Saturday, October 29, 2011

Learning to MAKE sushi!

So I got an itch to learn how to make my own sushi.. I thought it would be fun to make one night for dinner or for  lunch on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Our friends Danny and Shira invited us over a few weeks ago for sushi and Danny taught me how to use the roller and how to spread the rice without ripping the nori paper. We had a great time making different kinds and of course, eating it!
  This week I went on a mission to find my own sushi roller, rice paddle and some cute little square dishes to put the soy sauce and wasabi in, along with some cute little rectangle plates to use as serving dishes. I really like the rustic hand made pottery that is found everywhere around here and am SURE I will be brining home a ton of it when we leave here in 3 years!
 This morning while Josh and I were sipping our coffee on the couch and the girls were still sleeping, I got the idea that we should make sushi for dinner! Josh had to go into work for a bit and Elliot had a birthday party to attend in the afternoon, so that left me some time to get some sushi supplies together. Josh had taken Hannah to work with him and on the way home they stopped by a local Japanese grocery store to pick up some things I couldn't get at the commissary, like wasabi, fresh fish and sushi rice. Who knew there was such a thing as rice used just for sushi! I spent at least a half hour searching the internet on how to make the perfect sushi rice. I watched a few video's and off I went testing out a method to "make the perfect sushi rice." Turns out the guy was right! It was the perfect sushi rice! Just sticky enough to stay together, but tender enough to fall apart in your mouth! Anyway.... Hannah and Josh had to ask the clerks at the store where to find a few things and then they arrived back home just in time to start "rolling!" We also decided to fry up some tempura  shrimp and asparagus to munch on before the sushi was ready.
   At the last minute, we invited our friends Tim and Michelle over to test out my experiments and Tim decided to make some Octopus Balls. I know, Octopus Balls sound gross, but they weren't actual Octopus Balls, but rather sort of a pancake consistency batter cooked in a neat little round frying pan thing and then you drop in a little piece of octopus and then let them cook until firm... They were quite tasty!!  Here's a photo of the Octopus Ball cooker and what the Octopus Balls looked like when Tim was all done cooking them..

    After lots of rolling and mashing rice on nori paper, here are the finished products!
Hannah likes the cucumber roll with avocado, so this one was for her.

This one is tuna and avacado.

Michelle and I were having fun staging a culinary photo. This one shows the tempura shrimp and asparagus.

The coloring didn't come out as nice on this plate, but this is crab and cucumber, salmon with avocado and some other fish that I don't know, but didn't like that much..

Here's the great spread!  Tim and Michelle even brought over some Golden Saki and Chuhai! 
All in all my first sushi making experience was a great one and I'm looking forward to making it again. Watch out friends back home, when I get there you'll all be eating sushi with me!!  For those of you who just won't give sushi a try, like my sweet Elliot Rose,  I will be nice and make you some of these....

Peanut butter and Jelly Sushi Rolls! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum

After a few very busy months of helping repair ships stationed here in Sasebo, Josh was able to take a few days off at the end of September to do some fun things with the family. The girls and I had been a few places without him  and enjoyed visiting those places, but it was time to get Josh in on the fun. After he scheduled his leave, I asked him where he'd like to go. Immediately he said he wanted to go to Nagasaki and see the Atomic Bomb Museum and the Peace Park. Luckily for us, Travel and Tours had a trip to Nagasaki the week he had leave. I have to say that I was very happy to have a tour guide and a bus that drove me to the places I needed to go and that I didn't have to try and navigate my way around Nagasaki. The bus tour was a great experience and we will do it again for sure..
 Now on to the topic of this post...
   Our first stop was the Nagasaki Peace Park. I wasn't sure what to expect, since I didn't ever pay attention to my history teacher in high school, which is undoubtedly where I should have learned all about this.  Anyway.. off I go rambling again..

This statue was donated to the city of Nagasaki as an appeal for world peace and a prayer that something like the atomic bombing would never happen again. The elevated right hand points to the threat of nuclear war, while the out stretched hand symbolizes tranquility and world peace..The folded right leg symbolizes quiet meditation and the left leg is ready for action in assisting humanity.
This was such a magnificent sculpture and the entire park as so quiet and tranquil. The day was nice, warm and the wind was calm. I was pleased that I got to snap this reflection of the statue in the water below..

This next photo was taken by Elliot. Both girls were very interested in all of these paper cranes and wanted to know what they were for and why they were on both sides of the statue. 

We later learned, that these tiny cranes made from origami paper, are believed to bring good luck to whom ever folds 1,000 cranes.  Many children who were dying from the atomic bombing, folded cranes in hopes that if they folded 1,000, they would have healing before death.  The girls thought that was really sad and Elliot just couldn't get over the idea of children dying.

Further on down through the park, we found the Fountain of Peace...

 It gave me chills when I read that it was created so that there would be no more thirst for  those who died begging for water. Of course I don't believe those people are still feeling thirst or pain, but it was chilling to think about. The water sprays up in the shape of angel wings, to symbolize the people who died and are now angels.
Josh got this great view all the way through the park back to the statue..

After the Peace Park, we walked toward the Atomic Bomb Museum. On our walk to the museum, we came upon the "ground zero" of sorts. This monument marked the exact spot that the atomic bomb made  impact. It was absolutely amazing to me, that I was standing in the very spot that this bomb came crashing down, destroyed an entire city and killed so many people.

The close up view of the memorial. People have left water bottles to cure the thirst of the people who were begging for water before they died and offering of flowers sympolizing peace. The black box under the flowers and water symbolized a coffin for everyone who died.

This blew me away too. I understand that this atomic bomb was large and impacted a huge city in a horrible way, but when I see that the ground level was where the blue and white arrow is and realize that after the bomb exploded the ground level is down where that river is, it's a very powerful photo.

Below is a replica of the atomic bomb..

       Once we entered the museum we saw some very interesting and very sad things. We saw pictures of severely injured people and burned children. I tried to sheild Elliot from this area, as I thought she was a little too young to see those images. However, she asked me if she could see them, so I took her back and looked at them with her. After she looked at a few photos and I read her the captions, she whispered to me and said, " Mommy, this is so mean! Why would people hurt people like this?" So I explained in 6 year old terms what had happend with Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. I don't know she she fully understands it still, but she has an idea. 

The picture above is a story told by a young girl who's sister was trapped under a fallen house and her mother's heroic attempt to save her. It brought tears to my eyes to think of how scared they must have been and how awful it was to lose so many people they loved.

    These next three pictures were taken on top of Mt. Inasa, which overlooks Nagasaki City. The view was amazingly beautiul and also very humbling. When I look at how expansive this city is and realize that everything inside of the moutain I was standing on and the mountains on the other side of the city were completely decimated, I am floored.  I am astounded at the massive power one bomb twice the height of my husband had, the devistation it created and the loss of life it caused.

I may have ignored my history teacher when I was in highschool, but I can't ignore history now. I hope one day when our girls are older and start learning about Pearl Harbor, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, that they look back on this trip and can share their feelings, experiences in Japan and photos we've taken with their classmates.