Friday, August 30, 2013

Cultural Education Journal Update

Today’s coffee: whatever they are serving at Kirakuya Kimono Café. It’s always good. It’s a shame, but I’m not wearing a kimono…

Lovely cake set at Kirakuya!
…but I did just get a few things to go with my summer kimono so that I can wear it while playing cello and viola da gamba! Back in May, I got to talking about kimono with my viola da gamba teacher, who said that she would love to wear kimono with hakama for her concerts, but not everyone in her ensemble knows kitsuke (kimono dressing), so it’s impossible. Someday I’d love to see her in a kimono! :)

This is a kimono worn with a hakama; I was playing for our farewell at our previous church (February 2013).
I guess it’s time to update my Japanese Cultural Education Journal. I’m still working towards my 3 goals: singing while playing shamisen, wearing a kimono by myself, and learning tea ceremony.

Shamisen was the first task I started on, but right now I’m taking a break. My teacher was ill for a while and wasn’t teaching, so with no one to teach me songs (there’s notation for the shamisen part, but not for the vocal part), it’s been hard to continue on my own. Last time we talked, she seemed quite well, and mentioned that she’s thinking of teaching again soon, motivated in part by the eagerness of her students. :)

I continue to meet with my kimono club as much as possible, but there are often church events on Saturdays, so sometimes it is difficult to attend. In September, we will meet at my house, so I’m looking forward to that. The club is full of fun, interesting people, and lately we’ve been able to talk about all kinds of subjects… such as mountain climbing!

I have gotten to the point where I can easily put on yukata and kimono and tie 3 different types of obi; the never-ending study is which items go together and which do not, for what sort occasion is each kimono appropriate, and which kimono and accessories may be worn in each season. Sometimes I think wearing different kimono for each season and type of occasion is fun; other times I think it is a ploy to sell more kimono and accessories. Today I think it is fun. I confess that although my favourite season in Seattle is spring, in Hokkaido my favourite season is fall. I’m looking forward to wearing my leaf-patterned kimono and obi… but according to the rules, I can’t wear them until October. :)

Last week added a new skill to my repertoire. I recently received a yukata which was much too small for me. I liked it a lot, though, so I decided to give Japanese sewing a try: I let out the side seams to widen the body and lengthen the sleeves. The main seams I did by machine, and the finishing work I did by hand. It’s still too short, but that’s okay for a yukata. I might try a hitoe (unlined summer kimono) next!

New-to-me yukata, after I altered it. This yukata was a present from our landlady.
We started tea ceremony classes in March. It’s hard, but it’s really fun. I also have an excuse to wear a kimono at least once a week… and I get to spend time with people I like and eat and drink nice things. We’ve been having summer break this month, but classes start again next week. I wonder if I will remember anything. At this point Keith and I are both fairly confident in the role of “guest,” but the head guest’s role, and of course the role of the host, would be a stretch if our teacher were not there coaching us. I think we could study tea ceremony for many years and not run out of new things to learn.

Feeling a little nervous as my teacher drinks tea that I prepared for the first time!
Rules for kimono worn for tea ceremony are stricter than for other occasions; for lessons I can wear whatever I want, but when we go to a “real” tea ceremony, I have to make sure to choose a not-too-bright kimono with a neutral pattern, or one which reflects the season which is about to start. Once a given flower starts blooming, I can’t wear a kimono patterned with that flower.

Sometimes I worry that I am entering a world that is designed to exclude people who have not devoted many years to studying these arts; there are many rules to follow, and it is easy to make mistakes. But on the other hand, I feel very welcome. I have gained many Japanese mothers; many women worry that Japan’s traditional arts will die out as their daughters lose interest. When a young woman makes an effort to learn, she is encouraged. Most of my kimono have been gifts from women from all 3 of the churches we have attended here in Hokkaido; it’s an honour to have been entrusted with the task of carrying on these traditions.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Youth Group Culture Shock

Today’s coffee: iced latte at Doutor (favourite Japanese coffee chain)

Today we gave the students at our former language school a pep talk (well, we talked about our experiences the first 6 months since leaving language school), went out for yakiniku (Japanese bbq) with a friend, and now Keith is having a Japanese class. Meanwhile, I’m hanging out at Doutor, the closest coffee shop to our old house. The coffee isn’t bad, and you can get a cake and a coffee for 500 yen (around US $5). ケーキセット、万歳!

Today I want to write a bit more about the youth group at our church. When we first talked to Takahashi-sensei about our work at Wakaba, he immediately mentioned that he wanted us to mentor the middle and high school students. As I wrote last week, I’m not a natural youth worker, so to be honest, I was pretty worried. I’m not so worried any more; we’ve been very well supported by others at church.

Last Sunday, we had a youth group staff meeting—we’re considering making some major changes to the youth Sunday school curriculum and the youth program in general. I’m pretty excited about the proposed changes, especially the possibility of Bible studies and teaching and discussion about a range of topics of interest to teenagers. (That’s not to say that this whole process won’t be a lot of work…) I would love to see each middle and high school student learn to love the Bible.

As we discussed what the program will look like, I realized how different my image of “youth ministry” is from what youth ministry actually looks like in Japan. When I was growing up, there were Sunday school classes for middle and high school and youth group on Wednesday nights. In addition, there were a wide variety of events, from informal evenings at a member’s house to mission trips, probably once a month. In 8th grade, there were confirmation classes; in high school there were extra meetings for student leaders. My senior year of high school, I was also involved in a Bible study once a week. All this adds up to a lot of activities and a lot of time… and a lot of work for the youth pastor, too.

Keith and I proposed a series of movie nights for our youth group; the church was very supportive. We offered to hold a movie night once a month, and were surprised when the other staff suggested that this was too often… and really, we should finish by 6 p.m., even on weekends. Huh? They explained: good students will worry if there are too many activities that dip into their study time. (This month’s youth group meeting was cancelled—the middle school students have exams the next day.) Further, parents expect that their children won’t stay out too late, even in high school. Non-Christian parents will also worry about the frequency of events, I was told. Takahashi-sensei, who became a Christian in high school, spoke from personal experience: his mother was quite worried when he suddenly started spending all of his free time in church activities.

