Tuesday, March 27, 2018

And Happy Birthday to Me... Again!

Happy Birthday to Me 

To be perfectly honest, lately I don't feel too excited about getting one year old. Nevertheless, I feel this strong urge to do something special for my birthday. It's just to be nice to myself and feel as if I can get rewarded once in a while... like on my birthday, at least.
So here's my birthday cake. It's the same old orange cake I've been baking again and again in the past few years. And this time, for topping, I used candied and chopped ponkan orange peels and orange-flavored icing.
Well, that's not all actually ...
See what else I made this time?
I made this white chocolate plate myself. What I did was that I printed out the words reversed and placed plastic wrap over it. Then I traced the characters with melted dark chocolate, using a toothpick, and chilled it in the fridge. Then I poured melted white chocolate over it to have the b-day wish on a white chocolate plate like this!
I know! The plate is laughably too BIG for the cake! :D But it was so much fun to make one, so I might do this often for different occasions.;)

Every year March is an eventful month, and so was it this year, too. Hina Dolls Festival in this historical town in our city was held just like every year.

I took mom to a traditional inn and tasted this lunch-- for-twenty-people-only special deal for the festival.
 See this sushi in the cup? How cute!
And this delicate Japanese sweet was homemade. Wow!

To our relief, this March they had a big catch of Buri (Japanese amberjack) in my hometown. But I didn't make sushi like I did last year...
Instead, I gave this project a try. It was making dried seaweed sheet, using real seaweed fresh from the ocean, then wrapping sushi with it and eating it. This is how to make dried seaweed sheet:
You scrape the seaweed off rock surface,
 and wash it over and over to remove sand. Then you spread it over this kind of small straw mat to sun-dry.
If the weather is nice, it'll be ready in a few days.
It was supposed to taste so good after heating it briefly over a flame like this:
But when my family tried this sushi, we found that the wrapper -- dried seaweed sheet -- was too tough to chew! It was my ignorance that should have been blamed. Later I heard that in March the seaweed was already old and tough, and you had to chop the seaweed finely with a knife before spreading it on the straw mat. Oh well, I'll know better next time. ;)

Another food-related fun was this "cooking in English" lesson by a local English conversation club. There, for the first time, I learned how to make wheat tortilla and guacamole from scratch!
And we enjoyed a big feast like this!
Everything tasted oh soooo good!!

I guess I cannot complain about my food life, at least. :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Good Food, Drink and Friends

Venison Simmered with Red Wine
A friend made candied orange peel with ponkan oranges from our orchard and gave some to me in these lovely containers (from DAISO). And the guy who trapped a deer damaging orchards in my neighborhood gave me some venison and wild boar meat.
I cooked the meat with red wine in a pressure cooker, and it turned out alright. But I really wanted some fruit flavor with it. Now that I have some candied ponkan orange peels at hand, I came up with an idea of using them for red wine sauce.
See? Venison cooked in red wine and served with red wine sauce flavored with chopped candied ponkan orange peels!
 Boy! The sauce was a great idea. It really added a nice refreshing flavor.
And this photo right above... showing one of ponkan oranges from our orchard, candied orange peels made from them and meat of the deer that had damaged the ponkan trees and was trapped near the orchard... The underlying theme could be... Karma?? LOL

Talking about ponkan oranges...
They're popular in my hometown, and it's not unusual for you to find some ponkan-flavored cocktails at Izakaya bars.
One night, I went to one of such bars, but there they gave a great twist to the drink. Look!
Can you imagine what that black thing is? Squid ink? Nahhh, that would have made the drink really fishy...
No, they put really finely ground charcoal powder! The owner of the bar is a wood charcoal maker and he uses charcoal powder for some food, like bread and noodles.
I went to the bar with a good friend of mine and these are the dishes we enjoyed as we had those evil-looking (but actually said to be healthy?) drinks. LOL
See the noodles? They do look like squid ink pasta, don't they. But actually, it was the wood charcoal powder that was kneaded into the noodles.

This month, I also had a chance to enjoy a "pub crawl" with friends.
There was a fun event scheduled Feb. 9th (Fri) - 11th(Sun) in Muroto. Here's the deal: You get four tickets to enjoy foods and drinks at local bars/eating establishments (near Murotsu Port) that you may not be familiar with. Each ticket allows you to have one food and one drink at one place, which is supposed to be a good deal. Free shuttle bus service was available so that no one in your group has to be a designated driver! Nice idea, isn't it

We visited six places altogether! Though we didn't stay long at each place, still it sounds like we really "crawled," doesn't it? :D

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Some Food Photos from Jan

Lemon Marmalade Cake

These are some more photos from January, 2018. The top photo is a cake I baked using some lemon marmalade that a friend of mine gave me. In the beginning of new year, I was in the mood for baking. And it got more intense later on, to tell you the truth. ;) 

Other than baking, I enjoyed being in this gathering one night. It was to thank staff (incl. myself) of a biodiversity-related event for their hard work.
They serve good-tasting fresh seafood at this restaurant. :)

BTW, I am certified as a Disaster Preparedness Specialist, and have been involved with some awareness-raising activities. This month, I joined this disaster preparedness workshop. We practiced preparing meals and sweets using polyethylene bags.

Now many disaster response organizations including Japan Red Cross are advocating this method for cooking at evacuation shelters where the water supply is limited. Cooking this way, you don't have to use water for washing pans/pots, and you can repeatedly use the same boiling water for cooking several kinds of dishes. Besides, for those with food allergy in the same evacuation shelter, you can prepare their meals separately in different bags and easily distinguish them by simply marking on the bags.
There are special bags named Hi-Zex (made of High-density PE) that have lines to show the amount of rice and water needed. But actually cooking is possible with polyethylene bags from the store- even DAISO - as far as their thickness is 0.015 ~0.02 mm. Now, what do you think?
We were able to cook all these using polyethylene bags! Isn't it impressive?

It was still pretty cold in January. Many people in Japan got into taking close-ups of frost and posting them on Instagram. These are some of my shots.
My hands were shaking all the way and it was terribly difficult to take clear shots. But at least I felt as if I was seeing a different kind of universe, which I truly enjoyed. :D

And this photo was taken at my friend's house. She was the one who gave me the lemon marmalade.
And this last photo is from my luncheon meeting with a friend of mine at a restaurant at the tip of cape Muroto. My friend wanted pasta, but they didn't serve pasta dishes any more, so this was what we both had instead that day.


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Happy New Year everyone!

Enjoy some photos from this year's New Year celebration.

I know. Most of these photos are not so different from the ones from New Year's Day 2017. Yes, the kimono (traditional Japanese outfit) is different. But the foods are exactly the same and I'm a little tired of it, to be honest.
So next year, I'm going to make some minor changes... if I can remember to do so. :)


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