Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Miso ~Japanese Fermented Food~

Like how my mother used to make....

Aka-miso (red miso) day 1 

In the temple where I was born and grew up, there was a shed to store pickled vegetables and miso.

Every year, around the time of the first snow fall, it was pickling and miso-making season.

For me as a child it was a special and exciting day, running around the workers, watching them work, and playing with the children who tagged along with their mothers who helped at the temple.

Aka-miso aged 1 month

Miso, a fermented soybean paste, along with soy sauce are made from soybeans and they are an essential part of the Japanese daily diet and Japanese cuisine cannot be made without fermented condiments, particularly miso and soy sauce which are the most important all-purpose condiments. 

Different regions have different kinds of miso. Some are sweeter with less salt and more rice malt, such as shiro miso (white miso), more likely to be favored in the southern part of Japan.

Aka-miso (red-miso) needs a longer aging period and more salt, which is popular in the central Japan.

I am more familiar with AWASE-MISO, which is a cross between Shiro-miso and Aka-miso.

Shiro-miso (sweet white miso)

Organic soybeans 

koji (rice malt)

Miso is made with cooked soybeans, mixed with koji and salt, and aged. 

Put some weight on it and let it age...

Dumbells! Another good usage! (I did not have a proper Japanese stone weight...)

after one month

Mix it by taking what is at the bottom and bringing it to the top.

Repeat this process every two to three month and age it for a minimum of six months. As the miso ages, it will gradually become darker from caramel to brown. 

This should be ready to eat in the winter next year. Can't wait to taste my own miso!

Happy fermentation!

Good miso soup for dinner!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Food Preservation-Tomatoes

Food Preservation-Tomatoes

Tomatoes shining in the sun are like jewelry.

This year we planted different kinds of tomatoes. 
Tomatoes come in different shapes, sizes and colors.

Some are good for cooking, some are better fresh.

 Tomatoes add colors to our meals.
Homemade hummus and red omion on rye bread with lots of tomatoes for brunch.

Tomatoes sun bathing....

Drying done!

Pickled in olive oil for later use.

Red tomato sauce and orange tomato sauce
Orange tomatoes are sweeter

Strained tomato sauce


Nothing is better than fresh tomatoes from your own garden.
What a joy to have an abundant harvest.
Hope it will be even better next year.

Tomato mandala ... ♫

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Food Preservation-dehydrating zucchini

Food Preservation-dehydrating zucchini

 Dried Zucchini Roll

This rolled sushi is usually made with simmered 'kanpyo' a kind of dried squash.  I have tried to re-create this using zucchini instead. 

'Kanpyo' comes as a dry food ingredient and can be found in most of the markets in Japan.

Food preservation culture ; pickling, fermentation, canning, and dehydration has been in Japan for thousands of years. 

Especially, where I grew up in the northeastern part of Japan in the snow country we could not grow green leafy vegetables until the early spring.

When I found a super huge over-grown zucchini hiding behind the prickly leaves, I thought of drying them like how my mother used to do.
 As a child, I have watched my mother and the temple workers splitting the huge squash and drying them out on the roof. 

                   zucchini plant and flower


Our little guest found a huge zucchini that was hidden.

Over grown zucchini are perfect for drying!
They were peeled, stripped and laid flat on our porch table.

Thanks to the Californian sun. Zucchini dried very, very well.
      This is after about three days of drying. 

Depending on what I want to use them for, I have cut them in different thickness and shapes.

Round slices are rolled and fried.

zucchini cut like matches are good for light stir-frying

minced zucchini were used in the 'gyoza', Japanese dumplings.

Thanks to Californian sun and the fresh air.

Bountiful harvest for creative cooking

♫Happy Harvest♫

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preparing for the winter

Preparing for the winter

Cold and foggy morning, waiting for the fog to burn off, I head to the garden.

I really am not a farmer nor do I have a green thumb.
Gardening is hard work, but little by little I began to appreciate it.

This will be our last harvest for the season as we will be gone for three month.
Harvested all the zucchini that were left on the plant.
Green tomatoes are for frying tomorrow.

Roses are coming to an end too.

Not that I intentionally dried the string beans...but I got tired of harvesting them in the summer and now I have dried beans! 
For a beginner farmer, this was a surprise.

Found lots of beans in the soil. We should have lots of volunteer bean starts next spring.

After shoveling the weeds and fluffing the soil, I will sprinkle these 'cover crops'.
They will keep the garden bed nicely covered until I am ready for planting in the spring.

Gopher plants keep away gophers that love to dig holes.
Thanks to our neighbor and a friend for teaching me the gardening tips.

Onion bulbs and some flower bulbs will be planted before we leave for the winter.

Crown quails watching over the garden...They have a pretty feathery ornament on top of their head. They are probably thinking of eating the seeds I plant.

                                                  blowing in the wind ♫

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tempura Cookout

Tempura Cookout 

Beautiful autumn day brings us out to the outside picnic table.


This Japanese portable gas cooker works great outside.

"itadakimasu" A simple Japanese word to express appreciation before eating.

Tempura bowl (burdock and carrots, peppers, onions, and rice), simmered seaweed, soybeans , burdock and carrots, sautéed dried zucchini with spicy sesame oil, red beets and other vegetables.

    Exclusively for cooking rice. A Japanese earthenware cooks tasty rice very efficiently.


 Pretty flowers add colors to the meal

Happy Autumn ♫