Friday, March 27, 2009

doggie "popcorn chicken"

I like to make crunchy treats for the dogs. I used to like to roll out the dough and cut it into shapes... but these days I'm a bit lazy, and I'd just make the dough (in the mixer) and then break it into small pieces with my hands (without even "shaping" them into balls). I'll then line the pieces up on a baking sheet, and bake them. They'd come out looking like little popcorn chicken!

homemade dog treats

I use my basic dog biscuit recipes, with occassional variations depending on what I have in hand. This time I think these were the ingredients I used:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup dry milk
garlic powder (a copule teaspoons will do)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients in the mixer to form a dough. Break the dough into small pieces with hands. Line the dough pieces on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. I usually leave the treats in the oven after the 30 minutes baking time (with oven OFF) to allow the pieces to dry completely (for better storage.)

These "popcorn chicken" treats are really, really crunchy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

kung fu jasper

kung fu jasper
Jasper is a kung fu kitty.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Takeshita-Dori: artsy

There were more inside Takeshita-Dori other than crepes and fashion, of course.

Cool sculptures and singages.

cosplay clothes
Cosplay clothing and accessories.

We did see some Cosplay girls walking inside Takeshita-Dori, but we were too shy(!) to ask them for photographs.

wall art
"Organized" graffitti on the walls of a small side street.


Monday, March 23, 2009

spring snow

I once heard the weatherman said that March was one of the wettest month in Utah, and I didn't quite think it was true.

And today it rained, and then snowed... and it's continuing doing so.

Light (but lots of it) snow on the trees in front of our house.

I guess the weatherman is probably right.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Takeshita-Dori: Crepes!

We walked back toward the Harajuku Station after visiting Meiji Shrine. We were going to Takeshita-dori.

harajuku station
Looking back at Harajuku Station across street.

Takeshita-dori is said to be one of the hottest shopping street in Tokyo. A lot of "fashion trends" were developed here. While we were there we saw a lot of Cosplay, and other fashion clothing and accessory stores.

Takeshita-dori (Takeshita street).

But we were there for the crepes. Takeshita-Dori is said to be the starting place for the "Japanese-style" crepe culture, where crepes became a popular street food in Japan.

We walked around, checked out fun shops, and then saw the super popular crepe shops! They were right across from each other.

marion crepes
There was Marion Crepes.

angels heart crepe
And there was Angels Heart Crepes.

Which one should we go with?

crepe samples
Each had so many choices!

I love these faux crepe samples. They looked so real. Awesome.

You really couldn't go wrong with either of the shops. It all came down to which ingredients you want, or which crepe sample models or photos you like.

We went with Marion.

I don't quite remember which crepes we got, but I do remember we both got dessert ones... there were also savory crepe choices, but dessert-y sounded good at the time. They were really good, the the girls making crepes were really cute, too. :)

Most Japanese people don't walk and eat, so everyone was standing by the little side street between Marion and Angels Heart and enjoying the crepes with smiles.

Friday, March 20, 2009

someone REALLY likes the blue ball

Gimme, gimme, gimme the blue ball!!!

Yama loves the squeeky blue ball. He loves to chew on it, chase it, run with it, and carrying it around.

He can do this for hours if we let him!

How big can his mouth get?

Yama REALLY, REALLY, likes the blue ball.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Meiji Shrine: a wedding

The day we went to Meiji Shrine the temperature was dropping, and the rain kept coming down, but we still saw a small wedding taking place. It looked like a fairly private wedding, where there were the bride and groom, and their close family members.

meiji shrine
I belive this is the main Meiji Shrine.

There were a couple "side halls" by the shrine, where we saw this:

japanese bride
A bride wearing a traditional wedding kimono. I think the lady next to her was her mom, helping her get ready for a photo shoot.

japanese bride
All ready!

I wish we were able to take better photos of the beautiful bride.

The bride and groom, and families. I pulled out my camera a bit too late!

