Archives for September, 2011

Shopping smart for groceries

 In the previous entry titled “Cooking smart“, I wrote some of my personal rules for cooking along with things I have learned from my mother to cook efficiently.

 At our house, number one thing we spend most on is the food. Then, depending on how much we have spent on food, sometimes it determine what other things we can spend on.

 It is impossible to cut back big amount on legitimate bills, but you can cut back much bigger on food cost. Even if $10 per week of saving, when you think about it, if you cut back $10 per week for a year, you will be saving about $520 and it is huge.

 I realize that how you shop,when you shop, how you plan your meals etc can make a big difference on your grocery bill and I thought I would write about tips on smart shopping and share it with you.

 First of all, back home in Japan, our parents go through weekly advertisement and look for things on sale and, often times, there are a couple of stores.We usually go there in the morning and buy things on sales plus things that are low in stock, which we keep as staple in our pantry.

 We barely buy processed food.

 Then, my mother look at things we bought on sales and decide what to make for the week.

 I think that is one way to shop and plan meals for the week.

 I myself have different strategy to hers.

How we shop for grocery for the week..

 At about end of the week, I look through fridge, freezer and pantry and see what we have on hand and based on what we already have on hand, I plan weekly menu.

 At the same time, I check if there are anything low in stock among staple items such as sugar, chicken/beef broth, flour etc.. and if I found something low in stock, I will add that to my grocery list.

Plan the weekly meals ahead of times

 Planning weekly menu ahead of time has some advantages.

1. You will buy only what you would use for the week

** Without the grocery list from weekly menu plan, you are more likely to impulse buying. Plan your weekly menu and stick to your grocery list.

** Since you know what you would need for the week, time to spend at the grocery store will be less

2. You can see what you will be eating for the week, and you can adjust meal plans for balanced/variety of protein source meals with more vegetables on the plate. This also means that you can eat better.

** I aim to cook with various protein source throughout the week

** I aim to cook seafood at least once a week

** I aim to not cooking fatty dishes too much throughout the week

** I aim to cook good amount of vegetable on the each menu

3. Since you will be planning weekly menu, you know what you will be cooking and you do not have to think hard what to cook next.

Using the leftover dish for next meal..

Sometimes in the week, I occasionally have day that I have leftover from previous day.

 When that happen, depending on what it is, I make the new meal with leftover. For example, if we had some beef and pepper steak ;Chinjao ro su leftover, since it is hard to change the flavor in the sauce, I will add more vegetables and cook pasta and serve it as pasta dish or roll the dish without rice up with Gyoza wrapper (or Wanton wrapper or egg roll wrapper) and freeze them so we can have them for later as quick side dish.

 Sometimes, depending on how creative you can be, you can make the old dish with big make over and you can serve it as different menu.

 That means, if it happened once in the week, one menu can roll over to the next week and you can have less menu to plan for the next week.

Freezing food..

 When I make meatball, burger patties, Gyoza dumpling (Pot stickers) etc.., I always make big batch and freeze some of the batch so I can have them to cook quickly.

 When I make bread, pizza etc… I freeze them too for later use.

 Having those in the freezer comes handy for quick cooking. Plus if you know you have meatball ready to go to oven to cook to serve, it will save your grocery bill too as a result.

 Block of hard cheese, peeled ginger are great ones to keep in the freezer too.

 If you do canning, preserving food by canning/dehydrating foods during the produce’s peak seasons is another way to save money on grocery bills.

Knowing how much you would spend on your grocery..

 It is always good idea to have rough ideas as to how much you actually are spending on the grocery bills. If you know the rough estimate for the month, you can budget for grocery and try not to spend over the budget limit.

 To get rough ideas of how much you would spend is easy. Just collect receipts from grocery stores for a month or two and, add the total cost for the month.

 In Japan, many people use cash to pay for almost everything and, credit card there are for emergency use.

 Therefore, we have rough ideas how much we have on hand.

 In the states, many people does not carry cash to pay for things and pay with credit cards at cashier place. So, they really have no chance to visually see the currency in their wallet and unless you have budget book or collect receipts to see how much they really are spending on many things, it is hard to grasp how much they spend on what.

Eat before you shop..

 Have you had time buying things that were not on your grocery list just because the delicious smell of baked goods whispered to you “Pick me!Pick me!”?

 I find that if you had meals before the grocery shopping, less likely to buy things that are not on your grocery shopping list. So, have meal before the grocery shopping time.

Make your own with fresh food..

 Convenient pre-made/ready to eat food are very expensive plus since things like boxed frozen food are highly processed, they are not good for your health.

 Make your own with fresh ingredients. That way, it is cheaper,tastier and less fillers in your system and better for you.

 Every grocery store has rotisserie chicken and, it is convenient to have already cooked bird,but it is very expensive.

 Rotisserie chicken at our grocery store cost  about $5, but if I buy a whole chicken to roast them, I can buy them under a dollar per pound and much cheaper that way.

 It goes same with pre-made burger patties. Make your own patties. If you make your own burger patties, it is cheaper,tastier and you can add your own flavor to it and be creative with it.

 With burger patties, I like to buy hunk of meat and grind it myself.

 Also, when you plan bean dishes, try buying dry beans,and cook beans on your own.

 Dry beans are cheap and you will get more for cost and, texture,creaminess are different when you make on your own plus you can control sodium intake this way,too.

<Cooking beans on your own>

 I often use the
crockpot to cook the soaked dry beans and,it makes tender,creamy beans.
Its taste is superior than the beans from a can. Not only that, canned
beans are high in salt, and if you cook the bean on your own,you can
adjust sodium. Plus, dry beans are quite cheap and, you will be paying
less this way for the same amount of beans you get from a can.

1. Wash beans under running water in sieve

2. Pour the dry beans to bowl and pour water to about 1″ or so depth more than beans

3. Soak the beans with water in the fridge over night in the bowl, but make sure to change the water about every couple of hours

Next day, drain the beans and beans should be a bit bigger in size, and
bigger volume in the bowl. Put the drained beans onto crockpot, add
water to about 1.5″ depth from bean and add pinch of kosher salt and set
temperature high and cover the lid, cook for 2 hours. You should have
creamy tasty beans.

 Another things to skip are cut-up fruits and pre packaged salad bag. Very expensive if you compared to cut-up/make on your own

 I also do not buy packaged green/red peppers. It is because I cannot feel the skin of the peppers and I am not sure how fresh/old and wrinkly feel they are.
Buy produce in season..

 Often times, produce in peak season is best buy because they will be much cheaper than any other seasons in a year.

 Often times, meat products are the one that eats big on your grocery bill but you can change that by buying differently.

 Buy meats when they are in season; BBQ season (summer) is great time to stock up BBQ products such as pork ribs and AFTER Thanksgiving day is great time to stock up Turkey.

 Stores want to sell as much Turkey as possible after Thanks giving day, it is great time to stock up.

 If you have big freezer space, since you will have ability to buy in bulk and store,it will save you more.

Not all coupons are good ones to use..

 Coupons are good. It saves money for you and help bringing down the food cost even a little.

 However, are they all good? For me, it all depends on which coupons I am talking about.

 Non food item coupons such as toilet papers, paper towels, shampoo, and other cosmetic or health care coupon are all good helper to save money especially if you use them when they are on sale. It maximize the saving and great value to buy them.

 Food item coupons are different story.

 Every Sunday, I find coupon book in between newspaper and I do clip them but I don’t use many food item coupons. Food item coupons I use are limited;flours,dry yeast,nuts etc…

 Reason why is that many food item coupons in the coupon books are processed food such as boxed/bagged frozen food, dog/cat food,candies etc..

 I prefer to cook with fresh food rather than buying pre-made/frozen bag/box food for convenience from health point of view.

 Plus, I would imagine, even if you would use the coupon for pre-made/frozen bag/box products, making them from scratch may be much cheaper after all,although you may get happy to see the big saving on your receipt with processed food.

 Just because you have coupons does not mean you must use it. Choose wisely which coupons you would use.

