Archive for April, 2010

Out of Touch

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Yesterday I lifted up a copy of Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 75 while walking through HMV in Shibuya.  I have only heard of about 40% of the artists and 4 of the 43 songs.  As I was curious I decided to look up the contents of Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 65, which was released around the time I left the U.K.  I believe that I used to listen to popular music, but I might just be kidding myself and blaming my move to Japan for something that isn’t related at all.

On that CD I had heard of 70% of the artists and knew 20 of the 43 songs.  I was aware that I was hearing a lot more Asian music but I hadn’t realised just how out of touch I was getting regarding music from the U.K. and America.  Mind you, I’ve just looked at the contents of the album again and with artists like “Jedward featuring Vanilla Ice” I’m not sure I’m missing much.

Easter Dinner

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Yesterday I decided to use the new oven to cook dinner for friends.  This did mean that things probably seemed totally chaotic when they arrived at our apartment.  When cooking for other people I’m a great fan of dishes that can mostly be prepared the day before.  I’ve gotten used to making soups, curries, and stews.  I’m completely out of practice when it comes to using an oven.

I made chicken soup the day before for our starter, which was one thing less to worry about.  I wanted to cook turkey breast, stuffing, potatoes, and carrots in the oven.  Since the oven is quiet small we tried putting things into it earlier in the day and realised that there was no way that was all going to fit.  Instead of roasting the carrots I made honey and orange coated carrots in the crock pot.  I have gotten used to the crock pot so when it plays it’s weird little Japanese tune I know that the thing instead it really is cooked.  Pity I can’t say the same about the oven.

The roast potatoes cooked really fast.  The turkey breasts cooked really slow.  At one point it looked liked all the vegetables would be ready with nowhere to keep them warm.  I had this large bowl of colcannon that I was beginning to think might have to go in the crock pot with the carrots, which wasn’t a brilliant solution but I really didn’t want to dry it out on the stove.

In the end it all worked out and I did learn a few things about the oven.  It’s really hard to cook two things in it at once that aren’t going to finish at the same time.  It has one oven tray and a wire stand that sits over this.  So, when you take out the tray, the stand comes out too.  If your meat is on the tray there is no way to baste it without lifting out the stand, and in my case, the potatoes.  The oven loses heat really fast when the door is open so it’s not a good idea to open it and then realise that you haven’t got a clue how to unwrap the tinfoil around the meat so you can baste it.

Oven gloves would also be very useful.  I used to have these but we have no idea where they might be.  I’m hoping that somewhere I have an unpacked box containing ovenware.

I’m really glad that I had ordered Easter eggs and little Easter cakes from the U.K. for this dinner.  If I hadn’t I would probably have decided to bake a cake and that would have made the day a complete stress-fest.  As it was we had a bit of flapping around followed by a really nice meal.

Wedding Anniversary

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

We celebrated our 14th Wedding Anniversary last week.

Flowery Gift

Flowery Gift

Oven Cooking

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

We bought an oven.   I was a bit concerned when I finally managed to translate the instructions.  The maximum time setting is 90 minutes.  I have memories of cooking things for much longer than that.  I then thought it might be a fan assisted oven, which significantly reduces cooking time, but it’s not.  I gave the booklet to my Japanese teacher in case I had misunderstood and that there was a way to use it without setting the timer.  She looked at me and asked what on earth I would be cooking that would take longer than 90 minutes.

The oven isn’t very big.  It is a 31 Litre oven, which means absolutely nothing to me.  It’s not like I’m planning on filling it with bottles of mineral water, or that you can completely fill an entire oven and still use it.  But after staring into it for a while I realised I wouldn’t be able to cook a whole turkey in it.  I might not even be able to fit some turkey crowns in it.  I actually can’t think of anything that would fit in it that’s going to take more than 90 minutes to cook.  My memories are all of large roasts and turkeys.  Things that are meant to feed 10 people coming for dinner.  Here I spend most of my time cooking for two.  Sometimes, we get really wild and I cook for four.

I just cooked a Shepherd’s Pie and I’m incredibly happy.

Taller By Far

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

I’ve been using the Wii Fit for quite a while now to track my weight.  We had friends over recently who were talking about their weight and BMI and we thought it would be fun to use the Wii to do this.  One of the measurements we needed to put in was height, which led to a discussion on our heights.

In the U.K. height is measured in feet and inches.  In Japan they use centimetres.  It turns out that I didn’t know how to accurately convert between the two.  In school I had been taught that 30 centimetres was one foot.  This made me believe that 5 feet was 150 centimetres but it’s actually 152.4 centimetres.  I hadn’t realised that in school I was being taught an approximation based on the standard size of ruler we used to use.

This means that I’m actually about 3 centimetres taller than I thought.  Pity I’m not actually taller, the problem was just converting between the units.  Though updating the Wii with my real height does improve my BMI.

Sweet Sixteen

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

My little sister is sixteen today.  Happy birthday Sarah!

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl