夜更けのデザート作り (A bedtime dessert making)

実家でデザートを作ることは滅多にない。昨日は、夜遅くに自分の主治医とのビデオ通話があるため、起きてなければいけなく、TYさんからいただいていた、チョコレートケーキのレシピに挑戦することにした。 (I hardly ever make desserts when I am at my mother’s. Yesterday though, I had to stay up late for a video call with my doctor back home, so I decided to try the chocolate cake recipe I got from Ms. TY a while ago.)

小麦粉なしのチョコレートケーキで、材料はバター、卵、砂糖とチョコレートだけ。ムースを作り、3分の2は焼き、残りは焼き上がったケーキに塗る。実家のオーブンレンジは、ひたすら電子レンジとして活躍しているので、はたしてオーブンが起動するか心配だったが、何とか焼き上がった。それどころか、タイマーなどしっかり機能していて感心した! (I only needed butter, eggs, sugar and chocolate for this flourless chocolate cake. A chocolate mousse is made, then two third is baked and the rest is spread around the baked cake. My mother has an “oven-range”, which is a microwave plus oven appliance, but it’s been functioning sorely as a microwave. I wasn’t sure if it would work as an oven to bake but it did the job beautifully. I was impressed how well the timer and temperature control on it also worked.)

クリームを塗ったり、とにかくデコレーションは苦手で、綺麗に仕上がらなかったが、ふわふわケーキと滑らかムースのコンビがいいケーキに仕上がった。 (Decorating is not my thing! It doesn’t have the best look but I’m enjoying the cake’s unique combination of fluffiness and the smooth creamy part.)

ケーキを冷ましたりしている間に、「かんてんパパ」を使ってブドウゼリーも作った! (While waiting to let the cake cool, I also made a grape flavored jelly using an agar-agar mix!)

「釈放」祝い (Celebrating the “acquittal”)

日本へ入国して14日間の自粛期間が終わった。早速、大好きなカフェへ朝から行ってきた。 (The 14-day quarantine after entering Japan has ended. I began my day by visiting my favorite cafe right away for breakfast.)

今日のスペシャルは、ペルー、マチュピチュのコーヒー。説明書きもあったが、母兄共々、微妙な違いなど分からない、とのこと。でも「マチュピチュ」と聞いただけで、特別感あふれる。 (Today’s special coffee was from Machu Picchu, Peru. A description was handed out but neither my mother nor brother could tell the subtle difference. It felt special enough for me just by hearing “Machu Picchu!”)

私はカフェラテ。 (I had cafe latte.)

ここはドリンクに二百円ほど足すと、いろんなモーニングセットにできる。 (By adding a few dollars to your drinks, you can enjoy breakfasts of your choice here.)

イングリッシュモーニング。 (This is the British breakfast.)

フレンチモーニング。 (The French breakfast.)

山海の幸 (Foods from mountains and seas)

本日の我が家の夕飯は、いろんなものが大集結!焼き餃子、牛肉のソテー、ブリとイサキのお刺身、大根サラダとフルーツ。なんちゃって多国籍会石料理なり〜 (Today’s dinner was a collection of all sorts of things! Pot stickers, sauteed beef, yellowtail and isaki (three line grunt) sashimi, daikon radish salad and fruits. I call this a fusion semi-full course meal!)

近所のショッピングセンターにお弁当フェアが来ていた。そのうちの一つもなかなかいろんなものが集結していた。 (There was a bento box fair at a nearby shopping center. One of them had quite a collection of things packed into it.)

近所の方のさくらんぼの木からお裾分けが届いた。かの有名な佐藤錦だそうだ。小粒だが、瑞々しく、しばらく見て食べて楽しませてもらえる。 (A neighbor brought branches of her cherry tree. It is the famous (and expensive!) Sato Nishiki brand. They are small but juicy. We’ll enjoy viewing and eating them for a while.)

お気に入り3つ (My favorite trio)

日本で食べたいものは数え切れないほどあるが、まず大好きな3つを一挙に消化できた! (There are countless numbers of things I want to eat in Japan but I’ve managed to get three of my favorites to start with!)

モロゾフのカスタードプリンは、甘過ぎず、ツルンとした喉越し。 (I love the not-too-sweet and light, smooth texture of the Morozoff flans.)

叶匠壽庵の「あも」。今回は緑色のよもぎ餅が中に。餡子が実にあっさり。いつもなぜか上品な気分になる一品。 (Kanou Shoujuan’s “amo” is a rectangular block of sweet red beans with soft, sticky rice cake inside. They were offering a seasonal special with a green rice cake, made with an herb similar to mugwort called “yomogi“. The sweet red beans have just a hint of sweetness. The word “elegant” comes to my mind every time I have this one.)

