Wednesday, April 29, 2020

(not so) golden week

Today is a national holiday and we're technically in the middle of Golden Week.

What would normally be happening would be everyone travelling....this year though, most of us are staying home and practicing social distancing (there are still those rebels out there...grr).

I had often passed by Sao Paulo, a tiny shop nearby that sells coffee beans.

They have been in business since 1979.

Since I am staying off the trains, I haven't been able to get to Takeya, my favorite place to buy coffee at, so I decided to try buying some beans from them.

They are a little pricey but I'm glad they are in walking distance from where we live and we can get our hands on freshly roasted beans...I'll be back.

Can you believe that most housewives were not cutting back the amount of times a week that they were grocery shopping? Most were still going every day?!

Last week our governor requested that we cut back grocery shopping to once every three days...I am still going only once a week.

This means I plan basically what we will eat for the week.

I try to do a combination of bread, rice, noodles a day.

Make a list of the things we need and go shopping.

I sometimes buy pre-made foods so that I can take a break from cooking some days.

I also post a "loose" menu on the fridge because "someone" keeps asking me what's for lunch and so on...(it also helps me remember what day it is)

My vegetable of choice these days is cabbage.

It lasts about a week and is pretty versatile as salad or in stir-frys.

I was happy to pick up some blood oranges on my last grocery run.

They are HUGE! about the size of a tennis ball.

The ones we had earlier in the year were smaller like the size of golf balls.

The medical experts here have recommended that you sit diagonally from each other when eating, so that "things" like saliva, food do not "fly", when you talk to each other.

We had talked about getting a square table one since it is only the two of us...I guess it is a good thing we got a rectangular one...

Got a little creative with cooking...I used some leftover gyoza filling and tossed it with some cooked udon.

At the end, I drizzled some shoyu, vinegar & chili oil, similar to how we eat our gyoza...to make some yaki udon.

I would definitely make this again.

I found some really old carnaroli rice in my pantry so I have been mixing it with our Japanese rice and cooking it in the rice cooker.

It doesn't get "sticky" like Japanese rice but still is okay.

Since we drank most of the blood orange infused vodka (still have a little left), I used some of the peel and put it into some muffins and topped it with some chocolate chips.

I wanted to try roasting garbanzo beans but since I didn't have any, I tried roasting cannelini beans and tossed it with some "everything but the bagel" seasoning.

They didn't come out crispy, but we still enjoyed them.

Hope you all are doing well and keeping your spirits up.

Take care!

Sao Paulo
7-52-5 Nishikamata
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3735.2139
Hours: 10:00-18:00
Closed Sundays

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

oh em gee

Wednesday I went to the market to pick up groceries for the week.

I can't believe that people still don't know about "social distancing".

The market I go to is teeny and they have put "footprints" on the floor as to where to wait for your turn to pay.

A woman asked if I was standing in line for the check-out, I said I was (I was on top of a "footprint").

And because there was a "gap" between me and the woman in front of me, she told me, "why aren't you moving up then?"...grrr

The element on my oven is adjustable (it can be lowered or raised), these days though if the element is lowered the chances it will be able to return to the top position is very iffy (the oven is nearing 20 years).

While toasting some rolls the other day, the element came down suddenly, burning the top of the roll.

Stupidly, I used pot holders to try to push the element back up...(sorry if I got these pot holders from you...)

Which also charred "that finger"...ow...glad it wasn't more serious of a burn.

It's been 6 weeks since I started making blood orange infused vodka.

Super fragrant and I love the color.

I couldn't add as many peels as I wanted to because every time I added some peel, the amount of vodka inched up to the top of the bottle, so I only added about 2 oranges worth for 350 milliliters of vodka.

Over the weekend, I made us some vodka spritzers...50 milliliters of the vodka, ice and carbonated water...delicious!

Will make muffins with the peel after we finish drinking the vodka.

Friday the area for the state of emergency was widened to all of Japan.

Unfortunately most believe that being outside is "okay", what they do not realize is by doing this, they are creating crowds.

Some stores are getting smarter about "social distancing" but others aren't.

Many have cut their operation hours back to keep their employees safe.

The other day, the woman at the post office counter told me that the mail going to foreign countries are not going as frequently as before...I was told that my condolence envelope to my cousin's family may take awhile...like at surface mail speed...eep!

The Japanese government is giving each household 2 washable masks...we are waiting to receive them.

Today is Earth Day.

And while we all cannot get out and about freely to bond with nature, I hope we all will be able to soon.

Hope you are all keeping positive and zen.

Please take care.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

disappointed

Am very disappointed with the attitude of some people here in Tokyo.

Not following the request to "social distance" and to "stay at home"

Just because their type of shop was not specifically listed, they continue to do business.

Just because the fenced off area had an opening and "everyone else was doing it", they went down to dig for clams.

"Running" to other prefectures because the other prefectures haven't been requested to "social distance" or to "stay at home" (yet)...putting the other prefecture's medical systems and citizens at risk.

Doesn't everyone realize that if we don't get this virus under control there will be NO Olympics?!

That we will all have to continue to "stay at home"?!

This is the 1st week that Satoshi stayed at home and he is already bored.

That area I set up the computer for him to study online is his new hangout.

Which is good because we are not in each other's faces.

He does come out when he is hungry or needs me to explain something he read in English (I need to write "dictionary" on my resume)...

