Breakfast in the woods

I haven’t gone camping since I was a kid. It was a school camping trip and I remember I didn’t like it because it was raining and I got sick there. However, I decided to go camping again. Why? I wanted to take a picture of stars. I needed to go to a place where has a very dark sky.

My husband and I took our two wiener dogs, Cocoa and Haru to Lake Wenatchee located northeast of Seattle about 2 hours drive. We relaxed by the lake, enjoyed paddle boarding, and headed to our camp site. Our tent was big enough for us with two dogs and very comfortable. Unfortunately it got cloudy at night and we were not able to see stars. However, it was really nice to spend a relaxing time in the tent with my husband and dogs listening the wind at night.

I think Haru doesn’t like a camping. When she was eating her meal, a bee flew around her. She immediately lost her interest to her meal and she escaped to the tent. After that she rushed to our car crying. I think she was saying “Let’s go home!”.

Haru and Cocoa

Next morning my husband cooked the breakfast. He usually makes pancakes, omelettes, baked potatoes on the weekend at home. The breakfast he made was a typical one with pancakes, sausages, and sunny side up eggs. I added berries on the plates and prepared coffee. It was one of the most delicious breakfast I’ve ever had. I think that’s because we enjoyed our breakfast in clear air surrounded by the trees with a partial lake view with chipmunks saying hello.

This camping was a completely different experience from the one I had long time ago. We enjoyed being in the outdoor and appreciated the beauty of the nature.

前回キャンピングに行ったのは中学生の頃、学校からのキャンプトリップ。雨は降るし、テントや毛布もきれいじゃないし、おまけに体調も壊していい思い出は無かった。そんな私がキャンプに行こうと思ったのは綺麗な星空を見たかったから。そしてその星空をカメラに収めたかったから。

旦那と我が家の愛犬、二匹のミニダックスフンド、ココとハルを連れだってシアトルから車で2時間ほど東にあるウエナッチー湖にあるキャンプ場へ向かった。山に囲まれた湖でたくさんの人が思い思いに楽しんでいた。私たちもパドルボーディングをしたりビーチでのんびり過ごした。

キャンプサイトは私達には十分広すぎるぐらいだった。テントは大人二人と犬二匹と荷物でちょうどいい大きさ。寝袋以外にも枕や毛布、マットなど持って来たので快適だった。夜は残念ながら雲が出てきて星空は見えなかった。でもみんなで風の音を聞きながらテントで過ごした夜は不思議なほど楽しかった。

ハルは少し敏感な犬で周りの環境が変わるとちょっと難しい。外でご飯を食べてると虫が飛んできて、ハルは食べ終わってもいないのにテントへ逃げ込んんだ。その後、車までキュンキュン泣きながら走っていった。きっと「早く家に帰ろう。」って言ってたのかな。

翌朝、旦那が朝食を作ってくれた。普段から週末はパンケーキやオムレツなど作ってくれるのだが、今回も普通の朝ごはん、パンケーキとソーセージ、目玉焼きを作ってくれた。私は苺とブルーベリーをそのお皿に足し、コーヒーを淹れた。普通の朝ごはんだけどなんだか今まで食べた中で一番美味しく感じた。きっと外で澄み切った空気と木々の緑、少し見える湖、そして人懐こいシマリス達と一緒に食べたからだろうか。今年の夏もそろそろ終わりを迎え始めてるそんな森の中で食べた美味しい朝ごはん。今回のキャンプは前回よりもとても楽しいものとなりました。

A simple Japanese style sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries

One of my favorite memories from my childhood is a birthday cake or a Christmas cake with whipped cream and strawberries on a sponge cake. The sponge which is soft and moist perfectly matches with sweet cream and fresh strawberries. My parents got this cake from a cake shop or a bakery. Since then there have been so many different kinds of cakes I had, but this simple sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries is always my top favorite.

It’s not easy to make this cake especially the sponge. The sponge was always hard and dry, but my husband found a recipe from a Japanese guy in his blog and he tried it. It turned out the sponge was perfectly soft and moist. It’s dense but not too much.

Now it’s my turn to finish the cake. I checked the images of the cakes in internet and found one which I like. I simply coated the sponge cake with whipped cream and laid cut strawberries around the cake. For the accent of the color, I added blueberries and raspberries here and there. Finally I added powder sugar on top.

This was a cake for my Mother’s Day made by my husband. The taste was exactly same the one I had when I was a little girl.

