Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas on the Cape


I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! :)
Mine was not very eventful, but I did spend nice 30 minutes on the cape -- at the spot which was designated as a "lover's sanctuary" a few months ago.

Though a bit cold and windy, there was even a saxophone performance as well as some "romantic" events planned by the tourism division of the local government.

At home? No festive dinner at all this year. Not even a chicken leg from KFC. Hahahah...

****************** Merry Christmas *****************

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Relaxed Morning

Breakfast at a cafe

Actually, it was very unusual for me to eat breakfast at a cafe, but I really HAD TO on that day.
This photo was taken about 10 days ago, when I was almost stressed out to death. Why? Because it was just a few days before a big, huge and important deadline in our work, and we still had a lot to do then. I don't remember how much I had told you in my previous posts, but I now work for the secretariat section of local "geopark promotion committee" which is applying for a member status of a global network. The application dossier was due at the end of November, and I was translating the Japanese dossier into English.

It was a real hard work, but that was not because I had to translate some scientific sections on geology. It was indeed challenging, but exciting in a sense, with a lot of new discoveries. I didn't mind learning a lot about the great geologic value of my own hometown. But what was really terrible was that the Japanese draft went through TOO many changes until the VERY LAST MINUTE, even after my translation was sent to proofreaders. So I had to look for some additional proofreaders. It was already a patchwork job then, but as if it was not enough, in the last week before the deadline, almost all the proofreaders got sick. And STILL my colleagues were making some changes on the Japanese draft.

Meanwhile, mom came home in mid November after her several months of hospital stay. She was originally going to stay at her sister's house, but after staying there only one night, mom came back to us, saying that she wanted to help me. She had an artificial foot from the hospital for temporary use, which she didn't like very much and avoided wearing as much as possible. Now, I really appreciated her willingness to help with cooking, but I was almost yelling at her when she was about to hop around on one leg with a big pot with hot broth inside in her hands. In a sense, her presence was a stressor rather than a help, and dad was still hypochondriac -- more than ever.

So, the last Sunday in November, I was really, really on the edge and about to burst. Then I heard a voice -- an inner voice -- telling me to drive up to the top of the cape to see the beautiful, boundless sky and the ocean, and have a nice breakfast at a cozy cafe. So that's what I did.


The application dossier? It was submitted in time. I didn't have time to give it a final check, and the translation turned out to be something I cannot be proud of. It did not have terrible mistranslation or anything, but definitely had enough typos to make it look unprofessional. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! But yes, at least, we made it.

Nevertheless, I -- we are not feeling on top of the world. The submission of the application was a big challenge, which was just a beginning of forthcoming series of, endless challenges. And sometimes I can't help wondering if it was a right choice to start this whole thing in the first place....

Well, I guess I need a nice breakfast like this again this weekend. :)
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Do Eat Well... Sometimes

Last Friday. At my favorite curry house. :)

This place serves what we call "Soup Curry" in Japanese lately. It is probably closer to the curry dishes in Southeast Asian countries, but for us who are used to the thick "Japanese style curry," this runny version seems to deserve a special name with the word "soup" included.

This "tomato-eggplant curry" is my favorite. Actually, some fatty pieces of meat (pork?) are hiding at the bottom, but these green vegetables topping the soup and grain-rich rice on the side, I am convinced that this is a healthy dish.



And I like this cozy atmosphere.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

No, I didn't Eat Elmo

Pork cutlet sandwich?

A baker's van comes on Fridays.

My colleague bought this one. Not me.

I haven't posted anything for a while, but don't worry. I've been doing OK and keeping myself busy. Last weekend I attended a training workshop for eco-tour interpreters. It was just so much fun.


I'll write more about it later... maybe tonight. :)
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waiting...

Apple Tart

Lunch break now. Today is a BIG day for us. The result of the on-site evaluation will be notified today, at around 5 pm. If we get an endorsement from a domestic geoparks committee, we can go for the application for a global network member status.

The photo above is from last Sunday. The apple tart was soooooooooo good. No, I didn't make it myself. The shot was taken at a coffee shop in a nearby town.

... I hate waiting like this.



