home made

Vegan Dinner With A Side Of Deer Meat

Vegan followers don’t be offended! And meat-enthusiasts don’t run away! (Or do-what are you doing here? I joke I joke). Last night I had the most delicious vegan dinner prepared by my dear sister and yoga sensei Akiko Tanabe. And after, I almost hit a deer. These animals are taking over.

Turmeric couscous
Eggplant and green-bean tomato medley
Cucumber tomato and mint quinoa salad
Carrot ribbon, walnut, raisin and soft-dried apple salad
Lettuce, dried figs, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds green salad

Mazel tov!


We have to remember what’s important in life:

…friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third. -Leslie Knope

Perhaps two of the most delicious words in history and together, saliva inducing. Today, I made healthy waffles using THIS recipe and served them with home-made apple and raspberry compote and coconut oil and honey fried bananas, yoghurt, macadamia nuts and fresh strawberries.

So, speaking of friends and waffles and waffles and friends. My dear dear friend Lifa made this absolutely gorgeous piece of art, a one-off personal chopping board for me. Which, was gifted to me by his adorable son (my valentine) straight on arrival accompanied by the cutest”I love you” I’ve evereverEVER had the pleasure of hearing. TOO CUTE. This kid is driving me insane. Friends are everything. Wow, how incredibly lucky am I? Just look at it. So pretty! Made from local Hinoki Cypress, it’s light, smooth, warm and inviting! I look forward to using it again and again and again. Thank you, Lifa.

To see more of Lifa’s artistic creations, click HERE and while you’re at it, follow his Instagram, for all things wood (not that kinda wood), Japan, and KAWAII (Oz-kun – oh and of course, his beautiful wife, Akiko-san).
3 apples, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups raspberries
2 tbsp honey, maple or agave syrup (optional)
juice of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add apples, raspberries, honey and cinnamon, and ONE cup of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until thick. When nice and pulpy, stir in lemon juice. Can be eaten hot or cold.

fried nanas:
1 tbsp coconut oil
3-4 bananas, peeled and chopped, medium
1 tbsp honey

Melt coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add bananas and honey and GENTLY stir-fry until nice and yummy 3-5 minutes.

Everybody Was Tofu Fighting

I think it is time I start a “things cooked by Yuko” category don’t you? Last night she cooked Yudofu which is essentially hot tofu with vegetables (and chicken meatballs for Juri cos she’s still young and therefore, picky hehe). Here are the pictorials. Oh, and I bought and took over a pomelo. It was the ladies’ first time seeing and trying one so we had much fun around that. Tis was a bitch to open but in the end, good! We also had ichigo daifuku (strawberry mochi) prepared again, by Yuko. The last two images, are preparations for Hinamatsuri Doll’s Day or Girls’ Day, a special day in Japan (March 3) where platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period. Or as my students say, period-o (everything for them ends with a vowel).

Persian Wife Cake.

pinch of saffron strands
50ml of almond milk
2 cups ground almonds
3 free range eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil
zest of 2 oranges
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of shelled raw pistachios

1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup honey
pinch of saffron strands

Combine saffron and milk in a small glass and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Let sit.

Preheat oven to 180C

Mix all remaining cake ingredients (except pistachios) together using a fork or a spoon or a food processor. Not your fingers.

At last, add heated saffron/milk mixture (should be yellow) to the batter. Mix well.

Pour batter into a round greased cake tin.

Top with pistachios.


For 35-40 min or until the fork comes out clean.

To make the syrup, do as you did with the previous saffron/milk mixture. Combine milk, honey and saffron in a small glass and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Let sit.

When cake is done, make a few pokes in it using a fork then pour the syrup in.

Let cool completely before inverting onto a plate.

Serve with yoghurt and love and yoghurt.

A cheap organic cafe in Okayama

Yes, such a combination DOES exist! And even more surprisingly so, in JAPAN, where health-foods are as expensive as diamonds. Seriously, $20 for a jar of coconut oil? $25 for a pinch of Acai powder? Are these peeps for realz?

Anyways, close to Okayama city is an adorable cozy cafe run by an elderly hippie couple  called “Nono Cafe“. It’s cheap, it’s organic and it’s absolutely, seriously, Iswearmylifeonit delicious.

They’re only open three days a week (Sat Sun and Mon) as it takes time creating everything by hand (homemade tofu, pickles, miso, konjac etc… even the fruit and vegetables they grow themselves).

Each day the meal on offer is different. It is traditional Japanese cuisine with a twist. You get one starter, one big plate filled with a variety of delicious things and a small “dessert”. I use quotation marks because everything is healthy but, everything is also delicious – wait, did I say that already? Ah well, it’s worth saying again.

You have to go there. It’s my favourite eatery in Japan, yet.


Three Food Bloggers I Wish Were My Friends

There are gazillions of foodies on the internet but frankly, 99% are the same. Seriously, if I see another excessively decorated nana ice-cream or ridiculously high and overly sauced buckwheat pancake stack, I’m going to debeak a chicken myself. GASP (oh no she didn’t).

However; I absolutely adore the following three women – even though I’ve never actually met them. Alas, thanks to the power of the internet, they have become my inspiration. Of course, they don’t need the publicity, especially from an amateur-blogger like me (I’m not fishing I swear) but for a while now, I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to them, so here it is:

Eleanor Ozich of Petite Kitchen
Fellow Kiwis, we’re SO blessed to have this lady in our homeland. Based in Auckland, Eleanor’s focus is on simple wholefood recipes. Recipes which are often naturally free of gluten, dairy and refined-sugar. But not always. For she has something delicious for every palette. ‘Simple’ is the word Eleanor uses again and again which is undoubtedly, what makes her blog so popular. I wish Eleanor were my friend so I could play with her two (and one on the way) absolutely adorable curly-blonde-haired children, trade dresses with (both she and her style are gorgeous) and be able to join in on (and thus eat at) her warm and cosy picnics and dinners.