子供の頃お誕生日とクリスマスに必ず食卓に上がった苺のケーキ。母がケーキ屋さんやパン屋さんで予約していつも買ってきてくれた。あの頃はあまりケーキの種類も今ほど豊富でなくケーキと言えば大体この苺のケーキだった。

あれから様々なケーキが出て来たけどやっぱりこの苺のケーキは大好きなケーキのひとつ。柔らかくてしっとりしたスポンジ。キメが細かいけど重くない。甘い生クリームとちょっと酸味のある苺が口の中でスポンジと一緒になって至福のひと時。

このスポンジを作るのはなぜか難しい。いつも固くなったりパサパサしてたり。でもブログで見つけたレシピでカズが挑戦。今回はメレンゲを使ったらしく出来上がりは昔食べたケーキのように柔らかくしっとりとしていた。

ここからは私の出番。インターネットで可愛らしいケーキのイメージを見つけて早速のデコレーション。半分に切った苺を外側、中側、交互にケーキの周りに並べ、彩りにブルーベリーとラズベリーを所々に。最後に粉砂糖を振りかけ出来上がり。今年の母の日、カズが私に作ってくれた最高のケーキでした。

“Oai dekite ureshii desu” – from the book “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”

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“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” is a book about the love story of young Henry and Keiko set in the World War II era, in Seattle.  The setting is actually in my neighborhood and I even occasionally go to the Panama Hotel tea room in which many important scenes take place.  I love this book because the setting is familiar to me and I can see how it was seventy three years ago.  But most of all, I love the innocent love of twelve year old Henry and Keiko, despite their different cultural background and  the war turmoil.

The title of this post “Oai dekite Ureshii desu.” is Japanese and translates to “How are you, beautiful?” in the book.  A more general translation would be “It is nice to meet you.”   I like the way this phrase was incorporated in the book, and how it was used to strengthen the bond between Henry and Keiko.

The tea room is in the Panama Hotel which is located in the International District where there are many Asian restaurants, groceries, and other businesses.  The interior of the tea room; like the brick walls, antique furniture, the tea sets, and subtle background music are the epitome of calmness and serenity.

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On the brick wall, there are pictures of Japanese Americans who used to own businesses in Nihonmachi (Japan town) before they were sent to the internment camps during World War II.  Part of the floor is made of glass so that we can view the preserved bath house.

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In the tea room, we can enjoy a variety of different kinds of tea and sweets.  They also have Japanese style sweets and my favorite is the green tea roll cake with sweet red bean paste.  Unfortunately, they did not have the roll cake when I visited, so I had a sugar cookie and a cup of Darjeeling tea instead.

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For me, drinking tea in the Panama Hotel allows me to submerge myself in both the past and the present of my culture.

Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとうございます。

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Happy New Year!

This is a traditional Japanese new year food called “Osechi” which is set in boxes with a variety of small dishes.  When I was a child, I was not crazy about Osechi but I now miss this traditional food, especially since I am older and away from my parents.  I skipped some of the foods because they are simply too expensive in America, like fish cake (kamaboko).  I enjoyed Osechi and mochi with my family on this new year’s day breakfast.

May this year be a good one for everyone!

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Pike Place Market on a Saturday Afternoon

 

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On the weekend, I occasionally go to Pike Place Market by the waterfront in Downtown Seattle.  I sometimes buy flowers, fruits, or vegetables, but I usually just buy a snack and enjoy a stroll around the market to look for something interesting.  I love seeing all the vendors selling seafood, flowers, pastries, and arts & crafts.  I love seeing the street performers.  The market is full of a festive energy that mingles between the sellers, local shoppers, and tourists.

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The trip today began with a visit to see the Christmas trees being sold.

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There are so many wonderful foods sold in the market, but my favorites are the pot stickers and BBQ pork buns from a Chinese bakery, the croissants or lemon bars from a French style bakery, and the tamales from a Mexican deli.

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As we were walking around the market, we noticed a little friend bustling around on his little legs with just as much purpose as everybody else.

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After milling around the market, we headed to café to enjoy a cup of coffee and the croissants accompanied with apricot and raspberry jam.  It was a lovely Saturday afternoon.

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Waking up to a Winter Wonderland

 

written by Sakura, (my daughter)

The winter is one of the coldest, dreariest times of the year, but what makes up for it all is the snow. It doesn’t snow here much, but when it does, the whole neighborhood is transformed into a beautiful, peaceful wonderland. I woke up to see snow falling outside my window, and it instantly felt like I was waking up on Christmas morning.

Pulling on stockings and layer upon layers of clothing, a walk out into my quiet street was the first thing I did.

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The snow was beautiful, as was the breathless quiet of our usually bustling city neighborhood, but returning home and thawing out my freezing hands was arguably the best part. Not only this, but the steaming mug of hot cocoa I made was the perfect start to a lazy winter day.

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