A conversation with a Japanese coworker…

turkey thanksgiving copy square

Trying something new with this comic-y style!

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Gobble gobble!

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Happy Thanksgiving, those of you in America! We had a great dinner here on Friday, but I wouldn’t mind being home right now watching the parade and getting ready to eat all the food in the world. Have a good one! 😀

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Making Annin Dofu From Scratch!

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Annin Dofu, also called Almond Jelly, is a sweet almond pudding that is fairly popular in Japan. Apparently it originated in Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurants. Here it is often included with sets at Chinese places and is a lovely way to end the meal. It’s also popular in the dessert cases of convenience stores, often with various fruit toppings.

I had a craving the other day, so I decided to make my own. The grocery store had plenty of kits, but I knew that they usually come out pretty bland so I decided to try it from scratch. I was rewarded to discover that it was honestly just as easy as the kit. The only hard part was finding the Annin Powder, which was not in the dessert section of the grocery store, but rather the Import/Chinese section.

IMG_7610.JPGInterestingly, this bottle says “Almond Powder” in katakana below the Chinese, but Wikipedia says that 杏仁 is actually produced from apricot kernels. I didn’t realize how closely almonds and apricots were related!

400 ml milk

100 ml cream

4 tbls Annin Powder

2-4 tbls sugar (depending if you like it sweeter)

5 g gelatin

2 tbls hot water

1. Dissolve the gelatin in hot water, set aside

2. Put the milk on the stove, add sugar and annin powder.

3. Whisk in softened gelatin until dissolved

4. Remove from heat

5. Add cream

6. Refrigerate

If you pop it in the fridge it should take about 3 hours to set. If you’re impatient like me and you pop it in the freezer, it should take about 1 hour, but be sure not to forget about it or you’ll have frozen pudding!

Annin Dofu is often served with fruit cocktail, but recently I’ve been making a simple fruit sauce by taking canned apricot or mango and whizzing it in the blender for 30 seconds with a bit of the syrup. I imagine other fruits would be lovely as well.

This dessert is also often made with agar as a thickening agent, and I was thinking it might be lovely with almond milk if you’re interested in a vegan version, or even if you just want to intensify the almond flavor. Let me know if you make it, or have any tips for your own version!

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Kishi Bashi’s Lighght

I really love the KishiBashi album that came out earlier this year, so I drew this little portrait based on some of the jacket art.

I’m especially excited that his songs have started showing up at Karaoke, including one of my favorites from the album, “Mr. Steak.” Mr. Steak, you were Grade A!

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Shichi-Go-San

IMG_7493.JPGRan into these cuties at Asakusa Sensoji Temple last weekend celebrating Shichi Go San. Aren’t they adorable? I just love seeing the littles in their gorgeous outfits!

I find it interesting that the girl on the right is wearing hakama, as girls often do for graduation here. I haven’t seen enough Shichi-go-san celebrators to know if that’s a trend or something normal, but I think it’s really nice to see. If you’re interested in learning more about the holiday, here’s a write up on Hello Kitty’s Shichi Go San from the archives!

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Ashikaga Wine Festival Sketches

This weekend was one of my favorite events of the year, the Ashikaga Wine Festival. What could be better than sitting on a mountain on a gorgeous fall day drinking wine with your friends?

While we were hanging out I pulled out my sketchbook, since one of the best parts of the event is the great people watching. (Also sketching + alcohol is kind of amazing, fun fact.) The girls behind is noticed and asked to see my book. When it came back it had this! We spent a while trading it back and forth drawing silly portraits of each other, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had. I think I may like other people drawing in my sketchbook more than I do myself! So fun!

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Starbucks Japan’s Holidays: Snow Maple Toffee and Cranberry Bliss White Mocha

starbucksUsually when Halloween is over, I feel a bit sad. I’ve always been a purist that the Christmas season shouldn’t start until Thanksgiving, but it’s not a holiday that requires much prep outside of the week of the event. There’s usually a bit of a blank spot on the calendar as visions of pumpkin pies dance in our head.

Japan has no such obligation, however–Thanksgiving is no speedbump on the highway to Christmas, and it’s pedal to the metal as we Continue reading

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Congratulations, Gunma-chan!!!

Gunma-chan won the Yuru-Kyara Gran Prix!! It’s official, he’s the cutest character in Japan 😀

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http://www.yurugp.jp/ranking2014/

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Happy Halloween!

Another great Halloween at school! I went all out, bringing even more candy than usual to hand out at lunch. This year saw a noticeable uptick in the number of kids that insisted on returning the favor, including a few girls that had their own plastic pumpkins that looked suspiciously like the one I bring every year. (This little guy was felted by my lovely coworker. 🙂

The best was a boy who had clearly prepared for my arrival with a little English speech. “Last year, Ms. Alice gave me chocolate. Very happy. This year, I give me chocolate. You! You! I give YOU chocolate!” It was adorable ❤

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Gunma-chan macaron at my School Festival in Japan!

I had a great time at my school’s Big Huge Once-Every-Three-Years Festival today! Because it’s a commercial school, our festival is different from the usual High School cultural festivals. This one is focused on SELLING. Some classes make things, and other classes make arrangements with local companies, like the bakery that produces these lovely Gunma-chan macarons.

It’s a great chance to interact with the kids outside of the normal classroom situation–they get to use their most persuasive vocabulary!

The best was the the budding salesman in the class selling fresh flowers. “Ms. Alice, so beautiful! Flowers, so beautiful! Together, MOST BEAUTIFUL.” Yup, that got my money!

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