Tag Archives: food

Naoberly’s Noodle Tour: More Ramen at Home

Speaking of ramen…Naoto made homemade broth on Saturday and it was a step-up in flavor from the Furious Spoon version! He is going to try a bunch of different recipes until we find the perfect blend for us! We used this recipe which is chicken based and seemed easy enough for a “quick” broth. It took about four hours from beginning to end and we had enough for our two bowls, and a huge container to freeze for leftovers.

With the broth recipe, you first roast chicken wings and vegetables (to intensify their flavors.)

Next, you boil the roasted chicken and vegetables for hours along with shiitake mushrooms and aromatics.

By the end, the meat is falling off the bone and the broth is a deep brown. You’re never supposed to let it boil; it just  barely simmers on low for hours. This keeps it from getting cloudy. (No one likes a cloudy broth!)

In the end, you strain the broth and you’re left with a giant bowl of spent chicken and vegetables.

Here’s the final product. We added chashu (using the Furious Spoon recipe,) a soft-boiled egg (that was a little overdone,) and scallions. I love the Hokkaido-style ramen at Misoya so Naoto made buttered corn and roasted potatoes to add to mine. It was a fun experiment for a Saturday! I kind of wish we’d started this earlier in the pandemic! There’s time to perfect Hasegawa Ramen before winter!

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In My Mailbox: Treats From Hawaii

Naoto’s host family in Hawaii sent us a care package last week and it was so full of Aloha goodness! I got some new flip flops (or slippahs) for lounging on the lanai, a wallet that I can use for my cash at craft shows, and some very kawaii face masks! Naoto is going to wear the blue one to Trader Joe’s! There was also this sweet little wallet made from Japanese fabric. It will make a nice stamp or business card holder. (One cannot have too many traveling stamp options!) And there were these fun handmade cards and a Japanese bookmark. And…my favorite–this Japanese clutch. Isn’t it so fun? It has a large pocket behind the kiss clasp section and is more than big enough for my phone. I am so excited to leave my home again someday just so I can carry this. Along with those treats, they sent all sorts of Hawaiian snacks. (And some Japanese snacks for Naoto, including baby clam instant miso soup.) I have mixed feelings about mochi, but we are really enjoying this sakura mochi this weekend.

Naoto is so excited to have a little taste of Hawaii at home and as always, I love a good surprise in the mail.

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Bread Mail

sandwich letter set, japanese stationeryI ate a lot of sandwiches in Japan during our last visit. Sandwiches in Japan are among my favorite things. (This should be a #JDIB post…I need to look through my pictures.) To commemorate the many sandwiches, I bought this “sando” letter set while we were in Okinawa.

Last week on Instagram, Assembly of Text did a little challenge for writing a letter about your relationship with bread. My pen pal, Nic, and I had a little online chat about the challenge but I decided to write her a bread love letter, too. bread stickersThen I remembered that I have a little collection of bread stickers to share. I bought these at Loft a couple years ago and found them tucked away in my Japan hoard drawer. They have a really nice texture and really pretty, soft illustrations of Japanese bakery items, including strawberry bread, which I regret to say I’ve never tried.Japanese bread stickers, croissant, Japan bakeryAren’t they so cute and carby? I had these little cats with cakes envelopes so I figured they are on-theme enough. The silver foil fork and the tiny paw reaching for the cake slay me. The sandwich letter set isn’t made for a verbose letter, but it was enough room to tell Nic all about my love of sandwiches in Japan. Japanese bread stickers, washi stickers, watercolor stickersAlso found in my Japanese hoard drawer…these washi bread stickers! Japanese bread stickers, washi stickers, watercolor stickersThey’re made of washi, so they have a really pretty transparency. It’s hard to tell from my pictures, but the colors are almost neon, which makes the browns of the bread much more fun. I used these to decorate the envelope.hightide washi tape, pancake washi tape, japanese pancakeThen I remembered this Japanese pancake washi tape I bought in Tokyo that would fit in with the carb theme. hightide washi tape, pancake washi tape, japanese pancakeI stuck a little piece on the envelope flap and wrote #carbmail on the envelope, though I really like #breadmail better.

This was a fun little morning activity that made me look through my stash to see what could fit. It also reminded me (yet again) that not every letter needs to be long and in detail about my day or about staying home or pandemic fears. As a matter of fact, it was a nice break NOT to talk about the weirdness of now.

