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Showing posts from December, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: December 29th and 30th

Family vegetable shopping at the Nippori Market As the year winds down, so do the farmers markets. This weekend only a very few regulars are open, but with a good selection of items for gifts , for holiday food preparation , and for the usual eating. Don't forget the added bonus of the Roppongi Farmers Market is the Refugees International Japan table! Good crafty stuff there with yummy vegetables and fruit only a few steps away. Sounds like heaven to me! UN University Market Saturday, December 29th 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 until December 29th A first  visit to this market  was well worth the trek for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tr

Mom's Rice Pudding in Tokyo

Mom's rice pudding a holiday breakfast feast! Even as a child, I loved rice. My mother served it in a handful of ways and to every one's astonishment I gobbled it up as quickly as I could. The taste, the texture, the look all seemed perfect to me. But then, I'm not really a fussy eater. Most internal organs are not on my favorites list, but I'll find something scrumptious about almost anything else. One year my mother served what she called rice pudding at Christmas. A big casserole dish with raisins, rice, cinnamon, sugar, and milk sat steaming on the table. I thought I'd gone to heaven. My brothers took their polite bites and turned up their noses, which pleased me to no end. More for me! She's served it ever since knowing full well that at least one of her brood will scrape the bowl clean. Since moving to Tokyo, though, Christmas is mildly challenging. I have no oven in which to make the cookies I adore, and hours of phone calls don't quite make

Merry Christmas!

Presents are wrapped and in the closet (the tree is too small), and I'm looking up recipes for egg nog. Santa may well be on his way, and the star that signaled the start of it all twinkles in the crisp night air. Merry Christams and Happy Holidays, All!

Tokyo Farmers Markets: December 22nd and 23rd

Gouda Masaki with his cool mochi from Aomori-ken at the December Ebisu Farmers Market. He's joined by students and staff of NOPPO, a company that connects university students and farmers. (I'll be interviewing them early in 2013. Stay tuned!) As the holidays near the markets are getting a bit scarce, but don't let that deter you from heading out the door to find some of the best gifts ever . Vendors are ramping up their scrumptious offerings in preparation for New Year's celebrations, Christmas gift giving, and parties. (I take any opportunity available to buy and eat, personally, so thankfully we like hiking and biking.) It's worth going to any of these markets for this particularly festive moment. Nippori Farmer's Market Sunday, December 22nd, 23rd, and 24th 10am to 5pm A great long-weekend extravaganza at this wonderful little market where Tohoku farmers sport their best , there's live entertainment, and heaps of fun despite inclement weather.

Daikon and Carrot Pickles

Carrot and daikon awaiting transformation. My schedule seems to have slowed just enough to make time for making pickles or I've managed to forget something I'm supposed to be doing and have filled the resulting void with pickles and canning. Regardless, it's a lovely time. It could be, too, that I'm slightly homesick and canning is my balm. As I fill jars with sweet marmalade or these spicy pickles I think of my family and friends back home that set me on this path filled with colorful jars and flavorful food. They remain my inspiration. As does the harvest currently beginning at the farm. While greens like komatsuna are starting to roll in so are the daikon. We're growing two varieties this year - the usual torpedo-sized mammoths that lounge like rock stars in my bike basket and a short fat variety that snuggles in like a cat on the lap. Both are delicious and crunchy and bright and snappy, but the short fatties are ready now. I came home with two the ot


Life in Tokyo and Japan is literally and figuratively far away from my home country, the United States, but there are times when the finger of current events reaches me. This past year there have been many such moments: a recall election in my home state, a presidential election that show-cased some of our best and worst, new legislation in the state next dearest to me, and a handful of family crises. The latest, though, cuts me to the quick and I find myself so deeply saddened by it that my eyes fill with tears even as I type. A family crisis earlier this year did the same, sending me into a states of grief and sadness, anger, and finally resolution. Pen met paper in multiple ways. A new course was set, one I could live with. While no one in Newtown is my relative or even friend, it feels the same. I can't help but weep and grieve with this tragedy. I know the anger (mostly disgust at my culture's inexplicable fixation on guns and violence as the only solution to any gi

