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Showing posts from June, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: June 30th and July 1st

Nakajima-san's Niigata mochi at Nippori Farmers Market It seems impossible that we arrive in the land of July on Sunday, but there's no denying the evidence presented by weather, exuberant vegetables at the farm, and long hours of sunlight. July it is, indeed. And Tokyo farmers markets continue with a small handful this weekend to choose from, but plenty more to come in the month ahead. Start looking for edamame , tomatoes , potatoes , and other items galore as the days wear on and the heat makes you think about wilting. Hide behind your green curtain with a tall glass of umehachimitsu and savor the season's harvest! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in June A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, a curry I served up by one of the vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.) 10am to 4pm Map Roppongi Marke

Udo: The Story of More Odd but Tasty Food from Japan

Living in a foreign culture sometimes means eating things that look completely unfamiliar. It is both an unnerving and an exhilarating experience. More often than not I find myself loving this new dish and flavor , and a perfect case in point is udo (Aralia cordata) . One of Japan's many sansai (mountain vegetables), udo is a spring favorite that's just being pushed out now by summer fare. The farmers, Takashi-san and C-chan, introduced me to it during a visit to a neighborhood izakaya (a Japanese tavern) one evening. I was so enthralled with the texture and flavor (good crunch with a tiny bit of ginger-esque zip) that they showed me where to find it locally and gave me a recipe while we worked in the eggplant field the next morning. Suffice it to say, I decided to share this weird looking yet tasty vegetable discovery with readers over at eco+waza . Give it a read and mark your calendar for next years eating delight!

Guest Post: Strawberry Season

Savoring the strawberry season - oh, yeah! I was lucky enough to meet Dona Bumgarner during the course of the 2012 Blogathon . She writes of her experience and reflections on being a mother and a gardener at Aubergine . Today she shares her thoughts on raising a child with a taste for seasonal fare. Enjoy! Oh, and you can see what I wrote about finding inspiration here, there, and everywhere over at her blog! My daughter's first solid food was a yellow nectarine. I was eating it while I walked around the farmer's market on a hot August afternoon last summer and she rode on my chest in her Ergo carrier. I didn't think she was paying attention to what I was eating until she reached up and plucked the fruit from my hand just as I was about to take a bite. She was six months old and had four teeth by then, but she wasn't really interested in food for nourishment yet. She gripped it in both hands and held it to her mouth, sucking the juice and e

Tokyo Farmers Markets: June 23rd and 24th

Yummy veg at Roppongi Farmers Market! Unseasonable typhoons and lots of rain make this one of the more remarkable springs we've experienced yet since arriving in Tokyo. Don't be daunted by the weather, though, as vegetables carry right on doing what they do best in this weather: growing to perfection. Growers and producers will be glad to see you, and you won't regret for a moment the journey to find fresh carrots (just coming out of the ground now!), some of the first edamame , and heavenly green beans . Put on your galoshes and get out the door already! Gyre Market Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24 A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo's high-end shopping districts offering seasonal favorites in a way that feels homey yet rather boutique-y. 11am to 5pm Map UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in June A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all

Zucchini Ginger Marmalade

If there is one thing that can be said for tsuyu (rainy season) is that it is good for canning. Fruits and vegetables so eagerly drink up all that water that they are near to bursting in their eagerness to get off the vine. These days we're gathering zucchini twice a day, and that's saying something. C-chan recently lamented a missed round of collecting as she held an over-sized (by Japanese standards) round green zucchini in her hands. "I can't sell this," she said with a laugh and a shake of her head as a few sprinkles landed around us. "It's American sized!" I joked in an effort to make her feel better, and she promptly gave it to me. I wasn't quite expecting that, although I should know by now that such comments will get me more than I bargained for, i.e. my sushi lesson during our first year. So, home I came with two rather beastly fellows, along with a bundle of rhubarb to share with a friend and for a next round of

Tokyo Farmers Markets: June 16th and 17th

Kazuto Tameike of Kanjyuka Orchards Well, it's raining for sure, but let's put this in perspective. The vegetables will be cleaner by the time you get them home. Rain like this makes cucumbers and tomatoes so exuberant to be harvested they start leaping off their respective plants almost faster than farmers can haul them in. Fewer customers mean plenty of time to peruse and chat about a new recipe, too. I see only benefits resulting from some damp shoes and a steamy train ride. Do consider a waterproof shopping bag, though. Ebisu Market Sunday, June 17 11am to 5pm A nice sized market held on the terrace just in front of Ebisu Garden Place that will always be special to me for introducing me to dried natto and  tea seedpods . Map Nippori Farmer's Market Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17 10am to 5pm Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. My first visit was wonderful despite

A Break in the Rain

Yama ichigo pre-devourment The rain stopped yesterday long enough for us to haul the futons out into the sun, and then grab two good friends and head west into the mountains. My head is swimming at the moment with writing assignments, new responsibilities at old jobs, and trying to figure out my next step. A mountain trek full of steep inclines, smells of damp cedar, views of distant ranges, and a fair amount of sweat sounded perfect. Stick bug or tobinanafushi . And it was. I can't say I found answers or got any writing done, but it was a perfect day that regrounded me some. Plus, it reminded me that I better get off my duff and start training for our trip to Hokkaido this August. Oof. Oh, and I should mention this is the same hike where I found charcoal for sale. This time I bought a bag! Cool plant along trail. Know it?

