Tuesday, 27 April 2010

My Fridge and some cooking!

Here's a peek inside my student-type fridge!

It looks measley, but it's actually fully stocked!

Contents from left to right, up to down:
Grilled Tofu, Thin Deep Fried Tofu, Sesame paste, konnyaku, Cheese on top of the konnyaku, one big can of Kirin Beer (been sitting there for 10 days...), dried mango from Heidi, something, a tub of Yogurt for making Labneh, mushrooms, granulated mustard, fresh eggs, bananas, a Dekopon, fruit marmalade pots, some Orange Juice, sushis and maki from the Combini, Okaru (bemieh) and Ginger Root, Naga Negi Onion, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, half a carrot, a cucumber, and finally water, latte in a cup for when I'm in a hurry and various cooking liquids (soya, mirin and cooking sake).
There's more stuffs in the Pantry and bread on top of the Fridge but I'm too lazy to take a picture...

So I obviously cook, and this is what comes out, for example:
Braised Meat and Vegetables (konnyaku, potatoes, carrots and pork bits stew!)
with a side of rice! nomnom!

It's from my Japanese Cookbook I got when I first got here! tomorrow I'm attempting simmered pork loins, and the day after a delicious cucumber and fried tofu salad with white sesame sauce! :D

Kubi Kubi, Evil Fighto ACTIVATE!

holy boob-titties, it's been a hwile! So much to say...
Well, while my good friend Salah has been stuffing his face and karaoke-ing his time away up in Sapporo, us down here at Kyodai have more... refined things to worry about... Like stuffing our faces with french cuisine meals for about 8$ for example... (what? yeah you heard me. But more on that awesomeness later.)

I'd also like to take some time to mention the wonderful Kubi Kubi Café (Kubi = neck, kubi kubi is synonym for getting fired in Japan, to have your metaphorical neck cut off). Micheal-san came across it first, near the KyoDai Kusonogi (tree emblem of the school).

 the Café as it stood in April 2009, taken from MutantFrog's Flicker, it's been since then removed to a few feet away from the Kusonogi tree by virtue of Kyodai's pressure.

This little group of the most laid back "anarchists" you'll ever meet have once more scrapped together a small improvised café that at first glance I thought was a refugee tent. They are protesting difference in wages between male and female workers, and also the fact that women workers are usually offered part-time contracts that automatically expire after 5 years, thus inevitably getting you fired.

Outraged? good. Because the coffee served at Kubi Kubi Café is hand roasted and ground, strong and delicious, and the people are warm and welcoming, so if you're around Kyoto, you should pass by. If not for the ideals, then the coffee (or even the delicious little homemade cookies they sometimes sell!).

Coincidentally, 2 days ago they had participated (or staged? DAMN MY WEAK JAPANESE SKILLS!) in a protest in downtown Kyoto against the USA building a new military base down in Okinawa.  Their symbolic color was yellow! Completely by mistake, Juan and I ran into them as we were walking around with Elitza and her friend, and decided to join in! The cause was sound.
Here's a picture of the incredibly peaceful, organized and cheerful protest:


Good times! :D More on even more good times, later!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Onto the bright side!

The day wasn't all shitty though, I'll admit. I got to hang out with Heidi again (my biochemist roomie from the Nikko Airport Hotel), met new friends from Nepal, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic, and we all had lunch at the KyoDai Cafeteria! twas fun!

Speaking of fun, thanks Elias for the Ramen and stroll in the Demachiyanagi Shinto Temple then Downtown Kyoto yesterday! 楽し! (fun!) I only wish I had a camera to show my baby all the cool things I saw!

Onto the topic of this post; a japanese traditional sweet I learned was made of Sweet potatoes! I bought them at the Kyoto Imperial Palace on Saturday, along with the white Rice-Puff things from the previous post! They come in a beautifully wrapped box:

I am forever in awe of how the Japanese present their products!
When you open, you get a very simple beautiful box, and inside, individually wrapped to stay fresh, The sweet potato cakes (yes that dough is apparently made of sweet potato!! crazy!)

     so. lovely.

Not only are these cakes beautiful, soft dough-y and delicate, but once you crack one open:

They are also filled with a delicious red beans past/dough that melts in your mouth, kinda like the "tamer" paste (dates) we use to make Maamoul during Eid and Easter. Except -more- delightful.

mmmmnomnomnom... Japan, you tickle my tastebuds <3

Day from Hell = Heavenly treat.