I didn't know exactly what was going on, but the wedding seemed quite, and everyone looked happy.

muenster cheese added

John made his signature garlic burgers for us again, and this time there's also Muenster cheese!

john's garlic burger

I know I say this all the time, but JOHN MAKES THE BEST BURGERS! Yum yum yum.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I met a new doggie friend at the caffe recently. She's a terrier mix... with a fuzzy and small head, and a broad and solid body. Her name is Maggie. She's so cute!

Maggie smiling for camera.

You can't tell in the photos, but Maggie has rounded and beautiful green eyes. So cool. And hey, I just noticed her harness has her name on it!

Maggie says, "Nooooo! I don't want to sit still for the pics!"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Meiji Shrine: Presents to the Emperor

At Meiji Shrine we saw the many presents and offerings from people all over different regions of Japan, and overseas.



regional rice
Bags of rice.

regional vegetables
All sorts of vegetables.

regional fruits
Lots of juicy fruit.

regional fruits
Some of the apples and pears presented were huge! From what I know they were precious and super sweet and juicy.

This was the first time I saw konyaku plants.

Huge and colorful Chrysanthemum. HUGE.

There were stands after stands, piles after piles, of food and presents that were presented. They all seemed very fresh, so I suspected that they were changed out very frequently. Some of them have notes on them saying that they were grateful for an abundant year.

I wonder if the emperor's families eat all the food?

colored pepper stir-fry

I loved colored peppers. They are so yummy!

I usually like to stir-fry them with meats, and I add a little bit of sauce of some sort to it, but recently I've been stir-frying them with just a little bit of olive oil, and then season it with Hondashi, and Shichimi. Tasty.

green pepper stir-fry
Sliced pork and green peppers.

I was going to make a more colorful version of the stir-fry by using all sorts of colored pepper... but John already ate the read and orange peppers (raw) so I only had the yellow and green ones to use last night. Still really yummy.

colored pepper stir-fry
Yay for colored peppers!

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Meiji Shrine: Torii

We arrived at Harajuku Station on the rainy morning. It was wet, but I actually enjoyed the misty air all around me.

harajuku station
Umbrellas outside Harajuku Station.

We decided to go to Meiji Shrine first. We followed the signs, and turned right after exiting the station.

torii at meiji shrine
After crossing a bridge, we saw the first torii (gate to the shrines). It was so beautiful.

torii at meiji shrine

We saw many Torii(s). I believe Torii is the gate to the shrines, or sacred places. I don't quite remember how many we saw at Meiji Shrine (in terms of the whole big area,) but I loved looking and admiring every one of them.

torii at meiji shrine
Oh look at its colors... in the rain.

torii at meiji shrine
A smaller one.

torii at meiji shrine
I was very intrigued.

torii at meiji shrine

There were many torii(s) big and small at Meiji Shrine, and I was amazed by every single one of them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

afternoon tea with strawberry cheesecake

A few of us girls were talking, and we decided to have a little "afternoon tea" party at the caffe the other day.

So my friend Joanne made a strawberry cheesecake, and I provided a pot of Earl Grey. It was so much fun!

strawberry cheesecake
The strawberries are on the top!

strawberry cheesecake

afternoon tea
Our simple, and happy little afternoon tea!

We've gotta do this more often!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

sweet azuki and pearl barley soup

Growing up we almost always have a pot of sweet soup in the fridge at home. My mom likes to use azuki beans in these sweet soups, with other fruit and/or grains.

I didn't particularly love these soups when I was younger. They didn't taste bad at all, but beans, grains, and fruits all together didn't always sound appetizing to me. My mom normally had to make me eat it.

