Skip to main content

A Few Additions for the Tokyo Bookshelf

One of the pleasures of being home in America for a month (other than getting to see friends and family in person and being able to tromp through the landscapes I love in my favorite season with a handful of the aforementioned in tow) is being able to read. Newspapers, books, and magazines are all at my fingertips along with whatever the bookstore and public library show on their shelves. It is a delight.

It is also a chance to pick the brains of my canning and gardening friends and relatives to see what they recommend, and then rush out to examine it for myself and possibly purchase. Here are a few recommended finds.

Ball Complete Book of Home Canning and Preserving by Judy Kingry and Lauren Devine. 2006
Tons of great looking recipes and some good basic canning information, too. I've been working on building my own recipes of late as well as tweaking those of others, and I wanted a little more information on how to do so safely. Our good friends at Ambry Farms suggested this one as an expanded reference, and if the jalapeno jelly we sampled that same afternoon is any indication this book should be a great addition to my Tokyo bookshelf.

Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2008
My sister-in-law, an avid canner and gardener with a talent for flavor combinations I can only dream of possessing, recommended this as another great resource for building recipes. What the book offers that she liked (and that I've been looking for, too) is an explanation of the science behind the food preservation techniques that deepened her own understanding of how to create safe and tasty jars of goodness throughout the season.

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. 2009
Permaculture - the practice of mimicking natural systems to create sustainable landscapes - is something I want to learn more about. In Michigan I incorporated native plants and other perennials into my garden as a means to attract beneficial insects, and build a community of plants and animals to support the garden's ecosystem. In Tokyo, I've slowly been doing the same thing, but it was while reading The Alternative Kitchen Garden for review that I decided I wanted to pursue the idea more in depth. Gaia's Garden is recommended as something of a classic in the area, and I'm hoping to get my hot little paws on it sooner rather than later. (Disclosure: I'm on the list of reviewers for Chelsea Green, the publisher of this book.)


Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro