Saturday, November 27, 2010

Persimmons 2010

It's persimmon time again and we had a wealth of persimmons this year. Last year I dried our neighbor's persimmons but this year she had none and we were loaded. Both of us have the Fuyu variety but she has the small, flat bottomed ones that are my favorite. I have dried about four batches of them and will put on another as soon as I finish this posting. When my fuyus get soft, I make date-nut persimmon bars with lemon frosting to give as presents or take to a potluck. When I run out of time or energy I try to give the rest away. Neighbors don't walk by our house at persimmon time because I'm known to put sacks into their arms after a chat. One year I used the kid's wagon loaded up with persimmons & then walked the neighborhood. How to win friends, right?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Incredible trip to Japan 10/19/2010

We landed in Narita and flew to Chitose, Hokkaido. Were bussed to Sapporo to this hotel. Very pleasent - first breakfast was a treat - Will put it up just so that I will have written at least one thing every month. The pictures to follow. Incredible tour - we saw arts and crafts that I never expected.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This & That for Sept. 2010

Well, here it is Sept. already and I didn't post anything in August! August was a vacation month in that there were no classes, no knitting only the garden in which I harvested green beans, tomatoes and crook-neck squash every day.
We have had our fill of Bruchetta as the basil has grown like a weed and the tomatoes that our neighbor planted have been plentiful for the last month.
We've had several parties under the persimmon tree out in front. It's been like a hidden garden with the brick half-walls and the persimmon tree. I've been complaining because so much of the persimmon crop has fallen, little by little. I'll let you know in Oct. if we have a crop to harvest.
But it was as if we were in another country ( Italy comes to mind) as we ate and drank outside under the beautiful, spreading persimmon tree.
A couple of things have come up. One, is that my neighbor and I are going on an Art's and Craft's tour of Hokkaido and Northern Honshu at the beginning of Oct. Of course that occasioned rethinking the travel clothes - so after research, I bought a travel vest from Scottevest. Look at the travel vest for women, black in color. Don't really like to carry a purse, but even less do I like to wear something with pockets on the outside. This vest is perfect and I have made several trips into S.F. wearing the vest with no purse in sight. I have memorized the pockets I put things in and it works! Have to admit that I don't fill all of the 22 pockets.
I have the vouchers to visit the Ghibli Museum - My neighbor Totoro has absolutely won my heart. When our youngest grandson from Japan was left in my care the time the rest of the family went on an outing, the little guy cried himself silly until I put on the video of Totoro. The sounds of Japan soothed him and he got caught up in the story. I still remember the feeling of this little child completely relaxing as he watched the movie (in Japanese). The Ghibli Studio has created wonderful movies. My daughter wants me to buy a black cat from the movie "Kiki's Delivery Service" which I will do of course.
In April, I left the Shodo and entered in the Pen shuji portion of our clase. I've included the July class assignment where we get judged as to the level we should be in. If you understand Japanese, you'll see that I moved up a level. I was in the 5th and now am in the 4th.

I have been studying Kanji at Sakura Gakuen for the past couple of years but am changing to another class as the Pen Shuji is teaching me more in a more relaxed fashion. Besides I love the teacher and all my classmates. So at Sakura Gakuen, I'll be focusing on conversation. (I hope)
Well in an abbreviated form that brings you up to date on a few things. I'm not doing the cooking that I have done in the past. These days we go to two tennis matches a week and one football game. All at High School level but our grandkids are so involved we just have to root them on.
My other past-time is playing scrabble with my neighbor through an app on iPod Touch. That is soooooo much fun.
Cheers to you all. Write if you have a mind.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer vegetables & meals

Well the garden is not growing as well as last year. The successes are the green beans, cucumbers, some of the tomato plants, one large eggplant and crookneck squash. Of the 4 squash plants only one has been producing much to my chagrin.
But I should complain as we have had the best bruschetta using the tomatoes and basil from the garden. Ah! the taste of summer.

