Monday, January 29, 2018

A Review of Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories and Recipes from the Upper Midwest

Original Local by Heid E. Erdrich
Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Good books help readers see the world in a new way. Often, what we thought we knew or understood so completely is revealed in a different and fascinating light. We look up from the page with fresh eyes at a world transformed. Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories and Recipes from the Upper Midwest by Heid E. Erdrich is exactly that kind of book.

Poet, scholar and now cookbook author, Erdrich provides a classic Midwestern menu of casseroles, breads and salads akin to but different from those found in church suppers across the region. Using familiar indigenous ingredients (maple, corn, cranberries, walleye, and turkey) as well as the somewhat unfamiliar (sumac, chokecherries, sunflowers, rabbit, and quail eggs), she not only brings the Great Lakes landscape to life in a whole new way, but escorts it into the kitchen where it makes itself right at home and starts cooking up a storm.

Erdrich, food-loving writer that she is, puts storytelling at the center of this work alongside the ingredients. "A recipe is a story," she writes in the introduction. "It suggests the characters (or understudies in the form of substitutes) and narrates how the whole came from parts." Between recipes then, she includes quotes, legends, tales, articles, and conversations. Many are authored by others and these voices tell of farms, stores, and seed regeneration programs striving to preserve Native food traditions. Readers also join her family gatherings large and small to hear classic fishing and hunting tales similar to those from my own Wisconsin family table.

Divided into seven sections - manoomin (wild rice), fish and game, gathering (think parties and family meals, not foraging), vegetables and beans, mandaamin (corn), maple and berries, and herbs and tea - the book also includes resource sections to help readers find ingredients and learn more about indigenous people. Detailed recipes offer clear instructions that often contain humor and useful caveats. Ingredients, however, are not limited to only the indigenous, but include things like feta cheese, lemons, or pineapple. With a nod to the various places and mixing of cultures that we all come from, Erdrich is clear that her goal is not to be a purist: "Honoring the spirit of our ancestors and the foods that made them strong so we could be here today is more important than strict adherence to indigenous ingredients alone. After all, tribal people of the Great Lakes and Great Plains never turned down good food, no matter where it was from - of that I am sure."

Original Local is by turns funny, moving, inspiring, and thought-provoking as stereotypes of Native American culture are dismissed. Readers hankering for new dishes, ways to explore local ingredients, or even just looking for something tasty to whip up for a hungry household will find all that and more in these pages. Erdrich provides a much-needed and wonderful addition to Midwest kitchens as well as the local and sustainable food movements across the country. The results are more than a little good food and a better understanding of the place we call home.

Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest
by Heid E. Erdrich
2013
Minnesota Historical Society Press

Friday, January 26, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, January 28

Nagano vegetables at the Yurakucho Farmers Market.

Recent snow means chill winds coming down from the North and the mountains to officially bring that feeling of winter to Tokyo and Yokohama areas. Never fear, though, as growers and producers will brave these conditions to bring their wares to markets. Head on out to one of these lovely markets this weekend to find tasty ingredients for a good hot soup or other delightful taste of the season!

Kamome Marche
Saturday, January 27
Set on the upper level of the Yokohama Bay Quarter, this little market offers nice variety given its size. Vendors from Yamanashi, Yokohama, and other parts of Kanagawa brave the steady ocean breeze and offer everything up from fruit to wine to fresh vegetables.
11am - 5pm
Map

Earth Day Market
Sunday, January 28
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. Come find some good food and fun!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!

Monday, January 22, 2018

January Garden Update

Long view of the garden in January.
This time of year it is always strange for me to wander down to the garden. Despite living in Japan for nine years, I still suffer from what I call seasonal jet lag. A part of me still expects to wake to snow and ice, a garden covered in white where garlic cloves dream in a bed of compost, and I peruse seed catalogs wearing a thick, wool sweater. 

Instead, winter mornings are more akin to this one. I'm still perusing seed catalogs, but the sun shines brightly in a clear blue sky. Winter in Japan is a dry and bright season. The only thing in my region wearing a coat of white is Mount Fuji glittering in the west. My garden is not as busy or full as it is in summer, but things are growing there and there is always a chore to be done.

You'll have to peer closely to catch site of the red onion seedlings, but they are there.
My red onions were planted in November and surrounded by a wara (rice straw) mulch shortly thereafter. They are not growing as fast as those of my neighbors who use black plastic mulch, but I'm OK with that. Black plastic is undeniably an effective weed suppressor and soil warmer, but I find that it does little else. I prefer organic matter - wara, burlap bags, old t-shirts or cardboard - as it feeds the soil while protecting it. I certainly want to eat those onions, but my primary focus is the soil. If I don't tend the soil, I won't have a good crop.

