pretty in pink vegan

pretty in pink vegan

Friday, May 23, 2014

Japanese Vending Machine

Before I left for Japan I was told about these machines that dispense anything your heart could desire. Everything from food, drinks ice cream etc but then I was informed that you could even get panties from the vending machine! I was determined to find this magical machine so every time I hit the streets of Japan I peeked in every vending machine I saw and let me tell you there were a lot. Before I arrived I did not understand why the Japanese needed so many machines but after hitting the streets via foot and bike I realized why. All that walking and making makes you thirsty.

My first drink in Japan did not come from a vending machine it was given to my by my host Lisa at 6:30 am on my first morning in the city. To be far my body thought it was about 4pm so I wasn't drinking that early and crazy enough it was only one of the two glasses of booze I had the whole trip.

My next drink came when I went to the onsen and because I was fighting a sore throat I was trying to load up on as much vitamin C as I could get my hands on. This one was just like a sparkling lemonade but the crazy thing about Japanese drinks is the calorie and sugar content. It is next to none. Out of all the drinks I had I think the highest calorie count was 71 and that was for 16 oz drinks. 

My next drink came during the battle
 of the trains. To get to the train station from my house it was about a 20/30 minute walk. That is not a crazy long walk but let me tell you when you get done with all the uphill and stairs and dodging little old ladies on bikes you work up a thirst so before I got on the train I grabbed a Match Pink. It was a semi fizzy drink with the hint of grapefruit favor.

I couldn't tell you where I was when I grabbed this little beauty but from the flooring I assume I was at another train station. This was by far my favorite drink. I was aiming for water but because I can't read Japanese I attempted to pick the most water looking bottle and ended up with MIU. It is a water based drink but it has a fruit flavoring to it. Not like the nasty flavored waters we have in the states but this was refreshing and very fruity. The bottle was amazing too because it was semi twisted where you grip it to make holding it easier.

So the next day I tried again on my quest for a simple bottle of water and yet again I failed. It was like playing vending machine roulette and every time I was a winner. I ended up having the Green Da Ka Ra twice because it was so good. I'm not sure if it was vegan or not because it has picture of honey on the label along with a lot of other healthy foods. Vegan or not this drink made the cold I was battling so much easier to deal with. I could taste the aloe, lemon, orange and a hint of honey it. It was almost water. 

My final drinks came at the airport and lucky for me they were under 3 oz so I could take them on the plane. Yes I brought a fiber drink. It is my secret shame. Cassi can not poop while on vacation or while out of town. I don't know why but my body just shuts down. After 6 days in Japan I was willing to drink whatever I could to make myself go. Now my flight home was 23 hours so there was no way I was drinking this on the plane because it would be just my luck that it worked....well. So I saved it til I got home and FYI this drink works fast and it even tasted good. 

I picked this little baby up for my little baby so that he could see what Coke is like in Japan. Yes this was not coke, it was some type of grapefruit flavored soda that my son reluctantly  shared. If it were me I wouldn't have shared either it was really good.

Now I was told about these machines that sold panties ans I did find one but I was not able to get a picture because it was in the onsen and phone where not allowed of course. I was tempted to buy them but they were 550 Yen and they were granny panties. Pass. Maybe on the next trip I will find that magical machine and it will have cute undies.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eating and Sleeping In Japan

Sorry for such the big delay with posting but once I returned from Japan jet lag kicked my ass. I was having trouble staying awake let alone having a clear enough head to blog about my adventure. I am finally back on track so now I have a lot of catching up to do.
Going to Japan I had a few options on where to stay and since I was going alone I kinda wanted to go somewhere that I would be able to meet new people and maybe hang out with them. I knew that a hotel was out because I didn't want to be in that type of settling. So a co worker told me about the site Airbnb. He used it a few times when he traveled out of town and had positive experience so I decided to give it a try as well. There were a ton of places for me to choose from but after narrowing my selections down I settled on sharing a house verses staying by myself. When I saw this listing I fell in love. There is a beautiful rooftop that gave a view of the neighborhood, the kitchen was was totes cute and it even had a pink toilet!!! What really sold me on the listing was the host Lisa she is the nicest, warmest stranger I have ever met. Before I even booked she was happy to answer all of my questions and even give me advice before I got there. It was also a bonus that she was spoke English.

