Archives for May, 2009

Japanese/Thai cooking: Porridge

 Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover rice from takeout place like Chinese restaurant? You can make Fried Rice with it (For recipes,please check our previous entry titled “Fried Rice,Omelet and Rice,Chicken rice,and Rice pan cake“). Then, if you had leftover Fried rice with Soy flavored,you can turn it to BBQ Fried rice. Just add your favorite BBQ sauce and,if you had vegetable you like to finish off,you can add to the dish and voilà! You can eat different flavor dish in a minutes. You can make BBQ Fried rice and top it off with omelet and you can make BBQ Omelet and rice.

 If you had plain leftover plain rice,you can make rice porridge out of it. In USA,it seems chicken Noodle soup is a dish you would make when you feel sick. In Japan,porridge is the one. My mother used to make Porridge when I get sick. Porridge is lean dish with easily digestible rice dish, it helped me feel better sooner.

 Basic Porridge recipe requires cooked white rice,egg,and nice soy sauce,green onion and kosher salt. Here is the basic Porridge recipe. I recommend you to use cooked Kokuho rose rice and Extra Fancy Whole bean soy sauce imported from Japan made by Kikkoman Japan Co. (you can find them at Asian store) for best result.

 1>Put cooked rice in a sauce pan,add water to the pan enough to cover the rice and heat through.
 2>When the rice gets boiled, add cracked egg,kosher salt, dash of soy sauce,and finely chopped green onion. Then,mix well and done. Egg gives the porridge creamy texture/taste and, I really like them.

 I sometime cook Porridge for dinner. It does not mean one of our family members is sick or anything,it just that we like to eat Porridge now and then. When I make step-up Porridge,I make it to Thai style,and make it have a little zing to it.

 What I call Thai Porridge needs following items: cooked white rice,knorr chicken bullion cube, meat (ground pork,ground beef,ground chicken will be good candidate to use),Fish sauce (this is Thai version of Soy sauce),Soy sauce,sugar, cilantro,pickled jarapano jar,sesame oil,garlic, and ginger.

 Here is how I make it.

1> Put 1/4 lb worth of ground meat, add 2tbs of extra fancy whole bean soy sauce,1 tbs of sake (recommend Gekkeikan brand),1tsp grated ginger,1 clove of grated Garlic,and 1tbs of white table sugar,and break up the meat and cook til you see no pink color

2>Add cooked white rice to the pan and add water enough to cover the rice,and add about half cubed knorr chicken bullion

3> Wait till rice gets boiled,and put to simmer and add chopped pickled jarapano (you can control how much you want it to be spicy.You can also use fresh chopped Jarapano), and chopped cilantro, dash of Fish sauce,dash of sesame oil and mix well and serve.

 If the rice were not looking like risotto,you want to add more water and adjust seasoning to your taste.

 If you want it to be leaner Porridge,you can replace the meat with chicken breast.In that case,I recommend you to start with rice and water and chicken bullion to cook first before adding the meat in the pan. Cooking the meat in liquid makes meat tender and does not come out to dry meat piece.

 My dog’s diet now is raw diet,so I don’t make this anymore,but when she was on kibble,I used to make Porridge for her when she had digestive upset. For her,very easy.I used no seasoning.

 Here is how I did.

1> Boil the chicken beforehand,shredded it
2>Put cooked white rice,pour water enough to cover the rice,bring to boil,add handful of boiled shredded chicken,add cracked Egg and done.

 I have seen boiled ground meat with rice for dogs,but I think boiled chicken is much leaner and better.

 My dog loved it a lot and diarrhea ended quite soon. I liked making Porridge for my dog such time before because this provides liquid which dogs with diarrhea needs to avoid dehydration,and meal is really lean. I have never used pumpkin for diarrhea episode. Always,she had Porridge when she had diarrhea. And,she also had probiotic which gives good bacteria into guts.

 Some people tend to give Yogurt to give good bacteria into dogs’ gut but I think probiotic has more number of good bacteria than Yogurt and,some dogs cannot tolerate diary products well,so I recommend to give probiotic rather than Yogurt.

 Please enjoy Porridge recipe and let us know how it came out.

May 28, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Music effects on dogs

 Now and then,I browse around youtube and watch interesting video clips.

 Yesterday, I came across a Doberman dog singing along Pink Floyd music,and one with Afghan dog singing along harmonica.

Palette looked at me as if to say “Let me see”. So,I put her on my laps so that she can watch the videos with me.

Interesting thing happened. With doberman video clip,Palette tilted her head,ears forward,stared at the screen.