Anyone who has seen my Facebook page knows how my day went.
I had the welcome note at KyoDai (Kyoto University) today at 10am. Left the house at 9:10, it was raining cats and dogs, and I didn't have an umbrella so I decided against taking the bike there, since I'd have to buy an umbrella along the way and me cycling with one hand a-la-japonaise is farfetched to say the least. So walking it is, I thought, and I did just that to the 100 yen shop where I'm supposed to get the umbrella.
It was closed. Turns out the shop (like most others in Japan) opens at 10. ARG. I was too far off, and it was too late to go back and take my bike, so I opted to walk. "How much longer is it gonna rain for anyways? looks like it's starting to clear up!".
Aaaaand wrong again. It actually started to rain much harder about 5 minutes after I said that. So I walked my 3kms to KyoDai, having already too far off to catch the tram down to Demachiyanagi anyways. I arrived, of course, late. And the rest of the day so far has been an equal amount of Hell, as I:

1)  forgot to bring my addie along to register for a co-op discount card the KyoDai co-op. Ergo have to go back tomorrow.
2) had to purchase about 9000 en's worth of textbooks I already studied in Lebanon. wee.
3) It never stopped raining this whole time, and KyoDai's HUGE campus is open air, of course. Thank god for sweet gaijin friends who shared umbrellas!
4) My hair (not to mention entire body) that I spent an hour fixing last night and straightening needs to be washed and re-done tonight. My clothes are soaked.

After getting an umbrella from the shop near my dorm and going home, I proceeded to make myself some tea to warm up, but:
5) I dropped the cup and it broke into a million pieces. Now my 2-pieces set is lonely :( need to re-buy a matching tea-cup.
6) When pouring hot water into my other cup, it spilt over on my laptop.

Oh! but there is a silver lining to it all: I cut my foot since the tea cup/bowl fell on it and then bounced and broke, so I put a Hello Kitty band-aid I brought with me from Lebanon on it!
The day is SAVED!


So after all of this, you can imagine I needed a treat before getting to study. So I ate one of the treats I got from the Imperial Palace, A delicious Rice Puff filled with a really yummy sweet red beans paste. Mmm so sweet!

This isn't actually my fave! My fave is in the next post!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Gaijin Face at the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Yesterday and today are the last days of Free Open Public Entrance of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Yes, I had to capitalize all of these. I also had to cycle my way down to the Gardens to visit said palace, and boy was it worth those 4-ish kilometers!

Here are some snapshots from there, I do hope you like them!

The weather was overcast, so walking in daylight wasn't too hot and annoying, I snapped tons of pictures of 2 main subjects; first the Palace (I could not pass up that once in a lifetime opportunity to take as many reference pics as possible!), and intriguingly enough, the swarm of people taking pictures! I have a good bunch of pictures of people just pointing their cameras out!


Kawaii desu ne!

I sketched some there, too! might go back today for the same reason :)
Here's a quick one of the Yamatomai outfit that was on display there, with some explanations.

Sweets are next!

Ichigo Ichigo!

Just wanted to say, Japan wins all the way when it comes to packaging. Look at those yummy  strawberries! Not only were they pretty, they were delicious too: (Ate them with a small delicious Japanese spongecake I bought at a local french-style bakery people in Kyoto seem to love)

Oh, and if you're wondering what that bear is doing in both those photos, his name is Rabu-Beah-San (Mister Love Bear) and he has his own blog about his life in Kyoto, here:

More on Japanese sweets (the traditional kind this time!), next post!


I bought my first bicycle today, and named it Sora (DAMN YOU NARUTO SHIPPUUDEN). Because it's blue, you know?
Ain't she a beaut:

Speaking of bicycles in Japan, I saw this odd pair the other day:

High heels, cute outfits and shiny pink bikes? YES WE CAN, says Japan. Seeing this makes me understand better Japan's whole "outrageous outfits + heels + Mixed Martial Arts" combo typical of female characters in games. (Although the West is also into the same thing?)
If you can ride a bicycle in style, then you kick some ass in style too. Do-You-Know-What-I-Am-Saying? (Butters)

Today was a gorgeous day, pic to prove it:

So I used Sora to get myself down to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which is open to the Public for free this week only! More in future post!