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Showing posts from March, 2009

A Great Post from Tom Philpott at Grist

I'm offering this Grist blog post about food and class up as it addresses some of my own concerns about the new wave of food mania hitting the US. I can't say enough how great I think it is that people are supporting local farmers, eating more seasonally, and paying attention to what goes in their mouths. But, I worry that it is only for a certain group of people at a certain income level. Good,  healthy organic food should not just be for the elite, but it should be for everyone. (A point well-made in a discussion that followed an article summarizing the Local Food Summit this past winter.) Philpott addresses it again and so eloquently that I thought it worth sharing here. 

A Thousand and One Things to Eat with Rice

Last night I was feeling particularly inspired (for me, that is), and so I cooked up a tasty little series of vegetables and tofu. All the vegetables and the tofu were done on our little fish grill, and the greens I did in the wok. Our kitchen comes with a two burner gas stovetop that has a little fish grill in it. It's sort of a rack you pull out and then lay whatever it is you hope to cook down, close the door, and grill away. Influenced by a neighbor who did her asparagus in it, I thought I'd give it a shot with a some of the stuff we picked up recently. I simply cut everything up somewhat thinly, dredged it in a bit of oil and assorted spices, and then laid it on the rack. For the sweet potatoes, I did some just in oil, but then later added nutmeg or curry powder just to see what would happen. I did the same for the eggplant, but for the tofu I simply flopped it (gently) about in soy sauce and then put it on the rack. (As I finished roasting one thing and started the next

Informative Set of Materials about Sustainable Agriculture

I came across this great little list in my weekly e-issue of The Scout Repor t - a compendium of interesting electronic links and information put together by the great folks at the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) - that focuses on sustainable agriculture and food security. Sustainable-food campaign reaches a critical mass of influence in the United States With Food Democracy now, Iowan Dave Murphy Is Challenging Corporate Farming Safeguard Food Supply But Respect Small Farms Big Island Video News: Sustainable farming with tilapia Even city folk can make vegetable gardens flower,0,4

Kale Seedlings Revealed

The Russian Kale seeds I put in just over a week ago have sprouted! I went out on the balcony to putter with some of the other pots, and decided to look once again to see if anything was happening in that section. Much to my joy, there they were standing tall (for early sprouts) above the dirt in the pot! I ran back inside to get the camera, as any dutiful new parent would, and took pictures enthusiastically. The seedlings are a little difficult to see unless you really know what you're looking for, but they are present. Once I got to looking I counted about four or five, and I'm betting that even more have arrived since yesterday. I am simply thrilled!

Dessert in Japan

I have a sweet tooth. There. It's out there. My mother has always known, and now the world does, too. Anything sugary and I'm there. Still no cavities, thank heaven, but it may just be a matter of time. Japan also has a sweet tooth, which is a mixed blessing for me. Food often has a slightly sweet taste to it - from the thin skinned inari rolls to the kim chi we bought from our neighborhood green grocer - that is ever so lovely. It is almost refreshing to eat things that are not sickly sweet, but rather subtle. It seems like the blend of flavors is better, and that the overall texture of what I'm eating comes through somehow. My newest discovery that I feel little compunction to resist is mochi (pronounced mosh-ee) and it's many versions. Rice is pounded into a paste that is molded into a ball usually around red-bean paste. The outer shell can come in a veritable rainbow of colors, and the inside is often simply the bean paste. (Mochi can also be savory, but I haven

Urban Farming and Gardening

As I roam the streets of our little neighborhood, Musashino , I find little treasures tucked away not far off the main roads. My wanderings on the little byways and public footpaths take me past many of the large garden areas mentioned in previous posts, and sometimes these are accompanied by little stalls where surplus of whatever is in season is being sold for an incredibly reasonable price. Sometimes the farmer is present and sometimes it is simply an honor system of plunking the coins in a little bank on the side.  I found one of these while out on my morning run the other day set up next to a lovely garden and house. Bags of broccoli raab - some just stems and some with the leaf - were on display for 100 yen each. (That's roughly $1.00 per bag, which is an excellent price given that the operation looked organic with it's big pile of compost in the distance, well-tended looking soil, and all the work that makes it a reality.) We had some for lunch with ginger and hot chil

Seedlings in the Window

I started some of our first seedlings this past Friday using old sushi containers from a take-out meal earlier in the week. The containers are plastic with lids that fold or swing back making them nearly perfect for starting seeds.  One container holds some Green Zebra seeds from Project Grow's awesome heirloom seed collection that I bought at the People's Food Coop . (Just so folks know, I blog for Project Grow and I served on the Board at PFC.) I first ate these tasty tomatoes last summer while working at Frog Holler Farm . I'd never seen a green tomato before, much less tasted one. I don't even remember exactly why I dug into one at long last, but I'm sure glad I did! The lemony taste and cute size of these little gems makes them one of the best tomatoes I've ever had. (It is hard to top a Brandywine, too, but I tend to eat those like my Wisconsin people. I cut it into thick slices with a sprinkle of sugar on top, and then eat it like I would a juicy steak

