Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weekend Cleaning

This past weekend saw some appropriately rainy weather for the season. I spent Saturday trimming, repotting, and trying to control the infestation of tiny black flies in the black mint in our balcony garden. We had dinner with Minako's father down the street at a Japanese seafood place with pretty good food. It was hard to enjoy the meal though because he was in a mood to talk, not so much to listen.

On Sunday Minako went to the Moriyama Daido exhibition (600kb PDF) at the Museum of Photography in Ebisu with a friend. Since my regular Sunday ultimate frisbee practice/pick-up was canceled due to rain this left me with time to pick up our apartment a bit. Our bedroom feels much more spacious this way, but there is still a long way to go before I can feel we have really finished unpacking. Minako has a lot of stuff. To be fair, I also would have a lot if I was living just a short walk from my childhood home.

Minako cooked some tasty minestrone soup and grilled a whole aji (鰺, horse mackerel) for dinner. I sautéed some cubes from the last of my whole wheat bread from last weekend in olive oil for croutons and made a green salad to round out the meal. The rain is keeping the temperature down nicely.

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Friday Quiche

On Friday I made a version of quiche lorraine from the Ultimate Recipe Book that Minako bought me last year. It's an interesting volume of what are apparently classic recipes in Britain. Each begins with a synopsis of the author's attempts to refine these recipes and which well known chefs she consulted along the way. The second half of each recipe describes the perfected process with accompanying photos of the steps. The ingredients are printed in bold in a sidebar so you can choose to skip right to the chase if you've already read the introduction.

I particularly enjoyed this approach because it gave me some small windows into the way other cultures approach food. Several of the recipes included were not previously familiar to me, such as the British version of flapjacks which are more like cookies than pancakes. Last year I also made the French onion soup from this book which turned out quite a lot stronger than expected— even on the second attempt.

In making the quiche I substituted some chopped spinach and cheddar cheese I had on hand for the bacon and gruyere the recipe called for. The crust came out far better than I had expected, although I did use the food processor to mix the dough as called for in the book. The final result was quite rich indeed, improving from something like an egg custard to a more substantial quiche with chilling.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday Malaysian

Had the extra-large version of the standard breakfast. Half a grapefruit, one slice of homemade toast with no sugar added peanut butter, and muesli with a banana over yogurt.

Work was relatively busy. One task was to convert a DVD of a school musical production to a size and format that would fit on the website. Not knowing anything about video formats, I'm still fiddling with settings in Handbrake to get a reasonable result. The other main task was to assist a teacher from the Japanese department in embedding some pages of text and images she had laid out on paper and had scanned in. Some training is definitely in order.

Thursday was supposed to be weeknight pickup but the fields we use are inside a middle school and they are very protective of them. Thus the morning rain canceled our ultimate for the week.

The silver lining was that when out of the blue Tia invited me to dinner in Ikebukuro I was free. She took me to a Malaysian place which had pretty tasty food with a homey atmosphere. Satoshi joined us a bit later after he got out of work.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday Japanese

Didn't have time for breakfast at home, packed leftovers from Wednesday night dinner (gnocchi in tomato sauce) and homemade white bread for lunch (via Joy of Cooking). Ate some of the bread with peanut butter and two bananas at my desk for breakfast instead. Work was quiet. Graduation day for the students- with the ceremony starting at 6pm.

Had a drink at Agary across the street with Wai Yee after work as she was over to do some banking at the HSBC branch. I tried the nashi (pear) infused "wine" while she had the matatabi infused "wine." The pear was alright but had that stale taste of being over-infused. The matatabi (text and pictures), a distant relative of the kiwi, was new to me and intensely medicinal, although not quite up to Unicum standards. This place has about 15 types of fruit liqueurs aging on the shelves, but I think I've tasted enough now. I'll be giving more though to the several plum wine recipes I had looked at which said to remove the fruit after one year of infusing.

I headed back home but had just fed Gin-chan when Minako's father showed up to deliver some of her mail and chat over green tea. After he left I made a meal of Japanese food:
miso soup from homemade dashi with naga negi and thinly sliced daikon, grilled hokke (a type of mackerel or greeling), plus a couple of Western dishes I made up on the spot. One was a sort of stew of potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, and mizuna flavored with dill weed, fresh dill, and cumin. I also randomly mixed up a side dish from cucumber, diced ginger, avocado, and sliced dried tomatoes. This seems like it would go well in maki-zushi. Bowls of 50/50 white and brown rice, a package of natto and a small plate of pickles from the pickle crock rounded out a satisfying dinner.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Firefox image strangeness

After setting up my new Windows XP work laptop with Firefox ( and all the other customizations I normally apply, I noticed that Firefox was no longer as robust as I used to remember. Freezing when opening PDFs, endless looping on some pages, and when opening images on their own, frequent messages to the effect of "[image name] cannot be displayed due to errors." After finally getting fed up with that last issue I went looking and found the solution- disable the Skype Firefox plugin. Apparently this plugin might be responsible for the other strangeness as well. This would go some distance towards restoring my faith in the stability of the application I use the most.

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Back to Blog

Thanks to the laid back hours at my new job as a network/systems administrator at the International School of the Sacred Heart I've got time to blog again. More importantly things have settled down in several parts of my life, letting me relax a bit and try and rebuild my connections as well as my online presence. Stay tuned!

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