With Afghan dog singing,she put her head onto her paws and sighed. This got me thinking if dogs have taste in music just like us.

Every Christmas, our family and Palette travel by car for 12 hours to visit my mother-in-law. It is a long trip,and when she was 2 years old, Palette kept barking whole trip.

Music playing in the car?? Heavy metal or radio station music.

When Palette was 1 year old,it was not a problem because she slept most of the time whole way to my mother-in-law house.

3rd year (last December),we played Irish Celtic music during the trip,and it made a lot of difference in her barking.

She was more quiet,and calm. And if I pretended I was sleeping, and checked her out with my one eye open, she was sleeping in her crate next to me.

As you already know,I have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and I wonder if it was because of Welsh heritage in her.

I know there are CDs that has calming music for dogs, but have you ever wonder if there are any science behind it? Have you ever wonder how it came out? Here is how it came out.

Professor Susan Wagner at Ohio state veterinary college studied  on music and dogs. She tried to help dogs that suffer from anxiety with music. What she tested were reactions against type of music: Pop,Rocks,Heavy Metal,Classical music, and talk radio.

Her result was like this. Pop music,and talk radio had not much reaction from dogs.However, when she played Heavy Metal or Rock, it made them anxious. With classical music,the dogs showed favor.

Interesting thing she states is that music waves through listening music make your brain wave speed up or slow down depending on type of music.

For dogs,kennels,shelters,place like these become stressful places for them,so she tested the psychoacoustically arranged music CD at the place to find out what reaction dogs show.

150 dogs attended the testing. And, 20% of the dogs fell asleep,and 70% of the dogs calmed down. (to read full story of this study, please click here)

So,that is how the calming CD for dogs came out.

In summary, from my experience of looking at how Palette reacts to music differently, the study result sounds right.

Doberman dog singing caught her attention more and heavy metal music played in the music made her bark whole way 12 hours in a car.

Afghan dog sing along harmonica made her sigh and Celtic music played in the car made her calm and sleepy. I first thought that she maybe showing “Boring” sigh towards Afghan dog singing to harmonica but,sigh was probably indication of her calming.

When I pet our dog with fast pace, she sometimes pant and make funny noise,tongue hanging out. When I pet her slow pace,she tend to yawn big and gives me a sigh.

If your dogs were barker in the car,you can play classical music or calming music CD arranged for dogs.

I have not bought this CD so,I cannot tell you what it was like for her, but it is interesting thing to try and see if it makes any difference in your dog’s behavior during anxious,stressful time for them.

You can see selection of calming music for dogs CD here.

What is your dog’s favorite music?

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May 26, 2009 | Comments are off | Miscellaneous (dogs)

“Surgery” in American English VS “Surgery” in British English

  “Hi,my name is Yassy” “Nice to meet you””What is your name?”

 That is how I started learning English in Japan. We start learning English at junior high school at least when I was in Japan and, textbook is based on American English. We start from easy conversation,alphabet letters, and often times,there is a couple of pages as one chapter that include key phrases and words and, we memorize them and will have small tests at next class.

 For me,English is one of those milestone thing in my life. That is because,to be honest with you, I did not like English and I even had test points about 30 to 50 points out of 100 points. At that time,I met English teacher who encouraged me to study English more in fun way:writing to pen pals. So,I eventually found pen pals around the world,and I tried reading their letter with my English dictionary in my hands,and if I did not understand what they wrote,I visited teachers’ room and asked questions. That boosted up my interests in English,and grade went up. And, I was taking notes of social study or history subject class in English too while teacher was writing in Japanese. I then went to University with English major, and I even was student teacher for English for junior high school and high school and got teaching license. Then, all of my past works are English related. I was job interviewing English speaking people who wanted to teach English to Japanese people at cultural center,and I was the one to say no or yes to them. I was making boarding announcement in English or check-in assistance etc in US Airport…When I think of how much I did not like English subject, I have strange feeling.If the English teacher did not encourage me to study English in fun way,I probably would be having different life experience.

 Anyway, I have been to England,France,Holland,USA,Canada (it was just one day in Canada though), Australia  and, since English is universe language, I thought I would understand what I hear in all those countries. England was one of those unique country when it comes to language.They speak English but their sounds/accent in conversation is different,and they use different words to point out the thing we recognize with different words.Or maybe familiar words but it has different meaning to them. English is very interesting language I would say.

 In America, if someone say ” I have  surgery”,what you would imagine is surgical operation. But if you hear the same phrase in England,it means, “you have an office,clinic” If you hear British people say ” I am going to the surgery”,it means they will go to particular doctor’s office. They do not mean surgical operation.