Another taste of summer is this salad. I couldn't resist adding the anchovies. The salad along with sour dough French bread and a glass of red wine is a feast incomparable.

We traveled to Tamales Bay Oyster Company recently to have a fun day at the bay picknicking with friends who also love oysters!!! I tried to upload a video of our day but will need another lesson at Apple. I did upload this video to youtube though after much editing.

My girlfriend and I ate the raw oysters as fast as the fellows could shuck them. But mainly we sauteed them. A salad and French bread completed our meal. On the way home we stopped at the Marin French Cheese Company (Rouge et Noir brand) An artery clogger of a day but delightful! I posted the web adddress of the video. My video is very amateurish - don't laugh!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Front Yard Gardening 2010

We had a rainy & cold April and May and because of the rain I don't think the bees were able to polinate the persimmon flowers. So the persimmon tree has been dropping a lot of fruit which makes me wonder if we will have any persimmons to dry this year. Also I couldn't plant the garden until later than usual because my farmer friends said the ground was still too cold. So here are pictures of my late garden.
With extreme pleasure I go out and tend the garden in the early morning. I think my talking to the plants encourages them to grow. Or maybe they keep me smiling at their green and vibrant beauty.
I haven't shown you pictures of the Japanese eggplants because they got planted really late this year. They are still small. Last year my friends gifted me with good starts and we had abundant eggplants late into the Fall.
Since this is all front yard gardening in areas where the sun shines on the plants all day, I couldn't plant everything I wanted to. I didn't show my herb garden but I have already made one batch of pesto that we ate on tagliarini.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Long time between postings

We have been spending a lot of time cheering our grandkids on in track and it has been fun. Now we are arriving at the end of baseball season cheering on a team that only lost one game this season. (The last game too) Also, we have gone to a lot of band & Blues Band concerts. So enjoyable!
Besides the events we are working through our garage to square it away. Read on. Today is an overcast one and one of us is in the garage reading through Great grandpa's box of memorabilia. Grandpa corresponded with so many people and he saved most of the letters. I'm going to pass on some special letters that our children wrote. More later.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pineapple Upside-down cake

In February we spent 10 days mainly in Maui, Hawaii and ate some incredible food. One of the memorable meals was eaten at Hailemaile General Store which is one of the best restaurants on the island. Their pineapple upside-down cake was so delicious that I took a picture of it and decided to come home and try my hand at it.

After a couple of tries, I made this one with fresh pineapple using a modified recipe from Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I had used a cast iron skillet for the first two but I should have used a bigger skillet because the cake part was too high and you got the taste of the cake and not of the brown sugar and pineapple.
The cake in the picture was baked in a round cake pan. I buttered two pans, poured a melted stick of butter into each pan, sprinkled 1 cup of brown sugar over the melted butter in each pan. Then I added the fresh pineapple until it covered the pan.Then I put the pans in a 350 degree F. oven while I prepared the cake batter.

I better list ingredients:
2- 8 in. round cake pans
16 Tblsps. butter (2 sticks)
2 cups of brown sugar
one fresh pineapple, cut in thick slices about 1/2 inches, enough to fill the 2 pans.
Or 1 can of sliced pineapple
Cake batter ingredients:
4 Tblsps. melted butter for cake batter
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt

Combine and beat the melted butter, buttermilk or sour milk - (I used sour milk) eggs and granulated sugar until mixed. Measure out the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl and gradually add to the liquid mixture until it looks mixed.

Try to divide the mixture over the two pans you've pulled from the oven. You may have to spread it to cover the pineapple. Put in the 350 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes. Because the pineapple sugar mixture is hot, it bakes a little faster. Also the thinness of the pans compared to the cast iron skillet makes it bake faster. Keep an eye on the cakes -

Write me if I haven't been clear enough. I made the cakes with canned pineapple and fresh pineapple. We liked it both ways. By putting the pineapple/brown sugar mixture in pans in the oven while I mixed the batter, the cake cooked evenly. I do that now with all my fruit cobblers.