 That being said, some produce brand such as Driscoll for berries seem to give printable coupons if you sign up for the e-mail alert for coupons,offer,and recipes here.

 If you have favorite brand of something, you can always visit their website directly and see if they offer discount via printable coupons.

 Depending on grocery stores, they will double/triple manufacturer’s coupons and it can help you bringing down the food cost.

 At our grocery store, they double the manufacturer’s coupon up to 99 cents. This means, as long as the coupons are under 99 cents, they will double your coupons.

 Bring coupons only you know you will use for the week..

 I see many shoppers that carry coupon books with them, flipping through what to use,walking through aisle to aisle.

 I think it is one way to save money on things, but it can also be tricky because it can encourage impulse buying,and you may come home with things that were not on your grocery list.

 What I do is that, I plan weekly menu and make grocery list and look through coupon box and pick coupons that I will use or the one I might use and bring only those coupons and stick to the grocery list as much as possible.

Sign up for the store card..

 Depending on grocery stores, they offer store card to offer discount for loyal customers.

 Sign up for it and, save grocery bills each week.

 Our grocery store send us store coupons/recipe magazine every month and, it helps to save our grocery bills.

Re-usable Grocery bags…

 Previous grocery store we used to go to gave us 5 cents of per re-usable bag we bring when we shopped there. If your grocery store does the same, bringing grocery bags are another good way to save money.

 On the talk of re-usable grocery bags, if you use re-usable grocery bags, make sure to wash them regularly.

Buying a store brand..

 I have started buying some products with store brand as opposed to name brands. Some of the stuff, I would like to stick to name brand but if I did not have particular brands that I love, I buy store brand and sometimes, buying a store brand can save some money on your grocery bills.

Which one of the two are best buy for you..

 To compare price of different size of package of the same products, my husband has taught me to look up the unit price. Sometimes, smaller packages are better deal depending on store sales.

Swap the ingredients..

 Swapping the ingredients is not just for calorie counters. Sometimes, I come across expensive ingredients in the recipes but I like to taste the flavor of the dish etc and, when that happens, I usually swap the protein source.

 You can swap lobster with shrimp, for example.

 On many occasions, recipes works fine with swapping the protein source. Some of the protein source with unique flavor such as lamb can be tricky sometimes but you can try and see.

 I hear sometimes that there are not many variety of meatless dishes people can cook. However,if you do not eat meat, you can just omit the protein source and you can have a recipes for meatless dish You can still taste the same flavor in a dish and, you can enjoy them.

 I plan one day in a week for meatless meal sometimes. Many occasions, I make risotto or pasta dish, or Kani Tama Don (Japanese version of Egg Foo-Yang) with just vegetables etc..

 Having meatless meal now and then maybe helping food cost down in some ways,I think.

$10 for 10…

 Often times, you would encounter advertisement paper that says “$10 for 10”. I always thought that you must buy 10 of the items to get the deal but my husband has taught me that you do not have to buy 10 of those to get the deal.

 You can still buy one item with $1 that is under $10 for 10 deals.

Bring your own lunch to work..

 Food at restaurants are expensive, and to save money, if you go to sandwich shop, often times, they use high in sodium meat such as cold cut meats,from health point of view, they are not good food to eat often.

 Best way to save money and eat healthier is to bring the lunch to work. I make lunch for my husband everyday when he is working, and my mother used to make me,my sister,and my father Bento box (lunch boxes). We barely ate lunch outside the work place and, I think it was good culture we have back home in Japan to eat healthy.

 If you work 5 days a week, and 3 times out of 5 days, if you eat out and lets say you would spend $20 per time in average,and that means, every week, you will be spending $60 per week and $240 per month in average. That is a lot of money!

Grow your own vegetables/herbs/fruits..
 Needless to say, if you grow your own vegetables/herbs/fruits they have more nutrition in them and taste better and it will help your grocery bills big way.

 Even if you do not have space outside, you can grow herbs in the kitchen windows and it is worth experimenting on your favorite herbs.

Sign up for restaurants’ loyal club..

 Many restaurants these days have royal clubs and if you sign up to receive offer,coupons and new menu alert, chances are they will send you coupons periodically.

 Recently, we have got Free entree coupons for birthday and, believe it or not, we have saved about $15! That definitely was best deal we have got so far.

Asian dishes vs Non Asian dishes..

 This is something I have noticed over the years,but when I plan Asian dishes more in a week, grocery bills are lower than other week without Asian dishes on the menu.

 When I think about it, non Asian dishes such as American dishes, Italian dishes etc use expensive diary;heavy creams,cheese etc and often times, meat is the star of the dish.

 Asian dishes often times have more vegetables in the dish and meat is kind of like accessories,and we don’t use much heavy cream/cheese etc.

 Instead, in case of Japanese cooking, if you have soy sauce, sake, Mirin (Sweet rice wine), and rice vinegar, those would cover most of the dishes’ ingredients list and it seems to make the grocery bills lower.

 Often time, my shopping cart has a lot of herbs,vegetables and since I plan weekly menu based on protein source I already have in freezer, my shopping cart does not have many meat in it.

 So, when we plan something special one day in the special week, I can spend more on quality meat.

 Recently, I have made Seared Herb Tuna and, our family enjoyed the dish.The same week, protein source in my shopping cart was just Turkey and Tuna. Most of my shopping bags was herbs,fruits,vegetables and grocery bill was a little lower than previous week.
 I hope you find this to be helpful tips to shop smart for your groceries.

 Do you have any more tips to shop smart?


Sep 28, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Palette’s note:Caribou Antlers

 ** Updated area in red

 Have you ever wondered if you could actually see how other dogs are enjoying the treats and chews? Not just pictures,but in video so that you can actually HEAR and feel the treats’ textures?

 I have started series titled “Palette’s Note”, which you can read about products detail and see video clips from Palette’s taste test.

 This time,I like to put out detail on Caribou Antlers.


Palette enjoys her Caribou Antler with wet nose…

 In the previous entry titled ” Long lasting chews/recreational bones for dogs, I wrote about what Deer Antlers are, and how much I love (and of course, how much our  stumpy little dog “Palette” the Corgi loves) those Antlers for long lasting chew.

 To recap, Deer Antlers is the Deer horn if you will.Deers shed Antlers once a year and, they are harvested for dogs to chew on.

 Our Deer Antlers come from Domestic free-range Deer/Elk and, comes with different thickness,texture,color,shapes( Some are branched out two ways,some are straight, some are different shapes), and length and it gives your dogs more variety of fun to chew on. No Deer antlers would come exactly the same. You can see the L size of Deer Antler picture below,and see those 3 Antlers are not exactly the same shapes.

 We have 6 sizes available; XS (2″-4″),S (3″-6″), M (4″-7″), L (5″-10″),XL (6″-10″), and XXL (6″-12″).

** Antler size is determined by the weight of the Antlers,not length.

Deer Antlers “L size”…

 I have found these long lasting chew “Deer Antlers” almost 4 years ago. I was not sure if Palette would enjoy it,but she was hooked with these Deer Antlers and goes back to Antlers religiously 2 times a day,each about 15 minutes chewing session and despite the fact that how much she enjoy gnawing so much and going back to Antlers daily,it has been lasting more than 1 year. Same Deer Antlers are being chewed for so long.

 She likes to carry the Deer Antlers around the house and gnaws on different spots. If you were giving bully sticks for long lasting chews,you would be spending much more money on them.

 Bully sticks are fun and nice snack but 6″ long bully stick for our 32lb Corgi lasts about 20-30 minutes and gone for most of the times. When we gave Free Range Moo! Odor free supreme bully sticks 6″ to her, it lasted 2 days but it still is much shorter time than the time she can spend more time on the same Antler.

 Antlers have no odor,no stains,no splinter like smoked bones (chewing grinds down rather than chunk off from the Antlers), and it provides natural minerals etc..

 I would imagine calories dogs would consume by chewing Antlers would be very low compared to the total calories from bully sticks they would consume during the same period of times.

