Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Oriented to the Orient

I went to 1st Oriental Market, my favorite source for all things Asian,  in search of lemongrass for tonight's dinner and saw these adorable cuties:

There was no label. What are these, please? Disney could have used them in Fantasia instead of those mushrooms! Luckily I spotted a shopper who had a package in her cart and asked. The answer was something like "not too sweet, crunchy, just eat, sweeter if very red". So I invested $4. A good 30 minutes of google yielded the answer: they are called wax apples or Java apples or lian-wu or jambu air or...you get the idea. Exceedingly crunchy and the most refreshing fruit, subtle taste. Here is the salad I made after some surfing (the apples, cucumber, toasted walnuts, radish, orange, rice vinegar dressing)

To round out the oriental flavor, the starch was a very yummy soba noodle bowl

Lemon grass lost out.

This oriental market is an experience. Once I stopped worrying about the fact that most labels are in Asian languages (although I'm seeing a lot more English attempts lately) and that I have no clue what most of the products are for and what they might taste like, it's a lot of fun. And I'm learning every time I go. You never know what you are going to find (like the wax apples)... I've discovered king mushrooms at this store:

I buy these any time I see them. Easy to make just roasted with a bit of olive oil and microplaned garlic. That's tomorrow's dinner.

I finished a quilt!!!!!

It's a gift for an 18-year old on her way to the University of Miami. She used to love red and black when I started the quilt (in early 2012). Hopefully she still likes red and black...They do change their minds. The instructions for this quilt were a proper nightmare and resulted in 3 blocks being discarded (a 22 inch block monster, so lots of fabric down the drain). Someday I'll be able to start and finish a quilt without panic. Just not this time.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It's a girl!

Here she is.

Her name is Lacy and weighs about 40 pounds of metal and electronics. No burping necessary, threads itself and comes with a stitch regulator! Doesn't do embroidery -- a conscious decision since it is not really my thing but watch me change my mind in 6 months...

So yes, I am so excited I am forgetting to eat, something that has never happened before. We were worried the sewing table's hydraulic lift would give way, but it did not (so far). We've successfully practiced on a chevron block, a binding, HSTs and two flags for To Boston with Love.

It's been a while since I had a hand-sewing project, so the reverse applique heart was a treat. Really enjoyed making these, which sounds strange since the association is not a happy one. I hope they bring some cheer.

Lacy is staying at the beach condo for now while my other baby (a much loved Pfaff) is going to Orlando. Decadent? Maybe, but try packing and moving a 40lb beast every time you shuttle between Cocoa Beach and Orlando... Gets old very quickly, plus I don't think these machines like to be moved.

On another subject, here comes the laugh of the day...I took a class with Susan Cleveland at Quiltcon. A marvelous piecer who was telling us about (and selling) a plastic mallet that, she said, helps flatten those bulky seams. Seeing her work, I decided to invest in it. I did a demo for the guild (they laughed quite a bit) and brought it to the beach.

You are supposed to give a shot of steam over the seam bundle, then whack it a couple of times and immediately apply more steam. So I did use it on two seams and ended up with... craters on the ironing board.

Can you see how the mesh is all distorted? Duh.

The weather is magnificent, so I've declared tapas night -- or eat-whatever-is-about-to-go-bad. Next week I'll start on this book:

I found this in Tuesday Morning for all of $5. The author's favorite ingredients are unusual and appealing: galangal, carrot juice, miso, chutney, yuzu juice (wish I could get this here. Had it in Kyoto for breakfast and was a revelation).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Third Day in Tokyo

OK, so here we go, even thought the blog is not fully operational. First post!

I've been in Tokyo for all of 3 days now. 

First day was devoted to getting the lay of the land, silly me. This land requires a lot more than one day to find your way around. More on another post. Second day was a trip to Fabric Town, which deserves yet another post.

The major accomplishment today was navigating the subway and not ending up in Singapore. I wanted to check out 3 fabric/craft stores in the neighborhood of Shinjuku, home to the notorious Shinjuku Station. This is a the major transportation hub in the planet: 25 levels, 200 exits. Take a peek at the train service section here. This is just the train portion, does not show the subway connections. Frightening.

First stop was the Takashimaya Times Square department store, a monster building with very fancy stuff.

 A major tenant is Tokyo Hands, over 8 floors, but a disappointment, as there was no fabric to be seen. It's really a giant gift shop, currently full of Christmas displays. Funny, since Christmas means nothing to this country other than the gift giving, but they have certainly embraced THAT idea

The second target was the Yuzawaya store, in the same building. However, on the way there, I bumped into this stunning display:

These are kimono for graduation ceremonies, I was told. They are not silk, but who cares, I drooled all over their pristine floor. On the way out, I bumped into stacks of tsutsumi cloth, meaning they are meant to wrap gifts. The Japanese are so into beauty, the wrapping means almost as much as the gift itself. I purcha$ed more tsutsumi than was wise, but who can resist?

Finally got to Yuzawaya. Now we are talking: lots and lots of fabric. Having been to Fabric Town (yesterday's accomplishment, another post)  I suspected that a lot of the quilting-weight fabric would be from the US, and it was. I skipped those bolts and searched for the local stuff, toward the back of the store. You have to search for them, as they are mixed with all the Hoffmans, Michael Millers et al. Check out the cute carts to carry the bolts around. Yes, they look like hospital laundry carts, but are perfect for those awkward circular bolts that are taller than you.

Here I am auditioning some of the fabrics in the hallway:

After some trimming ($16 a meter!), here is the second haul of the day. These beauties are from a Japanese designer, Keiko Goke, whom I did not know at all. You must check out her quilt gallery.

The lunch paragraph. Can you tell the difference between these two plates?

The first one is a plastic representation of one of their dishes, the second one is what I had for lunch (pasta with Japanese vegs and chicken). These folk are masters at Nature imitation!

 Final stop: Okadaya. Finding this store, using the maps that I printed from Google, would have been impossible had it not been for a couple with baby who saw me struggling, then walked with me to the store, even though they were not going that way originally. One more instance of locals minding the lost tourist. The final stash:

The colors are quite a bit off, sadly. I thought the one on the left would be very interesting to use more or less by itself, as each block would be different enough from each other.

The day's definite miracle: I found my way back to the hotel through the Shinjuku maze, at Saturday rush hour, without incident. Weeee!

 End of the day. Can feet be cloned yet?