 

 

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Okinawa Part 1: Tourists & Taco Rice

hasegawa happy hour, okinawa We always take a little side trip away from Tokyo when we visit Japan and this year, our trip was to Okinawa. Okinawa is a small island in southern Japan. It really felt so much like Hawaii to me! We stayed in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa. It really felt like Honolulu to me. It was beachy and carefree, with a huge strip of shopping and restaurants and lots of tourists. Our first night, we checked out the strip and ate at a little Okinawan izakaya that had Orion beer and taco rice, Naoto’s favorites. We started with drinks. Naoto had an Orion beer and I had a shikuwasa cocktail. Shikuwasa is native to Okinawa and Taiwan and it’s a citrus that is kind of bitter and really sour. It makes a really good cocktail with shochu and soda. We ordered gyoza (shown above) which really hit the spot. Next we had a salad with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, scallions, pork, and a citrusy dressing. Then we had Okinawan sweet potato fries dipped in honey. Seriously, honey is under-utilized as a dipping sauce in America! We should take a break from ranch dressing and eat more honey!And the main dish: taco rice! It’s basically a taco salad but on a bed of rice. We’ve made it at home before and it’s really good and comforting. I told Naoto we should make it this week and share the recipe so I’ll keep you posted. The version we usually make doesn’t have cheese, but let’s be honest–everything is better with a little shredded cheddar!  After dinner, we strolled around the tourist area and I picked up some stationery (surprise, surprise) and we got some salt. Okinawan salt is a “thing” so we bought some shikuwasa salt and onion salt to bring home. I really loved the paper onigiri in the store display. 

 

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Dried Persimmons

persimmons drying Norio and Hisae gave us the best omiyage–dried persimmons!

Norio’s dad air dries persimmons every year and I can’t believe we are the lucky recipients of some of these little gems. Norio sent me some pictures so I could show you how it happens–doesn’t tying each one up look so time-intensive? He starts by peeling the persimmons and then he dips them in shochu. Then he ties them up outside for a few weeks. The actual amount of time varies, depending on the weather. He kneads the persimmons periodically to soften them and bring out the sweetness.After a few weeks, they get nice and shriveled. And their color darkens, too. After about a month or so, this is what they look like when they’re ready. The white dust is not mold, it’s sugar! We brought some home with us and broke into them a few weeks ago and made a little cheese board to eat while we watched ParasiteLook at all of that delicious sugar! Hisae recommended eating them with a cheese like manchego so that’s what we did. We just sliced one up and added it to cheese and a cracker. It was a perfect match!

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Niigata Dinner

Hisae and Norio (Naoto’s sister and her husband) took us out to dinner in Shibuya while we were in Japan. They live in Mie, which is quite a bit away from Tokyo, but they took the shinkansen to spend an evening with us. It was really fun to hang out with them. Hisae is so sweet and Norio is kind and funny. We haven’t seen them both together since their wedding many years ago! We have seen Hisae on all of our other trips to Japan, but we haven’t seen Norio in years because he is so busy working. The izakaya, Takumi, specializes in Niigata food. You may remember that Niigata is where they grew up. My favorite thing about izakaya eating is that you can order tons of small plates and try a bunch of different things. We had kaarage (fried chicken,) shrimp tempura, amazing sushi, and pickled eggplant. And smoked fish, cartilage and sperm sac…just kidding, I did not eat the cartilage or sperm sac. Then there was noppe, a vegetable stew, and tomago (egg) with herbs. Our last dish was this fried tofu with scallions which was really good, but really oily and rich…a good dish for drinking. At the end of the meal, they brought out a huge tray of noodles and we each had our choice of dipping sauce. I got the tomato dipping sauce which was really unusual, like nothing I’ve had in Japan before. It was a rich red and super concentrated with tomato flavor. I ate soooo many noodles because I liked it so much. I haven’t been able to find a good recipe like this online but I’m sure trying!

Let’s do it again soon, Hisae and Norio!

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Naoberly’s Noodle Tour: Afuri Ramen

Believe it or not, we only had ramen once while we were in Tokyo. I know, I know…what a waste of our visit during the cold months! But seriously, there is so much to eat in Japan…it’s hard to not explore a thousand different cuisines there! Afuiri Ramen SangenjayaWe found Afuri near our hotel in Sangenjaya. (It’s been there since 2014! How were we sleeping on this for so long?!) It’s a chain, so you can find them all over Tokyo (and even in Portland!) Their specialty is yuzu ramen, so you know I was a happy camper eating here!ramen ticket machine, Afuri RamenIt’s the kind of ramen shop where you order at the machine and get a ticket to present at the counter, but it’s a fancy computerized ticket machine with pictures! (Also, pro-tip…you should choose your meal on the menu outside and then go to the machine when you know exactly what you want…otherwise you look like a dumb American, not that I would know how this feels…) Afuiri Ramen SangenjayaI had the Yuzu Shoyu Ramen, which is a chicken and dashi shoyu (soy sauce) broth with all of the traditional ramen toppings. It may have been my favorite chicken broth ever. It was bright and citrusy because of the yuzu but the shoyu made it a little bit more robust. Naoto had a special dumpling ramen that I couldn’t find on the website.

