Sunday, January 28, 2007

Meditate on that!

Henceforth, I shall away myself to 3 days of feasting…………………..

….............feasting upon the much needed dosage of the precious triple espresso of God’s potent power. Hit me up!!

See you soon.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pop QUIZ!!!

I have tried to restrain myself from doing this but I cannot hold back any longer. Ready?

What is Mick Jagger's favorite Japanese Meal?


Come on. Flo, Masa & Chala are thinking this is funny.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Chala Bing, Otanjobi Omedeto!!

Happy Birthday to a sweet 17 year old. We love you Chala! And we are praying that you have a wonderful year. The kids thought you would come to the gym so they all went but you weren’t there. Oh well! I’m praying for you & know that the Lord will work all things together for good because you love Him. XXX Kisses of love to the best Chala-bing-chala-bang I know! Hope you don’t mind the pictures.

This picture is to prove the theory that Chala seems to attract the “crazy-colorful-&-weird-clothing-that-others-would-look-awful-in-but-they-seem-to-suit-her-quite-nicely” type of clothing. (All of the clothes in the picture below were actual Christmas presents to her. Note: the "gloves" are toe socks", the socks, are orange & have a green pepper on them & actually say, “EAT THE PEPPER” on them, c/o Mark) We rabu rabu you!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Coconut Creme Pie

Elaina made this lovely pie for Mark’s 22nd birthday. I believe this picture is from the time that I made one for his 20th. I'm starting to think that Mark likes coconut creme pie.
The above variety has a meringue topping & toasted coconuts. Here’s the recipe for the one Elaina made. See the picture bellow, and I will confirm that this is a goddess of a pie, cream on crème with just enough coconut to give it something to write home about.

1 9” Baked pie crust (again a cookie crust is easier but a baked traditional crust is better if you want a meringue topping)

4 large egg yolks, beaten (in a medium sized bowl)
½ c sugar
¼ c cornstarch
½ tsp salt
3 c milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla (or almond essence)
1 c flaked coconut (keep ¼ of this aside for topping)
1 c whipped cream (to top, or use 3 egg whites from the 4 above to make a meringue with ¼ c sugar added 1 tbsp at a time till you have stiff peaks, cover pie & bake for 3-4 min at 200c, or till golden brown)

The process for a cream pie is pretty standard. Cook the milk, cornstarch & sugar till boiling in a 2L saucepan, boil for 1 min, mix ½ into the egg yolks till blended, put the yolk mixture back into the saucepan & bring it to a boil for another minute. Take off the stove add butter, vanilla & ¾ c coconut. Pour into shell, cover filling with saran wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hrs, till set. Add whip cream or meringue topping, sprinkle with toasted coconut & eat with great gusto & joy.

Note: if you’ve got bananas then go for the “banana crème” variation. Nix the coconut. Slice 2 bananas into the bottom of the pie crust before pouring in the filling. Top with whip cream & more banana slices. (if you can handle that much banana)

Better yet turn it into a chocolate crème pie. Add a few tbsp coco powder in the first step, 2 extra tbsp of sugar & 1 extra tbsp of butter. TADA!!! Stop me please, before I get carried away!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Flo, look what your comment made me do!

As I was making dinner today I was listening to Steve’s new album & rather than getting into the grove of it like I should have been, I found myself (motherly person that I am) previewing, (is that “pre-listening”) to it for Travis. Flojo-Mojo did just pose the question to me, “ Has Trav has heard Steve’s new album yet”. You see, birds of the same zodiac sign….fly in a……. shape resembling a pair of weight scales?? (Hmm…Bygones) OK, what I mean is, I have been giving that topic some thought all afternoon. Is Steve really good for my son? Well, as I type, my deluded son at this moment indeed banging on two pink containers & using two pink plastic ice-cream scoopers as drum sticks & he is carrying on a conversation with me that goes something like this:

Travis: (sings in a soft sweet voice with concerned eyebrows) “Do or dieeeeee, that’s our cryyyyyyyy aiiiiiiii” Mommy, who sings “Do or Die”? Is it Steve?
Mommy: (typing) No, Travster that’s Chesco
Trav: Oh, Chesco, the one that sings BOB?
Mommy: No, he produced BOB, but Abe sang it
Trav: Who’s Abe?
Mommy: You don’t know him he’s Iven’s brother
Trav: Does Iven sing a song?
Mommy: (clickty click, sigh) Maybe Trav
Trav: You know mommy, I did use to be a niddle tiny baby, so tiny I was dis tiny, dat I was not a big man. But now I am big because I wear sweaters nike Steve & play guitar nike Jesse, right?
Mom: (No answer)
Trav: Mommy, Steve’s drummer is Momo, right?
Mommy: SIGH!!! No, Trav, TOMO, not Momo, momo is a peach.
Trav: Mom, dats funny, Tomo is not a peach.
Trav: (Screaming) DO OR DIEEEEEE, THAT’S OUR CRYYYYYYYYYY. You set us FREEEEEEEEEEE. (glasses on top of stereo break)

