Monday, November 30, 2009

Every shing-a-ling-a-ling (obligatory kit kat post)

Everyone seems to post about KitKat sooner or later, so I thought I'd get on in there.

Apple carrot KitKat: pretty good!It's so fucking cold lately, I hate it. It's dry and my skin is angry. I live in a house, which of course doesn't have central heating, so my heating/electricity bills are astronomical yet it's always freezing in here. Wearing a sweater in the house in winter seems reasonable but a scarf, slippers, and a jacket does not. Dammit.

One slim ray of sunshine in this dark, cold period is the song that the kerosene truck plays. Last year it was always The Carpenters (that Every Sha-la-la-la song) but this year it seems to be song kind of nostalgic kindy tune, with kiddy voices. I like it.

Why are The Carpenters so freaking popular in Japan? It's a mystery.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

pumpkin cranberry muffin madness

I've been making so many muffins lately. I make these muffins all the time, and they always turn out awesome. The recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's first cookbook. I love her recipes (she also posts recipes at The Post Punk Kitchen); they are so tasty and not hippy dippy and use common ingredients. Here's my mildly tweaked version.

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar (I usually use brown but white works too)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. each cloves, nutmeg, allspice (adjust to your taste - when I make this for Japanese people I usually lighten the spices, as they don't tend to appreciate the big fall spice mix)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (I use canned, which I find at Kaldi Coffee or Seijo Ishii import store, but you could use kabocha puree and it would work well)
spoonful of molasses, maple syrup, or vanilla, if you have them on hand.
a few handfuls of walnuts or dried cranberries (optional)

Whisk the dry ingredients together (except for the nuts/dried fruit). Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Fold the wet into the dry and mix until moistened. Fold in nuts or fruit if using. Spoon into a greased or paper-lined muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick or fork. It should come out clean. Devour.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Best Safety Match

It's lucky that I have an altar at my house, or I might have had to take up smoking, just so I could buy these.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

leg warmers all over the world!

In response to my last post, Scoot sent me pictures of her boy. Here he is rocking some fresh leggies. Makes me want to expand my collection.Can we get a close-up of that?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

banana and coconut

Somebody come help me eat all this.

Cream cheese frosting. HEAVEN.Adding coconut? GENIUS.

Oh yeah, and silicone pans are pretty stupid. Silicone spatulas? Brilliant! Silicone Silpat-style baking sheets, for going under cookies and things? Great! Floppy ass pans that bow under the weight of the cake you just baked as you're taking it out? Suck.

Monday, November 16, 2009

coin drop

My favorite thing about going to Tokaichiba, the rural-ish town I work in once a week, is the farm outlet produce packing warehouse with a ghost of a storefront. It has just a few baskets of fresh, cheap produce out front, and a jar with a coin slot tied to a string for honor-system payment. I stop in and grab some naganegi or a bunch of greens whenever I get the chance. I rarely pay more than a hundred yen. This summer, I got big bunches of basil there for ¥100 per bag and I made a big batch of pesto.

I was listening to Top 40 on the radio the other day and I heard that Sean Kingston song, Face Drop. I don't really know anything about him, but I kinda like this song, because he says
"'Cause you always try to fill me with doubt
Sayin' that I'd look better if I was thinner
Don't you know you shoulda loved me for my inner
When I left you, yo, I came out a winner"
And I think, though there are lots of songs with females talking about battling body image crap (TLC's Unpretty comes to mind, and India Arie's Video), with the possible exception of some obscure punk/indie stuff, boys don't talk about body image very much. It seems like there's a taboo about guys talking about their body insecurities; it's like they're not supposed to have them. But I have at least one guy friend who's struggled with anorexia, and know plenty of other guys who have body issues. (And I really like the rainbows coming out of Sean's chest in the video.)

I'm pretty tired of hearing about fat Americans and fat in general all the time. It's true that, as a country, we eat a lot of junk food and fast food and should take better care of ourselves. But I'm sick of the way, in Japan, it seems even more acceptable to make disparaging comments about people who aren't crazy skinny. I was reading about some Japanese model the other day who said that she weighed in at 97 pounds during her teenage modeling years, and she was called a fat cow by the other girls. That's just CRAZY talk.