 I like the fact that the Antlers I got 4 years ago are still being enjoyed by our dog as much as she did before and,it really was worth the cost for me. And,of course, there is nothing artificial in it. This is the reason why I started offering the Deer Antlers for others.

  Over the years, I have heard from satisfied happy furriends about their experience on their Deer Antlers.

 Then, I have come across other kind of Antlers recently,and decided to let Palette try out the new kind of Antlers; “Caribou Antlers”. Since she was 5 paws up and, I liked it, I have decided to offer those to others as well.

 Caribou Antler..

Variety of Caribou Antler shapes..

 These Caribou Antlers are harvested in USA, after Antlers were shed each year. As you can see, unlike Deer Antlers, some of the Caribou Antlers are flat and some are round straight Antlers.

 One thing that is unique about it is density. Caribou Antlers are lighter in weight and,especially with flat ones are light in density. 

 Side edge of Caribou Antlers is sanded a little,but if you prefer, you can sand the edge more for your dogs to chew on.

 If you were looking for variety of shapes for your dogs to enjoy, and if your dogs were aggressive chewers, Deer Antlers would be the better pick due to light density of the Caribou Antler.

 If you were looking for a little different kind of chews, and if your dogs were moderate chewers,Caribou Antlers are good addition to your dogs’ chews they already have.

 If you have older dogs that like to chew things, then Caribou Antlers would be good one for them to chew on too.

 Lets watch how she gnaws on her Caribou Antler below.

 Palette and Caribou Antler

If you were a blog subscriber, please click here to watch the video clip.

 Can you see how much she is into gnawing the Caribou Antler? She is very busy working on her Caribou Antlers

 At the very end of the video, she puts her head side way and licked her Caribou Antler and paused a few second and licked the Caribou Antler and,you could not see her face but her eyes were narrowed as if she is really enjoying the deliciousness a.k.a. “U-ma-mi” and she looked cute.

 After a while, she decided that she would like to herd the Caribou Antler by tossing it in the air, woof at them and runs around the Antler.

 It was very funny and I was trying to capture her strange act with video,but as I brought camera with me, she sat nicely and I could not tape her act.

 Someday, if I could succeeded taping her herding act, I would update this entry with the video.

 She loves to herd the Caribou Antler in addition to her chewing satisfaction time. I sometime hear thumping sound upstairs when she does zoomie plus herding Caribou Antlers and she entertains our family with that.

 Just like Deer Antlers, as your dogs chews on Caribou Antlers, it gets grind down. Below is the picture of her Caribou Antler after being chewed a while. You can see it is grind down a tiny little rather than chewed off some pieces from the Caribou Antler.

 Hers happened to be 7″ long straight one and, she got a lot more to go to chew on. I am not sure how long it would last, but definitely lot longer than bully sticks. So far, she chewed on the Caribou Antler for 4 months.


Palette’s Caribou Antler after being chewed…

 I wrote Palette’s Deer Antler has been enjoyed for more than 1 year, but how long it would last for your dogs will be depending on dogs’ jaws ability to chew and how long they spend on it.

 Since she got many kind of Antlers to
choose from, time she spends on each Antler is less than before. Just
yesterday,she picked “Antler with some velvet left on” to chew on, and
today, she is carrying Moose Antler around and I saw her chewing while
we were watching TV.

 What kind of Antler she would chew tomorrow?  I am not sure. Only
Palette knows, but I can tell you that she enjoys all Antlers we carry at Yassy’s Gourmet Dog Kitchen
with wet nose

 Please observe how they chew and if they were putting their whole body weight on Antlers and trying to break into half, please take it away.It is not the good chew for them.

 As with any chews,supervise your dog. And when it gets small enough for dogs to swallow,please take it away.

 It is always good practice to wash the Antlers with warm soapy water thoroughly before handing them to your dogs.

 Please note that Caribou Antlers does not come as many variety of shapes,colors,textures as Deer Antlers. No branched out like Deer Antlers.

 One same Antlers can provide Palette so much fun,and I am sure you can clearly see how much she loves it.

What is Dad doing over there??

Curious to go check out,but I do not want to leave my precious Caribou Antler here..



Mom, I am getting tired….

B.U.T…. I won’t stop!

I am busy. Talk to my paws,please.

Mom,why are you laughing at me?

Okay, I be taking break..

I brought my precious Caribou Antler with me and laying on it…

 Have you got Caribou Antlers yet?

 Join Palette’s secret Caribou Antlers club. Palette would enjoy Caribou Antler pawty with other furry friends!

To visit our store,please click here or paste and copy the link below into your browser.


Sep 25, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Resource guarding

 Have you ever wondered why dogs would feel the need to guard their food,bones,treats,toys etc while they were fed enough everyday? You may also wonder why they freeze their body lowering their head with low grow when you approach to their food just to see how they were doing?

 We are not interested in their food/treats and we have no intention to take their food away and walk off. However, dogs do not know that.

 Guarding the food,treats,bones etc is stem from natural instinct and it is dog things.

 Just like barking,chewing,digging etc.. many of their behaviors we consider as behavior problems you would like to stop or curb them are natural canine behaviors or
something we kept reinforcing the behavior without any intention.

 Barking, for example, is their way of communication and, chewing,digging are also their natural behavior and that is what dogs do.

 They live with their canine world manner if they were not introduced to canine manner in the human world and, from early puppy hood time, you would need to teach them your household rules so they can adapt well to your life style.

 Teaching your dogs from early on that the human approach to the food/treats/bones is good thing, not the threat for food/treats/toys is helpful.

 Especially puppy have full of energy and, they will explore human world with their own manner and, learn to adapt to our household rules. Therefore,you may encounter the occasion that you would need to take the bone away that they have picked up on walk etc..

 In the past, when Palette was puppy, once or twice, she has picked up bones from fried chicken someone has tossed on the road, and it got me very nervous about it and I have tried to take the bone away. However, Palette was holding on to the bone so strong and gave me a low growl and she was not going to give it up easy.

 Also, she was on kibble when she was puppy and we fed her with Buster Food cube. If you were not familiar with the buster food cube food dispensing toy, it is a dice shaped food dispensing toy where you can put the food or treat through opening and your dogs can roll it with nose and paws across the room and, food will come out as it rolls.

 On occasion, I had times where I need to come pick the toy up to reset the toy at the spot where she can roll it. She did not know that I was approaching to her toy with kind mind,and she sees it as “Oh, mom is going to take my food/toy away!”, and she comes running and lower her head over the toy and guard the toy and as I lower myself to pick up the toy to reset, she was giving me a bit of growl.

 Imagine you have a dog that guard his food bowl and as you approach to his food bowl,he will give you warning;low growl. If you did not listen to his warning, chances are, you would see him snapping at you. If toddlers try to reach for his toys, chances are, he would snap at the toddlers too.

 I then started teaching her that my approach to her favorite things are good thing happen, and I am not a threat to her stuff.

 I thought that it was important social training to teach her to eat calm even if someone comes around her feeding areas or take the bowl away when necessary.

Sit before meal..

 When Palette was puppy,she was in puppy training class. The trainer there has taught us how to teach “sit” in one of her classes, and when we learned “sit”, she said that it is good to let your dogs sit before everything they love; sit before meal,sit before play time, sit before door opening for walk, sit before greeting etc..

 When you think about it, there are so many opportunities you can reinforce the good “sit” behavior and it can sometimes becomes good cue for impulse control,and I started implementing the “sit” for meal time and used all opportunities to reinforce the good “sit” behavior throughout the day.

 Usually, Palette
sits in front of me when meal time, and I lower the food, and put the
food down, let her wait for a second or two, and release her from “wait”
and let her eat the food.

 How it was done is that, I put only a few kibbles in her bowl, and asked her to sit and when she sits, I lowered the food bowl, and if I see her butt leave the floor and standing up, I would say “Oops,try again” and I stand back up and her food bowl goes up as well.

 Then, when she sits, I lowered the food again and put the food down, ask her to “wait” for a few seconds, and released her from the “wait cue”. 

