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Showing posts from November, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 30th and Sunday, December 1st

Drying togarashi braided with wara (rice straw) at the Nippori Farmers Market. Another lovely weekend awaits those seeking seasonal, fresh food. Seriously, winter is such the best season in Tokyo for wandering about! No searing temperatures and humidity to weigh a shopper down as they peruse sweet potatoes , some of the first hoshigaki (dried persimmons ) of the season, winter greens, daikon types galore, and more kabu than should be legal in one sitting. Just imagine the pickle possibilities ! Oh, and the yuzu and other citrus just coming along now. And the apples. And the mochi. Heavens, what could you be waiting for? UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday* *Check out the Bread Festival on Sunday, November 1st where a variety of sourdough and other breads will be ready for eating! A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of fo

Thursday Snapshots: Minamisanriku Garden

Garden in Minamisanriku, Tohoku. Today is Thanksgiving in my home country, and I pondered for quite some time about what photo to put here. I'm homesick this year for the holiday more than I ever have been in our nearly five years here. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but my heart pines to be with all sides of my crazy, loving, and weird family.  Close-up of the squash. However, I also thought about others who would give anything to be with those they love. That would be folks from Washington County, Illinois, recently devastated by tornadoes, people in the Philippines ravaged by the recent typhoon, and those still living, literally, in the aftermath of the 2011 triple disaster. My heart goes out to all of them today and always, and while I know they grieve and pine, too, they also find hope and carry on as best they can. Me with the genki gardener! And here's one gardener I had the pleasure of meeting this summer while volunteering in Minamisanriku. S

Tougan: Introducing Winter Melon

Tougan (winter melon) at Hosotani's natural farm near Nara. October, 2013. Tougan (winter melon) has been on my vegetable radar since our very first days in Japan. Large, oblong, and deep green, it is an attractive vegetable nearly irresistible to a curious eater. A neighbor down the road grows them, and each year I ponder a purchase but never quite got around to it. Their chokubaijo (direct sale stand) is a popular one despite its secluded location along the Tamagawajousui. It's best to arrive early and then politely duke it out with the local grandmothers for the choicest bouquet, pickles, and vegetables.) I've also seen it at various farmers markets around town, but somehow lugged one home. Tomiyama-san, manager of the Earth Day Market, even suggested a warm winter punch recipe made with red wine, cinnamon and other spices, that sorely tempted. Somehow I resisted. This year, though, Hosotani-san, a natural farmer I had the great pleasure of meeting and interviewi

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 23rd and Sunday, November 24th

My lovely sister-in-law and a farmer we met at one of Hida Takayama's morning markets. Another beautiful weekend dawns and brings a round of the standard Tokyo markets, which should be plum full of autumn goodness. Get your fill of early daikon , winter greens , and tougan (winter melon), along with plenty of kaki (persimmons) for general eating, jamming, or turning into hoshigaki (dried persimmons). (For the latter, make sure you get the tannic variety. Sweet should work, but the tannic are the most commonly used.) Amezake (sweet sake made from the lees of the sake brewing process) should also be on hand to warm hands and tummies, and I'm betting there's plenty of scrumptious mochi (rice cakes, for lack of a better translation) freshly made and waiting to be grilled. Grab a backpack (you'll be glad you did!) and head out the door! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday* *Check out the Bread Festival on Sunday, November 1st where a variety of sourdoug

Thursday Snapshot: Praying Mantis Laying Eggs

While visiting Hosotani's natural farm near Nara a few weeks ago, we encountered this kamakiri (praying mantis) laying eggs in one of the fruit trees. Testament, if you ask me, of how great this place was. Vegetables couch in abundant greenery made up of weeds and other volunteer vegetables. Insect and animal life is apparent, but the crops suffer very little damage. It truly was one of the most beautiful farms I have ever seen.

Earth Day Market Tour Highlights

Image courtesty of Cynthia at AMJMX. We couldn't have asked for a better day for Sunday's tour of the Earth Day Market with the Mexico-Japan Society . A perfectly sized group of about six, we wandered about the market sampling greens, various misos, and some of the most amazing bread ever. We chatted about recipes, new vegetables, how to use some of the grains and flours for sale there, and how to serve up satoimo (taro root) stem. (Sauted in miso and served over rice.) We bought tea, juice, and gave serious thought to which food truck we should choose for lunch. Perfect. Check out the Mexico-Japan Society website for more photos and to see what other great fun their up to!

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 16th and Sunday, November 17th

A lovely line-up of melons at one of Sapporo's regular markets. Welcome to the most happening weekend for farmers markets in Tokyo! There's a fantastic selection of places to go, fruits and vegetables to sample and purchase, and recipes to be discovered. Just grab a good-sized bag (I recommend a backpack.) and head out the door! If you're looking for a little company at the market or feeling shy, then swing over to the Earth Day Market where I'll be walking people about , answering questions, and introducing produce and the folks that brought it to life. Should be fun! Ebisu Market Sunday, November 17th 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 galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock

Thursday Snapshot: Printing blocks at Kyoto roketsu workshop

The Yamamoto's roketsu workshop walls are lined with rolling print blocks. During my sister-in-law's visit to Japan, we, of course, went to Kyoto. We detoured from the usual temple-shrine-garden agenda to participate in a roketsu workshop . Over the course of two hours we drew and chatted and worked in companionable silence on our separate pieces. It was an amazing experience in a lovely spot. The workshop, run by the Yamamoto family, is filled with patterns, dyeing blocks, and the smell of hot wax and is beautifully utilitarian. We loved every minute there.

