Fine Winter Day

Posted June 30th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

JAPAN LOST !! (>0<)

It was a long game against Paraguay yesterday, and the first penalty shootout of the 2010 World Cup was carried out.  Japan lost in the end, but I think they did their best and I’m proud of them for coming this far as a only Asian team.

Anyway…

It was my favorite climate during the day yesterday!  Not too cold, but not hot, little windy and I could feel the air moving around me.  I like looking up the sky and watch the cloud moving.  At a glance it seems to be stopped, but if you watch it carefully the cloud moves pretty fast sometimes.  It’s my thing: I used to look up the sky and think “Australia could be under that cloud!” “I wonder what people are doing right now under that cloud over there…”  Then I felt that the world is such big and my little trouble seemed to be a tiny thing.

I was feeling little down over the last few weeks, as things happened around me and I wasn’t sure what I wanted.  But now, I realized something important after talking to friends and also reading some books.  Now I’m feeling pretty good 🙂

One thing that I still feel sad about is my cat.  She passed away just few days ago in my house in Japan.  Actually there’s a little weird story behind this cat, and I loved her so much.

Puu, a cat with mixed colors of black, grey and white, came to my house when I was around 17 ~ 18, I think.  I don’t remember how we started to have Puu, but she was already an adult cat (♀) by the time she joined my family.  She was a little strange cat!  Every night when I was taking bath, she called me “meow” behind the smoky glass in the bath room, and comes inside the bathroom and sit on top of the bathtub (I used to take bath while covering half the bathtub with plastic tub-cover to keep water hot, and she sat on the cover and slept!).  And, every night she called “meow” at the door of my room, then came inside the room and slept on my bed next to me, in my futon.  I had never seen cat that likes taking bath…

She was so smart too, and I felt some connection between her 🙂  But, one of her weird hobby – she liked jumping to the tray of kei-truck every time she sees any kei-truck – caused a trouble.  One day, she suddenly disappeared.  We think that she jumped on the tray of a kei-truck which was stopping around my house, and the truck started to move and Puu couldn’t get off the car.  I was so sad, and hoped she would come back soon.  But she didn’t.

After few months, mum told me an unbelievable story.  When my mum went to Lawson, a convenience store, one cat jumped inside her car and sat on the seat as if she was waiting my mum to drive home quickly.  My mum came home with the cat.  The thing we felt so weird was that the cat looked exact same as Puu!  Same color, similar pattern, and same gender.  We really thought it was Puu, but something was little different. (to me) And, the tip bone of this cat’s tale was little broken.  Besides, this cat didn’t like taking bath and sleeping on my bed.  It was a different cat.

I couldn’t believe what just happened.  This cat already started to feel at home and sleeping in front of tv.  The personality of the cat was obviously different from missing Puu, but we started to love this cat too.  We named her “Puu”, the same name as the previous one.

“Puu Ⅱ” was pregnant when she jumped in my mum’s car, and gave birth to 6 beautiful kittens.  She was really like a normal cat (very my-pace) but very adorable.

Since then she stayed with my family.  I really thought she had some kind of power, as she seemed to know everything!  For example, when I was walking towards my house from my friend’s house and started to see my house from the distance, “Puu Ⅱ” was already sitting in front of the house and looking at me.  And she looked at me with the look: like “hey you”.

“Puu Ⅱ” passed away because of the age.  I never knew how old she was, but she lived her long life like Mimi, my dog.  I hope she was very happy.

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Grapefruit Semifreddo

Posted June 29th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

My neighbor left grapefruits outside their house with a memo saying “free grapefruits from the garden!”

I love grapefruits!  I thought it was a spring fruit :p  It’s refreshing, and great item to eat in the morning – healthy, and rich in vitamin.

I took 3 home, and ate 2 of them as they are.  The rest, I made semifreddo with it 🙂

Semifreddo is an Italian, meaning “half cold” “half frozen”.  As the name indicates, it is eaten as semi-frozen.