 Palette has learned that if Palette’s butt
left the floor to stand up as the food is lowered, the food would go up,
and she has to start over.

 This will teach your dogs that “sit” brings
all things they like. You can use the same method using “sit”for door opening for walk, getting leash on for walk,
getting meal, getting petting/attention etc etc.

 With sit -wait for
food, they can eat food more relaxed mood, not in excitable manner.

Being the invisible audience around the food bowl..

 As you noticed, when I started “sit” before meal manner teaching to Palette,I have placed only a few kibbles in her bowl.

 Therefore, when she eats everything in her bowl,there was nothing left in the bowl, and I saw her sitting down again stared at me as if to say  “Is this all food for me?”, and I tossed a couple
of more pieces of kibbles in the bowl, and Palette looked up at me for more.

 For this social training, I had boiled and shredded chicken breast and I have tossed one piece of shredded chicken breast with a few kibble pieces into her food bowl,every time she sits and stared at me for more.

 By then, she was more relaxed about my approach to the food bowl and, I have started increasing the amount of kibbles I have put in the food bowl per time and I have started tossing shredded chicken into her food bowl while she was eating.

 When she
is relaxed more,no tensed posture when I come close to the food bowl, and when I can touch her
bowl after she ate bits in the bowl, I started picking up the bowl, put
the kibble bits in, gave her the bowl with kibble bits with shredded chicken inside and pick
it up and put a couple of pieces more with shredded chicken breast and gave it to her and repeated
the process.

 Over time, I have increased the amount of kibble I have put in the food bowl per time.

 Now she is careless when I come over to her, sit next to
her or put her fish body oil capsules onto her food mat (she is now on fresh food diet a.k.a. raw diet). She sees me as regular invisible audience and, she even does not look at me while she is eating the food.

Let’s trade..

 With the way I feed
Palette now- Raw feeding, there are occasions I like to take bones away from
her such as when I know the bone is not edible bones for her. Therefore, the
fact that Palette knows “give” is a big help because she does not try to guard the bone but happily trade the bone she was chewing on with trading item.

 I taught Palette “give” through games; Tug of war game, fetch ball/Frisbee games. I
think the game of fetch is great game because the game is fun, and you
and your dogs can play together and you can make your bond with your
dogs stronger.

 Not only that, the game gives your dogs outlet for pent
up energy and game is incorporated with the use of their natural
instinct. And, you can also teach your dogs a few important cues through
the game such as”Give” or “Drop it”,and you could also teach them
impulse control through the game,too.

“Give” or “Drop it” cue could become life saving cue when you see your
dogs were trying to grab/eat something that could potentially hurt them
(Fried chicken bone dogs find on walk,sharp objects, sticks etc), and
you would like them to spit it out from mouth. “Give” or “Drop it” means
drop everything from their mouth.

teach “give”, Palette’s puppy training class trainer has told us to
start with low valued items to trade. Then, make sure to give items back
to him and praise.

Palette and I did with low valued item is that, I let her grab the item
and just offer the small treats. Yummy treats vs not so interested
toy.. She dropped the toy to grab the yummy treats, and that is when you
click the clicker and label the behavior “Drop it” or “Give”, and then I
gave the item back to her. And repeat it again; let her grab the
toy,offer treats,click clicker when she drop the item from mouth and
give treats with big big praise.

is to tell them everything you take away would not gone forever but
would come back. So, they do not need to guard them or growls at you
when you reach your hand to the items. As Palette gets better
understanding the meaning of the “Give” cue, I made the trade item value
up gradually.

some point,the item can become something the dogs do not want to let go
even if they see treats in front of them. As human instinct, you might
grab the item that are still in their mouth and you might try to take
the item away with force but don’t.

 Do not take the object away with force, and all you need to do is to
just simply be patient,say nothing,just gently holding the object and as
soon as your dog release the object,you click the clicker and give

 Once they know what “Give” means, you can trade items with them without them being guarding the trade items.

 I also find that Palette seems more relaxed when “trade” time if I alert her by saying “Lets trade” and approach to her with her favorite Duck foot. Her eyes will be glued to the Duck foot and, she will be sitting nicely,not munching on the items I like to take it away.

 I then offer the treats and pick up the item from her and walk off.

 I sometime hear people say to not to approach to the dogs eating meal to take food away, but I think that for them, learning the human approach is not threat or human approach to the food is good thing is very important.

 If dogs were left alone when eating and, there had never been taught to trade items, wouldn’t they feel more need to protect the food they have?

 If toddlers were in the house, and if dogs were fed alone with no human presence around the food bowl, what would happen when/if toddler try to reach for the food bowl?

 I think just like any other behavior problems, teaching the canine manner in our human world from early on, and try to manage/prevent the problems are easier than trying to manage already learned not so welcome canine behavior in the human world.

 Also, it is important for them to know that the rule of “human approach to the food is good thing” applied to everybody they see around the food bowl. So, all adult family members should participate in the training.

 Recently, I came across website with good video of Golden Retriever “Ben”who resource guard his food bowl and when people approach to the bowl, he lunge at the person with growl.

 The veterinarian Sophia Yin helped “Ben” to understand human approach to the food bowl is good thing via similar method I did for Palette.

 You can see the behavior change;”before” and “after”, and you can see how much changed in his behavior by her method.

 I think it is great video and, you can visit her website and watch the video clip there. To visit her website,please click here.

 Ultimately, if you see your dogs sharing the bones, would that make you smile? Below youtube video is the one that made me smile. They are like magnet and so cute sharing bones

Dog sharing bones

** I am not a dog trainer and, if you think your dogs are extreme case of resource guarding problems, it will be best to consult with behavior expert.

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Sep 22, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Postal service in Japan

 In the previous entry titled “History of Mail box“, I wrote that Britain was the first country that came up with mailing system,and after Britain, Japan got their mailing system and therefore, the mail box is the same red color like Britain’s.

 I also wrote that some of the mail box in Japan is rectangle shaped red mail box. According to wikipedia (written in Japanese),
Japanese pillar box nowadays is more colorful in particular city to
make the characteristic of city stands out.

 For example,one city is
famous for maccha (green tea),and their mail box is light green color.
Kobe’s mail box is light blue color for ocean.And one area of Tokyo has
sister city in US; Portland,OR,USA and so they built American style
blue mail box in the city to cerebrate 10th anniversary for the

 In France,mail box is yellow.You can see the picture of
those on Wikipedia (written in Japanese).

 When you look for public mail boxes or post office buildings in Japan, you can look for the Japanese postal mark on the public mail box and post office buildings. The mark looks like T and there is upper line on top of it;.

 This Japanese postal marks can be found on postcards and envelopes as well as postal code mark. Usually, right after the postal code mark, zip code follows.

 For example, busy area in Tokyo “Shibuya” postal code is 160-0022. Therefore, you would write 160-0022 on your postcard and envelope to mail to the address in the area.

 To send mail, postal mark and zip code comes on top and then, address follows but unlike American way; address be read from left to right, you will write address from top to down and address lines are read from top to down from right line to the left line in Japan.

 If you look around, post office vans and motorbikes also have this postal mark on it. It is very easy to spot them.

 In Japan,when you mail your
stuff,you either drop them into public mail box or visit post office.
Each house does have mail box to receive their mail box. It is usually
small box with flip top that is large enough to slide mail in to the
box.Newspaper carriers also put newspaper into individual mail box,too.

 To mail at public mail box, usually you would find 2 slots on top front and one slot for domestic,and the other for International, express mail, and irregular sized mail.

 Then, you can see the pick up time on side sticker. Usually, mail gets pick up 3-4 times a day.

  Postal service is one of culture shock stories for me or my
family back home in Japan. Here in the states,you can write letters and put it
in your own mail box outside and flag it up, and mailman comes and pick them up
to mail for you!

 It never happens in Japan. My parents were wowed to
find out we do not need to go to post office to mail small letters that
fits into our mail box to mail.

