Day 160 – National Tempura Day

Apologies if this post seems to be a little late.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I generally write my posts on the morning after the official holiday, so I celebrate on the actual day of the holiday, then I write about it on the following morning.  I know that may get confusing to you as a reader because if you see that I am celebrating national so and so day, and you want to celebrate so and so with me, you have already missed your window.  It’s just hard to celebrate something and post about it all on the same day (at least to do that everyday).  I’ll work on a better system for the next 200 days to see if I can get more people informed and celebrating along with me.  In the meantime, I am apologizing today because my post is going up later than normal.  This was due to an unexpected twist that fell on National Tempura Day; this would be snow.  It was actually the most snow we have gotten all season.  So this morning, after crawling out of bed, rather than grabbing my usual cup of coffee and pulling up a chair at my computer, I went outside to shovel out.  It was actually a beautiful morning to do so with a shining sun and a peace and quiet to the world.

The snow leads me into how I celebrated Tempura Day – by risking my life for the sake of the quest.  Tempura is a Japanese style of deep frying.  It’s a process that uses a light batter made of cold water and soft wheat flour.  Tempura batter is traditionally mixed in small batches using chopsticks for only a few seconds, leaving lumps in the mixture that, along with the cold batter temperature, result in the unique fluffy and crisp tempura structure when cooked.  It’s different than the fried food you get at every other restaurant and I knew it wasn’t a style I could recreate at home (at least without significant practice). I knew the day was coming, so my plan all along was to go to our local Japanese restaurant to make it happen.  I’d get some tempura and Lola could get some sushi.  It would be fun.  Then the forecast called for snow and near blizzard conditions.  Luckily, the heavy stuff wasn’t supposed to come until later in the afternoon and the Japanese restaurant opened at 11.  I could get there and back before the storm really took over.  But it started snowing around 10, and by the time I was on the road, the streets were covered enough to make the drive a bit challenging.

Like you should in the snow, I just took it easy.  The usual two lanes of East Main Road sort of merged into one lane and everyone was following suit with the exception of the occasional yahoos who would blow by the traffic in their fancy four wheel drive cars.  The going was slow and everyone was using caution.  The plows were just ahead of me so the path was somewhat clear, but the snow was coming down at a fast enough clip to still make it sloppy.  The fifteen minute drive probably took me thirty minutes.  I arrived in the parking lot which was largely unplowed and there was only one car in front of the restaurant.  The neon sign in the window said “Open” however, so I walked in, not sure what to expect.  I had called in my order, so I knew they were open, but I was still worried they may have shuttered for the day.

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They were indeed open and to my surprise, there was also a big family inside eating (although I think it may have been the family that owned the restaurant).  It was quiet like restaurants get on days of bad weather, but the kitchen was open. My order was ready and so was another one, so I wasn’t the only crazy out celebrating Tempura Day.  Mizu is a good little spot.  I have never eaten inside but we have gotten take out from there on a few occasions and Lola’s sister Katie swears by it for the sushi (as do Katie’s daughters).  Plus, they are open during major snow events, which is nice.  I grabbed my tempura and headed back out to the car and then home.  Coming out of the lot, my car spun a little as I took the left, but that was the worst of it.  Other than that, it was slow and steady.  I thought about how silly this was – to take the risk of driving just to get some fried food, but I rationalized it by saying that it’s all for the quest.   That would have been harder to qualify had I wound up off in an embankment, but it kept me going today.  I made it home safely.  I turned off the car and went inside not to emerge until this morning.

Mizu really gives you a pretty good deal.  I ordered the chicken and veggie tempura meal and it came with five chicken tempura, six veggies, some white rice, some miso soup and a salad – all for $12.  That was a lot of food.  As soon as I saw the tempura I knew it was not something I could have recreated at home so I was glad I went for the takeout.  This was a celebration of a style of Japanese cooking and by getting it from a Japanese restaurant I was showing some respect to the culture from which it comes.  It was good too – surprisingly better than I thought it would be.  The chicken was cut into long strips.  The batter was crunchy yet somehow fluffy too.  The chicken was perfectly moist inside.  It came with a dipping sauce which was mostly soy sauce I think, but it was the perfect compliment that gave the chicken an extra saltiness that it needed.  The veggies were good too.  I love tempura veggies.  The veggies inside always seem to be the perfect level of done – soft, warm and full of flavor, but surrounded by this crisp batter.  They give you a good selection too with one piece of broccoli, sweet potato, eggplant, zucchini and onion ring.  I’m a veggie fan already, but if they can make veggies this tasty for all, they are onto something.  This was a great little meal and I felt lucky to be having this feast inside the warmth of our home in the midst of a significant winter storm.

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Today (ok yesterday) was also National Bobblehead Day and I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that fact.  I have a little collection of bobbleheads that started about 20 years ago.  I just thought they were neat little statues so I started to buy them.  I liked the unusual ones, not just the sports ones – ones that reflected pop culture.  I had a bunch and then when I met Lola, she started to add to my collection.  I probably have about 40 or 50 of them in total.  Someday, if I ever get my office set up the way I want to, I’ll put them all on display.  But a bunch of them are amassed on top of the cabinet that sits next to me and my computer, so while I write this blog I am constantly being watched by about 25 heads that will sometimes nod in agreement if I accidentally bump into the cabinet.  That’s my daily affirmation club (and they have yet to actually talk to me, so that’s a good thing too).  So cheers to all bobbleheads for bringing us joy, for honoring those who deserve some honor, and for bringing some bobbing smiles into our life.

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Just a small sample of the collection.  Note some of my faves: Dwight Shrute behind Buddy the Elf, and Boromir and Legolas in the back (part of my Fellowship of The Ring).  

Now it’s time to go rest after my hours of snow shoveling.  I never mind shoveling.  It’s a great time to reflect and enjoy how pretty a snow covered world is.  It really was a pretty little storm.  Last night it was windy and the snow was everywhere, but today all is calm.  The sun is out and the shovel out has begun.  I only wish that I had some more tempura to come in from the snow and enjoy.

Next Up: National English Toffee Day 

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