Archive for April, 2009

Cambridge in the springtime

Monday, April 27th, 2009

It was such a beautiful day on Saturday that I thought it would be a shame not to snap a few pictures of Cambridge looking lovely. The late-afternoon sunlight was beautiful and quite amenable to a bit of photography. I hope you enjoy the results!

Elmside

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

At long last we’ve moved and we couldn’t be happier with our new home! A double room in Elmside at Clare Hall opened up and we jumped on the opportunity. We share the house (bathrooms, kitchen, sitting room, dining room) with a truly lovely group of people including some of Alex’s fellow rowers and one of the members of our varsity wine team. We have a nice big window in our room that looks out right into the middle of the gardens at Clare Hall and the front of the house faces into a quiet residential street just opposite the university library. I’ve tried to capture a feel of what the place looks like in the pictures, but have also included some details of artwork and decorations that make the place feel like our own. These are just little things that you can be sure we see everyday. This way you can see what we see and feel a little bit closer.
… and if all of that isn’t enough, you can take a 3-D virtual tour of our street on google maps! We live in the red brick house with the hedge and dark brown fence in front. You can even make out “Elmside” on the fence and see the sign with an arrow pointing to Clare Hall.

View Larger Map

Mugicha

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Monday was the first sunny, warm spring day we’ve had all year. Between the blossoms covering the trees, the tulips sprouting, and the warm air, I really got into the spring spirit. Trolling for recipes, I got inspired by justhungry┬áto try making Mugicha (roasted barley tea), which apparently is a very typical harbinger of spring and summer in Japan. I didn’t have a proper recipe (it seems that usually you buy ready-made teabags), but we had some barley at home, so I decided to have a go at it anyway. My preparation was as follows:

Take about a cup of dried barley and dry roast over medium-high heat. Keep stirring it constantly to prevent burning. You want to get it to brown and puff. It should roughly double in size and will smell about like you’re making popcorn. Don’t worry if it smells a bit of burning, as long as you don’t see any bits getting over browned. Then add about 1.5-2 litres of hot (not boiling) water and simmer for a few minutes. Be careful when you add the water! I added boiling water and the combination of hot grains and pre-boiled water resulted in super-heated water trying to leap out of the pan. Fortunately quick removal from the heat saved disaster. Let the grains steep for about 1/2 an hour or so once you’ve taken the pan off the heat. Chill and serve cold.
I don’t know what mugicha is supposed to taste like, so I can’t say how authentic this is, but Alex and I found it a pretty enjoyable drink, despite sounding odd. The closest thing I can liken it to is the flavour of Kashi or sweetened puffed-rice… but a drink. Something to try if you’re feeling adventuresome. Besides the tea, you also end up with some tasty, toasty cooked barley that you can use for whatever sort of dish you fancy.

Japan Day

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009