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eG Foodblog: torakris - a week of fun in Japan

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#1 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 03:06 PM

Hello everyone!

My turn again. :biggrin:

In case you may have missed my first blog, I took everyone through the New Years festivities in Japan about a year ago:
http://forums.egulle...topic=34074&hl=

A short intro for those who might not know me......

My name is Kristin, I spent the first 18 years of life in Cleveland, Ohio in a large family of 8 kids, I then spent the next 6 in Athens, Ohio at Ohio University working on various degrees. The past 10 now I have been in Yokohama, Japan with my (Japanese husband) Tora (hence the name torakris) raising our 3 children Mia (soon to be 9), Julia (soon to be 7) and Hide (soon to be 4).
The math should have been easy enough to figure out, I am currently 34 years old. :biggrin:

I come from a family that loves food, even with 10 people to feed on a very strict budget my mother always put out great meals. Family get togethers are always filled with incredible food, my mother's parents came over from Italy between wars, but in the years since then our family has grown to include a number of nationalities. I have one uncle from Mexico and an aunt from the island of Martinque, this past June my sister married her French boyfriend who is from Strausburg and loves to cook. So now we all get proper Alsatian dishes.

It is 7:00am (10/5) Japan time and it has has been raining straight for the past two and a half days and is forecast to rain all day today as well..... :angry: yuck!
I am drinking an iced coffee (my drink of choice) made with the Toddy cold brew method, if I remember to I may eat something for breakfast a little later.
My kids have eaten, the girls had maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal and my son had a peanut butter sandwich. My whole family wakes up around 5:30am and I make a lunch and pack an onigiri (rice ball) for my husband to eat at work for lunch and breakfast respectively, he leaves the house around 6:00.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#2 Jinmyo

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 03:24 PM

Kristin, at last.
"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

#3 SobaAddict70

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 03:25 PM

You can't imagine how much I've been looking forward to your blog redux, Kristin.

Blog on! :raz: :biggrin: :wub:

Soba

#4 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 03:46 PM

I picked this week because it will make it seem like I actually have an exciting life! :biggrin:
Tuesday through Friday are just my boring regular days, I teach two English classes on Tues and one on Weds, this Thursday I have a cooking class (I teach these twice a month). Saturday is the biggest event of the school year, the undokai or sports day, these are a lot of fun and I will discuss it more as the day approaches. Then on monday we have our Tokyo egullet trip to Kappabashi also known as "cook's papradise".
Don't worry I will include lots of pictures of everything!

I am still drinking my iced coffee ad since I wrote the first post I have eaten about 4 mouthfuls of oatmeal, Julia's leftovers...
Mia went for a second bowl, this time apple-cinnamon, and all three kids ate a dinner roll a piece.

I spent yesterday at Costco, you will be seeing a lot of Costco foods this week....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#5 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 04:16 PM

A little bit about Costco.
Once a month a group of friends (all Japanese women who live in the same apartment or very close by) and I make a trip to Costco. The closest one (there are now 5 in Japan) is a 30- 40 minute drive away. As I am the only member, and also drive a large car, I take two different people with me every time as only two guests are allowed. We make up a list, we had 14 people place orders this current time, then spend about 3 hours finding everything, eat lunch and come home and spend another 2 to 3 hours dividing up the food.
yesterday we spent 118,000 yen (over $1,000) and purchased 130 items, this is what my living room and dining room looked like after unpacking the car.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#6 little ms foodie

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 04:23 PM

I had no idea they had Costco in Japan! Excellent, that covers my "learns something new everyday!"

Looking forward to reading your blog Kristin!

p.s. was at costco yesterday too! haha! what a small world we live in

#7 Fred12fred

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 04:34 PM

This looks like it's going to be fun! :biggrin:

Looking at the Costco purchases, I'm just struck by how "American" it all looks...not what I would have expected...maybe it's just me :hmmm:

Although, the load of candy on the table reminds me that I need to get my Halloween shopping done! :raz: Is Halloween celebrated in Japan?

#8 reesek

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:04 PM

kristin,

i can't wait to see what you've got in store for us this time...i just spent some time with your last blog...the korean pancake is still making my mouth water. i highly recommend that those who haven't read kristin's blog from last year take a look...it's amazingly satisfying.
from overheard in new york:
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

#9 Transparent

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:17 PM

Wow, Costco in Japan seems to be exactly the same, down to the "Take and Bake" pizzas. :blink:

#10 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:18 PM

Although, the load of candy on the table reminds me that I need to get my Halloween shopping done!  :raz:  Is Halloween celebrated in Japan?

