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Vegan Piggy Cookies ビーガンブーちゃんクッキー [Recipes Sweets スウィーツレシピ]


日本語のレシピは ビーガン情報誌と”Hachidory" をご覧ください


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Happy Lunar New Year ! 


In many Asian countries, the new year is celebrated according to the lunar calendar.


Japan also used to celebrate it during this season until early Meiji Era which is not so long ago.


It is the season that early spring is starting, and the plum blossoms are blooming.


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But I had never thought why we celebrate the new year on January 1of the modern calendar until I was asked by some of my friends while I lived in Singapore why Japanese people do not celebrate the Lunar New Year.   


In Singapore the biggest new year is Lunar New Year which is also called Chinese New Year.  (Singapore is a multi-racial country, so there are several new years to be celebrated.) 


It was a kind of surprising and interesting fact for me that people there preserve each race’s tradition as I got the impression that the country and people there were more westernized and progressive than Japan and Japanese people. 


At that time, I was a young Japanese language teacher.


“The language is deeply related with its culture, and without knowing, understanding and being able to explain it, one cannot really teach the language well to the foreign students. “   


That is what I found after I started teaching Japanese to foreign people in a foreign country.  


“Why do Japanese people celebrate the new year on January 1st of the modern calendar, not the lunar calendar?”


My search had started. 


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My favorite lunar calendar that I pusrchase and use each year

 

It was unfolded that many of the traditional events I had been celebrating since my childhood are not following the actual dates, which means they are celebrated irrelevant to the seasons and do not make any sense.  May be obon/the day to honor the ancestors, and otsukimi/moon viewing day are the only two events that Japanese people are still following the lunar calendar.


I think very few Japanese people are paying attention to these facts and most of the people are using unsuitable words to express the natural phenomena of the seasons and practicing unmatching seasonal events.


The words we often use for the new year such as


迎春/geishun/welcoming spring”,


干支/zodiac”,  


七草粥/shichikusagayu/porridge with seven kinds of wild spring plants”


are effective only when they are used during the new year of the lunar calendar. 


Spring is too far away from January 1st, zodiac is the concept that was born from the lunar calendar, those seven kinds of wild plants are not showing their faces yet in January of the modern calendar, so the farmers have to grow them artificially in the green houses using unnecessary fossil fuel to meet  the demand of people to make the porridge on the 7th of January.


I mentioned in previous post that the year of pig had started.


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Esther who was born as a farmed animal but is now living happily as a family member 


When I said it, I was following the current custom that general Japanese people are practicing.


But, in fact the year of pig has just started.


Ironically, Japan is now on full alert of the outbreak of classical swine fever/hog cholera, and 16000 piggies have been culled so far.


It is normal that those farmed animals are treated as mere commodities, therefore no medical attentions are given and they just have to endure their pains and sufferings.


All the media is reporting how big the damages are and sympathizing with the farmers and business owners. 


What about piggies? 


They are the ones suffering the most.


They are a living creature who feels pain and fear just like us.


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My heart sinks whenever I hear the reports and opinions with no regretting words towards them.


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Visit these sites to learn more about pigs.


A Pig's Perfect Day


Dot, the piglet


 


How did you find ?


Aren't they adoreble ?


O.K, let me share the recipe of vegan piggy cookies now to be compassionate to them.


After making, may be you can also share them with somebody and start your conversation about piggies and pass those information that you gained from those sites.


Anyway those cookies look so kawaii and taste yummy, no one could resist eating them. 


( or some might think too cute to eat them ! )


Here you go !


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Vegan Mochi Shabu Shabu ビーガン餅しゃぶしゃぶ [Recipes, Winter 冬レシピ]

日本語のレシピはビーガン情報サイト "Hachidory" を ご覧ください。


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The year of 2019 has started.


However for many Japanese people living in Japan, it will be  the year 1 rather than 2019.   

Because it is common to count the year by Era in Japan. 

When the new emperor takes over the position it becomes the year 1.  At this moment, it is year 31 of Heisei Era, but from April 30, it will be year 1 as the son of current Emperor will be throned on this date.

It is easier for us to remember the charactaristics of the particular period when we express the year in this way.

But it is sometimes very comfusing. 

