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Showing posts from May, 2009

Another Lawn Mowing Alternative

Currently, of course, I don't have a lawn, but I still don't believe much in mowing a lawn . (I'm not really sure I've even seen a lawn here in Tokyo, now that I think about it. At least I've not seen the kind of lawns we know in America - large expanses of green in front of houses - and tend.) I like gardens and prefer just about any alternative to spending money on gas for a mower or maintenance for one. (If it's a push mower, I might be more down with that.) Anyway, this nice little Q&A with Umbra Fisk over at Grist offers some nice ideas about mowing with goats! Google does it, why can't we? And our friends over at Ambry Farms make a mean goat cheese, too. The good stuff just keeps coming.

Native Plants Make the News

Ira Flatow had a great episode on Science Friday about native plants that features Douglas Tallamy (author of Bringing Nature Home ). The above link also offers a good list of links full of helpful and inspiring information. On your way!

Sugoku O-ee-she (Very delicious)

(This article is second in a series that attempts to capture and share all we learned and saw during a recent trip to Nagano Prefecture. For more detail and access to even more photos visit Rich and Joan Around the World .) I think, that quite possibly, my meals on this trip were some of the most beautiful I have ever eaten and will eat (at least until I visit again) in my lifetime. The inn where we stayed in the shuraku offered a dinner and breakfast the likes of which I have never before experienced. Kevin and Tomoe of One Life Japan offered a bevy of homemade treats made from local ingredients either in-season or preserved from the last year. From the homemade black soy bean tofu topped with a mountain cherry blossom to the spicy miso Tomoe concocted, everything we ate (with rare exception) had been grown, harvested, processed, and cooked within easy range of the table where I sat. The fish devoured during breakfast and dinner at the inn came from the river tumbling by across th

Adventures in Nagano Prefecture - Series Opener

This is the first in a series about a recent trip we took to Nagano Prefecture in Japan to begin exploring life outside Tokyo. A shinkansen (bullet train) took us literally through the mountains surrounding Tokyo's Edo Plain to Nagano Prefecture to begin an adventure organized by One Life Japan . Primarily offering hiking and biking trips in rural Japan, One Life exposes travelers to another side of Japan than they encounter at major tourist sites. I discovered them shortly before our move here while searching for information on gardening or farming in English. (The top hand in the photo at left points to the valley where we were, and the lower hand points to Tokyo.) A great conversation ensued, and once we arrived in Tokyo I contacted them again about a possible trip. Our plans for Golden Week were a bit nebulous, and one of their volunteer projects – helping rethatch the roof of a traditional Japanese farmhouse – sounded great to us. They also invited us to spend a few days at

The Meal

It seems that many a farmer is a good cook, and T-san is no exception. The next day (after the fish lesson ) we went back to our friends home to sample the assorted fish. We sat down to salad, a bowl of small squid, and potato salad. T-san remained in the kitchen cooking and bringing out each item in a beautiful presentation. The small squid were easily the most exotic thing on the table as our starter. Literally, smaller than my thumb these little guys were jumbled together with a bit of greenery – either parsley or sisho – and soy sauce. I can't say this was my favorite dish of the day, but I gave it a go. Crunchy when you least expect it with a cool (temperature not niftiness) texture. A plate full of sardines and grunt fish surrounded by sisho leaves came next accompanied by sheets of dried seaweed and a bowl of rice. We placed a bit of rice on the seaweed, topped it with a sisho leaf, and then the fish of our choice. After gently rolling this it could be dipped in the wa

A Fish Story

I swear I was just making conversation. A week or so ago while working on the farm I asked about fish. Seafood is everywhere in Japan - dried, fresh, still alive in the tank, large, small, sliced, and whole. However, I have no idea how to prepare it. Sure, in the Midwest we have our fish frys, but the most exotic thing there might be lake perch not octopus or squid. My friend responded that she rarely made fish since no one in her family liked it. Occasionally, she prepared a simple dish using dried fish. The smell isn't so great, but the taste is good. Then her face lit up. "You will come to my house for lunch, and we will make fish." She turned to her husband, and said (I assume) the same thing in Japanese. He then turned to me and said, "Please come to my house for lunch and to learn to cook fish." I accepted and was absolutely thrilled and very touched. We work together regularly, and I like to think we make a good team. I enjoy their way of working

Maramalade Update!

Quick update: I took a jar along on our recent trip to Nagano Prefecture with One Life Japan . They invited us to stay at their house and help on the farm, so I thought it would be a good little gift. We ate it at breakfast our first morning there, and it was a wee bit nerve-wracking. Their homemade bread was hot from the stove, and two other guests were dying to get rolling. Everyone oohed and aahhed over the idea of the marmalade, and took an obligatory spoonful.  As they munched, they mumbled nice things around the mouthfuls. It seemed good, but Japanese or English it was a little hard to understand. Then came the  moment of truth. The woman across from me, a total stranger, took a huge helping of SECONDS!! The marmalade was good. And the jar was mostly empty by the time we left. Another good sign!