Now writing this, I’m totally in the mood for ramen.

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German in Japan

German beer in JapanNot every plan works out perfectly in Japan. On our nengajo day, we had a plan to go to the post office, to the Kitte mall, and to the Tokyo Station Traveler’s Store. While we were at Tokyo Station, we planned to eat at a pretty famous ramen shop in the train station. By the time we were ready for lunch, we were starving and didn’t realize the level of popularity of the ramen shop…the line was so long, it was wrapped around several other shops at the station and we would have had to wait probably upwards of three hours…I wish we’d gotten a picture because it was insanity.

So, it was lunch time at one of the busiest train stations in the city and we had no other plan. So we wandered around the station, trying to find someplace, anyplace that didn’t have a long line. We ended up at a German restaurant. At first I was really disappointed…I felt like we were wasting one of our few meals in Japan at a place we’d settled on. German restaurant in Tokyo, omirice Buuuut…they had omurice, which is Naoto’s favorite Japanese comfort food. He even sang a song about it.

The omurice was a little bit different at the German place. Usually it’s more ketchup based, but here it was more of a brown sauce. But Naoto really enjoyed this spin on his favorite dish. Japanese salibury steakI had the Salisbury steak (hamburg,) which is also a common Japanese comfort food. (Usually, if you can order omurice at a restaurant, you can also order Salisbury steak.) Mine came with fries and really great carrots.

So, an unexpected lunch ended up being a hit…it would have been nice to have tried the amazing ramen shop, but I think we did all right for the circumstances…plus I got to have a melon soda which is always a treat.

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Italian in Tokyo

Every year we explore Sangenjaya more and more and find all sorts of great little gems in our hotel neighborhood. We always talk about staying someplace else but I really just love going back to the same spot and since we’re still finding things we love there, why not?

This time we found this cute little Italian spot and it was one of the best meals of our trip. (I know I say that a lot…but seriously, the food in Japan is almost always amazing.)dried fava beans with cinnamonFor starters, we got these cinnamon coated fava beans that were delicious and weird and just a tiny bit sweet. salad with yuzu dressingAnd we got a salad with chicken and yuzu dressing…it’s hard to ever say no to yuzu. Italian gyozaWe were really intrigued by these Italian gyoza on the menu. They were filled with regular gyoza fillings (cabbage, pork, garlic, ginger) but were topped with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan. When we ordered them, I thought they’d have a different filling, something more…Italian? But they were really good and we want to recreate something similar at home. butter shoyu pastaAnother dish we want to perfect at home is butter shoyu pasta…this one had cremini mushrooms and chives on top…it’s umami heaven. If we ever find a good recipe, I’ll share it here. margharita pizzaAnd of course we ordered margharita pizza…Japan really does a charred crust so well.

sparkling wineNeither of us remember what cocktails we had to start…we really need to be better about writing our little food diaries down since it’s something we enjoy so much on our travels. But my second drink was this filllllled to the brim glass of sparkling wine and it was delightful. We also had tiramisu for dessert and failed to capture it, but it was the perfect end to another perfect meal in Tokyo.

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A Dispatch from the Forest Park Community Garden

Sorry for the radio silence this week. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been preparing the Forest Park Community Garden for the Forest Park Historical Society’s Home & Garden Walk. It’s the first year we’ve been featured on the walk and well, we had a lot of work to do! The garden usually looks fine, but we wanted to get some plantings done and clean some stuff up before we had official garden walk visitors. Some people in Forest Park don’t even know we have a community garden, so we wanted to be on the walk to raise awareness, increase our visibility, and hopefully get some new gardeners and people who want to be involved with the garden. The garden is officially ten years old in 2019 so there’s definitely some areas to refresh and improve, but money and man hours are always our challenge. We’ve been slowly rebuilding older plots and trying to repair things as needed. But July is really a great time to feature the garden because things are growing like crazy and most of our 55 plots are looking good! It was fun to show visitors what people are growing and how each gardener organizes his plot. These pictures were taken on Tuesday while I was doing some chores at the garden, but on Sunday it was sunny and hot. A few of us spent the day at the garden to host the tours and, even though we spent most of the day under a tent, I got a little sunburn. It’s been so hot here, and it’s supposed to be near 100 the rest of the week…thankfully it rained a ton today because the plants were starting to get dry and sad. This little future swallowtail is living in my dill right now. He’s a welcome visitor. So far this summer, we have harvested a ton of basil (pictured at the top) and some dill and parsley. (As always, I’m kicking us for not growing more spring vegetables but it was such a weird spring!) Our tomatoes are battling white flies again, but we have a few on the vine, so hopefully we’ll have a harvest soon. Naoto’s edamame is growing like crazy and our chamomile and carrots are doing just fine. It’s always an adventure in Plot 6 and around the garden!

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