Anyhow, as I grew older I started enjoying these soups more. I was actually craving a serving of azuki and Asian pearl barley soup the other day! I got a small bag of azuki beans, and a bag of Asian Pearl Barley from the Asian store and made a batch. My mom is going to be so impressed when she knows about this.

azuki pearl barley soup

I think my mom makes this azuki and Asian pearl barley soup in a pressure cooker, but I used my slow cooker instead. Here what I did:

I soaked 1/2 cup each of the azuki beans and Asian pearl barley in water for a few hours. From what I know 2 hours would have been all right. I then placed them in the slow cooker, 6 cups of water (bean/grain:water = 1:6), and cook it on low overnight (approx. 8 hours) and it was done! I then added some white rock sugar to it to taste.*

OK here's what I know about *adding sugar to the soup:

1) NEVER add the sugar or sweetner to the soup until the beans and grains were throughly cooked (where the beans will "open up".)

2) Rock sugar is cool, but it doesn't quite sweeten the soup enough unless you put a lot of it in. I've found that I like to use rock sugar when I make soy sauce stews, but not in a sweet bean soup like this. I only put in about 1/2 cup... it didn't taste sweet at all, but since I didn't know how much I was supposed to put in to "sweeten" the soup, I gave up. Instead, I left the cooked soup as is, and then just add some sugar (or splenda) or honey in the individual serving bowl to taste. It seems to work better this way for me.

This soup can be served hot or chilled. I like my chilled and sweet. I'm also thinking it may be good with some cream as well, but I have yet to try it. The azuki beans and Asian pearl barley together are said to improve "blood flow" and circulation. Pretty neat-o.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I was going to send a regular-sized letter to my mom (out of the country,) and since I haven't mailed a "real" letter for a long time, I figured I'd check the USPS web site first for its rate. It's 94 cents right now... I don't remember exactly how long it has been, but last time I mailed an international letter it cost me 80 cents.

I started working at the post office at the University when I started college. Back then a regular letter / first class mail was 32 cents, and not too long after the postage was increased to 33 cents... It seemed so long-time-ago!

Back then I was sending a lot of letters and handmade cards to my friends, too! Ahhh... it was so much fun.

I believe the international regular letter would cost 60 cents to mail at that time... and then it went up to 80 cents not too long after. (I think... it's been so long!)

With that being said, USPS is changing the mailing prices again on May 11th this year. A domestic first class letter (under 1 ounce) will be 44 cents, and an international letter (under 1 ounce) will be 98 cents. We've got to have some of the penny stamps ready!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I've noticed it's necessary to monitor who leaves me comments and messages... so in the interest of responding to real comments from real people, I'm now only allowing non-anonymous comments!

Thanks you. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

a sense of entitlement?

Sometimes we get happy messages from happy people who come to the shop, and we love and appreciate it! It has also happened more than once, sad to say, when someone complains about me, or John, or our shop in general, via email, or through a more public place such as myspace.

These few people complains about how rude we are (and I'll explain why,) and how much they wished our business would fail.

There have been occasions when a person comes into the shop, finds a table, sets down his backpack, pulls out his water bottle, plugging in his laptop, and starts surfing online, or typing his term paper.

We wait by the register for him to come and order, and the person does not even look up from his screen.

We ask what we can make for him, and he says, "Oh, I'm OK. Don't need anything right now."

Then we'd say things like, "Hey, if you're staying, we'll need you to make a purchase."

He may stand up and get something, but other times he'd reply, "There are other coffee shops you know. I just don't want anything. You are asking me to leave?"

We say, "Yes, we'll need you to order if you'd like to say."

The person gets angry and leaves.

Really? Coming to a coffee shop, not purchasing anything, to just using the laptop (or reading the magazines, or going to the bathroom, or hanging out,) and thinking it's OK?

After he leaves, he finds our email or myspace page and sends messages to tell us how rude and bad we are, how much we suck, and how much he wishes that the shop fails.

It doesn't make sense. We're a small local business that's making a living by offering great products, and SELLING them. People don't go into a restaurant, a bakery, or a bar, to just sit down, relax, and not make an order, or go watch a movie in the theater without paying... why do they think it's OK to do it at a little coffee shop?

