Monday, June 1, 2015

Megedarra - Lentils and Rice


I admit, this IS A Rather out of the blue Recipe post, but its one of Those That I Have to write about and share. One Because its so Easy and so Delicious. And Two, and this IS selfish, but the website That Gave the recipe does not have a picture and I just can not pin a recipe without a picture! ... even though I realize I'm no food photographer, its better than nothing. :)

Also, this recipe is HEALTHY! The lentils are chock full of fiber, protein, potassium, iron, B-6, and magnesium..and a whole bunch more nutrients too!

Not to leave out the asparagus, of course!

Megedarra is very popular in Egypt, and considered a poor meal. It feeds a lot and is very hearty.

What you'll need:

5 Tbsp EVOO
2 lg onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 C brown or green lentils, rinsed
5 C water
1 C rice (I use Japanese rice, rinsed 3-5 times)
salt and ground pepper
(My additions: 1/2 tsp cumin and a bay leaf)

1 C plain or Greek yogurt
2 sm garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 drop Lemon essential oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin

  1.  Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring from time to time, until the onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes longer.
  2.  In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until the lentils are partially cooked, about 15 minutes. Stir in half the onions, the rice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Add more water if needed to prevent sticking.
  3.  Meanwhile, cook the remaining onions over high heat until dark brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir the onions frequently so they do not stick to the bottom of the skillet and burn.
  4.  In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the garlic, lemon juice and cumin. Transfer the lentils and rice to a shallow bowl and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over them. Sprinkle with the caramelized onions and serve. Pass the yogurt separately .

This CAN BE made ​​the Night before as well. You CAN find the Original Recipe here . For the Asparagus you'll need


Asparagus
EVOO
Salt and Pepper
Garlic powder
Parmesan 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut ends and clean asparagus, and place in a foil lined baking dish. Drizzle EVOO lightly over asparagus, followed by garlic powder, salt and pepper, and parmesan. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until asparagus browns.

Please make these and enjoy them as much as I do !! I know everyone will love it.

*all images original to Amazing Grapes



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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Here again






Here I am again. Unexpectedly months from last time I wrote. I knew it was going to be a busy couple of months what with taking another Anatomy and Physiology class, but we added a long vacation in the middle of that, and let's just say it added an extra element of stress.

Its tough when you really want to go on vacation, and he gets the time off, and he's excited to get a reprieve from all the chaos at work, but I'm in the thick of an incredibly intense class with major exams and hours upon hours of daily reading, lectures, assignments, quizzes, and studying. Needless to say we still went on vacation to Singapore and after 5, or maybe 6 days, we cut it short. I was holed up in the room almost the entire time, and we both felt terrible that what was supposed to be a great trip was in fact, not. It even ended with us taking separate flights back since we couldn't get the same flight.

Thankfully, I made it through the class with a B...barely, and I can now rest assured I will never have to take such an intense class again...and we can both be certain we will plan our trips much more carefully in the future.

Ever since the class's ending, I've lounged around doing little. I've started baking, which is a little comical given there's only a toaster oven, and no cookie sheets small enough to fit in it. But with a flimsy metal tray, I've managed to bake some "potential cookies" that are a hit with G-man...and myself. I just made my 5th batch this afternoon. Two ever so simple ingredients: Recipe here!

My first class of the Summer has now started up and I'll need to find my groove for that, but I'm confident it'll be smooth without any hiccups. Nothing like my Spring semester. I have to comment on the fact that I'm beginning my Junior year with ASU. I'm so shocked I'm already a Junior and just saying that is so exciting. I'm getting myself on track to graduate Spring of 2017 and though that requires me to continue taking Summer classes and even adding an extra class throughout the Fall and Spring semesters, I'm determined to walk across that stage come May 2017. That's only two years from now! So soon, so soon!!

In the meantime, I know a lot will go on in those two years, but God has proven faithful and no matter what, it'll work out for His glory, so I'm not worried in the least over any changes or challenges that come about. I say, bring them on!


