貧乏人の雑貨お弁当 and Tea Talk


Today is “zakka” day! Zakka (雑貨) basically means “many different things”, though it most commonly refers to little kitsch items that decorate the home. It’s also been described as “the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane”, which this bento definitely is! I think I’ve put more things in this bento than I ever have before!

A simple square box filled with: usui tamagoyaki (thin egg), daikon, rice, temari sushi, grapes, edamame hummus, and a jabanero tortilla.

This was my first sucessful tamagoyaki! I used Lunch-in-a-Box’s tutorial to find the major flaws that my process had been getting caught up previously. I cooked it in a tamagoyaki pan I got in Japan for 100 yen (~$1) and wrapped it in a bamboo mat to hold the shape while it cooled. I didn’t really add any flavor like I should have, but I separated the pieces with nori and added rooster sauce to one of them.

The sushi temari (手鞠) was a slight disaster. The sushi was fine until I needed to cut it. Since I put the rice on the outside, I squished the sushi when cutting it and then formed the sushi into little balls. I topped them with roe (tobiko) and crushed Trader Joe’s Cheese Nacho Chips. The inside are grilled tomatillos, tamagoyaki, nori, and some rooster sauce. This sushi was originally planned for Dan and his brother to eat on their day off (Fleet Foxes concert), but went uneaten because it didn’t turn out.

Daikon didn’t taste good because it’s expired, but I made ochazuke (お茶漬け)! I brought some rice into work and put it into my coffee cup, sprinkled the seasoning, and poured hot water over it. Such comfort food~

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Konnyaku Stir-fry and Tea Talk


Whenever I make dishes using konnyaku, I end up making too large of a portion. I think this is because all dishes call for something to “balance out” the konnyaku since it has no flavor of its own and an un-appetizing texture to most. So, even if I use the littlest amount of konnyaku, I have to add at least equal parts of other ingredients, which adds up quickly.

This dish is quite interesting and goes well with pickled daikon and rice (in my opinion). The original idea I had in mind for this was with bean sprouts and chives, but I ran out of both of those things, so I used scallions, green pepper, garlic, jicama, and carrot. It was nice, but I didn’t love it. I wouldn’t make this recipe again, but I look forward to experimenting with konnyaku!

Speaking of experimenting, I’ve been trying a bunch of teas lately. I tried “Paradise” today and I wasn’t a fan. I need strong, non-floral flavors in my tea. I’m a fan of oolongs and chais mostly, though I have found some green teas that I enjoy. I recently tried “Cookie” and hated it. The acidity got to me–not something to drink on an empty stomach. The package did say that it’s “great for milk tea”, so I guess that’s what it was meant for. So far I’m in love with my grandmother’s genmaicha (玄米茶) and chanakara melon oolong tea (even though it was the tea that spilled all over my purse and killed my phone, causing me to get an iPhone six months too early).

I still haven’t tried my coconut oolong, stash wedding tea (green tea with honeydew melon and some yerba mate), and all the other chanakara varities that I have. Every morning I try to drink something, whether it be my samurai/white chai blend from Teavana or my “The Original” chai latte mix from Trader Joe’s. It’s great to have something to keep me awake and hydrated on my sometimes two hour commute (each way!). I’m trying to get away from coffee, but sometimes there are emergencies and I need an IV drip of that sweet beany goodness. I even learned how to make coffee in my office’s coffee machine (is this good or bad?).

What are your favourite teas?

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Yellow Fever & Interracial Couples: A Comment Turned Post

I originally wrote this as a comment to Diana’s post about this topic, related to interracial couples.

I think there are fetishes and then there is cultural compatibility.

I found myself dating Asian people because they understood my life better–the way my family worked, the food I ate, the littlest lifestyle things–not to mention that my family accepted only Asian people (all others were seen as “phases”, even to this day). I never was attracted exclusively to Asian people, but I found my ration of Asian crushes to non-Asian crushes skewed considerably.