Tokyo Farmers Markets: December 15th and 16th

Steaming cups of amezake abound! As always this middle weekend of the month is abuzz with markets. Hankering after yuzu for shu or marmalade or for the bath? Now's your chance. Not to mention all the lovely citrus to be found  in general as the season really starts to kick it. The usual winter greens and root crops are on hand in all their verdant loveliness, too. See you there! Ebisu Market Sunday, December 16th 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 Koenji Farmer's Market Saturday, December 15th A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the  Za-Koenji Public Theatre  could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues! 11am - 5pm Map UN Universit

Mottainai: Candied Yuzu Peel

Yuzu peels sugared and drying 'Tis the season for yuzu, and once again I'm venturing into the world of marmalade and shu ; however, this year I'm trying something a bit different. Inspired by a homemade brew our local sake shop master made of yuzu and nihon shu (sake), I did a version of my usual plopping of fruit in a jar with rock sugar and alcohol. A bit rushed, I neglected to closely review my own instructions. I did not cut the fruit as I should have, so the past three weeks whole sunny yuzu soaked away in our shu closet. Based on a sample of a previous brew resurrected the the back of said closet where, peels and all, it languished for six months of more (very bitter), I opted to be slightly more prompt. Yuzu's flavor is a delightful balance of bitter and sour that is gently tamed by the sugar that joins it in a jar of marmalade or jug of yuzu shu. The sake master warned that including the peel at all would make it too bitter, and if that's true it'

Japan Farmers Markets Gift Recommendations in Metropolis Magazine

Adorable strawberry cats at Kichijoji's Farmers Market In case you didn't notice, I'm a big advocate of farmers markets and shopping locally. I'm also a fan of a good pickle , a nice jar of jam , and food in general. And don't even get me started on assorted craft items. We could be here for hours. So, it should be no surprise that I managed to worm my way into Metropolis Magazine , a Tokyo publication for the hip and happening about all things  happening and hip in our fair city, with a blurb on farmers markets . While I'd like them to give over an entire issue to markets and the wonderful people and items to be found there, I'm more than glad at the moment to have crafted their most recent The Goods column . Check it out along with the markets listed (plus a few more) for some terrific shopping, new ideas, and just general fun! Small aside: I might also mention that Refugees International Japan , an organization I support, has a table of goodies

Tokyo Farmers Markets: December 8th and 9th

Miyamotoyama Farm at Tokyo's Earth Day Market Cold winds and clear skies swing us toward the New Year, and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this stunning weather to hit the farmers markets . As the end of the month nears, farmers and brewers and jammers and weavers and canners alike begin turning their attention to family and friends and celebrating the coming year. Markets close down to give time to those gatherings, so don't wait a moment to go on out and pick up gifts that will more than satisfy those on your list. (I might also suggest hauling home a foodly treasure or two for yourself, too.) Seriously, anyone can go to a department store. Bust out of that usual holiday grind and get your shopping done in festive sunshine! Gyre Market Saturday,  December 8th and Sunday, December 9th 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

Komatsuna: A Lovely Japanese Green

Komatsuna nearly ready to harvest! When I first arrived in Japan nearly four years ago, I had no idea what I might discover in terms of vegetables. I suspected I would find a fascinating variety of old and new, and so I did. Broccoli and cabbage, old friends from way back, greeted me on a first foray to the grocery store and at the first neighborhood market I stumbled upon, as did potatoes and onions. But there were plenty of odd looking things  - roots, greens, mushrooms and more - that I didn't recognize at all. In our Michigan life we ate buckets of salads and piles of kale. I saw some leafy things, but had no idea what they were. I bought and chopped, oblivious to names and recipes and traditions. All were delicious, but I felt a bit rude not knowing what to call them. Thankfully, I started helping at the farm where the farmers began teaching me not just about urban farming in Tokyo, but about the vegetables we grew. Komatsuna, a leafy green we grow in the winter months