I took some time off at the end of last year which segued into early this year. It was wonderful to have days at home doing nothing. I watched tons of useless Youtube videos, read loads of trash and watched equal amounts of terrible television. Now I know for most people, a couple of days of that is more than they can take. But I think I am inherently lazy. I love the prospect of days of nothing to do. Hence our holidays tend to be beachy ones where the biggest decision of the day is, “beach or pool?”, So the first week of the new year slipped by, pretty much guilt free. Now it is time to get back into it and actually works towards the goals I set myself at the end of last year when I was still in hyper motivated mode. As I sit and write work e mails this morning, I am remembering what it is like to have days full of things to do. Truth be told, even I was reaching saturation point for all the endless nothingness. I predict by the end of the week, I will be back in the swing of things. By the end of the month, I will be thinking back longingly to the two weeks I spent doing nothing. So off I go, I hope the world responds.
I have had quite a week. It tested my resolve for continuing with my business and let me see how precarious it is to juggle so many things. One mishap, or a series of small mishaps and the entire thing comes crashing down. Nothing that can’t be solved with time and money but jeez, I don’t have either in abundance.
All my troubles can be boiled down to miscommunication. And it was only after a surprising number of things had gone wrong for me to look up when Mercury was in retrograde. Sure enough, it ended last week, just when I was making the first of what would turn out to be a series of mistakes. Now I really don’t know anything about astrology but my friend A has been talking about Mercury in retrograde for long enough for me to notice some patterns. So, rather than blame my own inattention or perhaps jet lag, I’ve decided to conveniently blame Mercury. There, I’m off the hook until the next time it’s in retrograde, November I believe.
But there is always good along with the bad, otherwise what’s the point? I’ve made some great connections which I hope will strengthen into friendships. It’s a long term process especially when we are all so busy, but it is great to meet people you really like. Also, the materials for my trade show are coming together nicely, it really is remarkable what talented people can do. I’m pretty confident now I can go out there and not make a total fool of myself. Just because the operation is tiny doesn’t mean it can be unprofessional.
I am slowly coming to another leap forward, I’ll let you know when it happens.
A gorgeous weekend in London, I did get to enjoy it some, but not the usual lazy weekend. Yesterday, a trip to Japan Centre for yet more rice and other stock items. It is truly scary the rate at which we blow through rice. Hubby came along to help so we got the 10kg bag of rice. That was my only contact with the outside if you don’t count windows being open. I puttered around in the afternoon and gradually made some sushi. Here is the end result.
The family were certainly enthusiastic about it so I think it was a good result. I didn’t have a set kind that I was making so it turned into many different fillings, a bit of a grab bag especially after it was all cut up.
Anyway, it never rains but it pours, or something to that effect. This week I am finally starting my cooking classes, which is a big deal for me since I’ve never done anything like this before. So what happens? On Friday, I get asked to do subtitles for an anime. I’ve been talking to this agency since November about doing some work and it finally came together. The timing couldn’t be worse. I did one episode and really enjoyed it so I hope it is something I can do more of in the future. It was a challenge translating colloquial Japanese into subtitles. I took a few liberties to get the point across, we’ll see how it goes over.
Today, Sunday was another glorious day in London and I was determined not to miss it. Hubby and I took a very long walk to Marylebone from our flat only to discover my destination was closed! Well, it was a nice walk anyway, and the allergies not tooo horrendous.
Maybe time for a snack, or actually it is dinner time.
Hello, I had a friend over for lunch today and made some more food. We had grilled mackerel, steeped green soy beans, string beans and aubergine dry stew, rice and miso soup. Here’s the photo.
I really enjoy entertaining friends at home, it is so much more mellow. You get to catch up in a quiet environment and while it is nice to have someone serve and clear, it really isn’t that big a deal.
The other day, I taught my son how to make onigiri. It was a fun thing for the two of us to do. He did very well, producing 3 different shapes. We had a lot of fun eating them afterwards and chatting about things. He wants to learn to cook, something I promised I would teach him during his gap year. Being able to feed oneself is an important skill I think. I am looking to put together a class for young people on quick Japanese food you can make at uni, a friend’s daughter in interested.
