Happy New Year — I’ve missed you all!

Fist off, I started this blog a year ago today — time flies.

I need to apologize for the unintended absence. For my birthday (on October 6th) ANA sent me a special promotion which I used to take an unscheduled, unplanned, always needed two-week vacation. When I came back I had essays up the kazoo to grade and, by chance, there was opening for a promotion.

I wanted the promotion.

I needed to prepare for the test (the first step in the application process), then for three successive interviews. I made it to the third and final group interview, but I didn’t get the job. That was at the end of November.

I sulked through most of December before getting in holiday mode — cooking, shopping, planning, and getting all my work done as our third year students graduate.

Excuses aside, I’m back. I didn’t mean to take a long holiday. Life happens — and I don’t get paid for this, so priorities. πŸ˜‰

 

Osetchi, tier one (Japanese foods)

Osetchi, tier one (Japanese foods)



I did have time to consider what my blog means to me in the time I was away. I did start this as a means to reach out and connect with other people who share my passion for cooking and food — all things connected to food and eating. My blog then turned into a photography blog. I tried different ways to separate the two but photography was more fun to post about, however it’s not my real goal. I want to focus on my cooking and so I’m going to keep my photography in Flicker with a few here and there to liven up a given post.

I do love photography, perhaps even more than food. To take pictures and edit them require lots of time. To balance blogging and photography I’m setting a goal to post here once a week. I might post more, but I’d rather post a quality food post that’s informative than several small ones. We’ll see how it works out.

For this first week of the new year I thought I’d post about our New Year’s Osetchi.

Osetchi, tier two (French foods)

Osetchi, tier two (French foods)

Every year I’ve been in Japan for the New Year’s holiday I’ve spent the week it takes to make all the best dishes I can eek out of my kitchen — and it’s expensive. Two years ago I spent the equivalent of 700USD for Osetchi and it’s accompaniments (crab, sashimi, wine, etc). This year I purchased one of the many pre-made osetchi boxes available through department stores. They range in price from 2000USD to a modest 100USD. The food should be enough that it lasts for three days. I went with the Dean & Deluca osetchi box and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Osetchi, tier three (French/Japanese fusion foods)

Osetchi, tier three (French/Japanese fusion foods)

I enjoy Japanese traditional foods (tray one); however, the other two trays of western delicacies blew them away. The duck confit, the home made sausages, the sea urchin mouse and on and on and on were some of the best things I’ve eaten in ages. The beef! I’ve never had beef so tender that it literally begins to melt while chewing.

Ostchi served with sashimi on the first day with soup with oven roasted motchi.

Ostchi served with sashimi on the first day with soup with oven roasted motchi.

So enjoy these photos of my first feast of the New Year and let me know in the comments how you’ve all been doing.

 

The new year in Japan.

On January 2nd the Imperial Family opens the East wing of their palace to the public. While we may not enter their residence we are allowed into the mail courtyard. The family makes an appearance at the window, the Emperor makes a short speech, and they all wave. It’s my first time attending — I’ve never been to a more crowded place in all my life (I’m tall enough to see just how crowded it was). These are a few photos I took at the event.

The Imperial family and their well wishers.

The Imperial family and their well wishers.

The second bridge across the moat leading into the palace, visible only twice a year.

The second bridge across the moat leading into the palace, visible only twice a year.

Photo of a photo of the people in the Imperial courtyard.

When one becomes a multitude.

New Year is one of the few times in the year when the Japanese flag is displayed nationally.

New Year is one of the few times in the year when the Japanese flag is displayed nationally.

During the first three days of the new year it is auspicious to visit a shrine or a temple. While there one purchases symbols for luck.

During the first three days of the new year it is auspicious to visit a shrine or a temple. While there one purchases symbols for luck.

...or hires the temple priests to say prayers over you. (The entry to that part of the shrine is off limits to all but family. This is the entry).

…or hires the temple priests to say prayers over you. (The entry to that part of the shrine is off limits to all but family. This is the entry).

