Friday, July 03, 2020

it's that time again



This Sunday is the Tokyo governor's and city council races...thank goodness there weren't too many noisy speaker campaign roaming around our neighborhood.

Sunday is expected to rain so the turn out might not be too great.

Still, I hope since everyone has been paying more attention to politics during this pandemic, I hope more people will turn out to vote.

Japan is still very old school, they have to write the name of the candidate that they want to vote for and each ballot is counted by hand...

Have a nice (safe) weekend.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

love technology


Yesterday, it was raining heavily and the wind was howling.

While I was in the kitchen, water started "pouring" out of the air conditioner (a/c)!

I quickly turned it off, grabbed some towels and a bowl and then went online to figure out what to do.

Love the internet!

The website I found told me it that there may be a couple reasons why water was coming out of the a/c...

1. The drain hose was clogged...(I think) this is where the water that goes through the a/c to cool the air gets disposed of...on our lanai it makes a little trail of water...

2. The cooling unit inside of the a/c was clogged...

I started with reason 1...but first I had to figure out what the drain hose looked like...thank goodness for online photos!

I then went outside (in the rain) and looked at the drain hose...yup, it was buried in a little pile of dirt.

I took it out of the dirt and positioned the hose so that it wouldn't touch the dirt any more.

Then I turned the a/c (holding my breath) on again (with the bowl and towels still under it)...no drips!

So far this seems to be doing the trick!

I'm glad that the water that fell didn't damage the microwave.

And glad that the electrical outlet isn't near the wall where the water fell.

Also very thankful that this didn't happen when we were not at home (I sometimes set the timer to turn on the a/c to cool the room before we come home)

Glad the rain has stopped (for today) though it will rain again from tomorrow...will clean the dirt off the lanai...

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

baby steps


Starting today in Japan, plastic shopping bags will cost at least 1 yen (I have seen some shops say they will charge 4 or 5 yen, there was even a shop that was going to charge 15 yen).

This is to decrease the amount of plastic in our garbage.

Apparently though, if your plastic bag is made from 25% or more biomass, you don't have to charge for the bag...of course, a lot of businesses are trying to get on board with this type of bag...I personally don't think they should allow this type of bag, and should go "cold turkey".

Supermarkets in the past would give you 2 or more points on your point card as an incentive to bring your own bags, but I think with this new charge rule, they will probably do away with the point incentive.

I am trying to "train" Satoshi to carry a bag around with him too because he will pay for a bag rather than carry one around.

Me, I'm a penny pincher when it comes to bags and have used washable shopping bags for awhile now, so I am not too worried but will have to remember to carry more than one when going out.

Are you washing your shopping bags?  I wasn't but with COVID-19 I now wash them along with the handkerchief mask that I use that day.

During our "lockdown" I only went to the grocery store once a week but now go three times a week.

With this new plastic bag rule, I hope it will make a difference as to the amount of plastic in our garbage.

Friday, June 26, 2020

joshitsu


I found a lifesaver button on our air conditioner remote (red arrow on photo)...it is called joshitsu.

Joshitsu means dehumidifier and makes the room comfortable when the humidity is evil.

Our air conditioner in Osaka did not have this button (at least I don't think it did)

The nice thing about this button is that you can control the temperature too.

We are forecast to hit 32C (89F) with high humidity today...eep!

Hope you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

cheese paste


Found this cheese paste at the supermarket recently.

Camembert cheese combined with butter to make this creamy paste.

The texture is similar to a thick fondue.

We first tried it on crackers similar to Ritz crackers but it was better on bread (toast).

I've put the other half in the freezer for us to enjoy another day.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

this and that


How is everyone holding up?

We are doing fine.

The weather is wonky..days that they forecast to be rainy, turn out to be sunny...the temps are sometimes cool...

Satoshi just got word that they will have pay cuts...boo!

For his company, Japanese domestic travel is a large part of their income.

