Friday, September 28, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: September 29th and 30th

Miao Village market in China. Ginger galore. Oh my.
As October closes in cooler weather should start to prevail and the markets should start filling up with a variety of fall favorites: sweet potatoes, squash, apples, pears (nashi), and more. Surprising summer stragglers, such as eggplant, will be around showing off their colors and tempting shoppers, too. For me, this is when the real bounty begins, so I plan on taking a backpack to cart home all the goodies. See you there!

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
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

Every Saturday in September
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Damp and Happy: Tokyo Farmers Market Outing Report


Damp squash family members at Earth Day Market.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Bauer.
Indeed, those two words well describe the hearty bunch that braved yesterday's torrential rains to join me at the Earth Day Market in Yoyogi Park. Eight of us total (down from 15 who initially planned to come out) wandered between the stalls surveying the seasonal goodies - a variety of squashes, awesome jams, heaps of good rice and grains, wine, beer, moroheya and other greens, peanuts, and a few early radishes - under our umbrellas and plotting our purchases.

We chatted, learned about  the vendors and their products, indulged in some free samples, and tried to stay relatively try. Tomiyama-san, the Earth Day Market manager, paused in his full rain suit to welcome us and chat for a moment before bustling off to help finish setting up tents and strategize about keeping things dry. Business was brisk despite the weather, and I can only imagine what it would have been if the sun had been shining. We grabbed yummy lunches from the handful of food carts there to talk and laugh together some more. A good day, if I do say so myself.

If lack of a wet suit kept you away, never fear. I plan on doing another soon. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Confirming Today's Tokyo Farmers Market Outing!


It is raining cats and dogs out there, but I'm still going. I know the farmers and artists will be there, and I just can't not go. If you're still interested in coming out, please do. Bring an umbrella, rain coat...maybe a wet suit? I'll be on the stone bridge near Harajuku Station at 10am with my red umbrella and orange (or yellow?) raincoat. See you there!
- Joan

Just in case you forgot to put it on your calendar, here's a little reminder about this Sunday's adventure to the Earth Day Market. Join me for a few hours of  fun that are full of good food, interesting people, cool artwork, and most likely some music, too. What could possibly be holding you back? (I won't blame you if you opt out due to the rain. I'll do this again. J)

Tokyo Farmers Market Outing
Sunday, September 23rd
10am - 2pm

Meet on the bridge to Meiji Shrine at 10am. It's right on your way from Harajuku Station to Yoyogi Park. I'll be carrying a red umbrella (for sun or rain!), and will be the slightly dorky looking tall foreign women with glasses and curly hair. We'll walk over to the Earth Day Market where I'll give you a brief run-down of what I know about the vendors, the food available, and then set you loose! Plan to buy lunch there.

A ceramics art fair is on at the same time, which should be just brilliant (albeit damp), too.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: September 22nd and 23rd

Miao Village market day in China. I could live there.
This is it! The big weekend where you can come out with me to the Earth Day Market in Yoyogi Park. Just beyond the Rockabilly Dancers and whatever festival may be underway that day, you'll find some of the best organic and fair trade stuff around. Everything from fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to jams to beer to wine to rice to tea to bread to cheese to cool handmade clothes to spicy curry. If you can't make it I'll be sad, of course, but you should then head on out to the other markets happening. Too much fun to be had not to do it!

Sunday, September 23rd
*Send along a comment here with your email (I'll keep it top-secret!) to let me know if you wish to join.
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing.
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Gyre Market
Saturday,  September 22nd and Sunday, September 23rd
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

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
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

Every Saturday in September
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't Forget: Tokyo Farmers Market Outing This Sunday!

Sweet times: honey at the Earth Day Market
Just in case you forgot to put it on your calendar, here's a little reminder about this Sunday's adventure to the Earth Day Market. Join me for a few hours of  fun that are full of good food, interesting people, cool artwork, and most likely some music, too. What could possibly be holding you back?





