Thursday, March 26, 2009

slow motion blossoms

Some of you (well Jacelyn at least!) might be waiting to hear about cherry blossom season. Well, just as the sakura were getting set to bloom, the temperature dropped and we've had a chilly, and mostly gray, few days.

All week I've been checking the bud situation every time I'm out walking the G and they're barely budging, it's weird. Usually once things start to bloom, they can't hold back and pop-pop-pop it's a sudden big show.

But it's really no biggie that the forecast will be shot by several days, since it would be best if full sakura glory happens on a weekend, so that all the hanami revellers (blossom peekers who picnic in any spot where cherry trees grow, which in Tokyo is just about every park, cemetery, etc.!) can fully enjoy. So, I hope the sun shines hard tomorrow!

That's it for now. I'm off to eat my fudgey oat brownies. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Monday, March 16, 2009

buttermilk wherefor art thou

Yet another food post! I was just on my fav recipe site (epicurious), looking for a recipe in which to use up some lonesome mascarpone, when a St. Patrick's Day special feature caught my eye. The history of and variations on traditional Irish soda breads.

I have one soda bread recipe I like to make, principally cuz it's super easy. But it's definitely time for me to branch out and none of these recipes require much more work.

Anyone who's never thought they could make bread, here's the thing: soda bread doesn't use yeast, therefore doesn't need to rise and all that. Anyone can do it and should!

But alas, the recipe my heart desires, mini walnut soda breads, takes buttermilk and that will be difficult to find in Japan. Has anyone ever made faux buttermilk?

I might end up trying that rather than wild-goosing down the real stuff. If I'm still migraine-free by then (it's been 4 days now), Wednesday's looking good for a delicious warm treat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

yay Canada!

Canadian gov hands over millions for 16 renewable energy projects: Scientific American Blog


Friday, March 06, 2009

transitional experiments of the fu variety

Lately I've started trying to transition to vegetarianism, which is challenging, despite the fact that I've long disliked all meats except chicken (breast, preferably), good steak (hey, I worked in a butchershop in my youth, so I know what good is) and bacon.

Ah, bacon... I still remember the look on the faces of the counter staff at Harvey's when I used to order a veggie burger with bacon on it!

For personal ethical reasons, the first thing I've been trying to give up is fish. I won't go into details because I hate to preach, but I'll just say I've been concerned about the state of the oceans for a long time. However, I do live in Japan and I did, upon moving here, throw my SeaChoice list out the window. I told myself I could put my values on hold for a couple of years, no biggie.

Well, I couldn't keep 'em quiet, they just sorta haunted me all on their own. When I joined Celsias (a sort of enviro-geek social networking/climate change action site), I took the challenge to eat no fish for a week. And I did it, and it wasn't as hard as I thought. Okay, since then (over a month ago) I have eaten fish maybe 3 or 4 times, but that is a huge improvement because (did I mention I live in Japan?) I used to eat it 4-6 times a week!

So, the next step is cutting out chicken, eggs and dairy. Chicken won't be too tough but the eggs and dairy are sure to be the longer-term clincher. Those are my breakfast staples, and I heart the hell outta breakfast. There're eggs in everything from omelets (duh) to muffins to pancakes! And that's not to mention my other breakfast staple, fruit with granola and yogurt or cottage cheese. Ouchy...

But dinner at least, when Aran ain't around (he's not yet, uhhh shall we say, on board), is relatively easy here in Japan cuz I've got the best tofu in the world and it comes in numerous varieties: fresh and creamy "silk" tofu, sesame tofu, seared tofu, deep-fried tofu pockets, etc.!

And that's not to mention the various other mild-flavoured vegetable protein foods that I'm learning more about these days.

One that I'm still learning to like (and rarely buy) is konnyaku. The texture is just so rubbery, I've never found a way to cook it, aside from a few pieces in an oden (soup/stew type dish), that makes it appealing. I've yet to try the noodle form, which I should test out. In a spicy tom yum or something, I'm sure it would be okay.

Something that I have become quite attached to and tend to throw it into lots of things (vegetable stews/curries, miso soups, etc.) is fu. Fu is made from wheat gluten and comes in various shapes that all look like slices of dried bread of some sort, be they crouton-size or bigger. It keeps for a long time in the cupboard so it's very handy.

Lastly is what I had for dinner tonight, okara, the by-product of making tofu. Of course I don't make my own tofu (I plan to when we return to Canada though) but here you can buy okara at the store in various forms. This weekend I think I'll try the creamy fresh type. Not too sure about the processed block type I bought tonight, though. It was too konnyaku-like chewy. But hey, cut in tiny cubes, with veggies and the garlic, ginger sesame sauce I concocted, it went down just fine!

I think I'm off to a good start.

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