When a person stays without buying anything, but uses our space, electricity, and heater or a/c, he is ripping us off, and he is also ripping off all of our customers. He is a coffee shop leech!

We enjoy making the perfect cup for those who appreciate it and supports us. We love having friends, families, and customers in the shop, where we share coffee and tea ideas and talk over a serious brew. When a person doesn't respect us or our family and friends, he will get thrown out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

tofu knots and chicken

I may have said this too many times, but I love my slow cooker! It's so convenient to use, and the food (almost) always comes out perfect.

Sometimes I use different spices and ingredients to flavor the food I'm cooking, and other times I use ready-made sauces just because it's super easy to do.

I made some "tofu knots" with chicken thighs in my slow cooker the other day with Lee Kum Kee's Korean Barbeque Sauce. They are so delicious!

"Tofu knots" are made of tofu skin, and tied into knots. They usually come in dry form, and you just have to soak it in water for a couple minutes before using them.

tofu knots

I place 6-8 chicken thighs and soaked tofu knots in the slow cooker, pour in about 1/2 cup of the Korean Barbeque Sauce, 1/4 cup sesame oil, 2 chopped green onions, and enough water to cover most of the food ingredients. That's it! Cook the food on high for about 4 hours and the chicken and tofu knots are ready to go on rice. I also use the cooked sauce for noodles. Yumminess.

I *heart* slow cookers.

Monday, March 09, 2009

garlic burgers

I think John makes the best garlic burgers ever.

garlic burgers
They seem simple, yet very flavorful and delicious. Super yumminess!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

the cat that wears a boot

Jasper went to the vet a couple weeks ago for his teeth. He had a bandage on, which he hated, and we removed it a few days later... and underneath was just his skinny little leg! I think the vet had to shave part of his leg for the IVs.

Jasper was a lot happier after we removed the bandage... but until today the hair has not completely grown back.

It looks like Jasper is wearing a boot on his front left leg!


The boot looks tiny, and sometimes Jasper's leg looks funny, too.

Jasper's naked leg looks so small!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] Ikebukuro: Kohmen Ramen

There were many wonderful ramen shops in Ikebukuro, and we tried to go to a few of them while in Tokyo.

On our way to Mutekiya Ramen the first night we were in Tokyo, we saw Kohmen, where I had read about it being a top ramen shop as well.

The shop was fairly close to our hotel, so when we were wanting ramen again, off we went.

Kohmen, Ikebukuro.

It was raining and a bit chilly that day, but who cares, we were going to have hot and yummy ramen.

People eating ramen at the counter.

The space was long and skinny, where we had to stand and wait behind the customers eating at the counter. No big deal. A lot of ramen shops were actually designed this way for efficiency, where the chefs could cook the ramen, and serve it to the customers across the counter right away. Plus if there's anyone waiting in line, those who are eating tend to not take too long to finish their noodles and soup, hence you get people in and out of the store quicker.

It actually didn't take too long before we were seated. My constant stares at the eating customers worked.

komen menu
Now what should I get?

kohmen chefs
The Kohmen chefs.

I belive the guy on the left was the head chef. He was in charge of the soup stock and finishing "plating" before handing it to the customers. He was also helping the other guys with their stations and checking the noodles.

John got their Original Ramen.

The Original Ramen has soy sauce-based stock, while their "developed" ramen has a pork-bone based soup stock. I got the "developed" kind... but somehow the photo didn't turn out.

The plate of yummy "toppings" that came with the ramen.

You could order the ramen by itself, which had basic char-shu (grilled pork), seasoned bamboo shoots, and other vegetables, but if you ordered a "set," then you'd also get a plate full of "toppings" that go with the ramen soup.

The chefs were pretty serious, but when John and I smiled at them and said the ramen was oishii (yummy), they smiled back and thanked us and said bunch of other words that we didn't understand.

Ahhh I want ramen!