I used both buttermilk and sour milk. Couldn't tell the difference. I had sour milk but in the past I have made sour milk by adding 1/2 tsp. vinegar to 1 cup of fresh milk.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Well, not having a lot of luck managing this blog. But if you wonder what I've been doing, I've been doing lots of things with grand-kids or let's say watching them participate in concerts, track meets and Japanese school graduation days.
Also, The Albuquerque grandkids came in and today we went to San Francisco to be real tourists. Last night was a family gathering at a restaurant and then Vic's Ice Cream parlor to celebrate a son's birthday. We take off tomorrow to visit a famous aquarium and castle so I'll post more next week. Ciao!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts on Hawaii

We spent a lovely 10 days viewing whales from our 2nd floor balcony. You'd think we would have slept in, but most days found us on the balcony at 6:00 a.m. having our coffee and looking through the binoculars at the whales and the people who were having a morning swim. The day before we left we went on an early morning boat ride with the Whale Foundation and saw a competition of whales. Never thought whales bellowed at one another. The following photos didn't show as much as I wanted. I think I need lessons in picture taking with my new camera. CLICK ON EACH PICTURE TO GET A BIGGER VERSION.

We also explored the Upcountry of Maui - Gail our hostess and guide knows this island very well.
Ate strawberry papaya, ripe star fruit and apple bananas every day. Also bought fish from Suda's market on the days we ate at home. It was a lovely restful vacation.
A special sidetrip to the big island to visit friends in Kamuela was the icing on the cake. We were in Paniolo country and my picture taking doesn't do it justice. So I'll just post some highlights.

These ladies greeted us at the Kona Airport. The weather felt much more humid and warm than Maui. We enjoyed the open kiosks of the airport.

The stories of the cowboys of Hawaii came alive when I saw the statue of the famous cowboy of the Parker Ranch with the brands of the island below him. This statue is in a prominent park in Kamuela.
Just had to share some of the flora. There are so many flowers.
Visited a lavender farm that had all kinds of plants & statues on the farm.

More later on the food aspect of our vacation....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One minute speech for Fri. night Japanese class


去年のクリスマスの時、 アーニーは図書館でけいたいを落としました。けいたいを落としたことをしらなかったです。けいたいを拾った女性は私達を電話しました。私はしめいと住所と電話番ごを質問しましたでも女性は私の住所と電話番ごを質問していました。拾った女性は家にけいたいを持ってきてくれました。一割のお礼があげました。アーニーと女性がうれしかったです。

Well, and so it goes. Still write like a pre-schooler but that's where I am.

Lunar New Year Celebration

What a day this has been! There was an emergency trip to the Genius Bar at Apple to solve a problem of connection to the internet through Ernie's iPod. Got that squared away and thought we were packed and had all in order when we got a phone call asking us if we were coming to the Chinese New Year celebration dinner. We were a quick ten minutes away so made this wonderful gathering of friends.
After that I watched a beautiful DVD movie by Miyazaki called Ponyo by the Sea. Cute story but extraordinary seascapes and landscapes. But I guess no movie so far has passed Miyazaki's Tonari no Totoro in my estimation. It was not only the story of the family but a story of the country-side, the people, the customs and beliefs set in gorgeous landscapes.
Will leave the last of the roses to be pruned when I return.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Calligraphy Archive - Ukiyoe and Dec. lesson

I'm saving these two examples of my classwork of brushwriting because come April, I will change to Pen Shuji. I belong to ShoSui Shodokai and we meet every Tues. & Thurs at 12:30-3:00. Since I am also studying Kanji at Sakura Gakuen, the Pen Shuji fits with the Kanji class. More later as I am going to try to upload the Dec. assignment.

意味: 山や谷あいに永く陽が当たっている

So the meaning of the latest is something like this:
Between the mountains and the valley, the sun has been striking for a long time.

