Ozoni (Mochi Soup) | Osechi-Ryori (Japanese New Year Food) | Oshogatsu 2011 (New Year)

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011!

Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! Happy New Year!

The holiday season flew by so quickly, I almost can’t believe the New Year has arrived. Yet here I am once again, asking Bebe Dada if he made any New Year’s resolutions. He told me he did, but this year he is keeping them to himself. While I wouldn’t share them on my blog even if he did tell me what they were, the nosey side of me nagged him for a good 10 to 15 minutes, repeatedly asking, “What are they? Come on, tell me, please? Why won’t you share!” I’m annoying, I know. :)

I myself think about making resolutions at the beginning of each year, but ultimately I stray from making any specific resolutions such as eating healthy or exercising, for example. I admit that I don’t really make any resolutions, not because I don’t believe I will keep them, but because throughout the year I often find myself reflecting upon my day, or specific situations and I think about how I could have handled something better or how I could be a better person, mother (step), wife, daughter (in-law), sister (in-law), aunt, niece or friend. (Sounds like that “continuous improvement” concept my business books kept referring to back in the day when I actually read business books.) The bottom line is that despite my short-comings, mistakes, missteps, misspoken words or actions, deep down inside, I always want to do better and be an even better person although sometimes it might not always seem that way.

Mom’s Kagami Mochi New Year’s decoration flanked with 2011 Year of the Rabbit Ceramics. The two different sized mochi’s were handmade by my BFF’s parents who do mochitsuki (make mochi from scratch) every year. According to Wikipedia, the two mochi symbolize the coming and going years. The daidai (or bitter orange atop the mochi, which is actually a Satsuma Mikan in the photo) is said to represent the continuation of a family from one generation to the next. In addition, the kagami mochi display sits atop a sheet of paper, or shihobeni, which is believed to ward off fires from the home. Every year, for as long as I can remember my Mom displays kagami mochi around New Year’s. It’s a tradition I’ve always associated with oshogatsu.

On a lighter note, a lot has happened since reflecting about New Year’s resolutions and my last post in mid-December 2010. We celebrated Christmas with my husband’s side of the family, then with my side of the family, and then with my sister-in-law’s side of the family. I also had the chance to reconnect with some friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in a very long time, as well as to enjoy a leisurely lunch with a handful of my best friends.

2011 Rose Parade Float – Pasadena, California.
We thought the Rotary Club’s bear float was really adorable. We watched the volunteers glue white mums to the bear’s face.

Last week, one of the fun day-trips we took was to Pasadena so that we could watch the Rose Parade floats being decorated. I hadn’t seen the floats decorated in years and it brought back good memories of my childhood. An Uncle was a long-time supporter of the Tournament of Roses and annually served on it’s committee. He often took my Aunt and I to watch the floats being decorated but I have even fonder memories of walking to the parade from my grandparent’s home in South Pasadena with my family to watch the floats, bands and horses turn the corner on Orange Grove. After the parade we always went to look at the floats on display so we could experience the beauty of them close-up and enjoy the wonderful smell of the flowers.

Mom’s Oshogatsu Ikebana Display.
My Mom is a master ikebana sensei (flower arrangement instructor) although she has since retired from teaching.

While this childhood Rose Parade tradition eventually changed when my grandparents left California and moved to Japan, one family tradition that hasn’t changed is that we always celebrate oshogatsu with family, and we always eat ozoni on New Year’s morning. Actually, in my youth I often ate ozoni for lunch since I couldn’t wake up in the morning after an evening celebrating New Year’s Eve. Other times, my parents had to postpone our oshogatsu celebration until the early afternoon so that I had time to drive back from Las Vegas. Ah, the days of my youth… seems so long ago but it was only four years ago that Bebe Dada and I last celebrated New Year’s Eve together with friends in Vegas! It’s crazy how fast time flies. Anyway, regardless of the time of day, ozoni is still the first soup with which I always start the New Year. In addition to eating ozoni, we celebrate the New Year by feasting on osechi-ryori, traditional Japanese New Year’s food.

As a child, I never really cared for osechi-ryori, with the exception Continue reading

Daikon & Ninjin Sunomono (Japanese Radish & Carrot Salad) | Oshogatsu Food (Japanese New Year)

If you’ve been reading my blog the past few weeks, the good news is that my ‘foodie funk’ got a good kick in the tush this past week. The bad news is that even though I’m back to cooking more than just tacos, the more dishes I cook, the further behind I’ll be on my food posts and I’m already quite behind. I know what you’re all thinking…

My problem could easily be solved if I just posted more than one item per week! Lately, that hasn’t been very easy for me. I’m still working on Bebe E’s album (I just completed her 7 month old photos – – – yay for progress!) and what little downtime I have is spent on family, domestic responsibilities, and much needed rest and SLEEP. Priorities, priorities! We’ve also been more social than usual given the summer season and I must admit to being tired from too much ‘play time’. Yesterday we were breaking in one of the WLA girls’ new pool and we had a great time watching all the kids and little babies enjoy the water. If you’re reading this, thanks, Pocahontas and Mr. Pocahontas for having us over, and also for the lovely garden tour! :)

Anyway, when I cooked for our friend last week, I realized that my foodie funk dissipates when I cook comfort food, which is basically anything Japanese. Japanese food brings out my foodie groove. (Does that sound dorky, or what?) Thank you, Mrs. Sensei for motivating me! 

A good friend of ours happened to be visiting from Japan and joined us at a party last weekend. She is a native to the states but resides in Japan and we’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to see her at least once per year. The family made plans to have lunch with her last Tuesday and when we asked her what she would like to eat, she surprised me by telling me that she enjoys my blog and that she would like to cook with me and/or watch me cook.

Yikes! Seriously?!?

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