Okinawa: Eating Our Way Through the Last Stretch


Cafe Pipineo is about 10 minutes from my apartment and serves the most luscious cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had my whole life.

Welp! We are just about 6 weeks from our presumed rotation date, and the Marines still haven’t given us orders for the next assignment. Never mind that pretty much everyone else in our lives knows where they are going. Chuck and I are masters of the “hurry up and wait” philosophy, at this point. That said, I continue to assume that we will depart Okinawa this spring. With our time here drawing to a close, I am hoping we can squeeze a few more adventures into our remaining weeks – however big or small.

One thing I will surely miss are the darling cafés that dot the island.  They typically offer just 2-4 menu items at any given time, which sounds limiting but actually ensures a more memorable culinary experience. Of course, the ingredients are always fresh and local, and the décor is consistently unique and charming.

I won’t mind having more options (especially vegetarian and/or gluten free) when I return to the States, but I don’t know what I’ll do without a hearty guarantee of savory Japanese curry, garnished with local vegetables known to bless Okinawans with the longest lifespans on the planet.…  Continue reading

An Easter Update

It’s hard to believe that Chuck and I will hit our 2-year mark in Okinawa in just a couple of weeks.  One year left sounds like both a lot of time, and no time at all. Much has been done, and yet there is still so much to do!

I didn’t mean for this blog to turn into a travelogue, in which I only update when I go somewhere exciting. Even if no one ever reads it, I want to look back on it myself and remember all the adventures I had, big and small. So, here’s a quick re-cap of what we’ve been up to since our Thai Holiday, in reverse chronological order.

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Becoming Veggie

IMG_4602I’ve written before of my lifelong curiosity about vegetarianism. It started when I read E.B. White’s childhood classic Charlotte’s Web. Suddenly, every pig became Wilbur. Every piece of bacon was Wilbur. Why would I want to eat Wilbur? Of course, I was a child, and ate what was put in front of me. That bacon looked nothing like Wilbur, so I could eventually dissociate it from him (even if later I couldn’t bring myself to eat the full-formed roast pig served at my friend’s Filipino wedding, or seafood that still had eyes and legs, etc.)

Over time, my awareness about American factory farming grew – dramatically so in recent years. Most of the pigs I was eating led lives so drastically unlike the farmland pleasantries described in Charlotte’s Web, that Wilbur’s life seemed downright cushy and his fate almost less depressing. My affinity towards animal protection and rights in general was growing every day. Before long, I was avoiding veal, lamb, foie gras, and lobster. I swore off circuses, Sea World, and fur (not that I’ve ever owned fur anyway.) I eliminated my hair/makeup/personal hygiene stash and replaced them with cruelty-free products, and even took a baby step against the sketchy dairy industry by consuming almond milk instead of cow’s milk. The natural next step was to at least reduce my dependence on meat. Continue reading

Lunch on the Seaside

A friend and I tried a sweet little restaurant in Uruma today, called Soupcon Seaside Cafe. Like many of the restaurants around here, it was tiny and tucked away, but it had great food and the loveliest ocean view… we enjoyed a delightful stroll on the beach afterwards. It is a definite keeper!

My First Visitor

In the week leading up to Typhoon Vongfong, Na Yung came to visit from the Middle East! Mother Nature must be in quite the mood these days, because there was actually another typhoon whipping our coast the weekend she arrived. It was not nearly as bad as this one, but it still put quite the kink in our plans – particularly anything to do with the beach.

Still, we managed to have a great time. We at least saw the beach once:

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Asian Food Porn 3.0


Featuring Saturday night dinner with friends at Sushi Zen in Yomitan: the Zen Roll! Most of the rolls I ordered (especially the Typhoon Roll) were decadent and way too large to eat without cutting up or taking bites.

Sushi Zen is Japanese-owned but for American customers only – no Japanese allowed unless they have a membership. Totally odd concept to me… But it was yummy!

Culinary Delight #12: Egg, Bacon, & Basil Breakfast Pizza

Generally, Chuck is the Breakfast Master. He is capable of whipping up pretty much anything and it will be delicious. Since he is gone, I resort to the basics (cereal and yogurt), but the other morning I was feeling adventurous. I found a recipe on Pinterest that looked relatively simple, in addition to delicious. As it turns out, it was messier and more awkward than I anticipated, but it ended up being totally worth it in the end. Besides, if the recipe had included a bit more detail, I would have known what to expect and it probably wouldn’t have been such an ordeal. It literally listed ingredients (not quantities) and said combine. So, I am re-writing it for those who are like me, and less adept at “just winging it!” 🙂