<Grapefruit Semifreddo>

for 1 x pound-cake tin

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 100ml cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g sugar
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  1. Segment the grapefruit.  Cut into pieces.  Keep the juice.
  2. Whip cream with 1/2 sugar until  thick, but still able to drop off a spoon.
  3. In another bowl, place egg white and the rest of sugar, and whisk until fluffy (meringue).
  4. Add egg yolks, grapefruit pieces and 2 tbs grapefruit juice to the cream.  Mix.
  5. Fold in meringue.
  6. Line a pound-cake tin with cling wrap. Pour the mixture into the tin and freeze until frozen at the edges. Remove from freezer and stir. Return to freezer and re-freeze overnight. Remove from pan and cut into thick slices.
  7. Enjoy it while it’s half-frozen.
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Crispy Chicken in Sweet and Tangy Sauce (Chicken Nanban)

Posted June 28th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

The dish Chicken Nanban was originally created in Kyushu island in Japan about 50 years ago.  Since then, this item has became very popular across Japan, and now you can find the dish in family restaurants, convenience stores, fast food chains and even pizza shops.

The original Chicken Nanban was a deep-fried chicken immersed in sweet/sour sauce.  Nowadays Chichen Nanban is served with tartar sauce poured over the chicken, and it is still one of the popular menu for any age group.

This is again another easy dish to cook, and it goes with both rice and noodle.

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<Chicken Nanban with Somen Noodle> serves 4

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  • 2 chicken breast fillets (about 400g)
  • 1 egg
  • plain flour to coat
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 6 tbs sugar
  • 5 tbs vinegar (preferably rice vinegar)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 200g somen noodle
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 capsicum
  • roasted white sesame seeds
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  1. Bring the large pot of water to the boil, and cook somen noodle.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Halve each chicken fillets into even size.  You should have 4 slices.  Flatten the chicken meat by using the back of the knife.
  3. Place soy sauce, sugar and vinegar in a sauce pan, and bring to the gentle boil to dissolve the sugar.  Transfer the sauce to the wide plate or pan. (or you can use wide pan to boil the sauce).  Set aside.
  4. Coat the chicken with flour, and shake off any excess flour.  Beat the egg, and place in a shallow plate.
  5. Heat oil in a deep frying pan.  Dip the chicken fillets in the egg wash, and deep-fry both sides until golden.
  6. As soon as it’s removed from the oil, shake off any excess oil and immerse in the sauce.  Leave it for 30 seconds ~ few minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, heat sesame oil and garlic slices in a frying pan.  When it’s fragrant, add somen noodle and stir-fry.  Sprinkle sesame seeds, and arrange on serving plates (divide into four potions).
  8. In the same pan, stir-fry sliced capsicum. Remove from the heat and arrange on each bed of somen noodle on the serving plates.
  9. Remove the chicken from the sauce, and slice.  Place on top of the noodle + capsicum.  Drizzle over the sauce, and sprinkle sesame seeds.  Repeat with other fillets.
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* you can use steamed vegetables instead of capsicum.
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Apple Store in Perth

Posted June 26th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

The first Apple store in Perth was opened today, 26 June 2010 on Hay Street!

“The shop will open its door at 9 am, UME!”

It was what my husband said to me last week.  “Ok, then we can go there and get a free T-shirt, then head to McDonalds for brekkie”

It was our plan…..   but, as I thought, he couldn’t wake up early today >0<

He works at home and normally goes to bed in the early morning (he is a nocturnal person), and last night was not an exception…

His sleeping face was so peaceful that I couldn’t woke him up.  So, I headed there by myself to see what the shop looks like and then later I can tell him the story 🙂

It was again another freezing morning…  The radio said it was actually below 0° this morning!  WOW.

As I walked to the new Apple shop, I started to see people walking with small white boxes.  I knew straightaway that they were from Apple store, and the box contained the free T-shirt!  I had to hurry!  It took me 30 mins to park as I was stuck in the traffic (construction in the city… T_T), so it was already 9am past.

