Friday, April 24, 2009

Forget not the takenoko

Heads up all you friends in Japan, spring has sprung & takenoko is in full swing. If you know anything about me you'll know I am MOST fond of takenoko. If you're blessed enough to get a couple of these fresh, don't be intimidated by the hairy covering, these are a wonderful & fantastic food. Just be sure to pre-boil them to get rid of the bitter taste. (test it before you shut off the flame) And store in water in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

So for my friends who I just visited & had an excessive amount, I will direct you again to my Takenoko Pasta recipe, Takenoko rice & of course the simple-dimple & lovely sauteed takenoko with BUTTER, salt pepper & shoyu. Which I fried up late one evening for us to sample with generous helpings of beer.

And BTW, I learned from the ever wise & genius cook "Fay-the-speedy-crafty-muti-tasking-woman-of-wonder", that peeling the takenoko one layer at a time is akin to cutting hair one strand at a time. She demonstrated to me that slicing the whole thing (peels & all) down the middle & then ripping off each half of the hairy coat at a time.

Sigh......I love learning new things. That Lady needs to come to my house & teach me a thing or two.

Anyone got any good takenoko ideas? I'm all ears!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And the indulgent coffee drinker is...... chosen by a 3 year old in her Boots the Monkey PJ's (you can thank her later)...


So....happy day. Hope you enjoy your coffee beans. Send me your address & I'll send you the coffee beans tomorrow. Ground for paper coffee filter/mild blend/Guatemalan beans!

(PS. I'm sure Joan is thanking you right about now, eh, Joan?) :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time for another Giveaway

So as promised here's my next giveaway.

But before that I feel it's time to talk Coffee. And I must warn you, I might be talking about this for awhile, it's too late.......I've already gotten started. Where could I possibly start but at the beginning. This book is where it begins for me:

Well, no that's not entirely true, it actually started when after my 5th baby I decided that I would have to finally give in to coffee. Not that it never seemed appealing. But honestly, paranoias involving stained teeth & bad breath & that alarming, crazed look in certain individual's eyes when you'd mention the blessed brew sorta made me want to remain one of the un-addicted.

But, hey when you're running a 5 ring circus, you barely have time to brush your teeth & have that crazed look in your eye anyway, so heeeeey, why not get started on the coffee?

So, long story short. For the last 5 years my knowledge of coffee went as far as understanding that they were a roasted bean that should be drunk regularly & at Starbucks on special occasions. That is until I got the above mentioned book for 100Y at a 2nd hand store.

The author takes you through the coffee farms, the growth of the tree, harvesting, roasting, cupping (method for sampling the roast to determine it's grade & thus it's value in the Coffee world). And if that wasn't enough information it then goes on to give a thorough explanation of methods of grinding/storing/brewing, not to mention the dreamy land of espresso. Dear Lordy Lord! At the end he also reviews coffee country by country. Not a bad read.

OK, this is not very short is it? Let's get down to business. I am DEEPLY saddened by the mediocre name coffee has been given, not so much even because of the quality of bean as much as the way in which it's handled.

- Overdoing it on the amount of beans used
- Pouring boiling water over it
- killing the taste with brown sugar, or any sugar
- leaving a pot of coffee hot for hours & hours on end (waaaaa)

RESPECT THE BEAN, YO!!! I know it's not realistic to have top grade coffee beans on hand at all times, not to mention the taste degrades considerably after the first week after it's been roasted & every moment it's exposed to aroma robbing oxygen.

But consider this.....about 400Y for a tall coffee (possibly flavored artificially & or topped with cream), 1000Y (give or take) for a bag of beans that will last you over 20 cups of delicious coffee. I admit a hand grinder might be a bit of an investment (a few more thousand yen) but if you are a coffee lover already, why not make it count?

So if you've gotten this far into my coffee post, chances are you're gonna want to take part in this giveaway.

I'm going to be giving away one bag of 200g of coffee beans from my favorite coffee store here in Chiba.

