Beginner’s Choice: Cherry Blossoms and Outdoor-Dining

Celebrating in Japan

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

Spring is a great time to celebrate the beauty of nature. There is a sudden burst of colour in many places that sparks joy. Apart from the beautiful sight of blossoms, there is also the joy of food which goes with celebrating the cherry blossom festival.

I sent a birthday greeting to Myn, my friend who lives in Japan, and she sent photos of her home-cooked celebration meal: chirashi sushi (an eel sushi dish) and apple crumble for dessert. I asked her how her Japanese is, her answer was, “Little compared to the Japanese food I have eaten.” I suppose that means that there is a lot of room for improvement.

Apple crumble with birthday greeting

Outdoor cooking

We are seeing the return of outdoor dining, starting with barbeques. We had paella for dinner last Saturday. Paella is a Spanish (or Valencian, to be precise) rice dish with seafood and meat (usually chicken, pork or chorizo). Paella is traditionally an outdoor dish, cooked over an outdoor fire in a large paella pan. The rice is cooked in a broth with spices. It’s a flavourful dish that is best accompanied with sangria (wine with orange juice and sprite, with chopped apples).

I had paella once in a Spanish restaurant and was surprised at how expensive it was. We have home-cooked paella once in a while on special occasions. The ingredients are not expensive, except for the saffron strands that give the paella its yellow colour.

When I think of outdoor celebrations, the memory of a village wedding in Indonesia comes to mind. I was visiting a friend in Medan and she wanted to climb a volcano. We got as far as the foot of the volcano where there were hot springs which stank of sulphur. I was quite relieved as it put an end to my friend’s wish to climb a volcano. As teenagers, we liked adventure, but I wasn’t so adventurous. On our way back from the volcano, we saw a group of villagers in brightly coloured garments celebrating a wedding. There was a huge cooking drum on a fire and someone stirring the rice dish that would feed the whole village. The aroma of the dish filled the air. It was an amazing sight, I had never seen such a big cooking pot in my life.

Fish feasts and Side Salads

Angie baked fish topped with chopped tomatoes and onions on banana leaves. There was a village feel to the meal. The fish can be grilled on a fire for a barbeque.

Salads are served as side dishes, but when they are presented well, they can become the centre-piece. A salad of tomatoes, mozzarella, oregano, olives and prunes makes a good piece of edible art.

Mango wheel

Angie has been making good use of seasonal fruits, like this mango-chocolate cake. The quality of a cake is measured by how fast it vanishes!


A participant of last Sunday’s HomSkil’s Homemaking 101 course commented that eating out has become very expensive, especially for a large family. I agree with her completely. Although this blog is not a cooking blog, there are some posts with recipes, like the following:

Beginner’s Choice: Val’s lunchbox ideas – HomeBlog by HomSkil

Beginner’s Choice: Noodles, Rice and Everything Nice – HomeBlog by HomSkil

Beginner’s Choice: Aroy Mak Mak Quick Dish – HomeBlog by HomSkil

I get messages from readers who have tried the recipes and liked them. It’s a joy to know that we are spreading the joy of cooking.

Have a great week ahead and enjoy the holidays.

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 1 May 2022

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