Volunteer kale and norabo
Three different kinds of kale and some good old-fashioned norabo self-planted themselves last summer, and I'm reaping the benefits now. The plants are not huge, but the leaves are sweet. I am hopeful that they enjoy a growth spurt as warmer weather approaches and flower once more. I am also hopeful that Makino-san, my neighboring gardener currently undergoing cancer treatment, will again tease me that my garden looks like a habatake (flower garden) more than a vegetable plot. His quiet presence and timely advice are a great comfort.

Parsley also self-seeded around the garden, and I'm encouraging it wherever I can. Swallowtail caterpillars seem to enjoy it as much as we do in our salads and pesto. Plus, it along with the bergamot are a welcome tastes of our time in Michigan. At this moment, both look a bit worse for wear, but I have faith that as the weather warms, they will stretch tender leaves and stems up to begin a new season.

Beyond the lettuce and covered with burlap bags is where popcorn will be planted.
A middle section needs to be layered yet with leaves and manure in preparation for the summer growing season. I plan to grow a long swath of popcorn this year with fresh seed from Seed Savers. I learned a valuable lesson this last year as I watched my small crop falter and received a smaller yield than ever before. After reading The Garden of Invention, I realized my error. Corn is an inbreeder that needs a steady supply of diversity (who doesn't?) to remain viable.

A shortage of wara again this year meant I needed to come up with another solution. Last year's failure of the potato bed was also a valuable lesson. Using a row cover on top of the bed only served to dry out the soil and create a scenario where almost nothing, especially my potatoes, could grow. A few parsley plants gave it a go, but otherwise the soil remained empty. The result is that this year I am using burlap bags from a local coffee shop. It may not be perfect, either, but I have some hope.

Lettuce seedlings in wara.
Hara-san once again gifted me with a handful of beautiful red lettuce seedlings, which I immediately planted and surrounded with wara. They, too, are not overly impressed with winter weather and the fact that I have given them no protective row cover, but they are managing and doing so beautifully. I am not much of a believer in lettuce, but these lovelies are a current exception.

Meanwhile, back in the cozy living room, tomato, viola, and marigold seeds are, hopefully, giving serious thought to sprouting. The tomatoes I bought at the local garden center were not as nice as my Amish Paste, and I decided I wanted marigolds and violas that I could collect seed from for future gardens. Hopeful, of course, is the key word in this endeavor as in all others in the garden.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21

Fukushima winter vegetables at the Yurakucho Farmers Market.

A lovely mid-January weekend of markets is soon underway! Head on out to one of these lovelies to stock up on winter vegetables, tasty bread, tea, or even a little treat offered by a fun food truck. Never lacking for surprising delights or table mainstays, these markets are sure to offer something for everyone! See you at the market!


Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, January 21
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, January 20*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there.
11am - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, January 21
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. Started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, January 13 and Sunday, January 14

A pretty display of seasonal treats at Onomichi Daidokoro.
A quiet weekend for markets, but there is still plenty to explore. Head on out to one of these lovelies to see what exciting things growers and producers have on hand in January. There should be plenty of winter greens and vegetables, and let's just say that citrus are really kicking it these days. Fend off a cold or other illness with one of the gazillion tasty varieties ripening on hillsides everywhere. See you at the market!

Market of the Sun
Saturday, January 13 and Sunday, January 14
One of Tokyo's newer markets, Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche), professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents.

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!

Friday, January 5, 2018

January Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Sweet stuff always to be discovered at the Nippori Marche!

Welcome to a brand new year and all the exciting foodly fun it promises! As always, a good resolution is to shop at farmers markets whenever possible or buy from a nearby chokubaijo (direct sale stand). Doing so means fresh healthy food lands on the table or in the pot, and it means direct support for the growers and producers all around. Have fun and see you at the market!

Greenmarket Sumida
*Closed until March!*
Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche, Greenmarket Sumida aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst.
10am to 4pm
Asakusa Station
Exit the station and cross the river towards the Asahi Building. Turn left and follow the path to the pocket park on the right.

Saturday, January 13 and Sunday, January 14
One of Tokyo's newer markets, Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche), professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents.

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, January 21
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, January 20*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there.
11am - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, January 21
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. Started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamome Marche
Saturday, January 27
Set on the upper level of the Yokohama Bay Quarter, this little market offers nice variety given its size. Vendors from Yamanashi, Yokohama, and other parts of Kanagawa brave the steady ocean breeze and offer everything up from fruit to wine to fresh vegetables.
11am - 5pm
Map

Earth Day Market
Sunday, January 28
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. Come find some good food and fun!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!