Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!! In Japan we celebrate the New Year by eating a number of special foods - toshi koshi soba (soba noodles), ozoni (broth with vegetables and mochi), and osechi (a whole assortment of foods put into boxes and eaten over three days starting on New Years Day) - and going to a temple to get your fortune told. Last night we ate toshi koshi soba and this morning we had ozoni and part one of osechi. Starting in maybe late November or early December, grocery stores and department stores start taking orders for osechi. Most people buy osechi, and it is always delicious, but I decided to try making parts of it myself.

As we were going to be spending the holidays in Yokohama with Y's family, I needed the boxes to put it in, since I would make it at home and then bring it with us. I went to the department store to buy the boxes, but they were all between $300 and $400! There was no way I was going to spend that much for some boxes that I would then use once a year. I asked a friend where to get some more reasonably priced ones, but she said she had some that I could just borrow - ahhh, much better. So, this is what I made (starting in the top right corner, clockwise):

Pickled radish, sesame gobo (a root vegetable), egg tart, chicken rolled in konbu, teriyaki chicken, stir-fried, pickled vegetables, fish cakes (which I just cut), and yellowtail. We ate it this morning, and it was all quite good. Y's mom made some other bits - vegetables and sweet beans, and they bought others too - sashimi, sweet chestnuts with sweet potato. Man alive, I had a huge breakfast!

It has been a long time since I posted about something that I made. Trust me, I have been making things, it's just that food (and sleep) has taken precedence over the past few weeks. That being said, next week, my little brother will come to visit us for a month. That month too, the blog might be a bit slow, but I will certainly try to post at least twice a week.

Anyway, here are a few other things I made and brought to Yokohama with me:

Washcloths! Not exciting at all, one may think, but I completely disagree. A crappy washcloth makes cleaning the table or counters a complete mess. I HATE when my washclothes cannot hold much liquid and then leave watery streaks all over. I know that sounds pretty insane, but it's true! I hate that and it turns out that both my mom and mother-in-law feel the same way.

Ages ago one of my mom's friends had knitted her some washcloths and my mom assumed they would be pretty useless. It wasn't until all of her regular ones were dirty that she finally tried them out - turns out they rock!!! The last time I was visiting my mom, I picked one up to clean the table and commented on how amazing it was. My mom told me the whole story and later made one for me. OMG do I love it. My mother-in-law was visitng me and also fell in love. Turns out that not all washcloths are created equal.

Since my mother-in-law liked mine so much, I had my mom send me some of the yarn and crocheted a few for her. The first two I made, I followed the pattern that came with the yarn. They turned out quite cute.

For the other two, I did an X-stitch the whole way across. These turned out well also, but I think I like the first two a bit more.

Since it was a crochet project, I really only did it when I had some spare time on my hands. As a result, these were made in a car on the way to Costco, at the doctor's office (the two photos below are courtesy of K, who was taking photos of me at the doctor), and the final one was finished on the Shinkansen ride to Yokohama. Thank goodness I finally finished them!

I want to finish this post by thanking all of you who look at this blog. It started off as a way for me to show my mom and her friends what I am up to over here. I put the posts up on Facebook, so I figured other friends in the US, as well as Japan and the few other countries that I know people in might, at some point, take a look. I was not expecting many of my friends, many of whom would be the last people to be interested in baking and sewing/crocheting, to comment to me that they look at this blog. But what I was really not expecting was for so many people that I do not know at all to read about what I am doing. I am pretty sure I do not know a single Russian person, yet many of you look at my blog - it's always such a lovely surprise!
Thank you to everyone who takes the time to see what it is I am up to over here. It has been such fun thinking about what to make next and then writing about it. I hope you all have fun reading! Have a wonderful 2013!!

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