Still grateful that he still has a job and hope that domestic tourism will pick up so that their pay cuts won't last too long.

Be well everyone.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

amazing


On one of my trips to the market, I noticed this building that had a grape vine, climbing up from the ground up to the 3rd story. 

So cool!

Monday, June 22, 2020

granola, oatmeal, this and that


After not being to find oatmeal and having to buy some granola, I found a different brand of granola, this one only had a few ingredients in it, looking forward to tasting this one.

I notice that some brands of granola ingredients seem like the fruit is freeze dried?!  not really into of this texture.

Hopefully this one will be different.
 
A couple of days later, I found oatmeal!

At my favorite market, I happened to go when the store opened and was able to get one of the three bags on the shelf!
 
Saturday, our first meal out was hotcakes at Civitas!

It was nice to have their hotcakes with ham, salad and fruits.

Our timing was nice because it was just before lunch time, also the shop monitored how many were seated to prevent crowding and after diners had finished, they wiped down the table and chairs with alcohol santizer.

(One thing I would do the next time we eat out would be to keep my mask on when ordering and keep it on until after we receive our food, taking the mask off just before eating only).

And then we got on the train for the first time in months and went to Okachimachi to shop at Takeya.

(While I was looking at the website of the company that makes the oatmeal I like to buy, I noticed that they also made this dark chocolate granola which I found at Takeya...they also made the granola that I bought the other week).

Looking forward to trying this one as well.

It's peach season!

This variety is called hanayome (literally flower bride)

This was a little green but very floral, the peel came off easily and was very juicy.
I found this beet at the store and it was huge!
I roasted it with this very unripe avocado...hoping both will be delicious.

The avocado turned out to be spongy after roasting, meh! but at least we didn’t waste it.

Have a good week!

Friday, June 19, 2020

the little things


Yesterday, I got my hair colored...yeah!

It was nice to be out and about, even if I had to wear a mask.

At the entrance of the department store, they ask you to use alcohol sanitizer.

At almost every shop entrance, there was alcohol sanitizer.

When coloring my hair, I had to take off my mask, but the person coloring my hair always wore a mask.

This is what my view at dinner was Wednesday night...

"Someone's" home office has taken up 3/4 of the dining room table...papers here and there...sigh

(a little late to the game, I thought to raise the computer up by using a box, so someone's neck wouldn't get stiff)

Again, I'm glad we got a bigger table so that at least I can eat "at the table" (even if it is a small corner of the table).

Also glad this work at home thing is only once a month for a week.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

shortage


While the U.S. has been having shortages of flour and yeast during this pandemic, Japan's latest shortage is oatmeal. 

I guess because it is versatile and can be used to make granola, eaten as "oatmeal", used in cookies... 

Since we were running low on granola, and after hearing the news of the shortage, I thought I would be able to get a bag of oatmeal at my local market.

I usually make my own granola because I like to control the sweetness and what ingredients are put into it.

Nowadays, whenever I make this granola recipe, I only put in cacao nibs, nuts and seeds. 

Unfortunately, when I went to the market, the shelf was empty.  

Luckily though, I was able to find some granola.

Hopefully this shortage won't last too long.

On another note, wish me luck, I'm going to see if I can get my hair colored today...

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

nori ben


During this quarantine, Satoshi and I have gone to buy bento at different places nearby. 

When you go to buy a bento what type do you usually choose? 

Me, I'm fast at choosing and usually choose tofu hamburger or something with lots of veggies.

Satoshi, he takes a "long time" and scrutinizes each one..

On television, whenever they show "nori ben" it is usually a bento box filled with rice, topped with nori, that is it.

During this quarantine, it was the first time I tried nori ben (nori bento) from a bento shop in our shopping arcade and I was surprised at how delicious it was. 

The nori on top of the rice was not "gummy" and the rice had lots of flavor from the katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). (I think the katsuobushi saved the nori from getting "gummy")

The second time I bought a nori ben was from a supermarket. 

