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Posts Tagged ‘Japan’


Do you know the happy feeling you get when you dream about eating something all day…and then your dream becomes reality?

For some reason I woke up this morning craving scrambled eggs and toast, but I had to run off to work with just a mandarin orange thrown into my bag. I thought about fluffy just slightly set eggs and crunchy toast until lunch, and though today’s lunch of soup and pasta was good, it did nothing for my craving. So when I got home, I was on a mission to make eggs and toast for dinner, and ended up eating them as I edited some of my grad school essays.

I like my scrambled eggs to be just set and with plenty of salt, pepper and butter.

Here are the steps to how I make scrambled eggs:

Ingredients

  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • salt and pepper

1. In a frying pan, set on the lowest possible heat, melt a generous amount of butter. I usually use about a tbsp of salted butter. Yes, I know that seems like a lot, but I never said my scrambled eggs were healthy >:)

2. While the butter is melting, lightly beat 2-3 whole eggs in a bowl.

3. Once the butter is melted in the pan, swirl the pan to make sure the butter is evenly coated and then sprinkle in salt and pepper.

4. Gently pour in the eggs (Yup, no milk to be found in this recipe)

5. Do not raise the heat, and using a wooden spatula, continuously scrape around the edges and stir the eggs.

6. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the eggs seem to be halfway set. Turn off the heat and move eggs to a plate. They might seem a bit underdone, but they will continue to set a bit more as they cool. Add more salt and pepper if you like.

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***This post is a bit of a break from the usual sort of thing on this blog.  I was invited by the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) to become a tourism supporter, and was lucky to be able to attend a 2 day bus tour in Gunma prefecture, along with 13 other foreigners also living in Japan.***

We left Tokyo Station at 8:30am, and drove north for 3 hours into Gunma prefecture.

The first stop on our tour was the Hara Museum ARC, which is an annex of the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. Modern art museums are not my usual tourist spot of choice, but I was impressed with the Andy Warhol pieces as well as Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin installation. Unfortunately. I wasn’t able to take photos of the interior installations, but the outside of the museum also had some interesting artwork on display.

Next was a stop at Ikaho Green Bokujo, which is a type of farm experience. There are ponies to be ridden, sheep to be walked and bunnies to be petted.

Then it was time for lunch! Mixed pork, beef and lamb barbecue with cabbage and bean sprouts, followed by the farm’s own vanilla ice cream 🙂

After lunch, it was time to explore the park area and see the sheep dog show. I love the Halloween decorations, it reminds me of pumpkin patches and fall festivals from back home.

After getting our fill of the Green Bokujo, it was time for a stop at the Takehisa Yumeji Museum. Takehisa Yumeji was a famous artist and poet who is famous for his unconventional painting of women and inventive prints and illustrations. There was also an annex with some lovely glass work, and the entire museum area was well designed and showcased Takehisa Yumeji’s many works.

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Typhoon number 12 is currently trying to decide where or not it wants to plow through the kingdom of peaches and grapes, so while the weather is windy and rainy outside, I am inside thinking of desserts. 🙂

So before coming to Japan, I actually had never eaten a parfait before. I guess they just aren’t a popular dessert where I grew up. Count me among the happily converted though! In Japan, the parfait usually refers to layers of soft serve or scooped ice cream (sometimes both), whipped cream and toppings which range from cornflakes (surprisingly delicious) to custard, coffee jelly, jam or preserves, and fresh fruit piled high in a tall glass.


Recently, the one fancy fancy hotel in my city made the news with their seasonal fruit parfait, so of course we drove up the mountain to try it out. The type of parfait changes every couple months, and we were lucky to be there at the tail end of the the peach season.

I love peaches and there was very nearly a whole peach perced precariously on top of a scoop vanilla bean ice cream. The fresh peach was sweet with just a slight tang, pairing well with the mellow ice cream and the layers of thick custard and whipped cream underneath. About half way through the glass, I was surprised to find a couple layers of tangy peach preserves. I like to think of parfaits as the dessert that becomes more complex as you eat your way down to the bottom of each glass. I will admit, I was wishing for some crunchy cornflakes, but the extra spoonful of preserves at the very bottom was a nice surprise.

