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Showing posts from October, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Floating Head at Fushimi Inari

Richard lost his head at Fushimi Inari shrine. Last year we took my mother-in-law to one of the places all three of us love best in the world: the Fushimi Inari shrine between Kyoto and Nara. The winding paths lined with innumerable tori gates, the quiet as you climb through the cemetery to watch the sun set and the mysterious feeling as you descend in the dark make it one of the simplest yet most unique experiences to be had in Japan. Plus, there's an excellent eel restaurant right near the entrance to the shrine.

Mottainai: Brandied Chestnut Butter

A spiky bundle of scrumptiousness. It must be nearly two years ago now that I made a batch of chestnut brandy . There is a lovely kuri (chestnut) grove at the farm, and the farmers always give me a nice bundle to make kurigohan (chestnut rice) or whatever else suits my fancy. Since arriving here I've been on a homemade alcohol kick. It started with umeshu and I began experimenting from there. We now have a shu closet full of homemade brews that we are trying to drink our way through before having to move early next year. (If you'd like to help with that, let me know.) It was only natural to try something with the kuri . So, the bits of chestnut have been steeping since then, and I decided it was time to turn them into something else. ( Mottainai and all that, you know.) So, I found this recipe at Food in Jars for chestnut butter , tweaked it, and made my own Tokyo version. The result is rather pleasant on toast, if I do say so myself. Brandied Chestnut Butter 500 gram

Sweet Potato Harvest: Reprise

It's almost impossible to believe that nearly five years have passed since I set foot on the  family farm here in Tokyo. My time there has easily been the best part of my life in Japan. The Arai's have become some combination of family and friend to me. As we ponder our next move, I can hardly bear the thought of not having C-chan and Takashi-san as part of my daily life. So, as I type this with tears in my eyes, I'm going to share again one of my favorite farm happenings: the sweet potato harvest. It's early writing, so bear with me to the recipe near the end. It's one of my favorites and worth the wait! - JB Two kinds of sweet potatoes, both delicious. This Spring I planted  sweet potatoes  for the first time. I'd certainly eaten them, and given some thought to growing them, but space in my garden often felt like it was at a premium. And past experience taught me that the potato can be a master of disguise resulting in a surprise second year harvest.

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 26th and Sunday, October 27th

Adorable eggplant from Kamakura at the Yurakucho Farmers Market. The word for this week is typhoon, and super typhoon at that. Before heading out to see what seasonal bounty can be scooped up for turning into something amazing (like the golden sweet potatoes Fujita-san gave me at the Nippori Farmers Market last weekend) check the market websites. I will do my best to update here, but I may be on the road with my sister-in-law also plotting how to avoid getting soaked. Meanwhile, if the weather is decent, do head out to one of these fantastic markets. The Earth Day Market is where you can find Minowa Farms and their amazing rice along with komenuka (rice bran) for pickling or composting. You can also find pottery, homemade onigiri and mochi, and heaps of the best vegetables in town. The Ebisu Market is worth a trip, too, as they host a small handful of Tokyo farmers and always have a lovely selection of delectables, decoratives, and practicals. And then the others - Yurakucho,

Thursday Snapshot: Soba Seedlings

Soba seedlings near Inawashiroko, Fukushima Prefecture. This summer we stayed with a farmer friend at her home in Aizu Wakamatsu and camped near Inawashiroko, too. One evening while toodling about the lake area we found soba fields interspersed with rice fields. It turns out that farmers plant soba after the rice harvest to get one more edible crop in before the snow flies. Clever. And delicious.

