Friday, July 31, 2020

no plan


So...Tokyo's numbers have been increasing 100 everyday...we had 463 today.

The main branch of government has not stepped up, they are on summer break...WT.

The photo is of the chairmen of the Tokyo Doctor's Association...he is "asking" the main branch of government to reopen and meet to negotiate a "plan" so that we can stop the increase in cases.

It makes me sad that he cannot demand, only ask.

It makes me frustrated that the Japanese are not more verbal.

I don't think I've watched government's actions this closely, ever...

Am pretty sure the asymptomatic people are the key to get the number down, which means we need more testing.

I cringe every time I see people chatting on the street without masks.

It is the end of July....hope the next month will bring better things to talk about.

Have a safe weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

ume syrup kakuni


Last night I made kakuni (shoyu pork) using ume syrup in place of mirin.

It was pretty easy to do.

Adapted from Cookpad
500 grams pork belly block
2 slices ginger
50 cc (1/4 cup) ume syrup
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sake

Cut pork into sizes of your liking, I cut my block into 12 pieces.
Put the pork into a pot of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, drain.
In a pan without putting any oil, brown the pork to get color on it.
Put the pork back into a pot, with water to cover, bring to a boil then down to a simmer.
Cook for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, add the ume syrup, shoyu, brown sugar and sake and cook for 1 hour with an oshibuta (drop lid) on top.

NOTES: I should have boiled the meat for the 10 minutes to get rid of some of the fat.

I also should have made it a day ahead so I could scrape off most of the oil too.

I didn't get a good sear on the pork before simmering it, so I seared it after I cooked the pork.

This was melt in your mouth tender, would definitely make this again.

UPDATE: Japan had 1000 cases yesterday.  Iwate prefecture was the only prefecture that had no cases since the beginning of this pandemic until yesterday! Iwate now has 2 cases....boo!

Tokyo has had 200+ cases everyday for the past week.  We need more testing. 

Hoping the main branch of government will step up, though it doesn't look like they will because they are not in session at the moment...cowards!

Stay safe everyone. Keep positive.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

tsuiseki yubin


In the early part of July, I received my absentee ballot.

Since the mail is still wonky between the US and Japan, I sent it back to Hawaii with my vote the next day as I figured it would take some time to get to Hawaii, if it even made to Hawaii.


Well, it made it (quickly) to California...and then all communication stopped...gah!


A neat thing is the receipt I received after sending it tsuiseki yubin which is literally "tracking post/mail".

They scan the to and from areas on the envelope and it is printed on the receipt.

This way of sending mail is a little more expensive, but at least I can keep an eye on it through the tracking system of the US Post website.

Hopefully it is not in California and is on its way to Hawaii...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

myogazushi (revised)


Made myogazushi over the weekend.

I started by making myoga amasuzuke...

There was a cooking program that made this and I used the recipe to make some pickled myoga.

Here is the recipe if you want to make your own pickled myoga.



Myoga Amasuzuke : from Kyonoryori
9 pieces myoga (about 150 grams)
1/2 cup vinegar3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon salt + couple of pinches

After washing the myoga, split it in half lengthwise.
Make a slit at the stem to allow it to soak up the pickling liquid
Add a couple of pinches of salt and massage lightly, set aside for about 15 minutes.
Heat the vinegar, sugar, water, mirin and salt until the sugar and salt have melted

Cool.
After the 15 minutes, bring a pot of water to boil and add the salted myoga and blanch for 30 seconds.

Let cool.
Drain.
Add the warm myoga to the pickling liquid.
Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.
On Sunday, I made the myogazushi without going through all the steps of the recipe that I used before.

For 1 cup of cooked rice, I put 2 tablespoons of the myoga pickling liquid over the hot rice and mixed with a shamoji (rice paddle).

I added a handful of shelled edamame.

1/2 teaspoon of ground sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of pickled ginger, diced

3 myoga amasuzuke, minced

NOTES: Quick and easy.

Love the pink color that the myoga turns when it is pickled.

Will definitely make more myoga amasuzuke and myogazushi as well.

Monday, July 27, 2020

copy cat trader joes


The other day my Instagram friend, @cre808 posted a picture of some snacks she received from her friend.

One that popped out at me was Trader Joes (TJs) Everything but the Bagel Nut Duo.

Of course we don't have TJs here in Japan, so I looked online to see if they had a list of the ingredients.

They did, so I adapted Ellie Krieger's Spiced Nut recipe and made a small batch for our pupus (appetizers).

If you want to try making your own, here is what I used....

1 cup mixed nuts & pumpkin seeds 
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon everything but the bagel spice

Mix everything well.
Put on parchment and bake in 170F (325 C) for 15 to 20 minutes (I baked mine for 15).
Cool and keep in airtight container.

NOTES: this was delicious.

A little sweet, salty, garlicky...am definitely making this again!

p.s. have a good week, heard that there is a hurricane approaching Hawaii, please be safe and take care everyone!