Tokyo Farmers Market Outing
Sunday, September 23rd
10am - 2pm

Meet on the bridge to Meiji Shrine at 10am. It's right on your way from Harajuku Station to Yoyogi Park. I'll be carrying a red umbrella (for sun or rain!), and will be the slightly dorky looking tall foreign women with glasses and curly hair. We'll walk over to the Earth Day Market where I'll give you a brief run-down of what I know about the vendors, the food available, and then set you loose! Plan to buy lunch there.


A ceramics art fair is on at the same time, which should be just brilliant as well. Pretty bowl for your miso? Nice plate to serve up that squash? How about a nifty glass for that organic wine? Oh, the possibilities!



Monday, September 17, 2012

Seasonal Jet Lag in the Garden


Bee in last of the basil flowers. Who am I to deny his harvest?
After three years of gardening and farming in Tokyo, I should be accustomed to the turn of seasons. I should know that these hot September days belie the fact that cooler temperatures are coming, but I just can't believe it. My Midwestern seasonal sensibilities tell me otherwise. Vaguely lower temperatures (88-degrees versus 90-degrees) don't seem much different in the blazing sun as I sweat similar amounts whether working in the fields or trying to write at home. Winter is a far-away land, a dream. To my Midwestern self, summer remains firmly entrenched. My beet and kale seeds will surely protest. My inner calendar remains out of sync. It's a sort of seasonal jet-lag.

Since returning from China I've gone to the garden every day. Four weeks off in total - two in Hokkaido and two in China - meant a long list of chores. My first day back, Takashi-san told me what I already knew: "It's time to get ready for winter vegetables. Summer is over."

Intellectually, I understand that he is right, but I still struggle each year, each season.

My biggest problem is that there are still viable plants in the garden. It goes against my inner grain to pull up a still blooming marigold or basil plant and toss it on the compost heap. I have the same problem in spring when my komatsuna and other greens bolt and blossom. Green life is a beautiful thing that my eyes and soul feast on in all forms. My garden is not a utilitarian space devoid of aesthetic pleasures, although tidier folks will heartily disagree. The bees and pollinators are so happy, the flowers so pretty (and edible) that it seems foolish and wasteful to remove them. Am I lazy? Am I just a poor planner? Does this make me a bad farmer? Am I just a gardener? (No offense intended by that last question. I'm having a green-thumb identity crisis.)

The corn and daizu were easy - they had finished up before we left for Hokkaido and I let them dry standing. I cut off the corn stalks before heading to China and laid them out to dry. The daizu I simply left standing. When we returned, the beans rattled in the pods (two plants of heirloom varieties still stand, though, as they are too green yet) and the stalks were pretty much ready to be chopped up and added to the rejuvenating layer of the lasagna bed. I'll plant the garlic in about a week or so.

Lone watermelon with sunflower and daizu in background.
The same was true of the watermelon. I returned to find eight luscious lovelies lolling about in their fruity and vegetative come hither way. I gave away four and ate one with friends. The remaining two are destined for my stomach and the tatami master who kindly passed me another seven old mats the other day to finish lining the path and cover over the newly topped up lasagna bed where the garlic will go. (My idea is that they'll prevent some erosion from promised rains and speed fermentation.) These final pushes of summer heat dried the vines in short order before I added them to the lasagna cum garlic bed.

Standing beside the row, I console myself with the fact that those marigolds and basil will mulch the rhubarb, and that the handful of green tomatoes will be a tasty dinner experiment. I think how beautiful and delicious the purple daikon will be and how happy I will be to cut fresh greens for our winter salads. I think of the seed tray I'll be starting this morning of kales and calendula, and how lovely they will be. I look at the nira blooming nearby and some tall graceful weed with lavender blooms going gangbusters in my wild west wall bed. "Those pollinators will be just fine," I think as I bend to cut and pull.

Marigolds beautifully mulching the rhubarb.

Then the butterflies arrive. Not the white cabbage moths that party like college freshmen on my lavender, but a majestic black and white fellow nearly the size of my palm lands on the basil flower. A smaller orange and black one drifts over shortly after to see what the marigolds have to offer. And now I see a busy group of tiny bees working away at those same blossoms, and I feel guilty and sad. Who am I to remove these things in the name of seasonal progress? What does that mean, anyway?