I often can't remember or am at a loss which year of A.C. any particular things happend or how old they are in reality when the years are written in the form of Era.


Anyway it is going to be the year 1 soon. (Nobody still does not know the name of the new Era.) 


2019 = 1   I must remember this.


The name of the Era could change suddenly one day, but there is another way of counting years that cannot change in this way, which is called Zodiac and characteristic about Japanese (may be Asian) year.


Zodiac has 12 kinds of animals.
(What a sweet tradition, isn't it ?)



This year is the year of Pig.




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Esther, my faorite piggy



So we surely need to be nice to the piggies, especially this year.

 

How can we be nice to them ?


Think about it !


And we have to show it in our actions !!


For me, it is to spread the reality of the situations of the piggies and convince people that they are loveable and affectionate animal who deserve to be treated in the same way as dogs, cats and us  .


I made lots of piggy shaped vegan cookies and passed to my friends during New Year, telling them enjoy as much as they want, but try to reduce the consumption of the real piggy.


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Now I move to the topic of New Year food. 

Which food do you think that most Japanese people consider a "must" for New Year  ?


It is definately "Mochi/glutinous rice cake".


In the countryside, there are still families pound Mochi using a big mortor and pestle made of wood at the end of the year to enjoy lots of Mochi during New Year.   


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My friend, Kami san threw Mochitsuki party for us. 



Nowdays it is normal to buy the ready-made ones from the shops.

The most popular way to eat Mochi on a very first day of the New Year is "Ozoni/mochi in soup". 


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But there are many ways to eat it, so from the second day onwards, people usually eat in different ways. 

We look for unusual or innovative ways of eating it as we often have lots of Mochi left in the fridge after the New Year.


Today I am sharing one of such recipes, "Vegan Mochi Shabu Shabu" with you.



When it is sliced into thin layers, mochi changes to lighter and more pleasant txture, yet is still elastic and stretchy.


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So enjoy mochi's uniqte texture when you cook this heart and body warming winter recipe.




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Vegan Tofu Cream ビーガンクリーム [Recipes Sweets スウィーツレシピ]


日本語のレシピは ビーガン情報サイト Hachidory を ご覧ください。



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The festive season is here !


Which song comes to your mind first when the Christmas season has arrived ? 


for me, it is 


"♫♬ Dashing through the snow ♩♫, in a one horse open sleigh...♬♪" 


or


♫♬  We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas...♫♬ ” 


or  


♫♬  Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright...♫♬  " 


or  


♫♬ I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know...♫♬ "


Many old days’ Christmas songs come out from my mouth.


However, Christmas is not the festival we traditionally celebrate in Japan as most Japanese are not Christians.   


But it is the day that many kids are looking forward to.


Why ?   Because they can eat the whole decoration cake, and receive the presents !


When I saw the present from Santa beside my bed in my childhood, I was so excited, and regretted that I missed to see him again.  


I used to envy my friend from bottom of my heart, who told me she saw him after hearing the sleigh bell approaching to her.   


After growing up and had my own family, I gave the presents of the same pleasure to my kids like my mother did for me, though it was a tropical Christmas, not a white Christmas like I had.


I suppose Christmas is the biggest childhood fond memory for them too.   


However, unfortunately this season is not a happy one for all of us.


There are many beings who are suffering because of this festival.


We have to think of them as Christmas is the day that we share our happiness with everyone.


The consumption of the chickens and cow’s milk drastically goes up during this season in Japan.  (I guess it is same in your country too.)


I told you that Japanese people do not really celebrate the Christmas, but many of us eat the whole cake decorated with thick cow’s milk and strawberries on a day of Christmas, so the all the cake shops increase the production to twice, triple of usual to cater for the needs of those people. 


You might be thinking the cows can produce milk anytime, but the fact is they can produce milk only when they gave birth to a baby like we humans.


Why do mothers produce milk ?


It is to feed their babies, their own babies.


However what is happening in the dairy industry is that the babies are taken away from their mother straight away, and mothers, no matter how much they cry for their babies or not, their nipples were geared with the machines to suck up their milk for humans.


Those cows are artificially inseminated every year and are forced to give birth until their bodies are too worn out to produce the babies any more.  What is waiting for them next is to be sent to the slaughter house, though they can still live, may be next 6 years if the circumstances allow them to do so.   