 In Japan, mailman ride
motorbike with mail in the mail container on its back. They don’t use
cars unless families had large boxes to be delivered. Maybe because motorbike is much convenient to ride through narrow
streets in Japan.

 America’s roads are very wide spread and spacey. I always
feel Japanese roads are narrow and crowded when we go back to Japan to
visit my family. 

 One other difference in postal service between US and Japan is that, Post office in Japan has banking service called “yu-u-cho”in Japanese and you can have checking/saving account with them.

 Also, Japanese post office offer life insurance plans too and, their overall service is more varied compared to American postal service.

 With Japanese postcards, if you have lived in Japan, you might have noticed, but there is one kind of postcards many Japanese families get excited for. It is called “Nen-ga-jyo” in Japanese and it is New Year’s postcard.

 In Japan, often time, many family start listing who they would send New Year’s Postcard for that year to thank and wish for happy new year from around end of November to December,and count the number of addresses and go buy the New Year postcards at the post office.

 Sometimes, if you were too late to come buy them, post office does not have special postcards for the New Year.

 What is so special about the New Year postcards?

 When you buy New Year’s post cards at post office,you can find the lottery number on the bottom. The postcard you buy are for you to mail to your family,friends or others such as colleagues who you want to thank for, for the year.

 When you get New Year postcards from friends,relatives etc.., keep them aside,and  on the specific day (mid/late Jan), you can look up the newspaper to see any of the numbers you got on the New Year postcards from your relatives/friends are matched to any prizes.

 Prize often times are not money, but rather products such as stamps, electronics and more.

 For example, for 2011 New Year’s postcard that were mailed in 2010, first prize was Sharp LED TV,trip to Hawaii or Hong Kong,or korea, $300-$500 worth gift cards,Toshiba PC, Digital camera,printer,electric bicycle or office supplies $2000 value from selected catalog.

 Second prize were Wii,Digital camera, air night stay in domestic hotel,or coffee maker.

 Third prize was food prizes.

 Fourth prize was stamp set.

 You can see more detailed prize at what Japan Think here.

 Post office would accept New year postcard from December and announce to public what date will be the deadline for New Year’s postcard to be mailed if you want to ensure the New Year post cards to be delivered on New Year’s Day.Usually, it is around Christmas time.

 Because of large volume of New Year postcards to be delivered, you would see that post office hire part timers to help them out.

 It is one of Japanese customs,and since the New Year postcards are white and no patterns on them unless you buy regular postcards at retail stores,which you would not have lottery number on, so my father used to pick designs we want with that year’s zodiac animal on it. Then,we kids draw pictures for friends with Happy New year message etc with zodiac animal ink stamp on, and mailed them.

 Here is one quick Japanese lesson for you.

 In Japanese, when you want to say “Happy New Year!”, You would say..

“A-ke-ma-shi-te O-me-de-to-u Go-za-i-ma-su.”

 However, you are not suppose to mail the New Year postcards to family that are in mourning.

 Just like Chinese culture, we have zodiac signs in Japan and each year reflects one specific animal.Then, there are 12 zodiac animals signs.

 I believe 2012 is year of Dragon.So, if you live in Japan, you will be getting New Year Postcards with Dragon pictures on them on Jan 1,2012.

 It would be fun if America had similar custom like Japan; sending New Year cards to family,friends, colleague etc with lottery numbers on them. Not the e-card one click away, but a real card from friends and family with additional fun with prize chance every year will be fun.

 What are your thoughts on our New Year Postcard custom in Japan?

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Sep 20, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Palette’s fall treats diary;September 18th,2011

 Last month, we had M 5.8 earthquake and in the same week earthquake shook VA, we had Hurricane Irene passing through East coast area.

 For our stumpy little dog “Palette”, I imagine it must be most stressful week. Earthquake was her very first experience and she was shaking so badly and following days, she never left my sight and she was my shadow.She always be in the same room where I am in.

 I myself experienced M 7 earthquake that shook western part of Japan (Kobe,Osaka, and Kyoto) back in 90’s, and it was frightening experience and I remember well how stressful it was.

 In Japan, from kindergarten through high school, kids have earthquake practice about once a month so they learn what they should do when earthquake strikes. Our neighborhood back in Japan also had emergency practice so everyone in the neighborhood knows what to do,where to go when they have emergency situation via mother nature.

 Maybe because Japan is prone to earthquake.

 I saw in the news that many people in Washington DC area dashed out from the buildings but, you are not supposed to get out from the buildings when main earthquake is still in effect.

 What you would need to do is to cover yourself under sturdy furniture such as desk until earthquake stops.

 If there was no sturdy furniture you can cover, you should use the blanket or pillow to protect yourself.

 Back home in Japan, book shelves, and other furniture are chained to the wall so they would not fall on you if/when earthquake happens.

 I am not sure if it is Japanese thing,but Japanese gas stoves/heaters react to earthquake and falling and they automatically shut down.

 If you were cooking or using heat appliances when earthquake happens, turn off the stove/heat appliances to prevent fire.

 Through school emergency practice,we also learned to secure the evacuation route by opening windows or doors.

 After covering under the desk until main earthquake stops, open windows, and doors to the classroom and I remember we were told to make line and, evacuate on foot; going down with stairs.

 After that, we students were out in the wide field in front of the school and, principal gave us the review of the emergency practice.

 I came across great emergency tip on Tokyo International Communication Committee website that explains what you should do when earthquake happens.

 Many of the basic tips I see  at the website was things I learned through school years, but they do have other great tips such as what you should do if you were driving etc.

 The website article was created for people from overseas living in earthquake prone country “Japan”, but I think the information on the site is helpful for people in the states too, to learn what you should do for earthquake etc.

 To visit Tokyo International Communication Committee website,please click here.

 When hurricane Irene passing through, our neighborhood became pitch black. Luckily, electricity was up by the time we woke up next morning but I saw in the news that some houses did not get electricity back as quickly as we did.

When things like this happen, you would realize how much we depend on the electricity, and it is always nice practice to have emergency kit in the house.

 With all those stressful events in such a short time,Palette was stressed but, I think that going for walk maybe helped at least some for Palette to bounce back.Especially when she spotted her favorite furriends in the neighborhood Mr. Miniature Schnauzer in his yard… Her ears fold back with head low, and her butt was wiggling left and right. 

“Palette’s treats dairy” series, I thought it would be
interesting for you to tour around our kitchen to see what kinds of cool
down treats she is getting, and share her cool down
treats’ recipes.

give the cool down treats after walkie, after she being bathed etc
and,it is one thing she really be looking forward to going back home from
walkie. She runs to the kitchen and be in the imaginary line for the
cool down treats in front of the freezer and enjoy every bite of it.

am having fun making it with whatever I found, and taste it feeling
Palette’s eyes of envy beside me. Believe it or not, some of the random
mix I make for her actually tastes good. Some of the mix are not my
liking though.


** This will be about 12 blocks of treats in ice cube tray with my mom’s

** Frozen raspberry parsnip yogurt treats whole amount is roughly about 271 kcal (you can see more detail at website
here ).So, each ice cube given is about 23 kcal.

**Mom wanted rough kcal to be as close to real one, and she used
Nutrition fact food label on the back of yogurt she used. She typed in
the information provided in the nutrition label on the yogurt.

Here I come! Nom,nom,nom…

Umm… Privacy,please?


Hey,mom.Can you move? *lick,lick,lick..*

The cool down treats was yummy as always,and I wonder what treats she would make next. I love all the surprise


Sep 18, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Chinese/Japanese cooking: Kani Tama Don (Omelet with crab with brown gravy sauce over rice)

 When you visit Japan, one thing you would notice is that some of our dishes are influenced by Chinese dishes and we have our own style of Chinese dishes.

 For example, Gyoza dumpling is Japanese version of pot stickers, and “Buta man”, which is steamed bun filled with pork meat, is our version of “Mantou” or “Chinese steamed bun”.

 Just like “Sushi” is adapted to American culture and America has their own version of sushi; you will find sushi made with avocado “California roll” in the states but, I do not think
you would find those in Japan.

