I was SO nervous!
Finally in Christchurch *love heart eyes*
First stop, Black & White Coffee Cartel where a little printed sign advised us there’d be no avocado (two words which should never be together) this season. Alas, our bagels were delicious and S particularly liked the NZ bacon nomnom.
Next, one for the bucket-list. Though rather simple, I had always dreamt of visiting the Riccarton Farmers’ Market with bae. It is truly one of my most favourite places in Christchurch.
If tea is a hug in a cup, porridge is a cuddle in a bowl, I say. Alll better. Full tummies and grateful hearts. I got the rsf, V, and df option and S ordered the spiced apple, toffee sauce, and walnut crumble porridge.
When S sent the above photo to his family group chat, his brother asked if that was an egg atop my porridge…Hehe nope! Just honey and yoghurt.
Things have been pretty surreal, neither of us can actually believe S is finally here. Last night we dined at Tutto Bene. The food was good and the company even greater. We had a lovely French waitress and S mentioned the wonderful paradox of having a French waitress, working at an Italian restaurant in New Zealand serving a table of Persian, Kiwi, and American diners. How beautiful is that? Unity in diversity.
A Note On Japanese Dressing Rooms
Konnichiwa! Currently at Tottori (the least populated prefecture of Japan) Starbucks, sipping on a very-missed soy chai latte, eating a “green vegetables and basil sauce” wrap and writing these very words to you. Since I had nothing planned today, I decided to make it my day and do all the things which I enjoy. I started off by driving to Tottori City but when I saw the incredible snow covered landscape, I thought, gosh, I have to switch to a train to be able to take photos without crashing into a wall. Though, I managed to take one sneaky car shot, too.
Having lived in a super inaka (that’s Japanese for rural) place for the last 10 months, going to a shopping mall and a Starbucks has ironically, become a breath of fresh air for me. Is that weird? Can you relate? Like you need to see some lights? Some colour? Nature is beautiful but I ain’t no bear! Anyways, enough poetry. I want to tell you about Japanese changing rooms. Basically, there’s two things you gotta know. One, the first thing you ought to do is to remove your shoes. Always. Which is another reason why slip-on shoes are so vital in Japan. And two, use a polystyrene mask (found inside every changing room) to cover your face before trying anything on. Which I think is a brilliant idea because I cannot tell you how many times I’ve found a blouse that I’ve wanted to buy but couldn’t because of an oompa loompa foundation mark. Okay, that’s all. Enjoy the photos, like my Facebook page, follow my Instagram and share every one of my posts (tehe).
My Japanese Winter
“My heart is in a constant state of thanksgiving.”
Before the snow…don’t be fooled, still V V V cold.
Keeping warm with healthy Japanese food. This is actually a summer noodle (somen) chicken and vegetable soup prepared by my lovely friend and neighbor, Hiromi-san.
The first snow. That’s my house and car in the foreground.
Prayers under the kotatsu.
The calm before the storm (literally).
Heater allows for smoothie-bowl breakfast obsession to continue. This one is simply 3/4 cup of yogurt blended with 2 tablespoons of freeze-dried blackcurrants and topped with banana and cereal.
This one was more sorbet than smoothie: 1 cup of frozen mango chunks blended with 1/2 cup of freeze-dried blackcurrants and 3/4 cup of coconut water finished with strawberries.
More ingredients in this one: 1 banana, a big handful of spinach, a few frozen mango chunks, 1/2 cup of soy milk and 1 strawberry, blended together and topped with QIA cereal, ViBERi blackcurrants and an additional strawb.
And for dinner? Pre-cooked edamame. These cuties are so good. They’re sold everywhere in Japan and just require you to pour hot water over them (to defrost) and they’re ready to eat!
Last but not least, a super appropriate painting in my JUNIOR high-school, to close.
And now, a warm bear hug to my new and old followers for the continuous support.
Chuu! (Japanese kiss noise).
Vegan turnip, carrot and bean soup
This was simply an “I need to use up these vegetables” moment that just happened to work. It’s so easy it’s not even a recipe and I’m no chef, I just chopped some veggies and put them in a pot with water and some spice then hovered impatiently over it then burnt my tongue badly from it.
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup green peas
1 can of all natural mixed beans
Salt and pepper
Saute onions with oil in a medium pot on medium heat until translucent.
Add tomato paste and saute for a further minute.
Add everything else (spices, vegetables, water) and simmer at medium-low heat for 20ish minutes. Since the beans are pre-cooked the whole thing shouldn’t take that long to cook and come together.
Pour into bowls and serve with fresh coriander and salt and pepper, to taste.