 So, while American people is familiar with words ” Dentist’s office”, British people is familiar with words “Dental surgery” to point out the Dentist’ office.

 You can find more American words,British words difference from “British English to American English” website.To seethe list of words,please click here.

May 24, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Underdog to wonderdog

 When you introduce yourself to someone new, often times you would tell them what you like to do,hobbies,interests and all that. One of which includes favorite books,favorite movies,favorite TV shows.

 For me, one of my favorite TV shows are dog related TV shows. I like watching amazing animals show off their skill of tricks and performance (Flyball,Frisbee,Agility, Dancing etc). I also like to watch dog training TV shows such as “It’s me or the dog”(Animal planet channel) , where you learn some tips in the area of positive dog training department.

 Another TV show I like watching is titled “Underdog to wonderdog” at animal planet channel (every Saturday 8pm EST).It is an one hour long show and,each week,1 hosts,1 dog trainer,1 dog groomer,and 1 dog carpenter in the TV show rescue one dog from shelter. Then,each has assigned job to make a rescued dog from shelter to be able to fit into new forever home as comfortable as possible.

 Show starts from the dog’s background story. Then, team works on their part to make the dog as comfortable as possible to be fit to the new family. Some dogs that appear on the show are fearful, and that is a dog that you find him at the very corner of the shelter’s cage,shaking. Some are complete untrained dog. Some are returned to shelter twice because of behavior problems. Some dogs show that they are not
comfortable enough to take a yummy treats from Andrea at first,some dogs
show aggression towards men although women are fine to be around..
With help of positive dog trainer on this show “Andrea Arden”,these fearful dogs gain confidence through the training with her,and complete untrained dogs learn doggy manners, and they turn out to be a completely different confident friendly well behaved dogs, and I am amazed with the ending.  Andrea,the positive dog trainer transform these dog to confident friendly dogs that can fit perfectly to chosen families. During the training session part,you can learn some training tips too.Apparently,she has 5 books that she published for dog training. It maybe worth checking them out if you liked how she trains the dogs..

 During the hour long show,you will also watch the dogs being groomed by groomer “Ali”, and gets a great make-over. She gives great tips in the grooming segment such as what kinds of shampoo she is using,why she is using the particular one etc.l.

 At the end of the show, team visits the chosen family with new confident friendly dog,and gives the family very big surprising present:a dog house resemble to their own house in their backyard. The canine carpenter “David” is very good at  making dog house that represent each family’s characters through the dog house looks and function.Every details he put is amazing.

 Bellow link,you can watch clip from the show. It is heartbreaking to hear how the dogs’ life used to be before the show but,it is always end up with happy ending: nice forever family with more confident not timid or fearful dog,and I like watching this show.

 Please click here to watch video clip of this show.

 What do you think of this show?

May 22, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Symbols of Japan:Part III

 In previous entry titled “Symbols of Japan: Part I“,I wrote about Japanese flag and Japanese anthem.
In entry titled “Symbols of Japan Part II“,I wrote about flower and bird. Here,I like to writ about Cultural heritage and Natural heritage of Japan.

 Japan has 7 sites of cultural heritage and 3 sites of natural heritage.Cultural and natural heritage sites will be preserved for generation after generation and,those are recognized among other countries around the world.

 Since Kyoto was ancient capital city in Japan until it gets moved to Edo (where Tokyo is),many of the heritage sites,historic architectures are concentrated in the Kyoto/Nara area.

 Cultural heritage site are: Horyuji temple (Nara prefecture),Himeji Castle (Hyogo prefecture),cultural assets of the ancient city of Kyoto (Kyoto and Shiga prefecture),traditional thatched-roof residences in Shirakawa(Gifu prefecture),and Gokayama (Toyama prefecture),and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Genbaku Dome(Hiroshima prefecture).Itsukushima shrine (Hiroshima prefecture).

 Natural heritage site are: Shirakami mountains district(Aomori prefecture),Yakushima island (Kagoshima prefecture).

 You can read my last trip back to my country “Japan” and trip to Himeji castle as family trip here.

 You also can visit cultural heritage/natural heritage website and can read brief history about each site and pictures. To visit the website,please click here.

 Bellow are some of the pictures I took when we visited my family in Japan and tripped to Nara and Hyogo area.

 This is Daibutsu (
Great Buddha of Nara)
 You can find him at Todaiji temple in Nara prefecture.
 To read more about Todaiji temple,please click here.