We have been eating stuff from the pantry and freezer, and I do go out for groceries once a week, usually on Wednesdays.

I stopped going to rehab because I am basically "pain free" and most of the people that go to rehab are elderly and I don't want to put them at risk...


You probably already know about this life hack but I usually buy an amount of meat and freeze half with the label from the package, so that I will know what it is.

Found these Eureka variety of blueberries from Shizuoka. These are smaller berries but was glad to support the Japan Farming Community.

We went for a walk on Saturday and saw some beautiful flowers.

Over the past week, there were days that it rained, which made it easy for us to stay indoors, it was days like Saturday that made us sigh and wish were were able to be out and about.

Still, we plan to go out for a walk at least once a week.

I've challenged Satoshi to grow a beard...it is almost a week and he already hates it and shaved it yesterday.

He said "gentlemen always shave"...sorry for you readers that already have a beard...

Monday, Satoshi had to go to the doctor for his periodic check-up...he went anxiously but needed to go so he can refill his prescriptions.

He needs to go back for the results, but I asked if he could just call the doctor to get them instead of having to ride the train...he ended up going back yesterday afternoon (everything was okay).

We ordered some 551...6 butaman and 15 yakigyoza.

We ate 2 butaman for lunch yesterday and I have frozen the other 4 for us to have another day.

The yakigyoza will be our Friday dinner.

We call MIL from time to time, she is doing fine.

Basically that was our week, how was yours?

Hope you all are keeping safe.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

saying goodbye

You may remember that back in March, we found out that my Dad's sister had passed away.

We found out afterwards that she had contracted COVID-19 which she was tested for after she had passed.

Soon after that, we also found out that cousin E (her son) and his wife also contracted the virus through her.

E's wife has since recovered from the virus but E did not.

We were very saddened to hear of his passing.

We are thankful we got to visit with him and his family when they came to Osaka back in 2017.

Please be safe everyone.




Wednesday, April 08, 2020

finally

(photo from 2017, Kyoto)

I wasn't going to update the blog for the rest of the week, but since things have drastically changed, I thought I should tell you what is happening...

Last night, Prime Minister Abe declared "a state of emergency" for 7 prefectures : Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo & Fukuoka.

From what I understand, it doesn't "lock" us down or anything severe, but it does give the government the power to claim lands/buildings needed to create "make-shift" hospitals, as well as free up monies to combat this virus.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been hoping he would declare this state of emergency, but they were waiting to see if the Olympics could be held and how declaring the emergency would affect the economy...sigh.

Satoshi has some work to do from home, but is basically on leave until May 6th.

I'm glad he doesn't have to go in to work because every time he has to ride the train it puts him/us at risk...

We will keep to our daily time schedules, going out only for groceries or a walk.

Hope you are all keeping safe.

Take care.

Monday, April 06, 2020

the past days

How are you doing? We are doing fine.

Last Monday, rehab asked all of us to wear masks whenever going to them, so that is what I do.

Satoshi is still going to work and I am laying low and haven't been outside since Thursday.

Thursday, on my way back from the market I admired the cherry blossoms on the grounds of a neighborhood temple.

We have been having krazy typhoon like winds so a lot of the cherry blossom petals have been falling quicker than normal.

Friday, I baked bread.

The dough was super sticky, so I think I need to watch the amount of water I am putting into it.

I still like the crust and taste of this recipe though.

I have more packets of yeast, so will definitely try again.

Saturday...tech support = me...set up the computer in our other room so that Satoshi can study online with his German class.

Man, you gotta remember that whatever is in the back of you can be seen by the cameras...yikes for laundry hanging here and there!

Saturday night dinner...made a copy cat version of Capricciosa's tomato garlic pasta.

I didn't have pasta and there was none at the market, so I bought a thin udon, which surprisingly was still on the shelves of the market.

The sauce came out pretty good but dry because I couldn't time finishing it with Satoshi's online class finishing, so I think I left it on the stove a little longer than it needed to be.

If you want to try here's the recipe I adapted from online: for 2 servings

1 can diced tomatoes (about 300 grams)
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground chicken bouillon
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon parmesan cheese

In a pan, heat the oil and garlic
When fragrant, add the canned tomatoes, bouillon, sugar and cheese
Simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes.
Serve over pasta.

NOTES: so easy and delicious. I'm definitely making this again.

Remember the hoshi yasai (dried veggies)?

Well, I used the kinpira mix.

And the hijiki mix.

The hijiki took the longest to reconstitute and cook.

Both came out great and we're eating this for the next couple of days for lunch.

I'll probably update the blog once a week.

Take care and keep positive.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

siberia

There is a sweet called Siberia.

It is basically yokan (thick jelled sweet bean paste) that is sandwiched with castella (sponge cake).

Apparently this sweet was created in the Kanto (East Japan) area, Yokohama to be exact...no wonder I hadn't seen/tried this in Kansai (West Japan).

It is also apparently called "Siberia" because it reminded the creator of the railroads in Russia...

I had recently seen this on a television show and at some bakeries in Tokyo as well and was interesting in trying it.

The version I tried had the yokan as well as some cream cheese in the center.

The tartness from the cream cheese helped to balance out all the sweetness from the yokan and castella.

I'm glad I tried it and will try other versions when I come across them at other bakeries.