I try to stay away from using the really low propaganda tactics like: “Steve can sing really well because he eats his ingen” or, “Steve goes to sleep at night so that he can have enough energy to scream”. But I do like the thought that unlike secular stars of the music world, my son gets to meet & hang out with his role models and will quickly see that Steve neither eats his ingen nor does he go to sleep at night, in fact, he probobly only screams because he doesn't go to bed at night.

To wrap this up here’s a wonderful “Etch & Sketch” masterpiece that I drew for Trav. It is obviously, none other than Steve. I personally think it would have made a lovely CD cover for Heavenly Music, Right? Note the attractive goatee & stratigically messy hair? Come on, do you know how hard, it is to draw on one of those things?
Poor Steve, I know he’d cringe if he saw this post. Well, that’s not my fault he’s the one who decided make music that 3 year old Travsters like.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blasty-Blast pics of the kids

Oh-boy, I am what one would call a happy camper. My keitai which has been faithfully storing pictures of mediocre quality has finally found a mini-SD card so that it might deliver it’s precious cargo to my computer. Really, I’m stoked!!

I shall begin to "share the love" by posting some pics of the kids over the last 2 months. Dozo tanoshinde kudasai!(Ashley), Ryan (5) & Leilani (9) Christmas Witnessing in ChibaLaner! My my, aren’t we grown up!
This picture alarms me. Ryan is playing a race car game at Tepco. Note the intense look on his flushed little face. He was getting all competitive & sweaty just playing a few minutes of this.

This pic typifies the “special” cousin-relationship that Travis & Shelly have:

Mark: Let’s pray for our walk
Shelly: I’m a pretty pink princess-girl
Travis: No you NOT Shelly, I’m a handsome boy like Steve.
This is the older 3 kids’ mosaic that we made over Christmas school break. They worked very hard & patiently on it. The ‘plastic smiles’ they are sporting reflect their joy at having their pictures taken. Ah, a classic Japanese Christmas Tree (Before extra attention from mommy). I promised someone I would post this decrepid picture. Our very own “kids decorated” tree. Complete with kid-made ornaments. Mark’s description is precise & painful. “Wow, it looks just like the trees at all the Japanese old folks homes I've been to. They take it out of the box with the same decorations still on it from the year before, whack it on the floor a few times stand it up & throw some cotton on it & “VOILA” a Japanese Christmas Tree.

I shouldn’t have been so surprised that a boy who loves to eat as much as Trav would also like to cook. I try to involve him when I can with various jobs in the kitchen. He really lives for it. He's attentive & loves to hear about every detail.
Ryan & Ashley’s friends, Miharu & Leina from the “Hello, Hello” Video experience. (Don’t ask!)

That's it for pics of the offspring. Foodie posts coming soon when I get the time. Finally my foodie pics from my keitai are available. Can't write about food without pics. I'm formulating thoughts about, desserts, breads, muffins & mixed drinks.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eggplant a-la-Salada

Here’s something for all you beri-genki nasu fans out there.

Now, I'd like to give credit where credit is due, this recipe is just my take on a salad that was made originally for me by Keiko. She helped start me on the road to reconsiliation as far as my rocky relationship with nasu is concerned. Up until then we were not on speaking terms other than the occasional very crispy & well made tempura nasu. My version of course, is most inferior compared to hers, as Keiko added the famous Baysidian secret weapon of “Thai Sauce”. (Secret no longer, mwwah hah!)

Masa: Ah-ha it’s sandwiches for lunch, bring out the Thai sauce
Keiko: Ohhh, it’s salad for dinner, bring out the Thai sauce
Benny: Mmm…it’s dried fishies for snack, bring out the Thai sauce

OK, so I personally don’t use the Thai sauce for this, call me traditional but I don't really like adding it to "Italian food", unless you can't notice it, (except, eh hum, Italian dressing...heh! Shh, don't tell Michael I told you, just a tbsp or 2.). But you can if it works for you. Here’s my take :

6-7 smaller eggplants
oil for frying
¼ c olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 dry red pepper
a few strips of bacon, cut into 1cm strips
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato or 2, diced
salt & pepper
2-3 tbsp vinegar (red wine, or balsamico if you like it)
basil (fresh is even better)
Parmesan cheese

Preparation: Chop the eggplant 1 cm thick soak in salt water for 10 min. Drain & fry with oil on med/low heat till browned on both sides. (eggplant=sponge, you really need to add some oil to get it to “caramelize” on the outside, keep the flame low) lay eggplant on flat dish. Fry up bacon strips, set aside, fry up garlic & red pepper in oil.