Heh… I thought I was a good student, but somehow I always found time for cello lessons, youth symphony, youth group, 4H, and occasional hiking and skiing trips, not to mention spending time with friends and going on dates. Oh, and youth group started at 7 p.m. Culture shock moment.

I had heard rumours about Japanese students being insanely busy, but I hadn’t expected that even church parents would suggest limiting the frequency of events to this extent. In order to not put additional pressures on already over-worked middle and high school students, we have to pick our battles, so to speak, and make the most of the times we do have together.

Which brings me back to the subject of the proposed changes. There will be Sunday school every week, and youth group every other month, alternating with “賛美礼拝” (Sambi-Reihai, a worship service made up of songs, scripture, and a short message). On the months with Sambi-Reihai, we will have a movie night at our house. We may also train some of the budding musicians to help lead the Sambi-Reihai service. :)

As I continue to get to know each of the middle and high school students, I’m beginning to understand the kinds of pressures they face. Recently, one girl shared how stressed and tired she was. I suggested that she take a day off from homework once a week; she responded that she does take one day off; she’s too busy on that day with club activities and such, so she has no time to do homework. I didn’t really know how to respond to that.

This week a friend shared with me about the time she burned out from overwork, both in her job and in serving at church. Overwork and lack of rest are a very real problem; I’m praying for each of my friends here to have the courage and wisdom to stop working when they need to.

Confronted with this issue, I’m personally feeling rather convicted of the binging and purging sort of pattern I often see in my own life: work really hard, sense of relief when task(s) are complete, do nothing for the next several days while I recover. If I’m encouraging others to rest properly and frequently, then I’d better practice what I preach. Praying for balance… and a little more energy and efficiency, perhaps.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August Newsletter

Seasons #23

Dear Friends and Family,

Six months have passed since we graduated from language school, and we continue to rejoice that we can serve God at Wakaba Church as we continue our training and solidify our language skills. Both of us have been active with PB Kids and the youth program at church, giving children’s messages and hosting a movie night at our house among other things. Keith preached his first sermon at Wakaba on August 11, and Celia directed the making of lasagna for about 35 people (with homemade noodles and sauce plus ingredients from our own garden) for an outreach event on July 27. Both sermon and lasagna seemed to be well received though it left us exhausted at the end of the day. We were able to take a couple of weeks in July for our 8th anniversary to see some of Hokkaido’s amazing scenery and to recuperate somewhat from the daily stress that living in another language brings. Summer in Hokkaido means camps and retreats: Wakaba Church retreat, OMF field conference, and JECA (Japan Evangelical Church Association) summer camp.

On vacation on Rebun Island, near the northern tip of Hokkaido
Tea ceremony class: everyone wore yukata together!
One of 7 lasagnas Celia made for an outreach event at church
Our farm
We're thankful for God's provision--we've been eating very well!

Camp: The Odd One Out

Last week we went to JECA camp: a 3-day gathering at a nearby youth hostel for kids (grades 5-12) from churches all over Hokkaido. From our church, there were about 8 kids and 3 staff. We decided to join the staff so we could support and encourage each of these kids.

I (Celia) certainly wouldn’t call myself a natural youth worker. We are helping lead our church’s youth group because there is a need and because it is an important part of our training. I think the reason it is going relatively well is that we see most of these kids every week. We know their parents, siblings, and even grandparents in some cases. Most weeks we pray together about their school and club activities. They’re like our family: we trust them, and they trust us (probably).

At camp, I was the odd one out. The 4 first-year middle school girls (7th grade in the US) in my group were not my family—I was dropped in the middle like a kid transferring schools mid-year. I found it difficult to find anything to talk about. I had one girl from our church in my group, but my whole group, plus the other 4 first-years from another group, knew each other; they had all been together last year and the year before. The ringleader was a pastor’s daughter who pretended not to understand me when I told her to shut up and go to bed. She had all the “right” answers during devotion time, but somehow it didn’t seem like her heart was in it.

As the girls chatted excitedly about boys and pop stars and other subjects that I knew nothing about, I quickly got bored. Even in middle school I had had no interest in pop stars. If I hadn’t been the group leader, I would have found some other way to amuse myself, but I couldn’t leave. The other staff seemed to be getting on so well with their campers, but there was no way any of my girls were going to open up to me in the 3 days we had together. “What’s wrong with me?” I thought. “Is it because I’m not Japanese? Or am I too old?”

The first 24 hours were misery. I wanted to go away by myself and cry, but I couldn’t. “God,” I prayed, “If anything good happens here, it’s not going to be my doing. Help!” Then I realized that this was also part of my training. Each of these girls could be the only church-attending kid in their class, or even their whole school. In a society that places a high value on being part of the group, doing something that stands out can lead to isolation. I was feeling left out because I didn’t get along well with a group of middle school girls for just 3 days, but how much more does each one of these girls have to deal with isolation on a daily basis?

Towards evening on the second day, things started to go a bit better. I felt like someone was praying for me. (If it was you, thanks!) I also figured out some things for us to do together other than talking about boys and pop stars.

This particular activity did not involve any discussions about boys or pop stars.
Before we went home, we prayed for each other. Each of the girls asked for prayer for good relationships with others at school, in their classes and club activities. Maybe if there had been more time, we could have been closer, but I can certainly continue praying for each of these girls. Did anything good happen? I may never know. In any case, it wasn’t my doing.

This story was originally last week’s “Friday blog post.” I’ve decided to write a reflective post every Friday (or sometimes Saturday); I’ve discovered that I need to spend time each week reflecting on my experiences. This is a spiritual discipline for me, and my mother (and other supporters) find it helpful in understanding our life and knowing how to pray for us. Win-win! Much to my own surprise, I’ve managed 9 weeks so far.

Children’s ministry at Wakaba: Keith holds the children spellbound during his first Children’s message.
At our Sushi Party event in June, the children proved that they have expensive taste; the sea urchin and crab were the first things to disappear.