1 tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls
4 large eggs
8 bacon strips
Basil leaves
Shredded cheese (as desired)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a cookie sheet (original recipe said to leave it ungreased, which was disastrous. I am still trying to salvage my poor cookie sheet.)
3. The Pillsbury rolls should naturally unwrap into a set of 4 squares (or rectangles – whatever.) Lay them out on the cookie sheet.
4. Lay 2 strips of bacon on each square. I cooked the bacon first, but the original recipe didn’t specify if that was necessary. If anyone knows that bacon can adequately cook after being baked in the oven, please let me know, as it will save a step for next time! Plus, I hate cooking bacon.
5. Crack a single egg over each square. THIS was the extra messy part. Try to keep the egg centered and not on a bumpy bacon-y part. It’s okay for the liquid to run all over the place, onto and in between other rectangles, but the yolk should stay on the dough.
6. Sprinkle cheese of your choice (I used shredded 4-cheese Mexican because that’s all I had). Be generous, if you love cheese like me! 🙂 Next time, I will be adding crumbled feta.
7. Tear up basil leaves and sprinkle (or strategically place.) Top with some cracked pepper.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until “pizza” is golden brown.

I feel like this is the type of thing where you can customize however you’d like. I bet it would also be delicious with avocados, for instance, or tomato, not to mention any combination of herbs or cheeses. I think next time I will also add olive oil for a tad more moisture. Some parts were a little dry for me!

My Accidental Japanese Dessert

On Friday, before Chuck left on his work trip, I made a reservation at a cute little restaurant on a quiet, picturesque street that I found on one of my wanderings. I perused the drinks section of the menu and determined to try something different and local. I spotted
“milk zenzai” and suddenly realized I had been craving bubble tea. I speculated that perhaps the milk zenzai would be similar to the milk tapioca tea that I so loved at the Asian restaurants back home, and ordered a glass with my meal.

When my dinner came without the milk zenzai, I tried to ask our waitress about it. Of course, my lack of Japanese language skills made this extraordinarily difficult, and while she understood that I was asking about milk zenzai, neither of us could communicate my specific issue. I only ended up confusing her and embarrassing myself by the time I gestured “never mind” and demonstrated happy satisfaction with my glass of water.

Moments after we finished our meal, the waitress brought me this:


“Milk zenzai!” she chirped. Chuck and I looked at each other and grinned. Of course milk zenzai isn’t a beverage – it’s a dessert! I must have confused the sections on the menu (no real surprise there.) Feeling foolish, we gave it a try. It did have the sweet tea flavor, and there were tapioca balls submerged in the milky liquid, so I like to think I wasn’t too far off. However, I was mystified by the presence of kidney beans in a dessert. The pastry-like piece in the middle of the bowl was a sort of baked bean-puff as well, that made for a most unique flavor. I enjoyed the sweet milk, but jury is still out on the bean-pastry. It was yummy and different to be sure, but I mean – it’s no chocolate lava cake 🙂 Chuck, on the other hand, thought every bit of it was delightful.

I’m really glad I made the mistake, because I tried something new that I otherwise may not have gone for, had I known what it was. Here are some pictures of the rest of the meal… just because 🙂



What’s in Our Kitchen: the Okinawa Version

Chuck and I both love to cook, and now that we find ourselves in a completely different culinary environment, we are eager to discover the ways in which we can concoct new recipes and experience new flavors. Of course, we also want to know where to shop for the best ingredients for the flavors we already know and love! For instance, I will never tire of Chuck’s deep dish pizzas 🙂 The Commissary here is sufficient for some things, but it’s small and pretty boring. I will probably only go there for things like cereal, milk, pasta, and some meat. Luckily, the local grocery stores out in Uruma are a real treat! I don’t know what 95% of it is, but the 5% I do know is fantastic, fresh, and relatively local (even if the squishy raw seafood with eyeballs and tentacles on display freaks me out!) Better yet, we found a farmer’s market within walking/biking distance, with all sorts of fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers. It was just a quick trip in the middle of a rain shower, so I didn’t take many photos, but I couldn’t resist snapping a quick pic of the pineapples adorned in pink ribbon below…

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We brought home our goodies and whipped up some dinner: seared tuna in a homemade ginger-soy-lemon-garlic sauce served over a bed of fresh greens and accompanied by fresh avocado and tomato. Delicious, and healthy too! photo2 (9) We also got Japanese eggs, which are very large, brown, and don’t require refrigeration. In fact, the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that refrigerates its eggs. We also treated ourselves to a delicious item from the dessert section of the Japanese grocery store – the half-eaten chocolate log pictured below. We don’t know what it is exactly, so Chuck calls it “Dragon Poop,” naturally. Appetizing, right? Right.

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In conclusion, I was particularly tickled to find out that while most Japanese produce is regional, they still import their oranges from the good ol’ US of A. I guess you just can’t beat Florida citrus! 🙂

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