Apr 25, 2013

A Japanese Tea Ceremony (The Way of Tea)

One of my favorite things about Japan and the Japanese is the traditional tea ceremony (Chanoyu or Sado). Ceremonial tea drinking was brought to Japan by Zen Buddhist monks in the 1200's. These monks developed a simple and precise ceremony that has lasted several centuries. The setting of a tea ceremony should be calm and meditative, should stand in a garden and be small, simple, and very clean. For decorations it should have a scroll (kakemono) with calligraphy or an ink painting and an alcove with a flower arrangement.

The tea for a Japanese Tea Ceremony called Matcha is green and thick. It is brewed over a charcoal fire and poured into large cups without handles. Those participating in the tea ceremony should sip their tea quietly and keep their conversation formal and short. Their focus should be on the movements of the server, the beautiful surroundings and the marvelous taste of the tea. 
Amanatto (azuki beans covered in sugar), Manju (Japanese sweet dumplings), and Uiro (Japanese steam cakes) are a few of the delicacies that are served during a tea ceremony. No matter where you are in the world creating a simple tea ceremony amongst family and friends is one way to immerse yourself into the world of JAPAN.

                         Green Tea Cookies (A Taste of Japan)

1 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 large egg beaten, 1 tablespoon Green Tea powder (Matcha) and 2 1/2 cups flour.

Cream butter in a large bowl, add sugar & egg, mix well. Sift flour and green tea powder (Matcha) into the butter mixture and form into a dough. Wrap dough inside plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Roll dough on a flour board. The dough should be 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut cookies into circles with a glass or cookie cutter. 
Place on lined baking sheet and bake 10 - 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Japanese Desserts
Matcha (Green Powder Tea)

                             ENJOY YOUR JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY!

Apr 19, 2013

JAPAN (Culture & Sights)

If JAPAN is your destination consider flying with Japan Airlines. The staff provides impeccable customer service to all of its passengers making everyone feel as if they're flying first class. This is not surprising because the Japanese people have a way of perfecting everything they do from engineering automobiles to making irresistible
sushi. The ideal way to experience Japan is to spend a month or two but even a couple of weeks will give you a taste of Japanese culture. 

Fly with Japan Airlines to JAPAN                                      

Journeying through JAPAN is as easy as sipping a cup of green tea. Here are my recommendations for an authentic JAPANESE experience:

KYOTO TEMPLES & GARDENS  (Japan's most beautiful temples are located in Kyoto)


JAPAN ALPS (The Japan Alps are divided into three ranges; the northern region is the best option for hiking and skiing). 

SUMO is the National Sport of Japan; two sumo wrestlers fight in a sumo ring. Tickets are often purchased a month in advance for this very popular sport.

                                               SUMO WRESTLERS

LAKE YAMANKA for water sports. Glide through the waters on a boat and get stunning views of the famous Mount Fuji.

                                                                              MOUNT FUJI

TOKYO (Japan's largest city) is packed with attractions such as Tsukiji Fish Market, Sony Building, Imperial Palace, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Tower, Hanayashiki Amusement Park and Edo-Toyko Museum.


Catch a glimspe of a GEISHA woman in full dress (kimono and white make up) in Kyoto or Tokyo. What's a Geisha? A Geisha is a popular female entertainer who attends to the needs of guests during banquets, dinners, and other special occasions. A Geisha is trained in the performing arts as a dancer, vocalist, and instrumentalist. She's an excellent communicator and the perfect hostess.



Sit back and enjoy a JAPANESE ANIMATION film. (Anime in Japanese). The world of anime dates back to 1917. Japanese animated productions are usually hand drawn or computer generated for film and television viewing. They attract a huge worldwide audience. 

Top Japanese Animation FIlms:

1) Spirited Away                                                                            
2) Howl's Moving Castle
3) Princess Mononoke
4) Akira
5) My Neighbor Totoro

                                          World Famous Japanese Animation

A new trend of advertising has gained popularity in JAPAN. A few advertising firms are now hiring young adult women to wear sticker like advertisements on their thighs to advertise products ranging from contact solution to shampoo. Rather than using billboards for advertising, firms are now paying Japanese women up to $120.00 per day to wear a sticker like advertisement. The Japanese are always thinking of something "original."

21st Century Advertising in JAPAN

A journey through JAPAN is an extraordinary cultural experience. Whether it's sipping sake, eating delicious selections of food in a bento box, strolling through a Japanese garden or visiting a shrine Japan, is a top winner in almost every category.

Up next: A traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony!!!

Adrianna for TRAVEL WORLD 

Apr 14, 2013

O for O K I N A W A

One of the healthiest places on the earth is an island chain in the southern end of Japan known as O K I N A W A.
Okinawa means "rope in the ocean" and this beautiful oasis in Japan is blessed with blue waters, deep forests, colorful fish, coral reefs, ocean breezes, and a pure diet of tofu, seaweed, grains, fruits, vegetables and fresh fish.

