Monday, May 18, 2009

and don't ever, ever forget the sweet rice with mango

Unforgettable. I didn't want to look like a pig, but I could have easily eaten several bowls of this dessert. Sue makes it for her children. I suppose at this stage I'm to old to be adopted....

Sweet Rice with Mango

sweet rice
coconut milk
coconut cream

Soak the short grain rice for at least 3 hours, then cook.

In a medium pan, add one can of coconut milk and one can of coconut cream, one cup of sugar and 1 tsp salt. Cook just shy of boiling, while stirring.

Pour out and save 1/2 of the liquid.

When the rice is cooked, add it to the remaining liquid and cover, give several minutes to absorb the liquid.

With the saved liquid, simmer on low, stirring, to make a sauce.

When the rice has soaked up all of the liquid, scoop a generous mound in a bowl. top with cut up fresh mango chunks and pour sauce on top.

Sue's better better Thom Yum Soup

And her soup is better than the restaurants' around here. Yahoo! It's like food for your soul!

one 26 oz container of chicken stock
Thai soup flavor cubes
white onion, green onion, tomato
2 packs mushrooms, any kind
lemongrass, fish sauce, hot chili peppers, and Thai chili paste
half and half
one lemon

Put the chicken stock in a pot. Add two cups of water and 3 Thai Thom Yum Soup flavor cubes

Chop and add white onion. Boil a couple of minutes.

Chop tomato and green onion and add this.

Add a couple of chopped stalks of lemongrass. Sue adds 1 Tbsp MSG but I would rather skip this since it tend to give me a mild dull headache.

Clean and chop mushrooms and add to the soup.

Add the shrimp.

Crush 3 red Thai chili peppers with the side of a knife, chop coarsely and add.

Add the juice of one lemon.

Add about 1/2 cup half and half.

Add a good splash of fish sauce to taste.

Garnish with cilantro.

Sue's Pad Thai

Sue's Pad Thai - when Sue is ready to cook, drop whatever you have planned for the day and head over, its gonna be good!!!

You'll need:

vegetable oil
pad thai noodles soaked at least 1/2 hour
white and coconut sugars
tamarind paste and Thai beef powder
red shallots, 4
garlic cloves, 4
fish sauce
chicken and shrimp
3 eggs
bean sprouts and chives
peanuts and cilantro, for garnish

Saute the shallots and garlic in a generous dollop of oil.

Put in the noodles and stir fry until soft, adding water as needed to soften, by the 1/2 c increments.

Spoon in the coconut sugar, 2 Tbsp or so, then the white sugar, 1 cup, then 2-5 Tbsp of tamarind, and some pork powder. Add 3 to 5 Tbsp fish sauce and continue stirring.

Now push the noodles to the side, add a bit more oil, and cook the chicken pieces. Add shrimp and cook.

Make a few holes in the noodles and crack and egg into each hole, stirring with a chopstick to break up and mix.

Add one container of fresh bean sprouts and a handful of chopped fresh chives.

Before eating, sprinkle on some roasted salted peanuts and some chopped cilantro.

tea party

After the lesson, the three mothers laid out a wonderful tea party, leaving me feeling quite honored and special. Here are three of the fancy cakes we had. Like most traditional desserts, it was not overly sweet, and was indeed filled with the insidious bean paste. But actually, I have grown to love mochi and the bean paste over the last few years. The little cakes were precious. Mine (not shown) was purple and had tiny petal flecks in it, and a shaped purple flower and leaf on the top. With the girls, we sat and enjoyed:
matcha cakes
pocky candy on a plate!
a bowl of assorted rice crackers
a new type of strawberry pocky
kit kats!
a bowl of chips!
bowls of fresh, frothy green tea that tasted fresh and like spring and all green things
generous glasses of iced coffee
my muffins
The girls ran around, played, compared their new felt pins and barrettes, twirled around, and sang a cute version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star repeatedly.
And at the end, I got paid! Can you believe I get paid to do this?!

