Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yeah, Adventures!

Obachan's First Homemade Waffles!

(with homemade strawberry jam)

Too bad it's raining today and I couldn't get lovely morning sunshine for this waffle photo. But it was real fun to make waffles! Yeah, I just bought what they call "Belgian waffle maker" here the other day and used it for the first time this morning. See? I have started preparing for my move already. I'm doing as much online shopping as possible while I'm here in Kochi city.

I know. You want to say, "Wait a minute. You can do online shopping in your hometown, too, can't you?" One thing is that the delivery guy there is, IIRC, my younger sister's ex classmate in elementary school or something, and I don't want him to think that I'm addicted to online shopping. :P But more serious reason is that I may not have a very comfortable Internet access in my hometown.

When I made the decision to move to my hometown, I naively assumed that I would be able to have the same broad-band service there. I checked the area-coverage of the service on their website, and found that my hometown was the area for an even faster Internet connection. Yay! But just to be safe, I checked it with the local phone company that actually takes care of the phone lines. Then they told me that I couldn't have that service because of some problem with the line. A substitute line could solve the problem, they said, but there's no vacancy. AHHHHHH!!! Other broad-band services do not cover my hometown, and seems like the obsolete (I would say) connection called ISDN is the only choice! AHHHHHH!!! Give me a break. What can I do with only 64Kbps?!

So, frantically I did some net search, only to find that this is a common problem in most countryside in Japan. If it's a REAL small village in the middle of mountains, the situation is better because they have cable TV network which also provides Internet service. But there are countless young or middle-aged Japanese who have moved (or are going to move) to rural areas with no cable service, and totally stressed out with ISDN and crying out for a broad-band service. It's so stupid. The government encourages young people to move into the country so that the areas won't be depopulated and elderly folks there won't be abandoned, but is so reluctant to provide them with decent Internet environment! It's crucial! Actually some people are gathering petition signatures to make the situation better.

Anyway, knowing that other people also have cold doesn't cure your cold, and I have to find a possible alternative -- something faster than ISDN. After some more frantic net search, I learned that now I can insert some data card(?) from a cell phone company into my PC and use the Internet with a flat-rate plan. I know the real speed I would get in my hometown would be FAR less than the "best-effort" speed they advertise. But anything faster than ISDN would do!

So this morning, after enjoying the waffles, I went to a cell phone shop and asked about the above mentioned service. There is no way to find out beforehand how it would work in my hometown, but they said they would lend me the card and let me keep it for a week to bring it there and actually try it out. How nice. :D OK. I'm going to do it this coming Sunday.

Coming back to the waffles. Oh, I really, really loved making waffles. The moment I opened the waffle maker and saw the golden brown waffles! And when they were easily removed from the iron without sticking to it at all! I almost jumped with joy. Life does give me challenges, but it doesn't forget to give me fun, too. :) Maybe buckwheat or whole wheat waffles next time.



J*me said...

I hope you do get decent internet speed with the new data card - slow internet nowadays is painful! -__-; (haha, how spoilt have we all become huh? I remember the times when the word 'internet' wasn't even common. Hee!)

And I'm so excited for you about your impending move back to your hometown! And can't wait to follow your new blog when you're settled there too.

By the way, those waffles look yummy! ^__^

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Nice waffles! I still have to try making that speciality... Yummy!

I'm looking forwards to learning more about your move...



Amelia Yap said...


tofugirl said...

Boy this post reminded me of college--back in the days before we had high speed internet and had to rely on a 14.4 modem. It seems unbelievable now! But also, one of my jobs in college was making waffles in the cafeteria :) Actually I made so many waffles that I couldn't stomach eating them for years! Fortunately that's passed and I can happily eat them again :D

K and S said...

we had that insert card when we first had our computer, be careful with it, we were charged a LOT of $$. I think one month we owed 20,000 yen or something outrageous like that.

totoro said...

I am looking forward to reading you blog every time.Actually I bought a waffle maker last March and bake waffle or something every day at taht time. Your waffle reminded me of my baking something again, thank you.Try to bake Moffle(mochi baked with waffle maker),it`s so yummy!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous waffles! My mother was from Belgium and we always had great waffles at home. And we also had wonderful crepes. A trick my mother used to do was substitute half of the liquid with beer, always a very light-colored beer. The kitchen had the most terrific smell to it. Please try this sometime soon and let me know what you think. It works for either sweet or savory waffles and crepes. Don't forget that leftover waffles can be used for savory dishes too. If I have leftover chicken or fish and vegetables, I will make a wine-cream sauce, add the leftovers, and then pour them over the leftover waffle that I have heated in the toaster. A perfect way to make leftovers seem like a new dish.

Best of luck on your move. I will miss reading Obachan's Kitchen & Balcony Garden. Please let us all know the URL to your new site once you get settled...whenever that is in 2009.

You are such an inspiration to all of your fans. Keep on cooking!!!

Anonymous said...

yeah, keep on cooking.

