Monday, February 28, 2011

More Momiji Syrup

Well, I have been busy boiling down the sap from the Japanese Maple tree, and I now have almost 50ml of syrup. It is really, really tasty. Not much like the maple syrup back home, but more like a hazelnut syrup.

And I played a good joke on my friend Ken. Every morning, we meet up for the carpool. I took the jar and a spoon, and when I saw him, I said "Hey Ken, what do you think?" and gave him a small taste from the spoon. When he tasted it, I said "So, do you think that means I have diabetes?" (In Japanese, the word for diabetes is "To-nyo-byo" or literally "Sweet urine disease")

You should have seen the look on his face- priceless.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Japanese Maple Syrup

I love maple syrup. But the price of it gives me some serious sticker shock. We could buy artificial flavor, indeed, we have in the past. But I just feel safer with something natural.
When I was a boy, my Grandfather tapped some local sugar maple trees one year and made some syrup. I wished that I had planted some sugar maples years ago, and went on wishing for syrup.
Then it struck me- my house is surrounded by Momiji- Japanese maples. Some of them two feet in diameter... So I decided to give it a try this year. I cut some bamboo pipes, cut a small flap in the top of a large plastic soda bottle, and bored a hole near the base of a momiji. Sure enough, out came a steady drip drip drip of sap. I tapped in the pipe, fastened a screw above the hole to hold the bottle on, and let it flow. In about 2 hours, it had about 400ml of sap! How about that!?! It was clear as water, and smelled a bit like watermelons. I brought it back to the house, put it in a pot on the stove, and boiled it down. I ended up with about 10ml of momiji syrup. It was fantastic! Sweet, and nutty- kind of tasted like hazelnuts.
Then I took the baby upstairs to put him to bed. While I was upstairs, MY WIFE THREW OUT THE SYRUP IN THE MEASURING CUP!!!!!
To be fair, it didn't look like much, and she didn't know it was syrup. Was still a heck of a shock though.

Onsen = Hot Spring = Heavenly

A couple of weeks ago, our friend John came to visit, so we decided to go to the onsen near our house. "Shika-no-Yu." lit. "Hot Water of Deer." Hmm... maybe that explains the color.. just kidding. It is a nice little onsen in Kita-Ibaraki city.

The tile mural in the bath. Love those stained glass dormers

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Potatoes are planted!

With the help(?) of my youngest, I got 60 chitted potato cuttings into the garden, on top of a generous helping of two year old leaf mould. Whew. Next up, sunflowers!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How did they do that?

Well, it isn't art, but you get the picture

Well, those of you with goats probably have dealt with this problem.
They are idiots.

What do you do when your wife calls you at work, out of breath, saying "Help! I don't know what to do! The goats are making funny "EEEHHHHhoooOOO" sounds, and they are collapsed on the ground!"

Well, I tell you what I did- I canceled my class, had my wife pick me up (since it takes 45 min on a bike, but only 15 by car) and I turned my handy dandy 500W halogen lamp on the problem. Oh, nothing too special. One of the goats, Yo, just got HIS RIGHT FRONT LEG WEDGED INTO SATO'S LEFT HORN! How the heck do they do that? I mean, really, it is just weird. The leg folded up and was caught in the curl. Sato was freaking out about the pressure and having his giant goat brother pushing his head into the dirt, and Yo was freaking out that Sato was busy trying to dislocate his front leg.

I finally managed to push down on Sato's head while pushing up on Yo's knee, after arranging the hoof so it wouldn't catch on the other horn. Then it slid free, and both goats assumed their urination positions and peed for about 5 minutes straight. Afterward, Yo was able to walk freely, and Sato... well we love Sato.

There was a small good thing about all this. I could see I need to trim Yo's hooves.

Goats. Whatcha gonna do?