Along with giving me advice about the area and making sure I knew how to catch the train Lisa was nice enough to cook a few vegan meals for me so that I would not feel excluded from the nightly dinners. Along with Lisa there were 3 other guests in the house. Even with the large number it did not feel the least bit cramped. On my first full day in Japan Lisa made this wonderful rice salad. It was loaded with rice, lettuce, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, kidney beans, pine nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds. Sadly I did not get to enjoy it that night because I started to come down with something shortly after landing in Japan but lucky for me she made a huge salad and I was able to try it the next night and it was amazing. I will be making this at home. There were also a ton of dressing to choose from and lucky for me they were all vegan but I did have to get Lisa to tell me what was what. 

On my second night in Japan the rest of the house had steaks and left over rice salad but again Lisa was nice enough to whip up so Chickpea Masala. My appetite was back so I got to eat dinner. 

When I was gearing up for my trip I was making a list of things I wanted to do while in Japan and one of the things that was on the top of my list was go to a grocery store. Lame I know but I am one of those rare people that love going to the grocery store. On my walk to the train station I would pass this semi open air market and after my day in Kyoto I stopped by. Sadly It was close to closing so they were packing food up but I was able to grab a few things to make dinner. I loved the fact that this market actually packed up all the fresh fruits and veggies each night instead of letting them stay out. Also anything that pre-made or pre-cut went for 50% off after a certain time. That's how I was able to get sushi for 150 Yen. ( A buck fifty American dollars) That is unheard of!

For dinner I decided on a stir fry. The food is Japan is so much cheaper. I was able to get mushrooms for a buck, bean sprouts for 39 cents and wait for it tofu for 59 cents!! It is madness I tell you. The fried tofu over there is so much better than the crap I buy here, it really hurts my soul.

I loved the tofu so much that I went back to the market the next day and since I went a bit earlier I was able to walk around the market to see what they had to offer. Of course very few things were in English but I had my nifty I am vegan card with me so when I saw a product I wasn't sure about I asked for help. Sadly all the things I picked up had fish or milk in them. Never fear I brought more of my bargain tofu and since my fruit intake was a bit low I wanted to see what Japanese watermelon would taste like. FYI its tastes just like American watermelon. I was slightly disappointed. 

I didn't do as much eating out as I thought I would in Japan but even without eating out I don't feel like I missed out because I was able to cook with fresh Japanese ingredients and to me nothing gets better than that. I really want to email Lisa and ask her to FedEx me some tofu so I can show people what it is really suppose to taste like. Now if you are ever in the Osaka/Kyoto area and are looking for a home away from home, check out Lisa's listing, You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Times Two

Since I'm here in Japan where everything is a day ahead, I decided to celebrate Mother's Day twice! Why not its my day.So one Mother's day in Japan I got dressed in my cute panda tea and set my sights on finding a coffee shop that my guy friends told me was in the area. Well now he owes me coffee because I did not find said coffee shop. Of course I didn't give up, it was my day and I was going to find coffee. It was a Sunday morning and it seems like everything in the area was closed so I headed for a Shell station. Gas stations have coffee right, nope. This gas station only have gas but the attendant was nice enough to draw me a map to the 7/11. Now of course the 7/11 would have coffee, it would be gas station coffee but coffee none the less. Well if they had coffee I didn't see it because I was taken aback by the amount of prepared foods they had. Most of the dishes we meat based but I was lucky enough to find a few vegan options . I settled on the soba noodle, kimchi and oj. Yes I know orange juice and kimchi don't go together but it seemed that with all the travel I have caught a cold and I am trying to load up on as much vitamin C as possible. 

What I loved most about my Mother's Day breakfast was the price. I got all that food for 600 yen!! That's 6 bucks US money. Now way I got that at home.

