Thursday, March 31, 2011

Strawberry Muffins

Strawberries are only sold during winter and early spring over here in Japan, so I thought I might as well use them while they’re cheap and before they’re gone! Speaking of strawberries… they have these strawberry patches here in Japan where you can pay a flat rate, get a cup of strawberry-milk-cream and can tabehoudai (eat as much as you can) of the strawberries in the patch. I’ve always wanted to do that… 

Strawberry Nut Muffins (25 Minutes)
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup strawberry flavored soy milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup strawberry puree (about a pack of strawberries)
1 cup chopped walnuts
(Makes 12 large muffins, 20 cupcake-size muffins)
(200C, 25 Minutes)
1. In a large bowl, mix sugars, soy milk, puree, vanilla, maple syrup, and oil together until well blended.
2. Slowly sift in the dry ingredients and blend the mixture until smooth.
3. Add the walnuts and evenly distribute them throughout the batter. The batter should fill 12 large muffin tins 3/4th full or about 20 cupcake tins 3/4th the way full.
4. Bake them at 200C (400F) for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into one comes out clean.

Dekopon Darake

I was given 20 dekopon at taiko today from taiko master genji. I can eat a lot of dekopon, but I don't know if I can eat 20 that are at the peak of ripeness. I think I'll have to go on an orange diet next week. Screw smoothies, I'll just eat three for dinner every night. :D

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gorgeous sunset outside the International Center in Nankoku where I take Japanese classes.

Brillance in song form

I want to post the brilliant song I wrote yesterday about recent events:

Recently I've been sick and tired
Can't seem to understand how so many can complain
And carry on about their stupid choices
And failed attempts at the normalcy they crave

When did my friends
Go back to high school?
Isn't this the reason I grew up at all?
To leave the trite
And broken logic
Of those failed four years left long ago

I pride myself on my sense of reason
And my ability to say what's on my mind
Though I admit that I too am guilty
Of falling flat when opportunities arise
Since when was fiction
The new standard?
And everyone stopped being honest with themselves
Can't count the times
I've been let down
Left with the scurf of a problem that's not mine
Things left unsaid another night
Though given ample time to reveal what's going on
Sorry excuses, and disappointment
Another tired problem left to surmise
When did my friends
Go back to high school?
Isn't this the reason I grew up at all?
To leave the trite
And broken logic
Of those failed four years left long ago
I want it to be Mixtapes-esque and I have an idea for how the melody should go but I need Matto to help me write it. Mall said he was also going to write a Mixtapes-esque song, and Matto has an intro song and another new one to teach at some point. Wow. We already have six songs practiced and Mall said yesterday "デモ作ろうか?" which was infinitely exciting. 初ライブ here we come!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I was woken up for....THIS?!

Weird night. I was woken up at 1:10AM by Matto in order to be told about a whole lot of silly drama. I feel like I live in a sitcom sometimes with the childish stuff that goes on in this community.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Maybe for references sake.... it's hard to really feel much about this whole genpatsu thing because we're sooo far away in Kochi and havn't even felt ANY of the 750 (+) earthquakes that have happened in the last week and a half. It's weird and unreal... seeing the news talk about how babies can't drink the Tokyo water anymore because the radiation levels are too high for them. Stuff like that. It'll take a while for things to go back to normal... But because of that, my usual show "Iitomo" hasn't been on the air, so I've been watching the news during lunch and dying inside because the AC commercials won't STOP.

I have the hate for this commercial so much... although it made my day on Tuesday when Mall kept going "ポ ポ ポ ポ〜ン!" Like the commercial does. :D But anyway, this commercial is the reason I set my alarm for 12:50 and slept under my kotatsu during lunch listening to music. It was a nice change of pace.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I felt in rather good spirits today, although sooo tired.. I think I'm having caffeine withdrawal (now that I've been trying to cut down.... but really I just went cold-turkey). Got to go to the Nangoku Japanese class as well, which is always fun and a little more motivation to do STUDYING! Also lyrics of "Hang Over Girl" and "Drowning" translated to the best of my abilities.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day One

Something about this weekend really got to me.... and so starting TODAY, FOR REAL, I'm trying something a little different. I want to get myself back on track, feeling better and not having to worry about things. I want to stop being down so that my Japanese improves again and stops floundering around, and I want to be EXCITED about the good things that are happening, like Whiskey Suicide and stuff like that. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When things turn brighter

Thai-bird stamp

Mall being an asshol
I've had some weird little up and down moments recently, but at the moment, I'm feeling really good. :) Yesterday, Whiskey Suicide got to practice for three hours (two with Copy, that asshole) and Mall even gave me White Day Choco after I sent him one of my usual harassment e-mails. It was also a good, fun, practice and I LOVE OUR NEW SONG. It's soooo Lemuria. I love it. I also got to eat amazing pasta bake with Matto after, and I got to witness the creation of BLACK ACID CHERRY TREES, his "new metal hardcore band" that was inspired by the bumper sticker on a huge black car we were following. Must be in all caps.

