Sunday, September 15, 2013

We've (virtually) moved!

Adventures in Mission has served me/us well for a long time, but is is time to expand the blog. We have bought our own domain and expanded our blog to be not only bigger, but - hopefully - more relevant to our lives now.

Thank you for following first me, then us, on our adventures. We hope you continue to follow our adventures on our new website.

See you soon!

Monday, August 19, 2013

For want of frosting

One of the Turner children made this cupcake
before we came Japan. I don't remember who,
but it's the sort of cupcake I wanted today!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I’ve got half a pan of brownies, and I’m craving chocolate. You know what would be good? A little frosting to go on those leftover brownies!” And then, because you just went to the baking supply store and bought cocoa a few hours earlier, you think, “Great! This is meant to be!”

And, because this is such an informal, not-using-a-recipe, throw-it-together moment, you don’t stop to think about the fact that you are out of milk, until you reach for it. You’re in your stay-at-home clothes, don’t want to change, and the weather is sweltering.... all of which seems like a lot of trouble just for some milk.

But, life’s good. You just bought coconut milk, and what’s life without a little experimentation? Besides, chocolate and coconut are heavenly. And you think, “I’ll improvise!”

So you throw open the cupboard door to see the coconut milk sitting on the highest shelf, about a foot out of reach, because your tall husband put it away. But he’s taking a nap. And the only chairs you own are swivel chairs on wheels. Not one or the other, but both. And you contemplate trying to climb on one to reach the coconut milk, but decide you’d probably just end up with something broken and no one has pity on a woman who broke her leg while climbing on a rolling swivel chair.

So you just take a brownie out of the pan and eat it.

What? You haven’t? Oh. Never mind.

By the way, does any one have a step ladder I can borrow?

Monday, August 12, 2013

What is Karinto Manju?

Karinto in a variety of shapes and flavours.
Karinto かりんとうis a sweet stick of deep-fried dough.
Manju 饅頭 is a sweet bean paste-filled dumpling.

When they collide, they become Karinto Manju. Obviously. Not a very original name, I admit. However, the deep-fried dumplings are very original in style.

This isn’t a very common snack. By that I mean, after living here a total of four years, I have heard of the more popular ones (such as manju or karinto), but this is the first time I have been introduced to Karinto Manju.

(Lest you think that last sentence is redundant, let me assure you that as someone who regularly forgets names and faces, I often introduce myself to people multiple times).

But, back to the sweets.
Momiji Manju,
a popular style of manju
from Miyajima.

It is, as the name suggests, a deep-fried dumpling. Manju are not my favourite Japanese snack (that term is reserved for anything with mochi in it). On the other hand, they are filled with sweet bean paste, and that forgives a multitude of sins.

I hope to learn how to make Japanese snacks, because the blog cannot do them justice. I feel like I am just giving you a photo and some random words: bean paste (what??), mochi (huh?), deep-fried dumplings (Okay, now we’re speaking the same language!).

The verdict on Karinto Manju: In my opinion, they are good, but not the best Japan has to offer. However, if you like deep-fried dough (and really, who doesn’t?), then I recommend trying them.

Thank you to wikimedia for use of the photos of Manju and Karinto.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sea Turtles in Hiwasa

While I like sea turtles, I have never been overly fascinated by them. They are interesting, but sea turtles are (as the name suggests) ocean-dwelling creatures. I’ve never been keen on oceans, what with oceans being so full of water.

Display showing five of the eight different types of sea turtle.
However, I am fascinated by the amazing story of the sea turtles’ lives: the mothers coming ashore to lay their eggs and the treacherous journey the hatchlings take back to the ocean. Sea turtles are graceful swimmers, and a delight to watch, from what I can remember from my terrified snorkelling attempt several years ago. Most vividly to me, though, they represent the ocean.

With these visions swimming in my brain, I arrived at the Sea Turtle Museum in Hiwasa, a town on the coast just south of Tokushima City. My co-worker Ikue took David and I out for a day of fun and learning.

We walked through the museum backwards, which means that we started our journey with the “What did you learn?” quiz. A score of 70% or higher awards a Doctor of Turtles certificate. A combined effort got us a score of 50%. For not yet having read the exhibit telling us how fast turtles can swim, I guess we did okay.

Ohama Beach
The museum overlooks a beach, a place where turtles come to shore every summer to lay their eggs. Today it is empty, but I imagine it full of loggerhead sea turtles. Turning around from the beach view, one faces the museum’s breeding tanks, filled with young turtles.