I let an afternoon shower shoo me home. I plan to go back and map out the winter beds. Surely, a concrete vision will give me the gumption to do what should be done. But here I am with no map yet drawn and butterflies on my mind.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Market: September 15th and 16th

Small outdoor market in Gyuiyuan, China. Cool stuff!
A hot September weekend that seems just a bit over the top for this Midwestern woman who hankers after rain and cooler temperatures. Thankfully, the apple season is just beginning and with every crunch fall seems that much closer! Where to get some yummy apples? Glad you asked. Head on out to one of the markets listed below, and you're sure to glimpse a few of the early varieties as well as purchase. Take a shopping bag and don't be shy. Good food awaits!

Also, just a reminder that next weekend I'm hosting my first excursion to a market. Join me at the Earth Day Market to case out the seasonal vegetables and fruit, meet some great growers, eat some good food, enjoy a simultaneous ceramics show and sale, and generally have fun. Details here. Do come on out. It's so worth the effort.


Saturday, September 15th and Sunday, September 16th
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 cold temperatures and a smattering of rain. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so come on out to be part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, September 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

Saturday, September 15th
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
5pm - 8pm

Kichijoji Market
Saturday, September 15th and Sunday, September 16th
A terrific two days of seasonal vegetables, fruits, homemade treats, and even some fun activities for those whipper-snappers!
10am to 5pm
Map

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
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

Every Saturday in September
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Home from Parts Beyond

Note: My apologies for the lack of a photo. Seems the site I use to resize photos is on the fritz. Fingers crossed it's up and running soon!

Whew! We are back in Tokyo and getting resettled into daily routines. An early morning visit today to the farm and garden found a few winter crops already in and other fields ready for daikon and Chinese cabbage. The eggplant, peppers sweet and spicy, and moroheya are still kicking it, bless their vegetable hearts, but the tomatoes are done. Takashi-san and I peered through the greenhouse doors to see their withered selves drying in place. It makes them lighter, easier to remove, and they break down a bit faster in the compost pile. It will be a dusty clean-up job, but it wouldn't be any fun if we didn't get dirty.

My garden is nearly ready for turnover as well, although a few late watermelon sat wallowing in the sun. And the tsuru murasaki is wrapping everything in sight in its tender arms. (Drop a note if you'd like a bundle. I've got plenty to spare.) The daizu are ready to go through the drying process, and it goes without saying that the weeds took full advantage of my absence. Busy days ahead.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post: Chilled Summer Soups

Dona Bumgarner chimes in again this month while I'm out roaming in China to share some of her favorite cold soup recipes. She'd mentioned them first during an email exchange a few months ago when Tokyo temperatures were already beginning to rise. Mouth-watering and brow sweating, I requested a post. And here it is!

At the tail end of summer, when hot days fade into steamy evenings, the last thing I want to be doing is standing over a stove making dinner.

Here are three chilled soups that are quick to assemble, filling and tasty. Only one requires a stove but you could cook it in the cool of the morning and then just pull it, ready-made, out of the fridge for dinner.

Chilled Avgolemeno Soup looking scrumptious!

Chilled Avgolemeno Soup
Serves 6

In our house this soup is affectionately known as "avocado lemonade" soup, though it contains no avocado.  It is a spin on a traditional Greek soup, thick with eggy custard and tangy with lemon. It is my toddler's favorite meal - she will happily eat it for lunch and dinner several days running. You can serve it hot or cold - this is the cold version.  When making it this way, use a low-fat chicken stock or skim the stock well before using.  I prefer the tang of Eureka lemons for this soup but you could use Meyer lemons for a mellower flavor.


Any kind of cooked chicken is fine for this. I like to make this a couple of days after I've roasted a chicken to use up the leftover meat. If you don't eat gluten, you can substitute cooked rice for the orzo. 

6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or torn into small pieces
3 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

Bring stock to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed pan.  Add orzo and chicken pieces.  Simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until orzo is cooked but not mushy.  Turn off heat and let cool 2-3 minutes.

