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Showing posts from February, 2014

March Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Regional antics at the Yurakucho Farmers Market! In like a lion or out like a lamb is the question everyone is pondering at the moment. February brought nearly unprecedented amounts of snow to the Kanto region, crushing greenhouses, felling orchards, and showing Japan how delicate a food system exists even here. With traffic brought to a literal standstill for four days while people tried to dig out as well as in, grocery store shelves went empty and deliveries couldn't be made. Thank heavens, then, for farmers and the farmers markets. While many growers couldn't make it in to the city, two weekends of heavy snow underscored how vital they are to our well-being. So if you like to eat, then get out there to show some support for those who get the food on your table. Ebisu Market Sunday, March 2nd and Sunday, March 16th Ebisu will be in full form this month with its two usual markets. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these swe

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 22nd and Sunday, February 23rd

Taken during a warmer season at the Earth Day Market. Hopes are high that snow won't fly this weekend, or at least not so much snow that the city essentially shuts down once again. There is perhaps some question as to whether or not growers from harder hit prefectures can unbury themselves and their produce to make it, but let's hope for the best. Better yet, head down to one of these markets and find out! Look for winter greens (read up on them in a two-part primer) , fabulous root crops , sunny citrus, and other delectable treats. See you there! Earth Day Market Sunday, February 23rd I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month the market will be a bit of its wonderful normalness. (December and January saw special events g

Thursday Snapshot: Matsushima Temple Figurines

Matsushima temple figurines for good luck in marriage. We found these while on a tour of Matsushima in the fall of 2011. Famous for the series of small islands off-shore, the city was affected but not devastated by the March, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (Some theories hold that the islands actually acted as a buffer when the tsunami rolled in.) Utterly charmed, we hope to return again.

Recommended Reading for the Japanese Vegetable Shopper

Looking for something? As I sit down to type a blizzard swirls outside the window, the second in as many weeks for Tokyo, and I'm thinking about the greenhouses at the farm . (*We lost four small ones in total, which means some serious rebuilding this spring.) Yet, the vegetables inside are hearty ones that enjoy a good cold blast now and again. The snow and cold will certainly wither hakusai's (Chinese cabbage's) outer leaves and yellow the larger daikon leaves (both are planted outside), but those in the greenhouses will simply hunker down and wait for sunshine. While we do the same, here's a bit of reading to pass the time. Or for planning that cold frame or hoop house planting even! Oriental Vegetables: The Complete Guide for the Gardening Cook by Joy Larkcom. (Kodansha, 1991; Frances Lincoln Limited, 2007) First published by Kodansha in 1991, this book has stayed in print for good reason: it is indispensable. Larkcom's explanations and descriptions

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 15th and Sunday, February 16th

Am Fluss , a fantastic German-style bakery from Yokohama, at the UNU Market. Whee! What better way to treat your sweetheart than with a trip to one of these fantastic markets? Head on out together to buy all the ingredients needed for a romantic dinner for two, including the wine or beer! Not sure exactly what's on display? Check out both parts one and two of a Japanese winter greens primer (Yes, there are that many to choose from!) to make a fantastic salad  or to add a dash of color to soup . And don't forget seasonal root crops , too! Know of a market not listed here? Let me know. I'm happy to add to the list. I'm also happy to learn about markets in other places, too, so don't be shy! Ebisu Market Sunday, February 16th Ebisu will be in full form this month with its two usual markets. 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 Okuta

Thursday Snapshot: Ume Ice Cream at Osaka Castle

Ume ice cream at Osaka-jo. March, 2012 Ume (Japanese plum) blossom season is upon us. It might be a little early and ambitious, especially in light of the recent heavy snow here in Tokyo, but those little blossoms are a delight. This photo, taken at Osaka Castle two years ago, features the blossoms found in the ume orchard there along with a healthy serving of ume ice cream. Oh, yes. It was delicious.

Japanese Winter Root Crops, A Primer

Freshly harvested kabu waiting for dinner. Inspired by the two part series on Japanese winter greens , I've decided to carry on and do a short piece on winter root crops. Certainly, there are more root crops around than those covered here, but I decided to stick with a seasonal focus. Since this is mainly what people will be seeing when they venture out to the markets this time of year, it seemed sensible to cover them now. Other root crops can also be found - satoimo (taro), satsumaimo (sweet potato) , for example - but others are at their best or, at least, slightly different from their warmer weather versions. The standard daikon in all its glory. Daikon is, as I've mentioned before, just daikon. People sometimes want to translate it into radish, but the radish I think of first and foremost is small, red, and often spicy. Daikon is, in its most common form, none of these. Daikon is often large or relatively large, white, and not spicy. Some varieties do come wit

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Saturday, February 8th and Sunday, February 9th

Chillin' (quite literally) with an organic farmer at the Ebisu Farmers Market. A glorious weekend for markets awaits! The Roppongi Farmers Market is on hold until the middle of March for repairs to the venue, but take it as an opportunity to dip into others. Pick up some wonderful greens , noodles, daikon, and don't be shy to try interesting looking varieties of things you've already met. There are some seriously beautiful daikon to be had, along with citrus of all shapes and sizes. See you there! Market of the Sun Saturday, February 8th and Sunday, February 9th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market. 10am to 4pm No map but step out of Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday A massive weekend aff

Thursday Snapshot: Crocheted Bicycle Seat Cover

Too pretty to pass up. I spotted this handmade seat cover while running errands at one of our local stores. A brilliant idea beautifully executed. Certainly, it provided no cushioning and little protection from a dirty seat, but there is no denying it's quite attractive.

Japanese Winter Greens: A Primer, Part Two

Hakusai (chinese cabbage) waiting for a turn at the kimchi. Look for Japanese Winter Vegetables: A Primer, Part One here! In Tokyo, winter brings brilliant blue skies, blazing sunshine, and crystal clear views of Mount Fuji in the west. It also, thankfully, brings a wonderful array of winter vegetables - root and leaf crops - that make me believe it is the true season of bounty here. Yes, summer may have its tomatoes, beans, sweet corn, and eggplant, but they are nothing compared to the rich, mouth-watering ones of winter. Last week I introduced a variety of greens - komatsuna, mizuna, wasabina, and karashina - and this week I plan to finish up the list. That said, I am sure there are more lurking out there along with delicious local varieties of these. Don't be shy to give a shout with any you know of! Don't be shy. One of the best ways to ensure that these vegetables have a future is to grow them, cook them, eat them, and share stories of how beloved they are with o