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Showing posts from January, 2013

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: January 26th and 27th

Our friends at One Life Japan and their yummy rice. Shameless marketing on my part, but it's really good. Jeepers, where did January go? A surprise snow , a trip to Nagano , farming , writing, and markets made the month fly by. (Oh, and Japanese study, too.) It's shocking, really. And soon we're off to America to visit, eat, roam the countryside , eat, visit markets, eat , and eat. (I usually gain about 3 kilos.) However, on the to the relevant stuff here: Tokyo farmers markets! OK, the selection is small but excellent this weekend. The Earth Day Market is also hosting a ceramics show, so plan to find something to go with those awesome vegetables and fruits. The UNU Market will rock it as always, so just plan to have fun. A visit last weekend to the Yurakucho Market found it still going strong and brimming with awesome items. It's seriously worth the journey. And, lest I leave them out, the Saturday Roppongi Market is on and awesome as ever, too. An extended inter

BioRe and their Organic Cotton in India Article up at Ecotwaza

A Hokkaido vista near the home of good friends. Not India, but it seemed to fit. Read on! Farming isn't just for vegetables. Most likely, anyone reading this is wearing some form of cotton. That means you are enjoying the comfort and coziness offered up by a plant. How that plant was grown impacts a farmer and a farming community. That community includes people of all ages as well as the wildlife, other flora and fauna, water there as well as up and downstream, and air that travels distances beyond our imagination. Ultimately, those cute socks, fashionable jeans or sultry unmentionables connect you, the wearer, with another place and world. It's an amazing thing when you think about it. Most of that cotton, though, isn't raised organically and it's not manufactured responsibly. From GMO seeds to heavy chemical use to unfair labor practices, cotton often weaves a dark tale as it journeys to a store near you. But not always. Enter BioRe, Patrick Hohmann, and the

Winter Thoughts on a Tokyo Farm

Bundled haksai awaiting the nabe pot! I shove the snow off the top of the haksai (Chinese cabbage) and push away the mound formed on the side. I don't need to do the latter as it's only top the farmers have asked me to clear. But I do it because it's fun and feels tidy. If the meltwater seeps inside the cabbage it will cause damage. At this moment, it would freeze and thaw in a spiral of rot. It's too cold just now for rain, but precautions must be taken. It is for that reason that we bundled the tops of each plant together with string and tied them up with bows. Two weeks ago the farmers and I spent two whole mornings working along together bundling and tying our way down the rows. Haksai is strong enough to withstand the cold weather of a Tokyo winter. The outer leaves fading and withering, turning pale green and yellow as the days wear on, while the inside stays fresh and green and crisp, alive and safe, waiting for harvest. Well, truth be told, we the fa

Tokyo Farmer's Markets January 19th and 20th

Keiko Isomura of Yokohama Honmoku at the Roppongi Farmers Market. with her awesome organic jams! A surprise snow early this week left behind crunchy roads and sidewalks along with a personal craving for hot soups and stews . Luckily, the farmers markets are fully kicking it this weekend, so there's plenty of opportunity to head on out and find loads of yummy ingredients. During a recent visit to the Roppongi Market I noticed a fish vendor, too, and word has it he was only one of two. I'm rather excited! Ebisu Market Sunday, January 20th 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,  January 19th and Sunday, January 20th 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

A Fukushima Farmer Finds Comfort at a Tokyo Farmers Market

Takako Kimura at the Nippori Farmers Market. One of the things I love best about farmers markets is the chance to talk with the farmers. I've met some extraordinary people over the years, including this one from Fukushima Prefecture . I've also learned some great recipes, and shared ideas on how to grow this or that. Farmers, it seems, the world over, are really the same: show the slightest bit of interest, and next thing you know you're invited in for tea and sweets, to spend the night, to come back again and help out. The language may be different, but just under a different culture and maybe a different skin tone beats the same heart. Again and again I find people as generous and kind as any farmer in my home state, as hard-working, as weathered, as cautiously optimistic about the future of their livelihoods. It is, perhaps, how I stay connected with my own culture and history while living so far away. One such farmer is Takako Kimura from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fuku