 Have you had Chinese dish called “Egg Foo-Yang”? I have never had it but,Wkkipedia website explains that they are American version of Chinese omelet dish and made with meat and vegetables with brown gravy on it.

  Since the time I started living on my own to go to university back home in Japan,I started cooking for myself for breakfast,lunch, and dinner. I usually came back from classes during lunch break and cooked food at home and after a while, I went back to school to attend another classes.

 At that time, quick cooking dishes were my go-to dishes and, I made dish called “Kani Tama Don” ( Japanese omelet with crab over rice with brown gravy) quite often.

 Eggs are great for quick cooking, and dish itself is easy. Especially, I often came home with many homework assignments,so it was the perfect dish to cook.

 Now and then, I used to change what to put in the omelet, and it was one of my favorite dishes to eat as well.

 Coming over to the states, since many of Japanese dishes/Chinese influenced Japanese dishes are easy to make and grocery bill seems to be much lower than the time I make something else, I make Asian dishes a lot.

 One of the dishes I make now and then is quick and easy “Kani Tama Don”. When I make one, I hear my husband says “It is like Chinese Egg Foo-yang.”

 Since I have never had Egg Foo-Yang, I do not know if there are any difference in seasoning or gravy etc.. but I think if you like Omelet, it is fun to make this “Kani Tama Don” for a change,and I think you would like them too.

 Therefore, I would like to share the recipe of “Kani Tama Don” with you.

 Now,here is a little Japanese lesson for you. “Kani” means “Crab”, and “Tama” comes from shorten word of egg “Tamago” in Japanese. “Don” means type of dish served with rice. Often times in the serving plate, you have rice and something else on the bed of rice.

 In case of “Kani Tama Don”, seasoned omelet with crab and brown gravy are placed over the rice.

 So, how do you make “Kani Tama Don”? Here is how.

Kani Tama Don (Omelet with crab with brown gravy over rice)…

1. Cook Japanese rice

** My favorite Japanese rice you can find in the state is called “Kokuho Rose Rice”. You can find them at International aisles at local grocery store.

** Unlike Jasmine rice,Basmati rice, or brown rice, Japanese rice is sticky,and you would not drop slice of butter or pinch of salt when cooking them. Just cook the “Kokuho Rose Rice” with water in rice cooker or on the stove.

2. Crack/Shred crab meat from crab legs about 5 ounce set in a big bowl with 1/2 onion chopped,1/8 C green pepper, 1/8C red pepper,1/4 C canned bamboo shoot chopped and mix well.

** In stead of using crab meat from crab legs, you can also use imitation crabs

3.Now you will start making the brown gravy.

***<Brown gravy sauce>***

 In the sauce pan, add 4tbs soy sauce, 4 tbs rice vinegar, and 3 tbs white table sugar and mix well and add 3 tbs of green peas and stir and simmer until sugar is dissolved well. When everything got mixed well, taste the sauce.

 If the sauce tasted fine, thicken the sauce with slurry (mixture of corn starch and water) and when sauce got thicken up a little, turn the heat off and set it aside.

** You can adjust the thickness of the brown gravy sauce by adding more corn starch if it was too thin and if it was too thick,you can add more water.

4. Pour a little bit of sesame oil in the skillet and cook half of <2> and saute them until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent

** Mixture of vegetables and crabs are for 2 omelets. Other half of mixture is to make another omelet to serve.

5. To <3>, add pinch of consomme cube,and stir well

** If you do not have consomme cube, you can use chicken bullion cube. I usually cut off small section off from consomme cube for this recipe

6. In the measuring cup, crack 3 eggs and add 2 oz of heavy milk, and sprinkle Molton’s Natures seasons with blue cap and beaten the egg mixture until everything in the measuring cup is even color and mix well.

7. Make a well in the skillet;set the mixture of crab,onion,green/red pepper/bamboo shoot away from center.

8. Pour Egg-heavy cream mixture into the well in the center in the skillet, and stir a little making sure all the crab,vegetables are mixed well in the omelet and make an omelet.

** 3 eggs mixture is one serving.

*** How to make omelet***

1. Cook vegetables of your choice in your skillet

** To make an omelet, I find that if you cook vegetables first on the skillet and pour egg mixture next, you can be sure that vegetables are cooked through without over cooking the egg

** I personally add heavy milk when I make scramble egg or omelet because I find that adding a little bit of heavy milk makes omelet/scramble egg fluffy and softer and tastes better.

2. Make a well in the skillet;setting vegetables in the skillet away from center in the skillet

3. Set the heat to medium high.Pour egg mixture (3 eggs plus 2 ounce of heavy cream with bit of Molton’s Natures Seasons) into the well in the center,and quickly stir with wooden spoon circular way and push the egg toward center and repeat for about a couple of times with rather slow speed..

** When beating the egg mixture, make sure everything in the measuring cup is mixed well and even color 

** Pushing the egg toward center ensure that the runny egg can settle faster.

4. By 2nd or 3rd circular stir with pushing egg toward center, you would see the egg start to set better

5. After you see eggs are almost cooked but a bit runny, level it even with wooden spoon,and take off from the heat and put the lid on about a minute or two.

6. Now, your omelet is done


9. Put cooked Japanese rice on the plate and place an omelet on top

10. Pour brown gravy over rice

11. Serve one and start making another Omelet,assemble the dish and serve.



Sep 13, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Is your dog smarter than your kids?

 Have you ever wondered if your dogs are smarter than you or your kids?

 Now and then, I am amazed to see how well Palette know me. Just a little slight body language and, she knows what to expect next. I think dogs have great observation skill, and very good at associating words/body language with actual events.

 At laundry time,for example, she is care-less about laundry room when I am putting clothes in to the washer. However, when I step out from the room, she comes running toward the laundry room with full speed,and she goes behind and shut the door for me. 

 I also think dogs seem to learn the routine pretty fast and they are good at associating events with routine in order.

 For example, when Palette had digestive upset, and her fur pants got messed, she does not come running into the room,but rather,she steps aside and stand-stay without me telling her anything and I go get the paper towel and wipe it lightly so nothing would drip on the floor to go to the shower room.

 Once her pants is cleaned, she goes to shower room and wait for me to wipe/wash  her butt. Once her butt/fur pants gets cleaned, she trots to kitchen and wait in front of the fridge,because she knows she gets probiotic when she gets digestive upset.

 I admit that I talk a lot to Palette.She seems to pick up some words and phrases and associating those with events.Then, with particular words and phrases, she moves accordingly.

 Tell Palette ” Are you ready to eat?” and her ears perk up and she does this long stretch with a little yawn and head towards to kitchen and wait for me to come.

 Tell Palette “Are you ready to go for walkie walk?” and her ears parks up and, little nub moves left and right,and disappear to go retrieve her leash while I go get her poop bag.We meet up at the entrance.

 Because she knows the word “Walk”, we never use “walk” in the conversation. We say ” W.A.L.K” in our conversation.

 She also knows the word “TV”, and once she hear the word, she goes running to the TV room and hop on to her doggy bed so she gets tummy rubs during TV time.

 I am not counting how many words she knows, but according to the article written by Doug Gross at CNN website, psychologists have learned that dogs can count,reason, and recognize words and gestures on par with 2 year old children.

 Interesting thing is that the professor Stanley Coren at University of British Colombia professor has learned that average dogs can understand 165 words including signs,signals,and gestures and they can count to 5.

 2 year old children understand about 250 words,he says.

 With counting ability, test was done in drills such as one in which treats were dropped, one at a time, behind the screen.When researcher sneak away one of the treats or secretly add an extra before screen been raised.Dogs were appeared to puzzle over the bad math,the article says.

 For me personally, I do not think the counting test the way they did does not seem to be strong evidence that they can really count.

 I would be interested to see if dogs were presented 1 biscuits on one tray and maybe 3 biscuits on the other tray, which tray they will go to claim their treats.

 Also, I am interested to see if you have 1 biscuit in left hand and 2 biscuits in right hand, which hand they would ask you to open it for them. We  can put larger number of biscuits in opposite hand and see if they really pick the hand that has more biscuits every single time.

