Craft Beer (from Recycled Food Waste)

A win for beer lovers.  A win for New York City.  A win for Americans.  And a win for our planet.

* * *

Overproduction is built right into the business model of most bakeries. While we devour much of what is made, huge quantities of perfectly good grain are tossed.

But Tristram Stuart, an Englishman who began battling food waste 15 years ago, long before it became a popular cause, discovered a way to turn bread, an inexpensive product with a short shelf life, into one that’s long-lived and lucrative: craft ale.

After coming across a recipe, he refined it with Hackney Brewery in London and then contracted with Hambleton Ales in North Yorkshire to produce it in quantities. In 2016, Mr. Stuart began selling Toast, an English ale with malt and citrus notes, at London restaurants, online and through a growing number of distributors. Using roughly one slice per bottle, his team of three has recycled 3.6 tons of bread in its first 15 months.

Now, in his first satellite operation, Mr. Stuart, 40, has begun making beer in New York. Working with Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, in the Claremont section of the Bronx, Toast produced the pilot batch of its American Pale Ale in March.

On Saturday, the first bottles of the ale were sampled at the Tribeca Film Festival for the screening of “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste,” a documentary produced by Anthony Bourdain in which Mr. Stuart is featured.

Toast Ale, From Recycled Bread, Is Now Brewed in New York, The New York Times (Apr. 24, 2017).

Arby’s: A Different Take.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a post about the dismal on-base eating choices.  Then, choices included Captain D’s, Macaroni Grill, Popeyes, Burger King, Subway, and Pizza Hut.  My hunt for a satisfying salad led me to Chili’s on Kadena Air Base.  Yes.  That statement does speak volumes.

Months ago, a sign notified patrons that Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen (think Popeyes but with seafood) was closing.  Having eaten there once, I was grateful for the news.  The establishment served fried and breaded seafood.  ([S] and I shared a stone cold chicken salad, which likely had been sitting in the refrigerator for longer than I’d like to imagine.)

A few weeks ago, as I was driving by Captain D’s former home, a large white and red sign was hung stating, “Arby’s.”  The fast food establishment opened weeks ago and lines were out the door.  The drive through line was so long makeshift lanes were created for lunchtime.  Really.

The last time I ate at an Arby’s stateside was five years ago.  I remember because, then, I thought the restaurant had gone the way of Roy Roger’s.  Surprise.  It hadn’t.  Today, at least in Okinawa, it is a thriving enterprise.  Indeed, the one time we attempted to eat lunch at Arby’s, the line was far too long for any reasonable person to wait. 

Today, at 1:40 p.m., we attempted to eat at Arby’s again.  Nearly all seats were taken, but there was no line.  We order two roasted turkey gyros, a small ham and cheese slider, a vanilla milkshake, large curly fries, and a drink.  The gyros were vegetable heavy and served with a yogurt based sauce–certainly healthier than other dining options available. 

It was an experience.  But it’s not one that I plan on repeating any time soon. 

Peace Through Paper Cranes

A-bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan.

The A-bomb Dome, once the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, stands in stark contrast to the lively Hiroshima City of today.  Its skeletal presence looms over tourists and residents alike, without differentiation, a ghost in plain sight.  The building was located 160 meters from the hypocenter of the bomb, killing those inside while allowing its structure to remain standing.  Some say it is a sign of peace; others say it is a reminder of the casualties war.  Regardless of its symbolism, most agree that its preservation and presence both are necessary and relevant. 

Hiroshima City, Hiroshima, Japan.

Throughout Japan, Peace Memorial Parks, can be found.  In part, they serve to honor and remember lives lost in war, but they also serve to remind us of the horrors of war.  In Hiroshima, volunteer guides, walk among tourists, ready to answer questions.  One such volunteer near the A-bomb Dome prepared binders with a narrative of the causes of the war, the dropping of the atomic bomb, and its aftermath.  His name tag explains why he is there, “In Utero Survivor,” it reads under his name, Mito Kosei.  He has translated the binders, entitled “That Day” into, among other languages, English, Korean, French, and Spanish.  For him, a man who lost his family as a result of the bomb, it’s personal.

The international presence visiting Hiroshima is easily discernible, as hushed conversations in Chinese, French, Spanish, and English can be heard.  People were there to learn, to remember, to mourn. 

In Japan, origami cranes are a symbol of hope, happiness, and prosperity.  It is said that should one fold 1,000 cranes (senbazuru) in a year, his or her wish will come true.  They are folded and held together with a string, oftentimes in strings of 25 or 40.  And they are displayed at memorial parks and temples as a tangible showing of the desire for peace.

Millions of origami cranes hang from either side of a memorial to school children who lost their lives.

