Nah NoWriMo

Before I started writing this month I came up with a list of ideas for a novel. These are the top 10 ideas I rejected but liked.

My Top 10 Rejected NaNoWriMo Ideas

  1. Epic Fantasy about a group of ragtag adventures on a quest
  2. Muggle in a Muggle Land (Extraterrestrial visits earth. Finds Wizards)
  3. Jesus as Time Traveler / Jesus as Space Alien
  4. Apocalyptic Future – Climate
  5. Mid-life in Japan (semi-autobiographical)
  6. Superhero in Japan (wishful-autobiographical)
  7. Apocalyptic Future – Zombies
  8. Apocalyptic Future – Trump
  9. Space Explorers (a star trek, but not Star Trek)
  10. The Butler Did I.T. (Agatha Christie meets Cory Doctorow)

Tokyo Black

IMG_0938Last night I broke out the second of my Yo-Ho beers, Tokyo Black. I knew I was going to have it with a meal because I enjoy dark beers with food. While I am sure I would enjoy this beer with Japanese food I decided to go with a classic hamburger. Mostly because I’ve been craving a hamburger for a few days because I was going to have one on Friday, but ended up with Soba instead. I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture, but this hamburger is smaller than a typical American burger, because (say it with me), “Everything is smaller in Japan.” Read More…


IMG_0925 One of our big outings over winter break was to the Kinukuniya bookstore in Shinjuku. They have a very decent foreign book section and it is possible that some members of the family were more excited about this than the trip to Disneyland. I’ve been looking for a cookbook for some basic Japanese recipes and after much comparison I ended up with A Cook’s Journey to Japan by Sarah Marx Feldner. This one may not have better recipes than the cookbooks I passed over, but I liked the voice of the author. Read More…

Wednesday’s Cat

IMG_0925This past week I discovered a new Supermarket (or Supa) called the foodium  I’ve passed by it several times, but it is about a twenty-five minute walk from our apartment so I never considered it a convenient place for grocery shopping. Grocery stores in Japan are amazing places where the produce is always 100% fresh, you can get prepared food in the “deli section” both cheaper and higher quality than can be made in your own kitchen, and they will politely point out where the salt (shio) is when you are standing two feet away from it. The foodium takes all of that and combines it with everything you want in a western grocery store. It is well lit, has wide aisles, and more selections of products than most other supa. As an example our usual grocery store has exactly four different kinds of breakfast cereal; the foodium has nearly twenty. If all that isn’t enough the freezer section has motion detectors so that the lights inside the case turn on when you are in front of them. Read More…

Kik Alicha

A thick Ethiopian Lentil Stew, eaten on Injera bread by hand.  One of my favorite Ethiopian dishes, and the one that I’ve managed to best duplicate at home.  This is my version, modified from a bunch of different online versions.

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Berbere Sauce

Well, it’s been ages since I posted.  However, since I fiddled around with my spicing mixture for the Berbere sauce that I use for making Ethiopian dishes, I thought I’d post it here.  Makes it a lot easier to find/remember when I need to make it again….

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The Last Yushoku

We met Rob, the owner of our Kyoto home, on our first day in Kyoto. It was a brief meeting because we were on our way out for the day and he had students from Princeton arriving to see the house. Rob is a larger than life character wearing a coat and tie on most days. but was dressed down with just a summer jacket in deference to the heat. He seemed distracted when we met him, probably because he was expecting to meet students not tourists. He asked how we liked the house and told us we should crank up the air conditioning. It is fair to say I liked him right away. I was glad a couple days later when he and Janet worked out having dinner together on our last night in Japan.

He met us at the house at 5:30, on time, which Janet claims is unusual and I find easy to believe. It is also easy to believe that Rob is a fixture in this Kyoto neighborhood. He told us that he originally was going to take us to someplace that had “very Japanese food,” but that with the kids he would take us somewhere with more normal food. We walked less than ten minutes and arrived at a place called Bamboo. They clearly knew Rob and led us all back to a private room. They tried to bring us menus, but Rob gave them back telling them to just bring us a variety of things, but nothing too unusual. I’ll see if I can remember the order of the dishes. First they brought out individual western salads with a few leaves of lettuce and a cherry tomato. Very refreshing. Next I think was a Japanese salad of some sort with an unusual neon green, bubbled seaweed in it that looked like it was from another planet. It sort of popped in your mouth, but it didn’t have a strong flavor.

There was some sashimi, tempura, some fried chicken dish, and some beef cubes that melted in your mouth. The dish that stole the show was a platter of little crabs that had been deep fried.


Even Rob was surprised by this dish and he said that the chef was playing a joke on him because he asked for nothing too weird. I was game and popped one in my mouth right away. It was salty and crunchy sort of like a potato chip, although more like you might imagine a fried cricket would taste.

Everyone except Sarah tried one eventually and she probably would have worked up the nerve, but we had already eaten all of them. Melanie and Michael both broke off the legs first to make it seem less weird.

While the food was served Rob regaled us with stories of the movie he is working on, his travels, his phobias, and with some culinary and historical facts about Japan, Kyoto, and the Gion Matsuri. He also gave us a great way to get back to the airport which worked very well for us the next day. After about an hour and a half he apologized, but said that he had to go and meat someone for his second dinner. He told us that “everthing was taken care of” and that there would be some more dishes coming. We had one more shrimp dish after he left just to be polite, but most of us were quite full by this time.

The kids were not so full that we managed to skip our now nightly Lawson’s trip for ice cream and breakfast pastries.