Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Purse Baskets

One thing I've seen frequently here that I like are these baskets for purses and other bags under tables at restaurants. Even if you have a purse holder like I do, you can't always use them if the table is too thick or seating is tight. So it's nice to have another spot to set your bag without having to just drop it on the floor or balance it on your lap all night.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stuffed Squash

A recent dinner that included carrot and gobo (burdock root) kinpira, sauteed okra, and stuffed squash.

The squash was based on this Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash recipe, with slight tweaks - because as is the case with most recipes, I can't seem to leave well enough alone.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vending Machines 6

I noticed this one in the botanical gardens - a pretty self-explanatory one, hm?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dinner For One

So it may not have been the most balanced meal, but my green olive and feta stuffed breadsticks with a spicy tomato dipping sauce really hit the spot!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fitting Room Fun

Last weekend we visited the Toki Premium Outlet Mall, which claims to be themed to resemble a Colorado ski resort. That's a bit of a stretch I think, but the mall is nice, it offers good views of surrounding mountains, and most importantly, there are shops with clothes that fit both of us.

As one of the few places where we can buy clothes, it is also one of the few places that we get to experience dressing rooms. Like a number of other situations here, it is often necessary to remove your shoes. Once your shoes are off, you step onto a little square of carpet in the dressing room. And if the item you're trying on needs to go on over your head, sometimes you'll also be handed a sheer bag type thing that you are expected to cover your head with while you are putting on or taking off items. That way if you have any make-up on, it won't get on the clothes.

A bit more of a rigmarole than might be preferred, but worth it for my new pair of running shorts!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Whenever a new restaurant or store opens up, it seems that other shops in the area send flowers with congratulatory notes.

I love the thoughtful friendly gesture, and it helps me spot new places to check out too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cake, Chestnuts, and Couscous

It was a good week in the kitchen. I successfully made a four-layer cake (chocolate stout layers, cream cheese frosting in between, and chocolate espresso ganache on top - in case you were curious) for M's half-birthday. No small feat in the easy bake oven.

Also, we got a little pile of chestnuts in our veggie box this week, so I had fun with my first experience of roasting and peeling them.

They were added to a couscous stuffing with cranberries, which in turn was stuffed into a seitan roast. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seto Celebrity

This past weekend we also went to the city of Seto for the Setomono Festival. This festival has been held since 1932, and every year on the second weekend in September, hundreds of stalls line the Seto River selling all types of pottery products at low(er) prices.

I was excited to get back to this festival for a second time, we added to our own pottery collection and even managed to pick up a few Christmas gifts too. But the most exciting part of the day was discovering that my handsome husband was featured in not one, but two publications advertising the festival!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

This past weekend we went to Osaka with M's parental units, and since they boast one of the world's largest, the aquarium was on the list to visit. The set-up was interesting, the aquarium is based on the Ring of Fire and Ring of Life areas in the Pacific Ocean, and after riding an enormous escalator up to the 8th floor, visitors wind their way back down looking at the marine life from different areas.
What I spent a lot of time looking at was the back of people's heads. The place was packed. Many viewing windows were stacked 5 or 6 rows deep. Not the ideal situation for taking in exotic sea life.

The jellyfish area though was somewhat empty (comparatively anyway), which I found surprising because there were so many lovely ones. I was completely enthralled.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Going Out In Style

'In Japan, hearses can come in two styles: "Foreign" style, which is similar in build and style to an American hearse, or a "Japanese" style, in which the rear area of the vehicle is modified to resemble a small, ornate Buddhist temple. This generally requires the rear of the vehicle to be extensively altered; commonly, the rear roof is cut away from the front windows back and all interior parts are removed from the rear as well. The ornate Buddhist-style rear area, generally constructed of wood and in which the casket or urn is placed, is built on top of this empty cavity and most often is wider than the base of the vehicle, so that it sticks out on the sides, over the rear body panels.'

There are regional differences of ornaments. The one in this picture is Nagoya style, so not only the upper half of the body is decorated, but the lower half as well. Kansai style has relatively modest unpainted decorations, Kanazawa style is known for having a red body (other styles mostly have black bodies) with gilded ornaments, and Tokyo style, found everywhere else in Japan, features painted/gilded ornaments only on the upper half of the body. (Source of info Wikipedia)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guide to Relief

During a recent road trip we stopped at a rest area, and I noticed this "you are here" map for the restroom. It displayed which type of toilet was in each stall (Japanese or Western style) and the lights identified whether the stall was occupied or open.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grey Thumbs

Quite possibly the saddest tomato plant that was ever grown - but the five tomatoes we 'harvested' were really really good!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kabocha Risotto

The risotto was adapted from this recipe (used veggie stock, no pancetta, more onion), and was delish - tastes like fall is on the way.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What The Dill

They aren't my beloved Claussen Dill Pickles, but my first attempt at pickling went pretty well. This is okra and green beans, and the pickling took away a lot of the okra's slime factor, leaving behind tasty vinegary crunchy veggies.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eggplant and Olive Pizza

Another Smitten Kitchen recipe, I think this pizza could make converts out of eggplant-haters. The combination of garlicky eggplant chunks with salty green olives was delicious!