Japan's Okinawa islands consist of Okinawa Island (Honto) the largest in size and population, Kumejima, Agunijima, and Iejima. There are also the Kerama Islands of Akajima, Gerumajima, Tokashiki, and Zamami as well as the Yokatsu Islands.

The oldest evidence of human existence in Okinawa dates to the Paleolithic era. The 8th century marks the beginning of an agricultural society. The citizens of Okinawa have the longest lifespan in the world (100-105 years). Diet and exercise play a key role in maintaining a healthy and long life. A typical diet consists of grains, fruits, vegetable, seaweed, fish, tofu, and green tea. Consumption of goya (a bitter melon gourd), Japanese sweet potatoes, zedoary (an herb similar to turmeric), and fresh fish from the local waters provide the body with minerals and vitamins.

Okinawa Sweet Potatoes and Goya are loaded with nutritional benefits!

It is said that karate, a world famous martial art got its start in Okinawa. Karate was born from the integrations of a Chinese marital art "kung fu" and "te" meaning "hand" in Japanese. KARATE is a combination of punching, striking, kicking, elbow strikes, and knee strikes.

KARATE is very popular in JAPAN!

The Okinawans call themselves Uchinanchu "sea people." They speak of things that are done on the shima (islands) in comparison to the way things are done on Japan's mainland known as honto. Today in the 21st century the Okinawa islands are not only enjoyed by the Japanese but by the multitude of international tourists who have discovered a bit of paradise on the Asian continent.

Things to see on Okinawa Island:
Southern Honto;Sefa Utaki, War Memorials
Naha; Shuri Castle, Shikinaen Garden, Tamaudun (Mausoleum)
Northern Honto; Hiji Waterfall, Hedo Misaki, Ocean Expo Park, Nago Pineapple Park, Nakijin Castle
Central Honto; Nakagusuku, Nakamura Residence

Be certain to scout out the other nearby islands for water sports and stunning beaches!

Goya Stir-fry (A taste of Okinawa, JAPAN)

Scoop out the seeds of two goyas and slice the goyas into bite sizes. Fry 2-3 thinly sliced garlic cloves into an oiled wok. Add the goya and 1 cup sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Stir and fry for 5-7 minutes. Add some soy sauce and enjoy a bit of Okinawa, JAPAN.

Apr 7, 2013

JAPAN; Cherry Blossoms, Electronics, Reiki, Sushi, Tea Ceremonies & More

Japan is an archipelago (string of islands) and yet despite its rather small size Japan produces some of the biggest and best things in the world. 

There's the metropolis Tokyo and the sandy beaches of lovely Okinawa where residents eat one of the healthiest diets in the world. There are the high speed bullet trains and the mighty snowcapped Mount Fuji.

Japan is the only country in the world with a reigning emperor. It's also the country that originated a healing energy known as Reiki.

Common Japanese Phrases

Moshi-moshi-Hello (when answering the phone)
Domo-Thank you

Join me on my "Japan" blog as I share all the marvelous things that this ancient Asian country has to offer; islands of snow & sunshine, cherry blossoms, sushi, tea ceremonies, Buddhism, high technology industries, snow monkeys, animation, chopsticks and much much more!

JAPAN; the land of many contrasts!

Apr 5, 2013

Circling Ireland's Southwest Region

There's no doubt about it IRELAND is a magnificent island to explore and one of the most stunning areas is the Southwest region of Ireland. The scenery is so captivating and inspiring around here that it makes you yearn to just settle down and call the place "home sweet home."

Not far from Shannon Airport is the attractive town of KILLARNEY. Killarney looks like the pages of an enchanting fairytale that has come to life and captured its viewers. The town of Killarney is filled with bed & breakfasts, churches, restaurants, and shops making it tourist friendly. The star attraction here is  Killarney National Park a 24,000 oasis of woods dotted with sparkling lakes. Outdoor enthusiasts just can't get enough of this splendid park which offers an endless amount of biking and hiking opportunities. Killarney is a prime choice for spending a few days relaxing and meeting international travelers.

Whether you choose to drive or take a bus tour of the "RING OF KERRY" expect every angle and turn to reward you with first prize scenery that you'll never forget. This is "God's country"and the Irish know that the "Ring of Kerry" is one the countries biggest blessings. "The Ring of Kerry" is one of the best places to observe birds so keep an eye out for "Skelligs" known as Ireland's largest bird. The hiking around "Ring of Kerry" is awesome. There are also opportunities to boat, fish, horseback ride, and swim.

                                                   The fairytale village of Sneem

Once you get a feel for the "Ring of Kerry" consider spending a bit of time in some of its charming villages. I recommend the following: Cahirciveen for its different colored terraced houses. Kenmare for the heritage center and stone circle, Sneem an adorable village with a picture postcard setting, and Waterville a seaside village famous for its golf course and sport fishing.

