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

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Feeling a Bit Blue

It astounds me that it's already the end of August. Time has seemed to pass in a bit of a blur: one hot, sticky mess of 100-degree days and only mildly more bearable evenings. I was also fortunate to visit the U.S. for a week (not Chicago I'm afraid, but Wheeling, West Virginia and then San Francisco) for a family reunion. It was lovely to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins who I hadn't seen in person for several months, if not years. But given the short visit I essentially spent two weeks with my body clock completely confused about what time zone it was supposed to be in.  However, I'm now I'm back in Japan for the near future and have essentially settled back in to my usual rhythm of life. 
This past weekend I decided to engage with my arts-and-crafts side. The summer of 2009, when I first visited Japan, I was lucky enough to try my hand at aizome (indigo dying) in Kyoto. Recently I had a hankering to try it again, and e-stumbled upon a shop in Asakusa call…