(ideally you should let the garlic soak in the olive oil for quite awhile before frying) keep the heat low, turn off the heat right when the edges start to brown, let the garlic soak & discard the pepper)

Now for the assembly: Sprinkle bacon over eggplant, next onion, diced tomatoes, & spoon garlic & the garlic/olive oil & vinegar over it all. Salt & pepper to taste (my taste: LIBERALLY) & basil. Lastly sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Note: This salad is a sooo purrty & great served cold, so make it in advance. A bed of lettuce would give a great presentation, I'd imagine & could probobly turn it into a main salad rather than a side dish.
Also, I wouldn’t say you need every ingredient on here, but I would have to say the onion, garlic & tomato are pretty essential. You can of course try other toppings: thin red & yellow paprika slices, sautéed mushrooms, black olives or, of course…….THAI SAUCE!!

PS: Pictures (random & hurried) by Al'
Dish: Iven & Kari & home, Yippie! Thank you so much for the dish set, again!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Upon Request: Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore is one of the easiest Chicken recipes around. Cacciatore is Italian for “Hunter” so basically it mean’s Chicken Hunter style. I like to think of a couple of suave Italian hunters out there in the forest. With their chicken they just hunted (Really, how hard can that be?) Hunter 1 chops the chicken up, while hunter 2 goes out & finds a few wild tomatoes & smashes them up & hunter 3 collects a few wild mushrooms (hoping that they’re not poisonous) they throw it all in a cast iron skillet & drink down a bottle of wine as it simmers & they recount the tale of how they hunted down that chicken. They then go on to eat the chicken cacciatore in true hunter style. Arrrgggg!!!

Well, there you have it. I make mine a little different. It was one of those things that my mother in law made, & I don’t know about you but when my husband does that “My-mom-used-to-always-make-us….” Thing, that’s usually all I need to get down to business. I’m sure there are a many ways to do this but here’s how I do mine. I usually do not use measurements so this is just off the top of my head. A true chicken hunter has no recipes! Grrr!!

Chicken thigh 1 kg
½ c flour (couple shakes of salt & pepper)
Few tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, cut (don’t worry about tiny pieces, I like them bigger)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic (pressed)
2 bell peppers, chopped (if the crowd is not all kids & nursing/pg moms)
2 cans of whole tomatoes (16 oz)
½ c of water
10 15 white button mushrooms sliced or 1 large bunch of shimeji mushrooms divided (NO, PUT THE SHITAKE DOWN!!)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste

Cut the thigh into serving size pieces, dredge in flour, fry on medium heat in a large heavy bottom skillet till browned on both sides. Chuck in onions, garlic, spices & pour canned tomatoes on top. Cut tomatoes or give them a couple of secs in the blender & pour over the chicken & veggies. Add water, Cover & simmer on low for about 1 hr. Check on it from time to time & stir to prevent burning on the bottom. About 10 min. before you take it off the stove, add mushrooms & salt & pepper to taste. This is best served with pasta.

Fancy this dinner up by adding olives & parmesan cheese at the end. I have made up some bread dough have my kids make some caraway or basil bread sticks to go with this. Great activity & gives extra class to the meal. (Not to mention something to soak up the extra juice). And it’s Buon Appetito!

Hint: If you don’t have a good skillet, then use a good stew pot. I’ve had a few burn experiences with this recipes because the pot I put it was a pasta pot or one with a thin bottom. I tried baking it in a greased casserole dish (covered) at 200c for 1 hr. And it worked just fine to.

PS: I would have added a picture of this recipe, but as anyone who’s made this meal knows. It’s not popular for it’s looks.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Banner Time!!

