Chinese New Year

Many, many moons ago we celebrated the Chinese New Year with our neighbors.  Everyone prepared food to enjoy…

Fresh Figs on Friday

I just remembered that I prepared a few blog entries several months ago, but I never actually posted them!  I still have plenty of current photos to share with everyone, but I thought I would share some of the older items first.

I think “fig” is a strange word.  I don’t know why, but the more I look at the word fig, the more I think I’ve spelled it wrong.  Anyway, fresh figs are tasty and they are an excellent source of nutrition.  Unfortunately, fig season in Japan is only during the fall.  I wish they were available year-round!

No recipes with this post…just enjoy the beauty and taste figs in their natural form!  🙂

Carrot Salad

Our neighbors made carrot salad for our Thanksgiving feast and I thought it was great!  If you’re looking for a new way to use carrots, try this recipe.  It’s a refreshing salad and it could easily be changed to include a variety of ingredients.

Carrot Salad

1 pound carrots – peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices

Boiling salted water

¾ cup homemade tomato juice

½ cup honey or raw sugar

½ cup oil

¼ cup vinegar

2 tablespoons water

¾ teaspoon sea salt

Fresh thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

1 small green pepper, seeded and sliced thinly

1 small sweet red onion, sliced thinly

Directions

  • Place the carrots in a saucepan.  Add boiling water so it comes 1/4 the way up the carrots.
  • Cover and simmer until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the liquid from the carrots.  (You can also save the liquid and use it in a soup or broth.)
  • Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Pour the remaining ingredients over the hot carrots and cover.
  • Store in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Stir well and drain before serving.
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Other ingredient ideas: apples, raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, and more!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This past Sunday, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our neighbors.  We are so thankful to live next to such wonderful people!!  Enjoy the photos from our celebration!

I’m still wondering how Larry got the turkey to fit in the oven…

Our neighbors from Australia made Lamingtons, a traditional Australian cake covered in chocolate and coconut.  Don’t they look cool!?  They were quickly consumed and the reviewers gave them 5 stars!

Don’t forget the pumpkin cheesecake…

This photo is a little fuzzy (oops!), but I wanted to show you the crew…

Baby Sophia, Larry, Rieko, Nico, Yee, Paula, Pei, Shawn, Beth

We are looking forward to the next celebration!

To all of our family and friends…we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Would someone please eat something with fresh cranberries in it for me?  Fresh cranberries are non-existent in Tokyo!  Maybe they’ll still be in the stores when we are in the U.S. for Christmas and I can get my fill in a few weeks!  🙂

Some of the other strange things that are ‘missing’ when you’re in a foreign country for Thanksgiving include: the buzz in the grocery store of people picking up last minute items, looking through 10 inches of “Day After Thanksgiving Sale Ads” that are stuffed in the newspaper, watching A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life, football (of course!), watching the local news coverage of all the crazy people who slept outside their favorite store in order to buy a computer for $3.99…the list goes on…

One more thing…

What would Thanksgiving be without A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving?  Thanks to YouTube, Charlie Brown can still make his way to Tokyo!  (The audio and motion are out of sync, but it’s still good to watch a classic!!

Have a great day!

A Photo from Dinner…

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I wanted to show a quick photo from tonight’s dinner. Sorry, but I don’t have a recipe to post (yet). I combined a few “Jerk Chicken” recipes, but didn’t write down the specifics!

The combination of lime juice, soy sauce, allspice, cinnamon, garlic, fresh ginger, green onions, and hot peppers made for tasty and tender chicken. The pineapple, green peppers, tomatoes, corn, green peppers, black beans, and lime juice were a refreshing side dish.

I will have to recreate the dish and post the recipe at another time! Enjoy the photo for now! 🙂

Curry and Dijon Baked Chicken

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A new spice has entered my world of cooking.

Curry powder.

I used to be intimated by curry powder. Everything about curry seemed so intense.

The aroma.

The flavor.

The color.

While I had previously enjoyed eating meals prepared with curry, I never attempted to cook with curry. Since we moved to Tokyo, this has changed.

Curry is not just a spice used in Indian cuisine. Curry is a very popular dish in Japan, but the preparation and flavor is often different than when people associate curry with Indian cuisine. The Japanese preparation often includes a dark brown sauce, which is often milder than the intense flavor accompanied with the traditional Indian preparation. Curry is not limited to Japan and India. In fact, it is commonly found in dishes prepared throughout Asia, S.E. Asia, West Asia, and Britain.

The versatility of curry is the perfect reason why I am adding it to my spice rack. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe curry is an intense spice, but the more I cook with it, the less intimidated I become!

I have so much to learn about cooking with curry, but I think this recipe is the perfect introductory recipe for those wanting to enter into the world of curry. This is a simple recipe and the blend of honey, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and curry makes an excellent combination.

If anyone has a favorite recipe using curry, please post a link and I will have to try it out!

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Curry and Dijon Baked Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ tablespoon curry powder (increase the amount for a more intense and spicy flavor)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. Prepare the chicken by removing any skin and flatten the pieces so they are an even thickness.
  2. Mix the honey, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, curry powder, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes in a bowl.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix until the chicken is evenly coated.
  4. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 3 hours. The longer, the better!
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Lightly grease a baking sheet or dish and lay out the chicken pieces in the pan.
  7. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken over.
  9. Return the chicken to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  10. Note: As the chicken bakes, keep an eye on the pan to see if the juices begin to brown. As the browning begins to form, add water to the pan. I often use about 1 to 1½ cups of water. The water will loosen the brown parts from the bottom of the pan, thicken with a little additional cooking time, and make an excellent sauce to pour over the chicken after it bakes.

This dish goes well served with brown rice and Roasted Vegetables with Soy Sauce and Ginger. Watch for a future post on the perfect way to cook brown rice. It does not involve a rice cooker or the stove top…
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Posted in Recipes. Tags: , . 21 Comments »

Roasted Vegetables with Soy Sauce and Ginger

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I have often prepared this vegetable combination with an Italian flavor, but recently adapted the recipe to an Asian flavor. Both styles taste very good. I will have to post the recipe for the Italian version sometime! This is such a simple recipe…just add the flavors you like best and you can’t go wrong!

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Roasted Vegetables with Soy Sauce and Ginger

2 small eggplant (Japanese-style eggplant is preferred, but not required)

2 carrots

½ onion

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped (I often add more than this!)

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Slice the eggplant, carrots, and onions into long, thin strips.
  2. Finely chop the clove of garlic.
  3. Slice the fresh ginger into small sticks.
  4. Place the eggplant, carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger into a heavy baking dish. I prefer to use a dish from LeCreuset’s Traditional Stoneware collection.
  5. Pour the soy sauce, olive oil, and black pepper over the vegetables.
  6. Stir to cover.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  8. Roast the vegetables for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and gently turn the vegetables.
  10. Return the vegetables to the oven to roast for another 10-15 minutes or until they just begin to soften. The carrots will still have a slight crisp-ness to them. (Depending on your oven, you might not need to roast the vegetables too long after turning them the first time.)

A closer look at a dish from the LeCreuset Traditional Stoneware collection.

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