Out behind the main museum are more pools, both for sea turtles and non-sea turtles. The turtles are bigger than I anticipated: Inside an aquarium was a large, no - huge - turtle. It was utterly massive. I would love to show him (her?) to you. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that one, because of - um - the shadows - yeah, that’s it. And the small windows and angle of where it was resting. Yeah, that’s why. It’s not because this gigantic turtle was in an aquarium with a tunnel of water above my head and turtles swimming over me, and me freaking out.

Once back outside in the sunlight and breathing easy, I grabbed my camera and took a truly preposterous number of photos. Luckily (for you), many did not turn out because the turtles were underwater or swimming or both.

Apparently, turtle food is usually available for people to dole out.
There wasn't any when we were there, but the turtles didn't know that.
Sea turtles are amazing animals. Whenever I see them, I am reminded how fragile our earth is. I am glad there is a museum like this - hopefully it will teach people to be more mindful of our oceans, to be careful how we treat the planet. Maybe the kids who visit here and have their pictures taken while sitting on the model (don’t worry, they don’t climb on a real turtle)  will one day grow up to be conservationists. Maybe they will remember the tunnel in the aquarium and say, “I am going to make sure my children have a chance to see turtles swimming over their heads, too. But in the ocean.”

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vegetables galore!

I do not have anything intelligent to say about these picture. I just feel like sharing them because these tomatoes and peppers make me smile: They look so bright, cheerful, and fun. Enjoy!

I do not believe I've ever seen purple tomatoes.

These are worthy of tacos ... who's coming over for some veg-filled goodness?

Tomorrow I'll make eggplant bread.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Summer Sweat Situation

I used to love summer. Summer was - at one time - my favourite season: The warmth of the sun, and the smell of wildflowers. The shimmer of sweat and a cool breeze. I didn't mind the occasional rivulet or the humidity. There was always some shade to cool off in, and humidity is very comforting, like being wrapped up with a blanket. I like blankets. The one year I spent in a dry climate, I felt so naked, without that blanket to keep me swaddled.

Then I moved to Tokushima, where summer begins around 3 April, and lasts until approximately 17 November. After that is autumn, and then spring. If I remember correctly, last year winter was on a Sunday morning.

Summer loses its appeal in such large doses. The humidity I love has betrayed me; it holds a damp blanket over my mouth making it hard to breathe, to move. The comforting sweat has become more than a shimmer, skipping rivulets completely, turning straight into floods, washing my neck ... my back... my legs. It drips from my hair onto the floor, like I’ve just stepped out of the shower.

Even all this is would be endurable, but for one small detail: When I arrive at work, I am supposed to be professional. How am I supposed to look (and smell) clean during such a summer? People take one look at me and think I’ve just had a workout at the gym. Which I suppose, I have, if you count God’s gym called nature.

I am greatly looking forward to summer vacation - not because I want to be off work, but so I can sweat with abandon!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Third Annual Ferdinand* Awards

It’s that time again!

Last year saw the first public appearance of the Ferdinand Awards,** in which I poke fun at car model names. Since beginning this “contest” I find myself questioning every car name that comes to mind.

For example, the Chevy Spark? (Oh, please don’t catch on fire!)
Or perhaps the Ford Windstar? (what does that even mean?)
And then there’s the Subaru Outback, which is .... umm, how to say this nicely? ... A car named for a place where getting lost can end very badly. Makes me want to say, “Let’s go on a road trip ... in a Street!” (Honda).

In that spirit, I once again looked around Tokushima and chose my favourite car names for you.

The rules to win a Ferdinand:
1. I have to have seen the car, either driving or parked.
2. The name has to be interesting, noteworthy, or roast-worthy.

See last year’s winners here.

And the 2013 Winners are:

Best use of “Does What it Says on the Tin”: Move (Daihatsu)

Best use of limiting what a car can carry: Fun Cargo (Don’t put any boring stuff in this Toyota!)

Best use of food for a car name: Sambar (Subaru) I ate sambar every day for lunch in India, but I don’t remember it tasting like automotive parts!

Best use of a garden tool in a car name: Spade (Toyota)

Best use of X in a car name: Roox (Nissan)

Best “What does that mean?” name: Wingroad (Nissan).

Best almost tribute to an Australian animal: Kangoo (Renault)

Car that makes me think of Stephen Fry: iQ (Toyota). Maybe he can even customise it and reverse the letters.

Car voted least likely ever to be owned by me: Town Bee (Daihatsu)

Best overall winner: Swift (Suzuki)

**Father Ferdinand Verbiest, a Jesuit missionary to China, astronomer, mathematician, and inventor. Around the 1670s, he designed a steam-powered toy automobile, which some people claim is the oldest self-propelling vehicle.

**The first distribution of the awards were in a letter to a friend while I was living in Tokyo.