Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Turkey Leftovers

Last night we had openface hot turkey sandwiches and today I tried to put a Japanese twist on turkey leftovers - turkey stirfry (with the brussel sprouts I found at the grocery store today!) and sweet potato korokke with the leftover maple mashed sweet potatoes. And of course white rice.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Rice

The turkey (two drumsticks and a kilo plus-sized breast) with gravy, stove-top stuffing, roast onions and potatoes, carrots, broccoli with almonds, and mashed maple sweet potatoes went over well yesterday evening. The chocolate mocha yule log was pronounced delicious (and not overly sweet!). The breakfast bubbly and orange juice and breadmaker version of cinnamon buns were devoured (the whole loaf disappeared in minutes and we contemplated making a second loaf). The lunch cheese (cranberry stilton, soft goat cheese, and cheap Japanese knock-off camembert) and pate-ish substitute disappeared too.

So food-wise Christmas in Japan was a huge success... right up until half-way through Christmas dinner when U gave me what he somehow thinks is the ultimate compliment a meal can be given - "This dinner needs some rice."

Luckily for him my fork was loaded with turkey with gravy and cranberry so he didn't find it embedded in any soft parts. But after two days of being up til 3 am preparing and nearly two straight days of cooking (with some help from the two men) funny how I didn't see the suggestion of rice as a compliment. I suppose it has to do with all the strong flavours and wanting to savour them properly, but seriously, white rice with Christmas turkey?

There are plenty of leftovers, and even some bones, so we'll have plenty of chances for left overs, maybe one night I'll do a turkey stir-fry to serve with rice?

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Baking

My little oven is certainly getting a work-out.

I started yesterday with a half-batch of shortbread cookies (without the jam) in white, red, and green; and a half batch of what turned out to be hazelnut brownie bites.

Today (after loading up with butter and flour and sugar) I made a batch of florentines that ended up sticking to the baking sheet and falling apart so they got a chocolate cookie bottom and melted chocolate (half of which was ruined when I melted the plastic spatula too) to pour on top to hold them together and I ended up with chocolate florentines. Then a batch of my grandma's icing cookies (all baked and ready to be iced tomorrow) and a second batch of shortbread (minus the cherries and sprinkles) - half plain and half with cocoa added. But nearly the entire batch have crumbled into nothingness when I tried to take them off the cookie sheet.

Thank goodness the butter shortage here seems to have ended, as I seem to be going through an awful lot of the stuff!

Tomorrow I want to make brownies (or maybe bites again?) and the yule log for Christmas and, if I have time, maybe a nanaiamo bar too? Wheee...!

Friday, 16 December 2011


I should really call this post "I am an idiot" because I am.

How many times have I flown from Vancouver to Japan? Too many to count. I've flown direct, I've flown through Seattle, LA, and San Francisco. I've flown by Air Canada, Northwest Airlines, JAL...

One thing that never changes is that I cross the dateline. I arrive in Japan The day AFTER I leave Vancouver.

And that is the point. The very important one point I forgot last night. My dad had been talking about the 15th and I got stuck on that. I didn't go back to check the flight info he had sent me in September.

As we set out to the big station 40 min away to meet the limousine bus, I checked the Narita arrivals info and discovered his flight was 90 min delayed so we ate dinner and then headed to the bus waiting room one bus came and went without dad. I wasn't too worried, it would have been a tight connection. The second bus came and went. I was worried but not overly so. But when the final bus came and went, and my dad had not appeared, I got worried. His plane had arrived more than three hours earlier and I hadn't heard from him.

I posted frantic updates on Facebook and tried calling him at home just in case (it was just after 5 am) but no answer. U decided dad had gotten on the wrong bus to a similar sounding station and started calling hotels in the area. I was checking email and hoping dad would email in response to my frantic "where are you??????" message to say he was at a Narita hotel.

I tried calling my aunt (I really really hope I didn't wake her up!!).