I got my business cards today for my cooking class, hooray. They came out pretty well, can’t wait to give them out.
I volunteer at Dress for Success once a week. Since I stopped eating wheat, getting a sandwich from the sandwich lady became out of the question. So I’ve started taking my lunch. Sometimes it’s leftovers, sometimes I run into Pret for a salad, but I bought myself a bento box when I was home and was eager to try it out. So, I made lunch today to bring, and here it is;
On the menu today, pork slices in ginger sauce, Japanese omelette, sauteed asparagus and rice. Now I don’t think I will go to this much trouble every week, but if I plan it right, I will have leftovers from the night before as my main dish with some veggies and things around it. Ideally, I would have had a bit of red in there, but I was out of tomatoes.
Have to go get ready, so that’s all for now.
We had some very good friends over for dinner last night. It was only firmed up Friday early afternoon so I had to find something to make out of what was in the fridge. Fortunately, my fridge is pretty well stocked at the moment so I managed to produce a nice dinner if I do say so myself. And of course as is the case with every other meal I have made for company, I failed to take photos. But here is the menu; tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), miso soup, rice and an avocado and cucumber side dish. The avocado and cucumber is a dish that can be served tapas style with drinks or as a hashi yasume, literally chopstick rest, a dish to pick at during your dinner. It is traditionally served cold and is most often pickles, but I thought, why not, try it with this. Ultra quick and simple to make, here’s the recipe.
Avocado and cucmber salty namuru (adapted from Organic Recipe Notebook by Tomoko Shoji)
1 cucumber (you want to end up with about the same amount of avocado and cucumber so pick accordingly)
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sale
1 1/2 Tbp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic grated
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 sheet nori
Hit the cucumber with a rolling pin and break into bite size pieces with your hands. If you use a long european cucmber, it is better to remove the seeds. Cut the avocado into cubes
Combine the seasonings from sesame oil to sesame seeds and mix with the cucumber and avocado.
Crumple the nori into the mix, stir and refrigerate.
As I am writing this recipe, I realize I had totally forgotten to add nori last night. Oops, sorry R and M, but it was still very tasty, don’t you think?
Oh and by the way, the nuts I was roasting the other day? It turned out really well, and it is definitely something I will be doing again.
Now that I have a date to start my cooking class, I have been cooking like mad, well for me anyway. I made rice in a pot yesterday, I usually just use a rice cooker but thought it would be good thing to test out to make sure the method works. It did but the problem with rice cooked in a pot is that it doesn’t stay hot. So I ended up making onigiri(rice balls). Somehow, onigiri is fine eaten room temperature whereas the exact same quantity of rice in a rice bowl simply isn’t appetising. It may have to do with the connotations of onigiri, which is usually a portable lunch, so it brings back memories of outings and school trips. You will see from the photo that it is “naked”. I couldn’t find the open bag of nori, I know I put it away, but where, I couldn’t tell you. I did find a bunch of other things I forgot I owned, but I digress. In keeping with the outing theme, the rolled cooked egg is another staple. So after I made the onigiri, of course I had to make the egg. The salmon in the fridge needed eating so it became teriyaki. Then I did a mushroom in batter thing which turned out to be incredibly good and so simple. Anyway, here is the photo, I ate way too much and think I need to recruit more people to eat my food, especially meat eaters. Any volunteers?
Haven’t posted anything new in over a week, busy travelling and launching my other blog page for my cooking class.
We went to my in laws for Passover, a holiday that has a lot of tradition and a lot of great food. Unfortunately, now that I am off wheat, the food bit wasn’t nearly as fun. When you don’t eat Matzoh, it eliminates a lot of food that used to be favourites that would only appear at Passover. But it was great to see family and marvel at what wonderful people the nieces and nephews are becoming. The weather turned gorgeous after the first couple of days, by the time we left, the cherry trees were in full bloom as were the magnolias and dogwoods.
I saw my friend E during our trip, I think the last time we saw each other was probably 1996 or 97, so it’s been awhile. We have been friends since college and we picked right up and it was as if we had seen each other yesterday. We did a lot of talking and feel like we’ve caught up on each other’s lives. Hopefully it will not be another 12 years before we see each other again. So great to have friends you have history with.