Their nori was kind of "gummy" and there wasn't much flavor on the rice.

I liked that they had all sorts of different side dishes in this one.

 
And the most recent nori ben I tried was from a different bento shop.

This one had fried fish but the nori on the rice was "gummy" and there wasn't much veggies, just kinpira. 

I'm glad to have tried different nori ben and will continue to be on the lookout for different types.

Monday, June 15, 2020

preparing

Japan is nearing the date (June 19th) when they will allow people to travel to other prefectures.

Of course this doesn't mean we can go back to our normal ways, we still need to social distance and wear a mask.

The experts advise that when we eat out, we sit side-by-side and not talk to each other while eating.

Also places like karaoke and izakaya (bars) have come up with innovative ways to prevent virus clusters.

Since most of Japan has started their rainy season, I am impressed that the local governments are thinking ahead and have started to prepare for natural disasters.

Any natural disasters that happen this year will be treated differently because of COVID-19.

In the past, most shelters were packed with people, but this year, they are thinking of different ways to prevent virus clusters from forming.

Hopefully there will not be any natural disasters in Japan this year, but if by chance there is, at least everyone is trying to prepare in advance.

Satoshi is working from home this week, so I don't need to make him bento and get to sleep an hour longer...whoo!

Friday, June 12, 2020

nanbanzuke


We started our rainy season.

In the morning it was blazing and the winds were like a typhoon!

Then, in the afternoon the rains came.

Since it was so blazing, I wanted to eat something sweet sour...

Nanbanzuke is a sweet sour sauce that you usually marinade fried fish or chicken in.

Apparently this dish is derived from escabeche.
 
I didn't feel like frying so, I just browned the chicken then put it into the marinade.

Put whatever veggies (I used okra, carrots, bell pepper & onion) you want into the marinade and then after cooking your protein, put it into the marinade while it is still warm.

Here is the marinade recipe that I used : from "Kewpie 3 minute cooking" : serves 4

3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons dashi (stock)
some chili flakes

NOTES: I would definitely pan fry my protein next time. 

I liked that this sauce wasn't too sweet and had the right amount of sour. 

I forgot to put the chili. 

This is perfect for summer. 

If you make it ahead of time, you can serve it chilled.

Hope you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

yogenji


Yesterday, I went to check out the hydrangeas near Honmonji. Afterwards I was walking towards the bakery, I noticed a sign for a hydrangea festival at a temple called Yogenji.
Walk to the back of the temple and climb up the stairs.
Actually, all these beautiful hydrangea surround their cemetery.
It was krazy to climb stairs while wearing a mask.
It was still worth seeing all these beautiful flowers.
We were supposed to start our rainy season last week, but that didn't happen.
We'll see what happens, the weather dude says we (Tokyo) will start our rainy season today...oh and if you want to see a short video of these hydrangea, please click here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

mask case


So now that we need to wear masks everywhere, what are you doing with your mask when you eat or drink something? 

Is your mask hanging from one ear? 

 Did you pull the mask all the way down to your jaw? 

 Did you take it off and put it on the table you were sitting at to eat? 

 In Japan, there has been talk about mask cases.

 
I'm planning to carry around my zip around wallets and slim make-up bags to put my mask into. 

Remember when taking the mask off or putting it back on after your meal, not to touch the outer surface of the mask. 

If you do touch it, remember to wash your hands.

Touch only the ear straps. 

Have you eaten out yet? 

I haven't gotten up the courage to eat out yet, but when I do, I think I'll be ready.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

amabie


I learned about Amabie (ah-mah-bee-eh) from Letterpress Meiko , a small business in Osaka that makes relief style business cards the old school way with a printing press, ink, paper and movable type blocks.

(When I saw a piece about this shop on television, it brought back memories of when I took a graphic design class in high school and used a printing press to make cards)

According to Japanese folk lore, a mysterious green light was spotted in the water by villagers.

The green light turned out to be a green creature that had fish scales, long hair, three legs and a beak.