View Post


halloween isn't really celebrated in Japan, though it seems to be getting a litlte more and more popular every year. Some stores will put out some decorations, mostly small (tiny actually) pumpkins with little faces drawn on them.
therisn't any trick or treating really done in Japan, though I do know a couple neighborhoods that do it very small scale. For the past couple years I have taken my kids to an area of Yokohama that is mostly populated by ex-pats and does an American version of trick or treat. However te last two years has seen probably close to quadruple the number of attendees and less and less houses offering candy. So this year I decided to do our own with the children who live in our apartment building and some other close neighbors (everyone is Japanese). We bought all of the candy together and the kids will go "trick or treating" to the houses in our apartment building, it is small with only 12 families, and then afterwards we will have a Halloween party complete with lots of games.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#11 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:34 PM

Two malls by my house have started halloween events in the past couple years.
Grandberry Mall, an American style outlet mall, is offering the following:
http://www.grandberr...om/index02.html (Japanese only)

on the first three weekends in October, though not actually on Halloween day... :blink: they have
1. a parade of witches and monsters and if you say trick or treat to them they will give you candy
2. there will be games using pumpkins or Japanese kabocha squash, I am not sure which theya re referring to
3. there will be various monster costumes for kids to take turns dressing up in and the parents can take pictures


the other mall, Mosaic Mall is offering:
http://www.mosaicmal...vent/event.html (again Japanese only)

on the last two weekends of the moth there is a stamp rally, the kids go around and collect stamps from various areas then when they fill their card they get candy. The filled card also gets the kids a free ride on the ferris wheel that is on te top of the mall. They are also having a Halloween Carnival Bazaar with games, face painting, etc. There will also be a halloween show and picture taking with "real" witches.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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kwagner@egstaff.org


#12 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:35 PM

Wow, Costco in Japan seems to be exactly the same, down to the "Take and Bake" pizzas.  :blink:

View Post


I really didn't think these would be popular as you can only cook 1/4 of it at a time in a Japanese oven......

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#13 hillvalley

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:40 PM

I really didn't think these would be popular as you can only cook 1/4 of it at a time in a Japanese oven......

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It's going to be a great week around here
True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.
It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,
but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

#14 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 05:43 PM

Still haven't eaten anything beside the oatmeal and coffee and am not really hungry. I am off to the store to buy milk and know I will be tempted by the candy aisle.....

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#15 bloviatrix

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:30 PM

Do they only carry "american" products at costco or do they carry japanese products as well?
"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

#16 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:51 PM

I would estimate it at about 60% Japanese and 40% American.
Some of the Japanese things that were purchased were things like dried tofu, nori sheets, various seaweeds, etc. Most of the products like flours, sugars, milks, eggs, etc are all from Japanese companies.

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#17 Dejah

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:56 PM

Just spent some time reading your New Years blog.
It was great, especially seeing you and your family. :smile:

Very much looking forward to this week!

I have a Japanese student in my EAP (university ESL) class. He doesn't seem to know much about preparing his own food, and his homestay mom is not helping much at the moment. To date, I have only seen him bring butterless rye bread to school for lunch!

I have been making extra food when I cook supper, mostly Chinese stuff. He seems to like it.

Takayuki is 19 years old. What can I feed him without taking a whole course on Japanese cooking?
Dejah
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#18 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 07:01 PM

I have been making extra food when I cook supper, mostly Chinese stuff. He seems to like it.

Takayuki is 19 years old. What can I feed him without taking a whole course on Japanese cooking?

View Post


He is probably very happy with Chinese food as it is very popluar in Japan, to make him VERY happy mae a pot of curry rice!!

the curry rice thread for ideas:
http://forums.egulle...opic=15137&st=0

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kwagner@egstaff.org


#19 Susan in FL

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 07:14 PM

Kris, I am happy to see you are doing another blog. I wasn't following eG's food blogs as much when you did it before, and I looked over your previous one a few months ago. I will read it more thoroughly now, and then follow this one with great interest.
I used to love to read your posts on the Dinner! thread, and miss them since you haven't been posting there for a while. This week will be fun.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#20 Pan

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 07:56 PM

My face really lit up when I saw that you're blogging again! Your first blog was awesome! I look forward to this one.

#21 snowangel

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:46 PM

Kristen, how do the Costco prices in Japan compare to those in the U. S.? (Assuming that you made a trip to Costo on your last jaunt to Cleveland.)

Edited to add: Of that bounty, what was yours?

Edited by snowangel, 04 October 2004 - 08:47 PM.

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#22 jschyun

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:51 PM

I drooled over your New Year's blog. So beautiful...I was in pain.

I like how you serve things on your cutting board. I intend on doing that very same thing on the remote chance that I ever have kids. Also, I love how you neatly use up things that are in the house.
I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.
--NeroW

#23 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:54 PM

just as I predicted I was tempted at the drug store and I succumbed....

Posted Image

Posted Image

a "weiner-curry donut" this is a deep fried bread filled with a long sausage and some curry, it was actually quite good! :cool:
I swear, I really don't eat like this every day.....

By the way I shop at the local drug store to buy my milk because it is the cheapest place to buy it. I pay 118 yen (just over $1) for 1L (1qt) there at the supermarket it will cost around 200 yen (just under $2). I aslo picked up some bread and 2 cartons of apple juice for my neighbor who doesn't have a car.

