Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Epic Journey of Summer 2010! Part 1 (Belgium)

Hey, everyone! While my main focus is Japan, this blog is about many cultures in general, and as I tend to travel, I thought why not document it! I will be in Europe for the next three weeks or so and would like to share this with you. It'll provide more content for when I have little time to make regular blog posts, and hopefully it'll be interesting posts in and of themselves. Just so you know, despite the title, I'm not sure if this particular trip will be really "epic" and I'll mostly be just visiting family, but I still hope to visit some new places and see some cool things.

Now, I'm not sure how good I'll be at blogging while travelling. It's a little ambitious, as I know that things can get very busy (especially when I do interesting stuff that I really want to blog about). So this will be a bit of an experiment. I plan to update you guys on my journey a couple of times a week - let's see if I can do it!

Aaaaand we're off!
So our journey begins at an airport in Houston, Texas: Bush Intercontinental. Surprisingly, it wasn't busy at all, and we got on and through the flight with no problems. Ironically, even though I travel quite a bit, I'm definitely not a fan of flying. But there was very little turbulence, and I was thankful for a smooth ride.

We flew directly to Paris, France, which was a nine-hour flight. We're not spending any time there this year - in fact, even though I go to the Paris airport almost every year, I've only ever actually visited the city once. So I mostly just know it for its airport. However, this was the first time I'd seen this particular terminal. Here are a couple shots of that:

Again, the airport was fairly calm and easy to get through this time. We needed to rent a car, and then it was a three-hour drive to my grandparent's house in Belgium.

It's been a pretty smooth process, but I am so exhausted! I'm also terrible with jet lag, so I need to get used to that. But I'm happy to be here! ^^

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lang-8: Part 2

This is the section of my blog where I post my corrected Lang-8 entries. You can start with part one here. If you’re new and don’t know what Lang-8 is, I talk about it in my Japanese learning methods post. Check it out! :D

When I first posted my lang-8 entries, I said I’d post them in batches of ten entries or so. Well, not only do I not post frequently enough on Lang-8 to stick with that, I don’t want to make posts that are way too dense either, so I thought I’d do more like five entries per post. Makes it easier for me, and maybe easier to read for you too! ^^










  http://culturequirk.blogspot.com/2010/03/cooking-adventures-tamagoyaki.html ちょっと難しかったけど、おいしかったです。



Sea World


でも、週末は最高でした!家族が来て、一緒にシーワールドに行きました。鯱もイルカもアザラシもかわいかったです。私イルカを触った!幸せだった〜 ^o^ でも一番かわいかったのはラッコだったかな。私はラッコが大好きです。シーワールドへまた行きたいです。楽しかったです!











Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cooking Adventures: Okonomiyaki

So I tried out a fairly flexible recipe – and I say flexible, because I didn’t have half of the ingredients and it still came out edible. I looove okonomiyaki and just had to try it out! This isn’t the most flavorful rendition in the world, but I still enjoyed it, and it was incredibly easy to make. Okonomiyaki is generally pretty forgiving. Here’s the recipe I originally referred to, although like I said, I didn’t have a ton of the ingredients and improvised most of it.

If you don’t know what okonomiyaki is, it’s pretty difficult to explain, but hopefully this post will give you a better idea. It’s kind of like a pancake, kind of like a pizza, kind of like an omelette… but not. I’ve seen a ton of different variations, and you can do almost anything you want with it, but this is what I did the first time I made okonomiyaki.

First cut up the veggies. One of the most basic components of all okonomiyaki (as far as I know) is cabbage. Shred it up into tiny pieces, along with any other vegetables you like – in this case, I added some carrot in there. Altogether, I had just under a cup of cabbage and a single carrot.

Next, make the batter. It’s basically just flour, water, and egg. To make a small okonomiyaki I just put in a single egg, along with about 20 grams of flour and 2 tablespoons of water. I’m used to putting milk in any type of batter, but that’s not the case here. Have your veggies at the ready and…

Mix it all together! This is where I really felt the difference of the lack of milk – the whole thing felt so dry! But this is fine, and it should be pretty chunky; you won’t want it to drip all over the place when you go to cook it. I just used a fork to mix it all up, but if you have a spatula, it’ll come in handy in a second…

Now to cook this up! But a tad of oil in your pan, just so that the batter doesn’t stick, and dump your mixture onto the pan. Use a spatula to get it all out of the bowl and make the pancake as even as possible. Now we need to steam it.

Look at how unprepared I was! I didn't have a cover for the pan I was using, so I just used a different one that was for a much bigger pan. Just goes to show how much time I put into preparing for this... and how easy it is to pull off. Just improvise with what you have in the kitchen. :P

Let the batter sit for a while and cook. Use a spatula to lift the edge every once in a while and see if it's solid yet. Once the bottom is solid enough that it won't fall apart, go ahead and flip it over with your spatula. Use a knife, fork, another spatula, or something to help you turn it over if you need to.

Let it cook for a while longer on the other side. Don't press down on it or anything, though, since you want it to stay pretty airy and fluffy inside. The edges on mine were totally uneven, and didn't cook as well as the rest of it. This wasn't really a problem in the end for me, but if anyone has any tips on cooking okonomiyaki better please let me know! ^^ The recipe I followed said to only flip it over once, but I think that might have mostly been due to the other ingredients making the process more complicated, and I actually just kept flipping it over until it looked a little more golden and solid.


While still in the pan, I put on the sauce. I didn't have any okonomiyaki sauce, nor the proper ingredients to make one, but that didn't end up being a problem. Apparently it tastes just fine with soy sauce, but I actually put katsu sauce on it and thought it tasted great. I also ripped up some nori (seaweed) into little pieces and put some on there too. I tasted it with and without the nori and liked it both ways - I ended up just covering it in nori completely. If anything, it makes it look a little more interesting. 

Here's the final product! A very simple, rough version of okonomiyaki. Now, I don't think my version really makes this dish justice - if you ever have the opportunity to have some authentic okonomiyaki, I strongly urge you to try it. But if you just want to try something different, tasty, and easy to make with ingredients you already have lying around, then keep this recipe in mind!