the nikujaga story

I was excited to cook nikujaga for our dinner last night. We have carrots to go with the meat and for green beans I can put in string beans (finally, there’s one available in our area!). We have merin as well and of course Japanese soy sauce, and there’s sesame oil for added taste.

When I served the dish, I announced “we have nikujaga for dinner!” with relish and pride because I thought the dish turned out really good. And Hubs replied with an excited “whoa”. Then prayer. Then we dug into our bowls. When even after Hubs already had mouthfuls, and he was spooning the dish with a thoughtful expression on his face, I got concerned that he didn’t like it. So I asked.

Then he said, “it’s good. But where is the jaga?”.

And so I learned jaga doesn’t mean “mix”. It’s short for jagaimo which means potatoes. @_@ Niku, I know is for meat.

One thing that made me happy though. Hubs said that finally, my cooking tasted Japanese and not Filipino. I’ve always been baffled before because even when I’ve used Japanese ingredients, it still tasted Filipino. So now, I think I finally learned the trade. ^_^

Steam cooked shrimp and scallops

Thought of following Yui’s way and go for the healthier option – steaming our dish for dinner.

I wanted to achieve this.

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But I can’t read the instructions. I can read at least that it takes 10 minutes to cook it. And that aside from the scallops and shrimp, there’s mayonnaise and curry flavor on it. Am not too keen on curry so I bought this instead:

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The cooking paper was easy to find thanks to Mayumi being around.

I thought of adding mushrooms too.

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End result.

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Total time from preps up to the steamer’s “ting” is 20 minutes. Loved it how Hubs loved the resulting taste. πŸ˜€
Experiment, a success!

Lessons learnt for next time though: I want bigger scallops, the ones that I really like and will use fresh shrimp next time, not frozen ones.

La Maison’s baked onion

Baked onion! I’m DEFINITELY not an onion fan. Expect that onions would be one that’s left uneaten on my plate. But not this one. The inside is so soft and sooo sweet like a fruit. And no odour AT ALL.

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It’s healthy to boot!

McVitie’s HobNobs

A happy pregger yummy snack that’s fibre-rich. Even Hubs is addicted with it.

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Godiva chocolates

As a treat to myself for having no sugar and protein on my urine and having normal blood pressure and no edema (so thankful for this!), I bought myself a Godiva chocolixer.

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Hubs consumed half of it though haha. I don’t mind, at least I won’t be so guilty after, considering its sugar content.

Whilst waiting for my drink to be prepared though, I salivated at one of their chocolate displays and hence bought one. My drink was at 580yen. but this 2-inch ball is sold at 399yen a piece. By far the most expensive chocolate I bought so far. Even more expensive than the Demel chocolates we’ve had, which was a favorite by the uber filthy rich Habsburg monarchy.

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One could argue a big percentage of the price goes to the expensive-looking packaging.

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They even included an ice pack in the package to keep the chocolate cold while we go about.

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When we’ve tasted it though, truly, it was worth the price.

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A happy pregger. πŸ™‚

Vie de France’ sesame and banana juice

I love sesame dressing. Hence I’d love to hug whoever has concocted this nutty, fruity drink – black sesame and banana juice.

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For those who love peanut butter on banana, you’d surely love this shake as well. And it’s very healthy to boot! Sesame seeds

are a very good source of the minerals copper and manganese and are also a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, selenium, zinc, dietary fiber and monounsaturated fats.

(for more info on the healthy goodness of sesame seeds, click here.). And of course, everyone knows that bananas are high in potassium, dietary fiber and Vitamin B6.

Now, I’ve read TONSsss of literature related to what to eat and what Not to eat when pregnant but it is only now, when I was searching for health benefits of sesame seeds that I came across key words about sesame seeds being not advisable for pregnant women. Further research showed this to be a myth however (read THIS and THIS).

the story of the mackerel and a concerned foreigner

Fish is highly essential in a pregnant woman’s diet because of the DHA and omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial on the brain development of her unborn child.

Not all fish is safe for consumption of pregnant women however. Shark (who would ever eat a shark???!!!), tilefish, tuna and king mackerel were the constant names mentioned in almost all books/websites I came across, highlighted as the types of fish which SHOULD be avoided owing to their high mercury content.

As I have this image that these types of fish were big ones, I made a mental note to just eat small ones.

Thinking I needed more intake of fish, we decided to have lunch at Ootoya where my favorite grilled fish meal is.

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I asked hubby what was the name of the fish I was eating. To which he answered that it was called “Saba”. I asked what was its English name. But hubby didn’t know. I just shrugged it off and continued in eating my fish. I find it really delicious and I was eating it with much gusto, happily thinking as well that baby is having a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

As usual, hubby finished eating first and excused himself to go to toilet.

Now, the people on the table nearest us were two guys – one a silent Japanese and the other a western guy who did most of the talking. He wasn’t eating as well. It was only his Japanese companion who was eating.

A minute after Hubs left, I heard the western guy said “it’s none of my business but I’ll say it anyway”. I found this weird but of course it’s also none of my business if he acts weird or not. And then in a flash he was already standing in front of me and saying something to me. Because of my surprise, it took me a while to understand what he was saying.

I had to shake my head to clear it from the shock and asked him to repeat what he was saying (for the third time):

it’s mackerel. The English name of what you’re eating – it’s mackerel.

