Monday, December 31, 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Bagels! Libraries!! Oh, and a twisted ankle

After weeks of gray, rainy weather we finally had a wonderful saturday with 19°C, no wind, and not a cloud in the clear blue sky. I've recently extended my long run to about 15km, and there's a fun route from Naha city hall up to Shuri castle; through Sueyoshi park, then down towards the sea; cross road 58, then follow the coast back to Naminoue, and finally back to the city center.

Before going out on my run, I started on some bagels. Bagels aren't all that difficult to make; no sour-dough starter or wood-fired ovens needed. The main points are to make a fairly dry dough (50-55% liquid); to let them rise slowly at low temperature over several hours; and boil them just before you bake. I made the dough and left it to rise while I went running.

I started running through Naha, but no more than 3km away I managed to completely miss a curb as I was taking a picture, and twisted my ankle. I had no choice but to abandon my run and limp back home.

The offending picture. Not much to lose a running day over, to be honest.

Once back, I iced my ankle, then shaped the bagels and left them in the fridge to slowly proof over several hours. Ritsuko is in Osaka this weekend, so sitting at home is no fun. Fortunately, December 15 is the opening day for the all-new Okinawa Prefectural library, and it's a stone's throw away from home, in the new bus terminal building.

I walked limped over to the bus terminal building. The library itself is surprisingly large — the public areas are spread out over three spacious floors, and there's a massive storage area for books with a robotic train delivery system. I never realized it before, but the bus terminal building is really mostly a library; the shopping mall is just sort of squeezed into the leftover space.

The library is large, spacious and well-designed.

Reading desks with a view. The most surprising thing for me was perhaps that only a few hours after the library opened for the very first time, there were hundreds of people there doing homework, reading magazines or studying just as if they'd been doing it there for years. I really think there is something about libraries, specifically, that make them so very amenable as communal spaces like this.

Three large, well-designed floors.

I thought that I might as well get a library card while I'm there. Apparently, about half of southern Okinawa had the same idea. I spent two hours in line waiting to get my card. Amusingly, many of the people waiting in line were sunk deep into a book as they were waiting. In most other situations everybody would have been fondling a smartphone.

This is a great library. Lots of volumes, lots of reading seats, open and airy. I may have a serious crush on this place right now — please don't tell my wife.

Once back home, I brought out the bagels again. Put a wide pot on the stove, pre-heated the oven, then made bagels. 

Boil the bagels. This, along with the low liquid content in the dough, is what effectively gives them the chewy texture. ~45 seconds, flip them, then another 45 seconds or so.

Finished. Unfortunately, the oven I have can't really do the kind of temperatures needed for breads like this. Still, they turn out pretty good.

In all, a pretty good saturday here in Naha. I'll have a bagel for breakfast  tomorrow (ham, cream cheese, lettuce, red onion and mayonnaise, I think), and freeze the rest for later. And my ankle feels much better already; with any luck I'll be able to go on a short run tomorrow.