My cooking classes are finally organised, check it out at www.hiromiscookingclass.blogspot.com. Many friends have kindly forwarded on the information to their friends and so I have had some interest and people signing up. It is very exciting but also a bit scary, I hope I can do a good job.
So, I spent most of last week eating macaroons ignoring the fact that I am off white sugar and so am trying hard to get back to my usual eating patterns. I discovered an amazing food at Trader Joe’s, LarabarsThey are basically a date based bar with no added sugar or oil and taste just amazing. I don’t think they sell them in the UK but if they do, please tell me, they are my new favourite snack food. There is no getting around the exercise, I am going back to the gym. It’s been a month, so it won’t be fun, but so worth it. I just roasted some nuts with kombu soy sauce and tabasco. I can’t really tell what they taste like until they cool off, will let you know if it’s any good.
So, I’m still here, visiting my parents. This is something I have done for the last couple of years, visiting by myself and staying for a couple of weeks. I have found as my parents get older, it is easier for them if we don’t all descend on them at once. Also, they live in a pretty standard Japanese condo so I think at this point, a visit from all 4 of us would cause their house to explode.
I love being in Tokyo and visiting with friends and going back to the places I used to frequent when we lived here. That of course is in direct conflict with spending time with my parents. So every year, I risk my mom’s wrath and spend lots of time catching up with friends. But this year, I made the radical decision to come home to spend time with my parents. So I find myself on a rainy Tuesday, sitting in their living room watching endless TV, telling myself that I am not wasting time. To put off temptation, I really didn’t let too many people know I was coming and I made sure to tell my friends that the primary purpose was to hang with my parents. Many of my friends are in a similar situation with aging parents and everyone is very understanding.
What I had hoped to do was eat in the many wonderful places Tokyo has to offer and take photos and put them up here. Well, eating is not high on my parents’ priority and travelling to eat is really not a part of it. Frankly with the exchange rate being what it is, that’s probably a good thing. Tomorrow I am seeing a very good friend and we will have a nice lunch together and I am seeing a different friend for dinner so there may be hope for some photos. On the plus side, this has been a very mellow trip and my parents actually seem to enjoy our time together.
There probably won’t be that many more opportunities for me to feel like a kid again, both in a good and bad way. I am planning to enjoy it while it lasts. I wonder if I will treat my kids like children when they are 50, I hope not. Relationships are very different between us and the next generation so I guess we will find our own way to annoy them.
I am here at my parents’ condo, where they have lived on and off since 1971. It is essentially the only permanent home I have known growing up. My dad was an expat so we spent a lot of time out of the country but this place has remained constant. There is a shopping area about 15 minutes away. I remember when it was just a little branch of a big department store really in the middle of nowhere. I used to pass through it to get home from school and we used to break school rules and cut through for the air conditioning in the summer, the heater in winter. It has now grown into a two building luxury shopping mall with many designer boutiques and shoppers who travel there as a destination. Now they are in another phase of development with major construction going on all around the train station. I take the back roads to get there from my parents’ and I was struck today by the changes. It used to be a really sleepy place, sure the occasional house would get knocked down to be replaced by a mini condo but that was the extent of it. But this trip, I almost got lost going to the mall because of all the unfamiliar buildings. Where there used to be a lumberyard, there is this large grey building with a parking lot. All of a sudden, there are sidewalks on that side of the street, where there never were any. Of course all this didn’t happen overnight, but I haven’t been home in 14 months. There is a huge grey building which I think is the parent to the grey building that I passed, I’m not sure what that’s going to be. Where am I going with this? I guess it’s not that unusual for things to change and for areas to be developed and not recognise where you were brought up. But for me, it didn’t happen in the 80′s when all of Tokyo went nuts duing the bubble and it didn’t happen in the following 20 years. I’m afraid the next time I come home, I really won’t recognise where I used to sneak ice cream cones on the way home with my friends (the school rule stated no detours on the way home and certainly no going into shops in our uniforms). I haven’t been back at my school since I left in 1975, I really don’t think I could find my way there any more. Tokyo is an ever changing city, and that change has finally reached my little neighbourhood.