So many Japanese bloggers do the same thing this time of year. It’s spring, and now is the time for cherry blossom “Sakura”.
Cherry trees were on the other side of the river. I wanted to cross the river to get there.
Sakura flowers were not in full bloom yet. Although it was not so clear, I could see Iide Mountains behind.
I could still see some buds of pink color.
The mountain in this photo is part of Mt. Gozu Ridge. They are lower than Iide Mountains. The altitude is less than a half of IIDE. So the snow remaining on Gozu became already very little.
I was walking on a river bank. And then I turned to where I came from, to go back home.
I saw vessels floating on the water when I crossed a bridge again to go home.
Most of dishes are circle, but some are oval. I think an oval dish is useful because it fits the shape of food in many cases. Recently in a morning, I found one of oval dishes was missing. I use it to put a half toast for my mom every morning. Yes, the oval dish fits very well for the shape of the toast cut in half. I was looking for it in the midst of busy preparation for breakfast. I couldn’t find it. So I put a half toast onto a small circle dish. Edges were out of the dish so it was unstable and slippery. I worried it might get out of the dish and fall down.
I found the oval dish after the breakfast. It was in front of the photograph of my dad who died last year. On top of the dish were the sweets “Ohagi”. My mom offered that two Ohagi(s) to my deceased dad. Let me explain a little about Ohagi. It looks like a ball. At the center is sticky rice. And the ball of sticky rice is wrapped with sweet soy beans paste. The soy is usually a brawn/purple one “Adzuki”. It is very common to offer the Ohagi to dead person in equinoctial week in Japan.
I think there are differences depending on culture and customs as to how to deal with those offerings to dead person. In our custom, the food offered is to be shared and eaten by the family who are still alive. Sometimes I see the colorful sweets for the purpose of offering to a dead person are being sold in the store. They are unnaturally colorful because of use of artificial color additives. We don’t eat them, but for other type of “usual” food and especially sweets, we will eat them after a period of offering on the altar. Because of this custom, I have been eating a lot of sweets for more than a year. I am a person with a spirit of “Mottainai” that means not to waste anything.
But an issue is that my mom does not care about what type of sweets to be offered to my dad. She very often buys and offers fresh and moist sweets. It would not be a problem during winter time because temperature is low. But now is the time of spring. Even in Niigata, located in northern part of Japan, the temperature is going up day by day. It means that fresh and moist sweets don’t last long. For my mom, it is not an issue as to eat or not to eat those offered sweets. She just wants to offer sweets to her husband who liked sweets. That’s it.
So the issue is on my side only: to eat or not to eat. When my mom brought down two Ohagi(s) from the Dad’s altar, the surface of them looked dry. No mold was observed. The taste was uncertain. Edible or not? I thought how I was going to do with them.
Two Ohagi(s) on an Oval Dish
While I was thinking what I was supposed to do with Ohagi, my mom threw them into plastic tank in the garden. The tank is to make compost by throwing fresh garbage. That was the end of Ohagi’s fate. I always tell my mom to buy and offer the long-life sweets with longer days of “best by”. But showing an early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, my mom cannot memorize what I say to her. So she buys and offer sweets without caring about expiry date.
When it comes to an oval dish, a sad thing had happened. I posted recently about butterbur. And in the post I uploaded a photo in which butterbur was put on another oval dish. The dish was broken. My mom dropped it. Actually there was a pair of the same two oval dishes. So it is not certain the broken one was in the photo, but it is certain that the pair reduced to be “a single”.
I hardly fry in the kitchen. The day before yesterday I found small horse mackerels were being sold very cheap in a supermarket. I thought that was a good chance to practice to cut and open the bodies of horse mackerels. I did that 12 to 14 fishes and fried them. Shall I call them “Freedom Mackerels”?
My blog has got no visitors, no views for these two days. I found that I haven’t posted these days, so I wrote down this one. I spent two hours for my training to write an English post. It’s tough to me.
I found them in my garden. They tell you that spring has come, although cherry flowers “Sakura” have not start blooming yet. I picked them up and washed by water.
It should be boiled as short as you can. If you boiled too long, its green color and bitterness would be lost. So, instead of boiling them in a pan, I poured boiled water onto butterbur using a colander.
I mixed miso paste, Japanese sake, and sugar for seasoning. I was not sure how sugar would affect on the taste. So I checked the taste, felt a little sweet, and then I put small pieces of fresh ginger.
And this is the main dish last night. It was canned mackerel “Saba”. My mom bought it for my dad to eat several years ago. However, it was expired on February 2020. Although the expiration was more than one year ago, I wouldn’t like to throw it. Having hoped that was not harmful because it was canned food, I ate the Mackerel with sliced onion, grated ginger and garlic, and soy sauce.
Recently I made an electric device so that my mom could talk to me from her room to my room. However that device could not amplify my mom’s voice well. The reason was that sound level by the microphone unit was too low. So I needed to put a “Pre-amplifier” between the microphone unit and the main amplifier. I looked for it by amazon.co.jp. and ordered it. The issue was that it was not a unit but a kit. That meant I had to assemble many parts.
This was delivered yesterday.
The package was from a Japanese company. I would say what Japanese do is elaborate, maybe too much. The package is being put in thick plastic bag. There are a lot of detailed explanations on the sheet of paper, including the circuit diagram. The parts are neatly divided in three small plastic bags. Those elaborate things are basically good, but often ends up high price. This kit costed approximately 12 USD. I think that high prices and excess qualities are typical to Japanese products. It must be a disadvantage in current harsh international competitiveness.