Prayer Points
  • Praise God, 2 middle school boys at Wakaba are preparing for baptism, and a third confessed faith at camp! Please pray for each of them to grow in their faith. School is very busy for Japanese middle and high school students; please pray that each of these three and the others in the youth group would be able to attend worship services and events at church, despite club activities on weekends and evenings. The youth group leaders are currently re-thinking the Sunday school curriculum for youth and the timing and frequency of various events; please pray for wisdom.
  • Keith has finished his first sermon at Wakaba Church and is scheduled to preach every other month. Please pray that he will be able to hear the message God has for the church, and pray that these opportunities will be more than just language practice but will also grow the church and himself spiritually.
  • We are preparing for concerts this fall; Celia will perform in her viola da gamba teacher’s studio recital in Tokyo September 8, at Grace Chapel in Abashiri (eastern Hokkaido) on September 28, at Wakaba’s bazaar on October 5, and at Sakae Church (Sapporo) October 26; Keith will perform Britten’s War Requiem with the Sapporo Symphony Chorus on September 20-21. Please pray for our preparations: rehearsals, Celia’s testimony, individual practice; please also pray for good relationships with fellow performers, especially for Keith who has had opportunities to share with choir members about the War Requiem’s Christian content.
  • Celia’s pianist, Shino, is in desperate need of more students; teaching is her main source of income. Please pray that God would provide for her needs.
  • Although we face a lot of language fatigue, praise God that our endurance is growing and we are able to cope for longer stretches of time.
  • We’re thankful for lots of delicious vegetables from our farm! Please pray for our friendship with Mr. S, our neighbour at the farm.

Language Corner
We’re not sure what the owner of this car was thinking…

"4x4 club Pathetic Realize"

Thanks so much for your continued prayers! Please let us know how we can pray for you as well!

Love in Christ, Keith and Celia

I got a lot taller! Unfortunately I also got eaten by slugs…

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sourdough Bread, Part 3: Pancakes! ・ ホットケーキ!

Sourdough Pancakes ・ サワードー・ホットケーキ

We often make pancakes when we have a lot of starter but it’s not very active (bubbly); we also made lots of pancakes while we were first waiting for the starter to be active enough for our first loaves of bread!

私達は天然酵母の種が多過ぎる時、ホットケーキを作ります。 昔初めて種を作った時、小さな泡がブクブク出てくる前にその種を使って、ホットケーキを作ってみました。 量が多過ぎましたが、捨てるのがもったいなくて、ホットケーキに利用しました。

Ingredients (makes about 12 3-inch pancakes)
  • 1 cup Sourdough starter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 1 T sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ cup flour OR bran OR oatmeal (amount is approximate; adjust the batter to your desired consistency)
  • ½ t baking soda mixed with ½ T water (Note: if your starter has been sitting for a long time and has a high acid content, you will need the full amount. If it has just been fed, use a bit less. No one likes pancakes that taste like baking soda from an incomplete chemical reaction…)

  • 天然酵母の種 240cc
  • 卵 1個
  • サラダ油、または溶かしバター 大さじ2
  • 砂糖 大さじ1
  • 塩 小さじ ¼
  • 小麦粉 またはふすま 40gほど(生地のかたさは好きなように調節しましょう)
  • 重曹 小さじ½  水大さじ½ と混ぜる(注意:長い間種を冷蔵庫に保存していた場合は重曹を小さじ ½ を使う。 餌をやったばかりの場合は、少なめに重曹を入れましょう。 生地は酸っぱくないから。)

Instructions ・ 作り方

1. Preheat a frying pan or griddle over medium flame. フライパンを中火にかける。 ホットプレートでも良い。

2. In a medium bowl or 4-cup glass measuring cup, mix starter, egg, oil, sugar, and salt. ボウルに種、卵、油、砂糖、塩を入れて、へらで混ぜる。

3. Adjust the consistency with flour or bran. If you want crepes (thin batter), leave it out entirely; if you like fluffy pancakes (thick batter), put in ¼ cup or more. 小麦粉かふすまを2.に加えて、生地のかたさを調節する。 クレープが好きなら、小麦粉なしにする。 ふわふわのホットケーキが好きなら、小麦粉かふすまを入れましょう。

Thin batter for crepes ・ クレープの薄い生地
Thick batter for fluffy pancakes ・ ふわふわのホットケーキの生地
4. Add the baking soda and water; gently fold into the batter, being careful not to overly disturb the tiny bubbles that will be forming. 重曹と水を2.に入れて、泡がつぶれないように静かに混ぜる。

5. Grease the frying pan or griddle with butter or oil spray. フライパンにバターか油を少し敷く。

6. Using a ¼ cup measure (or you can just eyeball it), pour onto the frying pan. When the top has dried out a bit and the bubbles that form don’t fill in again, flip the pancakes. They’re done when both sides are golden brown. お玉で生地をすくって好きな大きさでフライパンで焼く。 上に泡がプクプク出てきたら、裏返す。 両面がキツネ色になったら、出来上がり。

Ready to flip! ・ 裏返しましょう!
Ready to eat! ・ 出来上がり!
7. Serve with maple syrup, fruit syrup, or other toppings of your choice. メープルシロップ、フルーツシロップなどをかけて、お召し上がり下さい。

Blueberry pancakes are also recommended. ・ ブルーベリーホットケーキもお勧めです。

Not pretty, but very tasty! ・ きれいじゃないけどおいしい!

Part 1: My Sourdough Bread Story  ・ 天然酵母のパンのストーリー
Part 2: Making and Caring for Sourdough Starter ・ 天然酵母の種作りと種の世話
Part 4: Sourdough Bread ・ 天然酵母のパン

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sourdough Bread, Part 2: Making and Caring for Sourdough Starter ・天然酵母の種作りと種の世話

Making Sourdough Starter・天然酵母の種作り

To make sourdough bread, of course you will need sourdough starter. If you live in Sapporo, you can get sourdough starter from me. If you live in Seattle, you might be able to get it from my mom or my brother.

天然酵母のパンを作りたかったら、天然酵母の種が必要です。 札幌に住んでいる方は私から手に入れることが出来ますが シアトルに住んでいる方はうちの母、弟から手に入れることが出来るかもしれないので、私にメールしてみてくださいね。

Here is what it looks like.