GOOD NEWS! WE DID IT!!
We got the endorsement and from tomorrow on, we will be working towards the next step! :D

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Maybe Regression?

Psychology people must know what regression means. If you are not in psychology, the term regression means this and that is probably what made me buy these for lunch today. Hahaha...

Can you imagine what they used to color the Baikin-man (right)? Bamboo charcoal! At least, that's what I heard. (I hope they are kidding...)

BTW, I started writing about my current situation on another blog of mine, if you are interested.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sorry!


Terribly sorry about not posting for such a long time! Also let me apologize for not telling you about my mom's situation, though I promised to do so on another blog of mine. Things looked devastating once, and I'm in the biggest challenge now. But the worst part will be over tomorrow and I should be able to post about it either tomorrow night or the day after.

So, please be patient and stay in touch.

(Added August 26, 2010)
I started writing about my current situation on another blog of mine, if you are interested.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

And the Challenges Go On..Part 9

Is this happening because I bragged about my good luck? You know, how I'm enjoying my new job with colleagues and all?

Now I'm facing a biggest challenge -- bigger than ever.

In a nutshell, mom's foot needs an operation when the project I'm working for is facing a B I G challenge, if not the biggest. The date of her surgery is August 6th, and she needs to stay in the hospital at least for a month.

Well, this doesn't sound too terrible, right? But actually, there's more to it... I'm not going to write any more details here, because this is a foodblog after all, and I want to keep it that way. I don't want too much medical discussion here. So if you want to know more details, please come to my another blog in about a week, and if you want to comment on the story about my mom, please do so there, not here.

I just can't help asking this question: Is this a punishment? What did I do to deserve this?
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OK. Enough. Now, food-related challenges.
This year, we didn't have a good harvest of almost anything. Ume plums, yamamomo and zucchini... None of them did well. Watermelons are doing good -- at least they taste good --as in my previous post, but we got no blueberries. I wonder why.


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Monday, July 26, 2010

Our First Harvest of Watermelon

Watermelon

Actually this photo was taken about a week ago. The first watermelon from dad's veggie garden. Compared to the luncheon mat underneath, I guess you can tell the size of it. Yep, pretty big-- too big for the fridge in our kitchen. So as we always do, we cut the watermelon into slices and cut off all green parts so that all we have left was flat slabs of edible parts only. Then we put them into big tupperwares, as flat as possible, to fit them into any room left in the fridge. ;P And I gave the rest to my friends.

Seems like we are going to have fewer but sweeter watermelons than last year.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Hometown Fair

Takoyaki -- My favorite fair junk food!

This festive event is held at a local fishing port in mid July every year and features boat paddling race, outdoor amateur singing contest and fireworks at night. This year, someone in the same workplace (but different department) participated in the singing contest, and I was there as a member of the "cheering squad" :P with my colleagues.

I was quite surprised to see this many food stands at this festival. I heard that food vendors from big cities used to be reluctant to come this far, because often there are not enough visitors to make up for the big gas expense. But now it's changing... I hope.

Nagashi somen is a traditional and fun way of eating somen noodles outdoor. I guess you need to be good at using chopsticks to catch the noodles that try to swim away. To make it festive, they made the bamboo "water slider" laughably long. It was funny to see the participants, with a bowl of broth and chopsticks in hand, anxiously waiting for the noodles to come.

I didn't go to the fireworks, but it was on the local TV news this morning. Looks like many young people in yukata came from other towns to make a decent crowd. Good!
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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Colorful Souvenir

Macaroons
These are from a confectionery shop, not in my hometown but a bigger city where I change buses on my way back from Osaka.

They look so cute, but were terribly sweet -- at least, to me. Well, not all of them, but the chocolate one was.


Which photo do you like the best?
:)
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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Ume Juice, Again

Obachan's ume plum juice 2010 version (Photo taken on Jun 29)

Forgive me for posting about this juice this late -- in July! Maybe some of you were planning to give it a try this year? But ume plum season is over now and I don't think anyone in Japan can find green, unripe ume plum at the store any more. Well, I could be wrong. I don't know about northern part of Japan like Hokkaido island...