one last private lesson

Ok, last private lesson! They didn't have to twist my arm! Here are the three little cuties, modelling the felt pins and barrettes we made as a craft for class. In all fairness, it was a bit educational since the whole thing was done in English....
I made some samples as well but of course gave them away to the girls.
Today we sang songs, did a finger play, read two stories about mice, and touched on some prepositions, did some review. Then the felt, which was my favorite.
I made apple muffins, but then the mothers had a wonderful tea for us afterward. I will miss these girls!

musings while deconstructing a thrift shop scarf

Well, its been a busy last couple of weeks and I know I haven't been blogging as much lately. I've been:

volunteering at the thrift shop with my buddies, and having a volunteer appreciation lunch where I was given a cool gift card for Chilis (!)

learning how to knit with Emily, Patty and Tara

hiking on the trails with Miss Peach

teaching English

making felt flower pins for three tiny Japanese girls

having tea with the girls and their mothers

being woken up at night by a Pekingese, who has a hematoma in his ear which has been drained by the base vet X4 and is slowly healing, from being dragged by said ear, by Miss Peach

driving said Peke to and from vet

having lunch at a Thai place in Zushi with Patty

having lunch at the Nepalese place in Yokosuka with Emily and my boys

having lunch in Yokohama with my husband, at a mall which we window shopped for hours and all I bought was bakery treats for the boys...

investigating arrangements to get my snub nosed fellow on a plane to the States in late June

looking at the ocean, just looking out into it...

listening to Eckhart Tolle on CD in the car

smelling some heavy spring tree smells and the scent of flowers from my neighbor's garden

catching up on gossip regarding all of the neighbors, from one Ms. Busybody

eating sushi and more sushi in Zushi!

feeling energized and happy after receiving some on-line career counselling through military one source, and after taking tests and writing back and forth, finding that my best fit for future career is what I have been doing all along, which is social work...with a fresh population and on my own, in private practice, using creativity and making my own schedule, my own day, my own interventions...using art, crafts, dogs, nature as therapy, whatever fits the person and situation...

talking with Jose over lunch, during long walks, late at night, about anything and everything, and enjoying time with my best friend

missing my Mom and sisters, and the rest of my family....and friends too

Monday, May 11, 2009

Felty Fun, or if After 10 Tries You Don't Succeed

My friend Emily came over the other night and it was really nice to have her. Jose was working late as usual so it was nice to have plans with another adult! We knit, watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (very good movie, made my eyes water a bit), went out for Indian food with the Bear, and generally had a nice time. The next day, slowpoke here finished her bowl, which ended up looking like a hat, and tried my first stab at felting. The inside of the washer was all felted up nicely, I noticed, but it took many tries of running in the hot washer before it would felt up. Notice that it seems maybe possibly not totally felted, but after 10 tries, I decided enough was enough. We will just have to enjoy our fuzzy bowl the way it is. It is about 7 inches in diameter or so.

Club Apple Mother's Day Theme

Here are me and my little cuties, on our last day of Club Apple. Yep, its my shortyshort new haircut.
It was bittersweet having this teaching come to an end: I always enjoy the children, but get wiped out with the process of planning the lesson, from scratch, trying to accommodate all of my learners and keeping them interested. Also, culturally relevant, educational, crafty and fun for all 10-25 of them.
At the end of class they had a gift for me, these beautiful flowers and a picture board of some pictures taken of me and the children through the last year, signed by the parents and with sweet notes that made my eyes water.
On this day we did:
Song: Hello, Hello
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (I pretend I forget the words...then loud...then low)
Story: Are You My Mother
Song: If You're Happy and You Know it
Follow Directions (Play guitar, play drums, go fishing, wash hands motions...)
Story: We're Making Breakfast For Mother (What a weird idea?!?!?!)
flashcards and review
Coloring Worksheets with child's and mother's name and drawing a picture of both (These were very cute)
Craft: Making paper flowers. This was a big hit (see below)!
Fingerplays: Where is Thumpkin
Five Fat Peas
Stickers and Snacks

For fun, I brought both puppy and kitty stickers and let each child chose which kind they wanted.
I baked a vanilla cake with store bought chocolate frosting.

