I love this video:
And it was the soundtrack to my day today.
It started early.
Twice a year we have gomi zero days. Zero Rubbish days. One representative from each house in the neighborhood turns up at 6:30 am (because you gotta catch the rubbish before it wakes up and runs away) to pick up litter for an hour. K actually enjoys this. Not so much the litter but the community involvement and because he isn’t in the neighborhood during the week he sees everyone less often and likes catching up so he’s our nominated gomi zero representative.
No problem so far, right? Well, he also likes spending time with the girls and so told them (stupid, stupid man) that if they woke up early Sunday morning they could go with him. These are kids who have never slept past 7:00 in their lives... So today started bright, loud and early at 5:20 when they bounded into our room yelling ‘wake up! It’s gomi zero day!’ the way most kids rave about Christmas....
So, after revolting early start I got up and made muffin to take to SIL’s house in Nagoya. She had a baby in August and we were going to see him for the first time.
M and A came home and ate natto and rice for breakfast. Cue Amy’s second outfit of the day (although when I suggested she change as their was natto all down her front she looked puzzled and replied ‘I’ll eat it in the car.’) Then somehow, in an absolutely unavoidable, nobody’s fault bout of banned horseplay in the kitchen Amy ended up sitting in a basket of tomatoes. A full basket of tomatoes. Cue Amy’s third outfit of the day and it’s not even 9:00...
Got in the car and thanks to my amazing negotiation skills (I really should send a resume to the UN. I’m wasted here) we made it 4 hours, one wrong exit on the expressway and a wrong turn-we’re-not-lost-we’re-just-on-a-different-road navigational doozy from K to SIL’s house.
Well, SIL lives in a gorgeous but very, ummm... compact.... apartment with beautiful and expensive things. Everywhere. On low benches. With a downstairs neighbour who doesn’t like noise. Perfect place for my two....
After a stressful 3 hours where the girls occupied themselves by eating, drawing and asking why the 5 week old baby wouldn’t play with them more my disaster prevention skills were finely honed (UN, I’m multi-talented), the house was still in one piece, I had convinced SIL she didn’t need to give Amy the blanket straps from the baby’s stroller just because she asked for them- woo hoo, SIL, you gotta harden your heart to the puppy dog face, I tell ya- we were back in the car for another fun-filled four hour journey home.
Stopped at a rest area for coffees and I went to the loo while the others were etill sitting on the terrace. Met K half way to the loo with the girls on my way back. Both had been sure they didn’t need to go when I went but 5 minutes later? Busting...
Somehow here we both forgot that my bag was under a chair on the terrace. Remembered 2 minutes down the road but it’s a little tricky doing a U-turn on the expressway....
No problem, we’ll just use K’s phone to call directory assistance, get the number for the rest area shop, have them check and ship the bag back C.O.D.
beep- beep- beep-
K’s phone has a dead battery.
“Why didn’t you charge it?”
“You haven’t even used it today?”
“Recently it doesn’t hold the charge....”
“...... about a month ago.....”
Big. Deep. Breath.
OK, we’ll stop at the next rest area and call from there.
K comes back from the public phone with a fancy schmancy car phone charger.
“I didn’t have enough 10 yen coins so I bought this instead.”
Definitely came out ahead on that one, I think...
Plugged in the phone, called the place:
“It’s a greyish handbag with a book on companion planting, one on sour dough bread and a camera in a blue case.”
“..... we don’t have a greyish one but we have a blackish one with a book on companion planting etc etc”
Give me a break!
But bag is there, all is well, they will send it, let’s go home.
Amy spilled a cup of water on her dress. We’re 20 minutes from home, she has a towel to mop it up, the car isn’t cold, this is the girl who was happy to wear a dress covered in natto, no big deal, right?
The last amazing 20 minutes of our family fun Sunday involved Amy screaming that her dress needed to come off now (not such a biggy) and that she wanted a new dress (problem. My evacuation bag in the car runs to shorts, t-shirts and trackpants but no dresses) Then Meg started in that Amy was too noisy and it was on for young and old.
Thankfully no day lasts for ever and the girls conked out in seconds but I swear if K ever, ever tells them to wake up early again I may just run away to Tuscany- with my pillow- and the coffee maker.
- k-truck as sweet potato seller and recycle truck. Complete with the appropriate songs.
- using the k-truck as a ship and throwing rocks at sharks all around you
- throwing your pants off the back of the truck, going and getting them, climbing back onto the truck and starting it all again. I didn't really get this one but it had them in stitches...
- throwing your pants up in the air and trying to catch them.
- painting your nails with the juice of little black berries.
- running laps of the field pretending to be doing Sport's Day
'Did anyone else ever play that game pass the pigs?
Yesterday I wasn't playing games that involve throwing two little plastic pigs but really making bacon. And oh wow....Sooo good!
We use a lot of apple wood in the fire which K cuts with a chainsaw which means lots of chunky sawdust. I've been playing around with this in the pizza oven smoking things. Started off really easy with wieners- precooked sausages, can't go wrong and kill everyone that way, right?
I've moved on to chicken breasts and while it's fun and tastes good I haven't really been wowed by it.
I was talking to one of my students about it and found out she makes her own bacon.
Bacon, hmmm?? Real bacon? With flavour? That I could slice more than wafer thin? Yup, sign me up!
I had never thought about making bacon and I'm sure that even if I had I wouldn't have imagined it would have been in a gorgeous apartment on the 7th floor of Matsumoto's ritziest building- complete with fulltime front desk guy and three different security codes to get into your rooms- No unwanted salespeople for S!
Anyway, the bacon. It's so deceptively easy and tastes so amazing I have to share. It's practically a community service- saving you all from that pink, watery, pretend bacon...
Take 500 grams of pork belly (or a lot more and just multiply the recipe accordingly) oh and if you're like me nad had no idea what pork belly is it's bara-niku. Should have worked that out from the kanji but the only thing I associate with pork bellies is the American stock exchange....
Anyway, take your meat and put it in a ziplock bag. (I'm sure there are more environmentally friendly ways of doing this but I'm just passing on the recipe as it was told to me)
Add 1 heaped tablespoon of salt, same of sugar, a bay leaf, a few pepper corns, any left over onion slices or carrot or celery you have around and push all the air out and seal the bag.
Leave in the fridge for three days. (That's the hard part....)
While waiting get a heavy bottomed saucepan and cover the bottom of it with tinfoil all the way up the sides and over the lip of the pan. Then cover the inside of the lid with foil and go over the lip of the lid too. Put about a cup of smoking chips in the bottom of the pan (home centre's sell them if you live in swanky apartments without woodpiles and chainsaws...) and put a cake rack over the whole thing.
(That step's a bit fiddly but hey- you have three days to get it right...)
On day three remove the meat from the fridge, remove any herbs/ veggies stuck to your meat and place on cake rack in tinfoiled pot. Cover with tinfoiled lid and push down. The double layer of tinfoil should make an airtight seal.
On medium heat smoke for 35- 40 minutes. If you can refrain from opening the lid and 'just checking' there won't be any smoke- not even a wisp and you will be perfectly able to make your own amazing bacon even in a swanky apartment!
The finished product is unlike store bacon in that it's pretty much cooked (it also has flavour and is not watery but...) At first I was disappointed as it didn't look like how I thought bacon should look but one bite and I'm a convert! And it being cooked? Well there's so much fat on a pork belly you can still grill up your bacon anyway. And it's versatile- make's a great char sieu like topping for ramen to boot.