Hi, my name is Frank, and I'm a sourdough starter! ・ フランクと申します。 天然酵母の種です。 宜しくお願いします。
If you don’t live in Sapporo or Seattle, you can make your own sourdough starter.
  1. Mix ¾ cup water and 1 cup flour in a glass bowl, cover with a towel, and set it in a warm place in your kitchen. (If possible, use filtered or bottled water and bread flour.)
  2. Stir a couple of times each day for about 2-3 days. At this point, the mixture will start to bubble. (This is a result of the natural yeast in the air coming to feed on the flour.)
  3. Add another ¾ cup water and 1 cup flour. Repeat step 2.
  4. Keep repeating step 3 until it’s quite frothy—the surface should be covered with little bubbles. (If you end up with too much starter, make sourdough pancakes!)
  5. Transfer starter into a glass jar with a lid; I use a 2 cup jam jar, but go bigger if you can.
Note: If possible, use bottled or filtered water (the chlorine in tap water is not conducive to the growth of the yeast we’re trying to catch) and bread flour (white or whole wheat are both fine).

  1. ガラスのボールに水180ccと小麦粉240gを混ぜて、タオルを被せて、台所の温かい所に置く。
  2. 最初の2-3日間は毎日1.を2-3回混ぜる。 そうすると天然酵母の種の上に泡が出てくる。 それは、空気中にある自然のイースト菌が小麦粉を食べに来るから。
  3. 水180ccと小麦粉240gを1.に加えて混ぜて、2.を繰り返す。
  4. 小さい泡が沢山出て来るまで3.を繰り返す。 天然酵母の種の量が多すぎたら、サワードー・ホットケーキを作りましょう
  5. 蓋付きの500cc以上入るガラスの容器に種を移す。 

Caring for your starter・天然酵母の種の世話

Your sourdough starter will need some care, like a pet. With a little love, you can keep it going indefinitely.

ペットと同じように、天然酵母の種には世話が必要です。 大切に育てたら、ずっと種が生き続けますよ。

Feeding: Feed your starter approximately 3 parts water to 4 parts flour and mix well. I never measure any more, but at the beginning I generally fed the starter ¾ cup water and 1 cup flour. You can feed the starter any amount you like, but generally stick to this proportion.

餌:水180ccと小麦粉160gほどを種に加えて、よく混ぜる。 量はいくらでもいいけど、この水と粉の比は守って下さい。 私は量らないけど。 :) 

Feeding intervals and Storage: Your starter will need to eat more often at room temperature and especially during the summer, and less often if refrigerated and during the winter. During the summer, I would recommend feeding every day; during the winter, every other day should be fine. If you don’t feed the starter periodically, it will go bad! However, if you aren’t planning to make bread every day, you will quickly end up with way too much starter, so storing in the refrigerator is more practical; in my experience, it has kept nicely for a month or more between feedings.

餌の回数と保存方法:室温で保存するなら、よく餌をやらなければなりません。 夏の間は毎日餌をやるのが私のお勧めです。 冬は一日おきでも良いですが、餌をやらなければ、種が腐るので、十分ご注意下さい。 しかし、毎日パンを作らないなら、種の量が多過ぎるかもしれないので、冷蔵庫に保存することをお勧めします。 種を冷蔵庫に入れておいたら、1ヶ月餌をやらなくても保存できます。

after the starter has been in refrigerator storage for a long time, a clear (or slightly grayish) liquid will form at the top. Carefully pour it off before feeding, as it is quite acidic; it will give your sourdough an even sourer flavour than usual.

注意:長い間冷蔵庫に保存した時、透明な液が種の上に浮いた場合は静かに上澄み液を捨てましょう。 その液は非常に酸っぱいので、パンの味を良くするために捨てます。

Starter after a long period of refrigerator storage ・ 長い間冷蔵庫に保存した種
Preparing for use: Be sure to take your starter out of the refrigerator, put it in a warm place, and feed it at least 12 hours before you want to make bread. You need to have 1 cups for pancakes (for 2 people) and 1 ¼ cups for a loaf of bread according to my recipe. Don’t forget that in order to continue your starter you will need to leave a little bit! You may want to feed it a little bit several times; this will continue to boost the activity of the bacteria. Be sure the starter is very active before you use it for bread—lots of little bubbles. Once again, if you end up with too much, pancakes are a great use for excess starter (it doesn’t need to be active to make pancakes).

種を使う前:パンを作る12時間前に、種を冷蔵庫から出して温かい所に置いて、餌をやります。 ホットケーキ(二人分)のために240ccが必要で、パンのために300ccが必要です。 もちろん、種を作り続けるために、少し残しましょう。 2,3回少しずつ餌をやったら、種にいる細菌が盛り上がります。 パンを作る前に、種が元気なことを確認しましょう。 小さい泡が沢山出てきたら、大丈夫です。 量が多過ぎたら、ホットケーキがお勧めです。

Active starter, ready to make bread! ・ 種は元気です! パンを作りましょう!
Part 1: My Sourdough Bread Story ・天然酵母のパンのストーリー
Part 3: Sourdough Pancakes ・ サワードー・ホットケーキ
Part 4: Sourdough Bread ・ 天然酵母のパン

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer Camp

Today’s coffee, Ethiopian (from Tokumitsu) at home

It’s been quite a week. Keith preached on Sunday, then on Tuesday we headed to camp. When we came home (exhausted and seriously sleep-deprived) on Thursday, we headed straight to prayer meeting, then I went out for supper with my kimono club. Tired as I was, I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it was at that point to talk to other adults about things I understood. Friday was spent catching up on all our weekly appointments—I had a rehearsal and a Japanese class. In the evening we had our pastor and his wife over for dessert. This morning (Saturday) we made a trip to the farm, where we harvested a bunch of stuff, including all the remaining daikon, and replanted the daikon for fall harvest. All very good things, and many learning opportunities… but I think I will be spending the rest of the day lounging around the house. Tomorrow will be a busy day too!