It was called Amabie and it told the villagers that two things would happen...a rich harvest would bless Japan for the next 6 years and a pandemic would ravage the country.

The Amabie said that in order to fend off the pandemic they should draw an image of it (Amabie) and share the image with as many people as possible.

Who knew memes were even around back then?!

Until this recent pandemic, Amabie was forgotten and over the past couple of months has recently taken Japanese social media by storm.

Hoping this pandemic will be controlled soon.

Monday, June 08, 2020

suzunari farm


I ordered another veggie box from Tabechoku.

This time from Suzunari Farm, which is located on the Miura Penninsula in Kanagawa Prefecture.

It came with colorful carrots, leek, turnip, potatoes.
A beet, onion, red daikon, purple daikon, and basil.
I made some watermelon salad with part of the basil. 

Since I couldn't get feta cheese, I used mozzarella. 

I think I prefer feta for the salty bites.
For dinner I made some reishabu, which you blanch thin slices of pork in hot water then stop the cooking by putting it into cold water. 

The farm suggested that you make a leek sauce with their leeks. 

Instead of soaking the leeks in the sauce, I made the sauce and then topped the pork with the leeks and drizzled some of the sauce.

Here is the recipe for the leek sauce from Suzunari Farm.

120 cc vinegar
100 cc shoyu (soy sauce)
60 grams sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced

Mix sauce and add leeks.
Use over reishabu,  karaage (fried chicken) or even cold tofu.

NOTES: I didn't add the leeks to the sauce, but just drizzled the sauce and threw on some leeks onto the reishabu.

I think this sauce could be used as a dressing for somen salad or any salad for that matter.

Since I knew we wouldn't be able to eat everything in a timely manner, I blanched and froze half of the purple daikon and red daikon.

I'll use it to make cold soups during the summer.

I made some pickles using the beet, turnip, red daikon and purple daikon with the recipe came with the veggies.

This pickle recipe doesn't have salt in it, so we'll need to eat these up quickly.

Here is the recipe for the pickles.

Veggies, cleaned and sliced
120 cc water
180cc vinegar
3 or 4 tablespoons sugar
Bring pickling liquid ingredients to a boil and make sure the sugar melts.
Cool the pickling liquid.
Pour over veggies.

NOTES: these pickles do not last long, so don't be like me and make a lot at once.  

For the amounts I made (1 beet, 1 turnip, half the red daikon and half the purple daikon), I used 2 times the pickling liquid recipe.

I only put 3 tablespoons sugar and liked how puckery this was.

With part of a leek I made an omelette for breakfast and topped it with a little okonomiyaki sauce.






I made each pickles of the root veggies separately to keep the colors from bleeding into each other....love the different pinks!
For dinner Thursday night, I  baked potato with the kitaakari (a type of potato) in the fish grill drawer.

Wash the potato well, and cut into 4 without cutting all the way through.

Wrap in foil and put into the fish grill drawer on high for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let sit in the fish grill drawer for 15 minutes.

I drizzled some shoyu (soy sauce) and put a dollop of butter.

It took some time but this was so good!

It's been ages since I've had baked potato.

I washed part of the carrot greens and froze them to make pesto with it at a later date.

I also washed and froze the beet greens to use at a later date.

I grilled the white part of the leeks in the fish grill drawer and with ate this with some Murray River pink salt flakes.

I bought some fried squid and drizzled more leek sauce and topped with leeks.

We ate the colorful carrots as is...so crunchy and sweet!

It was fun to see so much color over the past couple of days.

The humidity is up and weather kind of wonky.

Not sure when our rainy season will start, but we've been laying low.

Satoshi's first week was rather short because he had his birthday and Friday off.

He said the trains are rather packed for parts of his commute.

Since he works in travel, he is hoping business will pick up, though realistically he knows that it will take some time.

Have a nice week.

Friday, June 05, 2020

happy birthday



It was Satoshi's birthday on Wednesday and he was lucky to get the day off.