I thought I had outgrown body insecurity a long time ago, but being in this country and some stupid boys have brought it back a little.

Monday, November 09, 2009

girls, rock your boys

I dreamed that I was teaching a music class, but I was getting irritated because all the kids were listening to Quiet Riot when I wanted them to focus on Queensrÿche. So, I said, "OY!" really loudly.

And I said it aloud IRL too, because I woke myself up it was so loud. And WTF? I don't even listen to those bands.

No pictures but three delicious restaurants in Yokohama lately:
Al Ain: an Arabic restaurant near Isezakichojamachi station or Kannai. They have belly dancing on weekends but I didn't see that. This is the best baklava I've found yet; pistachio, sweet but not cloyingly so, and using a light touch with the rosewater. I think too much rosewater and it tastes like soap. Also the chef came out and reached into our bread basket, manhandled the pita, tore it up, scooped up hummus, and handed a piece to each of us. I found this hilarious.

Ali Baba: a little Turkish hole in the wall, also in Kannai. If you click on the link, we were served by the guy on the left side of the photo. Friendly and tasty. And whoa, Tuesday is LADIES PARTY night. Might have to go back for that.

And then, La Tenda Rossa. There are about 2.5 million Italian restaurants in my immediate neighborhood, but but but this one had exceptionally good brick oven pizza. The waiter was kind of obsequious and brought over some huge white truffle that they were peddling for us to sniff. It's near Sakuragicho or Bashamichi and fancy white-tableclothish but not very expensive for a midrange Italian joint; my (super delicious!) margherita pizza was about 1300 yen. Exactly what kind of pizza are you missing, Beth?

Friday, November 06, 2009


This morning on the train a chimpira-ish boy made eye contact as we were heading toward the stairs. I didn't think much of it, but right as we approached the ticket gate, he paused, hung back, and then went through right in front of me. He touched his wallet to the Pasmo sensor. It flashed red, and the gate slammed shut, but he squeezed through the slim space and booked it, leaving me stuck and seemingly redhanded.

Fluke? I went through a functioning gate and continued my transfer to the subway, just a few paces behind him. He did it again entering the underground. The station agent didn't blink as the buzzer went off and the gate turned red, but just pushed a button and the gate went back to regular function.

Mostly I'm laughing to myself, because, what a punkass! But I'm a little miffed on two counts.

First, I think the little fucker set me up, looking to shift the blame.

Second, when I pulled that kind of crap in my miscreant youth, the gate guards almost always pursued me.

I am feeling just a tad oppressed. Fight the power.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

conversations with me

I ate lunch at Ikea on Monday, and it was delicious. For some reason, they have a bunch of vegetarian options, including ones that are quite hard to find outside of obscure little organic restaurants in the middle of nowhere. This is a vegetarian cutlet with tomato sauce that has soy mince in it.I came home late on Monday night after going to a show, having missed the last train and had to take a cab the last bit home. I didn't realize it at the time, but my brother said I was talking to myself pretty loudly. I do this. It's kind of embarrassing if someone else hears without me knowing it. Yikes. Reel in the crazy a little, girl.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

shoji carnage

This is what happens when you repaper the shoji doors with cats in the room.

Monday, November 02, 2009

two more

There is no rhyme or reason to how I pick out movies, I just grab things by the cover and whether it has subtitles. Often I find that I don't really need the titles, that I can understand most of what's going on. But once in awhile, I am completely lost. Teenage conversations? I can follow. War crimes tribunals? Not so much.Hana & Alice. This movie was weird, with many sequences that jumped around and seemed unrelated, but eventually added up to form a whole that made sense. I read that this started out as a series of short films (30!) for Kit Kat, but was so popular they made it into a feature. That explains the strung-together construction. Still, I enjoyed it. The main plot point is that Hana convinces her crush that he has amnesia and is in love with her. But it's more about friendships and burbling adolescent emotions. Quirky and not very saccharine for a movie about teenage girls.

Goyangireul Butakhae (Take Care of My Cat in English) is a K-flick about a group of friends, around 20 years old, living in Incheon. It's about growing up, I guess. I liked seeing the cultural differences between Korea and Japan. My mom said it was slow. I like slow movies.