Returning to the subject of “camp,” I mean a 3-day gathering at a nearby youth hostel for kids (grades 5-12) from churches all over Hokkaido. From our church, there were about 8 kids and 3 staff. We decided to join the staff so we could support and encourage each of these kids.

I certainly wouldn’t call myself a natural youth worker. We are helping lead our church’s youth group because there is a need and because it is an important part of our training. I think the reason it is going relatively well is that we see most of these kids every week. We know their parents and their siblings, and even their grandparents in some cases. Most weeks we hear how their school and club activities are going, and we pray together. They’re like our family. We trust them, and they trust us. Probably.

But at camp, I was the odd one out. These kids were not my family—I was dropped in the middle like a student transferring schools mid-year, and I found it difficult to find anything to talk about. I had one kid from our church in my group of 4 1st year middle schoolers (US 7th grade), and Keith didn’t know any of his 5 kids, also 1st year middle schoolers. However, all of my kids, plus the other 4 1st-years from another group, knew each other. They had all been together last year and the year before. As they chatted excitedly about boys and pop stars and other subjects that I knew nothing about, I quickly got bored. Even when I was in middle school, I had no interest in pop stars. If I hadn’t been the group leader, I would have gone away and found some other way to amuse myself… but I couldn’t leave. I felt profoundly out of place. I found myself getting jealous of the other staff—they seemed to be getting on so well with their campers, but there was no way any of my girls were going to open up to me in the 3 days we had together. “What’s wrong with me?” I thought. “Is it because I’m not Japanese? Or am I too old?”

Then there was the ringleader of all the 1st years—a pastor’s daughter who pretended not to understand me when I told her to shut up and go to bed. She had all the “right” answers during devotion time, but somehow it didn’t seem that her heart was in it. I have to admit I was glad when she decided to do a different afternoon activity than the other 3 girls—then I was able to spend uninterrupted time with them on a walk through beautiful Hokkaido scenery.

The first 24 hours were misery. I wanted to go away by myself and cry, but I couldn’t. “God,” I prayed, “If anything good happens here, it’s not going to be my doing. Help!” Then I realized that this was also part of my training. Each of these girls could be the only church-attending kid in their class, or even their whole school. In a society that places such a high value on being part of the group, doing something that stands out can lead to isolation. I was feeling left out because I didn’t get along well with a group of middle school girls for just 3 days, but how much more does each one of these girls have to deal with isolation on a daily basis?

Towards evening on the second day, things started to go a bit better. I felt like someone was praying for me. (If it was you, thanks!) I also figured out some things for us to do together other than talking about boys and pop stars—I highly recommend a game which I call “Telephone Pictionary”; it’s fantastic in any language.*

On the walk, there was also a giant roller-slide. Fun! (3 girls from my group, and one from the other 1st-year group)
Other than games, other silliness happened.
Before we went home, we prayed for each other. Each of the girls asked for prayer for good relationships with others at school, in their classes and club activities. Maybe if there had been more time, we could have been closer, but I can certainly continue praying for each of these girls.

Both 1st-year groups and leaders together
Did anything good happen? Who knows; probably something good happened, but I may never see it. In any case, it wasn’t my doing.

*How to play "Telephone Pictionary": Sit in a circle (the more the merrier); each person writes a sentence on the top of a piece of paper and hands it to the next person. This person draws a picture based on what the first person written. He or she then folds the top of the page so the original sentence is hidden, and hands it to the next person, who looks at the picture and writes a sentence describing it. And so it continues until each person’s page comes all the way around the circle… at which point we open them up and laugh.

Telephone Pictionary sample. Translation, from top: "Celia's coffee has been stolen!" (picture) "Waking up while drinking coffee" (picture) "The boy drinks coffee and suddenly wakes up!" (picture) "Celia is surprised while drinking coffee" (picture) "A girl is surprised while drinking a hot drink."
Done with camp and out with other grown ups! And wearing yukata too! Yay!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer Vacation

I've already posted a few times about our vacation last month. We went to Rishiri and Rebun islands, our church's retreat, and Niseko... as well as spending a few days relaxing at home. There were simply too many pictures to post, so I've put the best ones on picasa web albums. Here's a sneak preview!

From Rishiri and Rebun:

I highly recommend checking your hiking boots for rot before leaving home for a hiking vacation.
That did not stop us from going on a crazy 9-hour hike the next day (I wore sandals).
There was Edelweiss! I thought that only grew in the Alps!

Not to be outdone, Niseko is also very nice, and much easier to get to!

At the top of Iwaonupuri
There were also delicious sausages.

There you have it. Now, go see the whole album if you're interested!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Sourdough Bread, part 1: My Sourdough Bread Story・天然酵母のパンのストーリー

Recently my Japanese teacher has encouraged me to translate my recipe for sourdough bread into Japanese. Before I did that, I had to write out the recipe in English. So, here goes: 4 part series on sourdough bread in English and Japanese! We’ll start with a story. (Thanks for your encouragement, Motoko-Sensei. :)

最近日本語の授業で先生とパンについてばっかり話していたので、先生は私が天然酵母のパンのレシピを日本語に翻訳するように勧めてくれました。しかし、その前に、ちゃんと英語で書かなければなりませんでした。 では、天然酵母のパンシリーズ、スタート! まずはストーリーです。 (もと子先生、励ましてくれて、ありがとうございます!)

Part 1: My Sourdough Bread Story・天然酵母のパンのストーリー

I love bread; I first made my own bread in college. I think at the time I couldn’t find good bread, but I probably wasn’t looking in the right places—I’m pretty sure that Boulder, Colorado is full of bread-making hippies. While in theological school, I became fascinated by fermented foods of all sorts—we couldn’t keep pets, so why not a sourdough starter or a bucket of sauerkraut? Now that I’m living in Ishikari, in the outskirts of Sapporo, I’m faced with a choice: eat “shokupan” (like wonderbread, only thicker slices) or pay through the nose for beautiful artisan bread—around 600 yen ($6) for half of a tiny loaf. Delicious, but not really doable on a regular basis.