I do not write about those babies here today, but their fates are even more heart breaking.


 


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just born-baby that I witnessed at the farm



Normal Dairy Farm


Humane Dairy Farm


 


The bond between mothers and babies is profound for any species. 


Nobody should interfere this sacred bond. 


Do we need to drink milk ?


No, It does harm than good to humans.


There are many studies indicating that, and I also have heard many actual experiences that the physical condition improved after stopping the intake of dairy.  I myself felt it.


There’s no need to hurt the cows. 


For those who still miss the cheese, cream and milk, there are many kinds of alternatives available nowadays.  


You can easily obtain them by searching net and YouTube. 


Here’s my small contribution too. 


There are several ways to make vegan cream for decoration, but today I am showing the one made mainly from tofu.


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Here you go….


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Onigiri Japanese Rice Ball おにぎり [Recipes, All Seasons 1年通]


日本語のレシピは ビーガン情報サイト”Hachidory"で ご覧ください。



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I am experiencing the warmest November since I came back to Japan 13 years ago.   

When it is sunny,  the temperature sometimes goes up as if it is still late summer, but the air is already like the one of winter, that means dry and sharp, not humid, and the sky looks higher up with clearer blue color.  

However, morning and night are already very chilly like winter.

So I am using the stove to make my room warm and yutampo/hot water bag to keep myself warm.   

And lots of heat generating cooking! 

Simmering vegetables and beans in clay pots are necessities for me during cold seasons.


It is well known even among Japanese people that November is the month of celebration of Thanksgiving day for Americans and Canadians.

But many Japanese people are not aware that Japan also has a similar holiday in November.

It is November 23 and is called "勤労感謝の日, Kinrohkanshanohi", which literally means labor thanks day.

There is a history about this "labor thanks day" why it was named this way and why it became a holiday.

I think most of the people have not paid attention to this holiday and do not know what actually "labor thanks" means, and how to celebrate this day.  (Japan has many holidays compared with other countries, and this holiday is not the only one that is not easy to understand why such holiday was created.)


Originally, it was the day to celebrate the harvests of the year, especially harvest of the rice.


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The rice was considered the soul of  Japanese, and people believed the god exists inside of each grain. 


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I am not sure if it is true or not, but I am sure that rice is very powerful, not only giving energy but also raising our vitality and making pure blood, when it is eaten unpolished and in Macrobiotic way.


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Rice is the most important staple in Japan even in this modern society.

Therefore I am encouraging people to express our gratitude for the fact that we are sorrounded by abundant of food, and also to eat newly harvested fresh rice on this date.


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"Onigiri/rice ball" is the best rice dish to appreciate the quality of rice (and also to feel the love of person who made it for you.)

It is the most popular rice dish in Japan.  

Children bring to school for lunch, excursion and events.

Family often bring for picnic and outings.


Unfortunately they are sold in all the convenience stores and too easily available nowdays, young people do not bother to make onigiri by themselves any more.

(When I see the labeling of it, I feel like fainting as it is laden with chemical additives. The ingredients of the onigiri should be only rice, salt, nori sea vegetable and simple filling like salty plum or salty kombu with simple ingredients.)


Today, I am sharing the recipe of onigiri.

But actually it is so easy to make, you can make your original onigiri without following my recipe precicely.

Because onigiri is very personal dish that contains the love and the spirit of the cook,which are squeezed into the rice from his/ her hand, any shapes of onigiri is precious.

So use your bare hands, and do not use the plastic onigiri mould when you make it.

I like to eat the onigiri made by other people since I was young.

I could always see and feel their personalities in them.

Some make big round ones, some make very firm triangle ones, some make fluffy out shaped ones.   

Some make without nori sea vegetable, so the onigiri totally looks white.

Some cover all the surface with nori, so it looks totally black.  


May be you can celebrate "勤労感謝の日/Kinrohkanshanohi"  by cooking lots of rice and throwing onigiri making party.


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Nattoh Making Vegan 手作り納豆 [Recipes, All Seasons 1年通]


日本語のレシピは ビーガン情報サイト”Hachidory" で ご覧ください



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Not too hot, not too cold, I relish the moment whenever I get out of futon in the morning these days.


