Saturday, August 30, 2008
He had just woken up from a three hour nap. I thought the smile looked pretty realistic. That is it for tonight. Lovin the produce.
I made two varieties of salsa, one hot one not. The key to the deliciousness of the salsa was that I strained off a lot of the tomato juice which made nice tomato juice and made the salsa thicker and scoopier. The pasta was served with a really simple, onion, garlic, oregano, tomato sauce. All from fresh. I added an avocado to the salsas and that was pretty much all I wanted for lunch. Now you might be wondering at the extraordinary output for lunch. Well we had dinner plans. Our friends had invited us over for dinner. This was a wonderful feast. I brought some sangria which I won as a door prize at a meeting I had to attend. The fruit and wine combination was perfect on a warm late summer evening. We had our first glass as we sat outside shucking the corn and make horrible puns. The corn on the cob was cooked to perfection, they even put out the whole bar of butter to properly get your cob covered. Definitely a nice touch. The chicken wings were done in a teriyaki sauce and perfectly complimented the home made Cesar salad, with freshly cooked turkey bacon bits. Accompanied by a side of white rice it was a great way to spend an evening with friends. We started the summer having dinner at their house and now we have put the summer to bed with them as well. The topper to this meal was the chocolate cheesecake topped with strawberries. My affection/affliction for cheesecake is well documented. I just love it. Now we should have a picture of dinner but I am waiting on the e-mail with that. When I get it you will see it.
It has arrived.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
We came up with a few different varities of pizza this evening and all were vegetarian. Though I am a true believer in salami and pepperoni the wife has pointed out how the preservatives in them make me all stuffed up afterwards. That coupled with the reading of fast food nation and all those people dead of listeriosis and I am pretty gun shy around the animal products. So we had vegetarian. The kids had individual sized cheese pizzas and really seemed to enjoy the small sized pieces and having it all on their plate. The wife and I made do with peppers and tomatoes from the backyard, some pesto and artichoke hearts we had in the fridge and a very modest portion of cheese. I have to tell you about the dough. As this evenings pizza sauce was a little more involved than usual I let the kids have a really good kneeding session. The result was awesome dough with half the work I usually have to do. Note to self. Child labour can be a good thing when it comes to making pizza. For dessert we tucked in to the sweetest, cheapest cantaloupe that we have ever had. In Japan these babys would have run anywhere from 15 to 30 dollars. Here, a buck eighty-eight. There is definitely something to say for eating food in season. I mean sure august and september would be the feast months but you would look forward to it so much more. If you could only have cantaloupes in august and september you would look forward to it all year and it would be that much more special. That day may come again. I am sort of looking forward to it.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Well, this evening I was informed by one of my sisters that she too would like to have a wife. I have to admit that our life together is far beyond any blessing I could have hoped for. I try to let her know everyday just how much I appreciate how great she makes our life together. Today was another example. While I was off at school the family went to the park for a picnic lunch. When I got back from work they were off shopping and then the fabulous meal above was prepared while I was out for a run. There must be a bolt of lightning or some other catastrophe waiting for me because this is just too good. Back to the meal, bacon and broccoli pasta was accompanied by a lovely garden salad with an onion, garlic, vinegar dressing. The home grown tomatoes bring so much flavour to salads. I personally just enjoy eating them like one would a peach. Nothing like a juicy piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.
On a different note, we are now three months into the pregnancy and we discussed today how I can coach basketball through the pregnancy. I was planning to not coach this year but after discussing it my wife illustrated a strategy that should make it possible for me to coach. I ran into one of my players from last year while at the library with my daughter this afternoon. I asked him if he had been playing much this summer and he said he had. I really don't want to let them down so I am super happy that the wife had a plan. I still need to look for an assistant coach but I am feeling pretty up about being able to carry on with the foundation that was laid last year. Time for an early hitting of the hay.
Once again I was treated to a feast. I managed to borrow the Matrix trilogy (having not seen most of the second and all of the third) and we sat down to watch them yesterday afternoon. Dinner was served during the first movie and between mouthfuls I did my best to explain what is actually quite a confusing plot. Not really a six year old movie thought she did seem to enjoy it. Dinner consisted of some lovely ni-mono along with ebi-furai and some potato salad. Living la vida loca is the best way I can describe it. By the way not being at all fluent in Spanish my fingers are crossed that that saying is a positive one describing the good life. The ni-mono had daikon, kelp knots, shitake mushrooms and tofu. So so good. The ebi furai were accompanied by battered and deep fried yams. I only had one (and a half) helping of dinner and was quite proud of my ability to keep the gluttony away. That said I didn't go for a run yesterday and the lethargy of life here in lotus land is sinking its hooks into me. Today, today will be the day. But maybe after a nap.
The picture here is the one we toted back from Japan. It wasn't that big of a pain but in the process we managed to crack part of the frame so now I have to remember to ask the wood shop guy about borrowing some clamps and the best gluing techniques. Everything is bubbling here and lets just hope nothing boils over.
