Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I like food. Why not start the new year with a recipe?

I was looking in my pantry and thinking about what to eat, and really not wanting to go the grocery store... I discovered that there were some old vegetables which wanted to be eaten. Also, it's time to clean things up a bit before the new housemate arrives. (Note: we're currently living in the OMF guest house in Sapporo. It's meant for people who are short term missionaries like us, or others from OMF and missionaries' families who need a place to live for a few months or less.) Our last housemate, Lauren, went home to Tokyo before Christmas. Here's a picture of our farewell dinner--Tonjiru soup, a recipe from a dear friend in Tokyo (Ronna Husby), who also happened to be my preschool teacher. :) Oh, by the way, Lauren went to high school with Ronna's daughter. Small world... (Actually, although I might eventually post about Tonjiru soup, this post is about curry.)

Anyway, back to the recipe. Or not. One more digression. Christmas was a little funny this year--first time on our own, and first time so far from "home"... although really, where is home anyway? In any case, Christmas presents were kept to a minimum, since we will have to either leave stuff behind to haul it home. I bought my own Christmas presents. That's another "weird" thing about this Christmas. My presents to myself were a special bento box for New Year's food, and a donabe--a heavy clay cooking pot that I can use on the gas stove! (It's pronounced doe-nah-bay, by the way.) Oh, I love it already. This is my first time cooking with gas, and I've been a bit frustrated that there's no such thing as "low heat." The lowest setting on this stove means "rapid boil." Oh dear. The wonderful thing about the donabe is that it's good and heavy, so even on a gas stove, I can simmer my soups. How exciting! (Keith's comment: "why is it that your favorite cooking implements are always the hardest to clean?")

Of course there are many wonderful Japanese dishes I can make with my donabe, but this isn't one of them. I invented this one on the spot. Influences were a wonderful curry I made with a friend 10 years ago in the Netherlands (the egg idea came from that recipe), a Japanese book I just bought about using up the old veggies in your fridge (I LOVE this book), and the particular things I had around the house. It was cold, so I didn't feel like going to the store. I use my donabe all the time. Tonight's dinner was risotto, also beautifully cooked in my donabe. :)

Here we go. Enough chit-chat.

Orange and Green Curry
  • 1/2 kabocha or other small-ish orange-fleshed winter squash, seeds removed, cut into large bite-sized chunks (if you are using kabocha, skin on is fine--hence the "green" in the title)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • A bit of water or broth
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, coursely chopped
  • Salt
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger root
  • A bit of leek
  • 1 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
In a heavy pot (I used a Japanese donabe), bring the kabocha, coconut milk, and enough broth or water to cover to a boil. Add sweet potato.

Meanwhile, heat a dollop of olive oil in a frying pan, and add the onions. Sprinkle them with salt. Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes to caramelize. Add garlic, ginger, and leak, and sauté for a few more minutes. Add curry paste and a few splashes of broth, and mix.

Pour the onion mixture into the soup pot, and deglaze the pan with a little water or broth. Cover and simmer until the kabocha and sweet potatoes are tender.

Also meanwhile, cook the lentils until they are al dente… if I can use such a term to refer to lentils. Add the lentils to the soup just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve over rice with the hard-boiled eggs.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2009 Year in Review

Since our "December Newsletter" was mostly about what we've been doing the last few months, I (Celia) thought I would post a "year in recap" sort of post. It's been an exciting year. Click on the links to read more about each item and to see some pictures. I was originally going to post a whole bunch of pictures, but since I already posted most of them anyway, I changed my mind. Just use the links. So, on to the recap...

We started the New Year (2009) in Seattle with my family. Our friend, Carla came to visit, too.

At school (Regent College), we were busy with big projects. Keith took the Old Testament comprehensive exam, while I worked on my arts thesis, which was a series of worship services with lots of instrumental music. (Incidentally, this was the year when I got over "artistic block" and started practicing my cello again.) Meanwhile, we both worked as teaching assistants for Greek (Keith) and Hebrew (me). Busy times. We were really glad when it came time for...


That's right! We graduated from Regent College on April 27! After 3 1/2 years of noses to the grindstone, we finished. Both of us got a Master of Christian Studies degree. Keith's concentration was in Biblical Studies, and Celia's was in Christianity and the Arts. Keith received prizes for Greek and Old Testament, and Celia received prizes for Christianity and the Arts and Hebrew.

We went to Colorado to visit friends and prepare for... the next step, finished up stuff in Vancouver, including my cello teaching job at St. James Music Academy, then we went on a road trip to visit Keith's family and a couple of national parks. We came back to Vancouver, packed up our apartment, said goodbye to our friends, then we were off to...

After spending 3 1/2 of our 4 years of marriage in Canada, we thought, why not try living in a third country? ;) We're presently living in Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido. We're here for 8 months (until around the beginning of April 2010) working for Overseas Missionary Fellowship International (OMF).

Since we arrived in Japan, we've been studying Japanese, working at Satsunae Lighthouse Church, playing concerts, working with students at Hokkaido University... as well as eating and generally enjoying and growing accustomed to Japanese culture. That's a very short summary, so please check out the links above, and also our September and December newsletters if you haven't done so yet.

December was a very busy month. I prepared for and played 4 concerts (1 of which could have been a Master's level recital). There were many Christmas parties and events to attend and help with. Meanwhile, we carried on with our usual activities--Language study, meeting with students, and playing music at church. We celebrated Christmas without our families for the first time ever... and yes, it really is true that Japanese people eat KFC on Christmas Eve...

It was a little lonely, but we were glad to have a few days to rest. Keith made a roast, and we ate Christmas dinner with our "house parents" and some friends from their church.

At present, we are enjoying the company of my parents and brother here in Sapporo.

They arrived on December 28. We celebrated New Year's together, I played a concert on Jan 3... but maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, since now it's 2010. I'll post more specifically about the concerts and Christmas things soon, but for now, check out my mom's blog about family time in Sapporo and New Year's.

As we say in Japan... 新年おめでとうございます! Happy New Year!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year! 新年おめでとうございます!


Happy New Year!

Here in Japan, people send New Year's cards rather than Christmas cards. We probably should have sent them through the mail, but we couldn't find anyone's address. Well, we have lots of addresses, but only for people in other countries who don't take part in this tradition.

Since we ran out of time to ask people for addresses, and since we thought those of you in other parts of the world would enjoy this, here is our special homemade greeting. Keith did the picture and I did the the writing. It's the year of the tiger, hence the tiger in the picture. And if you don't recognize the shape on which the tiger is standing, that would be the island of Hokkaido. I hope you enjoy it.

The greeting reads:
New year's congratulations
This year, please continue your good favor towards me
Praying for everyone's good health
New Year's morning, 2010

We are praying, dear friends and family, not only for your good health, but also that this would be a year full of God's blessings for you in every way.

Love, Keith and Celia

p.s. "2009 in recap" post is coming... but right now my parents are here, and I'm playing a concert on Sunday, so I'm a little busy...