Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sweet Seasons / May 2007 - Iwane Tsutsuji -

Iwane Tsutsuji

Tsutsuji means azalea. "Iwane tsutsuji" is a popular wagashi motif for early summer, which meaning "wild azalea on rocks in mountains."

Sorry, I don't have a pic of this flower to combine with the wagashi photo above. If you want to see what the flower looks like, click here.

(I had taken this wagashi photo at the end of April ;)
Sorry I forgot which wagashi shop it was from...)


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What I Craved for on the Second Day Back in My Apartment

My "staple dish" in
the post-op recovery period at home

On the 2nd day after coming home (I mean, apartment room), I had this sudden craving for broccoli-- more precisely, broccoli potage -- and cheese. I had no idea why, though. My sense of taste was still messed up and I couldn’t stand the taste of some food I usually love – like apple cake. I had baked bunch of apple cakes and froze them before being hospitalized. But when I tried it first time after coming back, the buttery flavor of the cake and the slight sourness from the apple chunks almost made me nauseate. (What a shame!! I spent so much time baking them when I was terribly busy getting so many things done before going to the hospital.) Instead, what I really wanted was broccoli & cheese… and some good bread which is not too buttery or sweet.

So, the 2nd day back in my apartment room, I took a taxi to a nearby supermarket (because I wasn’t sure if I could ride a bicycle then) and bought broccoli and grated cheese. After that, I spent several hours in the kitchen making a big potful of broccoli potage and freezing them in several ziplock bags, feeling slightly dizzy from time to time. But it was worth it! :D

For a few days after that, I enjoyed broccoli potage topped with grated cheese (I know this may sound strange, but I really wanted cheese flavor added) again and again, and each time all I had to do was just defrosting and heating up the frozen potage. With onion, potato, garlic and soy milk added, I think the liquid food was pretty nutritious.

But I still don’t know why I craved specifically for broccoli so badly and why I had no problem with garlic while the smell of ginger bothered me so much, and also why black pepper and bay leaves were OK when the smell of cinnamon, clove and celery almost killed me.
.... Strange.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

First Meal I Had After Coming Back from the Hospital

Unagi mabushi

Yep, mom and I tried this kamameshi delivery for lunch in my apartment room on May 14th right after coming back from the hospital. It was sooooooooooooo wonderful! Soft and warm unagi (eel) on good rice! Mmmmmm!! There was nothing too salty or sour. I guess my taste buds were still messed up a little then and I couldn't taste sweetness as much as I usually do, but still I liked the dish. It was even better when I poured their light-tasting dashi broth (it came in a big pot) over this rice and eel topped with condiments, as they recommend on their website.

This is the seafood version that mom ordered. After eating most of the seafood toppings, she also poured the dashi broth over her rice and loved it so much.

I think this kamameshi delivery was a great idea when I was craving for a good meal but going to a restaurant seemed too tiring. I truly enjoyed this meal in my room where I could relax the most.

FYI-- These containers are of course not disposable. You are supposed to leave them right outside the entrance of your house, and the delivery guy will come back hours later and pick them up. You don't really have to wash the containers before returning them, but I guess many people wash them.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hospital Meals - Part 2 - After Surgery

Lunch (May 12th)

This was the first food I ate after the surgery. It was served as lunch about 10 hours after I got out of the operation room. I was almost starving to death then, so I gobbled everything up right away. What's in the big white bowl was thin rice gruel, but I had no idea what that yellow pudding-like thing in the red bowl was. (It was a little sweet, but not as smooth as pudding...) The drink in the white mug was probably some kind of probiotic drink.

Since I had a great appetite then, I thought I would enjoy all the meals for the rest of my stay there. Buy I was wrong -- definitely wrong.

They gave me rice porridge with grilled fish, nikujaga (simmered meat and potatoes) and some vegetable for dinner on the 12th (no photo). Because I was afraid of starving in the middle of the night, I ate them all. My colleague was there then, and I had to make a great effort to force myself to eat and carry on conversation at the same time. But still, the meal didn’t taste too terrible. Later that night, I thought about having some of my oatmeal raisin cookies, but as soon as I opened the can, the smell of spices knocked me down! After that, I never opened the can until I came back to my apartment.