小さい頃から、時々食べられる存在のトップスのチョコレートケーキ。くるみとチョコレートクリームのコンビが絶妙で、ちょっとお高めの値段も仕方ない! (I’ve been eating the Tops’ chocolate cake ever since I was little on special occasions. The team of walnuts and chocolate cream makes not-too-friendly price pardonable!)

逃亡者 (The fugitive)

お医者さんのキンブルさんでなく、実家のワンコ、ニナちゃんのことです。夜10時半、母とちょいっ、と外へ出たのだが、「そっちへ行きたくない」と突っ張るニナちゃんを引っ張ったら、なんと首輪が外れてしまった。そしてその途端、走り出してしまった。7歳だが、「おいで」とか「止まれ」が躾けられてなく、とにかくどんどん走っていってしまう犬を、大声で呼びながら走る人間、という典型的なダメ飼い主パターン。車も少ないとはいえ、しっかり通っている大通りで、何台かがびっくりして止まってくれたが、車道をお構いなしに走っていく。そしてとうとう見失ってしまった。大きなホームセンターの駐車場の横。街灯もあまりなく、どっちへ向かったのかも分からなかった。 (It’s not Dr. Kimble but Nina the dog at my mother’s. My mother and I stepped out for a quick walk at around 10:30pm. A few minutes later, we watched in horror Nina’s collar get unclasped when I pulled on the leash to change direction. She then immediately started to run. Although she is already seven years old, she hasn’t be taught useful phrases like “come” or “stop”, so the dog just sprinted away while the human chased after her, calling her name out repeatedly; a typical example of a bad dog owner! Although there were fewer cars in the evening, we were walking by a pretty busy street and she was stepping off the sidewalk. A few cars saw her and stopped (thank you!) but she just kept on going and I lost sight of her. It was right next to an empty parking lot of a huge hardware store. There weren’t many street lights so we could not tell which way she went.)

携帯もない。うちにいる兄に車を出してもらうか、とにかく知らせねば、と私が走って戻ることになった。ニナちゃんが、もしかしてこの辺にいるかも、と母は1人、その真っ暗な中に残った。今から考えたら、暗がりの中にいる母は、たまたまそこを通った車を運転する人たちにとって、ギョッとする光景だっただろうな。 (We didn’t have our cellphones either. We needed to alert my brother at home and possibly drive around to search, so I started to run back home. My mother decided to stay by that dark parking lot just in case Nina might be lurking around. Come to think of it now, an elderly lady standing in the dark must’ve been a startling sight for the drivers going by.)

首輪もつけていなく、保護されても野良犬扱い。それに5キロという小さい身体。これは車に轢かれてしまうか、保健所生活の運命だ、と覚悟し、「ごめんね、ニナちゃん」と叫びながら、半泣き状態で走る中年女の姿も怖かっただろう。約800メートルほど、猛ダッシュで走り、ヘトヘトになってうちへ着いたら、なんとニナちゃんがドアの前にいるではないか!一瞬それがニナちゃんと信じられなかった。実家へ来てまだ2ヶ月半。それでよく分かったものだ。そしてよくぞ車に轢かれずにいてくれたものだ。 (Since she had no collar, even if she were to be found, she would be treated as a stray dog. She is tiny, weighing at about 5 kg (11 lbs. or so), so I thought she would be either hit by a car or sent to a dog pound. I might have been the startling sight: a mad middle-aged woman running, half-crying and screaming, “Sorry Nina-chan!” I did a mad dash for about 800 meters (half a mile), arrived back home completely out of breath, and there she was! Nina was standing right in front of the door!! I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It’s been only just two and a half months since she came to live in this home, yet she knew where to come back to. And thank goodness she wasn’t hit by any vehicles.)

とにかくニナちゃんを兄に任せ、私は再び真っ暗闇の中で不安でいるだろう母の元へ猛ダッシュ。喉はスースーしてくるし、サンダルだったので足腰は痛いし、汗だくだく。とんでもない夜になってしまった。でも終わり良ければすべて良し、か! (I left Nina in my brother’s care and began yet another mad dash back to my mother waiting in the dark, who must’ve been a nervous reck by now. My throat was burning, my legs and lower backs were in pain since I was sprinting in sandals, and I was sweating away. What an evening it turned out to be. However, all’s well that ends well, I suppose.)

ニナちゃんも走ってお腹が空いたか?お土産に買ってきた、音の出るチーズバーガー、気に入ってくれてよかった! (Nina must’ve been hungry from her big run! I am glad she likes the “squeaky cheeseburger” I got for her.)

ビヨーン! (Stretchy!)

北海道のSさんから贈り物が届いた!冷蔵便と冷凍便の二つ。 (Packages from Ms. S in Hokkaido has arrived. One was refrigerated, the other frozen.)

