Monday, November 30, 2009

Completely Unnecessary

1 vehicle with 5 television screens.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Full Bellies!

We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and hope you did too!

Chickpea gravy, mashers, green bean casserole, mushroom & soysage stuffing, cranberry sauce and "turkey." Mmmmmmm

The vegan turkey roast was from this recipe and it turned out surprisingly tasty!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Despite being physically far away from most of our family and friends, we still hold you close in our minds and in our hearts. Thank you for taking the time to e-mail, leave blog comments, and skype with us - it is always nice to hear your voices and read tidbits of what is new in your world. Thank you for making the effort to send us snail mail and packages filled with thoughtful gifts - you can turn a quiet weekday into a Christmas-style celebration. Thank you for being in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's That Time of Year!

Normally we wouldn't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but since there is no Thanksgiving here to slow down holiday preparations, we decided that we could start celebrating whenever we darn well felt like it. So a couple of weeks ago I pulled out most of the Christmas decorations, and then this past weekend we decorated the Christmas shrubs and M hung lights.

Christmas shrubs? Yup, we're starting a new trend. Last year we bought an evergreen shrub (on the right) as a stand-in for a proper Christmas tree, because even a small one was out of reasonable price range. Despite M's loving care - and the attention of some of our guests - the Christmas shrub seems to be fading from the bottom up, so we pulled in another plant to help bear the burden of lights and ornaments. Still perfectly festive I think!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ginger Oat Scones

We enjoyed these for a few breakfasts last week, and I'm already thinking about making them again. I can't believe I wasn't always a fan of ginger!

The scones were based off of this recipe, but instead of currants and orange zest, I used 1 tsp of ground ginger and about 1/4 C of freshly grated ginger.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mashed Potato Pizza

Yup, you read that right - pizza with mashed potatoes on it.

Now, before you turn up your nose at this, give it a shot. Yes, it is carbtastic, and not something you'd want to eat every night, but it is tasty. See, M's giving his blue cheese piece a big thumbs up!

These tasty slices were topped with cheddar and green olives, and a bit of fried garlic.

Mmmm! Perfect comfort food for colder temps!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weekend in Kanazawa

This past weekend we went to Kanazawa, a city on the Sea of Japan. One of the city's highlights is Kenroku-en, one of the three great gardens in Japan. The garden is lit up a couple times a year, and we just happened to visit on the first day of the Autumn Light-Up.

Kanazawa can get a lot of snow in the winter, and yukitsuri was already in place on many of the trees in anticipation of this. Yukitsuri is a technique for protecting trees from heavy snows by giving the tree extra support with a bamboo pole, and then connecting limbs to the pole with rope. Although designed to be functional, the result was really lovely to look at too.

We also saw the oldest fountain in Japan - it operates by natural water pressure!

Kenroku-en is also famous for Kotoji-tōrō, a stone lantern with two legs - it is featured on the manhole covers around town, and is emblematic of both the park and the city.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Upside-Down Fresh Fig Cake

I've decided to start baking something at least once a week, because while I generally prefer savory treats, sometimes warm sweet treats are nice too. Plus my husband is always extra-appreciative when I bake, and I like to make him happy, so it all works out.

This recipe is from "Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook" by Jim Denevan with Marah Stets, and can be found here. Because I'm using the easy bake oven to cook in, I halved the recipe and used a smaller pan - and I didn't have parchment paper, but it still came out of the pan without any problems.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Autumn in Nara

M spotted this tree, and we all agreed that it looked like it could be an Ent.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Adventures in Aqua Boot Camp - Episode 2

I'm taking a brief break from travel photos to share my most recent aqua boot camp adventure. My limited knowledge of Japanese is enough to get me through most day-to-day interactions, but every now and then, not being fluent results in character building (ie highly embarrassing or confusing) situations - and more often than not, these seem to happen at the gym. (If you missed out on the brouhaha I created by wearing earrings in the pool, you can read that here.)

So about 25 minutes in, the instructor stops the class, starts talking, and before I know it, everyone else has their left hand up in the air in a fist. I should also mention that I arrived to class a bit later than normal, resulting in me standing in the front row, smack-dab in the center - so everyone else could see me, but I didn't have a great view of what anyone else was doing. He keeps talking, and everyone's fist change into a gesture. After two rounds of this, it dawns on me that they are playing rock-paper-scissors (or jan-ken-pon in Japanese - did you know the game was invented here?).

But why? Why on earth would it be necessary to decide anything in the middle of a boot camp class? Were they deciding on whether we'd do 1000 kicks next or suffer through punches instead? And, seeing that I have no idea as to what is being decided, is it better to play along blindly or be the only person in the pool without my hand up? I opt for playing halfheartedly, weakly raise my arm, and make my selection at the last possible second. The women next to me helpfully pinched her "scissor" fingers at me to show that her "scissors" beat my "paper," while I smiled back with what I hoped was a flash of confidence. Or something like it.

The whole thing probably only lasted for 6 rounds, but they were the longest rounds of rock-paper-scissors I've ever played in my life, and no, I never did deduce what was decided as a result.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Return to Hiroshima

After a great two week trip, my parental units are now back in the States. I'm still sorting through the hundreds of photos we all took, but I thought I'd share a couple of the highlights from our side trips from Nagoya.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Satoimo and Carrot Soup

I was chatting with a friend (happy birthday gorgeous!) a few days ago, and when she asked what I was making for dinner, I groaned internally. I try not to be preachy about the food choices I make, but rather show by example that a vegetarian diet can be really tasty. But sometimes when we're down to the end of our veggie box, dinner isn't always glamorous. So I had to tell her that we were having steamed sataimo and carrot soup. I should have added on some baked tofu and it would have sounded about as granola-crunching-hippyish as you can get!

But I do love soup, and the carrot and lentil soup was was a tasty thicker version of a plain red lentil soup (it was based on this recipe found about half-way down the page). At the top of the picture are the steamed satoimo (taro root), ready to be dipped in soy sauce.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Azuki Pepsi

I really have to stop being sucked in by the crazy Pepsi flavors, as there has yet to be one that I've enjoyed. Part of it might be that since they aren't diet, they all taste sickeningly sweet. This one tasted more like cotton candy to me than azuki beans, and just like the Shiso Pepsi, the bottle went unfinished.