Although I'm against teaching Easter in school.... they made cute eggs :)
My ultimate pizza
Today, I got white day choco from the principal at Seisui (I gave everyone chocolate when I went there) AND I got to make/eat pizza with my Shimoyama kids. :) The pizza was delicious, and I was able to chill outside and squish dough around with some ingredients. How can't that be fun?! Haha~ Tonight, gonna study with aunty De-. This has been getting me motivated to study, so I'm glad for that. Any motivation from anywhere is good to me at this point.

Old guys shoveling pizza around
Cool old oven for the pizza. The old guys there were really nice and only this stupid old woman made any fuss over the fact that I was an English speaker. Then I just refused to answer her in English and she gave up trying to use her own sad English so it was a happy moment. Also, I always appreciate getting complimented on my Japanese skills (even though they are non-existent). That, and the fact that the principal said my letter writing was prettier than his. :D

<3 my Shimoyama kids!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

earthquake business

Scary shit has gone down over the last couple of days here in Japan. The biggest earthquake in 140 years happened last Friday afternoon in the Tohoku region. Luckily, that is all way north of here and we didn't even feel a rumble in Kochi. All we got were some 2 meter tsunami waves that caused no damage whatsoever to the Kochi-ken shoreline. It's just frightening to think that one earthquake could put the shorelines of Shikoku, Hawaii, and even the western states of the US in ANY sort of danger (big or small). This earthquake moved Japan 8 feet to the side and shifted the Earth's Axis 4 inches. The thing I'm most afraid of at the moment is the whole WHAT IF... What if this triggers the nankai? What if this triggers the tokai? Already, a number of other large scale earthquakes have happened in Japan (a ton of 2-4 scale ones and a couple big 6 and 7s too). This quake was 8.9 at it's epicenter in the ocean, and it completely destroyed the entirety of Sendai, a lot of Miyagi-ken, and some of Aomori-ken. The tsunami waves left the epicenter at 500 mph.....

It's just hard to wrap your head around the extensive damage that was done on a boring Friday afternoon in the office. All of a sudden the phones started ringing more frequently than they had been, and all the people in the office were talking about what to do if the tsunami scheduled to hit Kochi at 4:30 was of any threat ("You should probably run"). The sirens were going off, and the little TV brought into the office showed frightening footage of whirl pools, wrecked houses, and boats being crushed under buildings. Wreckage wreckage wreckage. I called Bondy sensei that night, and texted friends in Kochi and Face-booked people I knew living in Tokyo. They were luckily all safe. De- and S-Ono havn't been so lucky though, and I know that some friends of their still havn't made it clear whether they are safe or not..... the death toll rises every day and entire towns of people are considered missing. A train even went missing.

Japan is luckily extremely prepared for things like this, but I know it will be weeks before they really know the true damage that has been done. Until then, we can wait, send aid, and hope that the nuclear reactor business going on in Fukushima is gotten under control, and Japan isn't looking at a 3-mile island incident....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Persimmon Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I finally had some free afternoon time the other day and decided to make some muffins, since I haven’t really made much dessert recently that hasn’t been straight from a store (I’m kind of obsessed with kuri pudding). While looking around the vegetable/fruit area, I saw that they had started to stock persimmons! Not a fruit that I usually indulge in (and they are still pretty expensive here… but that’s why I bought two of the ‘nearly too ripe’ ones), but I thought that it would make a nice muffin flavor since it kind of reminds me of pumpkin (especially paired with some chocolate and cinnamon).
Persimmon Cinnamon Chocolate Muffins
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup persimmon puree (2 persimmons)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
(180 C, 55 minutes)
(Makes 12 large muffins)
1. Puree the persimmons.
2. Combine in a bowl with soy milk, oil, sugars and maple syrup.
3. Sift in the dry ingredients and blend well.
4. Fill the large muffin papers 3/4 of the way and bake for 55 minutes (though, I'd check periodically... my oven is known to act up a little).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

White Sandwich Bread

I don’t make sandwiches terribly often here in Japan. For one, EVERYONE expects an American to make a sandwich as a bento and bring that to school… but honestly I was always a soup-in-thermos girl any way so… I like having my daily lunch of rice and veggies. Two, the bread is really THICK, waayyy too wide, and all around a little awkward.
White Sandwich Bread
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup AND 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup, divided
4 cups + flour, divided
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
(180 C, 35 minutes)
(Makes one 32cm x 16.5 cm loaf)
1. Combine the warm water, tablespoon of yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of syrup and 1 1/2 cups of flour in a large bowl and stir to get most of the flour clumps out. Cover this mixture with a towel and let it sit for at LEAST 20 minutes.
2. Once the mixture has foamed up, add the rest of the ingredients (flour, oil, soy milk, salt, syrup) and combine until the dough is thick enough to knead.
3. Knead the dough, adding bits of flour as need be, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place the kneaded dough into the tin, cover with a towel, and keep in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C and bake the bread for 35 minutes.


