Vernicious Knids

Random musings and snapshots about life, love, travel and everything in between...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What's going on?

(Click on the image for a better view.)

What do you think is happening in this picture?
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Buckle up...

The lovely Stepherz has tagged me, and true to form I will not be following the rules of this meme exactly, but will be embellishing at will - enjoy the ride.

1. Name of a book I have read more than once:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl, To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee, The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien and The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley, a swashbuckling feminist retelling of the Arthurian legend!

(Image from Amazon Japan )

2. If I could have one book while stuck on a deserted island:
The Dummies Guide to Surviving on a Deserted Island - Man Friday

3. A book that made me laugh:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams, Switch Bitch - Roald Dahl, Down Under - Bill Bryson and He Died With a Felafel in his Hand - John Birmingham, gruesome yet hilarious tales of housesharing.

(Image from Amazon Japan)

4. A book that made me cry:
Little Women - Lousia May Alcott

5. One book I wish I had written:
Tikki Tikki Tembo - Arlene Mosel and The Mayfair Witches Chronicles - Anne Rice

6. One book that I think shouldn't have been written:
As I said back in June, books are the gateway to new worlds, adventures and ideas and as such, all books are important

7. A book I'm currently reading:
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters

8. One book I've been meaning to read:
Well my Amazon wishlist currently contains 348 books I've been meaning to read, but I'll just tell you three of them... Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Suskind, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women - Geraldine Brooks and City of Falling Angels - John Berendt

(Image from Amazon Japan)

9. One book that changed my life:
The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton, it showed me the power of imagination

(Image from Amazon Japan)

Now I am supposed to tag someone...but you can tag yourselves if you are keen to play, and feel free to bend the rules!
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Velvety smooth bliss...

"He deserved a reward for having freed himself of the brandy futures, and he'd been unable to resist any longer the seductive odour that had begun to permeate his chamber..." (Liss 2004:104)

(Image from here)

"It was not as good as what he had taken with Geertruid, or even what he'd tasted at the Turkish tavern, but he nevertheless liked the way the bitterness and the sweetness played off each other. He took a sip and savoured how the coffee washed into his mouth like a kiss. He sniffed at the bowl and looked at in the light of the oil lamp. And before he finished, he knew he would make another helping." (Liss 2004:104)

(Image from Amazon Japan)

After reading the above passage, I succumbed to my craving and brewed myself a cup of velvety smooth bliss...why don't you join me?
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Slow cooking:

Sometimes I get the urge to create meals from scratch; rather than on simply relying on the proliferation of packaged foods available in Japanese supermarkets.
Today was one of those days.

First up was the soup:

Roasted Carrot Soup

Carrots, chopped into pieces suitable for roasting (I don't peel as it provides additional fibre - and reduces prep time!)
3 Onions, 2 should be diced and 1 is cut lengthwise
1 Scallion, sliced (only use the white bit)
Olive oil
Rosemary (fresh or dried)
3 cups Vegetable stock

1. Place the carrots and the lengthwise cut onion in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and roast for about 45 minutes.
2. Put the carrots, onion and oil mixture into a giant stock pot and add the remaining ingredients.
3. Put the lid on and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
4. After it has cooled slightly gradually blend the mixture to the consistency you prefer (the photo shows you that I like it a little chunky!)
5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of nutmeg and plenty of cracked black pepper.

Next, was the salad:

Coleslaw with Homemade Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk (must be room temperature)
Pinch of salt
1 tbspn lemon juice
1/2 tspn Dijon mustard
3/4 cup oil (I use olive oil)

1. Whisk the egg yolk and salt together.
2. Add the lemon juice and Dijon mustard and whisk briskly.
3. Gradually whisk in the oil. This is the key point; you must add the oil very slowly or it may "break" - this is when the oil separates from the egg yolk. If you are whisking by hand, like me, it will take about 15-20 minutes.
4. Once all the oil is incorporated, taste it and add additional salt or lemon juice if necessary.
This makes about 1 cup of delicious, creamy mayonnaise. Store the mayonnaise in a covered container in the fridge; it will keep for about a week. Stir it before use.

Cabbage, shredded
1 Carrot, grated
2 Green Capsicum, chopped
3/4 onion, grated
2 tbspn Homemade Mayonnaise
Cracked Black Pepper

1. Simplicity in itself - add all the ingredients together and mix well!

And finally, the main:

Grilled Salmon with Homemade Ginger Mustard Mayonnaise

2 tbspn Homemade Mayonnaise
1 1/2 tspn Dijon mustard
1 tbspn finely grated fresh Ginger
1/2 tbspn Soy Sauce

1. Whisk all the ingredients together and pour over freshly grilled salmon.

I served the salmon with
our favourite eggplant dish.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Takeshi Chaplin?!