When I opened my noodle container I was a little nervous because it contained extra packages that of course were not in English but no worries I whipped out my Google translate app and took a pic. I told me what each package was. The very small one is grate wasabi, nori strips, the clear package translated to noodle loosen water and of course the big brown package was soy sauce. I'm sure these noodles were meant to be eaten cold but I nuked em because I don't like cold food. 

I also found out why the Japanese culture is so thin. They bike EVERYWHERE. So when in Rome or in my case Japan you bike. My next stop later in the day for to the onsen. My host Lisa was nice enough to loan me one of her bikes to get to the onsen. It was about a 20 minute bike ride but because I got lost twice it took me more like 30 or 45 minutes but I found it. For those that don't know an onsen is a Japanese Bath house. There are a bunch of mineral pools set at different temps that you get into....naked. Yep Cassi stripped naked in broad daylight among a bunch of strangers. I decided before I came that I was going to go to the onsen to try to get over my body image issues. Sadly I only lasted about 30 minutes. Being naked is just not my cup of tea but hey at least I did it. 

It is meant to spend a great deal of time at the onsen so there is a cafe so that in between or after baths you can eat. Now this was my favorite part of the onsen. So far my favorite part of Japan is the vending machines! Anything you can think to drink are in these machines. I decided on  a sparkling lemonaide. It says it contains the vitamin C of 50 lemons.

Ordering food in Japan is very hard if you can't speak Japanese and even harder if you are vegan but no worries I printed of a few "I am vegan" flash cards to take with me. So my meal was a total surprise. I was served tofu with grated ginger and green onions, pickled ginger, miso soup, a green salad and of course rice. I have never in my life eaten just block of silken tofu but eating it with the pickled ginger and grated ginger it was pretty decent. Not my favorite way to eat tofu but hey I'm here to try and see new things. 

The onsen also had very small gift shop and look at what I discovered. PINK NOODLES!!! Keithon will hate this but I love it. My host Lisa told me that these are spring time noodles so they are meant to be eaten cold. I can't wait to get home and create a recipe for these.

Now on Monday Japan Time and Sunday American Time I ventured out to Osaka with another housemate because there was no way that I was getting lost on the train. Even better for me he had portable wifi so we had Internet the whole trip. So between the wifi and his Ipad we didn't get to turned around. The most confusing thing for us was buying train tickets. Its like trying to answer a math word problem. You have to decide where you want to go, when you want to get there and what train you need to catch and then you give the machine the matching amount of money and it spits out a tickets that you insert into the turn stall.  We brought quite a few tickets, sometimes the turn stall gave them back and sometimes it kept them. It was very confusing. 

Our first stop was The Instant Ramen Museum. I have been dying to go here since Bianca told me about this magical place. I won't mention anything else because I am saving it for a blog post all its own. It is that special.

After we left the museum we passed the cute little bakery and I assumed that by the title that it may be s vegan bakery. No such luck but they did have the most adorably teas and since I troubled the woman so much with the vegan questions I had to buy them. They are all themed based on what they do. I can't wait to get home to try them.

Since we spent most of the day riding trains and sightseeing we forgot to eat lunch so once we got to our final train station we went on the hunt for food. The train stations are like malls here. It is amazing. Had I been alone I'm sure I would have spent way too much time shopping. Micheal was craving sushi and that was fine with me because I was sure that I would be able to find some type of veggie roll. Again I whipped out my vegan flash card and the server brought us a American menu. I order the pickled veggie radish and a cucumber roll. It was all they had on the menu. Instead of putting the wasabi on the plate it is already inside the roll. I'll have to start ordering like this when I get home.

Sadly I ran out of chap stick while we were out so I asked Micheal if we could stop at the convenience store inside the station so I could pic up more. Lucky for me the lady at the counter spoke perfect English and she even helped me find some bath salts to try to get rid of whatever this madness is that I can't shake. (yes I know one of them says honey but I don't like to take drugs, I am overseas and beggars can't be choosy) As soon as I finish blogging I am going to a soak. 