Across the river from the A-bomb Dome, stands the Children’s Peace Monument, surrounded by displays of origami cranes.  Each year approximately 10 million cranes are offered to before the Monument.  Why?  Sadako Sasaki, who died of leukemia ten years after the atomic bombing, was two years old when she was exposed to the A-bomb.  Nine years later, she became sick and was diagnosed with leukemia.  Upon her admittance to hospital, she began folding a thousand cranes in hope that doing so would help her recover.  She died shortly after her admission to hospital and a monument has been erected in her honor.

A wish for love and peace, made from small folded cranes.

Seeing a thousand folded small cranes is a wonder.  It is also befitting that an act of intricate folding transforms common paper into a beautiful artistic reminder of hope and peace. 


An Afternoon at the Garage

The garage.

This spring, three events have dominated my thoughts and actions:  (1) paying the annual Japanese road tax; (2) ensuring our vehicles pass the Japanese Cumpulsory Insurance (JCI) inspection; and, (3) preparing to sell both vehicles prior to leaving Okinawa.  Without payment of the road tax, at best, fees and fines will be incurred and our vehicles will not be allowed on base.  Failure to pay the JCI and/or pass the mandatory bi-annual inspection will render our vehicles inoperable.  Accordingly, failure to do either will make our vehicles unsalable.

One of our vehicles awaiting inspection.

Of no surprise, a good bit of time has been spent at the garage, obtaining JCI estimates.  As part of that process, I have joined the mechanic in the garage, staring up at various parts of our vehicles never before seen.  As the mechanic explains each noted issue, his (yes, his) words are translated by the front office assistant.  I’ve been shown tierod end and lower balljoint boots that need replacing and have felt the difference between a smooth brake rotor and a warped brake rotor.

It’s been a process that I’ve enjoyed.  It’s also been a process that [S] has enjoyed.  Who wouldn’t?  Free drinks are offered (warm and cold).  Comfortable seating is provided.  Clean restrooms are standard.  And DVD movies are provided for little ones. 


Korea, in May.

Upon waking yesterday morning, I did what I always do.  I grabbed my phone and looked at e-mails received overnight.  Still on holiday and quite sleepy, I was expecting nothing of significance.  As I scrolled through numerous routine e-mails, there it was–the one e-mail we have been awaiting for months, subject line, “Summons for Court Date.” 

The past weeks have been challenging.  Heightened rhetoric from Pyongyang and Washington, D.C. has me on edge, as does the Government of Japan’s recent guidance on how to react if a ballistic missile is headed towards you.  While keeping our family–including, of course, our soon-to-be-son residing in South Korea–safe is my primary goal, I appreciate that there is little, if anything, I can do to ease the political tensions in this part of the world.

The good news?  After waiting for so long to welcome our son, I understand the virtue of patience.  The bad news?  I’ve failed to master it.


Moana Love

Moana.  Weeks ago, Russell and I watched the Disney animation while [S] slept.  It was refreshing to discover a princess plot focused on her indomitable adventurer spirit, a powerful love story in its own right, and far more interesting than the tired princess rescue narrative we’ve come to expect.   

Around the same time, I began struggling with [S]’s choice of books.  She had begun asking us to read the classic Where the Wild Things Are, featuring Max’s colorful–and to some, frightening–imagination.  She also started asking us to read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  After reading the book to her upon her initial request, I was shocked that I had forgotten so much of the story’s plot.  As if having a jealous and vain stepmother who wants to kill you isn’t bad enough, Snow White’s seemingly single redeeming virtue, according to the book, is her beauty.  Um.  No.

Given our limitation on [S]’s screen time, I was taken aback when I collected her from her child care provider and [S] started telling me about Moana.  Baby Moana has a flower in her hair.  Moana sings.  Moana runs.  She goes like this (sits on the floor, pretending to paddle a boat).  “Oh, have you seen Moana?”, her provider asked.  “We watched it today.”

Putting aside the fact that we want to control the content of what [S] watches–and how she watches–and the fact that we pay the provider to engage with our daughter, not to babysit, I was mostly okay with our provider’s decision.  Moana is strong.  Moana is an adventurer.  Moana has an indomitable spirit.  Moana is courageous.  Moana is thoughtful.  What’s not to like?  That weekend, Russell watched Moana with [S] and was able to talk with her about some of the complex emotional scenes (SPOILER ALERT), including the death of Moana’s grandmother.  In fact, when the grandmother sings in one of the songs, [S] now asks, “Grandma doesn’t feel well?” 

At three, [S] is far more interested in singing along to the handful of songs from the soundtrack, than re-watching the movie.  Thankfully.  Indeed, she’s not once asked to re-watch the movie, but she asks Echo to play songs from Moana all the time. 

