Sunday, July 19, 2009

Japanese Food and Glowing Hosta

Food in the Kono household is very important - as I am sure it is in most households. I love to eat, but, unfortunately, I am not a particularly great cook. So, let me tell you what happened over the last two days in our food department.

Yesterday afternoon around 4:00 the subject of dinner crossed my mind - again. What to cook. I mentioned to Ken that we had pork chops in the freezer, as well as salmon and chicken. He said to cook whatever I felt like. Well, we've had salmon every few days over the last 20 years or so, and chicken even more often than that, so I thought I would be a bit exotic and grill the pork chops.

I found a recipe for an herb rub for the pork that included a little rosemary, peppercorns, thyme, cloves and a little salt. I put all that together, rubbed it over the pork chops, added a little olive oil and grilled them to perfection. I was so proud. Along with the pork, I steamed some rice (although our rice supply was from what was left over from before we left for Japan.) It didn't look like anything was wrong with it, so I figured what the heck. We also had some fresh corn on the cob, and some packaged broccoli with water-chestnuts from Trader Joes. I found the broccoli in the freezer (also a left over from before we left.)

Well, dear readers, you would think from the reaction to this dinner, that I was trying to poison my family. Ken and Yumiko said the rice was NOT GOOD - too stale. The porkchops were just too darn American (big slabs of meat.) And the year old frozen broccoli -- well even I thought it was a bit rough.

We made it through dinner with no real harm, although my little feelings were a bit hurt.

So today, we all turned over a new leaf and drove to Narberth, PA where there is a very good Japanese grocery store called Maido. We got a shopping cart and we loaded it with everything Japanese - Miso paste; frozen sun dried himono fish; dashi (fish flakes); nori (seaweed); tofu; fermented soybean called nato; black bean and mochi cakes; sesami oil; Japanese rice; Japanese pickels; Japanese potato cakes; Japanese dumplings; and on and on.

And tonight I grilled the fish, made miso soup with tofu, dashi and mushrooms, steamed Japanese rice, microwaved the nato, and added a little fresh American broccoli. Ken was a happy, happy man. And Yumiko was a happy girl. I too was thrilled to have a little Japanese food again after plain old (really old) American for the last two weeks.

On another note, the hosta are blooming in St. Davids. Here is one that was glowing early this morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yumiko's 13th Birthday

Today was Yumiko's 13th birthday. It began with an early drop off at her ballet camp. Ken and I told her we would try to be back by 3:30 at the latest to pick her up. Then we drove off to downtown Philadelphia to Pennsylvania Hospital where Ken was meeting his neurologist and participating in an ongoing research study for Parkinson's patients. We got to the hospital on time and then Ken spent the next three hours answering question after question to test his memory and determine how his brain is doing. This is the third year of this study and Ken has participated each year. I sat right next to him and tried to answer the questions as well. It is a good thing the doctors are not checking my brain as I did not do nearly as well as Ken.

The testing was over about 1:30. We had a quick lunch and then drove back home in a hurry. I had invited three of Yumiko's good friends over for a little surprise birthday party, but still had to get the cake, prepare dinner, and get everything organized. By the time I picked up Yumiko it was close to 4:30 and she was NOT happy. She was one of the last ones at the camp and felt quite sad. How could it be that on her special birthday her old decrepit mother did not pick her up earlier. I tried to cheer her up, but didn't want to spoil the surprise. When we got home, she just went up in her room a little teary eyed and said she was tired and wanted to be by herself.

Just about 5:30 on the dot, each of her three friends came individually to the door. I let them in one at a time and they went up to Yumiko's room and each gave her a big hug and wished her a happy birthday. Then for the next four hours, these four girls had the time of their lives just being together.

Oh.... I'm tired, but happy that the day went well and we now have a full fledged teenager in our midst.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jet Lag and Trained Monkeys

I think we still have a little jet leg.  Here's what happened today.  First, my dear friend Barbara told me in a very kind way that yesterday was Monday, not Tuesday as I had reported in my blog.   Thank you Barb.

Then later today after Ken and I entertained two representatives from a health insurance company selling Long Term Health Insurance, we decided to go out for dinner.  It was late and I had not even begun cooking.   Yumiko and I got in the car and Ken drove.  The Parkinson's has really slowed Ken in terms of walking, but once he gets in the car - he is a new man.  He has no trouble at all with driving.  We went to our favorite Indian restaurant near Devon, PA and had a great dinner.  By the time we got back in the car it was 9:00 and already dark outside.  Ken drove out of the parking lot and was about to turn right at the light, when a police car pulled up right behind us with lights flashing.  Uh oh.......

The policeman got out of his car and came up to Ken's window and asked him if he realized that he was driving a car that had seven month overdue inspection stickers.  Ken was about to apologize, when I put on my "Global Cooperation" voice and told the policeman we had just gotten home from eleven months in Japan.  He looked in the car and gave all three of us the once over.  Then he asked Ken to hand over his license and registration.  He took the documents and returned to the police car.  We waited and wondered what the heck would happen.  About ten minutes later the policeman came back and said our insurance was current, but we needed to get the car inspected.  He handed us a little card and said if we got it inspected within seven days and sent that little card back to him indicating we had done the right thing, there would be no ticket.  

We thanked him profusely.  Then I asked him how the heck he could tell we were driving with a lapsed inspection.  He told us it was not rocket science.  Somehow every other year the colors on the windshield inspection stickers are reversed.  He could see with just a quick glance we had the wrong colors.   He said a trained monkey could have figured out we were driving an uninspected car.

Well, tomorrow, if we are not arrested again, we will get our cars inspected and send back the little card.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Full Moon

It's Tuesday evening about 10:15.  There's a full moon outside and I just took his picture.  Ken and I had a busy day replacing our one hundred year old T.V. sets with two new Sony high definition flat screen T.V.'s.  Ken is much more patient with all this technology than I am.  I was ready to throw in the towel and call the T.V. set up man when things didn't start as they should.  But Ken kept at it.  Read all the directions, plugged in all the circuits and we are now fully connected to the modern world.  Tomorrow we may just turn these babies on.  Talk to you soon.  All is well with us.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Good Night Sleep

It's just about noon on the 4th of July here in the U.S. of A.  We all got a good night sleep for the first time since returning from Japan on Tuesday, so life is good.  We are still getting settled, but soon all will be back in order and the camera will come back out again.  In the meantime, it is good to be home.

It's a few hours later.  Here's a shot of the fireworks at Radnor Highschool.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We're HOME!!

We made it home safe and sound last night about 10:00 p.m.  Tilly, our cat greeted us at the door.  Ken bet me she would be upset and wouldn't speak to us for days, but he was wrong.  She jumped onto my lap as we got into bed and purred like a long lost kitten.

It is so wonderful to be home, but our eleven months in Japan was the most marvelous adventure any family could ever wish for.  I am too tired to write much more tonight and didn't take any photographs yet today.  Let's see what tomorrow brings.