Archive for November, 2010

The Taste Of Whale

Posted: November 26, 2010 in !! YOUTUBE VIDEOS !!, Foods

VS’ thoughts on whale meat!

Our Sukiyaki Dinner

Posted: November 21, 2010 in !! YOUTUBE VIDEOS !!, Foods

Sukiyaki is one of those dishes that are just perfect for icy cold days.

The pot of soup boils on the table while you eat, so not only does the soup itself warm your soul…..also the heat from the stove itself warms the room!

Here’s our last sukiyaki dinner party!

And here is some sukiyaki info relating to the video. Only read this if you happen to want more info on any of these topics:

RAW EGG:
Sukiyaki is usually avoided by foreigners….because eating sukiyaki also involves eating raw egg! Eating raw egg is considered pretty safe by the Japanese. It:s very rare for someone to get sick. I am not sure why this is….perhaps it is in the way the eggs are handled. I am always reluctant to eat raw eggs in the USA but I feel pretty safe doing it in Japan. I guess that:s because VS and Vtec and their families have been doing it for so long and they have never known anyone who got sick from them. I looked up some data for salmonella rates and it appears that the rates are pretty similar for the USA and japan, both at around 0.5% if the sources were accurate. So, even though the Japanese eat a lot of raw eggs, the rates are still the same.

Of course….i always start with eggs I bought THAT day. Just in case. And I crack them carefully to minimize contact with the outer shell of the egg.
But that doesn:t mean there is no risk.

However, if you want to try this and are scared of the eggs…you can use a double boiler and bring the eggs up to 160F to kill any salmonella present. Cook them similar to how you melt chocolate. It takes some practice to bring them to this temperature without cooking them.

ROSANJIN STYLE:
VS mentions ‘Rosanjin style sukiyaki’. You have probably heard the term *rosanjin scholar* on the TV show *the Iron Chef*.

Kitaoji Rosanjin was a chef who lived from 1883-1959. He focused particularly on flavor and was very picky about the preparation of food. To work in one of his restaurants you had to take a test which involved preparing food at rosanjin’s own house. He is often called cantankerous and eccentric.

He is legendary in japan…and is called the mentor of *chairman kaga* on Iron Chef.

SUBSTITUTING INGREDIENTS:
Sukiyaki is usually made with shirataki noodles, but VS despises them. So I use kudzu noodles or harusame noodles. I prefer them anyway, coz the shirataki noodles will make beef tough if cooked side by side, so using kuzu or harusame eliminates this problem.

Also cabbage is often used instead of Chinese cabbage and regular onion could be used instead of long onion. Firm tofu will work as long as it is firm enough to boil without breaking up. You can add other ingredients you like as long as they match the soup and you can omit any you don’t like.

You could substitute white wine or sherry for the sake/mirin if you added a bit more sugar to the recipe. It will be a different taste, but not hugely so, and it should still be good. Also a bit of lard would do for the suet. About a tsp or tbs.
You can precook it on the stove and then put the pot in the middle of the table if you don’t have a portable stove….but it:s just not as good that way lol. I think camping sections of stores sell the portable gas stoves.

SUKIYAKI RECIPES:
I do not give a recipe because they are all over the internet. I don’t really measure when I make mine anymore so I recommend using a recipe off the internet. You just mix up sake, mirin, soysauce, water, and lots of sugar. Melt the suet in the pot and add the other liquids. Let it boil a bit to remove the alcohol and then it:s ready to be used. It:s a very easy recipe and great for days you just don’t want to cook.
Also, commercial sukiyaki soups are available for purchase. If you have never tasted sukiyaki I recommend ordering some premade soup from an asian supplier or from the grocery store to get a feel for what it should taste like.

Will you eat raw eggs? Will you lick the bowl when you make cakes even if there is raw egg in the batter? Will you drink egg nog? Would you down some like Rocky??

Cheese Flavor KitKats

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Foods

Something about winter makes me crave
sugar…

I’m probably gonna give myself diabetes….

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Anyhow, I haven’t updated about any of the
more recent kitkat flavors…mostly because they didn’t seem all that unique to
me. There was a blueberry flavor that
was good and a few white chocolate based ones that just looked awful and I didn’t
want to try them lol.

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But here:s the latest one! I def had to try this one, even if it is
white chocolate based.

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Cheese!

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There was another brand that came out with
cheese chocolates and cheese caramels awhile back that I blogged about. It was an amazing combination.

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It is not as good with the white chocolate
kit kat version…but it:s still noteworthy.
Mostly because….IT IS SOOOOO CHEESY.
At first it just smells strongly like cheese….so much that I wished it
were cheese….cause that was a heavenly cheese smell.

Then the sweetness hit and it made my
stomach roll a tad….but then the cheese FLAVOR washed over my mouth and that
made the sweetness and smell merge a lot better.

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They come in petit portions, only 25 cal
each! I like that.

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I’m thinking there is a connection with the
weather turning colder and cheese products appearing….possibly due to cheese fondue? Im sure it:s melty warmth is great on early
winter days.

I bought some the other day…I think it:s the
first time ever. I usually pass it by
coz of the 400-500 yen price tag. (5$)

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Havnt tried it yet…..but I love any
cheese. Im sure it will be great.

