28 September 2008

lost in translation reflection

I watched that movie last night...it just happened to be on....I remember watching it the firt time when I had just returned to Oz from 3 years in the west of Japan. I didnt know Tokyo very well at that stage but I loved the movie and it made me feel a little homesick for Japan. Now I live just a few minutes from where most of LIT was shot and I know all those images very well. So to now watch it I feel like it really is a first timers glance into Japan, all the weird and wonderful things that saturate your senses when you first arrive, especially in Tokyo. I am amazed at how quickly I have adapted to the very busy streets the huge volumes of people and noise and it kind of feels normal. I dont long for Oz yet, only because I know this experience will end soon enough. But, if we decided to live in Tokyo indefinantly I think I would be pretty miserable...so, I still really like the movie and watching it I realise it will serve as a great nostalgia for when our Tokyo days are over....

24 September 2008

naxi chicken

A few years ago, loved one and I took a fantastic adventure to Western China, right over near Tibet. The we visited provinces has a lot of minority groups, the REAL Shangri La (as in the place not the hotel chain), beautiful nature and some good food! Naxi is an ethnic group in that area and this is a dish they are supposed to be famous for. I have borrowed the basic recipe from Kylie Kwongs's My China cookbook as in that book she also covers many of the places we visited BUT I have made some of my own tweaks. The ingredients above are what is needed. The beans, lotus root and shiitake were the side dish and the chicken thighs were marinating in shao hsing wine and corn flour in the fridge.
Resulting dish is just so, so tasty. If you're a vegetarian you can probably replace the chicken with firm tofu but add it at the end to stop it from breaking up. Basic rules are marinate chicken in a couple of tbs of shao hsing wine and the same amt corn flour for 1 hr in fridge. Once marinated and ready to cook start with the chillis. This is so simple and so effective. Keep the wok cold and put the oil and chillies in. Slowly heat the oil until the chillies turn a dark brown. Remove chillies and save. This is such a clever way to have a very tasty cooking base, hot but not too hot. Add chicken and cook. Add finely sliced ginger and cucumber and stir fry for a couple of minutes, add chillies and cashews and spring onions. The last things are the flavours. Add 2 tbs light soy sauce, 1 tbs brown sugar, 1 tbs brown rice vinegar. The easiest, fastest, tastiest, cheapest gourmet dish you can make.

22 September 2008

lions head dinner

I have been wanting to make Lions Head Balls for sometime now. Since we moved to Japan I have started cooking a LOT of Chinese dishes...umm, there is no logic. I think just the moo being older and me being more organised with my shopping means I am cooking better, enjoying it more and really enjoying the eating!! I use Kylie Kwongs cookbook (My China) a lot and have adopted her basic flavours in addition to the ones I use almost exclusively for Chinese food, that being garlic, ginger, soy sauce and shao hsing wine. She uses brown sugar and brown rice vinegar a lot and I have started to add them and gee, what a taste sensation!! Above is the start of lions head balls, so called because the cabbage is supposed to look like a lions mane. This is kind of more Hong Kong style food. It is so easy, it just takes some time to cook. So, the pork mince has some flavours, ginger, garlic, sugar, spring onions, mixed into it and then roll the balls in cornflour and fry for a few minutes.

The pot is lined with leaves (I think its to prevent sticking). I also steamed the wrapping leaves to make them easier to put around the meatballs.

I made my own chicken stock and added soy and more shao hsing wine and simmered for approx 1.5 hrs.

This is the end result. The verdict is quite tasty but with a huge meatball the minced pork was a bit too meaty/dryish so next time I will hand chop my own mince and add some vege like water chestnut and a few prawns to mix up the texture/taste. It was quite fun meal to make and a pretty cheap, it just needs some time to cook and prepare but even with a 2 year old running between my legs I could do it.

20 September 2008

19 September 2008

one day

This is an attempt to document a day in our life so we dont forget our Tokyo experience and to hold onto a moment of the days of being a kid because, they pass so quickly.
6.00am -7.00am - wake up, eat brekky - banana, blueberries, yoghurt, milk
7.00am-8.30am - walk walk with the dog - involves a lot of running and playing in the local parks and usually a visit to the bakery

8.30-11.30am - free playing with various toys. I have a set of drawers with lots of things to do so he can get whatever toy he wants and free plays. During this time I also like to do one or two more structured activities, this day we made shortbread cookies together (then ate them for morning tea) and after washing up did finger and brush painting about rain (because it was raining)
11.30-12.00pm - lunch, spaghetti bol from last night and milk
12.00-2.30pm slept (hooray...some days he sleeps this long, I do admin, drawing, finish jobs, washing, etc..)
2.30-3.00pm free play at home and prepare to go out (its sunny now)

3.00-5.00pm - run in the park with the kids and the dog, play on jungle gym etc...

5.00-6.30pm - eat dinner (patties made from chicken, veges, egg) and avaocado on the side, shower and 3 books before bed. Books on high rotation are Hairy McLary, Hooray for Fish and ABC book.
6.30pm - big kiss and cuddle and the end of another precious and wonderful day. Sometimes the day goes so fast and I cant believe its bed time, other days, the bashing of toys, having of tantrums, yelling, screaming and general toddler-ness days seems longer but still enjoyable none the less.