Don't know who took this shot of the son but he always seems to be playing with camera. Maybe it is a self portrait. I still think there is some genius at work.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
As for dinner we all got lucky. I started off totally lacking in drive and enthusiasm but as the cooking proceeded it all just seemed to click together. To start with I made two types of cooked salsa. A kids salsa which was pretty much a spaghetti sauce and a spicier version for the parents. It was only a small batch and I used a whole apple so it was quite sweet. However, it worked. The apple was a drop from the back yard. Once you cut out the parts that the bugs chewed through to get at the seeds the rest is great. The wife made her creamy garlic salad and cut up some of the egg plant we received from my garden guru. These were grilled on the bbq along with some of our tomatoes and some pork steaks. I just finished reading Fast Food Nation and am thoroughly terrified of the meat that they sell in stores. The whole thing with maple leaf killing people with listeria was exactly what the Eric Schlosser was talking about in his book. It just makes one want to go back to the earth. And its all about money, I mean really there is more to life. Enough ranting, I over cooked the pork and still had to microwave it when we cut in and found a little pink. It was delicious and I turned off that part of my brain while eating dinner. We may end up being vegetarians yet. Back to work tomorrow. Its been a good run. Manyana.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The garden has done well considering it suffers from four weeks of neglect. My bell peppers have not done much of anything. The hot peppers are hit and miss and the tomatoes are all producing well. The Toms we have eaten so far are really sweet as we haven't been gobbling them up as soon as they were barely ripe. Cucumbers are growing and we have maybe ten squash sizing up. The morning glory has taken over everywhere it could and will take some major work to get back under control. However, all in all I am glad with how the garden has managed under less than ideal conditions. Already looking forward to next year.
What you see in this picture is where we slept at night while at the great grandmothers place. The three mats lined up in a row housed, myself, the wife and kids and one of the cousins. In the foreground you will see the second dining table that had to be put away, well this is put away, between meals so that we could use the room. Six kids and seven adults living in a little more room that what some lunatics live in in Downtown Vancouver. It takes all types.
This is the kids playing with their second and first cousins. They have appeared in previous offerings and really we would have liked to get in even more play days but everyones schedules didn't always match up. How are one's children and one's cousin's children related. Are they second cousins. Third cousins. They share a great grand parent. Maybe this is the whole once removed thing. Well if you believe everything you read on wikipedia then they are second cousins. I of course am nothing in all of these relationships as I don't share an ancestor but everyone was nice enough to call me uncle or at least David, to my face.
Here we are in ishiki new town, or something new town. One of my old colleagues from my Kagoshima English teaching days runs her own school from inside her house. She is also the owner of the wonderful blog about her life and dog that I have listed in my links I likes. Of course it is in Japanese but the photos are real cute. You can check it out here. She had us over for lunch and my children spent the whole time chasing the dog. He is old and really timid and wasn't as in to my kids as they were into him. We had a nice afternoon and I caught up on some gossip about my old work place. Gossip never gets old does it.
Does everyone like Ramen? We sure do. This is a picture of Uncle Kanefumi, atomu, the son, and I. We are pretending to be lions outside the chinese food restaurant. I can see it. The uncle took us for lunch after we spent a gruelling morning gardening at the sis-in-laws place. I was feeling like a giant slug after not having done anything for three weeks so I decided to take on the yard. The uncle who was on his day off and came over to hang out ended up coming out and lending me some tools and getting in up to his elbows. Really I was way out of my league but with his tools, pick up truck, and know how we managed to put a good scald on that yard in about 3 hours. I was soaked in sweat and after a shower we all went out for the aforementioned lunch. This was also the only night on the whole trip that I drank Sho Chu. I paid for it for the remaining 7 days. Word to the wise, just say no to Sho Chu. People who drink it know what they are doing. People who don't just shouldn't. Nuff said.
I liked this action shot of the wife cleaning the tub for the evening bath. Notice the son hanging out in a bucket of water. That is what you do when it is 36 degrees 80% humidity and there is no relief in sight. In the foreground is my son's arch nemesis, Lilo. Lilo and he spent a lot of time together and she spent most of it pinching or biting him. She was really interested in whatever he was doing or holding and wanted it right now. If she didn't get it appropriate actions were taken. Hopefully, the next time we are there she will have her words and will not torture my son quite so frequently.
My mother in law is actually a hair dresser by trade and decided to dress up the wife and daughter for some glamour pics.
I really like the authentic hair do. We have a couple of family shots which may grace any christmas cards we make this year. Not that I have ever made christmas cards but I have always imagined myself as a christmas card sender. So this may be the year.
We planned to go fishing on this trip and this is a picture of us on my father-in-laws boat. This is unfortunately where it ended. There were large seas that day and we didn't want a puke fest. The kids enjoyed chasing the sea cockroaches and trying to find crabs.
