Monday, October 26, 2009

Bakin' Time! V

Now that bro's mini birthday muffins are gone (http://diaryofajapanadian.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-bro-just-turned-33-on-friday.html), it's dad's 61st birthday tomorrow (28th). I had a day off today, and I decided to bake him a g√Ęteau pre-d'anniversaire.

Sis requested I bake my Gateau Chocolat that I once made on St. Valentine's Day for family. Hmmmm, I'm thinking, it's good but it isn't exactly birthday-cake-y in my opinion. I want festive, not chic. Besides, dad's been under a bit of depression and I wanted something visually more entertaining.

Two hours of pondering and going through my book of collected recipes (yes, I have a recipe book) as well as surfing the net for visual inspiration (and actually ending up on weddingcake.com) later, I decided to try and create something completely new.

Half-granting sis' request, it's a chocolate cake, and I am using my best-ever recipe. I am frosting it with my again best-ever whipped-with-cream-cheese cream and topping it with coconut shreds. And, "borrowing" some of mom's lovely geraniums (hi, mom!), I decorated the face with petals with various colors.


What do you think?

It has a rather tropical feel than is birthday-like, but oh well. Whatever lifts my dad's spirt up.

Until next time,

Sak


Sunday, October 25, 2009

October Sky

I never saw the film October Sky, but I heard it has a pretty touching story.

There is no story about this, but I was pretty darn touched by the October sky that I happened to see from my parents' frontyard.


For 3 breath-taking minutes. I stood there almost in owe.

Until next time,

Sak

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bakin' Time! IV

My bro just turned 33 on Friday. Sent him a text message after work wishing him the best possible year of his life so far, and promising that I would be baking something on Sunday (today) for him. I press "send" and I'm thinking, "What a sweet sister am I!? Mhahahaha I'm the better one!" ...not to mean sis and I hold a which-one-of-us-is-the-better-sister competition every year on our beloved brother's birthday (...well we do but she doesn't know! Mhahahahaha!) Then a couple of hours later he replied and said, "Thanks, both of you! The folks called first thing in the morning and sang 'Happy Birthday' on the phone."

-_-

A lesson learned: never can two sisters together beat the doting parents.

Anyways, I do mean what I wrote him in my message, and hope my only brother who is becoming a father in a few months has the best year.

And sorry I left my camera at my flat when I came to my folks' this weekend and had to make do with my cell phone. Here are my promise for bro baked true, chocolate and blueberry mini muffins (I did not plan the blueberry ones but mom wanted me to get rid of the leftover berries from the last time I baked that were taking up much of her freezer space.)


Until next time,

Sak

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Catcher in the Rice

Well, the title of this post has nothing to do with anything, really.

No, there is no one in the crops waiting to catch the running children right on the edge. I just thought, when I saw the golden field with the sun shining down on it, J.D. Salinger had something in his mind not too far from the image above when he wrote his masterpiece. Except it's not a rye field you are looking at here. The crops happen to be rice, in my parents' neighborhood, ready to be harvested.

Just something I stumbled upon on my lovely day off one autumn day.

Until next time,

Sak

Friday, October 16, 2009

Roses Are Red. Violets Are Blue.



Roses
are red
Violets are blue
Tilting your head
The stalk stands askew
As the petals spread
Lovely is your hue
A lonesome night, I lay in bed
On my side, there's you


My father's family name meaning "wisteria" and my Japanese name "cherry blossoms," I quite naturally feel very tender towards flowers (notice my half-stealing the first passage of a work by Dickens here?). I lived in a house where mom always displayed all sorts of seasonal flowers, arranged decadently or simply, in a vase or a pot. Her garden is constantly in colors, altering its diversity as the seasons change, which is surprisingly often, might I add. I am quite utterly amazed at the earth for its versatility, really. I can't help but wonder if it's mom that pulls it off the way it's done. Is she truly skilled with the art of gardening and really knows what she is doing, or does it just happen that way? Growing up, I took the little luxury of living among flowers for granted, and now expect it.

I am the type of a person that "buys" flowers. Quite frequently, too. But nothing beats "receiving" them. I like it as much as receiving a hand-written letter or a card. I don't understand it when my gal pals say -and quite a few of them have told me this too - that they don't have an appreciation when a man shows up at her door with a bouquet: a notion that I cannot conceive of for the life of me.


There are three kinds of gifts that can not, CANNOT, possibly fail to make me happy. One, hand-written letters. Two, flowers. Flowers make me happy. Happy is me with flowers. Flowers and happiness. So when a gifted American Beauty blooms beside me while I lay fast asleep, I am having a good night.

Oh, another kind of gift that cannot possibly fail to make me happy... well, I will write about it some other time.

Until next time,

Sak

p.s. The rose was not a gift from a man, S. So save your inquiries.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Rehab

Hello, everyone. I am Sak and I am a shopaholic. I am off impulsive compulsive shopping for two years and 10 months, during which I have been trying my very best not to accumulate when it comes to "things" - with exception of books. In my California years, I allowed myself too much freedom and gave my tendency to over-indulge too much control over my life. I went a little too far and ended up having to give so much up in the end when I had to move to another country. That's when it hit me: I am sick and I need help.

It's good for me. Now I think (gasp!) when I see and want. I started out by reducing the amount I "see" so that I do not "want" to begin with. That wasn't the hardest part of my rehab, though. It was when I had to fight my urge that seemed to be in me naturally to make a decision not based on the price but on whether I really need it or not. And I made it a rule that "it makes me feel good to have it" is not a good enough reason for my "needing it" any more like it used to mean. Which is really hard for an impulsive compulsive shopaholic.

