Have you ever tried white goya?

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like we may see some rain off and on today. It'll clear up for a couple of days and then we are looking at cloudy skies on Saturday and more rain for Sunday and Monday. Highs all week will be between 31C and 33C. If it's not too wet on Sunday morning, I'm going to head for an outdoor run-if I can get it in, it'll be the first one this month.

Goya are the number one vegetable in my apartment at the moment-I think I've had goya champul (?) 3-4 times in the past 2 weeks. Goya are the go-to vegetable for Hiroshimans who are looking to keep their houses/apartments cool. Lots of people plant them outside their large ground floor windows and because they are quick-growing vines with large leaves, they're the perfect vegetable to use to create a natural curtain to keep the sun off your house and hopefully feel a little cooler in the summer.

And, on top of that, they grow goya which are a quite bitter vegetable, but taste pretty good in champul (?). However, last week I got a white one for the first time. Have you ever tried one?
white goya
They're pure white on the inside and outside and they're a lot less bitter than their green cousins. Next year, if you're planting goya in your garden and you're not a big fan of the bitter ones, give the white ones a try. Of course they're still bitter-they are goya after all...but they're tons less bitter and now I'm trying to think what other dishes I can make with them for next year...any ideas?

Have a great day!

DIY bath bombs

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like today will be mostly overcast before turning mostly sunny tomorrow and then cloudy again the next day. Sunday and Monday are both looking like rain, but it's a bit early to say for sure. Highs all week will be in the mid 30s.

In western countries people generally forego a bath in favor of a quick shower, but for many people in Japan, a soak in the bath is part of their nightly ritual. Baths are a great way to relax after a tough day, and sprinkling in some aromatic bath powder or tossing in a fizzy bath bomb can really enhance the experience.

Store-bought bath bombs aren’t too hard to come by, thanks to handmade cosmetics store Lush spreading the popularity of their creation, but bath bombs are also pretty easy to make yourself. Not only that, if you pop by one of Japan’s 100 yen shops (the equivalent to a dollar store back home), you can get all the ingredients you need to make it yourself for just a few hundred yen!

Baking soda – 100 grams (3.5 ounces)
Citric acid – 50 grams
Katakuri starch (or potato starch) – 50 grams
Water – small amount, in a spray bottle

Scented bath powder – 2 to 3 pouches, or
Essential oil – 5 to 10 drops

To make:
In a bowl, add the baking soda, citric acid, and starch, and mix well. Add in your scented bath powder or essential oil if desired and mix. Then, using a spray bottle, give the mixture about five spritzes of water at a time while stirring. If starts fizzing, you’ve added too much water! You want to add just enough for the entire thing to feel damp, and to start holding together when pressed with your fingers.

Next, pack the mixture into molds to dry. Silicone molds work best, as they allow for easy removal, but any shape will do. Let sit for a half to a full day, until completely hardened, before removing from the molds. Once dry and hardened they’re ready to use, or to give away to friends as great little personalized gifts.

The bath bombs hold together pretty well, also making it a fun activity to work on with little kids as they can help stir, pack, and remove from the molds. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to pass the time when you’re indoors trying to avoid the scorching summer heat!

What kind of scents would you use? I'm partial to woody smells like cedar or hinoki.

Have a great day!

Where's the Chugoku Area version?

Good morning everyone,

If you're an early riser like me, you'll already know that it's pouring outside. But it should let up soon and stop raining completely later today. Tomorrow is looking overcast and then a mix of sun and clouds Thursday and Friday before grey skies return for the weekend. Highs all week will be in the low to mid 30s with overnight lows hovering around 25C.

The Kanto region, centred on Tokyo, and the Kansai region, centred on Osaka and Kyoto, have a long history of cultural and culinary rivalry. They also have different words for some things, including, strangely enough, McDonald’s. Then again, in English there are plenty of names for the humble fast food chain: Maccy D’s, the Golden Arches and Micky D's to name but a few. While normally in Japan it’s pronounced Makudonarudo (マクドナルド), people in Tokyo and the surrounding area tend to abbreviate the name to “Makku” (マック) with those in Kansai and the West of Japan go for “Makudo” (マクド). Now, McDonald’s Japan is playing up this rivalry by introducing differing limited-edition burgers to decide, at least burger-wise, who will be crowned champion.

▼ The Tokyo Roast Beef Burger (top) and the Osaka Beef Katsu Burger (below)

The contenders? In the West corner, weighing in at more than a hundred grams, is the Osaka Beef Katsu Burger. Osaka is the traditional culinary heart of Japan, encapsulated by the unofficial motto of the city, ‘kuidaore‘ (eat until you fall down). One of its most famous offerings is Kushi Katsu: meat, fish or vegetables placed on skewers, covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. The new McDonald’s burger follows in this tradition with a bread-crumbed and deep-fried beef patty with a good dollop of special Katsu sauce. The Osaka Beef Katsu Burger will set you back 390 yen for the burger on its own or 690 yen for the meal set.

In the East corner, also weighing in at several grams, is the Tokyo Roast Beef Burger. Yes, Tokyo, capital of Japan and almost a country in its own right, famous throughout the world for… roast beef? Rather than go with tradition, McDonald’s says it is responding to the current trend sweeping the capital. The Tokyo Roast Beef Burger will feature the delicious umami flavour of roast beef with a 100 percent beef patty in a baguette-style bun. The Tokyo Roast Beef Burger will cost 440 yen or 740 yen for the meal set.

