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So, for once I’m moved to do a non-book review blog.

The week before last I cut my finger. About a 1cm long shallow slash just below the last joint of my right index finger. So, this kind of things happens all the time, and why am I blogging it? Well, because I gut it on some cheese. Wow, that was some sharp cheese!

I made soup last night with some kabocha (Japanes squash variety with inside flesh pretty much like a pumpkin but with a green skin) and with some satoimo (also called taro, under which name you might have seen it outside Japan in restaurants, particularly in slices for tempura). This is a relatively common dish for me these days. The recipe is based on a leek and potato base (which can be used for all sorts of other flavourings like asparagus). I just substitute some kabocha and satoimo for the  potato. The particular satoimo I had in is one with a purple flesh as well as purple skin (most of the ones available in Japan are purple-skinned but have pale yellow flesh). Combined with the orange kabocha flesh this usually makes for a yellow/orange soup. However, the purple flesh meant that, like mixing all the colours of plasticine together, the result was pretty much brown. A slight purple-tinged brown in this case, but definitely brown. Very tasty, though.

I’m now mostly back to my normal diet now. At least I’m able to eat high residue foods like Weetabix and brown bread again. I’m still being quite careful with spices, working my way back up to chili, via increaing amounts of pepper and ginger in things. I’m still avoiding Indian (I had an Indian the evening before my colitis attack and while I’m fairly sure it wasn’t the direct cause, I am pretty sure the spices did not help) and Thai so far, and only using tiny amounts of (fake)wasabi in soba dipping sauce and sashimi soy dipping sauce.

I had one of those odd coincidences last night. I bumped my little side table with my leg as I sat down and spilled some coffee. A very small amount got onto the TV remote controller, though I was fairly sure it was only on the surface and didnt get inside at all. We were watching an episode of Once Upon a Time at that point, so I didn ‘t need the TV controller, only the media player controller, until after the episode. It didn’t work. So, figuring it was a coincidence I swapped out the batteries for a pair in my laptop bag, as they were the closest to hand. Still no joy. I left it until this morning to see if it was moisture inside, but still no joy. Before trying to replace the unit, I tried with a fresh set of batteries from the cupboard and it worked. The batteries in my latop bag must have been there too long or were used ones I’d put in there while travelling at some point and not taken out. Ho hum, at least I didn’t find this out after buying a replacement controller.

Current Mood: (numb) numb
Current Music: None

Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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I’ve been meaning to post something about this for a while. Japan has a number of critus fruits of which I’ve never seen mention outside Japan. I use three of these (and lemon juice) for flavouring fizzy water as a lower calorie alternative to the CC Lemon soda I used to drink. (I stopped because it was unavailable after the earthquake last year for a while and having weaned myself off it I reduced my calorie intake by sticking to fizzy water with a little flavouring of pure citrus juices.) The first is the yuzu which is a medium sized (about the same size as a Seville orange) yellow fruit usually with a bumpy at the stalk connection. It’s used in quite a lot of Japanese flavourings. For instance yuzu-flavoured soy sauce is quite common. It’s sharp but not particualrly astringent. Next we have the sudachi which looks a little like a lime and is similarly quite hard, though rounder. It’s imilarly astringent. It’s much more sour than the yuzu and very rarely eaten directly, though $WIFE says her farmer grandfather like to eat them (they had a few trees on the farm). Lastly there is the kabosu a yellow green fruit slightly larger than the yuzu. This is more commonly eaten as fruit than the other two. It’s also used by others as a drink flavouring, sometimes being available on ANA flights when they bring drinks round after the meal service, for example. There’s a number of other critus fruits available in Japan that I haven’t seen elsewhere but as I haven’t tasted them (or their juice) I’ll leave those for another day.

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Christmas in Japan is rather odd for a Westerner. Just like in the US or Europe, images of the Coke-inspired (i.e. Red and White) Santa Claus are all over the place, as well as the evergreen symbolism of midwinter solstice. Howeever, Christmas Day isn’t a holiday. The current emperor’s birthday is the 23rd December, so that is a holiday, but Christmas Day itself is just a normal day, unless one is among the tiny number of Christians in Japan, where it’s a religious day for them. The build-up is pushed by retailers, with Christmas decorations all over the place. These are replaced on Boxing Day with the Japanese New Year decorations instead. New Year is the big holiday season here, really.

This year, Christmas Day falling on a Saturday makes it a non-working day, but it still feels rather like all build-up and no pay-off.

Following my family tradition, I cooked a Christmas dinner for Tomoko and myself last night, as best as I could manage. Last year I brought a small (non-alcohol, and you wouldn’t believe how hard those are to get even in the UK, now) Christmas pudding with me. This year, having moved across in February, I didn’t arrange that. Still, we had smoked salmon for a starter, and this year we managed to find a department store in Ueno that had small turkeys available (just 1.8Kg, which is about right for two people, and fits whole into our small combination microwave/toaster/oven). So I did that with roast potatoes, roast carrot and roast taro (Japanese sweet potato – can’t get parsnips in Japan but these make a nice substitute – not as sweet as a parsnip, though) plus green beans and tender stem broccoli (first time I’ve ever seen tender stem broccoli in Japan).  You can’t get packets for bread sauce so I made my own again – not too much hassle and unlike some of the shop-bought ones I can use nutmeg instead of clove – some of the so-called luxury shop-bought ones in the UK are so clove-flavoured I can’t eat them. You can’t get cranberry jelly or cranberry sauce. Maybe I’ll see about buying some cranberries in the autumn next year and making my own sauce. I couldn’t find a suitable  Christmas dessert. One of the local bakeries had some stollen earlier in the week, but they’d sold out by yesterday when I decided that was the only possible Christmas dessert available. So I just bought Haagen Daas ice cream instead. Nice and luxurious, though not traditionally Christmas. The Japanese have a “traditional” Christmas  cake: sponge, strawberry and cream. Very strange.

Today we’re on our way to Nagano for a brief holiday. I’m typing this on the Shinkansen from Ueno to Nagano, and will send it via the 3G Internet connection. We just had “Christmas Dinner”, i.e. lunch on Christmas day. Smoked salmon and turkey sandiches (that’s sandwiches with smoked salmon and sandwiches with turkey, not sandsiwches with turkey and smoked salmon together). Leftovers, basically. Another Adams family tradition since we have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and then leftovers for the next couple of days.

As you can tell from all the food, I’m off my diet for the holidays. I think it’s a sensible thing to do. I don’t plan to go mad and balloon back up, but I’ve lost a decent amount of weight this year and am now down to less than 86Kg, so I can afford to indulge a little over the holidays and not be set backj too far in my progress to the target of 75Kg or so. Over halfway there, until the holiday binge kicks in, anyway.

Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

October 2016

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