*all images original to Amazing Grapes


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Chinese Celebration Parade

Maybe this is horrible or maybe this is typical; either way, I get in a rut a lot of the time with wherever I am. I can't figure out anything to do, so I'll sit around and waste time on my computer or hanging out in the apartment.

Super exciting.

This is true even with being in Japan. I don't have that "lets go explore and be adventurous" spirit. I have the "I'm tired of spending money on train rides to see yet another temple or shrine that looks exactly like all the others I've seen".

I'm super fun to be around.

Granted if you came to visit, I would absolutely take you to all these places, but on my own, its not all that fun to me. But I was determined to do something, anything one weekend, and began scouring the internet.

That's when I learned it was the Chinese New Year celebration and it was nearing the end of its (I think) 10 days of celebrating. They had their big parade and since I had never been to a Chinese parade before, in Chinatown no less, I was determined and excited to go.

I arrived in Chinatown a good 20 minutes before it began, but I had no idea where it was going to be, or what roads they'd go down, so I did what anyone would do...followed the crowd. And within 50 yards, I was jam-packed stuck between hundreds of Japanese. There was no moving and thanks to being a head taller than most, I saw why. We were at the very start of the parade.

Being 50 people back was not where I wanted to be to see the parade. I had grand plans to get amazing shots, and all I saw was a sea of black hair. I did the only thing I could do, and that was become a fish going upstream. I pushed and pushed my way out until I could finally breathe and as I was hearing the parade behind me, I hoped and hoped I would find a place to at least catch a glimpse of it.

I made it to the next street over and noticed that people were forming along the side of the road. I figured if Japanese were doing it...it must be a good sign, so I plopped myself on the edge and waited...and waited...and waited for over 30 minutes until finally I saw the flags being waved down the road.

Funny thing about parades here, even with it just 20 feet behind them, people were still walking down the middle of the street like it was any other day. In America, those streets would have been cleared at least an hour before.
Case in point. See the three balloons down the street? That's the start of the parade.

The celebration was fun and different and loud...Chinese and fireworks at all. They lit a bunch of them inside a metal container, for reasons I'm figuring are A) containment B) reduction of potential fires and C) because it'll echo and be 100x louder inside than out.

And loud they were. Eardrums could have burst.

oh and D) so everyone could cough from all the smoke it produced..which they were successful there too.

I'm glad I went and though I was a little sad at first for choosing the sun side of the street, and had to fight with it to get photos; I was happy when I realized the other side was the 'get all the firework smoke' side. The sun wasn't so bad after that.

I should probably break this up into two posts for the amount of photos, but why? ..enjoy!

 This guy locked eyes with me, and I'll admit, I was a bit intimidated by it.









The woman on the left kept her beautiful smile throughout the entire performance. I couldn't help but watch her the whole time, she seemed so genuinely happy.
















*all images original to Amazing Grapes


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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ume season

The trees are slowly starting to blossom and it gets me so excited for Spring. A little over a week ago, I made the hike up to a park that has row upon row of Sakura trees (aka Cherry Blossom trees), however they're all bare. Their season doesn't start until April, but at least in the meantime, I get to enjoy the Ume (pronounced ume-meh) trees...(aka Plum trees).



While I was taking photos of the Ume blossoms, a man with his dog walked by and the dog, for reasons unknown, stopped right at my feet.

Though I've kept it fairly under wraps...I'll admit now, I'm not a dog person. at all. not in the least. But here this dog stands, unmoving, at my feet. I laugh, as you do in awkward situations and the owner just stands there ten feet away waiting for the dog.

I can't quite put my finger on how or why, but the dogs here aren't "normal" dogs. They don't bark, they don't jump, they aren't out of control, they stay when told, and a lot of them aren't even on leashes because they're so incredibly well trained.