冷凍の方は、一つ一つ包装された「チーズマン」だった。温めて食べてみると。。。(The frozen box contained individually packaged steamed “cheese buns”. When heated up…)

まさにのびーーーるチーズ! (It sure stretched away!)

冷蔵の方は、六花亭の焼き菓子づくし!毎日美味しい〜 (The refrigerated box was filled with baked goods of Rokkatei, a popular sweets maker in Hokkaido. Yummy!)

ニュースデビュー、寸前! (I made news, almost!)

先日、天候のせいで苦労したが、なんとか日本へ入国できたばかり。コロナに対する警戒で、入国のための手続きは大変だった。昨日、ニュースで、日本人2名が、入国を拒否され送り返されてしまったと聞いた。そのうちの1人はアメリカからの女性渡航者。拒否の理由が、渡航前コロナ検査が72時間以内でなかったという。これはまさに私も同じ立場になるところだったので、自分がこう報道されたかもしれない。 (I’ve just entered Japan the other day after the difficulty due to the weather. To prevent further spreads of the COVID, the process to enter the country was arduous. I heard on the news yesterday that two Japanese citizens were denied the entry and sent back. One of them was a female traveler from the US, the reason being that her pre-travel COVID test was not done within 72 hours. I almost found myself in the same situation and might have been reported on the news myself.)

天候のせいで、乗り継ぎをミスして、本来ならそこで一晩泊まって、翌日の同じ便で飛ぶのが一番楽なチョイスだった。テキサス州のダラスで、その日、日本へ飛ぶ便はもうなかったのだ。ただそうすると、検査を受けてから、72時間を2時間ほど超えてしまう。航空会社の人たちは、一番最初に乗った時点で72時間以内、というルールだから大丈夫でしょうと言う。彼らの上司とも相談してくれ、乗り継ぎ地点ではなく、出発地点での時間経過だ、と確認してくれた。それでも私は、日本の政府がそういうところはうるさそうだと懸念し、何か書面で証明してくれるか?と聞いたら、それはできないと言う。結局、ロサンゼルスまで飛び、その日の真夜中のうちに日本へ向かう便で飛ぶことにした。アメリカを出るだけで24時間近くかかってしまいヘトヘトになったが、そのおかげか書類などは問題が見つからなく、無事入国を許可してもらえた。 (When I missed the connecting flight due to the weather, it would have been the easiest to stay overnight and take the same flight the next day. There were no more flights out to Japan from Dallas that day. But that meant my new departure time would be about two hours after 72 hours since I took the test. The airline personnel assured me that the hours are calculated at the time of the original departure point and I should be fine. They discussed it with their supervisors and concluded that it is the point of origin, not the connecting point that counted. I still doubted since the Japanese government would insist on its own ways, so I asked them if they could give me a written proof. They could not, or did not want to do that. So I ended up flying to Los Angeles and take a redeye flight in order to leave within the 72-hour time frame. I was completely exhausted with this crazy itinerary which took me almost 24 hours just to get out of the US, but looks like it was a the right decision since my documents seemed to have been all in order and I was able to enter the country.)

今は自粛生活中だが、無理矢理レンタルさせられたスマホに腹を立てている。常に充電しておかないといけなかったり、すぐエラーが出たりのお粗末なもの。レンタル料も高く、騙された気分だ。空港でのチェックも、冗談かと思うくらい、たくさんの「関所」がたくさん設けられていて、それぞれの間の遠いこと!なんでも時間がかかる、という日本の政府の仕組みが展示されているかのようだった。これだけの努力で、海外からのウイルス侵入を阻めていればいいが、国民のためのワクチンの心配の方が先では??? (While in self-quarantine, I’ve been irritated with the poor quality smartphone I was forced to rent. The battery won’t even last for a day and the error message appears constantly. It was expensive, too, so I feel like I was ripped off. I was not impressed with the way the airport was set up for the whole process either. There were endless numbers of checkpoints with good distances of walking in between. It looked like a display of the Japanese bureaucracy known for its having so many layers of hierarchies. I sincerely hope this thorough process is working to reduce the spread of the virus coming into Japan but shouldn’t the government be focusing on getting the vaccine to its people???)

天気の馬鹿ー (Stupid weather!)