And I promise you that this coffee will be sent to you THE DAY it has been roasted. (provided I get your address in time)

The rules are simple:

- Again, only those in Japan are eligible. (Sorry, gaijins!)
- Giveaway starts NOW and ends at 12:00am April 22nd, Wednesday.
- to be eligible leave a comment telling us 2 things, 1) how you like your coffee. If you tell me what kind of roast you like, I'll be better able to pick something you'll like. (eg: mild/medium, body/dark, or light) 2) if you have a electric or hand grinder.
- If you have a significant other, you can up your chances if you both comment. :)
- Winner will be decided using the scientific method of "names in a hat" & picked out by one of my kiddos.
- You must vow to consume this coffee within at LEAST 2-3 weeks of receiving it. (Come can do it)

Well...what are you waiting for? Go forth & comment! I'm gonna go grab me a cup of coffee. Kiss-a-lova!

PS. Winner will be announced 9:00 am, April 22nd, Wednesday. (Happy B'day, Mike)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Milkshake brings.....

....all the kids running to surround me in the kitchen with their cups in hand and their "hungry for shake" faces on.

I've said it before & I'll say it again:

Avocado Milkshakes ROCK!!

Scarcely rocket science, not cutting edge cooking to say the least. Grab a couple of bananas & an avocado or 2 (I personally feel strongly about milkshake Bananas needing to be frozen but, yeah...) a few cups of milk & a few handfuls of ice, a squirt of honey or two (or ten....if you're so inclined)...some even feel that a squeeze of lemon juice brings out the flavor of the avocado but you can be the judge of that

And then..........BLEND AWAY, FRIEND! (No, David, stop sniveling, the blender is not eating your bananas!)

TA-Daaaaa! Deki-agari!

Stay tuned for the unveiling of my next passionate giveaway starting tomorrow at a computer near you....and now what to make for dinner. (sigh)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thank Youes!

This is the face of a happy relaxed mommy who is so thankful for a full day of rest and a dandy new hair cut. Long overdue for the latter. Who comes to your house bringing playmates for your kids & elbow grease to clean your unspeakable "mold of many colors" laden ofuro, & enough energy to keep your 5 year old on his toes?

My very own Mark & Elaina! I am as always just very happy and still discovering areas of my house you cleaned for me. I am ashamed (yet somehow just a little pleased too!)

PS. This straight business is merely temporary (just ironed out) I am true to the creed of the "bed head". I'm of course, not sure what that creed is but it should have something to do with turning up our noses to all the "straights" and vowing that curly hair is the next best thing God made. (fitting snugly between large amounts of body hair & outie belly buttons, on the "practical anatomical jokes" list)

In case you think I've forgotten what this blog is all about HAVE NO FEAR!!! There are recipes brewing...and further more stay tuned for another aromatic give away coming soon.

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Stepping out with Bento Fare Ideas

I don't have any grand Sakura pics to post but I tell you spring makes me feel like fresh food & good clean dirt for gardening in. Time to get a late start on the herbs.

I get tired of the same old "bento" fare for picnics & like to keep it fresh with salads, breads or cold pastas. My present obesession is to have a Lebanese picnic with the whole deal of flat bread w/ Zaatar, tabbouleh, hummus & labneh etc...

Here are a couple favorites I featured many moons ago. I'm not very tall but I stand by them all:

Cold red pepper soup

Tomato Torta (this is great cold too)

Fresh Tomato & basil pasta

Basil Rice & Balsamic Soy-sauce chicken

Greek Salad. (no link, but baby, if you haven't had feta you haven't lived!!)

Macha o' le
Blood Orange Iced Tea

Tomato Mozzarella Salad (I always bring whole tomatoes & a knife if I want to use them for a picnic)

What'd you have for your sakura picnic? Besides chu-his & happo-shu, I mean.

Gotsta get a move on dinner, have a lovely spring day, friend.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Family Time #3: Disney Day 2

Day 2 of Disneyland:

The ever-excited offspring of ours who are incapable of sleeping in woke us up bright & early. Everyone was thrilled that the clouds were rolling away and the ever elusive Mt. Fuji was peeking out behind the Cinderella Castle. Not a bad view.

