Tuesday, March 31, 2020

5 minute ozoni

Sunday dinner was ozoni.

I know you usually see ozoni during New Years but since the weather was fahreezing and we stayed in all weekend, this was perfect.

I used some dried veggies, which I reconstituted with hot water.

It was my first time using the dried veggies and it came out quite good.

And heated up some mochi from the freezer.

As for the soup, I used a packed of instant suimono.

This was delicious and perfect for the weather on Sunday.

I will definitely keep these dried veggies on hand in my pantry.

Monday, March 30, 2020

beet hummus

I made beet hummus for the first time with a roasted beet I had in the freezer.

The deep pink/magenta color was perfect for the overcast weather.

1 roasted beet (about the size of a fist), peeled & sliced
1 can of garbanzo beans (380 grams), rinsed
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, whiz everything together to the consistency of your choice.

NOTES: I didn't have sesame paste (tahini) so I used sesame oil instead. My hummus didn't get creamy or a light pink, which I think was due to not using tahini.

Still, I'm glad I tried this.

I froze half and we enjoyed the rest for several dinners over the weekend.

Yesterday, we had snow! for most of the morning.

I think this helped everyone stay at home.

Japan does not have any laws that allow the government to mandate everyone to stay at home.

Because of this, they can only "ask" us to do so.

Many of the surrounding prefectures also "asked" their citizens to stay at home.

Most parks for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) are off limits so no one gathers, benches blocked off as well as park entrances.

Hoping we can cut our numbers this week, though we need the cooperation of everyone.

Have a good week.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

la boulange asano

There are so many bakeries in Japan.

I hadn't heard of La Boulange Asano, but as we walked to MIL after lunch, we picked up a few items for breakfast.

I love trying different bakeries sakura anpan...this one had koshian (smooth sweet bean paste) with sakura leaves worked in.

The outer bread had sakura leaves and a salted sakura flower on top.

Satoshi had their garlic baguette and MIL had their regular anpan.

I'm glad we tried them and will be back whenever we are in the area.

BIL gave MIL another kokedama (moss ball) with momo (peach) blossoms for her birthday...so pretty!

La Boulange Asano
25 Kitagenicho, Koyama
Kita-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.493.1693
Closed Thursdays
Hours: 7:30-18:30

Saturday, March 28, 2020

misonobashi sakai

When we arrived in Kyoto we hopped on a bus to an area near Kamigamo Shrine, Misonobashi Sakai.

This shop was recently talked about on "Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai".

I tried their yakibuta reimen...which is supposed to be their popular item.

I didn't like that they put lots of sauce on it.

The shoyu based sauce was overly sweet and had lots of chinese mustard in it...

Satoshi wanted to try the dish that was talked about on the show...Tenshin Han, which is fried rice topped with a scrambled egg and covered with a thick shoyu slurry sauce.

I got a taste and will order this the next time we are here.

The gyoza met the gyoza snob's preferences.

After lunch we walked along the Kamo River.

And spotted this cool mosaic wall made from broken dishes.

I'm glad we got to try this place and will be back the next time we are in Kyoto.

Misonobashi Sakai
38-3 Oomiyahigashisoumonguchicho
Kita-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.492.4965
Closed Mondays
Hours: 11:00-22:00

Friday, March 27, 2020

hoshi yasai

Over the past couple of days, there has been talk of Tokyo being on lockdown.

Apparently the numbers we have been seeing on the news are actually 2 weeks or so old because of the virus incubation period.

Wednesday, I went to the market to pick a few more items so that if they did lock us down, we would be ready.

I picked up some hoshi yasai which is literally dried veggies.

I bought some kiriboshi daikon, daikon leaves and spinach.

I also got a kinpira gobo mix and hijiki mix.

Unfortunately, over the past couple of days many people have been out in crowds because the sakura (cherry blossoms) are in bloom and also because it is technically Spring Break.

I have lived in Japan for 19 years now and feel social distancing is something Japan does not do well.

Wednesday night, the governor of Tokyo asked everyone to stay home this weekend to see if we can get our numbers down (right now Tokyo has the most infected in Japan).

Soon after that announcement and early Thursday morning you should have seen the krazy lines at the markets and drugstores.

Hopefully everyone will get the message and stay home this weekend because if they don't, we will be on lockdown...

Take care everyone.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


On our way to Kyoto, we stopped off at Hikone to visit MIL's family grave.

We saw this huge, beautiful succulent plant.

And these delicate glass hinamatsuri (girl's day) figurines and sakura tree.

Every time we go to Hikone we pass by Pomme d'Amour, a tiny bakery with a cafe and terrace area.

I guess we go so early in the morning to visit the family grave that this bakery is never open.

We finally tried some of their baked items.

The chausson aux pommes (apple pie) was so flaky and delicious!

Satoshi had their ham baguette.

The chocolate banana danish was different but delicious!

And their sesame onion loaf was delicious toasted.