I was walking from East Perth direction, and when I reached to the traffic light on William street x Hay street, I started to doubt my eyes….  “am I seeing polices and security guards there?”

I was little overwhelmed, as there’re many people taking photos, and few security guards were standing at the door.  The shop was filled with people…

I didn’t stop walking, and headed to the store.  Then, two door men greeted to me and said,

“Good morning ma’am, thank you for visiting our new store.  I’m sorry but you will have to queue the line and wait.”

Then I finally realized there was a loooooooong queue of people waiting to get into the store!  Crazy!

After a short consideration in my head, I decided to queue.  I don’t normally do such thing (and I could come to this shop anytime in future) but I did.

I waited, waited…. and 10~20 minutes later, I was finally inside the store!  Cute girls in uniform were cheering and handed me a free T-shirt.

The shop looked great.  Many variety of goods, and many staff in blue T-shirts 😀  I played with those displays for few minutes, and had a quick chat with one of the staff, then left.   The atmosphere almost made me want to buy something!  phewwwww.

I didn’t think so many people would be here today.  I’m sure there’re some people waited before opening the door :p

This shop opens 7 days.  You can find info here →

http://www.apple.com/au/retail/perthcity/


Marinated Deep-fried Chicken (Tazta Age)

Posted June 26th, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

Tazta-age (tatsuta-age) is a kind of Kara-age.  Kara-age is a deep-fried chicken (usually chicken thigh) coated with katakuriko (a starch originally processed from the corm of katakuri) and plain flour after being marinated with garlic and some spices.  On the other hand, tazta-age is a deep-fried chicken (usually chicken thigh) coated with only katakuriko after being marinated with soy sauce and sweet mirin.  You can use corn starch (corn flour) instead of katakuriko.

The key to make juicy kara-age with crispy texture is the twice-deep-frying.  You deep-fry the meat in low-temperatured oil first, then deep-fry again in very hot oil to shake off any excess fat and to make it crispy.

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<Tazta Age> serves 4

  • 400g chicken thigh
  • 20g soy sauce
  • 20g raw sugar
  • 15g sake (white wine)
  • 5g ginger (grated or sliced)
  • katakuriko (corn flour) to dust
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  1. Cut chicken into pieces.  Trim chicken thigh into even thickness.
  2. Marinade in the sauce for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the chicken.  Heat the oil in a pan to 160°.
  4. Coat the chicken with katakuriko, shake off any excess flour, and deep-fry both side until coloured.  Set aside.
  5. Heat up the oil to 180°.  Deep-fry the chicken pieces again both side until crispy.
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The best way to eat tazta-age is with Japanese mayonnaise!  You can’t stop eating steamed rice with it.
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or you can make Tazta Burger!  I remember MacDonalds’ Tazta Burger…  one of my favorite 😀
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Sushi Plane

Posted June 25th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

I heard on the radio today that Telstra is doing a competition, called “Sushi Plane”, to win a trip to Tokyo!

I know I shouldn’t enter to the competition, (as I’m Japanese and can go to Japan anytime…) but everything about Japan interests me!  So, I just visited the website and browsed what the sushi plane is about.

It seems that the winners of the competition fly from Sydney to Tokyo on 10 August 2010, and they have to compete each other to become a sushi plane champion…  by going through a series of funny games :p  All the details are kept mysterious until you win a seat on the plane!

There are two judging steps, and I really don’t think I will go through the telephone interview and all that, but I did try making myself into cartoon character on their website: MANGA-ME.  You just need to drag your photo to the app…

This cartoon is too cute to be me!  Anyway, I like this cartoon UME in pink kimono :p

Anyone who is interested in travelling to the busiest, craziest city in the world should apply!

(By they way, Tokyo really is the busiest city in the world ↓↓

http://www.worldatlas.com/citypops.htm)


Hot Spa

Posted June 24th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 6 Comments »

It is really cold … yesterday morning I noticed the grass on the ground was frozen!