Anonymous said...

My dear Obachan

Its nice when we make the move to do something different.Thats your calling now. Life gives us lots of surprises and you may never know right at the end theres a beautiful rainbow waiting for you.
I bet theres a lot of interesting lineup for your new blog.Looking forward to it.

May I wish you the very best in your future endeavor, good old girl.


Anonymous said...

Love your blog and your lovely photos. Can't wait to hear about your move!

- a blog reader from Hong Kong

obachan said...

Thanks. For me, slow internet is not just painful… I’m hoping to do some at-home work via the internet, such as data input or translation. But they say that ISDN is not just slow but it often gives up doing the task–- like dowinloading big files, browsing sites with many images or animation or video, receiving emails with heavy attachments, etc., then SOHO work will be very, very difficult, and “distant learning” program would be totally impossible… NO, I don’t want to give up those plans completely. I’ll keep trying…

There will be more and more tear-jerking stories and AHHHHH!!! to come. ;)

Amelia Yap

Haha… the internet was not even invented in my college days. And after graduation, when I first started working in an office, there was such things as TELEX and 8 inch floppy disk! LOL

I’m glad to hear that you can enjoy waffles again now. :D

K & S
Oh, wasn’t that before they introduced a flat-rate plan? Now it shouldn’t cost more than the monthly upper limit no matter how much I use it. But I’ll double check on that. Thanks.

Moffle! Yes! That’s one thing I really want to try.

Ah, beer! That must work wonderfully! Thank you, thank you, Mora. I’ve got to try it.

Can you tell me how to make the wine-cream sauce? I always welcome leftover ideas, and yours sounds terrific.

Sure I will. ;)

Oh, thank you so much for your encouraging comment. To be honest, some days –- especially like today when it’s cold and raining -– I feel scared with all the pessimistic anticipations. A beautiful rainbow –- yeah, I’ll try to keep that in mind.

I think I’m going to blog like crazy over there. Hope you keep visiting my new blog.

Thanks. Yep, I’m going to share all the hustles and bustles with you guys. So stay tuned! ;)

Unknown said...


I also had problems with slow internet when I lived in Tohoku. The countryside gets very little technology. I also agree that the government or NTT should ensure that the whole country has the same service (more or less).

Please do your best! Reading your blog has become one of my favorite morning rituals!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Obachan. Sorry for the delay in responding to your question about a wine cream sauce. My job responsibilities get in the way of staying current sometimes.

I don't have specific quantities for the sauce. Since you are an experienced cook, you can relate to cooking from sense or feeling rather than a recipe. Start with 1 to 2 gou of finely chopped yellow onion or shallot and saute in some butter or a combination of butter and olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons, at medium heat. Once the onions are limp and turning golden in color, put in a couple of tablespoons of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula and let the onion/flour combination cook a bit; this will prevent a raw flour taste. Add perhaps 1/2 gou of milk (real cream would make the sauce too rich) and continue stirring until it starts to thicken. Next add 1/2 gou of white wine. The wine doesn't have to be expensive but it should be one you would like to drink, just like you do with sake in your kitchen. Next add some salt and pepper (black or white, depending on whether you want to see the pepper specks) to taste. Slowly add more milk and wine until it reaches the consistency you like. My mother used to add Maggi Seasoning [maybe you can find it as a store with European food products], maybe 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon or so; if you don't like/want MSG, do not use Maggi. I have also added a bit of brandy or sherry at the very end if I want a different taste, though you need only a little. Fresh or dried herbs work nicely too; I like thyme a lot. Lastly, if you think the sauce needs something else to enhance the flavor but you can't figure out what that might be, add a very small amount of sugar (white or brown). Incorporate the sugar into the sauce and taste and adjust accordingly. Depending on what the cream sauce will be paired with, I have used Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce or a very small amount of mustard; it just all depends. I haven't tried a bit of Tonkatsu in the sauce but I think that might be fun. Lastly, if you have a good wine cream sauce as a base, you can add sauteed mushrooms (and maybe a few more chopped onions) and chicken broth and turn it into a mushroom soup. As you can imagine, once you get started there is no stopping the number of ideas you can come up with...and I bet you'll have a lot. Let me know how this works for you. Have fun!

obachan said...

Kelley Dawne
Thank you and sorry that I didn't respond sooner. It's encouraging to hear from someone who knows what it's like in Japanese inaka. You know what NTT always says? They say, though politely, things like "Sure we can extend this service to your area if you can guarantee 300 users there." How nice. Now that they're private and the government does not give them financial support, they don't seem to be willing to do anything unless it is profitable.

Thank you so much for the recipe. I'll give it a try after my next payday because I'm planning to buy a bottle of wine then.

BTW, your use of "gou" measurement reminded me of my childhood when we only had 1 gou cup in my mom's kitchen. Now we use the "gou" only when measuring rice. Oh, and I believe Japanese ladles are made based on "gou," though the amount is usually written in mL on them.