Fujiya Fruits Park Hotel@ Yamanashi City, Japan

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*This post about my trip to Tsujiki was written before the March 11th earthquake, tsunami and subsequent disasters took place. After some thought, I have decided to post it as written. *

I know I really have no excuse for having been in Japan for 3+ years, and not making a pilgramage to Tsukiji. Some people have threatened to revoke my “foodie card” so to speak. So when a friend who shares my food obsession was in town for the Tokyo marathon in February, it was decided that we would make the trek out for breakfast sushi at 8am, and forgo the tuna auction earlier in the morning.
katsuo
Nothing will wake you up faster than the smell of fish in morning! This are crates of dried bonito, or katsuobushi, which you might find as the main flavor component to Japanese dashi stock, or as tissue thin shavings atop an okonomiyaki. I seriously considered buying a bag of the freshly shaved bonito. However, sushi was calling us, so we headed to Sushizanmai.
kanimisotsuna
Starting off with some tuna nigiri and kanimiso. The tuna was really fresh tasting, and the kanimiso is probably the best I’ve ever had. Sometimes kanimiso can be too stinky and salty that the crab flavor is completely obscured, but this was perfectly balanced, with a deep sea taste that made me want to order another right away.
However, there was other sushi to be had!
maguroo
Tuna prepared 5 ways:
(left to right from the bottom left)
大トロ really fatty tuna
中トロ medium fatty tuna
赤身 tuna
あぶりまぐろ lightly seared tuna
まぐろ手巻き tuna hand roll

Even though Sushizanmai isn’t one of the fancy places to eat in Tsukiji, I thought the quality of the sushi was good. The tuna was some of the best I’ve had, and I would go back for the kanimiso 🙂

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sugar cookie
Sometimes things happen in life that kind of knock you out of your regular routine, and it takes you a little bit to get back into the swing of things. Baking delicious things that simultaneously heat my apartment and make it smell like warm butter, sugar and vanilla is my way of getting back a sense of normalcy.

This recipe makes sugar cookies that are slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. They are simple and not perfect, but exactly what I wanted to munch on while curled up with some tea and watching back episodes of Good Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, salted, softened
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g flour
  • 20g baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

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1. Preheat oven to 170C. In a medium bowl, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together until well combined, and until it lightens in color and is slightly fluffy. (use a stand mixer if you like)
2. Mix in eggs, one at a time until well combined.
3. Stir in vanilla extract, almond extract and nutmeg
4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking power and salt, then add it to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir well.
5. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to drop roughly golf ball sized balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just about to turn a pale golden brown. Bake less for softer cookies, and a bit longer if you like your cookies crisp.

**while I tend to just eat these cookies as they are, I’m pretty sure they would be fantastic frosted, or rolled in sugar as well.

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Cheese crackers
Living in Japan, I have a love and hate (but mostly love) relationship with Costco. They have a food court that brings me back to the states, and the sight of 100 count boxes of Tootsie pops and 5 lb boxes of chocochip cookies makes me nostalgic about college and the all mighty purchase order.

The area where I grew up didn’t have a Costco nearby, so when I went for the first time, I was romanced by the tasty polish dogs (only a buck fifty, and it comes with a drink!) and the sheer fact that I could buy a 10 pound can of ketchup, 50 black Sharpies, a sofa, and pumpkin pie the size of a large pizza if I so desired. In college, I had a job that required me to buy food to feed large quantities of people at a time, and for a while, purchasing 4 flats of muffins, and 2 lb cans of hot cocoa mix was normal. Oversized food is one thing, Costco sized food is another. For some reason, I find ridiculously large food, or large quantities of food inherently comical and interesting. (on the flip side, I also find extra small food funny and amazing as well :P)

 So what does Costco have to do with cheese crackers? As my mother says, I sometimes have eyes bigger than my stomach. The last time I went to Costco in Japan, I was persuaded into buying a 2 lb brick of sharp cheddar cheese. (they didn’t have to try hard) I think you can guess where this goes…but the short of it is I ended up having a half a block left, and needed to use it all quickly before the cheese spoiled. I did think about just gnawing on the block, but decided that cheese crackers were the more socially acceptable option.

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The first thing I did after I decided to go to Nagoya for the weekend was to make a list. Not of things to pack with me, nor famous places to go see, but a simple list of the foods I wanted to eat. ^-^;;

Though Nagoya is a bit lacking in major sightseeing destinations, it makes it up by having plenty of food destinations. So onward to the tour!

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