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June, 2012

  1. Nutella banana cake

    June 28, 2012 by yuming


    The kangaroo really loves this new pound cake I have been baking. I actually got this from a blog but modified it since I don’t have the exact ingredients.

    100g whole wheat organic flour
    3/4 tsp baking powder
    40g brown sugar
    40g Nutella
    2 eggs
    50ml rice oil
    2 tbs almond milk
    2 mashed bananas

    I preheat my oven to 160 degress C because mine is a gas oven and it emits really strong heat so for recipes that call for 180 degrees C, I take it down a couple of notches.

    In a separate bowl, melt the Nutella by putting it in a bigger bowl of hot water. I also add a tbs of almond milk to the Nutella.

    In a mixing bowl, I pour in the rice oil, almond milk, and mashed banana and mix it up with a whisk. Then I sift the flour and baking powder into the batter and whisk again. I dump the melted Nutella into the batter and run a spoon through it. After which, I lift the mixing bowl high up and pour the batter into a glass pound cake mould to create a marbled effect. I bake the lot for 35 minutes since my oven is set at a fairly low temperature.


    I think I will add more Nutella next time because the bits of the cake which you can taste the Nutella are just absolutely scrummy. This is what I call a baking success. I’m an absolute novice when it comes to baking so I have just been attempting really simple cake recipes.

  2. Hanko

    June 27, 2012 by yuming


    For the first time ever, I got myself a hanko, or signature seal in Japanese, but I cannot use this officially because the kanji characters do not match my name on my alien registration card. It’s really too bad because I think hankos with kanji are way cooler than those with alphabets or katakana.

    I tried to register my kanji name at the ward office but to no avail. My Chinese name in my Singapore identity card is in simplified Chinese so the middle character is non-existent in Japanese, so I switched to traditional Chinese instead, but since they do not match exactly, it was a no-go.

    Apparently, if I used my Chinese characters to sign up for utilities or insurance, I could register my kanji characters but due to the fact that I am in a screaming rush to apply for something official for some paper work I need to do, it was just not an option. In fact, from July 2012, there would be even stricter laws concerning hankos. From what I understand, you cannot suddenly change your name to kanji characters even with proof that you have used it in Japan so I think you need to register your kanji name from the get go, i.e. when you get your alien registration card.

    You wouldn’t think of these things when you submit the forms to immigration, or if your company (or spouse’s company) registers for you. You might want to consider doing this if you prefer using your Chinese name. I don’t have an English name so I’m more drawn to having kanji characters on my documents.

    I told the kangaroo it’s hard to change my name to his name because you just can’t beat 雷 (thunder), and being the sweetheart that he is, he totally understands.

    Anyway, new one has been ordered so I will use this one for personal correspondence.

  3. Half-marathon in Kita Tokyo

    June 26, 2012 by yuming


    After my 15km race, I signed up for a half-marathon at the Kita Tokyo Marathon event which was held along the Arakawa River. This time I went with pretty serious runners and they clocked in at 2 hours for 21km which was extremely impressive. I trailed behind by a good half hour but I still felt chuffed because I beat my personal best and felt absolutely thrilled after the race.


    I felt a little nervous because I was quite unfit a few weeks ago but I did interval training this time as I was desperate not to run out of steam.

    It was what I would call a very basic marathon. There were no frills, i.e. tents selling merchandise, people decked out in costumes, tons of food and drink stalls etc, and the water stations were a bit lacking in putting out water and you had to queue if you wanted some. I just by-passed the jam packed stations and picked up water later in the race.


    The changing rooms were interesting as well. There were tents and the “floor” was some kind of board and you had to remove your footwear before entering which created immense chaos going in and out of the changing tents. There were so many women crammed into one small square of space in various states of undress with arms and legs everywhere that you would either cry or laugh at such a scenario.

    I just changed my top and beat the hell outta there. If I were a guy, I would just change in the open.

    But it was a great day — sunny and the course was pretty flat all the way and running with a group of people also made it more fun. I would love to do a full marathon one day, too.

    It was the perfect Sunday. After the marathon, I went home, took a long hot bath, did some yoga poses, took a loooong nap, and watched TV in bed for the rest of the day.

  4. Aoya 青家

    June 25, 2012 by yuming


    It was absolutely a treat to go to Aoya, or 青家 (means blue home in Japanese), several weeks ago with a girlfriend. They specialize in Kyoto produce and cuisine and the chef is apparently an award-winning wizard in the kitchen…


    However, I got the feeling that lunch was a simple affair and keeping to the basics is definitely part of its ethos.

    I had the kimchi tofu and egg soup set that came with brown rice and a salad. It was tasty and the spicy broth was pretty awesome.


