Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey day wrap up, Rodenhizer edition

As I write this it is Monday night after a wonderful, long Holiday weekend. Although they don`t celebrate Thanksgiving in Japan (imagine that?!) Jeff still had the usual days off thanks to working on an American Air Force Base. As you may have been able to ascertain from my last post, I love cooking. I was so excited to spend this Thanksgiving together, we three in Japan. Last Thanksgiving Noah and I were in the US while I prepared for a surgery in December, so this was our first time ALL together.

Have I mentioned we live in a Japanese house?

Our little Japanese kitchen was not prepared for the onslaught of stuffing, turkey breast and cranberry sauce! We do not have a traditional oven... it`s more like a microwave with a convection oven setting. It works just fine but does not like to be on for longer than one hour. Plus the instruction manual is in Japanese... on to plan B.

Enter crock pot turkey breast with sausage and cranberry stuffing!

It turned out pretty good, a great attempt using what was at our disposal. The stuffing was actually a bit soggy; next time I won`t add as much chicken stock.

My memories of Thanksgiving growing up include listening to the local classic rock radio station, who hosted a sort of `music-thon` where people would call in and make donations to a certain charity to hear a specific song. The big ticket song was always `Alice`s Restaurant` by Arlo Guthrie. Jeff played the epic ditty along with some other classics... it sounded, smelled and tasted just like Thanksgiving should in the Rodenhizer home in Japan:-)

I had wanted to have our Christmas tree ready and waiting to be decorated during Thanksgiving day so we could look at it while eating (I am such and idealist, I realize) but we all had terrible colds last week. It just didn`t happen. Jeff managed to muster up the energy on Friday to pick out our tannenbaum. Here is what a live Christmas tree looks like, fresh from the store, in Japan:

Here is what it looks like, de-burlapped and untwined:

And here is what it looks like, in its decorated glory:

And here was Noah`s contribution to the decking of the halls:

He`s a jolly soul, full of the Christmas spirit and joy!

It was, simply put, a perfect start to our Holiday season. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

I brag about my cooking

It`s true... I am often giving myself pats on the old back for my latest tasty creation. And it`s not like I do anything fancy, I just cook what I like. Apparently with just a dash of modesty. But cooking is something that makes me indescribably happy and I am so lucky to be afforded the time to do what I love, leisurely, in my home, for my family.

But Noah is my biggest critic.

Now not all of my creations are home runs. In fact the other night I made a turkey meatloaf that was dry as could be! Noah would not touch it (Jeff said it was good, but he says that no matter what. That`s a good husband). However, last night I made a sort of ratatouille/lasagna dish that was AMAZING (clearly it only had a dash of modesty) and Noah again refused to touch it.

If only I could parent as well as I can cook.

Part of me does take it personally since I put so much of MYSELF and love into my cooking, but then again... he is two... he knows not what he does. So needless to say we had a stand off at dinner time; Noah gagging whenever I uttered the words `take a bite`, Jeff in the corner saying `Maybe he is just not hungry` and me saying `Oh he KNOWS what he is doing...`.

All of the sudden I have a two year old who is aware of his own personal wants/desires but is not yet capable of communicating exactly what he wants 100% of the time. Tantrums are frequent. He is a loud screamer. I am learning patience... but honestly most of the time am clueless as to WHAT TO DO with my two year old HUMAN (remember when he was just a little baby, and was seemingly perfect? Perfection is so UN-human).

Noah needs to discover his own `cooking`... something he loves and can loose himself in. Something he can do and be oh so proud of himself for doing. As his parent I need to help him discover all the joys and wonders and marvelous things there are in his world... things that are much more fun than tantrums. We will get there, I know, and until then I have my kitchen to retreat to, to cook away the day.

(But he WILL eat the leftovers tonight if it kills me!)

How to make your own Tasty Ratatouille Lasagna

1 yellow squash, sliced in 1/2 then diced
1 zucchini, sliced in 1/2 then diced
1 egg plant, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pint mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can tomato sauce
No bake lasagna noodles (I use Barilla)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Feta cheese, crumbled
Parmesan cheese, grated

Saute the veggies in some olive oil with the spices and garlic for about 10 minutes or until they are somewhat soft. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, ladle about 1/4 of the chunky sauce into a casserole dish. Layer uncooked noodles (I only used three). Ladle on more sauce, then add a thick layer of mozzarella and sprinkle feta and parmesan. Layer noodles. Repeat with more sauce and cheese but end with the last of the sauce. I only had 2 layers of noodles because I wanted the chunky sauce to be the star. And it twas.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

To new beginnings

Oh the sad state of affairs that is my old blog. My intentions were true... my will on the other hand... 

So many things have changed since I last publicized my musings. It did not seem right to start where I last left off. And I don`t particularly want to talk about all the in between... I am in a state of moving forward and THAT is what I want to write about. Of course I will reference the past, everyone has one after all, and it has shaped who I am and what I do in my present. 

Enough philosophical waxing for one post, don`t you think?

So what am I up to these days? We are all together back in Misawa, Japan, making the most of our time as a family living in a foreign Country. There are so many opportunities to explore and learn and CHANGE... it can be overwhelming at times! But after my heart surgery I really started to see the world in a different light. It is so cliche, I almost hate to admit it, but going through such a major event really does change you and your perspective on life. And that is where the title of this blog came from. There is the obvious literal meaning... an `open heart surgery, pace maker` kinda thing. But figuratively... each day is just one beat in time, followed by another. Life moves forward. It is so easy to become bogged down with past `beats` (if you will) and miss out on THIS day. I don`t want to miss a second, because the beats don`t stop, they pass by in the blink of an eye. 

Oye, there I go waxing again. 

So here we are, we three in Japan, our little Family. As unconventional a road we took to get here, it is my world and a road I am happy to be on. 

And Noah... there are no words...