I keep having flashbacks of this time last year. We were waiting to hear whether or not we would be making the overseas move from Japan to Colorado and it was a tense time. Partially because we weren't sure we were ready to say goodbye to Tokyo and also because it was starting to feel like we had finally become comfortable being parents in another country. What would another transition mean? Would we be able to adjust quickly or would it take months, possibly years, like it did after moving to Japan? There seemed to be a number of questions we would not be able to answer without simply taking the plunge by either moving to the U.S. or staying put in Japan.
In the midst of all the uncertainty that surrounded each moment of the day, I also remember being so grateful when the weather became warm so that I didn't have to bundle Riley up like the kid from A Christmas Story just to walk down the street. We started venturing out more often, which was unbelievably life-changing for us both. I needed the fresh air and he needed to be around other people and sites. One of the routines we had was walking to an are called Dogwood Plaza that had just been built. It was scheduled to open during the week after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, but of course that opening was delayed. When it did open, I was amazed at all of the beautiful shops, but was most impressed by the massive market in the basement. Last Spring, Riley and I would walk around, looking at the various food options, and usually I would buy a bento for lunch. Karaage, sweet and soft simmered kabocha, Japanese potato salad- all of the little compartments of my bento were filled with two or three bites of the most delicious food. I would sit outside on a bench, with Riley in his stroller, soaking in the sun and relishing my relative freedom after 3 months of what felt like being tied down to a rocking chair. It was wonderful to get out and made me love Riley even more because I could watch him observe his surroundings in a new way.
I miss days like that. Sometimes I miss them so much that my it makes my stomach flip-flop with the desire to go back. There are so many reasons why it is better for us to be here, but I don't think I will ever stop missing Tokyo. The Boston bombing this past week has kept me thinking about the days, weeks, and months following the earthquake in 2011. It was different, of course, because no one person made the earthquake or tsunami happen. There is no one to blame because it was a natural disaster. Still, I know that it takes time to recover from something so traumatic; so unexpected and life-changing. My prayers and thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the explosions in Boston, and with those who deal with similar tragedies in other countries on a daily basis. Yes, there are bad people out there and bad things happen that we have no control over. But there are also good people, and wonderful generosity, and love. Yes. There is always love.
This cocktail reminds me of Japan and my days walking down the busy sidewalk near the train station in the Spring. The vibrant green color of the matcha paired with the bright flavor of apple vodka and the bite of fresh ginger is a lively combination. Matcha has a strong, unique flavor so go easy if you're not already fond of it. In other words, when you make your tea, use more water and a little less matcha powder. I like the simple, stunning garnish that a slice of crosswise cut apple brings to this dramatic cocktail. But be creative! Do something that reflects your style and mood. That's the fun part about cocktails- decorating them.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Be happy, be thankful, and be loving.
Makes 1 cocktail
2 oz. brewed and cooled Matcha (Matcha is a green tea powder, sold at many grocery stores and found in the same aisle as tea and coffee)
1 1/2 oz. apple vodka
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 oz wildflower honey
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 thin slice of apple, cut crosswise or along the "equator" so you get a pretty star shape where the seeds are
Combine the matcha, vodka, ginger, honey and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it for about 30 seconds and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a glass (you will not be serving it in this glass, so it doesn't matter what kind it is). Pour the strained cocktail into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the apple slice.