17 September 2008


Im thoroughly enjoying using paints again. It makes for different and fun discoveries when using a brush and paint for what I would usually use a nice firm felt tip pen. I am also enjoying my new food shopping tactic, that is, to shop with a list. It is amazing how much I save both in money and in wasted food and in my time. This week so far we have had Monday - Korean kimchi chigae, which is just the most tasty and easiest thing ever, the recipe I use is here
Tues - spag bol, my own concoction, and tonight Japanese saba miso (which I have talked about before - the fish broiled in miso and sake and mirin)......and I think the fact I'm not worried at about 4pm each day what I'm making means the cooking of it is also enjoyable....I'm also having a no spend month (except for foods) because the Oz dollar is now doing so badly it is getting expensive for us in Tokyo town......

16 September 2008

15 September 2008


It is amazing and beautiful to see the complete lack of self conciousness of our toddler. In the park this weekend, moo approached many groups of kids and joined in ball games, balloon throwing and bubble blowing. The freedom of allowing a kid to be a kid is something I think is important and precious. I guess his complete trust that everyone is good and his lack of ability to make a judgement allows kids like him to be taken advantage of by bad people. But, in his lack of judgement, it also means that he cannot see race, religion or disability as something to separate us as humans and how nice for me, just for a moment, to see life through his eyes that simply, every person is good, fun, lovely, friendly, happy.....

13 September 2008

cafe life

This kind of nice, outdoors cafe is rare in Tokyo, especially one where you can comfortably bring a pooch. Most cafes are of the chain kind, many allowing smoking, often dark and no/few windows and food that is processed in plastic bags maybe 3 days before. The ones that do have a table or two outside are full of filthy cigarette smoke/butts and/or so close to the road that you inhale both cardon monoxide from exhausts and cigarette smoke.....I really, really value our beautiful cafe scene in Melbourne and feel a little bit at home when I sit at this little table and chairs arrangement hidden amongst the bay leaf fence.

11 September 2008


I know this is doing the rounds of blogland at the moment but goodness I love it!! Go here to make your own :)

10 September 2008

only in japan

If I ask for a glass of milk at a cafe, well, usually I dont have this presentation in mind........very soon after this photo was taken, the very nice but useless for a toddler glass, was upended and milk was spilled.....everywhere.......but, a moment of decadence was captured.

6 September 2008

i miss the beach

If only I could send the consistent weather from Japan to Melbourne.....it would be a great summer.......I cannot complain about this very long, never ending summer of weeks and weeks of weather in the 30's when you can have access to reasonable beaches about an hour from Tokyo. Its just a matter of getting in the car (or train) and going there................it is the same beach we visited last weekend but this time we took togs, buckets, sunscreen and swam, dug, layed in the hot sand, soaked up sunshine, got a little bit stung by jellyfish and ate lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sea, the same sea that is connected to our other home. It was sunny and shiny and the water was sparkling. I really love the beach and miss it while living in the city......I did set up the small spash pool when we got home, added some coloured balls, washing detergent, whisk and we had some serious bubbles to play in.

3 September 2008


I also received my moo business cards, they are so cute!! I'm super impressed with the service and quality and price and will be back soon for more goodies.


I always collect bits and bobs and nice books and mean to take photos of them but keep forgetting....so, here are some bits from an incredible trip to the 9 floors of stationary at the famous red paperclip shop itoya in the equally famous and super lah dee dah area of Tokyo, Ginza.
It was so amazing and one of those hyperventilation moments where there is just too much to look at and take in on the first visit. Typically Japanese, there was a huge jug of cold juice and cups to drink from in the entrance to greet the first few customers not to mention all the staff greeting you....(my car said 40degrees yesterday)....so, I just got a few goodies and will return when I have time to process what I might need another time......here are some super nice pencils

stamps and stickers...hmmm let me see......there are two floors devoted to stamps and stickers and then an additoonal basement with more stickers, stamps and seals....how I actually chose these amongst the thousands of options, Im not sure.....also they cost $2 each so I thought it was such a bargain.....

then the books................................this one sold itself...its a colouring book and pencil set for kids. But its not just your average colouring book which is why it is for me and not moo.

The colouring book is illustrated and has a story and you can fill in the bits that are blank. There were two more types, one with a map and associated stamps and stickers and the other was a series of figures and stamps and stickers and features so you can dress them and create their look. I wanted all 3 but settled for this one.....these books are so clever, well thought out, beautifully presented, amazing illustrations, a reasonable price, interesting and the list goes on. When I go to this kind of shop I already feel a little sad as I know there is nothing at home like it. I guess thats the beauty of learning to live in the here and now and enjoy it :)

2 September 2008

finally....the beach

It wasnt the most amazing beach but still a beach!! It was like instant relaxation to see the water, lovely :) About 1 hr from Tokyo you can find Kamakura which is more famous for the huge bronze bhudda than the beach. We looked at the temples after the beach and it was still so hot so we skipped the bhudda having both seen it before and planned to return next weekend with togs, towels and esky.