    My friend had the plate set with a colourful array of small dishes with brown rice and corn tea. I had a momentary attack of food envy because hers looked so delicious…


    Though I must say that dessert was the highlight of the meal for me and that says a lot because I’m not really a dessert person.

    The matcha ice-cream was subtle and only slightly sweet. The mochi and dried fruit and other bits and bobs gave a variety of texture and flavours which made this quite a superstar. I actually dislike matcha ice-cream because it usually ends up being very sweet and milky to counteract the bitterness of the matcha, but somehow all the different elements “flowed together” in this small bowl.


    My friend exclaimed how soft the warabi mochi was and it was indeed light and almost fluffy in texture which is quite genius in itself…I mean how do you make rice flour into scrummy cubes of wobbly goodness?

    Anyway, if you like delicate Japanese fare, you would love Aoya.

  5. Eating healthy

    June 20, 2012 by yuming


    It’s been a while since I made an “elaborate” veggie meal. I tend to do one-pot wonders or one-dish meals almost constantly.

    But one evening, I was just craving for a melange of flavours so I whipped up a pineapple and cucumber salsa, quinoa with added grains and beans (these are ready-made satchets easily found in the supermarket to beef up plain rice), chickpea and potato tomato curry, baked white bean carrot patties, and a hard boiled egg.

    I actually think it’s more nutritious when you have different components to your meal and this kind of reminded me to make more of an effort when it comes to cooking.

    I really miss meals with many dishes which is a Chinese thing and it takes a lot of work and is usually more practical to serve a family of four or something. Although I make meals for just one or two, I do try to do such cook ups once in a while when I have more time. Do you enjoy multi-dish meals too?


    And this is a random photo of a delicious tropical smoothie I had the other day for breakfast — it had pineapple, mango, chia seeds, spinach, coriander, hemp powder (it’s now gone! sadness…), and coconut oil.

    I always feel the pull of lighter and healthier food when the weather gets warmer…

  6. Old haunt that never gets old

    June 19, 2012 by yuming


    Although I have quite a lovely track to run along the Meguro River, the Imperial Palace is still one of the best running places in town. The uninterrupted 5km path is just perfect for training and the scenery is always gorgeous and certain spots are always breakthtaking no matter what, like the giant bonsai zone just after Sakuradamon.


    This time we met near the Takebashi station stop and the path was refurbished into swish modern concrete.


    After a 5km time trial run and then a leisurely 5km to wrap up the morning, we headed to Chaya at Hibiya Chanter for a healthy veggie lunch — I got the brown rice plate set, or genmai plate, that came with a lovely creamy veggie soup, and deep fried soy nuggets (not so healthy haha but…) with a tart onion sauce.

    It was a fabulous start to a Sunday because it rained and rained in the afternoon.

  7. Rainy morning

    June 18, 2012 by yuming


    Last Saturday it poured and poured so I retreated to my futon (old habits die hard) to watch Sherlock (the Brit TV version) with the most amazing avocado breakfast smoothie: two frozen bananas, juice of two oranges, two dates, coriander, butter lettuce, spinach and one ripe avocado. Slurpy goodness…

    My “bedside table” (or rather my side of the futon) can get really messy with magazines, books, handcream, lip balm, drinks, remote controls…What’s on your night stand?

  8. Not following recipes

    June 15, 2012 by yuming


    I get sudden food cravings, and when I do, I get way too excited and I hate following recipes but this is what happened…


    When it comes to baking, I have still yet to learn that you can’t just chuck shit into a bowl and hope something good comes out.

    I have made rock hard cupcakes, cakes that are still “raw” inside, or just tasteless.


    So I just cut fruit up and slopped some coconut kefir yogurt over and rushed off to yoga.

  9. Rubik’s cube

    June 14, 2012 by yuming


    The kangaroo left this funky looking Rubik’s cube on the table in our living room so he could fiddle with it when he had a free moment, e.g. waiting for me to get ready, or biding time till dinner is laid out on the table.

    He also has a standard one in his office which I think he has long-solved and is more like a mascot than a puzzle now.

    At our wedding, his brothers told everyone that he was a national champion Down Under when he was just eight years old. He even beat grown adults and finished solving his cube in less than two minutes or something crazy like that.

    I really hope our future children will get his brains.

  10. Mmmm melon

    June 13, 2012 by yuming


    Honeydew melons are going for 389JPY each at my local supermarket and I’m milking it for all it’s worth. It is rare to buy melons at such a low price.

    Melons drift in and out of season and their price range usually starts above 1,000JPY which is just ridiculous for a small melon, maybe the size of three tennis balls. You could get big ones but they are at least 2400JPY which is still “reasonable” compared to the gift-type of melons which go up to 20,000JPY.

    So that’s why it’s such a treat to eat melons now. Go get some for yourself now!