Friday, December 17, 2010

Apple bunnies

When I first came to Japan I lived in apple country and I was amazed at how easily everyone could peel an apple. I had never been handy in the kitchen but my experience til then with peeling apples had been to slash away at a whole apple with a potato peeler. I hated peeling apples! But I found that Japanese women could cut an apple into 1/4ths and daintily peel each quarter without ever touching the meat of the apple. It seemed that all households had a bowl of apples on the table and a small kitchen knife complete with a cover, ready to peel apples for family and guests. I remember being so proud when I learned how to peel an apple without the end result looking like it had already been gnawed over.

Raw apple pieces decorate cakes and children's platters and lunches. In Japan, mothers do NOT put a whole, unpeeled apple in their children's lunchbox. Instead apples are cut into interesting shapes and are dipped in salt water (which was often a surprise to my tongue) to prevent discoloring when eaten later. The most common cut apple shape is the bunny. It takes a little imagination but this is what this is supposed to be.

Cut an apple into 1/8ths. Remove the core part and seeds. Deeply score the peel from the bottom to the center to make a long V cut. Remove the peeling (in one sweep) up to the tip of the V. Soaking the piece in slightly salted water will make the ears of the bunny "stand up" (some). Voila! Apple bunnies.

The other day Tetsu and I went down the street (I still live in apple country, just in another part of Japan) and bought a few bags of apples. Today I'm making apple sauce. No problem now that apple peeling is a breeze!


1996 and yes, that is us as a Japanese family! In Japan we celebrate 7-5-3 day during November and little girls will get dressed up in kimono when they become 3 or 7. Little boys dress up when they are 5. Traditionally when children often did not live til their adult years, when each milestone was met there was a big celebration and the family visited the shrine to give thanks for the child. Nowadays most families will celebrate by taking pictures, going out to a fancy dinner with family and of course visiting the shrine.

In our case Leiya was 6 (but in Japan it is considered 7. One year in the womb.) and I wanted to dress her up in kimono just so that I could take pictures and show family and friends in America. Let me tell you, this one day was COSTLY! Renting the kimono. Having Leiya's hair and make-up fixed. Taking studio pictures. We visited church rather than the shrine.

Tetsu couldn't understand why I wanted to wear a kimono myself on this day. "You're a foreigner. Why wear a kimono?" But a friend offered to loan me her kimono and even dress me in it and when would I ever have another chance? I'm glad I did because that was the last time I ever wore a kimono...

You can see more about that day here.

And can you see the little sticker at the bottom? That is Lemi the kitty and she was a new addition to our family. She LOVED Shoko the dog and would often nurse! Shoko seemed happy enough being a pacifier and the two were good friends for all the years we had them.

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