Aside from the Ramen museum my favorite part of the day was our trip to the 100 yen store! 100 yen is equal to 1 US dollar so this was a dollar tree. Again had I been alone this could have been a problem. THEY HAVE EVERYTHING!! I wanted to grab so much more stuff but I was sharing the day and it was cold and rainy so I only grabbed a few things for Keithon and myself. I am so excited to wear my panda socks.

I'm not sure what tomorrow holds but I know it will be just as exciting as today because everything thing is new. And before I leave Japan I am going to find that vending machine that has panties!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Japan Bound

Twenty four traveling hours and 3 plane changes later I have arrived in Japan!! This by far was the most taxing trip I have ever taken and at one point I started beating myself in the face with my neck rest because I just wanted off of the plane. I left Memphis at 8:19am Friday morning and FINAL  arrived in Osaka at 10:30pm My plane was suppose to land at 8pm but there was a delay so I was "stuck" in Hawaii for a few hours. Trust me I didn't mind Hawaii is the most beautiful airport I have ever seen It is almost completely open air. The breeze and fresh air was much needed after being on a plane for a million hours.
 Now of course on the plane they feed you and being the smart cookie that I am I pre ordered my vegan meals ahead of time. I thought that my second flight was going to have a meal service but it seems that it was just a typo so I needed to order something to eat or I would have harmed someone. So I ordered a Tapas selection they had. ( it was the only vegan thing on the mini menu) It was loaded with pita chips, hummus, burshetta, apricots, almonds, olives, crackers, cookies and a dark chocolate. ( the lemon cookies weren't vegan so I didn't eat them)  The back of the box tell you what's vegan and what's not. It says that the dark chocolate is not vegan but the label didn't have any animal products on it so I ate it.

Now like I said before I was suppose to land in Osaka at 8pm but there was delay in Hawaii and for some reason my assigned seat was no longer mine so the desk clerk gave me a new seat. Sadly it was an aisle so I asked her very nicely if I could have a window seat because I wanted to lay against the window and sleep. My guy friend kept me up 24 hours prior to my flight to get my body adjusted to Japan time but I still couldnt' fall asleep. I did doze off one good time but I did the church nod and woke myself up and no more sleep was had.  I am so glad that the clerk gave me a window seat because it was not just any window seat it was a window seat in Economy Comfort.!! That is one step behind 1st class and this diva was in love!!! I have to upgrade me flight on the way back. I just can't go back to coach lol. Economy Comfort gives you all type of perks. I had a bigger, seat my own private TV, a sleep mask and ear plugs, I could charge my phone and wait for it  EXTRA FOOD!! I LOVED the TV option, even though I don't watch much TV I was excited that I could watch Top Chef!!! Mama loves her cooking shows and since I cut off the cable a few years ago I haven't been able to watch it. 

In Economy Comfort they also give you a schedule of the meal service for the flight. This worried because the menu was Asian themed and filled with meat. This made me sad because I thought that I would not be able to eat but I guess I dozed off and the food fairy came and delivered the vegan meal I requested weeks ago. At first I was put off but the pattie in the middle because I had no clue what the hell it was but if you know me you know I sniff my food before I eat it. Weird habit I know but its what makes me me. It turns out the black and gray patty was some type of black bean pattie. It was actually pretty good too. There was also spinach and tomatoes, a salad, steamed carrots, Hawaiian water and fruit. I passed on the bread because I was pretty sure the bread was not vegan. For airplane food it was actually pretty good. I was shocked.

I managed to doze off again and when I woke up the food fairy delivered a vegan snack for me!! Again looking at the menu they give you the snack was suppose to be a sandwich and cake but I guess because I ordered the vegan dinner they put two and two together. My lovely snack included OJ, a banana, a bagel with jam and a granola bar. Yes I know it says honey and vegans are not suppose to have honey but we also aren't suppose to waste resources either and I already trashed the cookies so the bar stays. I haven't eaten it yet so I will back it along with the almonds in my bag for tomorrow as snacks while I'm  out seeing the sights. Economy Comfort also allows you free booze but my nose and throat started acting up on the second flight so I stuck to OJ and green tea to try to knock out whatever is going on. The last thing I need is to be sick. 