 Sometimes, I wonder if treats size they see were different, would they go for bigger piece all the time? I remember our puppy training class trainer once told us that dogs do not care the size of treats, and you should use very tiny morsel of treats for training time so we do not fill them up with treats.

 I wonder if dogs would pick bigger size treats over smaller size treats every single time if they were presented with treats with different sizes.

 You can read CNN full article written by Doug Gross here.

 The professor Stanley Coren from University of British Colombia said that the  average dogs understand 165 words including signs,signals,and gestures, but do you know how many words super smart dog in the world can understand?

Super smart Border Collie “Chaser..

 “Chaser” the Border Collie is super smart dog in the world,and he understands and can recognize the names of 1022 toys!!

 According to the news article at Fox news website, psychologist Alliston Reid and John Pilley from Wofford college in SC were interested to see if there were any limitation with the amount of words Border Collie can learn.

 Therefore, they have started teaching Chaser the name of toys,one by one for 3 years.

 Their teaching method was to set Chaser up for success by placing one toy at a time right in front of her.

 Then, they have tested Chaser’s ability to recognize the vocabulary by placing 20 toys in another room and asked her to go fetch by name.

 Chaser has never got less than 18 out of 20 right and 838 test was done in 3 years.

 They also taught Chaser the “noun” and “verb” combining one at a time and helped Chaser to learn the meaning of the verb and meaning of noun.

 With her, “Paw” means “touch the object with paw”, “nose” means “touch the object with nose”, and “take” means “bring back the object to Professor John Pilley”.

 I came across her training session video at youtube,and I think this is a good example to show you that reward does not have to be food rewards all the time but it can be play with toy or non food items.

 You can watch youtube video of “Chaser”how she is being trained to learn the meaning of verbs and meaning of nouns at youtube website here.

 You can read full article at fox news wbsite on “Chaser” the border collie here.

 At this point, Palette can understand the name of 3 toys. You have seen her identifying 2 toys in the taste testing video of USA Beef Pizzle sticks and now she knows the word “Frisbee” the third toy.

 However, 1,000 toys to learn the name for is long way to go for our dog “Palette”. Teaching toy names is fun and I have curiosity too as to how many words Palette can learn.

 Below is the video clip from youtube where you can see Chaser in action identifying 25 toys. She is such a smart dog!
“Chaser” the Border collie; Canine Einstein..

If you are a blog subscriber or reading this from Facebook, please click here.

 Palette knows the word “Put away”; grab and put the toys into her toy box,too as seen in the taste testing video of “Surf Turf Jerky”

 Can she be a next “Chaser” the Border Collie someday?

 Can your dogs identify toys? If so, how many names of toys do they know?

 What is your dog’s favorite words/phrases they love to hear from you?

 How many words and phrases do you think your dogs know?

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Sep 11, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

Squash; Winter/summer squash and Parmesan butternut squash spaghetti

 Have you ever wondered what makes squash “Winter squash” and “Summer squash”? or the difference between the two?

 Recently,I came across an news paper article about squash,and it talked about why “Winter squash” are sold during summer despite the name “WINTER squash”.

 I thought it very interesting and, thought I would share it with you.

 Before writing about “Winter squash” vs “Summer squash”, I like to write about vegetables and fruits.

Is Squash fruits or vegetable?

 I knew that tomatoes are actually fruits,and Tamatillo (green tomato with husk on top) are actually gooseberry family.

 However, did you know that squash is also not vegetable but fruits? That bring us to the question “What makes fruit “a fruit”,and what makes vegetable “a vegetable”.

What makes fruit “a fruit”,and what makes vegetable “a vegetable”?

 According to science bob website,if the produce in the question has seed, such as tomato,squash, Tomatillo,cucumber,green beans,walnuts etc.., botanically, produce in question is fruit.

 If produce in question has no seed; carrots (root),celery (stem), lettuce (leaves),broccoli (flowers) etc.., then, botanically, they are vegetables.

 To visit science bob website to read what makes vegetable a vegetable, please click here.

 Now you know many of the vegetables are botanically incorrectly labeled as vegetables.

Why “winter squash” are called “winter squash” when they grow in summer?

 According to the news article written by Debbie Arrington, winter squash are called “Winter squash” because they keep for weeks,months without refrigeration.

 In addition, according to what’s cooking america website, “Winter squash” is mostly vine type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. Then, they develop very thick, inedible,hard rinds and tough seeds.

 “Winter squash” takes longer to be fully mature than “Summer squash”,which normally be mature about 3 months or more. If you have found softer rind squash, it indicate the vegetable is immature.

 More on Winter squash at what’s cooking america website here.

 Debbie writes that Americans are eating winter squash about 4.2 pounds per person per year,and they eat one pound of canned/processed squash (such as pumpkin) per year.

 If you have read the previous entry titled “People food for thought Part XVIII; Artificial sweeteners“, you will be remembering that American consumes 165 pounds of added sugar per year.That is roughly 4 times more of winter squash Americans consume per year.

 She also writes that  winter squash retain sugar longer if it were kept at room temperature (50F-59F).

 When winter squash is chilled, the sugar in the squash turns to starch and degrade and goes bad faster.

What makes “Summer squash” a summer squash?

 According to the article written by Barbara Rolek at website, summer squash are categorized into 4 groups; crockneck,zucchini,straight neck,and scallop. Then, they have soft,edible skin and soft seeds.

 “Summer squash” are high in Vitamin A , vitamin C ,and niacin (Vitamin B3).

 More on summer squash article written by Barbara Rolek at, please click here.

What makes winter squash special vegetable?

1. Winter squash like butternut squash, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), etc are high in Beta carotene (Vitamin A).

 When you look around in the grocery stores and some of the vegetables or fruits are yellow/orange colored such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash,pumpkin,papaya,cantaloupe, etc.. and some of the vegetables are dark leafy green such as kale, spinach etc and those yellow/orange colored vegetables/fruits and dark green leafy vegetables are high in Beta carotene (Vitamin A) and, good for vision/immune system etc..

 More on Beta carotene at Vitamin Basic website here.

2. Also, vitamin A rich vegetables are high in fiber and packed with other nutrient. Debbie writes that the darker the orange color in the squash is, the more beta carotene in the vegetables.

 She also writes that if you eat half cup of mashed butternut squash, you will be getting 3 times more of daily amount of Vitamin A recommended.

3. Squash, Carrots etc are good source for cancer fighting “phytonutrients”.

 To read the full article written by Debbie Arrington, please click here.

 More on “Winter squash” article written by Skip Richter at texasgardener website here.

 Squash may not be a popular vegetable on the family dinner plate, but now you know how much they are good for your health benefit, and not just Thanksgiving seasons, you will have more reasons to cook with squash for your family.

 Lastly, I will leave this entry with Butter nut squash recipe “Parmesan Butternut squash spaghetti” for you to try.

 Parmesan Butternut squash spaghetti..

0.Pour water into big pan and put the lid on and set it on medium high heat and start preparing for pasta to be cooked in.

1. Set the skillet with medium high heat, add 1/2 tbs of butter,1/2 tbs EVOO (Extra virgin Olive Oil) and add chopped butternut squash (about 7 oz -8 oz), season it with Molton’s Nature’s Seasons with blue.

2. When butternut squash got fork tender, and browned a little, put those onto small bowl and set aside.

What is fork tender?

“Fork tender” means, vegetables in questions are tender enough for you to pierce with fork.

I usually use butter knife to see if vegetables in question is tender enough to pierce through.

3. Add 1/2 tbs butter and 1/2 EVOO  and add 1/8 red onion sliced, 1/8 White onion sliced,1/8 red pepper sliced, and 1/8 green pepper sliced and season it with Molton’s Natures Seasons with blue cap and stir.

4.Cook until onion is translucent.When onion is cooked through, take it off from heat and set it aside.