 Bellow,you can find Japanese Deer pictures. You can find a lot in Nara area. You can give them deer biscuits and they will bow when you give it to them. They can be spot around Todaiji temple or Nara park. This area is very popular destination for elementary school excursion.

 Bellow are pictures taken at Himeji castle. Top is Himeji castle itself,down is Samurai and Hime you can take picture with at the Himeji Castle.

 From east coast of the united states of America to Japan,it is almost 14 hours flight. It is long trip back home,but I always am looking forward to back seeing my family and enjoy the stay. What I miss a lot other than family are chimaki (that is a sweet snack where you can buy only around May 5th:Kids’ day in Japan.It is sticky rice cake kind of thing), fluffy not overly sweet Japanese cakes, Uiro (Japanese sweets made from rice) and some deserty bread,and Okowa (red bean and glutinous rice, which you sprinkle black sesame seed and salt over it and eat),and Mochi (rice cake).Things you cannot find here in US.

 Last time when I backed to Japan,I made red wine risotto. It is nice to let them taste what I learned how to make it here in US. It is also nice being there and eat what I used to eat,and dishes made by my mother. Sometimes,we eat out and go to Chinese restaurant. It is one of those things me and my husband will be looking forward to when we back there. Dishes made at Chinese restaurant in Japan are really tasty. Not too greasy,not filled with bunch of broccoli… really good. If you like to eat good Chinese dishes in USA,I recommend to try “P.F.Chang” restaurant in USA.

 Every time I back to Japan,I find a couple of odd things in snacks newly introduced to Japanese people. I tasted chocolate covered potato chips once.It was a limited snack that you can get only in Hokkaido (Northern diamond shaped island). Somebody got it for my family. I was iffy first but I really liked it a lot. Saltiness and sweetness went well together.

 My husband and I once visited Disney sea,which is sea theme attraction version of Disneyland. There,we got cappuccino pop corn. It was really long line and,if I remember right,we had to be in the line for about 45 minutes. It was really long wait but it was really good. If you ever visit “Disney sea”,you should try the cappuccino pop corn.

 Anyway,if you visit Japan, try visit these historical places and explore inside the castle. It is really amazing. Castle site, in general, is really big. View is breathtakingly beautiful. Especially Himeji castle site was quite large and, require lots of walking up and down. I think we went up about 7-8 stories to the top part of the castle when we did exploring inside the castle. It was quite an exercise.

 I am sure you can have lots of interesting experiences there  in Japan. And don’t forget to check our Shrimp burger and Teriyaki Burger at McDonald in Japan. These burgers are things we make sure we get when we back there because you cannot get those burger back in US at American McDonald…

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May 20, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Long lasting chews/recreational bones for dogs

 Right from the time you welcome the puppy to your home as new family member, this will be your age old question “What kind of things would occupy my dog so as not to be bored or clean teeth or curve the chewing behavior”.

 As you already know,Palette is my first dog ever so,that question was with me whole time. Palette’s breeder sent us with sterilized beef bone. So,that was what she had as first chew experience,but if there were nothing to be filled with, in the bone hole,she showed no interests in them or whatsoever.

 Eventually,it was left at home without much attention from Palette.

 By now, I know better and,would not give this thick hard bone to her even if she show interests in it.That is because it is hard and could wear the teeth or break teeth. I am not comfortable giving it to Palette.

 Then,I gave knotted rope. It was good at first. I could use it for tug of war,she could chew on it but eventually,she took threads off from ropes and tried to eat the threads. I was not sure if it were safe to her,so knotted rope was out from her doggy toy box.

 Next thing I gave to her was plastic bone.

 This thing came with bacon flavor,cheese flavor,you name it, and Palette showed a lot more interests but,how is possible that small chunk that was bit off from her chew get digested in her body as much as she can digest food…

 How do they make the plastic looking thing taste like bacon?? Artificial flavoring??

 I looked at  ingredients list and big 3 ingredients I could see in most flavors as base were wheat starch,potato starch,and soy meal.

 Flavoring is listed as natural flavoring but I do not know how they get the flavoring.Are they cooking bacon on skillet and pour the bacon fat to the chew? Probably not.

 Next thing she has got was smoked bone. The aroma of this smoked bone was very strong even to our nose. So, considering dog nose is much much better than human nose, it must be irresistible. Palette got smoked knuckle bone,smoked rib bones,smoked femur bone etc and,spent hours and hours on it.

 It did occupy her but, the bone broke into sharp sliver, and the bone looked hard and thicker than I feel comfortable with.

 Some of the smoked dog treats such as smoked bully sticks has liquid smoke is used,some are irradiated, and cooked bone become harder than raw bones so when dog chew,it splinters very sharp. 