I'm glad we got to try their baked goods and we'll be back whenever we are in Hikone.

Pomme d'Amour
2-8 Tachibana-cho
Hikone, Shiga
Phone: 0749.21.3515
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 9:00-19:00

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

saying goodbye

We just found out that my Dad's sister passed away recently.

We will miss her smile and beautiful singing.

Many family members said her singing resembled my paternal grandma's voice.

I was too young to remember my paternal grandma when she passed, so listening to my Aunty sing was a nice way to connect.

Sending her family lots of hugs.

(photo taken at :
Kitagawa Village Monet Garden, Kochi, Shikoku 2016)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

origami-ish mask

Since we were going to Kyoto, I wanted to wear a mask on the Shinkansen and anytime we were outside.

I saw this hack online and had to try.

Get a piece of fabric, preferably lightweight cotton that is 20 inches (50 centimeters) by 20 inches (50 centimeters).

I used one that was 12 inches (30 centimeters) by 20 inches (50 centimeters).

Fold the fabric into half and then fold it in half again.

I folded mine into thirds.

This is the mask.

With measurable hair ties, measure two pieces that are 10 inches (25 centimeters) each and tie each piece.

This will be the ear straps of the mask.

Place the mask through the ear straps with the knots facing up.

Holding one ear strap, gently bring that end of the mask into the center.

The knot will be covered up with the fold of the mask.

Do the same for the other side.

Tuck the overlap of fabric into the other end of the mask.

*You can adjust the mask to fit the width of your face.

If you wear glasses, wear the mask first and then put your glasses on.

Try to get the top part of the mask to fit right under your glasses, it will hold the mask in place and prevent it from fogging up.

To tell you the truth, I hate wearing masks because it is too hot and I feel like I am breathing recycled air..blah.

I love this hack because there is no sewing involved, you can wash the mask after you use it and the fabric can be used for something else.

While we were in Kyoto, I brought 3 different fabrics with me so that I could change my mask everyday.

After this is all over, I plan to keep this in my disaster bag for earthquakes.

I hope it won't be too hard to follow my directions, and if you do try this, let me know what you think.

Monday, March 23, 2020

13th memorial service

This weekend we went to Kyoto for FIL's 13th memorial service.

I made my own mask, which I learned about online.

It is kind of origami-ish...will post about it tomorrow.

I know masks will not totally protect you from this virus, but it is better than not having one.

Plus, MIL is 90-ish and definitely in a high risk class for this virus.

I made us some musubi with saba flakes and shibazuke for the train ride.

We got to see Mount Fuji.

I'm glad we were able to go through with the memorial service, we were worried that we would be in lockdown and that we wouldn't be able to travel to Kyoto.

This weekend was a 3-day weekend and everyone seemed to forget that the virus is still around...which is scary because there has been talk about the virus numbers exploding here.

I did receive a very disappointing comment on my previous post and while I feel everyone has a right to say what they want, I don't think they have the right to display so much anger and rudeness.

I do hope everyone is keeping positive, resting up and being kind to one another.

Friday, March 20, 2020

how are you?

How is everyone holding up?

Hope things aren't too krazy where you are.

Satoshi is still going to work, though starting next month they will have a mandatory 2 days off for the next 2 months and they will also have different start times depending on their family needs.

My daily routines haven't changed much other than I haven't been riding the trains.

I still have been going to rehab for my arm and I still go on walks to buy groceries.

We are lucky that we don't have to shelter in place like other countries are doing.

Since the weather dude said that the sakura started to bloom in Tokyo, I went to check on the sakura (cherry blossoms) yesterday near Tamagawa (Tama River) (which is walking distance), but they weren't quite ready.

Spring is coming and I hope everything will get back to normal soon.

For now though, please stay positive and be kind to one another.

Monday, March 16, 2020

bukkake nori

Have you tried this type of nori?

It is bits of Korean style nori that you can put onto rice or into soups.

Well, someone had given me a bag of this type of nori before we moved to Tokyo.

I had packed it into the moving box and put it onto my metal rack pantry when we arrived in Tokyo.

When I was going to open the bag, I noticed it was all sticky, oily and gross.

Then I found a teeny hole in the bag.

Since my pantry is a metal rack, I also noticed that the oil from the bag had dripped onto everything that was under the bag...

Well, the other day, I was looking through a basket I have with some li hing items in and noticed that I had missed some of that oil that had dripped...

It was hard and sticky...what a mess.

Saturday, March 14, 2020


I went to the DIY shop in our area to pick up some toilet paper (TP) and facial tissue since we are running low.

If the government does tell us not to leave our homes, I want us to at least have enough.

I had initially thought to go grocery shopping and then stop by the DIY shop on the way home...instead I went to the DIY shop first.

I'm glad I did because when I got there, everyone was lined up inside the stairwell of the store waiting for them to let us go in to buy TP and facial tissue.

As I was leaving (when the store officially opened), there was a teeny stampede of other customers, running for the TP and facial tissue area...sigh.