Street busking is not as widespread in Japan as it is in other countries, but Akihabara is working to change this. Every Sunday, Chuo Dori - the main street - is closed to vehicular traffic and the buskers take over.

This Chaplin tribute guy does magic tricks, dancing, juggling and some comedy.

Very debonair, don't you agree?

Some famous busker alumni include:
Cirque Du Soleil, Stomp, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Beck, Dolly Parton, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Pierce Brosnan, & River Phoenix.
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Blogger has been very moody recently, so please bear with us!

(The sign says - Please wait!)
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An exit and an entry:

The shocking loss of Steve Irwin on Monday has reverberated around the world; it even made the evening news here in Japan. His wildlife conservation website, Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, perhaps sums him up best:

"Steve was a true original; he brought energy and passion to everything he did...Steve didn't do anything by half...The exceptional life Steve led is a testament to his respect for all creatures great and small, and his passion for wildlife was matched only by his passion for family life."

(Image from here)

If you do find yourself in Beerwah, Queensland; make sure you visit Australia Zoo.

Japanese Princess Kiko has given birth to a son - who will be named on September 12th - and is now third in line for the throne, after Crown Prince, Naruhito and his younger brother Prince Akashino. He is the first male to be born in the Imperial family in more than four decades and has stopped the possibility of Imperial succession reform for now. (Japan's royal family currently allows "male only" succession.)

(Princess Kiko and her husband, Prince Akashino. Image from MSNBC)

The economic fortune of Japan is riding on his little shoulders as it's expected that not only will his birth help to improve Japan's falling marriage and birth rate, but he will stimulate the economy to the modest sum of 150 billion yen!

Hopefully he won't crack under the pressure.
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Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Choose a real rodent this time"!

The internet is a mish-mash of weird and wonderful sites like Hamster for President:

The candidates include Diddley Squat for President.

And Bupkes for Vice President.

A well designed and humourous website...check it out and remember:

Vote Hamster!

(All images are from Hamsters for President
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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Puzzles, tricks and whodunits...

I love mysteries. Since the much lamented demise of BBC Japan I have had to search out alternatives to the brilliant The Mrs Bradley Mysteries in which Diana Rigg - as Mrs Adela Bradley - extols pragmatic words of wisdom like the following:

"Same old coiffure, husband secure. New style of hair, husband beware!"

Fortunately we do have LaLa TV here in Japan, which replays some classic TV shows like Murder, She Wrote starring the indomitable Jessica Fletcher - aka Angela Lansbury:

(Image from here)

Now, while I do enjoy sitting back and watching Mrs Fletcher handily solve a murder mystery in 45 minutes...woman cannot live on TV alone - she also needs books and lots of them!

DCI Alan Banks live in North Yorkshire and "is lean and wiry with short, cropped black hair greying a little at the temples...not especially handsome in the classic sense, but attractive to women...fanatical about music..." (Inspector Banks' PIR will fill in the blanks for you.)

(Image from Amazon UK)

Critics regard Peter Robinson's In A Dry Season to be the best of his literary police procedurals starring Banks. It links the lives of residents from Hobbs End - a village that was surrendered to the waters of Thornfield Reservoir - to discover how a young woman may have died over 50 years ago.

Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch is a man with a mission, a mission to "speak for the dead". Michael Connelly selected this name as "I didn't want to waste anything. I wanted all aspects of his character to be meaningful...I saw the metaphorical possibilities of juxtaposing contemporary Los Angeles with the Bosch paintings." (Read Michael Connelly's FAQs for the full description.)

(Image from Amazon UK )

The Last Coyote details Bosch's attempts to investigate an unsolved crime from 1961. A brutal murder that has profoundly affected Bosch, as the victim was his mother. He discovers that someone was able to keep the investigators away from the key suspects...will the cover-up remain intact today?

Commissario Guido Brunetti lives and works in La Serenissima (Venice, Italy), a relatively crime-free locale. "He loves his family, the majesty of Italian cuisine, and his job, even as he constantly rails against the bumbling and interference of his superiors...Guido is an island of integrity in a sea of corruption." (This site has the full details.)

(Image from Amazon UK)

Acqua Alta reintroduces some colourful characters from the first Brunetti mystery, Death At La Fenice, and forces Brunetti to investigate a savage beating and a swollen corpse against the backdrop of a cold and grey Venice.

Banks, Bosch and Brunetti are investigators that are looking to provide some sense of meaning to life and are inexorably drawn to the victims in their respective series. Each murder provides more details about their personalities and motivations. While you can delve into any of the novels for a complete tale, you will enjoy the character development more if you read the series in order. (Does anyone else find it weird that they all have "B" names?!)
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