Friday, July 24, 2020

sports day

Today is Sports Day and would have been the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics. 

At the rate Japan is going, I don't know that we will be able to hold the Olympics next summer....

Hope everyone is doing well, have a nice and safe weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

umi no hi


Today is Umi no Hi (Ocean Day)...

The holiday was actually supposed to be observed on Monday, but since we were supposed to have the Olympics, they moved the holiday to today so that many people could participate in the events, volunteer, etc.

Well, with the way things have been going, all the other prefectures are allowed to travel and we are staying put so I am sharing a couple of photos from the past....

The Okhotsk Sea...taken from the beach near Shiretoko Iwaobetsu Youth Hostel (pre blog) at sunset.

And the Pacific Ocean from the Palau Pacific Resort at sunset.

Hoping we will all be able to travel safely & soon,

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

go to campaign

Once again Japan's government has come up with "brilliant" ideas to waste more taxpayer monies in order to what they think will "fire up" the economy...

Go To Travel...Go To Eat...Go To Event are three different venues in which the government is looking to get the economy moving.

The travel idea was originally set to begin at the beginning of August or was it September? with COVID-19 under control.

Well, our numbers are nowhere near being under control.

So what does the government do? Bring the start date up to today, July 22...WT?!

On top of that, all residents of Tokyo are not eligible to participate because Tokyo's numbers are the highest in Japan, as if everyone in Tokyo is infected....aren’t they using Tokyo taxpayers’ monies too?!

There are several weird/unfair parts of this campaign that have popped up in the past couple of days...one is that since Tokyo is not eligible to participate, people from other prefectures are not allowed to visit Tokyo and receive discounts for their travel/sighseeing in Tokyo...

Another is that they are asking groups of young people, groups of elderly people and groups other than school groups to refrain from traveling...um, isn't that everyone?! so who is supposed to travel with this campaign?!

While I know that everyone wants to get back to "normal", I personally feel that we should feel safe while traveling and be able to "enjoy" ourselves instead of worrying about aerosol germs, if we are asymptomatic and such.

To me, it would make more sense if they spent the 1.7 trillion yen on medical needs (like getting all of us tested) instead of travel...

Was hoping someone with common sense would step up instead of wasting the taxpayers monies on this, but it looks like the government doesn’t want to lose face by canceling “this event” and is going ahead with this ridiculous plan.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

ikegami station


They have been giving our station a facelift recently...This was how it kind of looked back in 2019.
They are adding a 5 story building (I think) on top of the station.
Yesterday, they opened the station area to the public.
At some stations around Japan you will see a chalkboard, this is used to leave messages to people.

Like where to meet up and such...nowadays with everyone having a cellphone, these chalkboards are no longer around.

This one was placed at the new station just to look back at the old days.

Most stations on our train line reuse the wood that are taken from the old stations.


Looking forward to see what shops and offices will be put into the building up top.

Monday, July 20, 2020

okita seimai


Last Thursday, I went to Hatanodai.

On most Thursdays, I buy something for Satoshi's Friday bento, so that I have "a day off".

The bento I bought for Satoshi looked like this one but had a piece of salmon instead.
Whenever I go to Okita Seimai, I usually buy musubi to eat with my bento, but they are not making them during this pandemic.

I think it is because their kitchen area is quite small and they are trying to prevent crowding.

So instead of a musubi, I instead picked up their ohagi...can you believe there are 2 ohagi under all that sweet bean paste?!
I ate 1 and kept the other one for Satoshi.

Over the past week, Tokyo's case numbers have risen and it doesn't look like the people in charge have "a plan" and only want the economy to get back on track...sigh.

A "nice" thing was that the temps were similar to May over the past couple of days, which means we actually needed warmer clothing, but at least there was little humidity.

Satoshi will be working from home this week and we will continue stay at home as much as possible.

Hope everyone has a safe week.

Friday, July 17, 2020

rakyo


In our area, there are quite a number of restaurants that are now doing takeout.

Wednesday, I got to try Rakyo's Inada burger.

Rakyo is a tiny shop that sells all sorts of fish that they catch.

We've eaten here a couple of times and love their food.

Their teishoku (set meals) are HUGE and are reasonably priced. 

My burger was two nice pieces of inada with a large piece of nori in between.

Inada is the name for Japanese Amberjack.

The fish was nicely coated and fried.

The bun was a bit soggy from the cabbage and wasabi mayo, but overall the sandwich was delicious.

For 400 yen (tax included), this was very reasonable.  I'll be back.

And we look forward to dining here again once Tokyo's numbers get under control.

Have a nice and safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

thankful


We had a nice surprise this week.

My relative, Chiyo-san in Okinawa sent us some mangoes.

I called to thank her and we chatted for a bit.

It has been many years since we visited with her but I still send her nengajo (New Years greeting cards)
She mentioned that since she was sending a box to her grandchildren in Tokyo, she wanted to send us a box too, so nice!