Wed. evening: I finally broke down & got a camera. This time it has an optical zoom instead of a digital one. I will be able to capture the grandkids as they cross the line in track meets and also get the judo holds as they win a match. Not only that the camera can do a burst of pictures so that when they catch a ball or football, I'll be sure to catch it on the camera.
This afternoon I finished trying on summer clothes & deciding what to take to Hawaii. I'm all but packed up. Wish me luck in capturing pictures of whales as they pass through the bay in front of Maalea.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Comentario de reuniones

Today has been filled with reunions both of friends and of family. More poignant because friends of our elementary school years are our same age and also because some of our family are going through a rough, rough patch health- wise. You know each one of us has opinions and such about how friends and family should be handling each of their problems but we ourselves are personally not going through each of these crisises so we should just keep our silence. To amend that, we are going through it second hand which is not the same. Sorry to sound confusing but suffering second hand is not the same as first hand.
Still have not found my camera but today a friend offered her camera to us for the trip we are going to take to visit friends in Hawaii in Feb. I sure appreciate that because I hope to record the visit with photographs. Still cannot believe that I lost my camera.
Tonight one of the dishes we shared with friends was a recipe from Bitten of the New York Times,Beets With Garlic-Walnut Sauce, It was a fine accompaniment to Exclusively Food's Prawn and Tomato Pasta Recipe.
Well, enough for tonight. The delicious red wine is wearing me down. Thank heavens that I printed up Bitten's Beet recipe because I can't find the link now. Anyone interested write me and I'll copy it out.
Bueno, el vino me hace querer contar mucho. La emoción me conmueve decir demasiado. El sufrimiento de otros es difícil de aguantar. Siempre les deseo que les vaya bien.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken Soup Weather

Since I wrote last, I have been desperately searching the house and car for my camera. I've also involved anyone I have ever visited. Which means I'm being a real pest. Because just recently I had done a search of pockets and the house for the missing front door keys that we always leave on the entry table, I had a pretty good idea that I wouldn't come across my little camera but I did an exhaustive search anyway.

So that will explain why there is no photograph of this new recipe I tried. With all the wind and rain and cold temperatures, Chicken soup sounded good to me. I got the idea in San Francisco last week. I was in a restaurant that has Kotosoupa Avgolemono (Chicken and Rice Soup with Egg and Lemon) every day. Heavenly!

When you click on the colored word recipe, you'll see that the recipe calls for one whole chicken.
I used two chicken breasts from the freezer which I didn't defrost first. Just washed them and cup them up a bit and put them in the hot water. Before I put the egg/lemon juice mixture in the soup, I did add one can of prepared chicken broth. I was a little unsure of myself. But the result of this recipe was very satisfying.

I don't make New Years Resolutions but I'm going to make my life a little less busy real soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy New Year-明けましておめでとうございます

This has been a very happy but busy time. My hands have been busy knitting projects for Christmas & birthdays. For that reason I haven't spent much time on the computer. Just basic checking mail and looking at the postings of family and friends on Facebook. I'm especially happy with how Ernie's vest turned out and I see that he is wearing it quite a bit. I made two mini-vests and a ribbon scarf. With these projects completed, I can begin another project for my self without feeling guility.
Tomorrow a new box of fruits & veggies arrive from Farm Fresh Farms, so I'll have a new round of cooking to share. Since we went to our daughter's for Christmas, we didn't have leftovers after Christmas and I missed that. To make up for that, we bought a nine pound turkey breast and roasted it. So that filled the turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy craving - today I'm going to fix a lentil stew with jalapeno sauce and cutup turkey in it and turn it into tortillas filled with the mixture. Avocados are fairly inexpensive now and I'll add that to the tortillas. By the way I froze turkey slices from over half of the turkey. It sure beats lunchmeat.
Speaking of avocados, I've been mashing a quarter of an avocado on my toast instead of butter or peanut butter. Then I add a thin slice of provolone on top. Makes a perfect breakfast.
Anyone out there have interesting and different ideas for breakfast?