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The picture shows them dipping bread into
the fondue…and that seems to be the most common thing to do…but that doesn’t seem too good….at least toast seems more appealing….

Any other ideas of what to dip into cheese
fondant???

Poor Tecan…..

He’s our bassist if you didn’t know….

And he had a really crappy Christmas when he was little…..literally!

The old toilets that he talks about are called “botton benjyo”. ぼっとん便所。
The word *botton* is a word describing the sound of something falling….it is very similar to the English word *kerplunk*.
The word *benjyo* means toilet.
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Why *kerplunk toilet*? Because this toilet was just a hole in the ground….so when you used it….you could hear the kerplunk sound of ….well….your excrements hitting the sewage below!

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Tecan’s family was very old fashioned!!! Most people in the 1980s HAD flushing toilets!!!

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Yes, poor Tecan. Lol.

This represents the first vlog posting under the category *Tecan Story Time*.
So if you enjoyed his story be on the lookout for more to come!! He has a billion to tell….

Japanese Bathrooms

Posted: November 13, 2010 in Daily Life

Here’s one of the bathrooms we have used during our multiple apartment swapping adventures….it:s very old style….like around the 80s i think:

the gas is lit by opening the gas valve, holding down the switch, and  turning the crank.   the knobs control the temp and place the water comes out. Water is reheat-able, which is very nice,  and the flame is visible through a little window.

Now a more modern bathroom:
Perhaps 1990s?
All gas heating is done out of view in this bathroom and it is pretty much all automatic. all the controlling is done by using the electronic control box on the wall.


notice how the tub goes down into the floor, so it:s actually really deep.

All typical bathrooms have drains in the middle of the floor. This makes bathing and cleaning easy, since you can spray water anywhere in the room!!

until i get a new cam…here:s some old footage of this year’s cherry blossom viewing. I wish the quality had been better, but anyhow! You can at least listen to my old computer music….im about to start making new computer music. It’s my favorite type to hear anyhow…

Auld Lang Syne

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Daily Life, Tips

Auld Lang Syne
The new year song. We all know it well. But perhaps not as well as the japanese know it. Coz it is played by millions of stores daily in japan to let customers know the store is closing.
It is a kind way of saying *get out*.
When you hear the song, check out and get out. The store employees will often line up to tell you ‘thanks for shopping here’ as you walk through and out of the store. Don:t just sit there looking stupid and listening to the pretty music like i did so long ago.

Fears of Earthquakes

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Daily Life

One of the things i hate the most about Japan….the quakes. Actually i *would* really like them, if they never got over a 5.5 or so lol. And usually they don:t…..but if they do……yeah. that:s the fear. That:s what makes me hate them.
It has been a long time since we had a quake around here….. When i lived in Tokyo, there were 2 a week! now there hasn:t been one in months….not even tiny ones….and it makes me think the pressure is building up. haha. VS assures me that there are times when the quakes are dormant like this.
Vtec has said that lately, there has been a massive quake in N japan, and in S japan, but the middle (here) has not since that 1920s quake. It:s almost like…it:s time. *fear*
In the last major quake in this region, tons of folks died. It happened during a time when everyone was cooking lunch with gas, so it caused a lot of fires that swept the city. between 100 and 200 thousand people died.
Should that happen today (and it is due) i have to wonder how many people would die. The tall buildings have to follow a much tighter earthquake code than the smaller ones, and they usually don:t collapse. However, i can:t say the same thing about the smaller 1980s 2 story apartments…..and the long cracks in the walls and foundation and steps outside that i see make me wonder as well……those kinds of places are sorta risky-looking. But it:s the older homes, the tiny little eyesores, that are sure to collapse. The traditional japanese roof tiles are very heavy. They actually cause a home to be alot more dangerous than the modern western style shingles……
and are alot more likely to fall in.

and are alot more likely to fall in.
Being up on a hill offers some protection. The hill is composed of more packed, hard soil, and will absorb the vibrations better.
Also you can earthquake proof your house. one thing you learn not to do is put heavy, easy to spill, or fragile stuff up where it can fall easily. in other words, there are no shelves of glass knickknacks in our home lol. So you end up organizing everythign differently than you normally would if you lived in a non-earthquake region. You have to think about stuff coming down on your head. Invest in some earthquake poles for the larger items. They cost around 30 to 60 dollars for usual ones.
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everyone uses them. If that closet of clothes came down on you at night…then you would be screwed. it weighs ALOT.
If there is a big earthquake, there are designated rescue areas that we are supposed to go. There is even a phone message service now, where you can leave messages for your loved ones when most phone connections don:t work. i have no idea how that works, but it is a 3 digit number to dial.
The gas lines are set up to cut off automatically should there be any large jolts. The trains are the same. They will stop under jolting.
It is said that you should stay near inside walls or under tables and such, and to avoid going outside. i suppose there is some good reasoning in this advice. during the last big Northern japan earthquake that happened a few months ago, one of the few deaths occured when a man became scared and ran outside his home, only to be hit by a car and die. now that is bad luck.
So, how much safer it is now compared to the 1920s is still a worrisome thing to ponder for me.
well….at least tornadoes never happen here.