Antenna shop article in Metropolis Magazine

Freshly made sushi at the Ishikawa antenna shop in Yurakacho. Read the article at Metropolis Magazine for the full scoop! Rather than home to complicated technical gear, antenna shops in Tokyo refer to stores featuring a variety of foods and products found only in Japan's 47 prefectures. (Two notable and clever twists on this are Kogane-ya and d&Department, of course.) Treasure troves of culinary wonder, antenna shops provide "an open window to provincial Japan," said Lionel Dersot during an interview and he is so very right. Whether on one of Yukari Sakamoto's most excellent tours (also interviewed for the article) or wandering the aisles alone, visitors will find no end of delightful things to ponder, taste, and enjoy. Sakamoto and Dersot both adore the Okinawa shop while my favorite turned out to be Ishikawa's. (The butternut squash ice cream sealed the deal.) Read the full article at Metropolis then head out to find your favorite!

Earth Day Farmers Market Tour this weekend!

Meet Minowa Farms and try the rice! Don't forget to sign up for this fun-filled market adventure this weekend! Email Robin and Diana directly to register or leave a comment here. (I promise not to publish your information.) You'll be glad you joined us! 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 appeti

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 9th and Sunday, November 10th

Lovely grapes from Ibaraki at the October Nippori Farmers Market. These cooler days make for perfect wandering in Tokyo's farmers markets or even further afield. If viewing fall colors in Kyoto , do take the time time to head to Nishiki Ichiba, an extraordinary market street brimming with good foods and flavors. If in Hida Takayama, don't miss the two morning markets for good fun and a sample of local dishes and ingredients. Meanwhile, if Tokyo is the beat for the weekend, simply head out to one of these lovelies and enjoy the best the season has to offer thus far! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel! 10am to 4pm Map Roppongi Market Every Saturday A first  visit to this market  was

Thursday Snapshot: Squash Arbor in Saroma

Saroma's most amazing squash arbor. Hokkaido, 2013 This past summer took us to Hokkaido as usual and found us wandering about via train and bus to catch up with friends new and old. One of those lovely folks lives in Saroma, a small seaside city we visited during our first year in Japan. Famous for its scallops as well as a long wild beach, we discovered squash are also well celebrated. (The Pumpkin Festival includes a parade, super rocking live band dancing party, fireworks, and an excellent selection of foods made with pumpkin.) Hence, the squash arbor pictured here where perhaps more than twenty varieties of the lovely autumn fruits grow and hang.

Hida Takayama farmers markets in Outdoor Japan's Autumn Traveler

Outdoor Japan Autumn Traveler, 2013 The latest issue of Outdoor Japan's print magazine is where you'll find my newest Market Watch column raving about the culinary gems to be sampled at Hida Takayama's two morning markets. (Yes, two! It is a slice of heaven.) A favorite spot that I will be venturing to next week to take in the fall colors, the markets are high on my agenda of things to do. Check out the Autumn Traveler (page nine) and then head on out!

Mottainai: Ume Hachimitsu and Umeshu Jam

Still cleaning out that shu closet! The latest result was a jam where I combined ume (plums) leftover from a jar of umeshu and a jar of umehachimitsu . The only change I made to the recipe below is that I used water rather than umehachimitsu. The result is a jam perfect with cheese, toast, or stirred into yogurt or oatmeal. Plus, it made a big batch - eight tiny jars and a half pint - which made it well worth the effort. Enjoy! - JB  One of the leftovers of  umehachimitsu  are the  plums or  ume . Last year I made  marmalade  with the yuzu peels I removed from the  yuzushu , but I never quite sorted out what to do with the ume from the hachimitsu or the  umeshu . This year I decided to try making jam. Remembering the damson jam served from the larder of good friends in England and those sampled at  Ludlow , I perused a few recipes.  These simple ones  and this  one for plum butter  caught my imagination, but for the first batch I thought I would keep additions to a minimum. The f

November Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Uyama-san, a wonderful organic farmer I met in Hokkaido this summer, with eggplant. These are the perfect days for browsing  markets and planning what delectable seasonal goodness will fill the table for the evening meal. Don't be shy and try something new like tougan (winter melon) (recipe coming soon!), duck (another recipe coming soon!), new rice and the first of the new season's citrus. If you're still feeling shy, join me at the Earth Day Market on Sunday, November 17th for a guided tour . I'll most happily help you sort out seasonal favorites you never knew you had! And, check out the bread festival on November 1st at the UNU Market, too! Dear me, my mouth is watering already! Ebisu Market Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 17th 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