 I do not buy smoked bones anymore because of this reason. These days,you can get all kinds of smoked bones from smoked ostrich bone to Kangaroo tail bones…

 If the bones are coming from animals that support heavy weight such as leg bones from beef,even raw leg bones are hard to the dogs’ teeth.

 Kangaroo tail sounds interesting but when you think about it,Kangaroo use its tail to support their body weight to kick the predators. So,as first tips to see if the bone is safe to give to your dogs,think about where the bones are coming from,and how the bones are used by the animals.

 Secondly,think if the bone is raw or cooked/smoked. If cooked/smoked,I will pass.
If raw bones, I will avoid weight bearing bones such as knuckle,femur,marrow bones from big animals such as cow.

 Some people maybe feeding those raw weight bearing bones without incident (teeth wear/broken teeth), but I personally do not feel comfortable enough to give it to Palette.

 Before I switch her diet to raw diet,I did not know better about cooked bone. I thought it will be a jackpot for her if we give bone off the meat (Ham).So,one Christmas day,she has got Ham bone. She really liked it and demolished pretty good chunk of it but later,she was really miserable.

 Luckily,there was no blockage or anything,but she started pooping out very hard rock-like golf sized ball poop frequently first.Then,hours  later,she was miserable with diarrhea and she suffered diarrhea for 2-3 days. And she had to go to butt wash early morning before going back to her crate. It was miserable.. So,no cooked bone for her any more. Even if she likes it so much.

 After exploring all these chews/bones, I started giving bully sticks.

 Bully sticks are,for my 30lb Corgi,it is 30 minutes joy per 6″ average stick. So,it is not chump chump gone,but still short lasting than I want it to be and,  although this is good occasional chew,it becomes costly over-time.

 Last Christmas, I got 3 feet long bully stick from Petsmart. Palette enjoyed it for long time. Funny thing is that, since the stick is very long,when she wants to move it around the edge bump into places and if she wanted to move under the table,she gets stuck there because stick is longer than kitchen table legs space.

 Also, it was funny to see her using the edge of the room corner to support the bully sticks. Remember our dog is Corgi and does not have long leg like Golden Retriever and it was impossible to hold the 3 feet long bully sticks with her paws. I should have gotten pictures..

 Anyway,bully sticks are natural chew and good but not all bully sticks are made same way. I have seen one being irradiated (products I have seen claimed bully sticks was irradiated for human), I have seen one made with liquid smoke, some are made vertically,some are made flat… Some are odorless.

 I was not sure how they make it to odorless for something that has natural smell to it. I thought maybe the way they make: vertical or flat makes difference? So, I got one stick that was made flat, and the one stick made vertically personally just to see if any smell is different. It seems the one made flat had so much strong smell compared to the one made vertical. So, I have asked the store what makes such difference.

 They said that by hanging and making the bully sticks vertical, the fluid in the bully sticks drain more and the longer baked bully sticks has less odor than the one made flat.

 It is good practice to look label of the products very carefully. If you were interested in trying our buffalo bully sticks, please check buffalo bully sticks here . It is made here in US , and nitrate free,no liquid smoke is used.

Palette enjoys her buffalo bully stick end.. wet nose, drool bubbles on bully stick end

 The chew that lasts lot longer than bully stick is Deer Antlers. I found this Antlers 1.5 years ago or so. I was googling natural chew and I gave it a try.

 I was not sure if it was something our dog show interests in it or not but tried with all good reviews on it. Palette religiously goes back to chew 2 times a day and chew with super-man posture(legs kicking out). She chews about 15 minutes or so per session and call it a day.

 It has 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 liked the fact that the Antlers I got 1.5 years ago is still here at home,still she enjoys as much as she did before and,it really was worth the cost for me.

 Also,it is nothing artificial. Since our dog loved this Antlers so much,and it seemed lasting quite longer than any of the things I tried for her,I decided to offer Antlers to others too. Our Antlers are from free- range Deer/Elk.

 Some are branched out two ways,some are straight, some are different shapes, and it comes varied thickness and colors. Watch how Palette chew Antlers.

Palette and Deer Antlers..

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

Below is a picture of Antlers she was chewing in the video above. You can see that chewing grind down the Antlers.

 There is another  brand of Antlers.It is chalky and most size are 4-6 inch long and only difference is thickness of the Antlers.

 Have you ever wondered why it is so chalky? I asked them why. They are washed in water  and sanded. That is why,it is chalky. That is why all comes straight shape.