Last Club Apple Class - continued

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cool Beans!

I ordered this linoprint from etsy. I made two pots of coffee today. I put my bickering, snarling dogs in their respective crates, swept and mopped floors. I did a load of laundry and the dishes and baked some cookies. I got a (quite short) haircut. I rented The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from the Ikego minimart. My friend Emily is coming over and we are planning to get started on some felted , knitted wool bowls, maybe watch a movie, maybe dish some dirt on our husbands.
It is drizzling rain outside but inside, it smells like chocolate chips and peaceful, snoring dogs.
Cool beans!

Monday, May 4, 2009

last ones....

more real Zushi City

Real Life Zushi City

I'm not the best photographer in the world, but I tried to capture some images from real life Zushi. Not the romanticized version of Japan I had in my mind when we first arrived here, but the real time version that I first saw outside the windows of the bus flashing through Yokota: the rusting, molding, steaming, sweeping the dried cherry blossoms out of the road, green-tea-out-of-plastic-bottle-swilling, cigarette smoking hulk of an island that has been my home for the last three years.
I'll miss the compact, wiry young workers having their noodles out of styrofoam cups inside of their tiny rusting trucks.
I'll miss the fiercely intelligent crows that tear apart the garbage bags and spread the contents everywhere (I know I have mentioned this before).
I'll miss the bows and the "dozo's" and the subtle social cues that I as a gaijin, sometimes miss.
I'll miss ordering ??? in a restaurant, not knowing how to read Katakana, and being surprised by the dish I am served.
Buying a skein of ??? yarn in Zushi city from a woman who also runs a dry cleaner's, finding out later that it is the most exotic eastern acrylic.
I'll miss the vending machines on every corner.
I'll miss the sight of a molting Shiba taking his elderly woman for a walk, carrying her ecobag and sensible shoes, her white roots peeking through the thinning black of her hair, and tufts of his fur blowing in her windy wake.
Young men with pretty groomed and styled hair, carrying man purses on the train.
And the site of the delivery motorbikes darting through traffic, with the rusting, swing contraption swinging from a hook on the back end, clamped tightly over bowls of rice and miso soup.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tater has a Birthday!

Well, we had another birthday party for the Potato, and it seems like he just had one. Or, possible that is just because he has been thinking about it for about a year now. He had everything that he wanted - almost all of his buddies from Sullivan's Elementary, no girls allowed except Mom, his ice cream cake with chocolate cake and frosting and vanilla chocolate chip ice cream, the base bowling alley,and lots of presents. Daddy wasn't here for this birthday (still in San Diego) but it was still a fun day.
I just can't believe he is 11 years old already. Well, yes, he is very 11 years old actually...
As a bonus, while chatting with his friend Mason's Mom, I found a loving home for our Beta fish. And of course his tank and food. The boys and I have now found homes and delivered all of our fish: the beta and the five Zushi matsuri fish which the kids won (much to my shock and dismay). I just couldn't face the thought of flushing them all!

Easy Arroz con Gandules

So this week at the thrift shop one of the gals, Brunnie, made the best batch of a Puerto Rican dish called Arroz con Gandules, or Rice with Pigeon Peas. It was absolutely to die for!! When we asked her about the recipe, she replied that she made it the old Puerto Rican way: she read it off the back of a can of Goya Brand Pigeon Peas from the commissary. I have it simmering on the stove at the moment and it smells delicious, so here it is (minus the olives in the pic):

2 slices of bacon
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 15-oz can pigeon peas, undrained
1 packet Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote
1/2 c tomato sauce (or, spaghetti sauce)
3 cups water
2 cups rice

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, onions and peppers, cook 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add remaining ingredients except rice. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and cover. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Serves 8.