Hiroshima-fu(style) Okonomiyaki!

May 12, 2013 1 comment

There are all kinds of okonomiyaki, but the most common type from Osaka is a savory sorta-pancake with pork, cabbage, and other fillings.  Kind of similar to Korean jeon or Chinese scallion pancakes but with a higher veggie to batter ratio.  At a restaurant they bring all the ingredients in a bowl which you mix and then dump the contents onto the teppan (hot plate).  For some reason, the bowl they give you to mix it in is always barely enough to fit even the ingredients, much less mix them all together, so it takes some technique.  Here, we just got our waiter to do it for us.


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Categories: Cultural experiences, Food

My favorite (not) activity in the world

April 23, 2013 1 comment

Yesterday I went to a gym. And went running. RUNNING. ME!! Who am I??!

Next time, I think I’ll try the Hip Hop class they had going on. Much more fun than being a hamster.

Flu shot

February 4, 2013 1 comment

Something for all you med students…

With the flu going nuts in the US, upcoming travel, and my recent history of getting sick at the drop of a hat, a few weeks ago I gave into my mom’s hounding and went to get a flu shot.  What with a doctor for a mom, living in the dorms, and then working in a hospital, I’ve generally made it a habit to get my flu shot every year, but there seems to be rather less fuss about it in Japan.

Anyway, the point I’m writing this post (because I’m guessing most of you had no interest in the above) was that flu shots are very different in Japan.  Should this not come as a surprise?

Rather than getting the shot up high closer to my shoulder, I got my shot down at the bottom of my upper arm just above my elbow.

And it gets massive itchy!

The next day I developed a 2-inch circle of red, feverish, itchy skin with my shot at the middle.  I started freaking out, wondering if the doctor had done something weird and I had gotten infected (already had that once in the last year).  Or maybe my body was incompatible with something that’s in Japanese flu shots and not US ones.

But when I asked about it at church the next day, everyone said it was normal!  They said just about everyone got the hot, red, itchy skin to various degrees, some people it covers half their upper arm.

On the other hand (or arm? heh heh), in the US I was always pretty sore for a day, but there was none of that this time.

OK, so I’m guessing some of you have been snoring for a while now.  But I’d be interested to know why there are differences.  Is vaccine production really that different here?  Anybody else have international flu shot experiences?

Flowing noodles

January 31, 2013 Leave a comment

More commonly (or really, exclusively) known as Nagashi Somen.

Sam & Sharon’s visit was serendipitously the same weekend we did nagashi somen at church.

You can look up more about this tradition here, but basically you take long sticks of bamboo sliced in half, hollowed, and then set up sort of like a mini water slide.  Cold running water is poured into one end and then small “packets” (for lack of a better word) of somen (skinny Asian wheat noodles) are “flowed” down the slide to be caught with chopsticks by people along the way.

It’s actually not easy.  You tend to get somen and water everywhere and a lot of somen ends up in the basket at the end which catches the extras.

Somen is a popular summer food in Japan, but this was the first time I (and of course Sam & Sharon) had done it with the bamboo slides.  Tons of fun!  And delicious too.  You dip the noodles in a cold broth and then top it with cucumbers, ham, sliced egg, green onions, and mushrooms.  Perfect for a hot summer day!

I never really realized how many dishes are noodle-based in Japan but during their trip we also had udon, tsukemen, yakisoba, okonomiyaki (this usually doesn’t have noodles, but in Hiroshima it does).  We didn’t even have ramen, since the girls were going to get some during their day in Osaka.

Visitors + an epic battle with banana pudding

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

*Please note that posting order likely has little (if anything) to do with the chronological order in which the posted events happen.

*I discovered this post buried in my Drafts box, wilting away and totally unpublished.  Oops!  Better 6 months later than never…??  :)

Last week (*edit – actually last summer but whatever) I had an awesome visit from two friends from the US, Samantha & Sharon.  Fantastic.  Blessing.  Fun.  Awesomeawesomeawesome.  I love visitors.  Lots of good food.  And the best was the popcorn praying we did at night before falling asleep.  But first, my battle with banana pudding!


Samantha, Me, Sharon at Koyo Chapel

We were discussing what I would cook for my party Thursday when Sam suggested Banana Pudding.  She had a fantabulous recipe and I agreed the Japanese people would love it, especially as it would be a first.

Of course, getting ingredients for Western desserts is always a problem.  But I thought we could figure it out.  Like pudding mix – Japanese people make a pudding-like dessert called purin so they must also have pudding. And nilla wafers – I’m sure I’ve seen something similar.

Who was I kidding?

Turns out purin is less like pudding than I thought.  And there were no nilla wafers.

But that’s ok!  We found a decent nilla wafer substitute in the international section.  And I know an awesome chocolate pudding recipe, which I’m sure can easily be turned into vanilla pudding.  Right?  RIGHT??

Wrong again!  Apparently adding chocolate to your pudding not only makes it chocolatey, but it also helps it set.  I ended up with thick vanilla cream.  But I was not to be defeated!  Eggs are often used as pudding thickeners (the chocolate recipe used cornstarch) so I added an egg, re-cooked, and voila!  Perfectly set pudding!  All that was left was to let it cool in the fridge, nestled amongst all my other yummy party food like pepper salad, barley tea, raw hamburger patties…

Raw hamburger patties…

Lesson of the day: don’t put an unsealed plate of raw meat over an unsealed plate of something that’s not raw meat friendly.  Because then you might get this…


If only that were raspberry juice up top…

That’s right.  Raw meat juice in my pudding.  YUM.

I did seriously consider if I could just cut out the juicy parts…but my conscience wouldn’t let me.  Thankfully, God is omniscient, He knew I would utterly fail with my banana pudding, and He provided someone else to bring dessert.  Thank you.

Of course, this is where my generally not-so-stubborn streak comes in because I was NOT going to let a measly pudding get the better of me and I resolved to make it again, successfully, for another party that weekend.  And voila!  Yummy ‘nilla cookie thingies, well-set pudding, lotsa banana!  Take that!  Muhahaha.


Success at last!

Jessica 1; Banana pudding 10… OK, so I don’t actually win but that’s not what life’s about anyway, right?  It’s about Jesus.  Amen.


January 24, 2013 1 comment

Last summer I introduced you to Emma, my Kiwi (New Zealand) friend and fellow missionary.  Emma’s had a heart for Japan for years and came to Hiroshima to work with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association for a festival/revival event planned for mid-2014.  Some of you may remember me mentioning this while I was at home.

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Categories: Daily Life, Pictures

Gingerbread houses!

January 16, 2013 1 comment

I know I said last year that I was crazy for doing a gingerbread house party; totally, barking mad and I would never in a thousand years do it again…

Well, maybe 1000 years is just shorter than I thought it was.  Or maybe I’m underestimating my forgetfulness.  Either way, I made gingerbread houses for my English class parties.  Again.

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Categories: Ministry Stuff, Pictures

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