 I sometimes wonder if the dogs have gotten sanded Antlers,the aroma is weaker than our Antlers.. Imagine herbs and spices. Tearing up the fresh basil leaves right from the garden tastes better,aroma is stronger.Imagine freshly grind coffee right when you drink tastes better than instant coffee.Imagine freshly grind coriander seeds has more aroma than bottled pre-ground seeds.

 I wonder if by sanding,that special aroma gets faded away. It is something only our furry friends know about it. In any case, if your dogs got Antlers and showed no interests, try grind against sand paper to release the aroma of Antlers (which no odor to human,but to dogs,maybe smell better).

 I think,from my experience giving so many kinds of recreational bones,chews,my favorite is Antlers by far. It has been lasting more than a year,and more than anything else,it is Palette’s gnawing pleasure item of all time.

 Some people asked me if it require refrigeration. Answer is “no”. You can keep it at room temperature.

 How long it would last will be depending on dogs’ jaws ability to chew and how long they spend on it.

 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. If you were interested in our Antlers,please check out our Antlers here.

 In summary,chews and bones keep dogs busy and can become something you can use to curb the chewing problems you have.

 However, going for a walk,doing short training with your dog,playing with your dog also something important. Try fun game with your dog,try teach your dog funny tricks,and make your bond with your dog stronger. When you have “me” time,your dogs can have their “me” time with chews.

 Today, we played weave pole.Weave pole is one of the obstacles in the Agility course and,it is straight poles lined up in front of dog and dog weave through the pole. It is in indoor right now and,it had guides so that my dog can weave through by running inside the guide lines plastics. Today,I tried taking the guides off from weave pole one by one,and Palette could weave through without guides!! Yay!

 She enjoys weave poles a lot and once she goes out the weave pole ends,she turns back and weave through the pole to the starting point Agility is also fun thing to do with your dog. if you were a handy man,you could make obstacles yourself.
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May 18, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Japanese cooking: Niku Jyaga (meat,onion & Potato)

 Japanese dishes’ flavors are made base around soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

 Many people may think that Japanese cooking is complicated but,it’s not.It is quick and easy,and I think our dishes have more vegetables and less trans fat (cream,cheese,butter etc..) compared to other type of cooking.

 This time,I would like to introduce you to easy beef ,onion and potato dish called “Niku Jyaga”.

Niku jyaga

Niku Jyaga (Meat,onion,and potato)..

 Niku means “meat” in Japanese. Jyaga is short for Jyaga imo which means “Potato” in Japanese. Basically,this dish is made with meat,and potato and sliced onion in soy sauce based sauce.

 All you need are beef,sweet onion,russet potato,green peas,sesame oil,sake,white table sugar, and soy sauce. 8 ingredients total and you can make it in less than 30 minutes.

 It is a perfect quick dish for busy days.

 When it comes to cooking,I am a little picky what I use.

 Onion can be yellow onion if you have yellow onion,but I like white onion or sweet onion better for this particular dish.

 It is because white onion is more meaty texture to it. If you use sweet onion, the onion is mild flavor and sweeter and, I love to use sweet onions as well.

 I use white/sweet onion for dishes that require sliced onion.I use yellow onion for dishes that I need to chop fine for the dish. 

 For example, to make caramelized onion,French onion soup,Philly cheese sandwich etc..I use white/sweet onion,but dishes like fried rice,risotto etc,I use yellow onion.It is just my preference.

 With potatoes,I use Russet potato because it holds its shape nicely. If dishes require mashing then,I use Yukon gold potato.It is more creamy texture and it makes nice dish.

 Mashed potatoes is one of the dishes I use Yukon gold potato all the time. With baked potato,I use Russet Potato.It gives more meaty texture.

 With sesame oil,I do not have much preference but I like yellow cap sesame oil that I get from Asian store that was imported from Japan.It usually costs me about 6 dollars or so per bottle.

 With soy sauce,I am very picky. It just does not taste right with the ones from local grocery store. Even with Japanese brand soy sauce bottled in US. Ingredients are different.

 I get my favorite soy sauce called “Extra fancy whole bean soy sauce” with kikkoman Japan from Asian store. One big plastic bottle soy sauce costs me about 6 dollars.It is imported from Japan too and it has just 4 ingredients in the soy sauce while others I find at local grocery store has more than 4 ingredients and sometimes,with caramel coloring…. 

 You can read more on soy sauce from my previous entry titled ” sushi and soy sauce“.

 With Sake,I use “Gekkeikan” brand.You can find it at local grocery store.It usually cost about 7-8 dollars per bottle.

 So,here is how you can make it.

