New

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first two days have been a wonderful start to 2011, with some sweet touches of the new year, Japanese-style.

The highlight of our first day of the new year was fun time spent with our  friends the Thomsons.   We were all thrilled to discover near the end of our evening several inches of snow.   There was no stopping the kids from having fun outside, even in the dark.

During the night, the snow had started to melt but then froze over, so we weren’t able to drive to church. But it was perfect for sledding in the park!  Ian might have had the most fun…

…though it’s hard to say.

After the snow play, we had a chance to go through our nengajou – the New Year’s cards that many Japanese send out to friends and colleagues (similar to the North American Christmas card tradition).  Since this is the year of the rabbit according to the Japanese/Chinese zodiac, we love seeing the creative ways the rabbit gets incorporated into people’s cards:

This is our year!  Eric and I both were born in the year of the rabbit, so we had to splurge on a special Starbucks mug that is out here for just the first week or so of January:

Tonight, I cooked my favorite Japanese New Year’s food for the first time – ozouni soup.  It uses a green leafy vegetable called mizuna, which I have never used before.  (The dictionary defines it as potherb mustard, which is probably why I’ve never imagined cooking with!)

It was a fun dish to make – and we liked it a lot.  Here is our simple version of a recipe that has many, many versions.

New Year’s Ozoni Soup

2 skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 C carrots, peeled and cut
1 1/2 C daikon (Japanese radish), peeled and cut into small pieces
1 C mizuna (cut into 1-2 inch sections)
1 package kamaboko (fish cake), cut into thin slices
1 package mochi (pounded rice cake), cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 Tablespoons dashi (fish stock)
2 cubes chicken broth/boullion
salt to taste

Cook chicken breasts in 6-8 C boiling water and 2 T salt.  Boil for ten minutes, then lower heat and cook about 30 more minutes.  Remove chicken, shred, then return to stock. Wash and prepare vegetables.  Add carrots and daikon and cook until tender (10-15 minutes). Add mizuna the last minute of cooking (should stay crisp).  For mochi, either add to the soup last five minutes;  or put into toaster oven and toast until puffy, then add to soup bowl and pour soup over mochi to serve.  Add kamaboko on top and serve.

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I hope this is a year of trying more new things… letting our kids play outside at night once and a while… taking advantage of snow days to go sledding in the park…. splurging at times on rabbit mugs that make my husband smile a lot.  You, too.

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6 thoughts on “New

  1. We always love receiving your updates. We are excited to hear of the many ways God is using you. I especially enjoy seeing photos of your kids. They are beautiful children who radiate joy. We will “hold the rope.” Thanks for communicating so faithfully.
    Love, Eleanor

  2. Happy Year of the Rabbit to you and all your loved ones! Our son Andrew, who just turned 11, was born the tail end of the year of the rabbit. Enjoy the snow!

  3. LOVE these pictures! I can’t get over how much Ian has changed! WOW! He looks so grown up. We are praying for all you have coming up…it sounds both extremely busy AND exciting! Can’t wait to hear about it all! We love you and miss you! Diane and Phil

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