私はパンが大好きです。 初めてパンを作ったのは大学生の時でした。 それはおいしいパンが大学の町の店で売っていなかったからだと思います。 多分本当は売っていたかもしれませんが、その時、いい店は見つけられませんでした。 神学校の時、ペットが飼えなかったので、その代わりに、ザワークラウトや天然酵母の種などの発酵した食物にすごく興味を持つようになって、飼い始めました。 つまり、ピクルスのオタクになってしまいました。 
今札幌市の隣の石狩市に住んでいます。 日本で本当においしい手作りのパンが売っていますが、高いですから、なかなか買えません。 食パンもありますが、残念ですがそれは私の好みの味じゃありません。

Solution: make my own sourdough bread! The starter I’m currently keeping has a history: I started it in our Vancouver kitchen in summer, 2007, then brought it home to Seattle and divided it with my mom and brother. When my family came to visit us in Japan in December 2009, my brother brought a little jar of starter (less that 3 oz. ;) in his carry-on luggage. Before we returned to the US in April 2010, I entrusted the starter to a German friend who kept it going until we came back. Now there are 3 of us in the Sapporo area making bread from my original starter!

解決は、もう一度天然酵母のパンを作ることです! 今飼っている天然酵母の種は歴史があります。 2007年の夏、私のバンクーバーの台所で発酵し始めました。それから私はシアトルの実家へ種を持って行って、母と弟に分けました。 2009年の夏に初めて私は日本へ来てその後、家族がお正月に遊びに来た時、弟が小さい瓶に種を入れて、それを持って来てくれました。 私がアメリカへ帰国する時、札幌に住んでいるドイツ人の友達に種を預けました。 日本へ戻ってから、ドイツ人の友達からまたその種をもらい、今札幌に3人、シアトルに2人が私の種を飼って、パンを作っています!

The instructions and recipes which I’m going to share here are the result of many years of experimentation. Actually, I’m still experimenting; I rarely measure ingredients any more, and I tend to use whatever looks good at the time. If you have any good ideas, please do write a comment, and maybe I’ll try your suggestion next time.

これからアップするレシピや説明は6年間の実験の結果です。 実は、今も実験しています。 普通は材料を量らないで、冷蔵庫と食品庫と相談して、おいしそうな材料を選んでパンを作っています。 :) 何かいい考えがあったら、どうぞ、コメントを書いて下さい。 次回は皆さんのお勧めを作ってみますよ。

Part 2: Making and Caring for Sourdough Starter・天然酵母の種作りと種の世話
Part 3: Sourdough Pancakes・サワードー・ホットケーキ
Part 4: Sourdough Bread・天然酵母のパン

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Japanese and Western cooking: what's the difference?

Today’s coffee: Costa Rica, Ethiopia (Yay, back at Tokumitsu again!)

The garden has been going crazy lately—I’ve got more produce than I know what to do with. The weeding is pretty much under control, but I really underestimated the amount of time it takes to harvest and process everything… but since “waste not, want not” is my missionary-budget-motto, I use everything I possibly can.

That being said, it’s really helpful when people come eat our food at our house… provided they don’t bring too much food with them. It’s customary in Japan to bring something to share when you eat at someone’s house. Last Saturday, we had several friends over for Baroque music sightreading (3 gambas and 2 recorders!) and barbeque. They brought drinks, watermelon, snacks, and dessert—we didn’t actually eat the watermelon, and 11 or the 12 mini ice creams also didn’t get eaten, since the dessert I made was very filling. The weather was beautiful; it’s been a long time since I sat outside and had a leisurely supper with friends.

The ice creams and watermelon ended up being very helpful since I bit my tongue eating breakfast on Monday and couldn’t eat properly for about 3 days. Ouch. Thankful also for our immersion blender and the lovely fresh tomatoes that we made into soup. And I’m thankful for my now fully functional tongue. I underestimated its usefulness…

With the garden flourishing and friends coming over to eat with some frequency, I continue to think about showing hospitality, in particular to my Japanese friends. I intend to return to this topic many times, but I’ll start with a few thoughts about hospitality in general.

First, it’s not about me. As I wrote last week, hospitality means making guests feel comfortable. It’s not about me showing off my cooking skills.

Style of hospitality and food should depend on the guest. For example, which guests are adventurous eaters, and which ones aren’t? Which guests will appreciate and enjoy eating off of our Royal Copenhagen dishes, and which will be worried about breaking them? Will the guest feel more at home if we leave the house in a “lived-in” state? If I’m having my baroque music friends over—most of them have been overseas many times—anything goes as far as food is concerned, but probably keeping the atmosphere relaxed is good. If I’m inviting guests my parents’ age and older, I will want to make sure all the preparations are done before they arrive, and I will want to be careful what sorts of food to prepare. The purpose of careful preparation and choice of food is to make guests feel at home in our house.

What kind of food might be appropriate? Since the taste-test lunch, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between Japanese and Western cooking, and how to make the most of Japanese cooking techniques and philosophy when preparing Western food.

In US home cooking, we often have one-pot meals. These are convenient and easy to prepare and clean up. They tend to have a lot of ingredients, providing a balanced meal in a single dish. The blended flavours are highly valued. However, in Japanese cooking, one-pot meals are rare. Usually a meal with consist of rice (御飯—gohan, the word for cooked rice, literally means “meal”), one or more meat and vegetable “side dishes,” soup, and pickles. Each dish has only a few ingredients; when I first started cooking from Japanese recipes, they seemed overly simple, and I was inclined to make a lot of additions. That wasn’t necessarily a good choice; authentic Japanese cooking allows each ingredient to be appreciated on its own. Using in-season, fresh ingredients and cooking techniques that minimize loss of flavour and colour are very important.

In Western cooking, we use a wide variety of herbs and spices to flavour our foods. Growing up in the US, being the melting pot that it is, I was exposed to foods from all over the world. I learned to cook from my mom, whose cooking is influenced by her Midwestern parents; my dad, who excels at experimental and fusion soups and stews; our Swedish-descent neighbours; our German exchange student; and my Taiwanese college roommate. In my cooking, I tend to use a wide variety of flavours from each of these cuisines and others as well. In Japanese cooking, flavouring ingredients typically consist of what I call the “5 s’s” or “the usual suspects”: shoyu (soy sauce), saké, mirin (sweet saké), shio (salt), and satou (sugar). With a vast number of interesting techniques and wonderful seasonal produce, there are endless possibilities even within this seemingly narrow flavour profile.