Ingredients for marinade:

1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs water
1/32 tsp baking soda


Rib eye steak 8 oz sliced thin,cut to bite size pieces
1 russet potato cut into bite size pieces
1/2 Sweet onion rough sliced
1/4C sake
1 1/8C water or Dashi
1 tbs table sugar
4.5 tbs soy sauce
Extra virgin olive oil
sesame oil

1. Make marinade in a small bowl;mix 1 tbs soy sauce,2 tbs water,1/32 tsp baking soda

2. Add sliced,bite size pieces of rib eye steak into the marinade and let it sit for about 20 minutes

3. In the sauce pan, drizzle extra virgin olive oil,and add 1 russet potato sliced to bite size pieces,and stir

4. Add rough sliced sweet onion,and stir
5. Add sliced beef and wait till the beef starts changing its color from pink to brown,and stir

6. To <5>, add 1/4C sake,1 1/8C water, 4.5 tbs soy sauce,1 tbs table sugar and cook for about a couple of minutes,skimming off the foams/bubbles (the foams/bubbles on the surface as vegetables cook)

7. Cover the lid and cook about 8 minutes at medium heat

8. Remove the lid and let it cook for another 7 minutes until potato becomes fork-tender,and liquid in the dish reduces

9. Add 3 tbs frozen green peas and cook for another 3 minutes,and just about finishing up, drizzle a dash of sesame oil and stir


Makes:2-3 servings

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May 16, 2009 | Comments are off | Asian cooking 911

Interactive toys for dogs

 What kinds of toys do you think your dogs enjoy a lot? Do you have any particular personal rules when you buy for your dogs?

  When I buy toys for Palette, I like something durable and interactive. If it were squeaky toy,I like fleece toys.

Fleece material pick up your scent very good and, dogs seem to enjoy squeaking the toys and carrying around the house.”Palette” has some fleece toys.She likes fleece squeaky bear toy.

Also, she has this all time favorite plush toy that is chubby and big. It is a chubby rabbit squeaky toy and,believe it or not,I got it with one dollar on clearance sale at our local grocery store. I should have gotten it more.

This rabbit toy has long ears,and she likes to hold onto the ear and shake and run with it.

 I have plenty of dog toys in her toy box. I don’t put them all out,and rather,I put a couple of them out for her to play with and rotate them.

That way,she sees the toys as if new to her and get more excited to play with it.

 I myself like interactive dog toys a lot for her to play with.

Reason why is because it gives the dog to THINK to solve the problems,and it is good mental stimulation.

 When Palette was on kibble diet,she ate her food from buster cube.

Buster cube is the plastic cube you put treats or kibble inside and,you can control how much of food coming out at one time.

If you set the hole larger,your dog gets more stuff with one good roll. Palette was really frustrated when she could not figure out what to do with it knowing something inside.

First thing she tried was pawing at it. Next thing she did was tried to bite the edge. So,I gave her a hint. I rolled the buster cube on the floor and one treat came out and,now she figure out what made the treat coming out from the cube so,she nosing it around with great concentration.

 Now,her diet has changed to raw diet and,I rarely use the buster cube,but I use empty cereal box instead of buster cube itself and let her try to think how to get to the treats inside the cereal box.

It is my version of instant buster cube You can make it yourself and see how your dogs do with it.

I do not recommend to use corrugated box because it is thick material and probably not good to their teeth.

 Other than this instant buster cube thing, I like letting her play with Cagey cube.

Cagey cube is another interactive toy. It comes with 4 different kinds  of shapes of squeaky toys inside the soft cage.

Square,Round,Triangle,and nubby shaped squeaker. You will place them into the soft cage and dog tries getting the toys out. You can see how she plays here with clip below. This costs about 8 dollars,and size is about 8 inches for cage.

Palette and Cagey Cube toy

  One more interactive toy (if you can call it) I like is an Egg.

A whole raw egg. Below,you can find one more clip I took how Palette deals with a whole egg.

In this video, Palette is trying to figure out how to crack an egg to eat. This video is from second try.

Usually,she gets Egg in the dog bowl. So,on her first time to see an
Egg,she was not sure what to do with it. She maybe could smell the Egg she loves but,unsure of how to eat the slippery rolling Egg.

I was curious how she solves the problem.

 On her first try,I ended up showing her egg can get a crack if you drop it onto floor with firm grip. You can see here that she is trying it;hold the Egg tight in her mouth,drop it onto floor.

It is one of her menu items but,it can be fed as interactive toy in our house. She licks the egg a lot,which makes the Egg very slippery on her feeding mat (shower curtain).