Apparently this variety is called Irwin. 

This mango seems similar to the types we have in Hawaii and is not stringy like the one I had bought a couple years back....love the color!
I hadn't realized this but it was the very first time for Satoshi to eat the flesh off the mango seed by the kitchen sink.

He also wanted me to show him how I cut the mango because he had never seen how it was done before.

I couldn't actually peel the mango like we do in Hawaii, but it was still nice to share some Hawaiian culture with Satoshi.

Thankful for the kindness of family.

Thank you Chiyo-san.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

tsukemono jiru dressing


I'm late to the game when it comes to not wasting the pickling juice and have often felt bad throwing the juice out after we finished eating the pickles.

I recently saw something online where the person uses the pickling juice from their tsukemono (pickles) in dressing.

Since I have some rakkyo pickle juice stashed in the fridge for the times I make potato salad, which these days is not too often, I decided to try making a dressing from it instead.

I based my dressing recipe on the leek sauce recipe from Suzunari Farms.

Makes about 1/4 cup

3 tablespoons rakkyo pickle juice
3 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon sesame oil

I used it on soba salad and it was delicious.

I hope to try using more pickling juice from other types of pickles in dressings.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

5 second rule


The other morning as I was cracking an egg for breakfast, the shell cracked so smoothly that it fell with the inside of the egg into the sink...gah!
I then picked up the yolk which was super fresh because it stayed intact.

I then rinsed it and added it to another egg which I scrambled.

I know we are all about anti-bacteria these days, but I couldn't see myself wasting an egg.

Monday, July 13, 2020

deodorant


I've been using this brand of deodorant for a couple of months now.
The container is quite small and only lasts me about a month.

When I got to the end the first time I used this, I thought, there has to be more in there...
I looked online and luckily there was someone who posted about the same brand.

On the bottom, there is a sticker.

Remove it and with a stick, you can fish out (punch out) the rest of the deodorant.
As you can see, I've collected quite a bit over the past couple of months.
Will start using from this soon.

Friday, July 10, 2020

natto day


July 10th is Natto Day.

The goroawase (a play on the pronunciation of numbers) for 7 and 10 is "na" and "tow" respectively.

I try to serve natto at least once a week, mostly for breakfast.

Back in June, I served it as part of a soba salad for dinner.

We are nearing the end of rainy season, but the rain doesn't seem like it will stopping anytime soon.

The weather dude said it will probably rain off and on until Sunday!

On the other hand, the nightly news said that it would continue to rain off and on until next Wednesday...sigh.

Hoping all those in the flooded & landslide areas will continue to be safe.

Since June 19th, Japan has opened up, people can go to other prefectures.  

Tonight, they will allow 5000 fans to watch baseball games.

This week Tokyo had 100 confirmed cases for 3 days straight and an alarming 200 yesterday...I am hoping the people in charge have "a plan"...

Have a safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

daibo hongyoji


Tuesday, we went to check out the fuurin (wind chimes) at Daibo Hongyoji.

The temple is located about a 20 minute walk from where we live.

The weather has been overcast, raining off and on and the humidity has been evil.

The wind has been krazy typhoon class!

You can see the fuurin (wind chimes) here and here.

Apparently, there are 300 of them displayed.

A smaller display than the fuurin we saw in Nara, back in 2017, which had 2500 wind chimes, but still nice to see.

There is another temple nearby that has fuurin displayed too, hopefully we'll be able to check them out.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

grapes


Remember that building with the grape vine?

I passed by recently and there are lots of grapes!

So cool.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

plastic containers


A lot of the plastic tubed items (like toothpaste and face wash) that are sold here in Japan are made of a thick plastic.

When I get to the "end", I use this lifehack to try to use all of the toothpaste or face wash.

I take the flattened container and "puff it up" filling it with air then I hold the end opposite the opening and flap the tube up and down.

By flapping the tube up and down, the air that is in the tube, pushes the leftover soap/toothpaste down to the opening so that all of the soap/toothpaste can be used.

Hope you can view this video. (sometimes there are region restrictions on you tube videos)

Ketchup and mayo also come in similar plastic containers, so I use this method too.

The other day, as I was getting to the end of my face wash, I used this lifehack several times and only a little tiny squirt of soap came out.

So, to make sure I truly used everything up, I cut the top of the tube and used a rubber spatula to scrape whatever was in there.

It was my first time cutting the tube open and boy was I shocked that there was so much left in there!

For toothpaste, ketchup and mayo, I am going to continue to use this lifehack and for my face wash I am also going to cut it open to make sure I've used up everything.

Have you ever tried this lifehack before?

Monday, July 06, 2020

14 years



14 years since we climbed Mount Fuji.

Unfortunately due to the pandemic, they will not be opening up the mountain for hiking this year.

Hopefully next year will be a better year (for everything).

p.s. over the weekend there was tons of rain and flooding in parts of Kyushu, please keep everyone there in your thoughts.

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.