5. When water in the pan for spaghetti became rapid boil, add pinch of kosher salt and add 7 oz dry spaghetti*, and cook till al dente

** I usually weigh dry spaghetti about 3 oz to 3.5 oz per serving. 

What is al dente mean?

“Al dente” literally means “To the teeth”,but the word describes rice (for risotto) or pasta were cooked to be a bit firm (has slight resistance) but not hard.

6. Drain pasta,reserving pasta water about 1/4C in measuring cup. Then,put the pasta back in to the big pan and add onion and pepper mixture and add about 1/4 C of reserved pasta water,splash of EVOO, fresh lemon juice squeezed from 1/8 lemon wedge, and grate lemon wedge skin for lemon peel to add more lemon flavor and stir.

** Don’t grate white part of the lemon.Just outside skin. White part of lemon is bitter.

7. Add about 1/2C of grated Parmesan cheese and mix well. Taste it and adjust the seasoning/amount of Parmesan cheese in the dish.

8. Put pasta and onion/pepper mixture on the plate, put some butternut squash pieces on top and serve it with sliced lemon wedge so they can squeeze more lemon over the dish.

** You can also add/make with shrimp.

9. If you had Italian Parsley in your fridge, you can chop them and sprinkle around the plate to dress your plate up.



Sep 08, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized

OC,BG,Dott,Gimli,Mercy,Pippin,and Sadie,Sep 6th,2011

 Recently,we got feedback from Corgi furriend named “Gimli” from Corgi Country. What do furriends at Corgi Country think about our treats? Read on..

“We got a box in the mail a few days ago! It had some really GOOD smells coming from it!

“We could hardly wait for Grammy to open
it for us after we read that it was from our friend Palette and her Mom,
Yassy, who makes some WONDERFUL dog treats! She also has other dog
treats that she doesn’t make herself, but that Palette “taste tests,”
and she sells them from her online Website, Yassy’s Gourmet Dog Kitchen.”

 “Grammy had ordered a Moose Antler for us
to chew on this time! We’ve LOVED the Deer antlers, we’ve gotten from
them before, and they last a LONG time, so Grammy loves them too! “


“When she found out they had Moose
Antlers, she decided to get one to see if they last a long time too, and
if we would like THEM. Well, DUH!”


“NOW, this week, we found out they also
have Caribou Antlers, and Grammy says she wants to try to get some of
them too, next time.Yassy also sent a couple of extra treats
like she usually puts in her orders. We got a Lamb Trachea AND some
Buffalo Liver cookies!

 Note from Yassy’s Gourmet Kitchen; We put one count of Free Free Range Lamb Trachea with every order. Gimli’s mom also got Buffalo liver biscuits (Baguette biscuits) through Snack Saturday program since she placed an order on Saturday.

 You can read more on Snack Saturday program here.

 “They also have a GDK’s circle of Furriends reward program on their store menu where you can even get more
off! This is really great because Grammy also got us some “Surf Turf Jerky” that Yassy makes from wild caught salmon and Buffalo meat.
THAT was SO GOOD!!! Some of us were drooling before she was able to
give each of us a piece!

 “Now I’m going back to my Moose Antler..”



**Feedback and pictures are used with permission of Corgi Country blog**

To get to know Gimli,and furriends from Corgi Country, you can visit their blog site “Corgi Country”. ( Please click here. )

One of their furriends from Corgi Country “Dott” has Facebook page,too. You can become a fan of Little Dott page. (Please click here.)

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Sep 06, 2011 | 0 | Paw up?Paw down? Treats from Yassy's Gourmet Dog Kitchen, Uncategorized

Public telephones, Cell phones in Japan

 In Japan, you will see public telephones at many locations such as at the department stores (rest room areas, entrance area), at the train/bus stations, parks,Airport, in the bullet train (Shinkansen) etc..

 I would imagine you may find more public telephones in Japan than in the states.

Public telephones in Japan..

 For public telephones, you would commonly find green ones or grey ones. Green ones are public telephones with no digital screen on, and grey ones are digital public telephones.

 Usually, public telephone booth area has stack of telephone books for the local areas.

 On the right corner of the top are on the public telephone, you will find the slot for coins. Normally, public telephones will take 10 yen (10 cents) and 100 yen (1 dollar).

 Then, you will find the push buttons on right hand side,and right next to the buttons, you will find the slot for magnetic telephone card.

 Telephone card can be purchased at convenience stores,vending machines etc.. and usually one card is worth for 500 yen (5 dollars) talk time or for 1,000 yen (10 dollars) talk time.

How to make a call in Japan using telephone card/coins from public telephones..

1. Pick up the phone and slide the magnetic telephone card, or put coins in the telephones

2. Push the numbers to make a call

** If you are using grey digital public telephones, you will see how many minutes are remaining with the amount of coins or telephone card inserted on the screen

** If you used up the coins or telephones, phone will beep and, you can insert another telephone card or coins

3. When you hung up the phone, you will get the telephone card back from bottom slot or change if you use coins

** With the magnetic telephone card, you will notice there is numbers on top.

 When you make a call using the magnetic telephone card,and when you get
your card back from the phone, you will see the tiny hole below the
number. That hole indicate how much is left with the telephone

<Useful numbers in Japan>

** Police; 110

** Fire/ambulance; 119

** Toll free number starts with 0120

** Weather forecast; area code and dial 177 (*service charge may apply)

** International call

 One of Big International telephone companies is KDDI, and if you use KDDI to make an International call, you will dial International call number 001-010 and dial country code and telephone numbers you wish to make a call to (* You would need to omit the zero from area code).

 In Japan, certain time is cheaper rate than the other time in a day.

 When I come over to the states, I thought it funny to hear that dialing to Police here in the states is 911, which for me, it is like dialing from last for Japanese ambulance number and, with international call, I learned I should dial “011” before country code and it is like dialing from last for Japanese police number.

 One other thing I notice with dialing number is that, here in the states, when you call someone outside the area,or call someone with cell phones, you will dial “1” and then, area code and telephone number, but in Japan, you do not need to dial “1” even if you will call to outside the area or people with cell phones.

 Now and then, I get confuse whether I should dial “1” for the number I wish to call or I do not have to.

 On the talk of telephones, I think if you were into cell phones, Japan will be fun place to look into.

 I see now that states seems to be pushing the limit to functionality of cell phones and focusing more on new software but in Japan, we seem to focusing more on new hardware.

 Back in 2007, Sharp electronics company in Japan have released the cell phones  called “SH903iTV mobile phone that you can watch TV in HD, you can record the TV shows for later to watch (tivo for cell phones,in a way).

 American cell phones can capable of watching TV or recording the shows?

 You can watch youtube video below that shows you how Japanese cell phone work  to watch TV with it.

Japanese Cell phone

If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video. 

 Also, in Japan, you can find the cell phone that can be pulled apart into two, and one part becomes screen, and the other becomes remote control and this is great function if you watch TV with cell phones with your friends.

 I thought it will be interesting for you to watch it with your eyes how they can be pulled apart and, I would share the youtube video with you.

Japanese pull apart cell phone

If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video. 

 If you think this is cool cell phones, there are some more cool cell phones in Japan.

 The same Sharp Electronics company in Japan released 3D cell phones and, you can enjoy the video you have recorded with 3D.

 How it looks like?

 Below is the youtube video you can watch how the 3D video on the cell phone looks like.

Japanese 3D cell phones

If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video. 

 You can also videotape movements with 3D setting and then, you can watch it with 3D on the cell phone screen.

 Below is the tutorial how to record movement with cell phone.It is in Japanese but, you can watch the video and see what it would look like. This particular video is showing how to record video, how to upload to youtube and how to watch the video with 3D.

3D video with cell phone;Tutorial

If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video. 

 Below is the same cellphone video where you can see what you would expect to see on the cell phone screen when you watch the video on cell phone with 3D.

Japanese 3D cell phones (3D glasses version)

If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video. 

** At blog site, it does not seem to show with 3D (red/green screen),and I recommend you to watch the video at youtube here.

Aren’t they cool cell phones?

What do you look for in future cell phones?


Sep 04, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized