger and I enjoyed my fish burger, we'll be back to take out other items from their menu. 

Monday, December 14, 2020


Some updates of the things I posted about in the past...The stollen from Breadworks started off too sweet but got less sweet and more moist as the days passed (guess things melded) changing my opinion to maybe getting this again next year. 

The brownie butter mochi defrosted then reheated gently in the microwave had a great texture. I'm glad it didn't change after freezing. 

Bummed that the avocado tree I saw in our neighborhood was cut down. 

And I couldn't find out who's kaki tree was in front of our apartment building but glad they picked their 3 kaki before the birds got to it.

I’ll leave you with this...Saturday, as I walked back from Kamata, I saw this pink thing in the distance, so I walked towards it and was surprised to see a HUGE sasanqua (type of camellia) tree!

So pretty!

Have a good week.

Friday, December 11, 2020

this and that

(photo of yesterday's sunset) How are you doing?

Hope you had a good week.

Yesterday Tokyo's numbers hit 600 (602 to be exact)...eep!

The main branch of government doesn't seem to be worried though.

I wish they would call a state of emergency and help the people on the medical front lines instead of trying to regenerate the economy by having everyone travelling all over Japan and eating in restaurants...

We are continuing to stay away from crowds as much as possible.

I try to shop for groceries during the week rather than on weekends.

I also try not to bring Satoshi when I go because he wants to look at and touch everything. 

Me on the other hand,  I want to be in and out of the store in about stress!

Anyway, Satoshi has the interview part of his test this weekend, which also requires him to wear a face shield (which they provide)...hopefully this time he will pass.

Even with the vaccine being distributed, I believe masks will be the "new norm".

Still, I look forward to the day when we all can travel, eat out and give each other hugs.

Be safe everyone.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020


One of the things the experts here have been telling us to do during this pandemic is to ventilate our homes as well as eateries, bars and karaoke rooms.

Well, since winter is coming having the windows & doors open is kind of rough.

In our apartment, we do not have windows, just sliding glass doors and I noticed that each door has this gadget at the top of the glass door that slides to open and close small slats.

We didn’t have this when we lived in Osaka so I looked online and found out that the slats when opened ventilate the room. (love the internet!)

Glad we have this gadget so that we don't have to actually open the windows/glass doors all the time.


Tuesday, December 08, 2020

thank you

Just before Thanksgiving, friend Val, sent us these mixes by Hawaii's Best Hawaiian Haupia. (Thank you!)

Whenever I bake I try to adjust recipes so that it will only use 50 grams of butter and 1 egg.

Well, to use this butter mochi brownie mix, I needed to relax this rule...

I was too lazy to grease an 8 x 8 pan and put the batter into 10 muffin papers instead. 

It wasn’t until someone mentioned on Instagram that I realized I also needed to adjust the baking time...oops!

(At least clean up was super easy !)

Still, this came out great! butter mochi meets brownie.

The bag directs you to refrigerate the leftovers but since it is only the 2 of us, I wrapped each in plastic wrap and put them into the freezer.

I hope the texture won't change too much.

Look forward to trying the other mixes in the coming months.