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 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!

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

Hope you are all doing well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

this week

Last Wednesday, I tried making nitsuke for the first time.

Nitsuke is when you simmer a protein (mainly fish) in a sweetened shoyu based sauce.

I was surprised at how fast, tasty and easy it was to do.

If you'd like to try making this here is the recipe I adapted from the internet.

Kinmedai (splendid alfonsino) Nitsuke (simmered in sweetened shoyu sauce) : 2 servings : adapted from several recipes on the internet
2 pieces kinmedai, scaled, rinsed
1/2 cup sake (rice wine)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 nub ginger, cleaned and sliced

Place an "X" on the the skin of the fish, be careful not to cut all the way through
In a pot or pan, put all the sauce ingredients in and bring to a boil
Add the fish and turn down the heat to medium
Cover with a drop lid and cook for 10 minutes
Remove the drop lid turn the heat down to low and spoon the sauce over the fish for 5 minutes
Serve and enjoy!

NOTES: so easy, tasty and easy! Pretty sure you can change the type of fish and also adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.
Serve this with lots of rice! I will definitely be making this again.

We ordered our first CSA (community supported agriculture) box which arrived on Friday.

I learned about Tabechoku from a television show called "7 Rule".

The television show introduces the many Japanese working women and shares their 7 rules on life and work.

On a particular episode, they introduced the owner of Tabechoku which introduces farmers to customers and cuts out the middle men (all the red tape organizations) and gives the farmers more profits.

The prices are a little higher than what you would find in the supermarkets, but the freshness of the produce cannot be beat.

The farm we ordered from, Ogawa Farm is located about an hour drive from Kumamoto city in Kyushu.

Apparently they use goats to "weed" and "fertilize" their veggies.

We ordered their medium sized veggie box and it came with 7 different veggies...bok choy, spinach, carrot, cherry tomatoes, baby leaf, onions and garlic scapes (which I had originally thought were called garlic sprouts from the translation from Japanese to English).

It was my first time to cook with garlic scapes...apparently they are not readily found at the markets, though I have seen them in Chinese dishes here.

On my first try, since it was our first time to try them, I prepared them simply by steaming them and we ate them as was like eating garlicky green beans!

With the rest of them, I sauteed them with some thinly sliced beef and seasoned it with some oyster sauce and shoyu (soy sauce).

When we received the box, it was nice to also receive some pamphlets educating us about the area our veggies came from as well as a few ideas on how to use their produce.

One thing that Ogawa Farm had mentioned was that garlic scapes were not often found at the markets so I'm glad we got to try them, but just in case, will also keep an eye for them on my next grocery run...

With the bok choy, I stir fried it with some chicken, some of the carrots we received as well as some of the onion that was in the box. I added garlic and seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce) and oyster sauce.

We have the spinach, carrots and onions left to eat...I am happy with this box and will definitely order again from this farm when the season changes.

It's shakuyaku (Chinese peony) season...we were lucky to get the last two at our neighborhood flower shop.

Love how big they get when they bloom, like a hand with fingers splayed!....hard to believe the buds were only the size of a golf ball!

Too bad these don't have any fragrance though...still pretty to look at though.

Good news: The 2 washable masks for 1 household from the government arrived...It took about a month.

39 of the 47 prefectures in Japan have been released from the state of emergency and have been allowed to transition back to some normalcy.

Sad news: After saying they would give every household 2 masks, some people that received them saw hair and some discoloration on their masks...blah!

So, it was recalled and they had to examine "each one" before putting them in our mailboxes...sigh.

AND after I washed them...they are already falling!

Tokyo was not one of the prefectures that were released, we still need to get our numbers under control.

Sadly, this year they will not open Mount Fuji to hiking.

Rainy season and humidity is least we are eating well.

Hope your week was a good one.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

how are you?

Have to apologize in advance, Blogger changed how I create a post, so if this looks weird it is because I haven't figured everything out yet... 

How was your week?

We are doing okay...

Wednesday my grocery shopping day...the market that I like to go to was taking a break and would be!

Luckily, we have several other markets nearby, so I went to check one of them out.

I didn't know this but many other markets have been limiting the amount of natto that you can purchase, guess there were people who were stockpiling it?!

We tried Tajin on pineapple for the first time...I had bought a small bottle when I was in Hawaii last summer to try...hope to try it on other fruits this summer...if you've tried Tajin, please tell me in the comments how you use it.

Wednesday night, we had a thunder and lighting show...for 4 hours straight...eep! 

If you'd like to see a portion of it, here is a link to a short video that I shot.
Thursday was the full moon called "Flower Moon" was huge, a little orange-pink...amazing. 

Saturday night, we had iwashi (sardines) that was canned in a tomato sauce. 

Since the can had garlic and other seasonings noted on the label, I figured it would taste "Italian-ish" and added some parmesan cheese and bread crumbs before cooking it under the fish grill. 

This particular brand didn't have as much fish in the can as the others we have tried and it was tasty. 

I would definitely buy this again but take it out of the can and cook it with some sliced onions and a little more garlic...maybe put it on pasta or on baguette.

Sunday, we had a virtual birthday party for my cousin D.

Love technology!

It was nice to facetime with family in Hawaii, Oregon and Missouri....everyone (except us)  had brought their own cakes!

So...after our facetime, Satoshi and I went to get some cake from Enomoto, a cake and cafe near our train station that has been in business since 1922!, and I also took out our Wedgewood coffee cups!

Okinawa and other areas have started rainy season...early yeah?!

Monday, the temps went up to 29C (86F)?!

It is already quite uncomfortable wearing a mask and it will be nasty when humidity is added to the picture...ugh!

I have been using things in my freezer and these dried cherries, dried blueberries and mac nuts.

And just like that another week has gone by....

What have you been eating? doing?

Have a good week.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020


Somehow the week flew by!

Saturday, we went straight into Summer.

The temps went up to 27C (81F)!

Even at night it was still in the 20s (70s)...I am pretty sure it is gonna be blazing this year.

I made some crackers to eat with some hummus...

Sesame crackers : makes about 40 adapted from "Free Range Cook"

1.5 cup plain flour
2 tbsp each black and white sesame seeds or 4 tbsp just one kind
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a mixing bowl stir together the flours, sesame seeds, and salt.

Mix the oils and water together and add to the dry ingredients, stirring to form a soft, pliable dough.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each out on a lightly floured board as thinly as possible.

Each piece of dough should yield a rectangle about 34 cm x 16cm (13 inches x 6 inches).

Cut each rectangle into strips measuring about 4 cm x 17cm (1.5 inches x 6.6 inches) and roll again.

Carefully transfer strips to a baking tray, brush lightly with oil and sprinkle with flaky salt.

Bake until crisp and pale golden – about 15-18 minutes.

Allow to cool fully then store in an airtight container.

NOTES: I made half the recipe and the dough was easy to put together.

I need to look for my rolling pin and make these thinner the next time, but these were delicious!

For our snack the other day I made Martha Stewart's Outrageous Chocolate Cookies...

Makes 24 cookies

8 ounce chocolate, chopped (226 grams)
4 tablespoons butter (56 grams)
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounce chocolate chunks (340 grams)

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate.

Mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes.

Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Don't worry if the batter seems thin.

It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.

NOTES: I made half of this recipe and am pretty sure it is called "outrageous" because of the copious amounts of chocolate! so rich! one cookie was definitely enough...will try eating this with some vanilla ice cream and will freeze some too.

While watching a television program the other week, Kinugasa Donburi was introduced.

Apparently it is popular in Kyoto.

Since Satoshi is from Kyoto, he knew about this, not so much.

It seemed easy to make, so on my weekly grocery run, I picked up some aburaage (fried tofu) and dehydrated green onion.

Kinugasa donburi makes 2 servings : adapted from the internet

1 aburaage (fried tofu), thinly sliced
300 milliliters dashi (stock)
2.5 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs, beaten
green onion, thinly sliced
cooked rice

In a pan, heat the stock, shoyu, mirin, sugar.

When the liquid comes to a boil, add the aburaage.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and heat the aburaage through.

Add the beaten eggs and slurry

Turn off the heat and stir until the sauce gets thick

Pour over rice and top with fresh green onion enjoy!

NOTES: so fast, easy and delicious. Like oyakodon but without chicken.

If you use dehydrated green onion, put it into the sauce when you add the aburaage.

Will definitely make this again.

Yesterday, Satoshi went to have his hair cut.

I offered to cut it for him, but he was too chicken to let me.

During this state of emergency, dunno why barber shops are allowed to operate but hair salons are not allowed.

The first thing I want to do when we can get out and about is get my hair colored...I am beginning to look like Flower from Bambi...gasp!

Our state of emergency has been extended until the end of May.

Since Satoshi still hasn't received a router for his computer for work, he will just be at home until the end of May.

You know what has been scary this week? Earthquakes.

Early this morning and the other night, Chiba prefecture has had size 4 earthquakes which set off the alarms on our phones and scared the beejeezus out of us (especially the one this morning at nearly 2 am!)

We definitely do not need a natural disaster on top of this virus thingy.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Take care.