Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pet Silhouette

The sun is out and the birds are chirping .... it's a true spring morning on Okinawa!

I feel like I've earned it, though, after nearly three weeks of rain during January. During that time, hubby was gone for training and I was home alone with my dog and a box of a craft supplies. You do the math.

So! I'm sharing this great DIY tutorial to add a sweet personal touch to your home.

Things You'll Need:

  • scissors or exacto knife and pad (or cardboard - something thick that won't butcher your table)
  • pencil
  • double-sided tape
  • digital camera
  • printer (B&W is fine)
  • photo frame (with mat) - (*Frames don't have to be expensive! Check the local bargain stores. Also, for a more eclectic look, try different styles of frames.)
  • one piece of black construction paper or cardstock
  • one piece of fun, patterned paper
Step 1: Take a side (profile) photo of your (willing) subject. 

Step 2: Upload it to your computer and print it on normal computer paper. (*I recommend using the "QuickPrint" option on your printer to save ink. You're just using what you print as a tracing guide so quality doesn't matter.)

Step 3: Create your silhouette. Here, you have two options:
  • Option 1: You can use the double-sided tape to affix your printed image to the piece of black paper. Then (carefully!) cut them both out at the same time. (*Only use this process if you're sure the two pieces of paper won't move.)
  • Option 2: You can cut out the printed image and then affix the printed image to the black paper. Use a pencil to trace the image onto the black paper. Then, cut it out.

Reminder: You're creating a silhouette so just cut around the perimeter. Also, the personalization/fun part is in the details. For me, it was Banks' neck roll and nose wrinkles. Make sure to include the little things: fly-away hairs, eyelashes, etc.

Step 4: Cut down the patterned paper to fit the frame opening. Do NOT cut it so that it just fits the opening. Make sure to leave a little extra on all sides so you can tape it to the mat.

Step 5: Use the double-sided tape to affix your (black) silhouette onto your fun paper. Make sure it's centered and remember that you may need to tilt the photo a little to make the straighten it out.

Step 6: Pop your artwork into your frame.

Et voila!

(You could also try this in reverse - black background with a fun, patterned silhouette!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This is How We Roll: Homemade Sushi!

I was repeatedly surprised when people asked me if I was afraid to move to Okinawa. Maybe they thought I would be since I had lived in Virginia my entire life. Maybe they thought they couldn't do it - so how would I? No matter how you cut it, my answer was always the same, "No way. I'm so excited; I just want to get there!"

Moving to the other side of the world - to Asia, specifically, as I had and continue to have little knowledge of its culture/customs/history - has been an awesome adventure so far. A couple weeks ago, hubby and I celebrated being here for six months. Neither of us can believe how quickly the time is flying.

Six months has allowed us some time to get to know a few of the local restaurants, including a handful of sushi houses. Our first experience with Japanese sushi was what is referred to as a "sushi-go-'round," a restaurant that has a revolving conveyor belt of sushi that snakes throughout the restaurant so that customers at tables/the bar can grab whatever plate of sushi they want. Chefs in the middle of the restaurant also prepare custom orders. It's quick. It's delicious. And it's cheap -- er.

If you know me, you know I'm cost-conscious. I coupon. I love a good sale. And I hate buying something that I know I can make/do myself. While sitting in a hole-in-the-wall sushi joint with hubby Saturday night, we both came to the conclusion that we could "totally do it. Yeah. We can do this. We could make breakfast sushi. I bet we could do dessert sushi!" (You know, the same way crazy-genius and crazy-awful ideas develop.)

Enough of the lifestory - on with the lesson/recipe!

After much research, I selected a handful of tutorials/web videos/websites to guide me through the at-home sushi-making process.

Step 1: I used THIS video to make sushi rice. You'll need:

  • 1 1/2 C good-quality, short-grain rice 
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 3 tbsp of rice vinegar (*Don't let this scare you. It's super easy to find in the "international" section of your grocery store, often near the soy sauce.)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp salt
Step 2: Make sure you have your tools laid out. You'll need:
  • 1 bamboo mat, wrapped in saran wrap (*For my Okinawans, check the 100-yen shop or the grocery store for cheap ones.)
  • a few sheets of nori (seaweed wrap)
  • a bowl of water and small towel, for dipping your fingers and knife
Step 3: Prepare your fixin's. Some ideas:
  • 1 avocado, finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely sliced
  • cream cheese (*We recently discovered Philadelphia cream cheese minis and they're perfectly portioned for sushi night!)
  • fresh fish (*We love tuna.)
  • sesame seeds
  • shichimi (Japanese spice mixture)
    • Wanna make it yourself? It's got ground red chili pepper, ground Sichuan pepper, roasted orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seed and ground ginger.
Step 4: Here we go!
  • This video was what I used to make an inside-out spicy tuna roll. (DE-LISH!)
    • To make a spicy sauce, I used this super simple, perfectly spicy recipe. (*Heads up: It calls for Sriracha. This is the Thai "screaming rooster" hot sauce you may often see on tables at Asian restaurants. I highly recommend getting some!)
  • Here is another great video I used to make a nori roll (seaweed on the outside). 
Here's how mine turned out:

(Spicy Tuna Roll)

Tuna, Cucumber & Avocado Roll

Et voila!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro-Lime Pesto

Today, a couple of my friends and I drove down to Naha (the capital of Okinawa) to check out the Food and Flower Festival. It was packed with unusual foods and tons of reasonably-priced, beautiful flowers for purchase. We had a yummy little lunch in a shady spot away from the vendors where we chatted and watched the locals enjoy the day, too.

Two silly melons - Kara and Me!

What better way to end the day than with, brace yourself, a:
Cafe au Lait Milk with Tapioca and Soft Serve.

If I was cooking a little more (I've been on a slight hiatus since hubby left), I would have left with armfuls of fresh food, especially cilantro. This is a great recipe (from Bon Appetit, July 2010) for using that fresh cilantro!

Serves 4


  • 1 1/4 C (packed) fresh cilantro leaves plus 1/4 C chopped
  • 1/4 C (scant) chopped green onions
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tbsp chopped, seeded jalapeno chile
  • 1/2 C plus 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 lb linguine
  • 1 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbsp tequila
  • 1/4 C crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese 
  1. Blend 1 1/4 C cilantro leaves and next four ingredients in food processor until coarse puree forms. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 C EVOO. Season generously with salt. Cover and chill. (Pesto can be made one day ahead.)

  2. Cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbsp EVOO in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until almost opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; add tequila. Return skillet to heat and stir until sauce is syrupy, about 30 seconds. Add pesto; stir to coat. Remove from heat.
  4. Add pasta to sauce in skillet; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta and shrimp among 4 plates. Sprinkle Cotija cheese and chopped cilantro over and serve.

    Et voila!