日本へ向かう飛行機、天候のせいで乗り継ぎを逃してしまった。日本入国の大変な手続きだけで参ってたのに、天気に裏切られるなんて!それも真冬の大雪で出発できない、なら諦めがついたのに、中途半端に前線がたまたま通って、しかもちょうど空路の途中に来たせいで、遅れてしまった。ものすごい勢いで走ったのだが、ちょうど出てしまった直後。滑走路へ出て追いかけたかった!自然の恵みはありがたい、と分かっているつもりだが、こんな迷惑な天気にお恨み申し上げる! (I missed my connecting flight to Japan due to a bad weather. It was difficult enough to get all the required test and papers ready. I didn’t expect the weather would betray me! It was some front that happened to be passing “my route” in the air that delayed my original flight. It would’ve been better if it were a snow storm in the middle of the winter, making it impossible to depart. I made a mad sprint through the terminals but I just missed it by minutes. I wanted to chase after the plane on the runway!! I try to remember to be grateful to our nature but I am very upset with you, weather!!)

結局、空港で長い時間待つことになり、お弁当も持っていたのだが、お店に入った。パスタ、ピッツァなど、莫大な量で出てきそうで、大人しくサラダにしたのだが。。。 (I ended up being stuck at the airport for a long time. I was armed with my own foods but decided to go into a restaurant to sit down and get a bite. I knew pasta or pizza would be way too much, so ordered a salad, but…

すごい量! (It was humongous!)
25分後。ちょうど友人が電話をくれ、お喋りしながら。 (After 25 minutes. A friend kept me company on the phone!)
終了!カラメリゼされたクルミがかなり美味しく、まさかの完食。ウエイターさんびっくり! (Done! The caramelized walnuts were especially good. I couldn’t believe I finished the whole thing. The waiter was impressed!)

エディー君のおかげ (Thanks to Eddie!)

近所に住むLさんがディナーに招いてくれた。元はと言えば、彼女が愛犬エディー君をお散歩してて出会ったので、エディー君様様。 (Ms. L who lives close by invited me over for a dinner. I initially met her while she was walking her puppy, Eddie, so I owe our friendship to him!)

その感謝の意を込めて、今回はエディー君にプレゼントを持参した。ペットショップのこれらのクッキー、人間様のかと思ったら、お犬様のだと判明した!うちにあった箱とリボンを使ってみたのだが、なかなかいい出来?! (To show him my gratitude, I brought a present for him this time. I found these treats at a pet store. I thought they were for humans but turned out to be for doggies! It was fun making this gift box using a box and ribbon I had saved from before.)

お家の前のマット。確かに呼び鈴を鳴らしたら、「歌って」くれた。 (The door mat in front of the house. He did indeed “sing” when I rang the doorbell.)

全部エディー君のもの! (These are all Eddie’s!)

「人間はおしゃべりばっかでつまらん!」 (“Why do humans have to talk so much?”)

お喋りしているうちに焦げてしまった洋梨とブルーチースののったアルグラサラダ。焦げたのではなく「カラメリゼ」ということにした! (Arugula salad topped with a rather scorched pear and blue cheese due to our chitter-chattering. I decided it was “caramelized”!)

メインはビーフシチュー。 (The main dish was a beef stew.)

お互いワクチン完了しているのだが、やはりまだまだ怖い。それでも広いお家なので、離れて座ってのお喋りができた。 (We are both done with our vaccines but we can’t let the guard down yet. Her big home let us enjoy the visit even though we had to keep our distances.)

おにぎらず (Rice sandwiches)

Mさんから「おにぎらず」持ってくね、とメッセージが来て、「おにぎり」のタイポかと思っていたら、ちゃんと存在する言葉だった。おかずを入れまくり、握らずに海苔とご飯でサンドするのが基本らしい。今日は韓国風の味付けの牛肉、ほうれん草とニンジンや、ツナとキュウリなど、組み合わせはいろいろで面白かった! (Ms. M’s text said “I will bring ‘rice sandwiches'” but I assumed it was autocorrected and she actually meant “rice balls”. I was surprised to find out that “rice sandwich” is an accepted word now. Instead of rice being the main part as in rice balls, bigger portions of vegetables and meats are sandwiched by rice and seaweed. Today, we had one with Korean style beef, spinach and carrots combination, or with tuna and cucumber, etc. I enjoyed all the different pairings.)

私は高野豆腐、ベトナム料理のお店からテイクアウトしたローストポークとキャベツのサラダを持って行き、なんだか賑やかなピクニックになった。おまけにMさんお手製のティラミスまであった! (I brought a dish (tupperware!) of boiled vegetables and freeze-dried tofu, plus a takeout of a cabbage and roasted pork salad from a Vietnamese restaurant. It turned out to be a feast of a picnic. There was even Ms. M’s homemade tiramisu to complete the meal!)

ピクニックをした公園は湖沿いで、反対側は高速道路。いつも車で通っている道なのに、その上を歩ける橋があると気づいてなかった。 (The park we picnicked was right by the lake and a highway on the other side. I take this highway all the time but never noticed that there was a bridge overhead that we can walk across!)

食後にちょっとお散歩。(A little walk after our lunch.)