Snow on the Farm in Tokyo

Snowy Monday afternoon at the farm in Tokyo. Snow in Tokyo is an extraordinary thing, and yesterday we got a good 7cm of it. It started in the morning as rain, but by 8:30am it turned to snow. Big, fat flakes fell at a slant past our windows quickly framing the outside world in white. The frame soon filled in with more and more, and the view out our window became something more reminiscent of home , Hokkaido , and Nagano . Needless to say, I was thrilled. Once I filed a new story with my editor, I dashed out the door to...shovel. Then I dashed about in the snow in a manner similar to when I was ten. (I'm considerably beyond those two numbers now.) I made a snow angel in the pocket park behind our building. I was happy as a lark. The hubby and I walked over to the farm , helping push a stuck motorist to a safe parking place along the way, and laughing as two little girls threw snowballs at each other. They felt as much glee as I did with my snow angel, although I had a prope

Tokyo Farmers Markets: January 12th and 13th

Loving the sweet potato at Hamamatsu's Organic Market New Year's celebrations are winding down and things are getting back to normal. This weekend the markets start kicking it in nearly full force again, and I'm planning on heading out to see what's happening. We're plotting our usual trip home to America in February , so I need to get my fill of Japanese produce and treats while I can. I'll also be doing a bit of gift shopping , although it will be hard to choose. And unfortunately, it's impossible to sneak back some fresh yuzu for friends at home. They only get to taste the assorted concoctions I brew up here at home. More on that later. For now, see you at the market! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday starting January 12th 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 plat

Jerry Apps' Gardening Wisdom: A Little Something for Everyone

Garden Wisdom: Lessons Learned from 60 years of Gardening ( Wisconsin Historical Society Press , 2012)  by Jerry Apps charmingly combines his areas of expertise: Wisconsin farm history, farming and gardening. One of three books published in 2012 by this prolific author, Apps takes readers through the seasons on a gently rolling ride of memory and taste all through the prism of his garden. Starting with good basic gardening tips – how to site a garden, prepare the soil, and how to choose what to plant – the book moves into descriptions of Apps' favorite crops. And it is here that the text really begins to shine. We meet Apps' parents as they worked their land and a kitchen garden larger than some of today's backyards.  We join them for planting, hoeing (the weed is, for Apps' family, the grower's arch enemy), harvesting, and preserving their crops. We glimpse his mother in her chair on a February evening with her stack of “promise books” a.k.a. seed catalogs

Visiting One Life Japan

Persimmon caps and snow It seems like nearly a hundred years ago now that we arrived in Japan. Before we came I did some research to try and learn about growing things in Tokyo. My fumblings brought me, thankfully, to One Life Japan . Kevin and Tomoe proved incredibly helpful in filling me in on things like a rainy season, food in general, and what the adjustment might be like. It made our new adventure seem a little less scary. Once we arrived, of course, we looked them up. One of our first trips out of Tokyo was to join them on a trip. We ventured up north to Nagano Prefecture and soon found ourselves on top of a thatched roof trying to be helpful while also trying not to fall off. We stayed in our first ryokan and I visited their tambo (rice field), my first, and helped do a very little bit of field preparation. I also met my first sansai (mountain vegetables) and began learning that Japan is full of more good things than I could ever have imagined. So, we're off to se

January Farmers Markets

Scrumptious mushrooms at Nippori Market in a warmer time The New Year is underway and farmers markets around town will slowly come to life again around the second weekend. There should be plenty of leafy greens on hand to make up for all the hefty treats downed over the holidays. And they'll keep assorted colds and other nasty things at bay, too. Flop them all about in salad or roughly cut in the bottom of a bowl of noodles for a brilliant swirl of green with a nice crunch. It's all good. See you at the market! Ebisu Market Sunday, January 6th Sunday, January 20th 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,  January 19th and Sunday, January 20th 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 bo

Happy New Year

Early bloom spotted on a recent hike. The New Year has arrived, and we rang it in with a visit to a local temple, some tasty treats with friends, a good walk, lots of phone calls, and a round of candied yuzu peel from a recent batch of yuzu shu just before bed. Oh, and a little writing, too. (My advice? Always add in the water from the blanching for better flavor. These aren't bad, but they're not as yuzu-y as the first ones.) Hope 2013 brings much joy and peace and civil conversation. (As an American, that last one feels like the most important...)