I just about NEVER hear a dog barking in the neighborhood. One dog barks maybe once a week, and its for 30 seconds before he stops, never to bark again. Its weird but amazing all at the same time.

So, this dog is at my feet, standing quietly, off-leash, waiting. Me and the owner, with hand gestures, talk about the trees to pass time. He very kindly tells me what trees I'm taking photos of, and when to come back for the Sakura trees. He calls the dog, but it won't move. Again. But the dog is happy, so I finally FINALLY consent, and pet the dog.

If you knew me, really knew me, this is huge. I don't touch dogs. (I'm also allergic...lest you think me a beast). But I give this dog a really good rub down, and he's just soaking it up. I actually don't mind doing it, this dog was really mellow.

Not too long after petting him, the owner calls again, and the dog trots away. Well played dog, well played.

I walked around a little longer and eventually called it a night, returning back to the apartment. More and more Ume trees are blooming and even though we've been having terrible gusty winds the past few days, I can feel the warmth of the sun getting stronger. Spring will be here before I know it.







*all images original to Amazing Grapes


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Sunday, March 1, 2015

So many things

There is so much I have yet to cover, all my stories and trips are being mentally backlogged with each and every trip I take. With each one, I think "this one I want to share first. No THIS one." and so the cycle goes where I can't decide.

I have snow monkeys, and sumo, and umi (plum) blooms; a boat tour, Asakusa, and a Chinese New Year Celebration parade to share. Oh and the Sapporo Snow Festival...and Odawara Castle, and Nagano. Not to mention my in-between moments too. If I were a "bucket list" making kind of person, the majority of these would be on it and happily crossed off.

So many amazing trips that are truly once in a lifetime.

I'll probably start backwards since the Chinese New Year celebration is coming to a close, and I really enjoyed watching their parade this weekend. Its so fresh in my mind, I want to capture it before it flits away. Thankfully it was on Saturday since it rained the entire day Sunday. I happily stayed indoors cleaning, and eating snack foods, watching Netflix as the rain came down. 

Today marks the last day of my first set of Spring semester classes, and the first day of Spring break! Who knows what I'll do but I look forward to the break no matter what. 

G-man and I went out to eat a few weeks ago, and got to enjoy some delicacies of Japan. We had quite the fun night that night, ending with him buying a new Macbook and us enjoying a cocoa at Starbucks while we watched the crazy Shibuya traffic...it is the busiest intersection in the world for very good reason.


One thing that's fun with Japan is they can't, or don't say their L's. L's are R's in every word. He"rr"o for Hello and bRanket for blanket...you get the point, so its always fun when I'm out and about to see how "Engrish" strikes again. 

This time however, they actually NEEDED the R, and that just makes this all the more funny.

Technically you can "clash" with someone coming around the corner, but you most likely will "crash" if you aren't paying attention. 

I hope you all had a great weekend. 



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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Japan is like the South

I grew up on the West Coast. Been there for the entire 33 1/2 years of my life. I was around dry heat where I knew just about nothing, okay, absolutely nothing about humidity. Whenever someone from the Southern states would comment on the humidity and how heat AND humidity was worse than a dry heat like Las Vegas, I would laugh and say they didn't know what they were talking about.

Desert heat is miserable.

But then G-man and I went to D.C. in April 2008, and my west coast self wore a thick cashmere top with heavy thick jeans, and I was about to die. About.to.die. I remember G-man balking at me, saying it wasn't humid at all, (he being a Southern boy and all), but I was pulling on my clothes feeling claustrophobic.

Since then I've learned a lot. Being in Japan, I've experienced the Spring months where the humidity reaches 100%. Thankfully I haven't experienced the Summer months here, where I hear it is downright miserable, but having it be in the high 80's with 100% humidity is enough for me.

With humidity comes condensation on the windows and with condensation comes mold and mildew. Ick! Close the windows and the humidity gets trapped making more condensation which makes more mold. Keep the windows open and the humidity comes IN which keeps everything wet which makes more mold.