A day in the life of me
Apart from the usual eat better, exercise more, spend less time stalking ex on Facebook guff, I’ve decided to 1.train more (because I am SO tired of driving and I think I can read/knit and overall get a lot of other shizz done on route as opposed to actively wasting my dear dear precious time, like, where the F did 2015 go?). And 2. see more and do more in Japan because guys, I’ve decided not to re-contract this time round, meaning, I’ve only seven months left to make the most of this Hello Kitty life. Where to next? You might or might not (probably not) be wondering? Well, I don’t know… maybe The Big Smoke, you know, in contrast to the fresh-aired farm life and all.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
“When winter came, I decided to read.”- Anisa Kazemi
According to Mark Haddon himself, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) is not based on Asperges nor any other specific disorder, “if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.”
Which is an accurate way of putting it for it’s definitely not the same as another. Firstly, the chapters aren’t like usual chapters. Instead, the story progresses through prime numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 etc. Next, Haddon challenges typical story conventions. His chapters are often too short, his sentences too lengthy and his prose/his protagonist, Christopher’s prose, too random. However; that is what I (and many others since he’s won loads of awards) consider so refreshing about it. Haddon’s mystery novel really does make you see in a new way.
Haddon achieves this by comparing most people’s thought processes to that of Christopher’s: which is paying immaculate attention to detail and living in the moment. While most people would be thinking “I’m worried that I might have left the gas cooker on,” and “I wonder if Julie has given birth yet,” in a cow field, Christopher would be inspecting/admiring the different shades of grass and the contrast of the surrounding flowers, sky, animals and architecture against them. In other words, Haddon/Christopher examine the every-day and the mundane so closely and so objectively that they become extraordinary again – since we tend to overlook/ignore them in this busy busy day and age.
I laughed, I cringed, I empathised with the Christopher and I continued to think about him after the book had ended – all the good things. I totes recommend it and so does good ole Ian:
“A superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy” -Ian McEwan, author of Atonement.
Food News (unintentional discoveries and Japanese Nabe)
Are you tired of cooking the same shizz everyday?
Are you dying to spice up (excuse the culinary pun) your boring dishes?
(This is not an advertisement)
Because Chef Anisa has accidently (no relation to blog name) discovered the resolution.
Are you ready?
Simply continue putting off your grocery shopping until your fridge and pantry are not far from vacant. Then, you’ve no choice but to improvise flavors and… TADA! Hello new tastes.
This morning, I had peanut butter and KIWIFRUIT (not banana) on defrosted toast for breakfast. Is this a thing? Have you already tried it? Or have I, in first-world-problems food shortage, unintentionally stumbled across genius? Kiwi-fruit and peanut-butter is INSANE.
Anywho, I wanted to talk about Nabe or Nabemono.
Nabemono (鍋物, なべ物, nabe “cooking pot” + mono “thing or things, object, matter”) or simply called nabe, refers to a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes, also known as one pot dishes and “things in a pot.”
After hearing my students increasingly talk of having a “nabe party” (apparently the thing to do during a Japanese winter), I was itching (or should I say, shivering hahoehah, I know I’m hilarious) to try nabe, myself. So, last night, I kind of invited myself to Kaori’s for dinner – I’m good like that. She made kimchi nabe which is basically a kimchi-flavoured soup stuffed with loads of ingredients, ingredients which continue to be stuffed into the soup while the already cooked ones are hunted and eaten. It’s a glorious cycle really.
The nabe or pot is placed on a portable stove which is placed on a kotatsu (a low, wooden table frame covered by a futon, or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source, often built into the table itself) around which the dinner guests are seated. In other words, as the night progresses, you heat up in every possible way.
After eating for what seems forever, the left-over nabe is mixed with rice and egg and turned into a porridge – often eaten for breakfast the next day.
Are you salivating yet? I’m hungry all over again and I just ate that magical kiwi-fruit and peanut-butter concoction.
Healthy hot chocolate
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? -J.B Priestley
The first snow is expected next weekend and frankly, I’m excited! She says that now, you say. Well, I don’t care about your opinion. For a literature loving, introvert foodie, winter is, well, SUMMER.
Instead of making my hot chocolates from instant powders (laden with additives and refined sugar) I make my hot cacao (that’s how fancy people say it) using wholesome ingredients. My Iranian taste-buds call for an extra pinch of sumthin’ sumthin’ to enhance the chocolate flavor, but if you prefer a classic taste, simply omit the spices.
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp raw cacao powder*
pinch of cinnamon
some orange zest
1-2 tsp coconut sugar
Simply warm the milk, cacao powder, cinnamon and orange zest in a small pot on medium heat.
Once hot, stir in the coconut sugar and serve.
*Raw cacao powder, dissimilar to processed cocoa powder contains a high concentration of antioxidants. In fact, higher than any other food we now know of today. Moreover, in addition to calming our nervous systems, and regulating our heart rate, cacao is a feel-good food for it boosts our mood producing phenylalanine – this is the same chemical our bodies produce when we’re in love! No wonder we’re gaga over chocolate!