We went up the street to Vanni to get something sweet.

 He chose their mont blanc.
I chose their Gateaux Fraises.

I was shocked that the shop packed the cakes very poorly, where most shops have intricate boxes that keep the cakes intact and are easily accessible to  slide the cakes out, this one was not and I ended up having to cut/break the box open to slide them out (there was even some remnants of the cakes on the box...boo!). 

Still, we were happy to have something sweet to celebrate his special day.

The temperature has soared and we are in the mid 80s (F) (mid 20s (C)) and the humidity is pretty bad already.

We're already using our a/c...hope you are doing well, have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

akueki taisan


(photo taken from Halekulani (Oahu) 2011) Monday night around various parts of Japan, they had a 5 minute fireworks display.

The areas were not disclosed, if you happened to be at the spot at the right time, you were lucky to view them. (we were watching a movie so we didn't hear or notice any fireworks)

The reason they did this was to prevent crowds.

Apparently Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu first displayed fireworks near the Sumida River as a way to pray for the health of the Japanese after an epidemic in what the Japanese call "akueki taisan".

Since most of this year's summer firework displays have been cancelled, it was a nice way for many of the firework makers around Japan, to "show off" their fireworks.

It was also a nice way to "cheer up" those who were lucky to see them.

A nice way to thank the people working on the front lines.

And most of all, pray for this pandemic to be controlled.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

tonkatsu enraku

Saturday, we took out from Tonkatsu Enraku

In the past, we've eaten there one other time, but right now, they are only offering take out...so we picked up their katsudon. 

Bummer that the egg has to be cooked all the way through for take out because the slightly runny egg is really good on this! 

I also missed the extra sauce that they usually put on. 

This still came with their tonjiru (pork soup) and pickles. 

It was a little too much for me to eat, so Satoshi got all the leftovers. 

We look forward to eating here, but for now, this was a nice tonkatsu fix.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

how are you wearing your mask?


There have been quite a number of people here that do not properly wear their mask.

(photos from a Japanese website) I know it is getting warmer (and humid) but your nose should not stick out above the mask.
If you want to smoke, eat or drink, remove the mask by touching only the straps.

The mask should not be resting on the bottom of your chin/jaw.
Nor should the mask be so big that it isn't fitting snugly around your nose or mouth.
(if possible there should not be any space on the sides of your mask for air to escape)  

Our government has suggested wearing a mask/face cover when exercising and/or jogging. (the reason has  something to do with the heavy breathing) 

With the weather getting warmer, remember to hydrate and try not to overexert yourself.

I am worried about infection, but because I'm vain, a little more worried about the mark the mask will leave on my face from the sun....I think might have to get out and about only in the evenings from now on...

Monday, June 01, 2020

end of may...start of june

On my last post, I forgot to mention that we were supposed to attend a wedding that was planned for that Sunday. 

Unfortunately they cancelled it because of the virus. 

I am not sure if they will have another celebration, or if we should send them something to celebrate...Satoshi said he will ask the father of the groom.

Tried a new recipe for Qīngjiāo ròu sī (which the Japanese pronounce Chin-jao-ro-su).

Qīngjiāo ròu sī by Lettuce Club : Serves 2
150 grams pork, thinly sliced
4 bell peppers
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut the pork into matchstick strips
Salt, pepper and coat the meat with cornstarch
Cut the bell pepper in half  lengthwise, clean and thinly slice into matchstick strips
In a pan, heat the sesame oil on medium
Cook the pork until it changes color
Add the bell pepper and cook for about 3 minutes
Add the sauce to the pan and once the sauce starts to bubble, coat the pork and bell pepper with the sauce.

NOTES: this was easy and tasty.  

The hardest part was cleaning and cutting the bell peppers. 

You need to adjust the amount of bell pepper because Japan's bell peppers are smaller than those in the US (about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide)...I think you might be able to make this with 1 big bell pepper.