When he saw that I finally understood what he was saying he then went back to his seat.

Meanwhile I had already recovered from my shock of him approaching me. But now I have a different worry. That i wasn’t supposed to eat what I was eating.

So then I called out to him.
Me: you helped me a lot in here. I wasn’t supposed to be eating this fish Thank you.

Guy: why not? Why are you not supposed to eat it? (yes he’s pretty confident)

Me: Because pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat mackerel.

Guy: Oh….. Well, congratulations anyway.

Me: arigatou. (smiling)

I still finished my fish though because I realized I’d be eating it for the last time for the next six months.

Thank you stranger, for intervening which could be life saving. I’ll pay it forward next time. Hubs and I had a good laugh about it later on but really sometimes, it helps to care even when supposedly “it’s none of your business”.

milkfish (bangus)!!

I’ve been craving for one soon after my pregnancy started. There were times I wanted bangus so badly the idea of going to Philippines just to eat the food I want to eat has been floating in my head.

We finally caved in and bought a pack of marinated bangus in the Asian store, disregarding our earlier hesitations that it’d be packed with preservatives. Checked the packaging and there wasn’t any – only vinegar, garlic and salt. There were also similar packaged bangus I saw before in malls in Manila. So we bought it.

And it was as good as I have fantasized it to be. Yes, “fantasize” is the word.

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In between “oishis”, hubs peppered me with questions such as where does milkfish thrived and if it’s only in the Philippines. From what I know, milkfish is abundant in the Pacific area but that milkfish is farmed in many fish farms in the Philippines. And oh yeah, milkfish is the Philippines’ national fish (pambansang isda) haha.

So good. I think we’d buy another pack soon.

recovering appetite

Hubs’ family sent us a package which includes a box of tofu which are packed akin to milk.

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The tofu is so silky and smooth and soft!

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I tried to cook adobo but of course the moment I’ve put the tofu in after the pork was cooked, it’s an altogether different dish already because of the texture that the tofu gave. The dish’s soup though, before simmering all out seeped its way into the tofu, lending the tofu a very delicious adobo taste. It brought a smile to my face every time I had a mouthful of the tofu. It’s so silky and creamy and smooth and literally melts in the mouth. Knowing the health benefits of tofu makes that smile even bigger.

Apparently though, as I later realized, my appetite is finally back. With fewer pregnancy sickness (morning sickness is clearly a misnomer since it sometimes lasts up to midnight so I’d rather call it pregnancy sickness) bouts now, and with the bitter taste less frequent now, I find myself having the appetite.

And so that was why right after having dinner, I requested a very surprised hubs that we cook pancakes. He couldn’t believe that I’d have the stomach still for pancake right after our dinner; he’s worried that I’d vomit again. But the yearning is just so strong and after a couple of minutes of lambing, he finally relented.

Thing is, I am not very confident with cooking pancakes. All my tries before we’re total sloppy failures. And hubs hasn’t had the experience ever to cook pancake. But I was really bent on having pancakes so we tried to experiment.

We ended having a very good bonding time. Thankfully we had all ingredients in the cupboard and fridge – pancake mix, eggs, butter – and all we just need to do is follow the instructions. Hubs even followed the step on cooling the pan a bit by putting it on a wet cloth after heating it up – if it were only me, I would have had omitted that step. The effect is a perfect pancake, the first decent looking pancake I’ve EVER made.

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The taste was really good!!! We bought a good pancake mix. Although I still long for the day that I could make a pancake mix from scratch and not instant just like how mama and papa used to do it for our snacks when we were young. Those pancakes were just so good!!!

Above all though, because of the unexpected pancake craving, we had a fun and memorable time in the process. Happy.

something to be thankful for – weekend edition

Friday. Thankful to have had survived a difficult deadline. There were only two of us left in our project at 8pm aside from our manager. To cap the workweek, our manager urged us for a drink. Hubs was still at work, so I decided to say yes and have some bonding time with teammate and boss while waiting for hubs. The small party proved to be quite enjoyable as we discussed about some social and political issues. After finishing off each of our pint of beer and a bottle of wine, hubs was still at work. Hence I waited for him in one of our favorite yakitori restaurants. My boss was really true to his word – we just had drinks. We had some knickknack and pika-pika and utsumame yes. But I was still hungry. Hence I ate at the yakitori shop. And yes, yakitori is my favorite Japanese food. It’s just so addictive!! It was already 12 when hubs arrived but I was still very thankful even because as late as it may seem, it still wasn’t late for us to share some laughter. The restaurant practically echoed our laughter. Happy.

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Saturday. Thankful to have a husband who is excited to cook for me. We were shopping for our grocery supplies for the week and before I knew it, hubs was buying ingredients for a Hokkaido stew. He even walked so fast on our way home, excited as he is to get started with the cooking. πŸ™‚ Sweet.

Sunday. Finally, was able to mail off our christmas cards and packages to friends. We are yet to send the nengajo though. But at least was able to achieve a feat today.

And here’s a bonus. Was walking my way home today when I came across a happy site. Ten years back, seeing Christmas lights in front of a Japanese home is VERY rare. Recently though, more and more people seem to have caught up with the Christmas spirit. These little Santas climbing their way up the veranda is just so cute!!! Can you see the third Santa at the top of the ladder? πŸ˜€

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One week to go till Christmas!

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