Oh, look at that! My friendly friend Elaina made this nifty banner for me. Thank you, Elaina! If you’re wondering what the holey business is in the back….it’s not poison (Nina) it’s BREAD!! OK? And the ultra cool "Bread-Man" is Elaina's skillful magnet board art. In other news today:

- Travis had a 2 day “vom-bomb” session but is back to eating, with a vengeance
- Uncle Smarky had a birthday & we made a day of it with the kids making pizza from scratch. Uncle Jono would be proud (I’m ashamed to say it was my very first time) And Elaina made the most wondrous coconut cream pie on this side of the planet. Pictures are at hand. Josh had great fun taking them of the kids making their own Pizza.
- Got a late start on the post Christmas break school. New resolutions & visions of grandeur. We’re trying Arithmetic & Language in the morning & S.Studies, Science, Japanese or Vocational studies in the afternoon. We’re packing our day tighter. Using motivational words like “goals, incentive, prizes” etc… Whew, send up a prayer for me.
- I’m gonna try to step out of the kitchen & give Elaina a chance to do dinners, so I can concentrate on the kids afternoon class.
- Dylan’s new name shall be henceforth: Yokozuna Dill

And that is all for tonight.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Erika Carolyn is 1

Erika had her birthday on the 4th of January. Here's a few pics of her over the last year. She's a great kid & I think we'll keep her. Thanks Ambie & Ryan for some of these pics.

Erika at 6 weeks
Erika at 6 months
Erkia with Rosiola. And for anyone who doesn't know, the "island" is a strawberry birthmark. That's been fading slowly.

Serious Capricorn.
Goofy Erka the burka, Cuz-cuz, Eurika!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Akemashite Omedetogozaimasu.

I hope you had a restful wonderful new years break, where ever you are. Something about New Years always makes me think about Grandparents. It seems like New Years brings out the Grandparents doing “Grandparent-like” things with their kids; little kids being brats & loving it, preteens cringing & enduring it till they get their long awaited tiny precious envelope. Maybe it’s because we always visited our Ojichan & Obachan for new years that I'm reminded of Grandparents. To me, my O&O’s was the place of fairy tale breakfasts & elaborate Japanese dinners by my “career-cook” Obachan, who probably slept in a sleeping bag in the kitchen. She rarely came out except to eat leftovers from the fridge at the end of the meal & then was quickly back in to start on dishes.
There’s nothing like waking up & stumbling into the dining room snuggling under the kotastu & being served fluffy scrambled eggs with ham, thick white bread with strawberry jam & whole milk. Needless to say, it was a far cry from the fare that we ate daily and I was in breakfast heaven.
For some reason my dad recalled these visits with pain, it seemed to us like he was being tortured to have to drink beer at breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack & bedtime. I have my suspicions. My parents also seemed tortured to have to watch TV at breakfast, lunch, dinner & bedtime. I don’t doubt this at all. Naturally we kids pretended to act tortured as well, unsuccessfully. That is until Ojichan would turn on the marathon channel. I believe it was the top universities yearly competition. It was pretty sad, as it was an all day event & Ojichan insisted on watching the whole thing. I had a sneaking suspicion that the marathon channel was God’s way of punishing me for enjoying the TV watching. The part I looked forward to was when the runners would get to the finish line & then collapse into a group of concerned coaches & attendants who carried their skinny body away. I was secretly hoping maybe something really dramatic would happen, like CPR or something. Unfortunately it never did. Well, besides that, at the end of this feasting-TV-watching-ofuro-taking event, we were each given our own 2 envelopes with our otoshidama. It was like getting paid to have New Years. Wonderful! And we’d joyfully torture Mom & Dad singing on the entire 8 hour traffic ridden ride home!

I was given a tip by an “alert-foodie-blog-reader” to check out the Yuletide feasting on this blog. WOW!!! I have no comment. My initial reaction was to feel an incredible sense of hunger & a slight feeling of…well…..ok…it was green….and had (e-hum) one eye….. OK, well that lasted for about 5 seconds because I soon realized that most of the people at this “eat-a-thon” were obviously deprived & lacking. Why you ask? As you gaze upon these pictures from the blog of my dearest Niki, who lives there as well you will observe there are those (and I can count at least 5 heads)who right about now willing to give up their left pinkie for a bite of freshly made shogastu mochi with butter, shoyu & brown sugar, or kinako, a bite of oden, a scoop ozoni, nama beru & edamame, a momentary snuggle under a kotastu. Yes, I may be wrong, but it makes me feel good to think it’s true.
So I took a praise walk down to the department store 2 minutes away. And felt very smug as I sauntered down the oden section, the tofu section, the dried wakame-shitake-&-other-miso-zairyo section, the tsuyu, shoyu & mirin section, the su section, the cup lamen section, the sembe section & the ocha section, for once I enjoyed the shogastu music & had seconds on nasu-pickles that were being offered. Call it green grapes if you like, but I intend on going home & making ozoni with a renewed zest for this New Year.