There are still no masks in the stores...I know masks do not prevent you from getting the virus, but I think it helps (Satoshi still has some masks to last another month).

Hoping we all get this virus under control so we all can get back to our normal routines and I hope that all that have contracted the virus will recover quickly.

Friday, March 13, 2020

that condo

When I first noticed it, I thought...wow, everyone in "that condo" is up already, all their lights are on...then I realized it was the reflection of the sunrise...

Whenever I see the reflection, I go to the other room in our apartment and check out the sunrise...

Have a nice (safe) weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

yuzu marmalade spareribs

I've been working through a book about using the fish grill drawer.

One recipe that caught my eye was a marmalade sparerib.

The spareribs they use were not too meaty.

Here is the recipe if you'd like to try...

500 to 600 grams spareribs
3 tablespoons marmalade
1/4 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
1/4 cup sake (rice wine)

Marinade the ribs for 30 minutes to half a day.
Preheat the fish grill on high for 2 minutes
Place the ribs on the grill and cook for 5 minutes.
Flip the ribs over and cook for another 5 minutes.

NOTES: Since my ribs were meaty and thick I marinated them overnight.

Instead of cooking it in the grill for 5 minutes on each side, I put the the ribs into a pan (with the marinade) and cooked it on low for 10 minutes on each side.

Then I put the ribs into the fish grill for 3 minutes on each side to get a nice char on it.

I shouldn't have put the marinade in the pan with the ribs as it made the ribs more salty and the yuzu that was in the marmalade was also too salty to eat.

Now I know and will try this again.

I like cooking in the fish grill because it gets rid of some of the fat from meats.

I look forward to cooking more things this way.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

virtual hugs

Thinking of the people of Tohoku especially today.

Be kind to one another.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

hoshi imo

While watching another episode of "Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai", they talked about sweet potato in particular, hoshi imo.

Hoshi imo is sweet potato that is steamed, sliced and then dried.

This episode reminded me that we visited a shop in Ibaraki that sold dried sweet potato called Daimaruya.

After watching this episode, we went to the supermarket and Satoshi found these hoshi imo.

The one on the left is a whole sweet potato, they use smaller sweet potato and since it takes longer to dry, most companies/farmers don't make a lot.

The variety for this version is called Beniharuka.

The sweet potato on the right has the skins left on.

The variety is called Silk Sweet.

According to the show, hoshi imo uses a variety called Tamayutaka and was dried to a point where when you took a bite, there was a pull to it, almost like beef jerky.

Nowadays with more tender varieties of sweet potato, the hoshi imo turns out more half-dried and still very sweet.

I've never bought hoshi imo in the past because the versions I've seen were really brown and not too appetizing.

I'm glad we tried these and will keep my eye out for more in the future.

Monday, March 09, 2020


There is a popular tapas that is served in bars and restaurants called ajillo (ah-hee-yo).

It usually comes to your table in a tiny iron skillet, with either shrimp or mushrooms or both, bubbling away in olive oil and garlic.

Since I've been experimenting with the fish grill drawer, I wanted to try making my own ajillo.

I opened a can of sardines packed in olive oil...then added some diced onion and garlic.

I put the can under the broiler for about 10 minutes...

This was delicious!

While eating dinner on Saturday, Satoshi immediately asked if we had some bread in the house...luckily I did.

Then last night, I made an ajillo from scratch...

I washed the can from the sardines and added some cleaned shrimp cut into bite sized pieces.

I also sprinkled some seasoned salt and added some diced onion and garlic.

Then filled the can up to the lip with olive oil.

I cooked it under the broiler for 10 minutes.

This got the thumbs up from you know who.

NOTES: not really a recipe...this was super easy and delicious with lots of bread.

I'm pretty sure we'll have this again soon.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

blood orange infused vodka

The peels of the blood orange are so floral and fragrant that I only realized recently that I could infuse vodka with them.

I bought a small bottle of vodka (375 milliliters) and peeled one blood orange with a peeler.

I have about 4 more blood oranges and will add the peels as we eat them.

I put the bottle in the cupboard, excited to see what happens.

Friday, March 06, 2020

10 minutes

So in 5 minutes I told you about grilling canned fish...well, in 10 you can grill hamburgers and veggies...

Just flip the burger at 5 minutes.

If your veggies are bigger, then flip at 5 minutes too...some of mine fell through the grill and it reminded me of playing the game "operation" (probably dated myself by saying that)...

so many fun and easy things to cook in the fish grill drawer.

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

5 minutes

The other morning, I tried putting canned sanma (saury) in the fish grill drawer.

It only takes about 5 minutes (on high) to heat the fish up.

You just have to watch it though, some of the sauce started to pop and splash.

And don't put the cans right next together on the grill or you'll have a hard time getting them out of the drawer, trust me...

The fish gets a little grilled "crust" on top...so good!

Love the retro picture on the can.

I think we'll be having fish this way often.