9:25 AM

Chocolate and friends

Since we were on break from dance class, and I had a Friday off for the first time in a while, I decided to invite some friends over for some take-out Thai (thank you, Salad King), and hanging out. Flush with success from the chocolate class with Becky, I decided to get some supplies of my own and try my hand at making some chocolate-covered strawberries.

Here's the 'before' shot.

And now the 'after' shot.

Things I learned:
1) Strawberries that are too ripe are not good to use for this purpose. They get extremely hard to handle.
2) The digital thermometer that I use when roasting meat is not good for chocolate. I don't think the chocolate I used for the strawberries was tempered quite properly, and that proved to be the case when I found some blooming on the chocolate after I chilled the finished berries.

With the left-over chocolate, I decided to melt it again, and re-temper it. This time, I did it without the thermometer, and tried to go on what I remembered about how the chocolate felt when we had our class. I don't think I got it quite right, but it was better than the stuff I used on the berries. I used this chocolate to make chili pepper bark. Yum!

What would a party be without party games? Greg's gift of Rock Band has been great.
I think Richard wins the 'Best Rocker Face' award. Aaron got pretty creative, playing the drums like tom-toms. He and Jia were a pretty good team, playing the drums together.

A super fun evening! Thank everyone!!

6:11 PM

Last little bit of Japan, and cooking with beets

So, I apologize for not quite wrapping up my travels properly. Jamie's now put all the photos from the last leg of our trip onto his laptop, and I didn't get a chance to get at them before he took them off his camera. I'll try to upload them to my Flickr account eventually, but no promises as to when that will happen. In summary, I met up with some friends of mine (Josh and Dan) on the Monday for some city fun. We went to the Ghibli Museum first. For those of you who are fans of movies like Princess Mononoke and Spirited away, you'll recognize the name of the studio. For those of you who aren't, it's considered the Japanese version of Disney. The museum is about 40 minutes away from Tokyo, and well worth the trip if you're a fan of animation. We got there a little early, so took a walk around and stumbled upon a local school festival, which was quite an amusing slice of Japanese life. After the museum, we had lunch before heading to a yarn store that I was looking for in particular (yes, I specifially went shopping for yarn in Japan). After that, we hit a karaoke place, because you can't go to Japan and not karaoke. Last stop was all-you-can-eat yakiniku (Korean BBQ). Yum! The next day, we went to the town where Josh lives and works, Tochigi. It's about an hour and half away from Tokyo by train. Josh picked us up there in his new car (a Vitz, which is what they call the Yaris in Japan), and we were off to Nikko. First stop, a fabulous nature walk. After that, we visited a whole series of fantastic waterfalls before being treated to a yuba croquette. Yuba is tofu skin and really yummy. We tried to go to the Toshogu Shrine, but because it was the day after a national holiday, we discovered that it was closed when we got there. Oh well! Yummy dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant, and then on the train to head back to Tokyo. The next day we were on our way to Izunokuni for some soaking in hot springs, and enjoying some quiet time outside the bustling city. Nice views of Mt Fuji, relaxing baths, and great food. After that, it was home to Toronto!

Today, I tried cooking with beets for the first time.
As you an tell, it's not exactly a success. The beets dyed the sausage red (it looks more red in real life than the photo shows). It doesn't taste that bad, but it's just not the best combination I've ever thought of. Oh well. Jamie opted to have instant noodles though. Haha!