Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And the Challenges Go On.. Part 1

These strawberries are rather tart

Maybe... just maybe... adjusting to a totally new place and new people is sometimes easier than adjusting to a life with your own parents in your hometown? Have you ever felt that way?

Oh, I'm not saying that I'm unhappy being here. But there are... challenges. Every day.
You want to know some of them? Here we go!

Looks like my taste buds have been messed up since I got here. Here my mom uses light soy sauce for everything, thinking that it contains less salt than regular soy sauce. (But the fact is the opposite, as you know.) Her dishes especially salted fish are too salty for me, but mom and dad pour soy sauce over almost everything I make -- well, except sweets, of course. :P

I haven't had much success with sweets, either. As I wrote before, I started using beet sugar a while ago, and I continue to use it here because it seems to be good for dad who is a recovering diabetic. There was no problem when I baked cookies with brown beet sugar, but when used granulated beet sugar, nothing I made turned out sweet enough. Strawberry jam, strawberry mousse (see the photo below) and apple pound cake that I made in the past couple of weeks all disappointed me (and my parents, I guess). Now even when I baked good-tasting pound cake with brown beet sugar, no one touches it except me. Thanks for letting me gain weight.

Then why did I make yogurt mousse with them...
as if it was not tart enough??
As I had expected, my parents do not care for most of the "contemporary" recipes I pick from recipe sites and magazines popular among young Japanese women. My dad is not supposed to take much sugar, salt and purine-rich food, and he cannot eat cheese. Mom is not much interested in having meals regularly in the first place, never eats breakfast and doesn't like "healthy" eating habits. To them Western herbs smell weird, and both of them don't have good teeth. So I've learned to tell them, "Oh, this is a very Western dish so you can't eat it" when I made something I really like and don't want to share it with anyone. ;)

I guess "too many chefs in a kitchen" never works. The other day I was going to make onion dressing and left some sliced onion in a bowl of water. While I was doing laundry, dad marinated it for his salad. Dad, onions don't slice themselves and jump into water. Wasn't it obvious that someone did that for a certain purpose?

When dad brings back fresh fish from the nearby fishing port, gutting/filleting the fish has the highest priority in the kitchen, no matter what other dishes were under preparation. (Perhaps it's the same in other households in this area, too.) A couple of times I had to evacuate my bowl of whipping cream or cake dough as the cutting board was set to chop heads off the fish on it. You know, you can't expect a smooth traffic when three unprofessional chefs are working in the same kitchen.

The biggest lesson I had to learn was how not to ask my mom questions when it is not the right time for her. I'm still making same mistake over and over... I ask her questions when I want to know something, especially when I can't find something in the kitchen. Obviously I was expecting her to be able to say, "I don't know" or prioritize things. But now I know that asking her a question is probably like throwing her into a dungeon of fragmented memories. She stops whatever she's doing right away and starts looking for it, even though I tell her that it doesn't have to be right now. And as she rummage through the stuff in the cupboard or storage, she reads the label on every item, tries to understand it but cannot, gets confused and totally forgets what she was looking for in the first place. And behind her the fridge is repeating in a machinery voice, "The door is open. The door is open..." (Yep, our fridge talks.)

Actually the first task I should have done in the first week here was to check the kitchen and know what we have and don't have, and the expiration dates of what we have. But instead, I went shopping with her every day and kept buying what she told me to buy. Stupid me. And when we got home she didn't remember why she needed it, and I found plenty of the same stuff in the cupboard. XO

This morning dad asked me to make a chart using my PC. The draft he gave me was in B4 size and I told him that my printer cannot print that size.
D: "No problem. I can print it out in the office of fishermen's association."
Me: "...? Do they have a PC there?"
D: "No. But you put a 10 yen coin in and get a printout."
.... Dad, that's a photocopy machine, not a printer.

Oh well. Having challenges is much better than getting bored, isn't it?
There's more to come.


Anonymous said...

That's a basket of challenges you've got there...

Deep breath! Big breathe in and out slow... Give yourself a lil more time, Obachan. Things need time to get used to. I'm sure that everything gets better later.

We're here for you! =D

Anonymous said...

that looks really good! :)

さなえ said...


tina said...

Oh dear, I do not mean to laugh but .... some of the things that you write about are so funny. Sorry. But be patient and things have a way of sorting themselves out.

Anonymous said...

from across the world, parents are still the same! they're so cute and lovely, i guess i should say. my mum does the same thing! but when you're away from them, you'll feel the gut wrenching feeling! they are your safest haven indeed~!!
What can't break you will only make you stronger. =)

Anna said...

I especially like the last part about your dad,it was just too cute. You honestly got me thinking whether I'm doing the right thing of being away from my family, and start a relationship that can be permanent. I just miss my family so much! I can't wait for your next post! =)

My Bento Diet said...

As someone who also lives with their parents I can understand how you feel. You should have heard my dad and I trying to make onion soup the other day! LOL There are definately going to be hard days, but there will be good ones as well. Thanks for keeping the blog going though! I don't think there is a day that goes by where I don't wonder how life's going for you over there.

And I agree with juventia_jesica: If it doesn't kill ya, it'll make you stronger. ;)

Cara said...

I remember adjusting to working in a small kitchen with my husband. Fortunately (in some way) the husband can't cook, so he does the cleaning, which is good. Unfortunately he sometimes cleans things up I have spent some time to prepare ("What happened to the kilo of tomatoes I blanched, skinned and filetted?" "Oh.")
You'll adjust and get along just fine :) Ganbatte, ne?

Mora said...

I think...and hope...that someday you will look back on these times as some of the best. The new memories you are creating by living with your parents are precious beyond belief. And your stories are so endearing. I can imagine you writing a book about this part of your life. Keep blogging and sharing your joys and frustrations with all your adoring fans.

obachan said...

Anonymous commenter;
That's exactly right. Thank you! :D

The mousse? Yeah, it looked much better than it tasted. :P


Oh, please do laugh. I believe that good laugh is a strong weapon when going through a hard time. ;)

Thank you. I love the saying (but sometimes I feel that I don't need to be strong so a life with less challenge would be just fine for me). ;)

There'll be more and more of laughable episodes. Stay tuned! ;)

I guess there's no right or wrong about your choice regarding an issue like this. If this country could afford high-quality facilities for the elderly, I would have made a different choice.
But you just do the best you can do in a given environment, and there's no reason why you have to do the same as someone else.

My Bento Diet;
That's true. Good days and hard days. That's life. ;)

Hahaha... I wonder what came after his "Oh." Did he buy you a jewel? ;)

Thanks. I just hope that things don't keep going worse and worse to make me see the first few weeks here as the best time. Hahaha...

Cara said...

No jewels for me (good idea, though!), but nowadays he asks before throwing something away. That's also worth something :)

obachan said...

That's very nice of him. (But for me, I can't decide which is better: a husband who learns fast, or a slow learner who keeps buying me jewels.)

jeanette marie said...

Obachan, I think your move back to your hometown and into your parents' home is big-hearted and courageous. I hope, when and if the time comes, I can do the same with as much grace as you exhibit on this blog!


obachan said...

Oh, that's very nice of you to say that but... grace???? I never expected that. Your impression may change dramatically in the near future, though.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin