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Showing posts from March, 2016

Blanching Greens: Easy Preserving for Those Without a Pressure Canner

Hello, greens.  In preparation for the tomato bed, I needed to clear away the norabo. This Okutama leafy green goes by the name Kikuna out here, but my Tokyo farmers always called it norabo. It is cold tolerant and is reminiscent of kale in flavor and texture. Over the years it has become a staple in our household, so I gratefully accepted some seeds when they offered. The four plants I started last spring went to seed in a glory of yellow flowers that turned to crisp brown pods that seemed to burst even when glanced at. I let them be, perhaps foolishly, but busied myself with other parts of the garden. I soon noticed small norabo seedlings sprouting everywhere, and let them come. They arrived in summer's heat, so I watered and nurtured them along and delayed topping up that section of the bed even though it would be more convenient. They'd worked so hard, I thought. They deserved a chance. And, to be honest, I wanted to eat them. Come fall, they were big leaved and

Rice Cooker Gingerbread: Makes Everyday Taste Like Christmas

Steaming slices of gingerbread with a cute ceramic cat. In my grandmothers kitchen there was an old-fashioned wooden cupboard that took up an entire wall and blocked a window. On the left side large doors opened onto shelves of dishes and underneath was a big drawer for the flour bin, tupperware containers, and her baking utensils. Up above on the right smaller doors opened onto a shelf where the candy jar was kept, and I perfected opening it without making a sound in order to sneak more of a favorite sweet. I also perfected opening a lower drawer where my grandmother always kept a tupperware container of cookies. There were many different varieties for she loved to bake and had a hungry troop of grandchildren, their parents, and a multitude of friends who would come through her kitchen for coffee and a good chat. My favorite were the ginger snaps . While I would sneak them from the drawer in the kitchen, it should also be known that I was not above sneaking into the basement

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, March 19th and Sunday, March 20th

Carrots rocking it in the sunshine at Kitanaka Marche. Easily one of the most farmers-markety weekends around, eaters can have their pick of where to roam for the best seasonal eats. I love them all, so I'm not much help, although I will say Nippori is in a nifty part of town while Koenji is small and cute and near plenty of good craft beer, too. Check them out for yourself and see what you can find. Let me know what you think! Ebisu Market Every Sunday in March Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also  recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen  when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town. 11am to 5pm Map Koenji Farmer&

Thursday Snapshot: A Little Knit Roast Chicken

Knit me a chicken! Possible the cutest roast chicken ever was spotted at the January Kitanaka Farmers Market in Yokohama. "My wife made it," said the food truck owner who specialized in...roast chicken. We plan to eat there next time.

Bamboo Walls for the Garden

Me, my garden wall, and a bamboo log. Just before leaving for Nepal we finished a final chunk of the outside wall on my community garden space. I don't wish to till my soil, so I'm using a somewhat homemade method of lasagna gardening. I layer on garden waste - harvested cabbage leftovers, plants at the end of the season, weeds, and trimmings from the surrounding paths - with leaves, composted cow manure, more leaves, and top it all off with rice straw. The occasional round of coffee grounds also makes it in, but the number is negligible. My goal is to make use of what I have on hand or can find not so far away for free. Bamboo is one thing that appears in abundance. Bamboo would have been found on traditional Japanese homesteads as a source of food as well as a handy building material. It also would have been turned into charcoal, which in turn would have been turned into a kind of insecticide, a home deodorizer, and a soil additive. These days, though, bamboo runs a b

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, March 12th and Sunday, March 13th

Kimura-san, a farmer from Aizu Wakamatsu, at the Nippori Farmers Market. She makes a mean pickle, too. The fifth anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and disasters is sobering to consider. Five years ago today I experienced something I never hope to again and watched in helpless horror as countless people lost lives and livelihoods. The last five years have seen some positive changes, but there is still plenty of work to be done. My heart is undoubtedly with the people of Tohoku, who are among the best I have had the honor to meet in my lifetime. Many of them can be found at the markets, still working away and bringing the best they have to you and yours. Please go and support them. Ebisu Market Every Sunday in March Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as eve

Thursday Snapshot: Mottainai Daikon

Daikon leftovers mulching away. A clever use for the daikon bits that don't make it onto the table is turning them into a mulch. During a recent urban hike we spotted this cluster of daikon offering themselves up to the powers that be in the soil and the air to make some sweet blossoms and fruit for the coming season. Cozy up, said the fruit tree to the daikon.

My Convenience Store Coffee Article Up at Metropolis!

A hot cup of coffee at Sunkus. When we arrived here five years ago, coffee was hard to find. Sure, I could go to some big name chain, but it was somewhat scarce and expensive. For this American, that incites a certain level of panic. Flash forward a handful of years, and Japan begins of all things to offer coffee from convenience stores. It isn't great, but it certainly isn't bad, either. Ground fresh right after you push the button, it certainly hits the spot. I may start to believe in Santa Claus again... Read my article over at Metropolis to see what I think of the major offerings, and then chime in with your own opinion. It will certainly be a fun little adventure!

March Farmers Markets in the Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

Kitanaka Marche and a lovely selection of mirin from Chiba. Plum blossoms are fading and already the sakura (cherry blossoms) are looking suspiciously tubby. I am off to Nepal for a few weeks for marketing fun there, but I suspect that hanami (cherry blossom viewing) goers will find plenty of good stuff to share on the party sheets at these lovely markets.  Ebisu Market Every Sunday in March Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also  recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen  when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town. 11am to 5pm Map Market of the Sun Saturday, March 12th and Sunday, March 13th The newest of Tokyo's

Thursday Snapshot: Orchard Vines Against the Sky

Grape vines against the blue. Our urban hiking often takes us past a surprising number of small agricultural spaces. These range from a community garden spot in Ebisu to a driveway cum eggplant farm near the Tamagawajousui. On a recent day, though, the sun was out and farmers worked away pruning their trees and vines in preparation for the new season. This tangle of grape vines against the blue caught my eye and, luckily, my camera managed to catch it, too.