Kids made feeble attempts to eat slowly the granola that I whipped together before we left. Meanwhile I set up camp by the window announced my intention to "HAVE A MOMMY".
Room Service Coffee & Home made Granola....(a small moment, if you, please)

..........that is until someone spills a drippy granola mess on the floor & cries over spilt milk, aaaaaand, we're back.

Everyone ready to go for round 2?


Despite our best laid plains, one thing that we didn't plan was the freezing weather & Spring break and it didn't help that Disneyland was celebrating it's 25th anniversary that during that time as well. Though seriously people? Do we ALL have to go to celebrate the magic of Disneyland packed like little sardines, waiting in obscenely long lines wearing the most absurd Disney attire available? Apparently! But when you think about it where else can you see so many people in a small space? It must be MAGIC!!

Case point: Auntie Becky held down the fort (benches) for the 2 hours before the parade started. She bravely withstood the onslaught of the (affectionately dubbed) "Disney Street Nazi Ladies" who repeatedly attempted to force us to fold our strollers, let strangers sit on our bench and repeatedly shouted loud announcements reinforcing their protocols while staring menacingly at us.
Praise be to God for naptime & snackies, or else the poor toddies, would have been totally stir crazy.

Thank God also for the patches of green ever once in awhile with little 'quack quack's here & there. Despite Disney's best intentions with all their "These are wild animals" signs, it was pretty obvious feeding the ducks caramel corn was a main attraction for little kids. I bet if you cooked one of these they'd taste sorta caramelish.

By the time Parade time came along we were sooo glad we stood our ground. We had great seats!

Check out the thighs of foam (Grrr), & the hoards of people.

The dancers performances were so enjoyable. Their plastic smiles were painfully perfect & could not have been wiped off their faces if they tried. The obvious theme of crazy wigs & even crazier make up just TOTALLY made my day.

I totally need one of these "giraffe go carts".

The moment the "Disney Couples" were carted through I was sure I was "feeling the magic" big time. I could hardly contain my excitement. For a few minutes I desperately wished all my sisters were there, scratch that, ALL my siblings were there because you just couldn't have enough people to exchange sidelong/alarmed/knowing/smirking glances at, while you enjoyed the spectical of sincere looking gaijin men with their eye brows raised just so, their coiffed wigs looking so "FIIIIINE" and their index fingers separated from the rest of their glove clad hand (Just the way I used to practice in the mirror when when I dreamt of a sucessful carrier in figure-skating, but that's another story) as they pointed to no one in particular whilst proudly singing the words of their perspective theme songs. It was such an experience that I swear I can barely contain my laughter now while writing.

The other thing I loved is how there was a whole sea of people waving at these guys, like they knew them personally, like there was some kind of a "connection" there......I don't know why but it was to me the ultimate in the Japanese "oneness" of spirit.

Sooo, that's about where my Disney experinece ended as we again realized that the little ones were getting cold & bored so we left DH & Amy-in-law to it with the big kids to spend the rest of the day there.

And of course, as you've suspected & as Mikey, Miney, Belle & Ariel know.....we went home & lived happily ever after.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Family time Pics 2# (Disney time)

I'm gonna go ahead & spare you my 2 cents on Disneyland, since anyone who knows me well will already know about my ongoing issues with full-body-suit-people at amusement parks (Retch!!). But when you have kids you gotta make sacrifices, eh? Here's how Day 1 went down:

If you ask me, Amy-in-law came up with one of the best Birthday ideas of all time. It was Lady Charlotte's very 1st birthday and we contemplated buying a cake at the hotel then thought we'd make one & bring it with us......but get this Amy in a moment of sheer genius (probably somewhere between making a cappuccino & snitching what I was making for dinner) suggested we eat it for breakfast.
What a lovely idea and what a lovely little lady. We probably sang to her 10 times that morning alone, would you be able to restrain yourself?. Look at that, she's in her PJ's and everything! Awww!
And did she eat it? YES, She did! (There really is no failure like a kid tossing their very first birthday cake, the cake you toiled over on the floor, I think that's my ultimate Birthday cake fear)

And if you're a regular here, I'm sure you recognize what cake we went for. (Big-bill's without the walnuts) The frosting though was somewhat of a (temporary) nightmare.

