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Showing posts from March, 2014

Nanohana no Kurashie: A Recipe for Spring in Japan

This post first appeared over at ecotwaza (back when the address was back in April, 2012. The recipe, though, is an absolute classic and worth rolling out once again. (Please do note the point about wasabi at the end, though.) So, while we continue to unpack and settle into our new apartment, I'll leave you to read, make a shopping list, and then enjoy! - jb Komatsuna gone to seed, a.k.a. nanohana. Nanohana- With the moon in the east And the sun in the west. Yosa Buson, 1716-1783 One of spring's first greens (or winter's last, depending on how you look at it) nanohana 菜の花 are as cheerful as they are delicious with their bright green leaves and yellow flowers. It's easy to imagine the signature bright blooms glowing in the mix of first and last light that inspired Buson , a contemporary of Basho's and a famous poet in his own right, to pen the above haiku. Nanohana, usually the stems and leaves of rape seed Brassica napus , rema

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, March 29th and Sunday, March 30th

Hello, sansai! The sun gets up a little earlier every day and sneaks off to bed a little later, too. Spring is upon us and soon summer will follow suit. Gather up those wonderful winter greens while they still grace the market tables and start planning how to make the most of the early vegetables on their way. Sansai (mountain vegetables) may start appearing, too, which is another whole world of fun as lovely in its way as the sakura (cherry blossoms). See you at the market! Earth Day Market Sunday, March 30th 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 galore!) If something exciting comes up, though, I promise to alert folks. Planning

Daikon is Daikon: A Growing Philosophy of Translation

Lovely daikon, a lovely winter root vegetable . As we are in the throes of moving, I'm running some oldies but goodies. This post first appeared at Intralingo , a website dedicated to all things translation and run by the fantastic Lisa Carter, in 2011. I also met Lisa via the Blogathon, and I'm so glad I did. She's an amazing writer not to mention a terrific person. It was her encouragement that got me to put down in words some of the thoughts I'd had about language, translation and food. Enjoy! Japanese people often ask me how to say daikon – usually appearing as a large white torpedo-shaped radish – in English, and my answer is simply 'daikon'. Really, there is no other name for one of the most unique and ubiquitous Japanese vegetables present in dishes throughout the year in myriad forms. Grated with soba noodles, thinly sliced for tsukemono (Japanese pickles), or cut into thick pieces for nabe or oden , the plant is savored from seedling to mat

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

How about some Kamakura heirloom vegetables pickled and ready to eat? Find them at the Yurakucho Farmers Market every weekend! Nearly spring now, but not quite. Sakura (cherry) blossoms have arrived and we're all deep in the throes of hanami (blossom viewing). Don't forget to head to one of these great farmers markets to find all you need and then some for the best hanami party ever! 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 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 Map Yurakucho Farmer's Mar

Mottainai: An Anthology of Recipes

Carrot tops are edible, too! Mottainai! Mottainai is a Japanese word expressing regret for the loss of respect for the inherent value of something. It reminds the listener that waste is a sign of disrespect, that the worth of the item in question is being disregarded. It is this same idea that inspires people to turn old jeans into quilts or insulation for homes, to turn old tires into planters, to fashion a beautiful window out of old glass bottles. For me, the result is often a new recipe. For example, one year at the farm an absolute boatload of nasu (eggplant) were left after cleaning up the field at the end of the season. I made pickles. Another year the carrot mabiki (thinnings) got turned into soup. So, when the shu bottle runs dry I'm left with a very nice bundle of fruit that begs for another opportunity. The result is jam. Here's what I've come up with so far: Candied yuzu peel - Yuzu is far too precious to waste in any form, and so after making my f

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

Don't miss the most-delicious Aizu Wakamatsu vegetables at the Nippori Market! Welcome to the most hopping weekend of farmers markets in Tokyo! This middle weekend puts a world of good food at your fingertips. Peruse the calendar, sort out a train route, grab a backpack and get ready for some foodly adventures. Winter greens , winter root crops , sansai , and a bounty of other delights all await! What are you waiting for? See you there! Ebisu Market 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 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 your socks off.) It's worth noting, too, that  Do One Good , an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiting to go home with you! 11am to 5pm Map Koenji Farmer'

Reprise: Mottainai and Garbage in Japan

This post first appeared here in March, 2010. We'd been in Japan only a short time when I learned about mottainai. It's a word that gets tossed around on a regular basis, and once embraced it cannot be un-embraced. The opportunity to make the most of whatever is at hand presents itself again and again. Especially now that we are moving, I can see opportunities to repurpose and reuse everywhere. For me, it primarily sparked a small series of recipes, which I'll provide a complete list of next week. It's been good fun, and I'm grateful for the creative things it has inspired. Who knows what other mottainai adventures there are to be had?  - JB A  recent article about students at Wisconsin working on simplifying the garbage system at a cafeteria  just made me smile.  Tokyo residents have been doing this since 2005 , and the Japanese even have a word for the philosophy behind this -  Mottainai  - that expresses regret at the loss of respect for the inherent value of s

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, March 8th and Sunday, March 9th

Before the sakura blossoms comes nanohana... This weekend starts gently rocking the farmers market scene with the Market of the Sun, the newest kid on the local produce block, jumping into the regular scene. Head on down to find a wide variety of breads available for all kinds of scrumptious fun along with the usual round of fresh fruits and vegetables. Stock up on all you'll need for hanami (cherry blossom) viewing or just to keep cozy on these still cool nights. See you at the market! Market of the Sun Saturday, March 8th and Sunday, March 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 affair that is great fun and

Reprise: To market, to market

Planting garlic at Frog Holler. I've no photos from the Ann Arbor farmer's market, so this will have to do! As we pack up this chapter of our lives, I'm feeling a bit sentimental. Usually we go home in February to see friends and family, but this year we stayed put to have time to wrap things up. My farming life is changing once again, and so I ventured back in time to one of the places that truly inspired me and taught me a great deal about the everyday workings of this growing life. I'll always be grateful. Written in 2008 just before we came to Japan, this is a bit of a window into that time and what I was up to. It was such good fun! - JB While it was still fresh in my memory, I wanted to recount a usual trip in to the Farmer's Market as a vendor. It's been a great summer, and market is easily one of my favorite parts. While I did tire at times of people asking for plastic bags to go in their canvas bags or wincing at a fair price for an organic po