Anyway, let me post this recipe for future reference. This is not a translation of any particular recipe -- it is more like a summary of several similar Japanese recipes.

UME PLUM JUICE
Ingredient
1 kg green, unripe ume plums
1 kg sugar

Wash and pat dry ume. Using a toothpick or something, remove the scab-like thing remaining at where the stem end was. Put the plums in a plastic bag and freeze for more than 24 hours. Place the frozen ume and sugar alternately in a jar. Close the lid and keep in a cool, dark place. Juice will start to come out in a few days and sugar will melt. Eventually it will be like thick syrup. It should be ready when the sugar is completely melt -- in about 10 days. Strain the syrup with a strainer lined with a paper towel or cheesecloth into another container. ** Refrigerate. To make a drink, thin the ume-flavored syrup with water. Adjust the amount of water depending on how strong you want the drink to be. Serve cold.

** My family usually skips this step so I didn't mention it before, but, according to some websites, the syrup will keep longer if you boil it. You could strain it back into the same jar and place it in a big pot with boiling water for about 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

This site has good photos showing the procedure.

I used crystal sugar as in the top photo, but if you live in a warm region, maybe regular sugar is safer, because it melts faster with less risk of alcoholic fermentation occurring in the jar.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Eating Out

Oyako-don

Phew! Last weekend was another hectic one. As some of you know, I went to Osaka on Friday to attend an evening English class there and came back on a night bus. With a terribly sleepy head, I got some things done on Saturday afternoon like getting a haircut and doing grocery shopping. Then on Sunday, I joined a meeting with some tourism-related people from another city to plan a one-day trip to my hometown, mainly to the geopark there. It was so much fun. My colleagues and I took them to several places in town and showed them around. This is what I had for lunch with them. The dish is called oyako-don(buri) and I enjoyed it so much, partly because I didn't have it for months but mostly because they were such fun people to be with.

Ooops! Lunch break is over. I'll write some more later tonight ... or tomorrow, because I'm going to have a day off tomorrow.

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(Jun 29, 2010)

Yep, today was my day off. It was a nice, relaxing day after a busy weekend. It doesn't mean that I stayed at home all day, doing nothing, though. Mom and I did manage to do two rounds of laundry and set up a trellis for bitter melons before it started raining. I dropped by at the information center, then at a bus station to run errands. Also I had time in the afternoon to shoot some food photos.


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Friday, June 18, 2010

Bento on the Train

Anago bento

I'm still coughing, but I can hardly stay inactive. Things are getting more and more exciting around me!

Guess where I was yesterday. I was in Osaka -- for just half a day. LOL
It was a real touch-and-go; I finished up some work in the office before 10:30 am, then went to Osaka by bus and train to attend an English class there in the evening. Right after that, I jumped on an overnight bus and came home. I'm going to do this every Friday until the 3rd week of July, means 4 more times, in order to improve my skill as an interpreter. (Here I mean a foreign language interpreter, not the one in eco tour. But before the end of this year I'm planning to attend a course to be an eco-tour interpreter, too.) It'll keep me busy for several weekends, but I'm happy to finally have a chance to improve the skill that I really need, without paying from my own wallet. Yes, my employer is paying for this. YAY!

With the schedule being this tight, I had to have lunch on the train that day. So this is what I had: Anago-meshi bento.

Anago (salt-water eel?) looks similar to eel, but less fatty and usually less expensive. But prepared nicely, it can taste better than eel, I think. This bento was pretty good, though I would have liked it warm.

BTW, after my first pay day (June 8th), I bought some stuff to make my life easier, including a very small laptop (for use on business trips), additional memory and a larger battery pack. And I'm on SKYPE now.
See? Obachan is getting civilized. :D
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm Tired of Coughing!

Keema Curry

To those who live in Japan: Isn't either pertussis or mycoplasma pneumonia going around in your area now? Here in my hometown, it's both of them. At least, that's what the doctor I saw yesterday said.

I have been coughing like hell for about 10 days and suffering from stuffy nose and slight fever as well. Almost everyone in the department had the same problem from late May to early June and I was the last one. No OTC drug worked for my symptoms, so I realized that it was not a regular cold and I should go see a doctor to get some antibiotic pills.

