Sunday, August 20, 2017

Japanese Cooking With Masako

Masako's first full day with us was spent with her showering us with gifts from Japan. She brought the girls these cute little sushi and sweets that fit perfectly with their little critter toys.

I asked her if I could keep her sushi rice instructions since they are so cute:

She made decorative sushi. Of course Japan's artistic talents are evident in anything they make with their hands. The sushi designs were pretty incredible. Some when cut open would be flower designed revealed. This pink mixture is sugar, to add to the coloring and taste.

She brought a powdered vinegar for sushi rice. We used it up and I bought Japanese vinegar at HEB and it work fine.

Masako loved showing the girls how she lived to make sushi. She added ingredients we have used before, but added egg (for yellow decoration for flowers) and it added a nice taste, consistency and protein.

Most were devoured before I could take photos.

This dish translated as Three Colors. It was very good. Ceci ground chicken in our never before use meat grinder, egg, snow peas over rice.

As you can see, my google translator was not good for recipes. 

Pork stir fry with udon noodles. We made this dish many times with different meats, most often finely chopped pork or beef.

Note - for my taste buds, I prefer the low sodium soy sauce or tamari. Masako did not like it at all. I also cut back the soy sauce to tone down the soy sauce flavor.

Her recipe was smudged, but this is best I remember it:

Masako's Udon Stir Fry
Serves 8 people
1 pound beef, pork or chikuwa ( Japanese fish food product sliced in small strips
4 packets of Udon noodles (international isle), soaked in water during preparation
1/2 white or yellow onion, cut in 1" strips
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1" strips
1 bunch green onion, cut in 1 " strips
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced, optional
Mix together well: 1 cup soy sauce (she lied original only, no low sodium)
1 cup oyster sauce

For saute:
4 TBSP veg. oil

Saute meat with white onion
Once slightly browned, add carrots, mushrooms and green onions
Drain noodles, break up or apart if needed.
Add noodles to saute once carrots have cooked.
Add sauce mixture and stir well.
Add black pepper to you preference
and enjoy!

Who doesn't LOVE pan fried dumplings?

She had wanted a square pan to let this egg mixture cook up like a loaf, but instead we had it as omelettes. It was delicious.
Meat and potatos
We did have confusion with words, ingredients and translations which all worked out. She is so good tempered and patient with us when she asked for black pepper but Euly thought black paper, Masako started giggling for five minutes without stopping. It was a running joke from then on.

The big cup item below stands for tablespoon.
Her drawings are adorable; art is her favorite subject at school. Initially we communicated quite a bit through drawings. She won at Pictionary every time we played.

SHe used chjopsticks for cooking and gave us lessons on the correct way to hold them. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Last Weeks of Our Time With Masako

Masako is back home in Japan. We miss her already. What a fantastic experience and wow, how quickly time passes!
One month is not enough. A two week visit wouldn't give enough time to really get to know each other, everyone can stay on visiting manners for two weeks. But a month, you really do get to know one anther despite communication barriers. I am so happy to have had the additional time. We had some crazy experiences in the third and fourth weeks, hard experiences and but real life all the same. And real life experienced together grows bonds. When we said our long, tearful goodbyes, Masako asked us to not forget her. How could we? We now have a friend/ sister/daughter living in Japan!!
These deeper bond is evident to me in these photos of our last days. I am not sure it shows to others.

We showed Masako many things I am honored to have experienced with her. Imagine a night sky all lit up Tokyo, now imagine a star filled night sky deep in the heart of Texas (and yes, we did sing her all kinds of Texas songs). We had a trailer ride to the front pasture to see the stars. She was impressed and thrilled with the abundance of stars, the milky way, planes and satellites.

Her favorite food was the Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuit. She loved her steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse, she took my recipe for biscuits and enjoyed my chocolate pie. She made us many of her favorites, and left me her cookbook. I think I will share recipes in another post.

Nick taught her American archery, she was experienced in Japanese archery. We hung out, swam, and shopped, a lot. She loved Target most. And Reece's are her favorite American candy. Nick sent her home with a variety of Walmart selections and other goodies he bought after working. We stopped by Buc-es for other goodies to send home. Her suitcase was as full leaving as it was when she arrived, just over the travel limit.

We went on glow stick lit walks through the woods. We played with the puppies and one day Masako followed Sheila on a walk wherever Sheila led. Her shoes came back a little muddy from the recent rains, but her face was bright and smiling. She met many of my family and friends, went to both celebrations of Mass. We had some deep conversations and times of giggling.

She will be in our prayers as we cheer and watch her life from the other side of the globe.

Her favorite thing was to show us her favorite recipes.

We played all kinds of cards games

Looking over the photo album Masako made to show back home.

We shared names of books, movies and learned about a new to us social app popular in Asia called SNOW.

Tears the night before we had to say goodbye.
She wanted a picture with the cows. :) And finally captured one before we hopped in the car to Dallas.
The LEX and LABO international language programs hosted a departure event where each family told about our visits, the students had chances to tell impressions of their time with us. Heartfelt, lovely, tear-filled, and with most of us excited about enrolling again next year, although it would be bittersweet knowing Masako wasn't the one returning.
We had a fantastic time, a wonderful summer and now excited to keep up with Masako and her Japanese adventure from here. Yes, we do talk about getting us over there for a visit too, who knows!

Euly had her sign her chalkboard wall in Japanese characters and regular letters.