I could have gone on any of a number of night fishing trips but I didn't think 12 hours from 5 pm to 5 am with six or seven guys who I barely understood when they are sober was that nice of a prospect. That and the staying up all night really didn't catch my idea of a good time. So there was no sea fishing this trip. I did go for a morning of sea shore fishing with Uncle Kanefumi and he caught a tiny little fish. I once again struck out. Maybe I should be a hunter instead.
Getting to the end of the trip here.
Can you imagine cooking on a gridle in the middle of the table when it is 35 degrees out? Well I can. No air conditioning and we are all sitting and sweating around the table eating some really delicious okonomiyaki. They had the yamaimo which makes all the difference.
Atomu unfortunately had the seat right where he is standing and got scalded with little oil burns numerous times during this meal. We had another griddle meal our last night as the daughter requested gyoza. Probably like her sixth gyoza meal of the trip. But homemade gyoza with home made chicken karage(my request) were an awesome last dinner. I ate way too much at both of these sittings but didn't have any beer the okonomiyaki night and only a few the last night. I came down with the stomach flu as a result of the sho chu night and really lightened up on the partying the last week.
Self taken picture by the wife. I think she did a great job of getting her sisters, herself and yours truly all in the shot. Here is a shot of the kids playing in a park the last morning we were there. Notice the brilliant sunshine and everyone hiding in the shade of a tree. Well they had to be rescued from this park by the father in law because a torrential downpour came and trapped them under the awning of a near by apartment building. Tropical weather is a weird thing. From here they drove us out to the airport and we made our return journey. It took most of a day for the whole flight -- lay over -- flight but we arrived 3 hours before we left. Gotta love crossing the international date line the other way. We stayed a night with the Harry bear and then made the trek home yesterday. It is now time to return to our regularly scheduled life.
It was a great trip and we really spent a lot of quality time with our relo's. Can I live in Japan again? Well lets just say the summers would be tough. But being near family would be awesome. The next blog will be back to dinner and hopefully the daily stuff that our lives are made of here.
Monday, August 11, 2008
This was a lovely Yaki-niku dinner we have. Basically you organize all the ingrediants and then cook them on the big teppan (portable griddle/grill) in the middle of the table. After being cooked you dip the items in one of a couple of sauces. Goes very well with beer. As do most things when its 35 with 80 percent humidity. Currently I go through two outfits every day.
This next shot is of a lunch we had with the wife's cousin and her kids. Everytime we get together with other kids it is great. I was being a little pissy today as we had to break plans with one of my friends to get together with relatives who called at the last minute. In the end out went out that evening with my friend and the kids as I mentioned had a good time so I really shouldn't have got my knickers in a twist. This cousin is also the owner of the car (7 passenger van) that we have had unlimited use of the whole time we have been and will be here. They claim they don't use it but I mean come on. So yeah it was important we got together and we want to get together again some time in the next week.
That afternoon we went back to the hotel and enjoyed napping the airconditioned climate controlled environment. The wife went out for a long walk and found a nice place for dinner. It is an Izakaya, basically a pub, but there are not age restrictions and the food is cheap and good. They also had a 2 hour nomihodai (all you can drink) for about 12 bucks. I was prohibited from taking part as the wife mentioned that I had begged off having beers with the inlaws the night before we left claiming I had been drinking too much. So I couldn't really get into it, but I sure wanted to. The shish kabobs are called yaki-tori and were awesome. They also made amazing tempura. I had the best tempura shitake mushroom I have ever eaten. I may never have them again so as not to soil the memory of that one. The last day in the morning we walked around and visited some temples, had lunch at the station and got back on a train bound for Kagoshima. We sat beside a mom and 10 year old son from San Fran. She is originally from Miyazaki so we had some great english/japanese conversations and Kiyomi got to play some card games so the trip went faster.
Okay we are up to yesterday. We went and visited one of the wife's friends who has a brand new (1 month) baby and a 5 year old daughter. This friend and her husband are both teachers and just had a brand new house built. It was very lovely. Some day, some day. I didn't realise this but if you get stuck at the wrong high school you basically don't get a summer vacation. Now they only teach about half time compared to what I teach, way more prep time during the day, but the vacations are way worse and they have tonnes of meetings to go to. Tough comparison but I still like my current situation.Then last night we have te-maki sushi done up so well. I also managed to put back about 5 500 ml beers. Well what do you expect. The olympics are on live, in prime time and Japanese feature in everything. There is Judo on everday, which reminds me, when I am done this I have to do some research on Judo so I can better understand what is going on. Kitajima just won the gold medal in the 100m breast stroke and watching that live with the fam was great. The koshien high school all Japan baseball tournament continues and the team from Kagoshima has made it through to the third round. On top of all that I am getting some pretty good runs in. Life is treating me, us, very well and we are having a great time. I am getting close to wanting to be back in the Forks, and I really want to see how my poor garden is fareing in my absence. But hey, that is what vacations are all about.Will I get another post off before heading back east, to the west coast. Only time will tell. Lots of fun to be had and I am loving everyone elses blogs. Wish I had a chance to sit back and give them all a leisurely read and comment. But time is money. I am outtie. Love to all.