Tokyo Farmers Markets: June 9th and 10th

Kosaka Farm at the Roppongi Market in June! A short list of markets this weekend, but don't let that put you off in the slightest. Hit the markets before the rainy season begins in earnest and be sure to pack an umbrella in case it decides to pour while you're there. Gather up some of the last of the spring vegetables and sample some of the first tastes of summer, too! Gyre Market Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10 A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo's high-end shopping districts offering seasonal favorites in a way that feels homey yet rather boutique-y. 11am to 5pm Map UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in May A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, the curry I had during my last visit from one of the vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.) 10am to 4pm Map Roppongi Market Every Saturday in May

Vinegar Article at Eco+Waza

Vinegar has long been a favorite item in my household. Invaluable in the kitchen for pickling and homemade salad dressings, it is also a very helpful cleaner. Possessing a naturally high acidity, vinegar gives mold and mildew a run for their money and makes a good basic disinfectant, too, that isn't harmful to the environment. Check out my article over at Eco+Waza  for the full scoop, and then start using it in more places you thought possible!

Potatoes Blooming

Blue potato blossom It was until I visited the Nippori Farmers Market that I remembered how good a potato could taste. Wandering among the stalls there I spotted a grower from Hokkaido selling red, pink, and yellow varieties. In Michigan I'd grown blue ones in a tower for their color as much as for their flavor, and was delighted to see them again. I bought a bag of each kind, and we feasted heartily over the next week. Somehow in our feeding frenzy, though, I managed to save back one of each for planting in the garden. I cut them in half aiming for a larger crop, and set them in the lasagna bed . Little shoots were already pushing out from an assortment of eyes, which meant they hadn't been treated with a non-sprouting chemical. Still, I worried a bit until I saw the first dark purple shoots emerging from the soil to find the sun. Interplanted with dill, fennel and chamomile to attract predators and pollinators alike that end of the row is a miniature forest of leaves

Milking the Watermelons

Tokyo's hot and humid summers present the perfect atmosphere for growing tomatoes, peppers, and a wide variety of vegetables. The trouble is, though, it is also the ideal atmosphere for powdery mildew. The bane of our farm and my garden, along with aphids , powdery mildew tends to attack the cucurbit crops without compunction. My first year on the farm we grew watermelons and squash, but powdery mildew settled in and essentially ruined both crops. Zucchini, thankfully, comes and goes so quickly that the spores don't have much time to attack it. Last year for the first time in years the farmers planted a tentative row of cucumbers to see what might happen. Beautifully trellised and tended, we reaped a very nice crop and they found enough inspiration to plant at least three rows this year. Two rows of squash have also been added to the mix, and so far blooms and young fruit alike look good. Milk drops on watermelon leaves. In my own garden, I opted for watermelon rath

Doggy Bag Flats

Leftovers, in some ways, are not very Japanese. It's often about fresh food made on the spot, and often right in front of the diner just after they order. This post, though, covers the first trickle of a new trend: doggy bags. It first appeared at Greenz on October 20th, 2010. Eco-conscious diners and locavores now have a solution for their restaurant leftovers. Reusable food boxes make it possible to have a clean plate without over-stuffing yourself. Reliable companions for reusable chopsticks, "doggy boxes" cut down on food waste as well as ensure something tasty for tomorrow's bento. Ranging in size and shape, Doggy Bag Flats come two or three in a package in varied designs. Available in trendy colors and patterns (one even by Benetton!), the boxes simplify (and beautify) the idea of toting home a few treats . Customers can also choose more potent messages - boxes with Mottainai defined or basic statistics about food waste in japan - to make it easy to

Tokyo Farmers Markets: June

BioFarm at the Earth Day Market in May! June brings the rainy season, and marks the first tentative steps into summer. Green curtains and gardens of all shapes and sizes are sprouting everywhere, and Tokyo's farmer's markets are a good place to begin exploring where to find the best of seasonal treats and other goodies. Check out the listing below, mark your calendar, and head out the door. Look forward to seeing you there! SUN Grocery in Shinjuku Saturday, June 2 11am to 3pm A once-a-month outreach effort by the students running a neighborhood grocery featuring fruits and vegetables from independent farmers. Map Ebisu Market Sunday, June 3 and Sunday, June 17 11am to 5pm A nice sized market held on the terrace just in front of Ebisu Garden Place that will always be special to me for introducing me to dried natto and  tea seedpods . Map Gyre Market Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10 Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June