What is the first thing to tell you that the spring has come ?
For me, it is the the wind blowing from the south on one sunny day,
A tiny red wild flower called "Hotokenoza" in the field,
A few pretty plum flowers that have just bloomed.
One more thing that makes my heart beat with excitment is
"Fukinotoh / Japanese butterbur shoot.
A box of vegetables and fruit sent by Mr. Takahashi from Shizuoka prefecture is like a fortune bag for me.
（The background picture of the website of my cooking class is the vegetables that he sent to me. I change it according to the season. Check it once a while to enjoy Japanese seasonal vegetables. http://kurinascooking.la.coocan.jp/ ）
I can't get to know what are inside till I opened the box each month.
So it is an exciting moment to remove the packing tape from the cardboard box.
His vegetables are so precious for me as they are raised very natural way.
They are different from organic vegetables, which are often raised with organic fertilizer, involving weeding of unwanted grass and also sometimes killing of unwanted insects.
Every year I see my first Fukinotoh of the year in the box of Takahashi's vegetables either late January or early February.
Just a few pieces of them are wrapped in the newspaper.
"Oh, my goodness !" I cannot stop uttering this word when their site popped into my eyes.
They are tiny, light green, roundish, and look very delicate and fragile.
Fukinotoh tells us the spring is around the corner even though it is still very cold in the morning and night, and makes me feel so delighted.
Fukinotoh bud, has not opened yet.
I am showing you how I enjoy the first taste of spring today.
It is a frosty world outside whenever I open the sliding shutter doors in the morning.
Yes, it is the coldest season in Japan now , and at about 5 a.m. , the tempreture hits the lowest degree of the day.
It can go down to －6℃ here in Saitama.
I know it is much better than other places like Canada where some of my friends live, but I cannot help feeling freezing cold.
So I always try to look for something nice which can happen only in winter, and cheer me up.
The clear cloudless blue sky,
The crystal shining stars and moon,
The energetic tress which shed off all the leaves,
The churping birds flying here and there, enjoying their lives fully in the nature.
And yes, winter vegetables,
Kabu/turnip, Daikon /white radish, the carrot, Goboh/the burdock,
Those are representing the winter vegetables, and people living in this regeion eat them everyday.
( You may have noticed that those are all root vegetables.
The root vegetables are considered very Yang and keep your body warm.)
There's one more vegetable that we appreciate only in cold season only.
It is oblone.
It is quite big and heavy.
It is not a root vegetable.
It has leafy part and non leafy part.
The leafy part is light green color.
The non leafy part is white color.
It has many layers.
The leafy part of inner section is yellow.
Do you know what it is by now ?
It looks like this in the field.
When it is not tied with a string, its leaves open up like this.
Hakusai, the Napa Cabbage.
We often eat it in a steam boat and also make it into pickles to presereve.
Just simply blanching in boiling water and eating with Miso sauce mixed with Yuzu juice and chopped leak is also one of my favorites.
It goes nice with preserved tomato sauce if you want to enjoy it in different style.
Today, I am introducing you Miso Soup with nap cabbage.
The miso soup is easy to make, but many people use instant soup stock or use artificial Miso which contains unnatural flavours, or the one heated up to stop the fermentation for easy storage.
Miso Soup is a very basic traditional Japanese food.
Follow my recipe to appreciate the real goodness of Miso.
I do not use any fish products for stock, so it is vegan and fish friendly recipe.
最後の方に 日本語のレシピが 載っています。
Here's a quiz of December for you.
I am white in color.
I am round in shape.
My skin is very smooth and silky.
I have long and green leaves on top of me.
I can be eaten raw.
Japanse people like to put me into the Miso soup.
They also like to mix me with vinegar.
Who am I ?
Kabu is my most favorite winter vegetable !
I enjoy Kabu in various ways....
Steam and eat with miso mixed with leak and Yuzu.
Slice very thin and mix with vinegar, salt and sweetner.
Steam and make into salad with millet dressing.
Adding into soup.
Rub salt and make into pickles
Kabu is translated to turnip, but I found the turnip sold in Singapore was quite different from the ones grown in Japan.
The skin of Japanese turnip looks smooth and shinny, and its texture is silky.
We can enjoy these fine texture when we eat it raw rather than steaming, simmering or boiling.