Breakfast and lunch (May 13th)

Now, these two photos still give me cold sweat when I see them. For the first time in my life, eating meals was a hardship for me. No, it's not that the quality of the meals got worse all the sudden. I guess it was that my sense of taste was a little messed up after the surgery.

It was the 13th when I had a real hard time. I knew their miso soup was thick, but that morning it tasted unbelievably salty. And I felt that the bamboo shoots were challengingly stringy and the simmered short-necked clams tasted weird with an unpleasant (to me) smell of ginger. I felt cold sweat on my back during my breakfast.

But the lunch was even more challenging. The smell of chicken and burdock – the combination I usually love – almost made me nauseate. And the vinegared dish tasted so super-sour that I thought it might make a hole in my stomach. It was strange… I was undoubtedly hungry. I had a very good appetite, because my intestines already started functioning normally early in the morning on the day after the surgery. But eating was such a hard work and again I was soaked in a cold sweat while eating. Stringy burdock, stringy bamboo shoots (again) and stringy asparagus with dressing which tasted unbelievably sour to me…! Seriously, I got traumatized. It’ll take some time for me to be able to enjoy this simmered dish (chikuzen-ni?) again. But you know what? I ate them all -- just to convince myself that I had a lot of guts. ;)

Oh, BTW, you may not know this because my posts on this hospital experience haven't gotten to that part yet, but I already went back to work on the 21st (last Monday.) And I'm still alive (though a couple of problems were waiting for me with their arms wide open).


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hospital Meals - Part 1 - Before Surgery

OK. It's time to share my food-related adventures(?!) at the hospital. ;)

Above are the eating utensils I had bought at our famous Daiso 100-yen shop and brought to the hospital. Yeah, many Japanese hospitals (if not all) ask inpatients to bring their own chopsticks. I wonder if it’s the same in other Asian countries with chopstick culture.

Lunch (May 9th)

Tata~! This was my lunch on the first day at the hospital -- my very first hospital meal. I liked it.

Breakfast (May 10th??) . What's behind the miso soup bowl is a small paper carton of milk. Calcium-rich meal, indeed, but what was the yuzu-miso in the plastic bag for???

Dinner (I forgot which day). I liked all the side dishes on this tray, but the canned orange tasted the best, to be perfectly honest.

Oh, I forgot to tell you this: You see the partition in this pink tray? They put all warm dishes on the left side of the partition and cold dishes on the right. And I don't know exactly how, but the warm-dish side of the tray was kept warm and the cold side was kept cold. (The milk in the above breakfast photo was originally on the right side of the tray.)

The meals didn't taste as bad as I had expected from what I had heard about "hospital meals" in general (though I found their thick miso soup with sweet potatoes and leek rather unorthodox and vinegared dish a bit too sour), and I thought I’d be perfectly OK with the food there.
How innocent I was...

And on the first night, I enjoyed my home-made oatmeal raisin cookies as I read the printout of your comments to this blog. It really helped. Thank you again for your support. :)


Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm Back!!

Flower basket from my boss at my daytime job

Yes, I came back to my room around noon today and found sooooo many comments from all over the world waiting for me on this blog!
Thank you, everyone. There's a lot to tell you, but for now I just want to say that everything went fine.

Thanks again for your support, dear readers! :D

P.S. Here is a photo that shows one of the things I did on the day after the surgery.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Temporary Hiatus...

Sorry, dear readers,
This blog is on a temporary hiatus. As some of you already know, I’m going to have a surgery on May 11th. It is just a laparoscopic surgery to remove my dermoid cyst, and I should be back in my apartment as early as May 14th, if everything goes OK. The details are here, and if you are interested in the whole story and have nothing better to do, you might want to start from the - Part 1- here.

I'm going to be busy with preparations until this coming Wednesday. No, I’m not scared at all... at the moment. But there is no doubt that I’ll need a lot of encouragement while I stay in bed alone in the hospital before/after the surgery. So dear readers, can you PLEASE leave your comments to this post? I’ll print them out the night before I go to the hospital and keep them right next to my pillow during my stay there.

And I promise -- I'll come back with a bunch of photos of Japanese hospital food. ;)
Wish me luck and see you again soon!