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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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Vegan Pumpkin Dumpling お月見だんご [Recipes, Fall 秋レシピ]


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。




The summer has faded away and hello to the autumn.

 

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The rice can be harvested soon.



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The persimmon is still a bit too green.


 
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The chestnut is ready to be taken.




The first thing that comes up to my mind when I feel the autumn air, is my fond memory of “Otsukimi”/ a moon viewing day.

When I was young, this traditional event was practiced in a family unit in Japan.

I used to love this elegant event.

 

On the day of Ostukimi, I and my sister went to the riverside to cut and collect some susuki, the silver grass, in the evening.

When we were back home, the tiny table was set at the engawa, the corridor facing east south side with all the windows fully opened.  

On the table, there were rice dumplings that my mother made, and pears and grapes gracefully decorated. 

We put the silver grass in the vase placed beside those foods.

The engawa was transformed into the very cozy area.

After dinner we moved there, and enjoyed moon viewing in a nostalgic mood.

It was said that a rabbit was pounding the glutinous rice on the moon, and I used to believe it and try to find the rabbit there.  

Somehow, I always found her there and felt good about it.

It was such a romantic moment !

But I remember that I was more looking forward to the next moment.

When the moon had enjoyed the food that we offered to her, it was our turn.

The dumplings and fruit were my favorites !

 

When I grew up, I moved to Singapore, and there I found the same day was celebrated in a different way.

It was called “Moon Cake Festival”.   Both events are originated from China, and it’s a celebration of a full moon of mid-autumn. 

I thought how interesting it was that once used to be the same event developed into different ways.

While I lived in Singapore, I more followed the Singapore custom.

When I came back to Japan after being away for over 20 years, I found “Ostukimi” was not celebrated here any more.

But I resumed this custom because of my fond memory.

Each year I decorate my room with “Ostukimi” items during this season and make rice dumplings on the actual date.

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I think you can guess which recipe I am sharing with you today.

Yes, it is the dumplings, but it is the pumpkin dumplings, not the rice dumplings.

It is so easy to make !

The only thing you need is to get the starchy dense pumpkin, not the wet type one like butternut squash.

Then anybody, even the small kids can make it !


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Vegan summer vegetable stew ラタテューユ [Rcipes, Summer 夏レシピ]



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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It was an awfully hot summer this year in Japan.

It has not ended yet, but I hear the songs of insects at night, and they are telling me that the summer will be gone soon.


It's a kind of relief, but at the same time it brings me the melancholy state of mind. 

May be I should say it is the mixture of feeling of lonliness and nostalgia.


But this unsteady feeling creeps in only in the evening, the day time is still the summer, red, hot  and scorching summer !

The cicadas are singing at the top of their lungs.


So for now, I have to enjoy the soon leaving summer vegetables.


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If it is an average summer, I do not go for much of the chilled dishes, but my appetite goes to them rather than warm food this year, so I cook the food on the stove early in the morning, keep them in the fridge and take them out to eat straight away during day time. 

(Can you imagine how hot it is when the tempreture often goes up beyond 40℃?)


My favorite chilled dishes are, firstly, Edamame/green soy beans,


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Hiyayakko/ fresh uncooked tofu,


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Mushinasu/ steamed eggplant,


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and Tomato salad.


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All are so simple to cook.


Another item is " Ratatouille". 

It is a french dish but is popular to cook at home using the summer vegetables in Japan.


I like it because it is a dish with variety kinds of summer vegetables, tasty and nice to eat chilled.   

It also goes well with rice, pasta and bread.

We can make a big amount of it and eat it in three days, enjoying different forms of dishes.


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Eat it just like this.




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Eat it with spaghetti




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As a tooping for pizze (or toasted bread)



Do you feel like eating it now ?


Here you go...






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Vegan Okara Caramel Cake おからキャラメルケーキ [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" から ご覧ください。


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Rice field



The humid summer has come.


The cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, corns are showing off their green, red, purple and yellow bodies, saying "Look ! here I am !!" .



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My petite daughters, Tomato Chans


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My son, Cucumber 



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My younger son, Eggplanto 




Those summer vegetables are considered yin as they cool down our heaty bodies.


The climate of summer is yang, that's why the nature blesses us those vegetables.


In other word, it is the law of the nature.   


Therefore it is best for us to set those seasonal and local food as a pillar of our diet together with grains.


We can be more vital and healthy with those food  because we are a part of the nature.


The exotic food imported distance away from other countries can be enjoyed once a while to satisfy our curiousities and cravings.  


This is the fundamental idea of Macrobiotics.



I usually introduce the recipes of summer vegetable during this season as my table is always with those colorful and appetizing dishes.


But today it is not a vegetable recipe.


I am sharing one of the okara dishes that I showed you in my previous post.


Some people requested me to share one particular dish.


Guess what it was.


Mock sausage ?


Caramel cake ?



Japanese traditional simmered okara with vegetables ?


Cookies ?


Quiche ?


Bread ?


Carrot cake ?






It was a caramel cake!


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They said it looks so delicious !


Yes, it is delicious !!



Actually making vegan sweets is  easier  than making normal sweets.


(There are many more advantages of making and eating vegan sweets, but I'll tell you what they are in other occasions.) 


But this cake may require a bit of experience to get the satisfactory result.


You need to make caramel sauce first to make this cake.


The taste of the cake varies dependig on the degree of the temperature of the sauce when it is made.   


If it is too low, the cake does not taste like caramel.

If it is too high, it tastes very bitter.

If it is moderate, it would be perceived "nice caramel cake" in general.


But after all it's all up to individual preference.

I personally prefer the bitter one when I use it for the cake, which color is black and might be considered "burnt and failed " by other sweet making teachers. 


So be brave to make any types of caramael sauce.


However you need to be careful not to burn yourself or damage your pot as the temperature of caramel can go up highter than 100℃.


Here's the recipe step by step.

 


 

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