At the hospital in a nearby town yesterday, I had to take a blood test. They told me to come back for the result in a week. Until then, it is not known whether I have pertussis or mycoplasma. But looks like the same type of antibiotic is used for the treatment of those diseases and that is the medicine the doctor prescribed, so I should be OK.

So sorry that I still haven't posted much about my new job and new eating habits. I should be, because these days I sometimes eat out -- the day before yesterday, a colleague and I sort of interviewed someone over lunch at the nice curry place. (The top photo was not taken there, though.) And the girl sitting next to me in the office loves sweets so much. Dear readers, finally the time has come for me to bake goodies and bring them to office to share with colleagues! For the first time, none of my colleagues are diabetic or weight watchers. YAY!

Just wait and see. Soon you'll read about me bringing cookies and muffins to the office, and yes, jams, too! Oh, I've got to get rid of this cough ASAP and be active. There's a lot of things I want to do now that I have a regular income! :D
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sorry, No Food Photo This Time!

And sorry that I don't know the name of these flowers...

You know, I have a lot to tell you about my new job, but have no time to shoot food photos... No, that's not true. I did bake some matcha cookies, but they looked outrageously deformed when they came out of the oven, so I decided not to take photos of them. And last night, I went out for dinner with my colleagues. It was a welcome dinner for me and another new staff who is starting on the 1st of June, and an old member leaving at the end of May. That was probably the best chance ever to take shots of some local cuisine -- some dishes that we never make at my parents' house -- but I didn't bring my camera. AHHHHHHHHHHHhh!!!!!!!!

Anyway, things are getting more and more exciting at my work. "Exciting" or "crazy?" Well, that depends on what "normal " means to you, I guess. This morning we had a meeting and went over our schedule for the next 3 months.

Woooops, lunch break is over. I'll write some more tonight.

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Sorry, I was lazy last night. It's the lunch break on June 2nd. This morning was not really eventful, and our boss went home sick. But we have one meeting scheduled in the evening today and that's going to be fun. It's not meeting bunch of middle-aged executives; We are going to see some young, energetic college (and graduate) students who are doing an ecology-related research in my hometown. I had heard about them long time ago, but never had a chance to actually see them.
Gee, can't wait! ;)

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Busy and Fun Days

Dorayaki (pancakes with sweetened azuki bean paste filling)

Well, this photo has nothing to do with me having busy and fun days, but this is the only photogenic food in the kitchen at the moment. Hahaha...

Anyway, as I told you before, I started working full time on May 6th -- right after the "Golden Week" here in Japan. I am a translator for a local geopark project which I was helping as a volunteer tour guide in my jobless days. Now I do translation work at the secretariat section of the project, occasionally giving a tour to visitors (sometimes in English), and also help with many activities to promote geopark and educate the public.

The activities include joining community meetings to talk to local grandpas and grandmas about what geopark is, or going hiking with kids to see how "nature tourism" is being introduced in this rural town blessed with abundant nature. Let me tell ya; In the past couple of weeks, I joined two community meetings (I didn't do the talking but I was there to help) and one hiking, and helped with a tour for more than 30 overseas trainees! Now you know why I said, "busy and fun days," right?

-- I AM HAVING FUN!! --

I told you that my colleagues are nice. But they are more than just nice. The people I work with at my new workplace are young, energetic folks who love to meet people to try out new ideas together. Those are the people who make you feel 10 years younger. We joke together, brainstorm together and share ideas and experiences together. It's been a while since I took part in something like this last time.

Of course there will be a lot of challenges. And in my case, it can be devastating when they happen both at work and at home at the same time. But you know, there are times in your life that you have to take a risk, and your inner voice tells you that it's worth taking a risk. You know what I mean? I thought this was one of those times, so I'm taking a risk. Could be a stupid decision, but... well, we'll see.

BTW, these store-bought dorayaki were pretty good. Sometimes you find dry, firm ones, but these were moist and not too sweet. My favorite kind.
:)
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Don't Worry -- I'm Doing Great!

My Bento

Sorry I didn't post for about two weeks and probably made some of you worried? Don't worry. I'm doing perfectly fine. As some of you predicted, it's like goodies are finally coming my way! Yay!