I know it will not last long, and the cold winter is waiting not too far away from me.


Don't be too pessimistic !   

A very short but beautiful red and yellow leaves season is around the corner !!  


There is a small lake sorrounded by lots of sakura and maple trees near my home.   This lake, which has been lonesome since sakura season ended in spring, is soon going to be transformed into a fascinating spot!


It is also the season of kaki/persimmon, shinmai/newly harvested young rice and satoimo/Japanese taro. 



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There's one more thing which is one of my most favorites.


That is edamame/green soy beans.


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Usually edamame is the vegetable of the summer, but the one from local variety seeds start growing later than the normal ones.

So I can still enjoy this local edamame. 

How lucky I am to live in this town !


The recipe  I am sharing with you today is of soy beans.

But not of fresh ones, but of dried ones.


The soy beans are essential in Japanese diet.

I wrote about it in my past blog, so visit here if you want to konw about it.


Today's recipe is "natto/ fermented soy beans".


Nattoh is easily available at any supermarkets in Japan.

There are so many varieties from different makers, and I am sure you were at a loss to decide which one to try if you have been to the natto section of the supermakets.


Natto is the fermented soy beans and is very healthy Japanese superfood.

It is full of good bacteria and is easy to digest. 

The study shows it has many health benefits such as enhancing digestive system and cardiovascular system, and promoting the bone health.


I love natto since my childhood and eat it almost everyday.


But I know it is not loved by anyone as it has so unique looks, texture, strong smell and taste.

Some people say its taste is similar to the rotton cheese.

So I'm sure if you like the rotton cheese, you would love natto.

I think it is either "love" or "hate".

If you love it, you are lucky, cause it is highly nutritious.

But don't worry, if you belong to the latter one, it is probably something that is not beneficial for you.


Each person was born with different charactor, different taste, different face and different constitution.   

Nothing can be good for every one even though there are many studies that seem to have been proven this is good for this and that, and that is not good for this and that.

I think what your palate tells you is not wrong.

When one finds the taste is awful, I think it is not beneficial for that person.

If the taste is acceptable, may be it is worthy to try it.

(But don't go to the junk food even if your palate enjoys its taste.  This story is limited to the natural wholesome food.)


O.K.  Now I go to the recipe of natto making, natural method natto making.

I am not using powder natto bacteria nor fresh natto as a starter.


The very natural natto is made from soy beans and rice straw.


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It is easy to make as long as you can get rice straw and have an eqipment that can make 40℃ environment such as oven, yogurt maker or even a styrofoam box.

If you are curious, go to the next page and see how I make natto from scrach.

But if you are not into it, and just want to try purchasing it from the shop and eat, see how I eat natto first.  

I'm sure you would be tempted to eat it when you see the photos below.



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Japanese style curry rice with vegetables and natto. 




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The combination of curry and natto is perfect !



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Stuffued in fried tofu pouch, and then grilled till golden brown. 
Enjoy crispness and stickyness of soy beans at a time !   
Dip in soy sauce with hot mustard. 


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Simply eat with grated radish, pickled red shiso leaves,
spring onion and plum vinegar



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Another simple natto.  topped with okara/soy pulp,
chopped leek and young ginger marinated in plum vinegar.



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Dipped in rice flour and water mixture, and then pan fried.



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Rice topped with tofu, natto and nori sea vegetable.
Sprinkle the toasted and grinded sesame,
and soy sauce before eating.
I want to name this "Protein don".  
Don't forget to add a vegetable side dish.




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My daily breakfast.  I prefer "hikiwari natto" to normal one.
In its making proess, soy beans are roasted,
and then cracked before soaking in the water. 
Cracked beans are coated with more natto bacteria,
so they are more easily digested.
I like both texture and taste.
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Mix natto and toppings well.




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Pour over rice.




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Wrap with nori sea vegetable using chopsticks,
and pop into your mouth.
You can't really chew well as the mixture is slimy,
but don't worry, natto has poweful enzyme to break down
the protein and carbo in your gut.

You feel like eating natto now ? or  feel like making it by yourself ?
Go to the next page for the recipe.





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