When Western recipes are adapted to Japanese taste, the number of ingredients is vastly reduced… and we call it 洋食 (youshoku—western food). I compared 2 recipes for minestrone soup: the recipe from a Canadian cookbook had 24 ingredients, whereas the one from a Japanese magazine had 12 ingredients. I remember ordering Spaghetti Carbonara once at an Italian restaurant in Japan; I was surprised when it came with a poached egg on top (rather than the egg being incorporated into the cream sauce), and no pepper. As I mentioned before, the ingredients are meant to be enjoyed individually.

When my friends at church explained what they thought needed to be changed from my proposed lunch menu, they specifically suggested that the herb flavour was too strong for elderly guests. At first I was surprised; the Japanese herb, shiso, also has a strong flavour (and I thank God every time I eat it). Then I recalled the conversation in the kitchen while cutting up the mint: “Ah, reminds me of toothpaste,” said one of the helpers. Mint=toothpaste or tea, not a topping for a savoury dish. I further recalled the aforementioned Taiwanese college roommate turning up her nose at rice pudding: rice is savoury, not sweet, she explained. Specific flavours (cilantro, etc.) may not suit some people’s tastes, but certain combinations of flavours are also off-putting to some people. Please do leave comments if you have ideas about combinations and specific flavours to try or to avoid!

I have a lot of further study to do in this area; I think for me, learning to adapt Western recipes according to Japanese taste might be more difficult than learning to cook Japanese food. I think the way forward is to cook Western recipes from Japanese cookbooks, and to continue to experiment with my own recipes… and invite trusted friends over to be taste-testers. Any volunteers?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Lasagne, and Speaking the Truth in Love

Today’s coffee: Brazilian (at home again… I tried to go to my café, but they’re temporarily closed! Oh, the pain!)

I feel like I’ve spent the week recovering from lasagne. We had an outreach event at our church—a movie called Shiokari Pass and meal afterwards. I was in charge of the main course—there ended up being 7 lasagnes, all lovingly made from scratch, down to the pasta sauce and noodles.

My baking set-up, with all 7 lasagnes in progress

Lasagne is not a summer dish. I’m thankful that it ended up being not a very hot day—and the lasagnes were baked on the second floor of the church, and not in my house. But we did use my oven. It’s large by Japanese standards, but this is not the first time we’ve taken it out of the house for a major cooking project. It’s surprisingly portable. But in any case, we used fresh zucchini from our farm and our friend’s farm and fresh Hokkaido tomatoes (10 pounds of them)—I wanted the lasagne to be a 「旬を味わう」(shun wo ajiwau—taste the season) sort of dish, so I think we succeeded. It’s definitely better with fresh tomatoes. It was also a lot of fun to teach three other church members to use the pasta roller to make the lasagne noodles! The consensus is that we should definitely make fresh pasta again sometime.

Setting the table
The menu: green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, fried mushrooms, vichyssoise, lasagne, focaccia, babaloa, and orange cake (not pictured)
Actually, the story I want to tell today is about the test meal I made on July 5. Originally I hadn’t intended to make lasagne—it’s too fussy and hot, and we don’t have enough pans. My first thought was that we ought to make Hokkaido specialties to go along with the movie, which was set in Hokkaido, but the consensus was that Western food was more interesting to our guests. Therefore, the menu I presented to the committee was the following:
  • Individual Pasta Gratin
  • Summer Minestrone
  • Insalata Caprese
  • Beans with gorgonzola and basil
  • Focaccia Bread

We are blessed to be part of a church full of people who are passionate about food. They’re not food snobs, but they love to eat together, and to be creative in the kitchen. So, the initial reaction to the menu I presented was very positive. However, just to be sure (and because it was my first time putting together a meal for 30+ people), we decided to do a test lunch.

The test lunch in itself was a lot of work. I translated all the recipes into Japanese (and got them corrected), with a few alterations based on local substitutions. I went to Costco and several grocery stores to gather ingredients. I made yogurt-cheese using a tofu mold to substitute for the mozzarella, which is prohibitively expensive. And then of course the day of the taste test, I instructed all the helpers on how to make each dish.

At the time, the meal seemed to go off without a hitch. Everyone said it was good. We talked about portion sizes and how to arrange things on the dishes. Everything seemed to be moving forward.

Getting ready to eat lunch... and checking the video equipment while we're at it!
That night, we had supper with some friends who had been living overseas—our friend Mikiko and her Ghanaian husband, Curtis. Mikiko, who is something of an adventurous eater, shared about the challenges of learning to love Ghanaian food and how much she missed Japanese food, especially when dealing with morning sickness. Curtis, on the other hand, talked about his struggle to get used to some Japanese foods.

To some extent, that conversation prepared me for the phone call I received the next morning. It was one of the committee members—a dear friend, and fellow food lover. “It’s hard to know how to say this,” she began. “The meal was delicious, but we’re worried that it won’t suit the taste of the elderly guests whom we hope will attend the event. You worked very hard yesterday, but would you please consider changing the menu?”

In the short silence that followed, a wide range of emotions washed over me—first sheer exhaustion, then shock, then indignation, then hurt—but somehow in the midst of all of it, thankfulness. Why thankfulness? I was thankful that my friends trusted me enough to speak the truth in love. They know I care about food and hospitality, and they know I deeply value opportunities to learn about Japanese culture. The conversation was an invitation to learn new ways of showing love to Japanese people.

That’s not to say I wasn’t hurt. I think it took a week before I was able to think constructively about the situation. Food is very personal to me, so criticism can be very hard to take. Thankfully I was on vacation, so I didn’t really have to think about it. I kept repeating “It’s not about me” over and over and over.

It’s not about me, and yet it is—this is also a part of my training. Showing hospitality and cooking according to Japanese taste are skills I need to learn. Learning to cook Western foods in a Japanese style might be more difficult than learning to cook Japanese foods. I have a lot of ideas about what was “wrong” with the meal I prepared and about the differences between Japanese and Western cooking, but that’s a huge topic for another post, or maybe several.

