Monthly Archives: January 2010

Food & drinks

A bit more on cookin’

Last weekend I suddenly felt like cooking, so for some reason, before I went to bed, I ended up making a large batch of banana bread!

It turned out a little heavier than I would have liked, but it was tasty enough – at least it vanished from the office common area in less than 30 minutes!  I made 2 trays – one batch in a bundt pan, and the other in a traditional pan.  The bundt was the dish I shared at work since slicing was easy, and I…. I confess I ate most of the pan batch myself… (I actually just finished the rest of it today (>_<;

Images below!  (for some reason, it rose extremely well… but after cooling went back down drastically)

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Also, I’ve never realized how much of a difference a good knife makes in cooking.  Yesterday before heading out in the morning for running, I put in the remainder of the Christmas chicken (hey, it was pretty big and took a long time to eat!) into the slow cooker, chopped up carrots, parsley, onions, garlic, and potatoes.  Chopping was EASY!  I’ve always cut my veggies with an old knife that I’ve had for years – and chopping with that could get frustrating because it never sliced straight, and I would always have to put my whole weight down to get it to cut anything.

However, I recently got a new knife from the local supermarket.  They were running a promotion in which every 1,000 yen spent also got you a point.  With 25 points + 2,000 yen, you could get a nice new knife.  Now, I didn’t go and spend 25,000 on groceries just for a knife!  I was lucky – when checking out with my groceries one day, a lady saw me getting my point and offered me about 12 points of her own – apparently she had already gotten her knife and didn’t need these any more – she looked like she had at least 2 kids so I imagine that her grocery bills were much higher than mine, hence why she had so many spare points.

Anyway, I got my knife and boy was I impressed.  It cut through taters and carrots as if they were butter.  It really cuts down on time and frustration!  (“cuts down” eh? pun? Me so witty.. :P)

Doesn’t the pot of veggies look good thought? I let it cook away for roughly 16hrs and at the end also tossed in a can of cream of mushroom soup.  The combo was nothing fancy, but very filling and has already given me 2 full meals – and I’ve still got enough for another one or two bowls.  (unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the finished dish… was too hungry and just dove right in)

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Oh, and also included are some pictures of chocolate chip cookies I made.  A couple of friends had birthdays recently and I figured I’d bake them some cookies.  Not sure why, but the end result (again, forgot to take pics post-baking) turned out really flat… these were the 3rd batch of cookies I’ve made and the first two turned out nicely, shape-wise.  These tasted good enough, but somehow really flattened out.  I wonder if I used different butter than the one I did last time… that’s the only thing I can think of.  I miss easy access to Crisco… (and no I did not eat any cookie dough – WHO WOULD EVER DO SUCH A THING… though it tastes so GOOD… I mean… not that I would know of such a thing, of course…)

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*gasp* *wheeze*

It looks like I’ll be tackling one of my new year resolutions sooner than expected – that of running a marathon.

One of the folks in the office was lucky enough to have friends in the right places that were able to pull some strings – all the people (who wanted to) in the company running group will be joining the Tokyo Marathon… including me! :0

Information for the Tokyo Marathon can be found here, and as you can see, entry is EXTREMELY competitive.  It looks like over 272,000 people applied – but only 32,000 spots are available.   I actually applied the “normal” way first, by submitting my application online, but didn’t win the “lottery”.  Out of the 6-7 people in the office who applied, only 1 made it.  However, thanks to “connections”, we were lucky enough to be able to apply again (shhhh) and make it in.

So… this means that I’ll have to seriously practice again since the race is in less than 2 months!  After 3+ months of slacking off on running, I’ve got my work cut out for me. (^^;

Actually – I just found out today that I had applied to (and forgotten about) a half-marathon in Shinjuku (21km).  I just got the entry card today, and after a few minutes of head-scratching I remembered that I had applied for this over 2 months ago.  That will be on the 31st of this month.  Good practice for the full marathon on February 28th!

With my weak left knee, my goal is not to win (would probably cripple myself if I tried pushing myself that hard), but rather to feel the satisfaction of actually having been able to run 42km non-stop.  Wish me luck!


2010 resolution list

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday season and are ready and rarin to get back to work!  No?  I don’t blame you… I’m not quite out of “holiday mode” myself either…

I thought I put up my own small goals for 2010 (how are you going say that – “two thousand ten”?  “two thousand AND ten”?  “twenty ten”?).  These are just off the top of my head (mostly carrying over from last year) so I may make additions at some point later.

  • Get an IT certification – this goal is a carryover from last year, and I’m going to try to get more serious about this..
  • Study Japanese (again) – I’m not sure if I’ll go back to classes, or try to find someone for language exchange, or what exactly, but I would at the very least like to try and improve my conversational Japanese skills..
  • Run a marathon – yeah… that’s 42km, but… at least once I’d like to accomplish that!

And 3 more carryovers (which I plan to make constant every year) are to save, cook, and exercise more.  I’ve never been the most dedicated of “athletes”, but I’ve gotten into fairly decent shape this year (though I have to say that the holiday food has been weighing me down a tad AND I’ve slacked off on running for the past 3 months) so I’d like to maintain this since I know it will be beneficial in the long run.

I also started cooking more this year and find I rather enjoy it.  It’s relaxing, and there’s definitely a feeling of pride when I see people genuinely enjoying something I’ve made (though washing dishes continues to be a constant bane)

And finally, if the economic crisis of 2008 has had ANY personally positive impact, it would be that it has encouraged me to look more closely at how I handle money and the importance of having an “emergency fund” that I can fall back on if things ever go south in terms of employment.  I don’t expect I’ll ever be rich, but at least I hope that I never need to be scared that I may not have enough to pay the rent, buy food, etc.

I think that covers most of my resolutions for now, though I may add more if something comes to mind.