                                               Hanging out on the Dingle Peninsula

Ahoy there! Dingle, Dingle, Dingle...I want to spend my wandering days in the Dingle Peninsula eating fresh seafood with the Irish on the sea, taking a swim, sipping some beer, and singing folk songs in the pub. The gorgeously scenic DINGLE PENINSULA stretches about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Ceann in the west to Tralee in the east. A magical destination with long sandy beaches, seaside cliffs, glacial valleys, lakes, and mountains, the Dingle Peninsula is the place to take a vacation and enjoy the roaring Atlantic Ocean coast. Loaded with attractions and interesting sights the Dingle Peninsula is a great place to mingle with family & friends. You'll enjoy the gracious Irish hospitality and breathe the fresh salt air which will rejuvenate your soul in no time.

IRELAND'S southwest region is a gem of a place to visit. From Castle Country "Limerick" to "Skelling Michael" give yourself at least a week to harmonize with this quaint land and glorious scenery that will leave you feeling cheerful and happy from head to toe.


7 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 3/4 cup currants
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup cold water
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup oil

Mix lemon peel, cold water, buttermilk, honey and oil together. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, caraway seeds, and currants. Knead briefly and shape into 2 round loaves. Place on oiled sheet, cut across the top if desired to prevent cracking during baking. Bake immediately at 350 degrees for about an hour until the top of the bread is browned on top. Enjoy your Irish soda bread with lots of pure Irish butter!

Irish Soda Bread

Sunrise Farm in County Clare

County Clare with its picture-postcard villages, serene landscape. and Cliffs of Moher is authentic as it gets. It's the IRELAND that most people long for and I count my Irish blessings that my time working on Sunrise Farm rewarded me with three pure gold months enjoying County Clare to the fullest. The list of places to scout out in County Clare can take a few pages so I'll narrow it down by recommending the following; Bunratty Castle, the town of Ennis, Lahinch, Newmarket-on-Fergus and the Cliffs of Moher. 
                            Enjoying the horse fair in Ballinasoe, Ireland

One of the perks to working on Sunrise Farm in County Clare was getting to know the locals. A few Irish friends I made took me to a Horse Fair in Ballinasoe where I got to mingle with the Irish folks and check out all the amusement rides, listen to live music, and taste Irish treats sold by vendors. I never saw so many horses in one place as I did that day at the Ballinasoe Horse Fair. Beautiful horses in all shapes and sizes.

My heart belongs to Sunrise Farm my home for three months. It's where I baked bread, fed the cats, chopped wood, composted, helped with crop rotation, planted seeds, and took care of the green houses. There were beets, carrots, chard, kale, herbs, and potatoes to pick and so many other tasty plant food. After working hard on the farm it was delightful to create delicious vegetarian meals for staff to enjoy. The wood burning stove in the kitchen provided a toasty warm atmosphere and it served as a good place to dry our clothes. Often we would put some slices of homemade bread on the hot stove surface and dab the bread with pure Irish butter. We certainly had plenty of bread on hand because it was baked every week in the Sunrise Bakery.

The Sunrise Bakery was equipped with all the right features for creating outstanding dishes. We used many fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm in our dishes and everything we used for cooking and baking was organic. Cheesecake, energy balls, chocolate cake, Irish soda bread, pizza, and veggie burgers were just a few of the many things I helped make in the Sunrise Bakery commercial kitchen. 

County Clare is just fine in rain or in shine. It's a place to seek some peace, happiness and Irish hospitality. Set your spirit free and take in the open land and good luck of the Irish in County Clare, Ireland.

                                  Working at Sunrise Bakery on Sunrise Farm

                                   A Taste of Sunrise Farm (Bakery Recipes)

Energy Balls: 2 cups oats, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup shredded coconut. Combine all the ingredients together in a big bowl and shape into small balls. Roll the balls in shredded coconut or finely chopped almonds.

These energy balls are synonymous with Sunrise Farm. We sometimes donated money to charity from our sales.

Perfect Pizza1 cup boiling water, 1 cup cold water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon dry yeast, 3-4 cups flour, a pinch of salt.

Combine boiling water with cold water, let dissolve a few minutes than add the sugar, dry yeast, flour, and pinch of salt.  Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour. Roll the dough out and shape it in a size to make 3 -4 mini sized pizzas. Oil mini pizza pans with about a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle a handful of polenta over the oil. Place rolled dough into each pizza pan.

Bake each mini pizza for about five minutes until crust is slightly baked. Put sauce and cheese on top of the pizzas. Optional toppings; sliced tomatoes, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. 

Place the pizzas in the oven and bake each pizza completely for about 10 - 15 minutes. 

Polenta is the secret ingredient we used in this pizza recipe for the ultimate taste. It makes the crust extra tasty. 

Veggie Burgers: Thinly grate beets, chard, carrots, and kale. Place them in a large bowl. Add about 1 cup of hot water to 2 cups of Irish quick oats. Mix and shape into balls. Dip balls into toasted sesame seeds. Press each ball into a flat burger. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

This recipe should make about 6 - 8 veggie burgers!

Enjoy the veggie burgers with organic ketchup with or without a burger roll.

Please feel free to email me for more terrific recipes all created on the lovely SUNRISE FARM in County Clare by master chef Didi.

               At the farmer's market selling items made at Sunrise Farm Bakery


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