I’ve been having a neck pain for the last couples of week… Not only neck, actually.  I have headache, backache and dizziness too! (>0<)  My neck and shoulder have been always pretty stiff since I was a kid, and I’m used to it already, but now I really feel there is something wrong ☆ I don’t have this much pain usually…  It could be because of the cold weather, my posture, playing with computer too much, thinking too many stuff, etc etc.  I gotta relax!!

Today during the day, what I thought was to take a hot bath tonight.  I couldn’t wait!  As soon as I finished baking a cake for tomorrow delivery, I filled the bath tub with hot water.  ….but, it didn’t turn out to be as nice as I expected.  The water wasn’t hot enough (it should be around 40° or over, always!!), and the bath tub was not made for keeping the water warm!  As soon as the hot water went into the tub, it started to cool down.  The whole bathroom was kinda cold too 🙁

In Japan, bath tubs are usually made with special material that keep the water warm.  And deeper!  I could swim in the tub when I was little.  The bath tub in my house is quite shallow, and I couldn’t warm up my shoulder ..  Oh well, it is Australia here, not Japan (><)

I miss Yufuin…  (my little honeymoon trip in Yufuin, in Japan → I wrote about it here, here, here, and here. ) Oh, and Yamashiro Onsen.

Oh, by the way, I heard that there is a ryokan (Japan style hotel) in Melbourne, called “Shizuka”.  Has anyone been there before? ( I found the website here : http://www.shizuka.com.au/)  It looks nice… but I bet it’s expensive :p


Where to Go This Winter

Posted June 24th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

As winter comes, things make me miss down south.  I don’t know what the “things” are: maybe the cold air that makes me cuddle in a warm blanket,  the sound of the rain that erases all the noise outside…  All of them recall my memory of staying down south.

Winter makes me feel warm inside, in spite of the cold weather.  That’s the reason why I like winter.

I think many people prefer summer to winter, especially the people who live near the beautiful beaches, like Perth.  I’m sure some people are longing for the arrival of next spring/summer already.  I get to see many cheap deals at hotels and some travel packages around this time, eg Rottnest Island.  I understand why, as Rottnest Island is surrounded by beautiful ocean and there is pretty much nothing to do except for swimming and cycling.  But, I don’t mind going there in a cold day and watch the quiet beaches.

I actually went there couples of years ago with my husband and stayed for a night.  It was beautiful.  Although we had not much things to do, we enjoyed the slow time there.

I also like South.  I haven’t travelled much since I came to Perth and I’ve only been to Bunbury, Busselton, Pemberton and Margaret River, all of them were really beautiful towns.  As there’s nothing much to do and plenty of time, I could totally relax and day-dreamed about things – I couldn’t do such things while leading a busy days in Perth.  It’s really amazing that you could experience the different pace of time in just few hours drive!

It was about two years ago that we went to Pemberton.  We stayed in a farm lodge, and there’re horses, kangaroos, sheep, dogs etc wondering around right in front of our lodge. 😀

It started raining when we arrived the lodge, and it was very cold.  But, I couldn’t help going walking around the area.  Walking through the mountains, stepping on the leaves on the ground, avoiding huge tree roots…  there was no “road” or “path” that was created by human.  It was such a beautiful walk.

aaaaa, it makes me want to go there again (><)


Natto – One of the Healthy Food in Japan

Posted June 23rd, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

This could be one of the weird food you can find around the world…  Natto, fermented soy beans, is a traditional Japanese staple for more than 1,000 years.  Non Japanese people may think it’s a gross-looking food as it has a strong smell, flavor and slippery texture.  But, it is an ultimate health food as its medical benefits are widely recognized recently : some of its beneficial effects are prevention of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and intestinal disease caused by pathogens.

