Saturday, 11 August 2012

Sushi Making Workshop

Tomoko gives us the tips
Tomoko Oka introduced her sushi making workshop by saying that she loves calligraphy, food and cooking. She told us that she wants to promote the idea that Japanese food can easily be prepared at home and the ingredients can be found in any local supermarket.

The workshop was held at Ryokan Gojyuana, a traditional Japanese style inn located in Balmain.

We spent a fun two hours learning basic sushi making techniques, including how to prepare the rice, assemble the ingredients, rolling the nori (seaweed wrap) and then cutting into sizes ready to be served.

I had no idea that medium grain rice was required and that the regular long grain rice does not get sticky enough to use in sushi. Another great tip we got was to use wasabi powder rather than the paste. Tomoko explained it was a more authentic and has a nicer flavour.

Lots of concentration
Some of the fillings we tried included teriyaki chicken, salmon, tuna and mayonnaise, plus cucumber and carrot. There was also some cream cheese that went great with the salmon. Tomoko gave us some other ideas for ingredients to try at home, plus advice on the best vinegar and seasonings to use.

Once cut, we got to try our sushi creations and they all came up very well. Some were a little over filled with rice, with a bit of practice we all worked out how much rice seemed to make the right diameter roll.

Following our sushi making efforts we were offered two different types of Japanese tea to try. This was a refreshing way to finish the workshop. One of the teas also contained roasted brown rice and it was delicious, with a really nutty aroma.

The venue for the workshop was lovely. Linda who hosted the event told us of her plans for the inn and it sounds like it will be a great place to visit in the very near future. Take a look at their website for more information here..

Tomoko’s love of food and Japan really shone through in her fun and friendly delivery of the workshop. She previewed some future cooking and calligraphy workshops that she is planning. We are really looking forward to seeing her again.
Aside form coooking workshops Tomoko also holds caligraphy workshops and offers Japanese language tuition. We can put you in touch with her if you are need to contact her.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Waso - Rains Retreat

Waso is a period when Theravada Buddhist Monks and Nuns observe a three month “Rains Retreat”. During this time they stay in the same monastery each night and avoid travelling. The Monks and Nuns will also increase the intensity of their meditation practices.

During the Rains Retreat many lay Buddhists spend an increased amount of time contemplating the Dhamma and adhering to more ascetic practices, like longer meditation sessions.

The Rains Retreat is called Waso in Burmese and Vassa in Thai. Both words come from the Pali word “vasso” meaning rain. Some people refer to Waso as “Buddhist Lent”. The timing of Waso is based on the lunar calendar, and also coincides with the wet season in South East Asia. While Sydney may not have a wet season Waso is still observed.

The Panditarama Sydney Meditation Centre (PSMC) celebrates the start of Waso with a Robe Offering Ceremony. The day starts with a luncheon offered by the lay community. Blessings are then offered by the Monks and they lead the lay people in chanting in Pali. A Dhamma talk is also given (a discourse from the teachings of the Buddha) and the lay people renew their will to adhere to the Five Precepts.

New robes and other essentials (like rice) are offered to the Monks, in a ceremony that is similar to alms giving in SE Asia.

Knows Pali better then me!
Well over 200 people attended the event this year. There were also Monks who visited from other Burmese temples located at Campsie, Canley Vale,  St Marys and Yennora. The young children who have been attending weekly classes at the centre did some of the chanting on their own, led by one of the Monks, to show the adults how they are progressing. I must admit the children have a much better grasp of Pali than what I do.

The PSMC will also hold some group meditations and a retreat for lay people over the coming months. Visit their website for more information here.

Dhamma Talk
Wonderful lunch offered to all

Thanks to Min Thein for the photos.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Garden July Onward

Getting ready for Spring
We have been getting our garden ready for spring. Digging in some manure, mulching, weeding and getting some vegetable seeds started. This spring, among other things, we will be planting dakon radish, Japanese turnip, purple chow sum, Paris market carrots, a number of varieties of tomato (including Thai pink egg tomato), plus various types of chilli and also lots of herbs.

We don't have a big block of ground but we try to do our best to produce some vegetables and herbs. We also have some grape vines which produce about 50 litres of wine each year (which we top up with some wine made from grapes we purchase).

Seed starter
I would love to grow more, but with a busy work life time gets a but short. I once read a quote from an Italian gardener that went something like this .... "The three fold imperative = grow your own, eat your own, drink your own" I think this is a nice thing to aim for.
for more herbs already Vietnamese mint

for herbs

Sun's Burmese Kitchen

Pork mince rolls
Last night we had dinner with friends at Sun's Burmese Kitchen in Blacktown. Good food at a good price. We had my favorite Burmese dish - goat curry. Plus, pork curry, 3 coloured rice and chicken, a fish cake salad, pork mince rolls andmore.

The goat curry was one of the best I have tried. The pork mince rolls were delicious and something new for us, with the spicy dipping sauce they sure were a hit.