Thursday, August 14, 2014

Glazed lemon pound cake

In coming back to the U.S., one of the things that I was most excited to return to was baking. This week I made my first concoction in quite a while- a glazed lemon pound cake from my favorite Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. The cake was dense and moist, and the lemon flavor perfect for these end of summer days. The glaze, however, was what made this cake stand apart- apricot Cognac glaze. So heavenly. I will attest that none of this has gone to waste. 

The recipe isn't available online, but the cake was pretty easy to make, as pound cakes generally are. Sometimes I have had issue with other pound cakes cooking all the way through because of the high butter content, but this one was perfect- just a little crispy on the outer edges, but still moist and finished on the inside. The poppy seeds made a nice texture contrast. 

Interestingly, I learned that Hennessy is one of the most frequently stolen items at my local grocer. As I stood looking for it in the liquor aisle, an employee asked me if I needed help (the customer service at Cosentino's is really great). When I told him what I was looking for, he informed me that Hennessy is kept behind the service counter, as it is such a high theft item. I was quite confused, as there are many small-sized bottles of much higher priced liquor sitting on the shelf, but I guess the cultural cache of the name brand is just that strong. The bottle I bought was only $11. There are bottles approaching the $100 mark that are sitting out on the shelves. So, baking led to an interesting lesson in grocery economics as well as the end product of a delicious cake. And now we all know, you have to ask for the Hennessy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back in the States

 Narita Terminal 1 North Wing departures.
Hey! I'm in Kansas City!

I made it back from Japan with very few travel issues, though I did have to jettison two pairs of shoes, a sweater, and some old t-shirts at Narita Airport to get my luggage down to the regulated weight. This is not the first time I have been at that airport playing the edit-your-possessions-to-get-your-luggage-down-to-weight game. Even after the great luggage purge I ended up buying a new carry-on at the airport and stuffed about 35 pounds of books and shoes into it. This along with my roller carry-on (full of camera gear, my hard drive, and a years worth of research paperwork) still didn't fit all my stuff- I was wearing a sweater even though it was hot as -fill in the hottest place you can imagine-, my heavy suede shoes (the heaviest I own), and my Panama hat which I didn't want to get crushed. I also had a small purse and my laptop bag. It was ridiculous, but somehow nobody bothered me and I was able to get everything onto both of my flights. Nothing like moving on an airplane through multiple security checkpoints.... Part of the ease should be credited to Delta, which had really great service on all fronts- and decent airline food. On another positive note, because of the epic day of lugging my stuff on three trains and two planes I only shipped three boxes of stuff back. Shipping international is crazy expensive, takes six to eight weeks, and as it is done by boat, sometimes your boxes arrive looking like they have been, well, shipped around the world on a boat. 

Moving out of my apartment was as smooth as can be, which was a great surprise to me. Usually moving, something I have done more times than I'd care to remember, goes horribly for me. This last statement is probably true for everyone. In any case, this time wasn't too bad, and despite the heat, I vacated my apartment one day before leaving the country and had no crises or issues. Yay! A friend helped me to carry some extra stuff along with my stuff down to her apartment and we had a lovely dinner on my last night in Tokyo. 

Now, after five days of being back I'm finally starting to get over the jet lag and general exhaustion of the move, and I'm getting back into the groove of work and life here in the U.S. Some things about being back are amazing (being together with the fam, the speed at which my brain works in English, brunch), others are difficult (driving everywhere, the general inconvenience of American life, giant portion sizes). This is probably best placed in another post on another day.

In any case, I still have many Japan posts to catch up on, and life here is creating many interesting bloggable moments as well, so much to come!
Something like 24 hours after leaving my friend's apartment, arrival in Kansas City. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

天丼 Tendon

Hello internet friends! 

As my move back to the U.S. gets closer, there are so many things to do. I've sold most of my furniture and household goods, made all the necessary arrangements for utilities to be shut off, health insurance to be cancelled, and shipped a few boxes of things back to KC. As my kitchen is mostly cleaned out I have been eating out for the past few days, which is a nice way to get out of my empty apartment, and a great way to celebrate and enjoy my last week here in Tokyo. On Saturday I had lunch at a small local restaurant, so adorable in it's localness and with really great and affordable food.