How did Japan discover this food??  I remember reading a story of it when I was little.  Long time ago, when samurais are still rolling Japan, a group of samurais were travelling quite a long distance.  They brought some food for the journey, and one of the food was soy beans.  The soy beans were carried in a bag made of some kind of plant.  As it was summer and the climate was pretty hot and humid, the soy beans started to ferment in the bag.  Around lunch time, samurais decided to take a break and they all opened up the food to enjoy.  Then they found out the all soy beans looked strange – smelly, and slimy!  They were so disappointed, but one samurai pinched one bean and put in his mouth.  It turned out to be edible.  “Oh well, we might not be able to make to the destination in this climate and not enough water.  We may die soon…  may as well eat these rotten soy beans.”  They ate up the rotten soy beans.  But, strangely, after eating the beans they felt their body full of energy and strong again.

That was the origin of natto, according to my memory 😀  Now we normally eat natto with tare (sauce), and dress up with Japanese mustard, bonito flakes, mayonnaise, seaweed etc etc.

I like eating natto in the morning – just with freshly cooked steamed rice and miso soup.  This morning I made colourful miso soup with few ingredients including carrot, wakame, konnyaku and tofu.  Can any other food beat this healthy combination?


Japanese Pancake with Sweet Red Bean (Dorayaki)

Posted June 22nd, 2010 in Food | 6 Comments »

A fluffy pancake sandwich with chunky azuki bean paste….

You may have seen Doraemon, a cat-shaped robot in Japanese cartoon, eating dorayaki.  Dorayaki is a Japanese sweet which consists of two small pancakes and a filling of anko (azuki bean paste).

I list 2 recipes below : ↓↓

1)
It’s always the best to use an electric grill pan so that cakes turn evenly brown.  And, controlling the heat is the another key to make this moist pancake.
The standard dorayaki has a filling of azuki bean paste, but nowadays you can get with custard cream filling, white bean paste (shiro-an), whipped cream, etc in Japan.  I spread margarin to the pancakes, but normally you just add azuki bean paste.  I thought a filling of grated cheddar and condensed milk would be a nice match too.  (like Indonesian Martabak)
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<Dorayaki> makes 4 (small batch)
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  • 2 Eggs (M~L)
  • 4 tbs (60g) Sugar
  • 2 tbs Honey
  • 80g Plain flour
  • 20g Baking flour
  • 1/2 Baking soda
  • about 4 tbs Milk (to adjust)
  • 80g tsubu-an (chunky red bean paste) (recipe here and here)
  • margarin to spread (optional)
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  1. Place egg, sugar, and honey in a bowl and whisk until fluffy.
  2. Shift in the dry ingredients.  Mix using a spatular quickly. (don’t mix too much)
  3. Add milk gradually.  Mix with spatular, but do not stir too much.  Move the spatular as if you are cutting the batter.
  4. Heat an skillet or hot plat, and spray oil lightly.  Using a small ladle, pour a scoop of the batter into the skillet and make a small pancake.
  5. Turn over when bubbles appear on the surface. Repeat this process with remaining batter to make 8 pancakes.  Cover the pancakes with plastic wraps to prevent from drying.
  6. Spread margarine on one side of pancakes, and sandwich a scoop of azuki bean paste.
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dorayaki
2)
I used this recipe when making dorayaki last night.  This recipe uses less ingredients, and still turned out to be delicious :))
<Dorayaki> makes 2~4aa
  • 1 Egg (L)
  • 30g Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 50g Plain flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon Baking powder
  • Anko (red bean paste) (recipe here and here)
  1. Beat egg with sugar in a bowl.  Add honey, and mix until smooth.
  2. Shift in flour & baking powder, and mix with a spatula until the mixture is smooth and has shiny surface.  Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Take the pan off the stove and place the bottom of the pan on a wet towel to even the heat.  Place the pan back to the stove, over low heat, and spray oil lightly.  Pour the mixture (about 2 tablespoons) into the pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface.  Flip the pancake and cook another side.  Keep the cooked pancakes on a plate covered with plastic wrap to prevent from drying.  Repeat with remaining mixture.
  4. Spread anko between 2 pancakes and press lightly to shape.
dorayaki2