But the campaign isn’t limited to these two flagship burgers; the breakfast menu and chicken burgers are also getting limited edition versions to decide who wins, or at least who eats more McDonald’s. The full line-up:

▼ Tokyo Roast Beef Breakfast Muffin (360 yen) or Osaka Beef Katsu Burger Breakfast Muffin (330 yen)?

▼ Chicken McNuggets with Osaka Okonomi Mayonnaise or Tokyo Lemon & Basil Mayonnaise?

▼ ‘La France‘ (European Pear) and ‘Wakayama Unshu Mikan‘ (Mandarin Orange) McDonald’s Fizzes

The two camps also have official supporters, with Kanto having the backing of actress Airi Taira (who was actually born in Hyogo Prefecture in the Kansai region) and Kansai having Osakan comedian Koji Imada in their corner.

The short-lived voting runs from August 9 until August 20 so you’ll need to be quick to cast your vote/stuff your face. The winning burger will be declared on August 22, with a special Victory Coupon for that burger becoming available on the McDonald’s Japan official phone app or the company’s Twitter page until the campaign ends in early September.

Hopefully after that we'll see a campaign for the Chugoku burger, eh? Hmmm...not likely...there aren't enough of us here. But if we were to have a battle about tastes, who would our rival be? You know, like Kanto vs Kansai. It's Chugoku vs...??? I have no idea. The only thing I can think of is Osaka, but that's more of a Hiroshima Okonomiyaki vs Osaka Okonomiyaki rather than a whole region, right? Any ideas?

Have a great day!
PS Since when is Yamagata part of Kanto? (besides that, when I think of Yamagata, I think cherries not pears)


Good morning everyone,

I hope you enjoyed the sun while you could on the weekend. It's looking like we can expect rain tonight and it'll continue tomorrow. The rain should stop sometime tomorrow night, but the rest of the week isn't looking very nice. It'll be mostly cloudy all week with daytime highs in the low to mid 30s.

So, do you know what S'mores are? If you've ever been to a bbq with me (or pretty much anyone else from North America), you've probably had one.

To be honest, they're really popular with kids when you are having a bbq or out camping, but not many adults eat them. I always have them here-but I probably wouldn't eat them back home. They're a little messy and a  little sweet for adults, I guess. But they sure are good.

That's why I was so excited when I saw the S'mores Frappucino at Starbucks the other day. I hadn't had a specialty drink from Starbucks since I had the American Cherry Pie one back in March or April. It was good, but definitely not worth the calories.
The S'mores frappucino was good-it had all the basic tastes you expect when eating S'mores-there was chocolate, marshmallow and they even threw in some crumbled graham crackers for crunchiness. But, to be honest, it wasn't great. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it wasn't quite creamy enough or marshmallowy for me and the chocolate was too dark. If the chocolate flavor had been a bit milkier and there had been a bit more of a marshmallow flavor, it would have been perfect. As it was, I totally don't regret having it and if you want to try some new flavor of frappucino, you won't be disappointed.

But I think I'll just stick to black coffee in the future, I think my tastebuds are getting too old for such rich, chocolatey drinks. If you try one, let me know what you think.

Have a great day!

Not well-endowed? Here are some things you might relate to....

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like we can enjoy sunny hot weather for today and tomorrow and then it looks like rain and clouds for the rest of the week. Daytime highs all week will be in the low to mid 30s.

While Japan’s attention is regularly captivated by large breasts, it’s not like the entire nation is filled with nothing but extra-chesty women. Despite Japan’s average bust size getting progressively larger, plenty of women are still petitely chested, and survey site Goo Ranking recently asked users to chime in on what life is like when you have what Japan calls hinnyu, literally “impoverished breasts.”

A total of 1,343 responses were collected, so let’s take a look at the top 10.

10. It’s really easy for me to fit things into my shirt pocket. (35 responses) Breast size and breast pocket utility have an inverse relation.

9. It’s hard for me to fill out the cups on a T-shirt bra. (39 responses) Fashion woes featured commonly in the top 10, as we’ll see as the list goes on.

8. If I smoosh my breasts together…they still aren’t that big. (46 responses)

7. I can’t wear tube tops or off-shoulder tops, because I’m afraid they’ll slip down. (52 responses)

6. Even if I jump or run, they don’t bounce. (55 responses)

5. If I wear a bra with thick pads, it’s like there’s another dimension between the bra and my breasts. (56 responses)Many Japanese bras, particularly those aimed at young women, come standard with removable pads that fit inside the cups. While the intent is to provide a bustier outward appearance, past a certain breast/pad ratio it can start to feel a little unnatural for the wearer.

4. I never get stiff shoulders. (64 responses)

3. There really aren’t any bras that fit me. (71 responses)While it’s true that clothing options tend to diminish anytime you move away from the median body type, there are some Japanese designers who’re putting their creative energies to use expanding the selection of lingerie for small-breasted women.

2. Just because I have small breasts doesn’t mean I have a slim build. (79 responses)

1. When I lay on my back, it’s like my breasts disappear. (139 responses) Any woman is going to look less busty lying on her back, but for those who’re starting with a smaller amount of bustiness to begin with, there’s a possibility of being left with virtually none. This is just physics at work, though, and isn’t something that can really be counteracted.

Can you relate to any of these? I definitely can...but about 10 years ago I couldn't...ha ha!

Have a great day!