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#24 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:58 PM

 

I like how you serve things on your cutting board.  I intend on doing that very same thing on the remote chance that I ever have kids.  Also, I love how you neatly use up things that are in the house.

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This is called lazy and poor! :biggrin:

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#25 Jason Perlow

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:00 PM

Oh my god, they combined curry bread with the hot dog roll? Here in the states, Curry Bread and Hot Dog Rolls are seperate things, at places like Sunmerry.

Now I must quest to find one here. It sounds like the ultimate in stoner cuisine.
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#26 kimabima

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:04 PM

I have recently started doing homestay/tutoring for Japanese students here in Victoria BC. The students, ranging in age from 20 to 35 stay in our home for 1-2 week and I tutor them in English for three hours a day. It's alot of fun and as I have never been to Japan I learn as much if not more than they do.
I was interested to read that you teach cooking classes. I was thinking of offering cooking classes for ESL students in my home- cooking and English lessons together!
Are you teaching western cooking? I'd love to hear more about this and also if you have any idea what western food might be popular. It seems anything Italian is popular!
Thnak you for sharing part of your life in such a fascinating country.

#27 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:12 PM

Kristen, how do the Costco prices in Japan compare to those in the U. S.?  (Assuming that you made a trip to Costo on your last jaunt to Cleveland.)

Edited to add:  Of that bounty, what was yours?

View Post



I did very good this much and didn't get too much, mostly vegetables like lettuce mix, carrots, celery, onions a big pack or gound beef and pork and sanma (saury pike) I also got some bagels, dinner rolls, paper plates, dish detergent and a pumpkin.


Like everything in Japan it is definitely more expensive than the Costco in Cleveland, and of course I went! i love all the attention I get when all of the workers come running over to see the card from Costco Japan..... :biggrin:

When I was in the states this summer I was commenting to my family that I found only two things (beseides Japanese food/products of course) that are cheaper in Japan than the US and that is cigarettes and chicken breasts. A pack of cigarettes in jaapn is in the 260-280 yen range (about $2.40) and I can buy chicken breasts at Costco for 40 yen per 100g (or about $1.40 a pound).

Some examples of price differences on the same products would be a canister of coffee I paid $6 for in the US costs $10 here and a huge jug of maple sryup that I paid $12 for runs $26 here.

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#28 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:16 PM

Oh my god, they combined curry bread with the hot dog roll? Here in the states, Curry Bread and Hot Dog Rolls are seperate things, at places like Sunmerry.

Now I must quest to find one here. It sounds like the ultimate in stoner cuisine.

View Post


usually they are separate but you can find them combined as well, at first I was going to go just for the curry pan (deep fried bread filled with curry) but then this one caught my eye...
I don't know why this stuff doesn't catch on more out of Japan, this is some damn good food and it only cost me 83 cents....

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#29 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:25 PM

I was interested to read that you teach cooking classes. I was thinking of offering cooking classes for ESL students in my home- cooking and English lessons together!
Are you teaching western cooking? I'd love to hear more about this and also if you have any idea what western food might be popular. It seems anything Italian is popular!

View Post


I used to teach the cooking classes as part of my English class, once a month we did cooking instead of conversation. I then had a lot of people that were just interested in the cooking part and not the English, so now my cooking classes are separate and I do them in Japanese. Anything Mediterranean is popular as are desserts. The difficult part is that not all Japanese have ovens and they don't have the same kind of pantry that I stock, so I try to fix meals that don't require a trip to an international supermarket. Things like Indian and South East Asian are more difficult because it can require a lot of speciality shopping so I only do those kinds of classes once in a while.
I pass out a 2 to 3 month schedule to all of those who are interested and they only come to the ones that they are interested in.

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#30 torakris

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:49 PM

Tuesday mornings around 10:30 I get a food delivery, every week I receive a catalog I look through it, fill out the order form, turn it in then one week later the food arrives. I do this as a group with 4 other women in my building, the truck comes to our parking lot, we unload our groceries and then sort them out. It is paid for by automatic bank transfer a couple days after the food has been received. I have been doing this for 9 years, it was very convenient when my children were small and now I keep doing it because the quality is good. The amount I order really depends on the week, I didn't order much this week because I knew I was going to Costco the day before.
today's order
Posted Image

in the front are 3 varieties of sweet potatoes (they came as a set), the package of small yellow things is kuri gohan no moto, this is a seasoning pack for making chestnut rice. You just pop the bag of chestnuts, the liquid seasoning pack and washed rice into your rice cooker and 45 minutes later you have a wonderful dinner. This particular brand is really good and this is the 3rd time I have bought it in 4 weeks! chestnuts are very seasonal here so in another month or two you won't be able to find this anymore. Next to it are three packs of furikake or rice sprinkles、they all contain chirimen (baby sardines) and one is flavored with umeboshi (Japanese sour plum), one with nozawa-na (a type of green) and the other is seasoned with katsuobushi (bonito flakes), these are all a frozen product. The white box is tofu and next to it are pre-seasoned pouches of aburage (tofu pockets) for making inari-zushi.

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