So I needed to solder each parts one by one on the small circuit board.
This is the bottom side of the board. All the parts were soldered, but wires were not yet. I should say my soldering is not good becasue there was a poor soldering at one point. When I turned on this unit first, actually this didn’t work. I checked my soldering and found a poor soldering. I melted it again. And then this pre-amplifier became functional. I haven’t done these soldering electric parts for so long. This time was the first since the last time 30 years ago.
This is the top side of the board.
I put the pre-amplifier into the box. It seems as if the left space in the box would have been designed for the pre-amp unit from the beginning (Actually not).
And I put the device again on the column in my mom’s room. This time I put indications to tell her what the switch is and where the microphone is. My mom shows the early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. So for her it is difficult to learn anything new. She always try to push the volume control to turn on it, although it is not to push but to rotate. Anyway I have to tell her how to use this, on and on.
My family is not wealthy by any means. However, our house, located in suburban, is a little bigger than those houses in urban area. I am always in my room on the second floor, doing PPT slides making for online Japanese teaching. My mom is in her room on the first floor. So when she calls me, she needs to come out from her warm room to cold corridor and shout my name aloud. I had been thinking about if there was any good way for her to call me from her room. I thought of making a device with a microphone, amplifier, long wire, and a speaker.
I bought several electric parts by amazon.co.jp. The solder was the only thing that I needed to go buy in DIY shop.
I forgot to take a photo while I was assembling. The device was finished as in the photo. Voice caught by condenser microphone is amplified by 6-Volt. And the speaker with 77mm diameter sounds at the end of the long wire—–If it could work as I designed. People may say “Oh, you should have arranged those parts a little more left in the box, because there is an empty space.” Yes, I thought the same thing when I finished assembling. But I would say, that empty space on the left will be used, liking it or not.
So I put this device on the cedar column in mom’s room. I wish that this device will not be disturbing when my mom puts the futon down in the night and puts it back in the morning.
My house is a kind of traditional wooden Japanese style building. So it is relatively easy to place a long wire from room to room and make a hole on the wall. This is a photo in my room.
But I found a big PROBLEM with this. The voice on the speaker is too small even in the maximum volume. In Japanese expression, this would be metaphorically said “voice of a mosquito’s weeping”
I know that the amplifier works well because I tested and confirmed that it could make sufficient sound volume before assembling. So the problem is on the microphone unit. The unit does not make enough gain for the signal that is coming from the microphone. I have already sent a question to the vendor through amazon, asking whether or not the mic unit output did not gain a good sound level such that can be connected to amplifier directly. I don’t expect that the vendor can answer my question soon because now is the time of lunar new year.
So I think that I need to add a “pre-amp” between the microphone unit and the amplifier. I will buy a pre-amplifier unit from amazon and place it in that empty space on the left in the box, probably.
Yesterday I went to a DIY shop by walk, to buy solder. On the way I found two swans when I was walking in rice fields area.
So this is the end of the year 2020. Every year at this time a lady in Hokkaido sends us a one whole salmon as a year-end gift. That lady’s husband and my dad had worked together forty some years ago. Her husband died young, but she continues to send the year-end gifts to her husband’s old colleagues. Actually my dad had long been ill and was unable to deal with salmon by himself. But I couldn’t say her to stop sending. Because I thought that sending year-end gifts to her husband’s co-workers makes her feel the connection to her dead husband.
But this year, a change had happened on our family side. My dad died in February. We should have told her soon, but we haven’t done that yet. This morning, my mom wrote a letter, although she hasn’t brought it to post office yet. Anyway, I had to cut and slice the salmon. I have done that yesterday.
The first thing I have to do was to sharpen a knife. I honed a thick blade knife with a whetstone. By the way, I want you to know that Japanese do not rubbing two knives together with clicking-clacking sounds when we sharpen a knife. We do that one by one with whetstone as in the photograph.
He is bigger than the cutting board. I use the word “He” because I guess the salmon is male. The reason is simple; his nose is sharp. A female salmons have round nose. Anyway I have to cut the salmon neatly, but I think that, for this kind of techniques, how many times one has done it before matters to do it well. I mean if I had cut salmons one hundred times, I could do it well. But this was just the third times for me to cut and slice a one whole salmon. So please do not expect much.
At first I cut the head and fins. Of course they can be eaten. There is no part that can be wasted as to salmon.
OK, this is the most difficult part of the process. You need to cut a half body on one side. At the center of the body, there is a line of bones from the backbone to the top. It is important to cut as close as you can to those vertical bones at the center. But I should admit that I am not good at it. You can see that meat remains on bone side thick.
The next process is to cut the backbone out from the other side of body.
And then I slice the half body so that they can be easily grilled.
Then I wrapped each slice with cling film. Anyway I have almost done the work.
A good thing about salmon is that you can eat even the head, bones, and fins by boiling them for several hours. Those parts will eventually become soft and edible. If you have a pressure cooker, boiling hours can be shortened to the less than an hour. Since I don’t have a pressure cooker, I just boil every time I stand in the kitchen. And then the head and bone can be soft in two days.
The slices of salmon were a lot. So I just put them in the freezer. But they were still a lot. So my mom wanted to give part of them to her friend. This morning my mom went out to the lady’s house to give her some slices of the salmon. The lady is taking a care of her mother alone in her house. I have to tell ya that her mother is one hundred and six years old. I hope that the salmon that I sliced will be on the table of the centenarian as part of New Year celebration.