It was past midnight and both U and I were mentally and physically exhausted. I had given myself a bad stomachache.

And then came the email from my dad.

"I'm at home, getting ready to go to the airport in a few hours - see you tomorrow!"





It is now the 16th, my dad's flight arrived 5 minutes late and U and I are en route to the station. Hopefully we won't spend as much time bonding with the bus company clerk. Hopefully we'll meet my dad.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Tree

We finally bought our tree (210 cms! It barely fits in the livingroom!!) and lights (the first string we bought wasn't anywhere near long enough so we had to go back for the longest in the store!) and decorated! We bought decorations from Ikea and Tokyu Hands and made some and it doesn't look sad or empty like I worried it might!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Somedays are Tuesdays

It seems as though Lulu and others have given up on "Somedays ate Tuesdays" posts, but I never was very good at keeping up with the popular kids, so here goes...

Somedays I am frustrated and bored with work and despair of improving or ever having a "career" as opposed just doing a job. But most days recently I have been loving work. I've been editing the proofs for the book (a Japanese translation of a collection of essays in English) we are publishing in the new year. It turns out that being anal has its positives too, and means that I enjoy and am actually pretty good at editing, even in Japanese! I'm not looking for or catching grammatical errors but have been checking for overall consistency (use of Arabic versus Chinese numbers, etc).

Somedays I regret that we won't be going back to Canada for Christmas this year. I'm going to miss seeing family and friends, the Christmasy atmosphere, buying clothes that fit at the Boxing day sales (this year I have to work Boxing day!!)... Most days, however, I'm excited about all the new traditions we will be creating and the Christmasy things we've been up to - like going to see the Tokyo International Players' production of "A Kabuki Christmas Carol" - which was actually really really good and U enjoyed it too!

Somedays I get to have a good nap during my morning commute. Most days recently, however, I've had the elbow of a puffy-coated old guy (never the same guy) in my side. I've discovered I really dislike being touched on my side. It isn't that I'm ticklish, but somehow it just seems way too intimate a place for a random stranger to be in contact with me. Since it happens all too often I should be used to it, but apparently not!

Somedays I go home after work and U and I have dinner together. We've been enjoying the cold weather and having plenty of nabe, stews, curry, etc. Most days this week, however, between end-of-year parties (Mon and Fri for me, Thurs for him) and his students suddenly realizing the year is coming to an end and they don't have the experiment results they need and thus wanting to stay late (Tues, and perhaps Wed too) one of us is late and we're eating on our own.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

... Christmas?!!

Yesterday I pulled out the box of decorations and got out the Christmas stuff. I started decorating and when U came home from work we went Christmas tree shopping. We quickly discovered it was both easier and more difficult than we had expected. Easier in that there were more stores selling trees than U had thought and more difficult because more choice made the actual choosing more difficult as we became very picky very quickly.

Height - We knew we wanted something big enough to be a focal point in the room and that could be surrounded by gifts - so at least 150 cm but ideally 180.

Shape - After turning down all the options available at Tokyu Hands we finally realized they were all "slim" trees. They just didn't seem right. I guess the slender trees take up less space and thus are better in small Japanese homes, but they just looked spindly - not in a pathetic Charlie Brown tree type way, just... wrong... But since your average Westerner is wider than their Japanese counterpart I suppose it makes sense? ;)

Fashion - Not only could we choose between ones with pine cones, or brown artfully mixed in among the green on the branches, but there was a "Great Canadian Pine" and little ones with glowing branches. Then there was the choice between a set or a "nude" tree. The idea of a tree that comes with all the decorations seems wrong to me as I remember my mum buying me a decoration every year and we still have the dry pasta angel I made in second grade and the baked clay wreath I made years before that! So nude it is.

And the verdict?

After tramping around the shopping mall for a few hours and looking at a couple dozen trees we couldn't make up our mind and decided we didn't like anything we saw. So we put it off until next week... but did buy a bunch of decorations and a few more Christmas gifts!

It's beginning to look a lot like...