While orzo is cooking, lightly beat together eggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Once the orzo is cooked, warm the egg mixture by slowly adding 2 ladles of stock to the bowl, whisking continuously.  Slowly pour warmed egg mixture into the soup pot, stirring constantly until completely combined.  The soup will thicken further as it cools. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill the soup in the refrigerator for an hour or more.  This soup is best served just cool, not extremely cold.

Hello, Gazpacho!!
Chilled Avocado-Tomato Soup (Gazpacho a la Guadlajara)
Serves 4

This soup is a chunky twist on the classic gazpacho and the avocado adds a luxurious richness.  It is great on a hot day because nothing is cooked so it won't heat up a hot kitchen any extra!

You can make this soup ahead and chill it assembled, which allows the flavors to combine nicely.  Or if you chill the tomato juice, you can make and serve it immediately.

This version is fairly mild.  To increase the kick, use Spicy V-8 juice in place of the plain tomato juice, add a half can of chopped Ortega or Hatch chiles or flavor to taste with a chili sauce of your choice.

To cube the avocados, cut the fruit in half and remove the pit.  While the still in the peel, run a knife through the soft flesh in rows the long way and then across the other direction.  Scoop out the sliced flesh from the peel with a spoon.

Make this soup a complete meal by adding a can of cooked black beans or serve it as a side to cooked chicken or steak.

2 cups cooked corn kernels
4 cups tomato juice
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into tiny cubes
4 tablespoons lime or lemon juice (about two limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
salt to taste

Mix together all ingredients gently until well combined.  Chill for one to two hours or until very cold. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping.

Chilled almond soup - Oh, yes.

Chilled Almond Soup
Serves 4

I was first introduced to almond soup several years ago at a local restaurant that changes its menu with the seasons.  It was an early fall offering, served warm with a drizzle of deep green olive oil.  It had such a surprisingly light texture and flavor that I was hooked at once.

This chilled version is adapted from the beautiful book A Year In My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, formerly of the Petersham Nursery Cafe outside of London. I've included the British measurements from the original recipe as well as American equivalents.  

This recipe requires a food processor to chop the nuts and emulsify the water and oil.  A strong immersion blender may work though I haven't tried it. 

If you can't find blanched whole or slivered almonds, you can skin raw almonds by boiling them very briefly and then submerging them in ice water.  Rub off the loosened skins with a damp towel.

The original recipe suggests garnishing the soup with a slice of fresh fig and either olive oil or rose hip syrup.  I prefer a drizzle of tangy pomegranate molasses.

150g day-old bread (about 2/3 cups)
225g blanched almonds (8oz or 2 cups)
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
220ml olive oil (just under 1 cup)
salt & pepper
375ml ice water (about 1 1/2 cups)
ripe fig and pomegranate molasses to garnish

Remove crusts from bread and cube. Soak in cool water in a bold for 2-3 minutes then squeeze excess water out with your hands.

Put garlic, almonds, bread, sherry vinegar and olive oil in a food processor and blend until very smooth.  While the processor is running, slowly add the ice water until the soup is the thickness of double cream (or thin yogurt, if you aren't familiar with double cream). The correct consistency is important; if it is too thick the soup will taste oily, but too thin will be bland.  Cover and chill an hour or more before serving.

Garnish each bowl of soup with a slice of fig and a drizzle of molasses.

Doña Bumgarner is a writer, mom, and gardener.  She is currently loving the bustle of the summer market and sunny days in the garden with her toddler. You can find her musings on motherhood in midlife, among other things, on her blog, Aubergine.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: September 8th and 9th

UNU Farmers Market produce galore!
Strangely, this weekend in Tokyo is a wee bit sparse for markets. Never fear, though, the usual weekly affairs will be humming along to satisfy all your foodly (and more!) needs. Remember, it could still be a bit warm, so grab an umbrella, plan to pause for ice cream or a brightly colored kakigori while pondering that next item for the shopping bag!


Every Saturday and Sunday in September
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

Every Saturday in September
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in September
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!