Osaka, Japan: Keeping y’all on your toes, throwing-in a little Japanese on the blog tonight. Did I ever tell you about the time I studied the Japanese language at our local (Portland, Oregon) community college for two years... which somehow led to us hosting a (female) Japanese high school student for a year in 1992? No? Well, that would be a great blog post someday.

I would love to report that we walked, then went to Tacos Gonzalez for tostadas, dropped by Target for toothpaste, and then drove out to see how the polo fields were holding-up after two weeks of Coachella and one week of the StageCoach music festivals... but none of these things happened. Except for the exercise part.

Again today, nothing happened.

We do, however, have something to report from inside The Bubble: there are now only five ducklings! Also, momma duck is AWOL. Five (really not so little any longer) ducklings swimming around together. Missing mom and one sibling. Dad was hanging-out in the shade... but oddly in a campsite that houses a Labrador retriever.

Not a good idea.

At all.

The temps took a huge dip downward, as the mercury only hit 102 today. Cooling trend! These temps are very unusual for this time of year (88 the norm) in the Coachella Valley... but nothing is normal anymore, is it? We keep the RV at 82 inside (quite chilly, actually, so we may adjust up soon), but both of us were outside in the shade reading this afternoon. There is always a breeze in the desert, and we have ceiling fans in the pavilion.

Though I prepared Japanese food tonight, our appetizers were not Asian at all. Green olives, cornichons, Kalamata olives, carrots, cherry tomatoes, White Cheddar Cheese Stars (so good - buy them - and the crackers are also available in Parmesan... think goldfish crackers, except for adults), and feta cheese cubes wrapped in roasted red pepper strips - skewered with a bamboo cocktail pick.

Before cooking tonight, we went out to the street to document what this RV resort looks like at 6p:

On a normal late-April evening, our street would be filled with golf carts, filled with happy campers, with filled wine glasses, parading up and down saying hello to fellow residents. No more. So few RVs remaining and so few people willing to venture out. We take the golf cart up to the mail room M-F - hand-san in tow - and these days we see no one on our cruise.

Our current situation
Our view is still outstanding

Our meal tonight consisted of several components, and it is one I make often (like March 11). Just a little early prep, and the dinner only takes the time needed to start the rice cooker, and fry the chicken cutlets. We were 100% out-of-stock of Japanese short-grained - brown or white - rice. But... when I had groceries delivered this week the shopper substituted basmati (he admitted to never-ever even hearing of Basmati rice, but found 99% of everything else on my list, so was tipped very well) with short-grained white rice from the bulk bin. Dang, if this wasn’t the most amazing Japanese-style rice we have eaten in a long while. No idea of the variety, as it came in a plastic bag from the bulk bin. I will explore more when things calm down a bit. Ya know, July?

This menu always has two salads. The first is a copy of the salad served at a favorite Japanese restaurant in Portland: iceberg lettuce, slivered carrots and sliced radish, with my favorite bottled Japanese Miso Dressing. The other salad is sunomono salad - thinly sliced cucumbers (peeled or not) with a little sugar and rice vinegar, and garnished with sesame seeds.

So refreshing!

You really need to use Persian or hot-house English cucumbers for sunomono, and if you have a mandolin, this is the time to drag it out.

The star of the show (besides the lovely rice) was chicken katsu. I sliced two boneless skinless chicken breasts horizontally to create four cutlets. (You can usually find thinly-sliced chicken cutlets in most supermarkets.) Vegetable oil is heated in a non-stick skillet, and the cutlets are dipped/dredged in three different coatings: flour or potato starch, then beaten egg, and finally panko bread crumbs. Fried until golden brown on each side and just cooked through.

Easy as one, two, three (ichi, ni, san)
Chicken Katsu, served with short-grained rice and Katsu sauce
(the sauce from Kikkoman is fine). Who forget the green onion garnish?

Please note, this dish is usually served in Japanese restaurants as Tonkatsu - the ton part referring to pork.

I surprised My Driver tonight with a showing of one of his favorite movies of all time: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. What’s not to like? John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Vera Miles, Andy Devine, directed by John Ford... and the cast are excited to vote for statehood... and none of the women, nor the lone black character at the town meeting, can even vote! It is a great tale, shown in black-and-white. Mostly white.

Until my next update - when we are actually leaving the resort - I remain, your sheltering correspondent.