My most favorite way of eating it is to make it into salad mixed with vinegar and sweetner.
(I introduced this recipe last year.)
Today, I am sharing my recipe of Gratin.
I am sure this would make you happy on a freezing cold day.
Here's a quize.
I am a vegetable.
I am long.
My flesh is white.
My skin is beige with some spots.
Do you know who I am ?
You don't know ?
Then, with these clues below, I guess many of you would know who I am.
I grow in the muddy water.
I have lots of holes in my body.
Yes, I am
Another picture of me.
Renkon/ Lotus Root !
The Renkon season has come at last.
You may be able to find it all the year round, but we can harvest it only from the autumn to the winter in Japan.
Unlike the vegetable I introduced before, Renkon does not grow in my town.
Therefore I have to buy it from my regular net shops that purchase the Renkon from the regions which cultivate them.
Renkon is considered very good for the resparatory organs, and effective to relieve the symptoms such as coughs and inflamation of lungs.
We can enjoy different kinds of textures depending on how we cook it.
It is crunchy if we par-boil it for salad, and is crispy if we fry, and it can be even chewy if we steam,grill or fry after grating it.
In Macrobiotics we eat it even as a medicine, and have some recipes to maximize the effectivness of Renkon.
But there's one thing that I'm concerned .
The absorption rate of radiation is quite high compared with other vegetables.
Therefore I always buy it from the shops that conduct radiation check constantly, and consume it not as frequently as before.
However we do not have to worry much as long as we stick to the good eating and cooking habbits.
For example, brown rice that I eat every morning can detox the poison to some extent,
Eating organic and fresh vegetables are powerful to revatalize our bodies compared with chemically raised weak vegetables,
Not eating processed food full of additives,
Washing and soaking the vegetables thoroughly,
Removing the scum thoroughly during cooking etc. etc....
In these ways, we can always minimize the risks of not only radiation but also of other harmful substaneces which may weaken our body and cause our illnesses.
All right, I am introducing you the savory " Renkon Chips" today !
It is crispy and yummy.
I am sure you'd love it too !
日本語のレシピが 最後の方に 載っています。
The summer has ended and sentimental season has arrived in Japan.
The leaves are turning to pale and some are already falling.
The trees appear to be lonley wearing less leaves.
On the contrary our appetite grow bigger during this season.
Luckily we can harvest lots of staples such as rice, nuts and fruits, which can satisfy our stomachs and hearts.
The rice is ready to be harvested.
The perssimmons' color is getting orangier and orangier day by day.
The persimmon leaf is so colorful and beautiful.
The Cosmos are at their best now and blooming everywhere in my town.
Isn't it wonderful ?
The nature always blesses us with her profound love if we follow the rule of the universe.
All right, now I am going to pass you one of my nut recipes.
Which nut do you think I am going to show you today ?
It has double layered shells, and is protected tightly inside.
If you walk towards the tree, you'll notice its exsistance from quite far away as it smells so strong.
Its leaves are green until early autumn, but change to beautiful yellow color by late autumn.
The shape of the leaf is very unique and looks like a Japanese fan.
The nut tastes a little bitter.
If you are a Japanese food lover, I am sure that you have seen it in Chawanmushi.
I guess by now you know the answer.
It is ...
Can you tell what they are ?
Here's a closer look. They are fallen off the tree and sitting still on the ground here.
Yes, they are ginko nuts.
Do you know that there are female ginko nut trees and male ginko nut trees ?
And only the female trees can bear the nuts.
It is easy to pick them up, but you have to be careful, as the first layer of the shell that we have to touch when we pick them up can irritate our skin quite badly and you might have rashes on your hands. So I advise you to wear gloves.
The ginko nuts have to be soaked in the water overnight.
The next day, peel off the first layer shell with the gloves on.
This layer is supposed to be very soft. (and also very smelly)
After removing the first layer, dry them under the sun for a few days.
The inner shell is hard unlike the first layer.
When you eat, crack the hard outer shell with the pench or the hammer, and cook in the boiled water, roast in the skillet or fry with the oil, in a way you want.
I have a special instrument to crack the ginko nust shell.
This is very useful when you have lots of nuts to crack.
Well, I am now passing you a very healthy ginko nut recipe.
Here you go !