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Showing posts from October, 2009

Sweet Potato Harvest

This Spring I planted sweet potatoes for the first time. I'd certainly eaten them, and given some thought to growing them, but space in my garden often felt like it was at a premium. And past experience taught me that the potato can be a master of disguise resulting in a surprise second year harvest. The Planting When the Takashi's mentioned that an adjacent field was to be planted in sweet potatoes, I veritably begged to be able to help. We'd discussed our mutual fondness for them after I'd made some sweet potato stew for Shee-chan when she was feeling under the weather, as well as the differences between the American and Japanese sweet potatoes. (Japanese sweet potatoes have the same purple skin but are yellow on the inside. They also tend to turn brown rather quickly after slicing up, and the consistently is a bit more starchy.) One fine morning in May found me with gloves, hoe, hat, and Takashi-san at the field. He had already tilled, but the sweet potato beds s

Tokyo Garden

Hard as it may be to believe I've been lucky enough to have a garden here in Tokyo. Shortly after starting to work at a local organic farm I was offered gardening space. It's not huge, but it's lovely and I've been so incredibly happy to be able to have it. I've only written a bit about the garden now and again, but now that the winter vegetables are nearly all in I thought I would share some of the photo highlights. We grew bok choi (pictured above), beets, a number of herbs, edible and non-edible flowers, long beans, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, three kinds of kale, radishes, spicy peppers, what turned out to be ornamental strawberries, swiss chard, American pumpkin, and long onions. Some worked out better than others, of course. The American Pumpkin (pictured at left) didn't make it. Perhaps the Tokyo summer with its high heat and humidity proved too much or it was a case of powdery mildew. Either way, despite its fantastic good looks - vines that stretche

Ramen Village in Asahikawa Delights

Sixth in a series about our adventures in Hokkaido this summer. Ramen is one of Japan's favorite dishes. A simple concept - noodles in broth - nearly every prefecture and area serves a signature version, and each shop will feature a variation on this theme as well. Within about two blocks of our Tokyo apartment are at least three ramen shops, and each does the dish a little differently. One serves up a steaming bowl of noodles and fatty pork with a hint of green onion in a creamy broth. Another offers noodles with fatty pork in a clear broth with a strip of konbu and a nice selection of condiments - pickled daikon, dried garlic, a shaker of mixed spicy peppers, and a red paste that will warms you up from head to toe. Another, recently discovered noodle shop a couple blocks north of us serves it up with the usual noodles and pork, but throws in some seasonal vegetables, too. After coming down out of the mountains of Daisetzusan , we spent some time exploring Asahikawa and a r