Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cooking in Japan--Breakfast

I am always curious about what people eat in other countries, so I thought I'd post a list of what we eat here. I also want to use this list to remind me of meal ideas and to also help the teachers that move here and have no idea what to eat. I really struggled with food the first time we moved here, but now I have a much easier time figuring out what to feed my family. I count this as a great blessing in my life!

A few points about this list:
A.) A lot of this food is totally American. I am slowly learning to cook some more Japanese food, so hopefully more Japanese home cooking gets on this list!
B.) So much white flour. For shame! Unfortunately, you can't buy whole wheat flour in Japan unless you want to pay a TON of money. You in the U.S. can always substitute whole wheat flour, of course.
C.) Most of my recipes are from or random food blogs. I like Favorite Family Recipes.
D.) Most of the stores here carry different specialty items, so sometimes you have to shop at a few stores to get the best deals or to find particular items, like good pickles, pesto, etc. But it's amazing the things you can find here if you're willing to travel!
E.) Expect to see ALOT of rice on the menu. Rice is Japan's bread and is pretty much eaten at every meal.

Okay, the meals. We'll just do breakfast today:


Norwegian Pancakes (basic crepe recipe but in our family we fill them with lemon and brown sugar). Crepes are very popular in Japan, too!

Pancakes--no buttermilk in Japan, so you can make your own by putting a couple of Tablespoons of lemon juice into a cup of milk or so.

Oatmeal--*this is a specialty item you have to order from Foreign Buyer's Club or Costco here, and it's about $20 for a bulk box of whole oats. My sis Laris will love that I am totally sold on the whole oats now, not quick oats. Worth every penny!

French Toast

Scrambled eggs and toast

Chicken and Rice--Fox doesn't eat eggs, so in the mornings, I toss in half a cup of rice and 2 frozen chicken breast halves in the rice cooker with a little broth. The chicken cooks perfectly by the time the rice is done. Awesome!

Miso soup and rice--Occasionally, we'll do the traditional miso soup, but I'm still perfecting my recipe. Instant miso soup is another option, although salty. We buy a big tub of mixed red/white miso. So yummy! The internet is full of miso soup recipes.

Fried rice--I like fried rice for breakfast, especially if we had rice for dinner the night before and had leftovers. Just rice in oil with green peppers, onion, garlic and a little soy sauce. Sometimes I add cabbage, shrimp, or scrambled eggs.

Brazilian rice--? Not sure if this is the correct name, but this is Fox's second favorite breakfast. He just puts rices in a bowl with some milk and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. He has always loved this for breakfast, although I'm not sure how he got the idea to eat rice like this.

Frosted flakes--Ack! I can't believe I'm saying this, but sometimes I buy the only cereal you can buy here, which is frosted flakes. For when I'm feeling lazy or we're in a rush out the door. My kids eat this and an hour later have a huge sugar crash.

Yogurt parfaits-- I follow a variation of this Stovetop Granola recipe, which is amazing! It works perfectly, since I don't like baking granola in my tiny ovenwave (microwave that doubles as an oven). Plain yogurt is super cheap, too, so I flavor it with vanilla and put in the granola and bananas. Yummy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kanonji Koens

Ask anyone living here, and they will tell you that Kanonji is a boring city (hmmm...sounds a little like Logan, right?). There isn't much to do. They will also say, though, that it is perfect for families--small, quiet, safe, and lovely koens (parks).
We have been making a slow tour of the local parks, and on Sunday, we went to Ichinomiya Park, which is a really nice one on the beach.
It has a really cool climbing area:

Fox is super happy...He just discovered this park has obstacle courses, Ninja-warrior style:

A lovely view! This reminds me of California:

Coco on a big ol' Napa cabbage in a random play area of ceramic produce:

Here is Cash at his favorite park, Furono Taki or the "waterfall" park. It has a couple of waterfalls, and really good hiking trails:

My dad would be happy to know that almost every park has a zip line! While our city might be boring, there is a beach nearby, so that makes up for it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


As many of you know, we were not affected by the earthquake or tsunami at all. Well, actually I guess we were affected. The earthquake moved Japan 8 feet closer to America. The lower part of our island had a small tsunami, but nothing too bad. Everyone in our prefecture is actually quite shocked that we didn't feel...well, aftershocks.
There has been a ton of news coverage of Japan and the tsunami, nuclear reactor problems, etc. We don't have TV, so most of our sources have been online or the TVs on we have seen in stores, etc. I just wanted to share this article, called In Tragedy, Japan impresses the World. I have seen several articles about how impressed people are with the way the Japanese people are handling it, and I wholeheartedly agree. One reporter interviewed a Japanese man who spoke of his anger over the tragedy, yet he never raised his voice. People here aren't looting or cursing the government. They are sad and upset, yes. But they do what they need to do. They call it "Japanese Stoicism", which I think is kind of a weird way of putting it. I'm not sure how I would put it--maybe unfailing politeness and considerate determination? Whatever "it's" called, there is really no way you can describe the Japanese attitude. They are the kindest people, and the main reason we came back to Japan. The country can be crazy at times, but the people are amazing.
We're praying that this country gets a break from any other disaster for a while. Meanwhile, we are building up our food storage! Thank you for your love and concern.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

More Cake!

I just noticed that there has been cake in all of our posts recently--so now, more cake! March 3rd was Girls' Day in Japan, so since there are girls in our household, we received some sweets from our landlord and students to wish us good luck and health.

Fun! I always love Girls' Day, because the stores decorate really well and always have big displays of pink--strawberries, candy, cakes, etc. They also blast the Hinamatsuri song everywhere, which I personally think is kind of creepy dark music, but I'm sure the lyrics are nice.
On a side note, we sometimes take walks to main downtown Kanonji, where there are several shops and the post office. The street lamps all have speakers attached to them, and they are usually blasting really cheesy English songs from the 70s. I think it is so funny--like who is in charge of the music here?

This week, we have all been sick, too. Fox and the kiddos have decided to be polite and wear the customary sick masks:

I haven't worn one--tsk tsk! Maybe if I found one in pink?