My new job is interesting and colleagues are so nice. Actually I knew most of them from before, which makes me feel so much at home. The only problem is that I didn't have time to cook/bake at home, so had no food photo to post here. The above photo is the only one -- not a great one, but it was taken at my workplace. Yeah, something to show you a little bit of my new work environment.

I'll tell you more about my new job sometime soon.
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Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Been A Year...

Homemade Strawberry Jam -- First Batch of This Season

Yes, it was this day last year that I moved into my parents' house. Oh, I can never forget all those agonies I had to go through before and after moving in. And all those challenges I had to face in the past year...!!


After surviving the year, now I'm making a new start. It's not that I'm ready to go onto the next stage or anything. Almost none of the problems I had in the past year has been solved, though many things are getting better. It's just that I, and my family cannot stand me being unemployed any more. So, dear readers, obachan is going to start working full-time next week (starting on the 6th, May).

I guess I should be happy.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Obachan Eats Langkawi - 2 -

Awana Porto Malay Langkawi

I noticed that I didn't take many photos of main dish because I was busy eating and chatting. And the majority of the not-so-many main dish photos turned out blurred because I didn't have enough light in the room. In a nutshell, you are not going to see the photos of the dishes like chicken dish, lamb dish, curry, stir-fry, pasta and fried rice that I enjoyed so much. Too bad!

This is a shot I took in the traditional fishing village we visited on a field trip. The details of the trip will be (hopefully) posted on another blog of mine sometime soon, but here I'm going to show you the refreshment we had there.

See? I tried coconut juice. First time in my entire life. It wasn't as sweet as I had expected, but it was good, especially with these munchies. I liked the flat, round crackers (chips?) the best.




Another thing to tell you: I tried Chinese take-out food, too.

See the drink in the plastic bag? That's what I wanted to see there... I had heard (or read ) that the drink does not spill, but I couldn't really believe it. Well, what I read was right. The top of the plastic bag was really nicely and tightly closed that the drink was not spilled at all. The ice cream dessert was nice, too. It was warm on the outside, cold and sweet on the inside. Yum! :D

Here's some more food photos from the conference dinner.

Standing in line, it was hard to take shots of warm buffet food in buffet servers with lids. At the table, I was busy eating and chatting. So, again, no main dish photos. :P OK. Desserts again (and the guy who made these sweets).



And this last one is the last meal I had in Malaysia: nasi goreng we had at the airport (KL).
Oh, I LOVED this dish. The sauce was not too sweet and not too spicy -- just perfect for me.

So, that was my heavenly week in Langkawi, Malaysia.
While I was there, basically I was no one's daughter, no one's relative but just "me." That's the kind of freedom that I can never have in my hometown, and I miss it so much, because I don't know when I can ever have a freedom like that next time.

Oh well. Now I've got to get back to the reality and think about what I should do next.
:)
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Obachan Eats Langkawi - 1-

Awana Porto Malay Langkawi

I want to say thank you to those who had given me the information on the climate in Langkawi before I left Japan. Yep, it WAS hot and HUMID over there! :D

But it was a heavenly week. I enjoyed every single minute, even when I was in the conference room, listening to the presentation and struggling to summarize it in Japanese for my friend.

Seafood something (I forgot the name) @ Awana Porto

This was my very first meal in Malaysia. I enjoyed it with beer.

Their breakfast was really good, too. In addition to Western breakfast food like bread, cereal, muffins, pancakes and sausage, they served curry. Curry for breakfast sounded like a crazy idea to me, at first, but hey, I LOVED it! :D

* (Added 23, April) BTW, the herb I asked you about in my previous post was served in the white dish right under the flowers in the above photo. In those stone bowls were some kind of sauces (salad dressings?).

And they had so many kinds of sweets.




@Laman Padi (Rice Museum)
This was an interesting place where they showed us the traditional rice growing procedure. Of course, rice-growing itself is nothing new to we Japanese, but watching real buffalo working in the rice field was really something.
And they treated us with some sweets made from rice flour.

I don't know the name of this sweet, but it was light and crunchy and VERY good.

... to be cont'd.
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