One time, in the video,I had to point out to let her know where the Egg went.

Also,you can notice she is bringing Egg back onto this feeding mat if the Egg was about to roll out from the mat.

She knows,food need to stay on this mat. And,did you notice that she was licking the feeding mat for one minutes after she ate the Egg all?? She likes Eggs that much.

I sometimes gives her boiled egg too this way. She likes boiled egg too.

Palette and an Egg

  I like the fact that interactive toys make your dog to think by themselves and solve the problems.
I like giving Palette the time to think what she is supposed to do in training as well.
I don’t like to force her into position / behavior that I want i  the training time.
Good example being, I do not like to push her lower back to make her sit when I teach her to sit. I rather like to teach her to sit without any physical touch.

 Her 4th birth day is coming up in short time, and I am not sure what I like to give her yet.

Maybe, another interactive toy ? I know I am interested in doggy puzzle thing made by Finish lady “Nina Ottosson”. I am not sure yet.I maybe able to give her nice special meal…

 What toys do you like best for your dog?
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May 14, 2009 | Comments are off | Miscellaneous (dogs)

Blue plaque

 Do you know what blue plaque is? You can find them in London,England.

 It is a blue colored,round,metal mark.Those are with buildings where, historical people, famous people used to live. Isac Newton, Sherlock Holmes etc … This is very useful things especially for tourists. Easy to spot them. I have been to Sherlock Holmes museum in London,and around the area,there are so many similar looking buildings so,finding the right place with this blue plaque thing as clue was very helpful. (To read more on blue plaque from wikipedia,please click here.)

 Sherlock Holmes Museum itself is not as spacey as Smithsonian museum here in USA,but you can find many interesting things there. When you visit Sherlock Holmes museum, you can leave your name,country as records/proof you have visited them. Maybe you can find my name in visitor note

Here is the official website for Sherlock Holmes museum.

 Have you found any interesting signs or marks when you visited overseas??

May 12, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Why dogs lick human

 Here is my age old question regarding dog behavior.

Why dogs seem to like licking human?

 Our dog “Palette” is not an obsessive licker but, she licks.

Her day goes like this: spend hours with us till bed time by just hanging out with us or play ball/Frisbee,daily walk etc and then,she goes to bed.

She usually sleeps on her back,but she sometimes sleeps like this. This crate is I-crate and,we love it.

It is very spacious for her,and for us, easy to carry.It is collapsible and easy to fit in your car trunk without using much space. And,you can place crate cover and make it look like more den-like.

We spot her using this crate more comfortably and sometimes,we spot her still in her crate sleeping on her back even though we opened the crate door hours ago..

 Anyway,whatever reason is,she sometimes abandon such space in the crate and, lay against corner of the crate like this.

Face skin is all bunched up against crate bars, and for me,it looks uncomfortable way to sleep. But for her,it seems not be,because we find her sleeping like this more than one occasion.

 So,her day start from crawling out from this crate with big stretch, and going around me and licks my feet a bit and settle begging for massage.

She never fail this routine. I get a lick or two of her licking my feet everyday. So,what is so special about licking the human feet?

 According to, the moment puppies come to this world,nursing mom lick them to stimulate them to breathe.

After that,nursing mom lick the puppies to stimulate doing potty themselves.

 So, licking is part of bonding behaviors. (To read more from,please click here.)

 If you have seen how wolves nurse their litters,nanny wolves chew up the food for litters,and they lick the nanny’s mouth.Then,nanny vomits the food for litters.

 Then,some say it is a signal of submission/respect.

 Some say dogs lick because they taste salt.

 Dog behavior is also by learning/reinforced.

If your dogs lick you endlessly,you may not want to rewarding the behavior,by petting them.

 If you don’t mind being kissed by your furry friends once or two, you can teach them to kiss you on cue..

If you like them to kiss on your palm,you can target the kiss on to that position.

 This is very easy. Put a dab of peanut butter on your cheek.

Dog would naturally go sniff the area and possibly lick the peanut butter.

The moment your dog lick your cheek, mark the behavior with clicker and give them a treat.

If you like to be kissed on your palm,you can put a dab of peanut butter onto your palm,and right  when they lick your peanut butter off from your palm,mark the behavior with clicker and give them a treat.

Later,you give cue word and eventually,dog will kiss you without peanut butter on your cheek.Palette kisses my cheek with cue  world ” kiss”.

 Now you can wow your family by showing off this cool trick with your furry friends

 What are your theories on dog licking human??

May 10, 2009 | 1 | Miscellaneous (dogs)