Its already Sunday here so for mother's day I am going to take myself to the Onsen and to get my flaming bowl of ramen!! It is ramen that has been set on fire!!! Check out the pre flight pic of me when I put on the silly sleep neck thingy. I posted it to my facebook page that it made me look fat. And Keithon Bryce if you are reading I love you booger bat!!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

The Warming Of The Home

After what seemed to be a never ending battle with an Internet provider I now have Internet access in my new home!! I know I am a ton of post behind and my phone is filled with so many meals I can't wait to share. I also leave for Japan this Friday so to catch up I will be posting backwards to get you all caught up on the food madness that has been my life for the past week. For those that don't remember two weeks ago I moved into my new home, that was the reason for the lack of Internet, and last night I threw a house warming so my friends could check out my new space. The weather has FINALLY decided to warm up and stay that way so I threw a cookout themed party.

I have never grilled out alone but hey how hard could it be right. You start a fire and throw the food on the grill. Now please excuse the lack of pictures between grilling, hosting and drinking I forgot to snap quite a few of my menu items. For the grilling portion of the meal. I foil roasted whole ears of corn with garlic butter, rosemary potatoes, chili and soy marinaded mushrooms, Kroger's Meatless Burger Patties and Smart Life Veggie Dogs.

The night before the party I made a pasta salad from my cookbook. I always make pasta salad the night before a party because it gives it gives the pasta time to soak up all the spices. There was also a spread of chips with Wholly Salsa guacamole. ( I do take short cuts from time to time) 

My favorite cousin Christy came down from St Louis and with her she brought are fondue fountain machine. No party is complete with dessert and I honesty did not have one in mind so this ALMOST worked out perfectly. I went to Mary Carter's to get the dark chocolate that I use to make my candies and the lady instructed me to cut it with vegetable shortening so that it would flow through the fondue fountain. Well let's just say that did NOT work and me being the stubborn person that I am did EVERYTHING in my power to get it to flow. Even to the point of taking it apart while it was still on. Yeah it started to spin and it threw chocolate all over my beautiful new kitchen. You would think I would give up after that but remember I'm stubborn. Sadly I could not get the chocolate thin enough to keep flowing so I put water in my mini crock pot and placed the bowl of chocolate on top. It wasn't a chocolate fountain but it was still chocolate and my friends dipped away. 

Now of course a party is not a party with out booze and I had a ton of beer gifted to me by a friends. My friend Lana suggested that I fill my washer up with ice and place the drinks in but I when I was at Family Dollar picking up a few odds and ends for the party I spotted a pool not just any pool but a PINK pool!! I had to have this. So I had Keithon fill it with a bit of water and Amy threw in 2 bags of ice and Ta-Da instant diva cooler. No fishing around for your favorite beverage. I also made this amazing punch that I forgot to take a picture of. I will make this for all of my parties. I poured in a bottle of champagne, a bottle of Ginger Ale a pint of Brandy and some frozen pineapples, strawberries and honeydew and topped it with fresh orange slices. This punch was amazing!! Next time I promise to take a picture of it. 

My friends never fail to amaze me. I did a registry at Target for a few odds and ends that I discovered that through the years I just neglected to buy or the ones I had needed to be replaced badly. I honestly didn't expect any gifts but my friends went above and beyond. I spent all morning putting up my new "toys" and posting pics to Facebook and Instagram. I now have a ton of brand new cooking tools that I can't wait to use!! The kitchen in my new home is by far my favorite room. 

I am not completely settled in my new home, my closet is a mess and now soon to be office is being used as storage until I get back from Japan. I leave Friday and my nerves are starting to get the best of me. All in all my house now feels like a home and I had a great time hanging out with my friends. That is my cousin taking a picture of me talking a picture of the group. Sadly I may never get the picture she took because  she dropped her phone in water at the party. I put it in a bag of rice so here's to hopping it comes back on.