Oh well, the previous paragraph is kinda overexaggerated.. But this will explain how I gain 8kg in Japan having spent so little money...
14th May 2008-WednesdayIt started with this Wednesday when I met Sakata-san and Kishimoto-san for their weekly English lesson. Here I am, Claire sensei to the rescue.. Well, more like Claire the pig to the food.. we went to Yayoiken again, Sakata-san's top favourite place. Selling traditional Japanese food that you can't really eat outside Japan.. I had my all time favourite donburi 丼（どんぶり）oyako don.. 親子丼(おやこどん) is a rice bowl with sauteed onions, chicken meat, seasoned with miron and other Japanese condiments. The last step would be to crack an egg into the dish, sliding the food with the 3/4 cooked egg on top of the rice in the rice bowl. I simply love it.. They are available in Singapore, but I feel that those served at food courts or Japanese food cooked by locals are not as good as the ones cooked by the Japanese.. So its advised to try it at authentic Japanese restaurants..
15th May 2008-Thursday
I ran into トンちゃん(Ton-chan) from Choon's Soka meetings on Monday when I cycled back to 十日市(tokaichi) to buy groceries. She invited me over to join one of their meetings on this day. And I was invited over to her place for dinner!!
Clockwise from the bottom, we have okonomiyaki, Osaka style, appetiser and chijimi
The dishes were home cooked. Ton-chan and her mum made the okonomiyaki and the other stuff a few days ago.. The food was simply reheated using the microwave and it tasted just as great! I love the appetiser which had my favourite konnyaku and inari in it.
Before we left for the meeting, Ton-chan gave me alot of food!! She gave me bananas and a pack of green pea flavoured puffs! (Puffs as in chips.. You noe? Like the cheese balls and super rings we used to eat when we were young?)
The meeting for Soka that day was kinda special cuz they invited a politician to join the meeting. It was all in Japanese and she was explaining some things in Japanese from the newspaper regarding political issues.. And obviously I have yet to attain a standard of English to read and understand the newspaper.. So I just struggled by making out hte Kanji from the newspaper (Most of which I've never seen before!) Since mothers' day just passed on the weekend, Ton-chan bought a stalk of daisy for every mum in the meeting. There was even one for me! Isn't she sweet?
16th May 2008-Friday
Sweet sweet sister of mine, Akiko-san bought me a little something to keep me awake for my project!! Ain't that a nice surprise? (This font is in her favourite colour)
After a tough week of work, Friday finally came.. Every employee was shouting TGIF in their hearts and waiting for the right time to have an early end to work and enjoy their precious weekends.. It was the same for me.. Cuz I worked so hard on my presentation which was due next Friday.. I had to settle the report which was to be submitted to my supervisors and prepare powerpoint slides for my huge project.. Not exactly huge, but I was to analyse the automotive industry in Taiwan's market. Struggling to stand out and hopefully get a grade to save my pathetic GPA, I made alot of effort to do in depth analysis of facts instead of just showing them... But FRiday came.. So its time I teach Tat-chan English essays and watch disney channel at his place.. Fridays with Tat-chan were still fun since he would buy me ice cream from You-me town.. And after correcting one essay written by him, we would watch some video or movie on his computer..
The golden week trip helped me realise that Tat-chan loves bagels!! And so... I looked for a great recipe and made Bagels for Tat-chan!! Ingredients proudly sponsered by Tat-chan!
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water (varies depending on type of flour and weather)
- Put flour, sugar, and salt into large bowl and mix lightly. Add yeast and water, then knead together ingredients with hands. The dough will be sticky at first.
- Once you have combined the ingredients into a manageable dough, take out the dough onto a flat kneading surface. Knead dough firmly with your hands until the dough is no longer lumpy and powdery, approximately 15min. Add sprinkles of water or flour as necessary to keep the dough manageable -- it will get elastic but pretty stiff.
- Cut dough into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent drying.
- Shape the dough. You can either poke a hole in the middle with your finger and stretch out into a bagel shape or roll out the dough into a rope and tie the ends together. The dough will expand, so leave a nice big hole in the middle. (I rolled it into a ball, and dis a whole in the centre, shaping it into a ring using my fingers to expand the hole)
- Cover the bagels with plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes (30-40 min during winter time).
- In the meantime, fill a large pot with water and a teaspoon of sugar or honey and bring to a simmer. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- When the dough is ready, carefully drop them into the water and let them simmer for about 15 seconds on each side, flipping them only once. The bagels should float. Keeping the water boiling too hard or flipping too much will cause the surface of the bagels to crinkle later. I usually boil two at a time.
- Take the bagels out with a slotted spoon and blot excess water. If you would like to add toppings, do so now. For small or crumbly toppings such as sesame and poppyseed, dump out the toppings on a small plate and gently press the top of the bagel into the topping.
- Put the bagels onto a baking sheet and let bake until brown, approximately 15 minutes.
- Note: You can use whole wheat flour and even ingredients such as cocoa, pureed spinach, pureed pumpkin/cinnamon/nutmeg to make different kinds (and different colors!) of bagel dough. Be sure to decrease the amount of added water accordingly -- I would try making the plain first to get an idea of what the dough should feel like.
I used cinnamon mixed with sugar to coat the bagel before baking it.. I also kneaded chocolate bits into the bagel dough before boiling it. When its baked, it comes out with an enhanced flavour. Be sure not to overboil it. You may cause the skin to be too wrinkled. Chewy and dense bread.. I'm sure no other bread in the world would be chewier than the bagel..
Dinner was home cooked pasta, since Tat-chan likes pasta.. Made it more Japanese style by making use of the Unagi that Kishimoto-san's wife bought for us.. Tat-chan thought it was good, but it didn't look good enough for photo taking..
After dinner, Tat-chan had to study for his English examination by writing essays.. So I baked cupcakes while waiting to mark his essay! Nozomi-chan gave me a pack of fruit mix which went really well with the cupcakes!!
18th May 2008: Sunday
Sushi!!! Tat-chan treated me to sushi!! There was this 105 yen sushi shop in Mukainada.. So its $1.40 per plate.. And I have to say, the sushi tasted really value for money! There was my favourite Inari-sushi, mind you its not a samosa..
And there was something different for a change.. Cheese hamburg sushi? A meat patty on rice, scorched with a blow torch and topped with cheese and Ketchup.. Really westernized sushi.. But it was one of the best sushis I ate that night!
And how can we leave out ice cream???? Hokkaido milk softserve.. I miss ice cream in Japan...