Will definitely make this again.

This past Saturday, we went to the laundromat to fluff up our futon (comforters) and warm blankets.

It took us two trips, but at least we got it done.

This week the weather is kind of sketchy and the weather dude says that our area may start the rainy season on the 7th.

Satoshi goes back to his office today to meet with his department.

They will determine what their strategy will be for the coming months.

Gotta get back in the groove to waking up early to make bento.

Hope you are doing well.

Have a good week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

next chapter

Last Wednesday, the second box I ordered from Tabechoku arrived.

It was from Daiwa Farm, a dairy farm in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu.

The set they were selling had 2 mozzarella, some ricotta, a tub of yogurt and 2 yogurt drinks.

Mother Nature slammed us back to March temps...low to mid 50s (F) (low to mid 10s (C)), my mind is already in summer mode, so of course, I already put away all my winter stuff...

I tried to mail a letter to a friend in Europe and was told that AIR MAIL was not an option, it would go by boat and they could not give me a timeline as to how long it would take (I overheard the clerks say, "maybe until next year?"...WT?!)

Thursday, we went to MOS to pick up lunch.

I hadn't been there in awhile, so I was surprised that they moved out most of their tables and had these marks on the floor to "social distance".

Even though we took out, I was also surprised that they were allowing "eat-in".

Saturday, we had part of the ricotta with some fig spread, proscuitto and toasted boule.

And one of the mozzarella as a caprese of sorts with pesto drizzled on top.

Both cheeses were delicious...very creamy!

Sunday, I used the other mozzarella to top a pizza.

The dough recipe I got from Elle Japan was a bit sticky, but was tasty, the texture seemed more like foccacia.

The dough was featured in the magazine to be used to make 8 mini pizzas, but I instead made one big one using the turntable of my oven as the "pizza stone/pan".

I topped this pizza with kale, thinly sliced onions and cherry tomatoes.

Even if it was really sticky, I love how easy this dough came together, and think I will give it another try when the weather warms up.

We ate the pizza with slices of proscuitto, pesto and homemade marinara...so good!

Monday we had the rest of the ricotta crumbled on raisin french toast.

I am glad we tried this farm's products, all were creamy and rich.

I look forward to trying other vendors from Tabechoku in the future.

Monday evening, the Prime Minister declared Japan's state of emergency was over because most of the numbers are in "manageable ranges".

The past couple of weeks were an interesting look at how local and main branches of government do not communicate well.

How the main branch of government just "throws" their ideas out there and expects the local branches to "make it happen".

Most local branches have set up their criteria to keep their prefectures open, with the understanding that if their numbers come close to becoming unmanageable, we might all have to "stay at home" again.

For now, Tokyo still needs to "stay at home" until May 31.

Satoshi is back to work from June 1, but will meet to see what they will do for the future months.

Tokyo, as well as other prefectures (Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Hokkaido) are not allowed to travel to other prefectures and other prefectures are not allowed to come to Tokyo or the other 4 prefectures until June 19.

The experts say that it will take Japan at least 5 to 10 years to produce a "safe" vaccine.

Until then, the medical system here will use the drugs that have seemed to help patients recover from their symptoms from the virus.

We still need to keep social distancing, washing our hands and keeping out of confined spaces.

Most stores here require you to wear a mask and to use hand sanitizer upon entering.

I need to adjust to waking up earlier to make Satoshi's bento and look forward to going market shopping more than once a week.

(it was tough to shop for a week (without a car to carry everything) especially when I needed to restock on heavy items like bottled condiments or rice!)

I am not sure when I'll start to ride the train, but will gradually work my way back to the "city".

Oh, and the letter I thought would go by boat to Europe, instead came back yesterday, saying to come back for a refund and apology letter...when we called the post office they said that Japan was not allowing mail to go or come from 140 countries...boo!

As the next chapter starts, I hope Japan will take this time to prepare for the 2nd wave...

Hope you are all doing well.