So somehow we ended up making lasagne, despite its not being a summer dish. I suppose lasagne has less odd gourmet sorts of flavour combinations… and it is sort of a specialty for Keith and me. The challenge was that we don’t have a recipe. There’s a great expression in Japanese: 「冷蔵庫と相談する」(reizouko to soudan suru—to discuss with the refrigerator); that’s exactly what we do. We open the refrigerator… and what looks like it goes in lasagne? In it goes. We had no idea how many kg of tomatoes and such we would need. Somehow we ended up with more than enough ingredients, but not too much more than enough.

I think the lasagne went over well. The portion sizes were a bit large—the small-ish elderly woman sitting next to me very kindly finished the entire slice because she knew I made it, but I felt a bit sorry for her, because I was also feeling uncomfortably full. ;)

I’m generally feeling a lot better about the situation. The hurt feelings are gone, and I’m left with thankfulness for the honesty and trust shown by our friends and for the new cooking challenges ahead of me. I also have some great recipes which I translated into Japanese, if you’re interested. :)

Thursday, August 01, 2013


最近教会でこのランチを好きな人達と一緒に作って食べました。 レシピをちゃんと日本語で書いたので、ブログにアップしないともったいないと思いました。 よかったら、この料理を作ってみて下さいね。 :)


材料 (3人分)
  • モッツァレラ・チーズ、または水切りヨーグルト、120g
  • トマト、1個
  • バジルの葉、6枚
  • バルサミコ酢、少々
  • オリーブ油、少々
  • コショウ、適量
  1. モッツァレラ、トマトを7mmのスライスに切って、バジルの葉と重ねる。
  2. バルサミコ酢、オリーブ油、コショウをふりかける。


  • インゲン豆、450g、すじを取って、食べやすい長さに切る
  • ゴルゴンゾーラ・チーズ、大さじ4
  • バジル、大さじ2、みじん切り
  • コショウ、適量
  1. インゲン豆を蒸し器に入れて、12分ほど蒸す。 水をきる。
  2. 温かいうちにゴルゴンゾーラ、バジルを加えて、混ぜる。 コショウをかける。


  • キドニービーンズ、150g
  • オリーブ油、大さじ2
  • 玉ねぎ、2個、1センチの角切り
  • 塩、小さじ1/2
  • ローストにんにく**、大さじ4
  • バジル、小さじ1 (または生バジル、大さじ1)
  • オレガノ、小さじ1 (または生オレガノ、大さじ1)
  • タイム、小さじ1 (または生タイム、大さじ1)
  • 赤ワイン、120cc
  • 水、約1400cc
  • トマト、1.5kg(皮をむいて、角切り)、または缶詰のトマト3個+ハチミツ大さじ1(缶詰のトマトはそのまま入れても良い)
  • 人参(中)、2本(皮をむいて、角切り)
  • じゃが芋、一個(皮をむいて、角切り)
  • セロリ、2本(5mmの長さに切る)
  • 赤ピーマン、一個(角切り)
  • ズッキーニ、1本(1センチの半月切り)
  • ほうれん草、1束(1センチの長さに切る)
  • 塩コショウ、適量
  • パセリ、適量(みじん切り)
  1. キドニービーンズをやわらかく煮る。
  2. 厚鍋を弱火にかけて、オリーブ油を入れる。 玉ねぎ、塩を加えて、玉ねぎが柔らかくてきつね色になるまで混ぜながらゆっくり炒める。 30分ほど炒める。 
  3. ローストにんにく、バジル、オレガノ、タイムを2.に加えて、2分炒める。 赤ワイン、水、トマト(とハチミツ)を加えて、煮立てる。
  4. 人参、じゃが芋、セロリ、赤ピーマンを順番に切って3.に加える。 やわらかくなるまで火を通す。
  5. 野菜がやわらかくなったら、ズッキーニ、1.のキドニービーンズを4.に加える。 やわらかくなるまで煮る。
  6. ほうれん草を加えて、ひとまぜし、火を止める。 塩コショウで味をととのえる。 ボールに入れて、パセリをふりかける。



材料 (6人分)
  • 油、またはバター、適量
  • レモンの皮、適量、みじん切り
  • ドライ・パスタ、250g
  • ドライ・トマト、3個、はさみで小さく切る
  • カボチャ(中)、4分の1、1センチの角切り
  • ほうれん草、1束、1センチの長さに切る
  • バター、20g
  • ソーセージ、6本、1センチの長さに切る
  • 玉ねぎ、1個、1センチの角切り
  • ヨーグルト、500cc
  • 卵の黄身、2個
  • ローストにんにく**、大さじ2
  • 塩、小さじ1/2
  • オリーブ、15個、種を取って、みじん切り
  • おろしチーズ、70g、またはフェタチーズ
  • ミント、大さじ3、みじん切り
  • コショウ、適量
  1. キャセロールに油、またはバターをぬって、レモンの皮を入れる。
  2. 大きい鍋にたっぷりの水を沸かして、パスタ、ドライ・トマトを入れて、アルデンテ(かた目)にゆでる。 カボチャ、ほうれん草を加えて、20秒位ゆでる。 ゆでたお湯は、おいしいので、とっておいて、別の料理に使って下さい。:)
  3. フライパンでバターを溶かす(中火)。 ソーセージ、玉ねぎを加えて、玉ねぎが柔らかくなるまで炒め、火を止める。
  4. 大きいボールにヨーグルト、卵の黄身、ローストにんにく、塩を混ぜる。
  5. 4.に、2.、3.を加えて混ぜる。 それを1.のキャセロールに入れて、オリーブとチーズを上にふりかける。 200℃のオーブンで25-30分間焼く。
  6. きつね色になり、プツプツして来たら、オーブンから出して、ミント、コショウをふりかける。

**ローストにんにくの作り方: にんにくの皮をむいて、ボールに入れる。 オリーブ油、塩コショウをかける。 オーブンの皿に載せて、180℃のオーブンで30分程焼く。 フードプロセッサーでつぶして、ペーストにする。