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vegan cake 3

Heidi of Apples Under My Bed
Heidi is a Melbourne-based recognised and practising dietician. Her blog is her diary about food, travel, cooking and life as we know it. Heidi’s approach is real and honest. I love her posts. I love her recipes and I love her newly born daughter. Joan is so tiny but her eyes so big. I am truly gaga over her. If I could only use two words to describe Apples Under My Bed, they’d be cozy and comfort. I wish Heidi were my friend so I could wrap up in her blankets and eat her delicious home cooked talent. Oh and borrow (and forget to return) her vintage spoons and cloth napkins.

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Siri Barje aka Olive Hummer 
Siri is a trained chef at the Grythyttans Restaurant School. Sometimes she lives in Dubai and others in Stockholm. Her blog is about “real food. No damn diets, detox or bad conscience juices.” Siri says “breakfast is important. Eat pasta. Do not forget lunch.” I LOVE HER. Her recipes are bold, colourful and unfailingly flavoursome and so is she herself! Her posts are always so entertaining. Her personality is SO great! I wish Siri were my friend so I could stroke her luscious hair (seriously it’s insane), eat her delicious creations (well, duh) and engage in long, meaningful and humor-filled conversations. Puss (kiss in Swedish).

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A traditional Japanese restaurant in the middle of the woods

Deep in the heart of the woods by the foot of a tranquil waterfall, the least likely place for a restaurant, is a restaurant. It’s called Mitaki-en, it serves vegetarian cuisine prepared by using seasonal wild mountain plants, it’s a little pricey and it’s undeniably beautiful.

If you are searching for a place to take your Gaijin folks/friends to show off traditional Japan (food, culture, architecture) then Mitaki-en should be it (just be sure to make a booking before you go). Unfortunately you only have 2 weeks left to do it though as Mitaki-en closes December through til Spring because if you didn’t know, the heart of the woods is cold. And by cold I mean unbearable. Nevertheless, whether you make it in the next couple of weeks or sometime next year, I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

Food wise: at the main restaurant, there are three menus to choose from and the cheapest starts at 2400 yen per person. If you think that’s a tad too much for lunch then you can enjoy a cheaper meal of homemade udon or cake and coffee from the other two eateries in the same vicinity.

My favorite details include the wild chickens, the handmade konjac and the outofthisworld stone-ground kinako (soybean powder) tochimochi (mochi rice with Japanese horse chestnut) – it is the best mochi I’ve ever had since being here and I’ve had too mochi – see what I did there?

The secret ingredient is TIME

To me, the tastiest foods are those prepared by hand with love and TIME.


This green salad with the pretty edible flowers was prepared by Gergely, a Hungarian organic farmer now living in my very rural village of Higashiawakura (Japan) with his beautiful Japanese wife Ryoko and their sweet sweet girl Viola. Everything in it is natural and organic.


Two types of curry (and handmade naan) prepared by two very cool parents Taka and Kaori (Tokyoites now residing in the countryside). One, a traditional Khmer curry called amok – the spices for which I brought back as omiyage (souvenir) from Cambodia and the other, butter chicken.


Minako said she’d prepare a “light” meal for us but she ended up serving pumpkin soup (just pumpkin and herbs), sautéed mix veg, sautéed potatoes, organic bread, brown rice, home-made salsa, cheese and crackers. I hope her husband goes away more often so I can be invited over for more “light” dinners.


There is something so cosy and welcoming about a picnic. Here, it was the crumbed carrots and courgettes calling my name. “Anisa, Anisa, eat me,” they said. If you look to the left,  you can see half of an upside down apple and sweet potato frying pan cake and to the top of the photograph, a variety of onigiri (triangular rice balls) invented for picnicking. And of course, salad. That day we harvested organic rice by hand. It was incredible.


We (Kaori, her baby Emma and I) stayed at Kaori’s parents house in Nara (photos 2 posts back) over the weekend. Her mother lovingly prepared this delicious make-your-own temaki sushi bar for us. Kind of like a Mexican taco bar but with seaweed and seafood. She also served clam miso soup. Oishikata! 


Breakfast was just as adorable. We had fresh persimmons with yoghurt and raisins, boiled broccoli and edamame beans (from the local farmers market), egg, cherry tomatoes (from Kaori’s garden back in Higashiawakura) and typical Japanese bakery bread.


Another salad by Gergely. This time, topped with boiled quail eggs, carrots and walnuts. Again, all organic.

I’m going on a diet

Recent highlights:
1.The oatmeal and raisin cookies I made my colleagues – for the record, they went nuts! (if only my cookies contained nuts that woulda been a great pun). This is because, oats aren’t so common in Japan so they had no idea what was inside them. Google helped.
2.Massive naan at Sivam in Yunogo (look Jay you’re famous!)
3.Absolutely gorgeous coffee break at Nutty Plant in Katsuta (this place is the only place in whole of Mimasaka that does espresso coffee from my understanding! And just look at that Latte! Ad-mi-ra-ble!
4.Tempura night at Yukos. AH so much good. Too much good!
5.Persian muesli bars aka if I were a food.
6.Kuni-chans birthday BBQ. For the record: I only ate veggies!