October 2008 Archives

Mango Self-Saucing Pudding

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I have been waiting for the weather to cool before pulling out the recipes for self-saucing puddings that I copied down from Jo's recipe collection when I was in Adelaide in July. But as it turns out, the first one I made isn't either of hers, but a variation I devised last night.

Self-saucing pudding is a great treat. You can mix one up in 5 minutes and pop it in the oven while you eat dinner. It finishes into a steamed cake with a gloopy sauce. Delicious as-is, but even better if served with whipped cream and/or fruit.

Mango Self-Saucing Pudding
serves 4

pudding:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 c milk
2 dashes cardamom

sauce:
1 cup water
1/2 cup mango juice
1/8 c butter
1/8 c sugar

Mix the pudding ingredients together and spoon into a greased casserole dish. Boil together the sauce ingredients and gently pour over the pudding. Bake at 190/375 for 30-35 minutes. The cake should be soft and springy with a slight browning on top.

Winter started yesterday

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After a rather dull autumn, winter is here.

You might not think so, since the leaves are still mostly on the trees and the daytime highs peak around 20 (68F), but there is a certain chill in the air now that wasn't present last week. Yesterday I got out of bed and my feet quickly became icy as I sat barefoot at my desk. But more telling of the change of season: all the moisture is gone from the air. From now til May, I won't go without hand cream, hair oil, and lip balm.

Definitely time to change the wardrobe to winter sweaters and warmer things. I want to knit again!

Photographers at Yoyogi

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Yoyogi Park on the weekend is a gathering place for lots of people who practice and play everything from instruments to frisbees. Jugglers, dancers and now hoopers group together and enjoy the fine weather while doing their thing. The park also attracts photographers who capture all of this activity.

We hoopers get a fair amount of attention from the photographers. We have been the background of photoshoots, are often snapped with cell phones, and sometimes we become the subject of what seems like hours-long scrutiny by middle aged men with big lenses. More often than not, the photographers do not ask permission or talk to us. I'm sure much of the time we don't even notice them.

But yesterday a lovely woman with a camera asked if she could take my photo before she started shooting. Sure, of course! I just kept on hooping. When she was done, she introduced herself and asked for my e-mail address to send me the photos. What a treat! Look at what she sent:

yoyogi3581_4977.jpg

There are more, including some fun action shots, in my Flickr hooping set. Thank you so much, Luliko Nakagawa, for sharing your photos with me.

A Weekend in Kotohira

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After a very busy week at work, we took a getaway weekend to Kotohira in Shikoku to celebrate our anniversary a little bit late. It was a total joy to be out of Tokyo and in beautiful, rural Japan.

This was our second time to pay our respects at Kompira-gu. We last visited in August 1999, well before we could converse with people. Being able to chat made the trip much more enjoyable.


Hooping at Kompira Temple

I took my hula hoop with me (of course) and hooped at the temple at the top of the mountain (1368 steps up!) The hoop initiated a lot of conversations, especially with elderly shopkeepers who all wanted a demonstration and with younger citizens and pilgrims who all had a try. The hoop spreads its love anytime it comes out to play.

After coming back down the mountain, we went to Nakano Udon Gakko to learn to make my favorite thick, chewy, wheat noodles. We learned two clever techniques and documented them.


Kneading Udon Dough


Rolling and Cutting Udon

We stayed at a lovely hotel with nice baths (to soak our aching legs after all those stairs), an evening enka show/bingo game, and a chef who had no trouble accommodating my vegetarian diet. For two days we feasted on seasonal vegetables in every form imaginable: tempura, salads, pickles, soup, grilled, fried, and simmered. He even made vegetable sushi for us. Vegetarians traveling in Shikoku, I recommend booking a room at Kotosankaku. I am sure it is equally great for omnivores. :-)

If you want to see a very long, unedited view from our train crossing over the Seto Inland see, I made a video of the Seto Ohashi Crossing.

Celebrating 19 Years Together

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anniversary19.jpg

I don't believe I have been married for nineteen years. I should be older, more stable, more staid. Yet here I am, having just reached wedding anniversary #19 and still feeling like a girl in so many ways.

Last night we celebrated with an amazing shojin ryori meal in Kagurazaka. If you are interested in upscale vegetarian cuisine, Japanese style, I heartily recommend Tosangyo (桃仙郷). They follow the Kyoto style of hospitality in a graceful and serene environment, and they offer seafood and meat as well as a vegetarian menu.

Ours was a multicourse feast beginning with a fruit salad of grapes and persimmons followed by appetisers of walnut tofu with a wasabi dipping sauce and then hitting all of the other washoku cooking styles: simmered seasonal vegetables, crispy grilled yuba rolls in broth, deep fried mushroom tempura with green tea salt, steamed and sauced vegetables wrapped in yuba. The meal ended with rice mixed with sticky yam, red miso soup, and delicious citrus-y pickles.

We enjoyed a private room on the second floor, at a table with a comfortable foot well and decorated in minimal traditional style. Our server was fabulous. He had a food story to go along with every course, most including sound effects as he described the dishes. Jyunko Takeda, the house manager, came in to introduce herself and talk with us. She was extremely gracious and interesting to chat with- trained in the geisha art of conversation, I suspect.

I hope we find an excuse to visit again. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Kangaroos by Ogden Nash

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The kangaroo can jump incredible.
He has to jump, because he's edible.
I could not eat a kangaroo,
But many fine Australians do.
Those with cookbooks as well as boomerangs
Prefer him in tasty kangaroo meringues.

(Ogden Nash wrote this to be read along with Saint-Saens' The Carnival of Animals - Kangaroos.)

Curry Bath

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Bandai has been developing bath products based on popular snacks for a few years now - bath salts in the shape and scents of Lotte gums, GariGari ice cream bars, and so on. But starting October 14th they will be selling a new one worth noting:

bandaicurrybath.png

Curry flavored bath salts! Bandai claims "Even if you hate bathing now you will like it for sure with this product!"

They come in three levels of spiciness: Mild, Medium or Hot, and each contains chili pepper extract to warm your skin. The hot version is 20 times hotter than the mild one; medium clocks in at 5 times hotter than mild. Mild is enriched with honey and apples. If you prefer no chili at all in your bath, try the Cream Stew variety which is a soothing milk bath. I'm surprised they didn't make that one a lassi flavor.

If curry scented bath water weren't enticement enough, each package comes with a curry-related toy. If you collect all 12 of them, you will be able to cook and serve a tiny curry meal with miniature pots, dishes and utensils. If you are very lucky, you might win a naan shaped sponge!

All this for just 280 yen everywhere silly things are sold. Or you can get in on the fun in bulk by shopping online here: Happinet Online

Time passes hoopily

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October arrived and I freaked out. Nothing I'd planned to do had been finished. My projects hung like rotting fruit in an untended orchard. What happened to September?? Even half of August was a blank. I was baffled and upset.

"You were hooping," Rob reminded me when I whinged to him. In a separate conversation, Tod told me the same thing. Yes, I guess I was.

Here is where all that hooping has gotten me.

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