In homage to strong female role models, I wanted to make [S] a Moana themed birthday confectionery.  I found a detailed stunning Moana cake online, with instructions, requiring a variety of colored fondant.  [S] watched that video over and over again, asking if I would make the cake for her birthday.  Those big brown eyes, that sweet little voice, and her sheer excitement at the prospect of such a cake, had me on the edge, nearly caving into her request.  Ultimately, I came to my senses and opted for a less involved cake project:  Moana themed cupcakes

They don’t require finding–or creating–a Baby Moana.  And they, too, are impressive.  A big shout out to Koalipops for the inspiration and instructions:  she loved it!

Koalipops provides the printable traceable sails. I managed 11 sails to each sheet of pre-made pie crust dough, with plenty more dough to roll out.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and bake.
Dip stem in dark chocolate to prevent moisture from taking the wind out of one’s sails.
Practice, practice, practice.
First time using a pastry bag and making my own buttercream frosting. Not great, but not bad.
For real.
Two-inch pieces.
Worth the effort.

Destination: Hiroshima, Japan

My single regret related to living in Okinawa is that we haven’t traveled as much as I wanted.  While many of our neighbors have traveled to Korea, China, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and Indonesia, we have not.  The reason?  Time and expense, of course, factor into the equation, but so do temperatures (I’m not keen on schlepping a toddler to see temple after temple in high heat and humidity), safety (yes, we’d like to stay away from explosions, but we’d also like to keep our little one–and us–free from intestinal bugs and other environmental hazards), and travel routes (arrive in Thailand at 1 a.m?  No thank you.).

This weekend, we will visit Hiroshima, Japan.  It is a city known to most as the site the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” was dropped on August 6, 1945, killing an estimated 70,000 people.  Every American I know who has visited the city has been moved, many citing it as a necessary visit prior to departing Japan.  It serves as a reminder of the horrors and devastation of war.  More importantly, it serves as a reminder of our humanity and our sameness. 

The other week, my neighbor described her visit to Hiroshima with her mother, who was visiting Okinawa for several weeks.  I asked whether she felt as if it wasn’t her place to be there.  “It’s different being there and being American,” she replied.  She continued, “But when we lived in Hawaii, it seemed like a lot, if not most, of the visitors I saw at Pearl Harbor were Japanese.” 

It’s good to be reminded of the past.  Indeed, how else can we be persuaded to think differently in the future?

Trash and Treasure

One of three strollers stored in our home. Two of the three we have sold on Facebook Yardsales pages.

It’s that time.  We are preparing to move.  Again.  While the details of our move are far from finalized, we have started the process, taking a look at what we will bring with us and what we will leave behind. 

Memory is a funny thing.  While I recall moving to Okinawa nearly two years ago, I have forgotten about all of the stuff we brought with us, much of which has been tucked away in out-of-the-way places. 

A month ago, with the help of my Husband, I began pulling things out of closets and storage areas.  The find?  Three strollers, including a second-hand jogging stroller used three times; a backpack carrier, used twice in Okinawa; an infant vibrating seat, carrier, bath, play mat and jumperoo, none of which were used in Japan, but were brought in hopes of welcoming another (small) addition to our family; an infant car seat outgrown; a breast pump and related nursing items; and, hidden in plain sight in one of our under-used bedrooms, [S]’s mini-crib and mattress. 

Thanks to friends, I’ve learned how to navigate Facebook yardsales groups, posting various items here and there.  We’ve sold the crib and mattress, infant carrier, two strollers, and the Britax car seat and stroller.  And I couldn’t be more delighted. 

The cause of my delight?  No, it’s not the cash.  A robust second-hand market.  Indeed, it serves the dual functions of keeping durable items out of landfills, while providing a financial win for the buyer and seller.  Of course, some items, such as clothing, books and household goods, we prefer to donate to the Marine Corps Thrift Shop solely based upon the time value of money.  (Bonus, they also accept plastic bags for customer use–a great way to ensure they are reused.)

What I didn’t expect, however, was the market for items in a state of utter disrepair.  Our first lawnmower was refurbished on-Island.  A father and son worked on putting them together and selling them.  Less than a year later, rust caused a wheel to fall off.  “Someone will pick it up if it’s free, just post it,” my Husband admonished.  I shook my head, “Why would they do that?,” I asked myself. 

Regardless of my skepticism, I took photos and posted the lawnmower for free on Facebook.  Within hours, two people reached out keen on collecting it from our home.  The alternative?  To drain the oil and gas and set it out for recycling.  I saw that one of the people who reached out to me, recently sold a refurbished lawnmower on Facebook for $80.

One person’s trash really is a another person’s fortune.