Friday, January 08, 2016

めでたし、めでたし (Joyous, joyous)

Today’s coffee: Belltown blend from Street Bean coffee (So delicious! Sometime I want to visit their café… too bad it’s a bit too far from home to be my regular spot…)

Well! I have a new nephew, born yesterday (January 7). Nephew #3, but the first on my side of the family. (Way to go, little brother, passing on our genes to the next generation…) He’s also the first of our nieces and nephews we were able to see right away. Break out the red-bean-rice!

No, we are not his parents. His parents were exhausted. Family photos later.
He's a cute little guy!
The most important news out of the way, let’s go back a few days.

Since we spent the week before New Year’s at Urbana, I wasn’t able to make a full-blown osechi this year. Thankfully our friend, Hiromi did, so we ate New Year’s Day osechi lunch at her house.

Hiromi-san's Osechi
Traditional music... お正月の感じです。
I felt a bit sheepish turning up at Uwajimaya on January 2 to do my own osechi shopping. A bit late, but not too late for a January 3 mochitsuki party! I made ozōni, nimono, kuromame, and kurikinton. Friends brought some other dishes, too.

Of course, the purpose of a mochitsuki party is to pound (and eat) mochi. 5 years ago I had a delightful surprise when my dad and brother made me an usu and kine (hollowed out log “mortar” and gigantic hammer for pounding mochi), so we decided to put them to use since we were home this year. I think we made a total of 18 rice-cooker cups of rice into mochi. That’s a lot.

This party was the easiest party ever from the host’s perspective. I was delighted to discover that the two Japanese families I invited knew each other! I just got out the food and kept it coming, and the guests amused themselves with mochi pounding, karuta, and the various musical instruments that live in our house. That’s not to say that I wasn’t amusing myself too.

Keith leads the kids in Totoro Karuta. The English-speaking kids found it to be pretty difficult...
The day of the mochitsuki was also Jiayun’s due date. We thought perhaps a little exercise would be good for her… heh heh heh.

Jiayun and Colin got first crack at mochi-pounding while the family watches. Colin kneads and wets the mochi to keep it from sticking while Jiayun pounds. Jiayun's whole family was able to be here for New Year's, but unfortunately her dad and brother had to go back to Texas while she was in labor. Sad face. Her mom is here for a month, though. Happy face!
Family time, familiar foods, friends… all of this helped cure my homesickness a bit. I’ve been pretty homesick for Japan the last couple of months, although I rarely experienced homesickness while we were in Japan. That’s just one of the many odd parts of our crazy cross-cultural life.

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