Skip to main content

Semi-Homemade Cooking with Claire Williamson

Ok, so, yes the title of this post is a total ripoff of "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee," but it's true that I'm trying to actually feed myself while I'm here.

In fact, as you can see by this weirdly written chart, I've even been trying to "meal plan," or at least make sure that when I cook I eat all the leftovers since I'm still limping along to my first paycheck (it should arrive on the 25th!). As you can see, it becomes a work-in-progress as meals get shifted around or as ingredients start to look a little funky in the fridge (I had to throw out two bags of spinach today because for some reason they were secreting some weird brown liquid...which was not only gross but a waste of money. Lesson learned: buy your perishables as close to the day you were planning to make/eat them as possible.)

But I've had some decent successes, too! I have to find things that I can make in one pot without an oven, and I've also been prioritizing things that I can make in bulk and either refrigerate or freeze for later. They're all still simple things at this point, but given that I've really only baked and never cooked for myself, well, I'm a teensy bit proud of myself. And everyone at training, and now work, is impressed I bring my own food. It's true that 80% of the people buy lunch and/or just eat cup ramen so it's not insignificant that I cook for myself.

Some examples (excuse the plain photo presentation):

Spaghetti with homemade meatballs.

Miso-glazed Japanese eggplant with sesame seeds.

Provencal-inspired marinated chicken with a steamed Japanese sweet potato.

Tofu and spinach stir-fry over rice and a "deconstructed" caprese salad because I had an extra chopped tomato lying around.

Tortilla with peanut butter (which I found! I found it at a specialty grocery store! Skippy my love...), banana, and honey (usually for breakfast).

Beef and cheese burrito with salsa and some soft tofu in soy sauce.

Miso-fried rice with a fried egg, over easy, on top. This rice was a happy accident. I was trying to make yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls) but they kept falling apart so I just gave up and mashed up all the rice and the miso I'd put in and it became this delicious, caramelized, slightly salty bowl of deliciousness.

I've got a few more experimental recipes in the works (and a few I forgot to take pictures of, like my ginger and leek fried rice with egg) but I have a feeling "rice with stuff" and "pasta with stuff" and "chicken with sides of rice and veggies and stuff" will be my staple meals.

But I'd still kill for an oven to bake in.
There's supposed to be bread recipes you can make in a rice cooker so I just might have to try one out...


  1. Hi Claire! I stumbled on your blog today and it sounds like we've had similar trajectories, so I thought I'd post a comment and reach out!
    I graduated from Dartmouth in 2016 after doing 2 study-abroads and 1 internship stint in Japan, managed to grab a job at BCF, and arrived in Japan in February of this year. Currently living in Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture near where my job is, but I go into Tokyo almost every weekend.
    I was thinking maybe we could go grab coffee sometime and share our experiences about Japan? Let me know!! :D


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.