Its a lose/lose as far as I see.

I hear its exactly the same in the South. I now know your struggles.

We're constantly fighting mold in the shower room, but it wasn't until yesterday as I was cleaning the floor in the living room, that I saw the entire sliding door track full of mold. (yes, I'm grossed out with you).

Condensation drips down the windows all the time and pools at the bottom, but my west coast self never thought it was turning into mold.

Surprise surprise.

I've been working hard on reducing the chemicals used in the home, so instead of grabbing the (G-man loved) Kaboom (which leaves him with a horrible headache and coughing for at least an hour after...but to him that means its "working"....I love him), I turned to my On Guard - Protective Blend essential oil.

I filled my 8oz glass bottle with water, and put 10 drops of On Guard in it, shook it up, and sprayed the daylights out of the mold. Since I had a fresh bottle made up, I went around the whole apartment and sprayed all the high mold areas and the range hood (...its a great degreaser), then came back and wiped up the mold.

Its all gone (for now), but I'm going to be sure to spray it at least 3-4 times a week to see if I can't keep it from coming back. I'll report back in a few weeks to share if its returned.

And you know what the beauty of it all is? I'm not coughing and I don't have an unnecessary headache. I smell clove and cinnamon and have a smile on my face.

Oils, seriously, they're so great. I'm loving them and can't get enough of them. If you have any questions about oils, how they work, how you can get a sample of one to try, or how you can get your own, comment or send me an email (premiumessentialoils@gmail.com).

I also just created a Facebook page too, if you want to get more information and great tips I'd love for you to 'like' and follow along.


I like sharing, and just know, this blog won't turn into a 'dƍTERRA essential oil' promoting blog, but when something works like it did yesterday, I can't help but share it with others. So, I'll be doing this from time to time.



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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Staring at the ocean

I’m sitting at Starbucks staring out at the ocean, as ducks fly across the water. I have two Japanese girls to one side of me taking pictures of their pink Frappuccino’s while another on the other side is (tactfully) sketching women’s bodies, deep in her work.


 It didn’t rain today, so I thought it would be a good idea to get some fresh air. I went to this Indian restaurant (Indian here is so.darn.yummy) that G-man recommended. I admit I have a favorite place already; they’re so friendly, they speak English, food is the best, and their prices are superb. But G-man swore his place had amazing garlic cheese naan.

I should state I’m a plain naan girl but I’m kind, and nice, and said I would try it.

Today was the day, and after sitting down I heard a SQAUWK…. Birds…in a restaurant… I don’t like birds, let alone birds in a restaurant. I refrained from standing up and saying “FORGET THIS” while leaving, and ordered a chicken curry with garlic cheese naan instead.

I should have taken a picture just so you could have seen the amount of cheese there was. It was almost like a naan quesadilla. Cheese was oozing out. I could only laugh and start eating.

Everything turned out to be delicious.  Cheese was just a wee bit too much and too heavy, but the curry had great flavor.  I now feel like I could ‘lose’ everything I just ate if I move too much, but I was committed to tasting his favorite Indian place.

We’ve been eating quite healthy this week, which this Indian goes completely against that. We normally eat healthy, but we’ve taken it to a whole new level given G-man’s desire to lose a few, and I’ll be honest, its stressful finding and making approved meals. I put the stress on myself really. I hate making the same thing over and over again, and want variety, where he could literally eat a chicken with a seasoned pack on it every night (really, he’s told me), but I feel this is an injustice, and MUST make real, healthy, tasteful dishes.

Enter: stress.

I’m constantly thinking of what I should make, how should I prepare it, what kind of snacks do I need to make – non-stop! (Because let’s be real, chicken over and over is b-o-r-i-n-g)

Anyone have these dilemmas?  -- just me?

Despite the stress, he says he’s seeing a difference, and I actually have as well in myself, so at least I know it’s all worth it. It’s always worth eating healthy, isn’t it?



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