Of course the shrines and temples are never more crowded than during the new year season.

Of course the shrines and temples are never more crowded than during the new year season.

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26 Comments on “Happy New Year — I’ve missed you all!

  1. Welcome back. It is so nice to see you are blogging again! I have been wondering where you were & I am glad to know you are well….Kudos to you at going for the promotion. Although you didn’t get it, you worked hard on preparing, and that work will serve you well. Perhaps next time? These Ostchi look amazing. I am envious! We have nothing like that available here in New Hampshire. Thank you so much! ‘looking forward to more. D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yeah, you have to go for what you want at full throttle. πŸ™‚

      New Hampshire? Each region has it’s own specialty, so I can imagine a bit but what kind of foods is NH famous for?

      Like

      • Unfortunately there is not much of a food culture here. I am trying to change that via my blog, Gathering FlavorsπŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry you didn’t land the job, Steven, there’ll be other opportunities no doubt. I wish you that and all the best for the new year. As for your blog, I always found your stuff interesting, even though I rarely find I have the ingredients, the tools, much less the skills for the challenge πŸ˜›

    There are a couple of things I’ve been messing with lately, mainly because I have a brother who wants to be vegetarian, but also because I like veggies and variety in my diet. I’ve been trying to make tofu taste nice, can’t say I’ve succeeded. I’ve also done a few experiments with cabbage, instead of boiling it I tried wilting it in the oven, gentles flavor and smell. It makes it easier to roll if you’re making cabbage rolls, or you can shred it and it makes for some good salads.

    Again, Happy New Year πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oven roasting vegetables is a time honored way to bring out flavor. I’ve never done it with cabbage. I might give it a go. πŸ™‚

      As for tofu, tofu will take on whatever flavors you put with it. What kind of things have you been making?

      One of the easiest things you can do is put it in a blender with melted chocolate and an accent flavor such as orange or hazelnut liquor and blend it smooth. The chocolate will set it when you pour it into pudding cups or a pie shell. No tofu taste. I’ve shocked many.

      You might try using tofu in egg-less egg salad. There are a lot of recipes online for it. In short, the tofu will take on the flavors of the herbs and aromatics you add to the salad.

      My personal favorite from Los Angeles were marinaded tofu sandwiches. The vendors put slices of momen (cotton?) tofu in a marinade of strong soy sauce, ginger, and a few other things over night then patted the slices dry and put them on a whole wheat bread with sprouts. I loved those. They used to be lined up and down Venice Beach when I was a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Blender, yes, I planned to try that next πŸ™‚ I know it’s crazy what people can do with tofu, but I’ve kept it simple for the first attempt, it was just a tiny brick I was working with. I cut it into several sticks so I could try different ways of cooking it. Some of the sticks I brushed with egg yolk and roasted, some I sauteed with red wine and caramelized onion, and some I think I coated with flour, egg white, breadcrumbs, and I might have sandwiched some fresh mint in between. I think I was on to something with the red wine, but that tofu didn’t soak up much of it.

        Like

  3. I was wondering what the heck happened to you! It’s good to have you back. πŸ™‚ The foods look so yummy my mouth is watering. Your photos are beautiful – as always. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Steven! I suspect you know but I always enjoyed your food/cooking posts most. Welcome back! You were missed, too. I am sorry the professional opportunity didn’t materialize. Onward, right? Hope you are otherwise well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Onward towards the cross walk so I get to another side and change course. And off I go!

      Hope you got all butter-balled up over the holidays. We all can use a few bad calories from time to time. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    • And Happy Xmas, Merry New Year to you, too.

      We all need a break from time to time, don’t we. And you with all that house to improve. πŸ™‚ Speaking of which, I’m installing HUE lighting and other LED lights. It’s been so much fun. Even better when everything is hooked up to my iPad. πŸ™‚

      Do you cook for the holiday, or go out? I’d think you’d want to show your place off more.

      Liked by 1 person

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