Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkins and a Turkey

We can't believe another week has gone by. This means that the participants study tour is coming to an end--they will be back tomorrow night! It also means my sister, Katie, will be here in less than 4 weeks! We are beyond excited about this...  :)

There are lots of things to share so let us get started:

Recent Harvests

This past week we harvested:

And more carrots!
The "good" carrots, ones that are an average size and typical shape, have been taken to a factory to be made into juice. ARI will then sell the organic carrot juice for income generation. It is actually one of the highest income generating projects that ARI has. So this work is very important! The good carrots that the factory cannot process into juice go the kitchen, and the "bad" carrots go to the pigs, yum!

Day Off

We took a substitute holiday this week and went into town. We pretty much went on a biking food tour, stopping at bakeries, coffee shops, and supermarkets to try new treats and also to enjoy old favorites. We took a picnic with us and ate on a nice grassy knoll along a side street. It was nice to get off campus for a bit and discover more about the town we are living in.

Blueberry danish
Green tea mochi with red bean paste

Supper at Sensei's

Friday night, Otsu-sensei, director of ARI ("sensei" is an address meaning "teacher"), invited everyone to his house for dinner. He had nabe set out in three different rooms (nabe is a kind of stew/soup, usually cooked at the table, eaten during cold weather season). It has become quite cold at ARI, so this nabe was a real treat! Also, Kathy (staff member form America) made cheesy garlic biscuits, they were the bomb.

Excited about dinner!

Pumpkin Fest

We got a little bit pumpkin happy this weekend and made quite a pumpkin feast. Kikuchi-sensei, a former director of ARI, invited a few of us to cook pumpkin-something for residents at a local retirement home. He had a large pumpkin from his porch that he donated to the cause. I unfortunately was not able to get a picture of it, but it was about the size of a small child, maybe a 4-year old curled up in the fetal position. So we spent the entire Friday afternoon carving, cutting, and cooking the pumpkin to prepare for Saturday's festivities. In the morning we prepared two pumpkin pies. 

Des working on the pie filling

Doug and Jean Hae working on the crust

Before baking

Kathy, Doug, and Jenny with the finished pies!
We took these with us to the home since they take so long to cook and cool. In addition to the pies, we brought the fixings for pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup. With the help of a few residents, we whipped up the bread and soup in no time. 

Doug with the ladies filling pumpkin bread!

Pumpkin soup!
Before we knew it, we were all feasting together on soup, bread, and pie. We had a ton of fun and have already made plans to revisit the home during Christmas time, perhaps to make fruitcake!

The group

Shiobara Mountain

This morning, Sunday, we all set off in a bus to Shiobara Mountain. This is near where we went hiking before back in August. However it was just a tinsy-bit colder this time! Don't we look cold? 

We packed in a nice picnic lunch and shared treats in a little pavilion on the trail. After lunch, we hiked just a bit further and came upon an onsen! One of them was a foot bath and one was a mixed company bath. However, at the time, it was dominated by males. So Doug joined that bath and the rest of us enjoyed the foot bath! It was so nice after hiking and freezing our tootsies off!

We also visited the Emperor's Room Memorial Park, where we fed birds and toured through an information center about the Emperor (however, we did not learn much because we could not read the information boards, but the pictures were nice!).

Because it was such a cold day (4C~39F), we decided to stop at the ice cream shop. At this stop, we also journeyed into a zoo where we saw this guy:

Thursday Dinner?

Knight Field Update

Those were, in fact, wheat sprouts that we saw last week! However, only a few seeds had germinated. We were afraid that would be the case, for we did see some two-legged avian creatures hanging around our field and sticking their beaks where they don't belong. So we took up all our rice straw and tried another method of sowing wheat. We feel better about our defenses against birds and we just had a good rain, so God willing, our grains will multiply.

Up and Coming

As I mentioned before, the participants will return tomorrow! We have been preparing quite the welcome back party, so be looking for details on that coming up! 

Also on the agenda this week is THANKSGIVING. It has been strange seeing on the memes and status updates concerning this fast-approaching holiday, as you can imagine, the spirit here is not quite the same. However, the volunteers are planning to prepare a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving meal for the community. Doug is heading up that effort, so again, more details on how that plays out coming up next week.

When the participants return, they will only have 3 weeks left of their training program. *Fingers Crossed* they will all graduate on the 8th of December and fly out sometime that next week. 

And a very special and exciting announcement, two of our community members will be getting married at ARI on the 9th! Veny (Indonesia), a past ARI graduate who is a 2012 Training Assistant, and Kengo (Japan), a current participant, met here at ARI and are tying the knot! We are all very excited for them and can't wait to share in the celebration.

We ask that you continue to keep us and our community in your thoughts and prayers. The weeks to come will be very stressful and emotional yet exciting and joyful. We hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Missing our traditional Thanksgiving festivities but open and thankful for new ones,

Doug and Jenny

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