Revolving Sushi Bar

Last night we went out for sushi - again - to a local place that a friend of ours recommended. It was packed with diners - whole families - out celebrating Vernal Equinox Day. (You've got to like a country that sets up a whole holiday dedicated to the change in seasons.) We took our place at the counter, and began eyeing things going by on the conveyer belt in front of us. Some we recognized - tuna, salmon, and shrimp - and some we thought looked a wee bit alien. The fish intestines, while at first glance looked tasty, were a little less than appetizing. White and stuffed with plankton (at least that's what we imagined), we had a difficult time eating them despite a beautiful presentation. The nah-to rolls, a national delicacy here of beans that we've heard once too often have an unfortunate texture, also looked momentarily appetizing until we realized what they were. Sometimes we do think it would be better if we did not know what it was that we were about to eat. The

My Little Garden Begins

We've still had no word on a community garden space, and while I'm not giving up hope I am beginning to focus on growing things on our balcony in back. (I'm also plotting - pun entirely intended - on growing things on the front balcony, too.) There's  plenty of interest in the building and with some of the other English teachers, so I think we're going to go for it.  The previous tenants graciously left me some pots, potting soil, and some seeds for dill, basil, and rosemary. Yesterday, I purchased (at least I'm pretty sure this is what I got) seeds for beans, peas, and cardinal climber. (I put in some of the Russian kale seeds I brought, but I did see a big fat mourning dove on the power lines above me this morning and I do have some concerns about raiders. I'm hopeful, but I may start some other seedlings inside, too.) I also picked up some seedlings of flat-leaf parsley, nasturtiums, johnny-jump-ups, and swiss chard. While I really wanted to purchase o

Photos of Gardens and Our First Market

I had a little trouble with the internet connection yesterday, but today I'm in a much better spot. The following photos go with yesterday's post, for the most part. They include the impromptu market stall we shopped at as well as some of the gardening spaces in our area. Apparently, much of Mushashino used to be farmland, and so the area retains a great deal of that feel and space.

First Veggies on the Street Purchase!

Jet lag is sending us to bed early and waking us up early, too. This morning we woke up around 5:30am, and kept trying to go back to sleep until about 6am. Then it was up to make coffee, and plan our day. I think part of what got us up was my stomach growling. Yesterday we ate little, and I felt sleepy and a bit nautious for part of the day. Well, I should say I felt a little dodgey, but then easily wolfed down a lovely little pastry at a coffee shop later in the afternoon. And then I did the same to some sushi that same evening. So yummy, but apparently not quite enough for my tummy to make it quietly through the night. Finding good veggies and some rice were today's objectives. It seems like it shouldn't really be that difficult, but things are a bit pricey. A head of broccoli runs about $2, and 4 kilos of brown rice run about $15. Brown rice itself is hard to come by, too. The majority of rice is white, and since we can't read the packages we don't know if it's

The Japan Years Begin

We have landed in Japan, specifically Tokyo, and are settling in nicely. I haven't seen chickens yet, but I have seen a ton of flowers (pansies, johnny-jump-ups, etc.) and ornamental kale. And I've seen seed packets and plants for sale! I see clearly now where my yen will be going. And word has it that little markets are everywhere! And I see tons of growing plots wherever it is possible to grow something. And the security guards had one of the prettiest blooming orchids in the corner of their little booth at Richard's university! And there's mint growing in one of the pots the former occupants left behind at our apartment! Ok, that's enough of small glimpses and exclamation marks!

I See Chickens

I look out the window over our sink and see the chickens pecking under the bird feeder, wandering through the yard, or hopping about in the compost bin. In reality, though, I just see where our barn used to be, chickadees and nuthatches under and on the feeder, and no action in the compost bin. The girls don't come running across the road from our neighbors or stroll casually up the driveway. Even though I fully expect to witness these events as I go through the course of my day, they don't happen. Each time it is jarring. Saturday evening the girls moved into their new digs at Dragonwood Farm . They moved from their small rural convent to a larger commune that includes roosters and a variety of other ladies from different backgrounds. Dragonwood bustles with chickens and chicken action. Chatty, hopping birds and roosters eyeballing everyone in the vicinity. It's a big change. Sort of like us moving from the country to Tokyo, I guess. I stopped in to say hello on Sunday e