Let's put it this way. Marscapone does not act in the same way that cream cheese does & does not mix with butter & icing sugar. I tried everything and if I hadn't had a few cocktails with Amy I might have just settled for curdled frosting. I let Bruce have a go with it on full blast. I dumped it in the blender & woke Lawyer boy at 11:30 with my blending, and just when I was about to admit defeat....I decieded to try......(come on, cooks you know what I did right?) I threw an egg yolk in the blender & VOILA!! (Whew!) Folded in 1 cup of whip cream & 1 tbsp of lime juice & 1 tsp lime zest. I think the stress was definately worth the results though. The frosting was true Awesomeness.

Well, since I somehow forgot to add pictures of all of us crammed into one van like the "good old days" (???) of professional "van-cramming", I'll just show you this! The kids happy to be in "their" hotel, The Ambassador.

This was just too classic, doesn't she look just like a little Muslim girl. Once the rain started to realized that we forgot our "back up" umbrellas in the van at the hotel. So try as we might to bundle the kids up in their hoods & jackets it was clear we'd need some extra protection.

Some were thrilled about the rain coats......some.....were not!

Just making themselves at home in the hotel lobby as they wait for check in. As you can imagine the little people didn't last in Disneyland for very long so the mommies bailed back to the hotel for an early check in.
Ah....nothing like running around in your diaper in your own hotel room. While the kids ran around frolicing in the land where dreams really "DOOOOOooo come truuuuuue" (yeah, if you dream about giant Mickey Mice trying to hug you. Arrrggg)

Despite long lines & the off & on rain, they trooped back to the hotel predicictably with energy left to recount the important little details of their adventures. NEXT, we were off to eat dinner.

Becky & I discovered this restaurant called "Rainforest Cafe". And what a perfect place it was.

Besides being totally covered top to bottom in green leafy vegetation & tangled vines the life sized & extra large animal replicas kept the kids just looking around the restaurant for half the time we were there. We were seated by a massive cylinder fish-tank with tropical fish for the kids to look at while we waited for our order. We also discovered that every 1/2 hr or so the lights were practically turned out for a "thunderstorm" complete with flashes of lighting & crazy animal sounds. I contemplated the idea of threatening "naughties" with the "tornado feature" that strings them up by their toenails to the ceiling as an example for all the other kids in the restaurant.'s my cocktails whose name I forgot but I do remember that it was a frozen mango & Malibu liquor mix. Yummmmola!

Here's the pic of us all after our table sang Happy Birthday to Charlotte so loudly that we got 1/2 the restaurant singing along. That pile of fudge brownies & ice cream was somehow tucked away & then we headed back to the hotel.

Kids were thrilled about being in their own hotel beds & new bathtub to splash in. The classic moment for me was when they were about to jump in the bathtub but someone saw the fireworks going off above the Cinderella castle & 4 nekid little kids jumped up & down in front of their window watching their own hanabi show.

Happy Ending to a long day!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Family time Pics 1#

If you're interested in what our family has been up to last month I shall be posting a series of posts doing just that. Of course....foodie pics will always be involved for what is a foodie blog without food? Forgive me if they are not chronological or are at times totally abstract & non-nonsensical but I'm often blogging with a spatula in one hand & a text book in the other.

I had planned to have a pasta dinner so I made up 2 loaves of Focaccia. The toppings were brown sugar, rosemary, sea salt, freshly grated Parmesan & EV Olive oil. But at the last minute my savior (AKA: imaginative twin sister in law) ordered Indian (You will always be my hero!!!)

So instead we got to have had this for our picnic:

Focaccia Ham & Cheese sandwiches

This may have been the only authentic lovely SPRING day of our whole visit. The rest of them were lovely freezing cold rainy spring days. (Note the "sandwich in the bib look" Erika is sporting)

This is my tree-hugger son. He is most tender indeed!

Sibling time.

Miss 3 years old declared in her own cute little way: "Mom, going on a boat is what I've wanted to do for my WHOOOOOLE life".

Don't we just love Chiba Koen?