Somehow I became friends with Dan (my current boyfriend of almost five years). Somehow my family doesn’t accept him because he’s not Asian. And somehow I dont care because he sees me for me, the full 100% me, not the Asian culture or the American culture. He understands the mixture of cultures and embraces it, often accompanying me to functions where he/we are the only “white people”, but he does it for me, and it doesn’t care because he’s with me. And that’s the reason he’s going–to make me happy and to be with me, making a new memory with me.

I don’t think Dan wanted to go to the Hawai’ian Cultural Festival’s advanced lei making workshop, but he helped me make my lei and helped me document the outcome. I’m sure he doesn’t want to go with me to the Asian supermarkets to find the specific ethnic ingredients I need, or visit dive restaurants because ‘I heard it was good’. He specifically recommends authentic Japanese restaurants or shops and suggests sitting at ‘the bar’ to encourage me to speak Japanese, just because he knows once I get over my shyness, I’ll be beaming at the night’s end.

Unabashed selfless-ness. what more is there?

It’s quite unfair if you look at it this way. I never underwent any cultural hazing on his side of the family. They readily accepted me as myself, not Asian/American/whatever. They’re genuinely warm and welcoming to me, more so than my own family at times. Wheras my family doesn’t even acknowledge Dan and have never even invited him over to dinner in the past years of our relationship.

In fact, I think that dating Dan has taught me more about myself and helped me develop more as an individual. I’m not only defined by my culture, I have a more complex and developed identity now, one that is more stable. Culture can be a dealbreaker in some cases, but in others it can be an opportunity to share and learn from each other. If both sides are understanding and have open minds, I think it only helps foster the relationship and make it richer.

I guess in the end, this is quite the opposite of yellow fever. Yellow fever is being obsessed with the culture for no reason other than the fact that you “like it” and exclusively dating someone because they’re Asian–as in, the first selective factor is whether or not they’re asian. Not necessarily the ethnicity that you’re enamored with or studying per se, but just ‘Asian’ in general.

Finding only one race as attractive. What a broad generalization. There’s actually more DNA variance within races than across. I understand finding one race over another as attractive, but exclusively? They’re only doing themselves a disservice.

What are everyone elses thoughts on race or ethnicity and its role in relationships?

love him

Totoro & Pizza Bread Bento (400th Post!)

Totoro wants to eat the Pizza Bread?

Wow, I just realized this is my four-hundredth post! Sorry there’s nothing more exciting for this, but it’s my bento for today! I think I did a good job of filling in all the extra spaces and having a good balance of fruit, vegetable, and carb.

This is a new bento that I purchased from Rakuten (via Crescent Trading). It’s hard to find sandwich case bento when you’re on a mission! There are only like two readily available designs and I didn’t like them.

The top is lined with wax paper (I took some small sheets from my local store’s bakery section) and contains Pizza Bread from my local Korean Bakery. Pizza bread is actually quite common in Japan and I ate it many times when I was there. This one seems more like a “leftover” pizza, and it has a weird layout of plain bread + ham + toppings. The toppings are also weird, and seem to have no rhyme or reason. I saw onions, mushrooms, cheese, crab, and sauce. It tasted pretty good and was quite filling.

The bottom holds dragonfruit stars, a chinese leek & scallion bao (xie ke huang 蟹殼黃), pretzels, raisins, and apple cinnamon “cheerios”. I’m struggling to find out how much food I actually eat because even though I only had half of the pizza bread today for lunch (the other half is already cut and will be used for later this week), I am incredibly full right now. Sometimes I pack more than this and I’m hungry throughout the day!

P.S. the furoshiki is from Japan and has Chu-Totoro and Chibi-Totoro on it with flower blossoms. I really must get/find more furoshiki~. I’m sure I bought more than two in Japan! I guess I can make some out of the fabric I bought in Japan as well.

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