Just so you get a better idea of how bad my addiction was, I once went to an electronic store to buy a toaster and came home with a 50-something inch high def television. Another time I went to a Bloomingdale's to buy a Christmas present for mom and ended up swiping my plastic for a pair of Manolo boots on sale (which, in my defense, I will wear for the rest of my life as long as I can walk, damn it).

As far as I'm confessing, I also have a very bad habit of buying both colors when I can't chose between black or gray, navy or olive, brown or dark brown, red or crimson or scarlet or Hawaiian sunset or Bloody Mary.... you get the idea. When in doubt, I don't chose (a concept only applied in shopping...I think and hope).

Anyway, after two years and 10 months, I am actually doing well with my rehab. It helps that everything is a tad too expensive in Japan. I have my occasional cheat moments but mostly, I consider myself "in control" now.

Anyway, what made me really happy last Sunday took place when I "saw" and "wanted" and "made a decision" to buy it. A complete fail of my rehab it was, yet, how could I deny my heart this?


A bookmark found at a book store that has become my favorite place. The cutest find that was under 2 bucks. Need it? No. Want it? Badly. I gave my heart a "go" sign.

The book that my new-found love is to be used in first is On Writing by Stephen King. I am reading this for the second time, after I got it back from a student who wanted to read this and didn't return it back to me for two years. A very good book with my favorite kind of writing style by Mr. King. Highly recommend it to all that writes in English.


Until next time,

Sak

A "Devil" Moment

The cutest little devil I have laid my eyes on...



...at a Halloween event (that I stumbled upon when I was at the place for something else) over the weekend. Totally made my day.

I had to take the pics in a stalker-ish way, 'cause I don't know this kid at all. It was great how he hardly ever moved an inch despite everything else that was moving around him and came in a blur.


Happy early Halloween!

Until next time,

Sak

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bakin' Time! III Part II

I realize that, my previous entry in which I expressed my disappointment (and sometimes in a rather euphemistically affluent manner at times) after a grocery shopping under a rather materialistically challenged circumstance, defeated the purpose of my keeping this blog, elements of happiness. So I do apologize first and foremost to my faithful readers.

I forgot to buy aluminum cups to bake blueberry muffins in. They are essential for my 'ffins because I put in A LOT of berries. When you bake with weighty fruit, they tend to stay at the very bottom, and they are very hard to come off when you take them out of the mold, unless you are using a silicon one.

Nothing in my life has turned silicon or been added silicon just yet...if ever.

So, change of plan: I cut one third of berries, which is actually still more than what the most of the recipes for berry muffins would tell you to use. I am quite an imperative-hater, I tell you.


Aftermath: a tad short of creaminess that I was aiming for, probably because I had to use yogurt instead of sour cream (due to the, again, materialistically challenged circumstance that I am facing).

My family loves them, though. So will S, I hope.

Until next time,

Sak

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bakin' Time! III Part I

It's a hazy afternoon. A little chilly out, the ground moist from the morning shower. October has arrived. And it means I start missing the crackling sound of the fireplace back in British Columbia. Ah, the smell of the cedars that got the fire going. Just around this time of year, we would go out to a farm town to make bottles of apple cider full of car trunk, and on the way home, pick up some pumpkins to curve the end of the month. The apple cider would then make a perfect drink on a very cold day in winter, heated with a cinnamon stick or two. Served hot. Your icy hands turning warm from holding the mug.

Japan is not quite endowed with fireplace, apple cider or pumpkin, but I will not let the fact discontinue my proudly playing my part as a Canadian at heart. S requested that I go with muffins the next time I decide to sift and mix, so I immediately had my pumpkin muffins in mind. They are my autumn limited specials in which a non-pumpkin fan friend of mine actually fell in love with. Simply a divinity.

I was so looking forward to make the magic happen... until it failed. At a very early stage of the process, too.

They don't have pumpkin cans at a major supermarket in Japan...

-_-

#('&*@')''$%'&!!! What the flipping hell? Are they crazy?? Wait, wait, wait, let me pull myself together .... (inhale)...ARE THEY FUCKING CRAZY?!??



I thought I was getting somewhat used to the shortage and the sometimes complete lack of my beloved items food-wise (cilantro, turkey, crunchy peanut butter, pastrami, corn bread, sour cream, rice crispy, just to name a few.) But now with no pumpkin cans available in my nearest supermarket, I am seriously considering writing a book titled Tsukiji My Ass -Seriously Behind is Japanese Dining of Today. I shall nicely put it right between my two other books: Unicorns, Goblins and Gentlemen -Mythical Creatures in the Land of Samurai and They Have No Problem Hitting Their Children in Public But They Give Fragile Handshakes. Let me elaborate on the the books sometime when I have the chance. You can pretty much take them literally, though, I assure you.

Aaaaaaaaaaanyways.

No pumpkin cans means no magical pumpkin muffins a la sak. But since I was at the supermarket already, and since I still wanted to bake on my day off the next day, I decided to go with blueberries.

To be continued,

Sak

p.s. Just to give Japan some credit, I did some research after the saddening experience and turns out, pumpkin cans are available, but they are a rarity at a local supermarket. Never thought to see the day when I have to place an order for pumpkin cans on line would come.