Farmers Market Tour with the Mexican Japan Society

Robin and Diana. Don't you just want to hang out with them at a farmers market?!? Photo courtesy of Robin and Diana. Two new arrivals to Tokyo, Diana and Robin, are pretty excited about the good green stuff going on all around them here. So much so that they have joined up with the Mexico-Japan society to create cross-cultural environmentally friendly series of events rooted in Diana's home country of Mexico and Robin's farm beginnings in Australia to share the pleasure in their findings with others. I think good things are in store for all of us! And, I'm not saying that just because their first event features a farmers market tour with yours truly at the Earth Day Farmers Market on Sunday, November 17th. Mark your calendars, bring a bit of spending money, a backpack (Trust me. You'll be glad you did.), and an appetite. The market promises, as always, to be brimming with the seasons best grown in a manner healthy for the earth and the eater. What's goin

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th

Serious seasonal shopping at the Yurakacho Farmers Market. Fall temperatures blew in with that last typhoon, and we're thoroughly enjoying it. (I'm typing wearing a fleecy robe. Oh, the joy!) Cooler temperatures signal the closing of summer, and that means winter vegetables on the horizon. While we wait for those cool, rich greens try a bit of sweet potato , pumpkin , kaki (persimmon), and snarf up the last of the nashi (Japanese pear), too. Savor the first rice of the season (mine from Minowa Farms just arrived!) and begin dusting off recipes for houtou udon or nabe. And don't forget to try some of the lovely manju at the Nippori Market to tide your tastebuds over until you can really get down to cooking! See you at the market! Ebisu Market Sunday, October 20th Making up for missing last month apparently, the Ebisu Market is rocking it four (yes, four!) times this month. (See October's full schedule for the other dates.) Don't miss the opportunity to h

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 12th and Sunday, October 13th

Dried fruit vendor rocking it at the inaugural Market of the Sun. As the typhoons wind down and the temperatures gradually sink it's time to bask in the glory of fall bounty: squash , chestnuts , togarashi (Japanese hot peppers), and some of the season's first rice . Sidle up to a table at one of these lovely markets and see what you can find to whip up a fall friendly dish or two. Apples , nashi (Japanese pears), and kaki (persimmons) are all rolling in as are pomegranates. Enjoy! Market of the Sun Saturday, October 12th and Sunday, October 13th Tokyo's newest market is only steps away from Tsukiji and bills itself as the city's largest with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods as well as soaps, jewelry and heaps of food vendors. Feels a bit like the UN University Market but in a much smaller space. 10am - 5pm UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and

Thursday Snapshot: Giant Kokeshi Dolls in Sugamo

Illuminated kokeshi outside Koganji Temple in Sugamo. Friends of friends were visiting this past August and I volunteered to tour them about one day. We ended up in Sugamo, a.k.a. Grandma's Harajuku. Renowned for its old ladies wear, red underwear (red makes you healthy and energetic), and slightly salty daifuku mochi, we spotted this lovely trio near the entrance to Koganji Temple.

Market Review: Tokyo's Market of the Sun

Vendors bustling at the Market of the Sun. Last month a new farmers market popped up in Tokyo. The Market of the Sun opened on Saturday, September 14th to a nearly full house of vendors and an incredible number of customers despite unseemly heat. Claiming to be the city's largest market with roughly 100 vendors, the market tucks itself nicely at the foot of a residential building just outside Kachidoki station in Tsukishima Second Children's Park. Visitors can find everything from fruits and vegetables to soap, jewelry, tea, honey, jam, and seedlings.  According to Akiko Yamagata, Market of the Sun manager, the monthly event is sponsored by Mitsuii Real Estate Residential Corporation as something interesting for their residents to do and as an attractive option for those drawn to the area by the upcoming 2020 Olympics.  "We wanted consumers to be able to meet farmers face to face and let farmers promote their wares directly," she said. Held the second Saturda

October Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Hida-Takayama heirloom tomato farmer at Sun Marche. (Review coming soon!) Fall is a welcome friend just now with its cooler temperatures, delicious fruits and vegetables, and early sunsets. The markets around town should be brimming with the last of the tomatoes , a colorful bundle of winter squash , nashi , kaki (persimmons), and some of the seasons first rice . Eggplants will continue strong and vibrant in their aubergine coats and togarashi (Japanese hot peppers) will be set to dry. Winter greens like komatsuna, shungiku, and karashina are just going in the ground now, although some farmers may have early harvests to share. Go on out to a market and see what's on the table! Ebisu Market Sunday, October 6th, 20th, and 27th Making up for missing last month apparently, the Ebisu Market is rocking it four (yes, four!) times this month. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galo