I realized recently that I've gotten used to the idea that I will never feel warm during the winter here. As I lay there in bed, and my toes are tingling because they are soooo cold.... it seems almost natural. This is a problem. However, it's been ridiculously windy here, and I heard from a few people that that means spring is coming... let's hope that is true. I want the weather we had last week back and this new wave of FREEZING to go away.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting out of a slump

I had a ridiculously fun weekend with Mall, Matto, Nat-chan, and Ryoku-chan, accompanied by the coming of Whiskey Suicide's SECOND band practice tomorrow evening~ I guess this dip in attitude has also gone hand in hand with my slow retreat from most of the other English teachers in the ken and marks my attempt at entering a mostly Japanese-Friend phase of existence here.

The last few weeks have included a trip to Tokushima with Aunty De- for a sake festival, a surprise visit from Jack Bauer with a shrimp pizza (above pizza), loads of delicious Vegan food, the writing of a brilliant song ("Hate Face") as well as a number of (thus-far) well received Whiskey Suicide songs (the more real-side of my recent song writing), badminton with Nat-chan and her crew, the quitting of Muroto Taiko, the explosion of the Australian, and the worst hang over of my life (note, the NO LIVE SHOWS.... sad sad sad). Either way, I'm feeling uplifted, the clothing I ordered from MODCLOTH is here, I have Monday Funday tonight, and I'm in a rad little band :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tokushima Sake Festival 2011

De- received some free tickets for a sake festival that took place in Tokushima last weekend (February 26th). Since I have really come to appreciate the subtle differences in taste between sakes (and like to be a lush every once in awhile), me and her headed up to Tokushima at 7:00AM that lovely Saturday morning in order to get there by 9:00 and get an early start on sake taste-testing by 10:00, which is when the doors opened on the main facility. Once the doors opened, we got our cute little sake tasting cups and headed off to try doing a "sake taste-testing contest" before our tongues weren't sharp enough to taste the subtleties.
The contest was set up so that you could try taste-testing four different types of labeled sake from the same company (a local company) first, and then try and guess which type of sake was which from five unlabeled bottles (one was meant to trick you). It was really difficult, and we both only got one right (if you got three right, you got a prize, and all four right was a better prize).

The other awesome thing that the festival allowed was the public viewing/touring of three local breweries (which, according to my friend, is pretty rare and she was REALLY excited about). The process of making sake can take weeks or months, depending on what type of sake is being made, the alcohol content, the degree to which the rice is polished.... it's all really quite confusing and labor intensive, but the end result is yummy so it's worth a short look at.

First, rice is picked and polished down to the appropriate size for the grade of sake that is being made (the more polishing, the finer the sake and the smaller the rice grains are once they are done being polished). Then, the rice is washed (in a very labor intensive process), steamed, and brought to hot rooms where they make koji. Koji, which is a mold that is dusted over the steamed rice, develops over a span of a few days, sitting in the hot room and growing on the steamed rice.

Then the koji rice is transferred to these large vats and mixed with yeast and more steamed rice so that the yeast can grow. The mixture (called a mash) is then transferred to even larger vats and left for days/weeks/months to stew and ferment (all the while being mixed, having water added to it... in general its tended very well). Although I didn't get pictures of them, the next process is pressing, in which the rice and sake is pressed through a machine so that only the liquid is removed and the left-over rice stays in the press. Filtration, pasteurization, and aging of the sake follows this process and ends up on millions of shelves across the world in lovely little bottles.

The coolest part of touring the breweries was being able to taste fresh-pressed sake! One of the breweries (whose sake I liked best of all) had the sweetest fresh-pressed sake I've ever tried, while the other's had quite the bite to it, and I wasn't as much of a fan. After touring the breweries (and receiving gifts for being one of the first 200), we went back to the main hall so we could try some sake! There were 38 breweries present with 38 different types of sake to test, but no, I did not try all of them. Tasting sake is actually a really tiring activity and after testing 15 I was spent. I mostly went around trying the types of sake that were in my favorite category (ones with more "flowery" tastes and a sweeter base). The way you poured sake for yourself was also really neat, and the glass containers looked like fancy, human-sized hamster watering devices (I want one!!!).

Since the festival took place in Tokushima, and was only for Shikoku breweries, we of course had to stop at my De-'s brewery's area and try it in comparison (it stood up very well to the rest, of course!). All in all, the day was very fun, very informative (not terribly drunk), and a little tiring.