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helenjp

eG Foodblog: Helenjp - Well, pickle me!

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Boris kindly told me on Sunday that he was tagging me. Gave me a day or two to panic. :unsure:

Boris showed us a lifestyle and an approach to food that's a hard act to follow. Living and eating gets the big Tokyo squeeeze some days, and Tuesdays are a prime example!

Later I want to show you some summer pickles (which involves some time-travel, since I started pickles on Monday so that they would be ready before blog week was ovr), some other preserved foods we make, and also talk about family cooking in those years when the house has more hungry mouths than bulging purses, and family schedules are fuller than the fridge!

Meanwhile, this is how my blog really started...

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I got home around 4pm, to find my office at blood heat, and son1 using a mood-altering substance - an ice cube on a saucer, which he hoping would make him feel cooler while he studied for a test tomorrow.

He and son2 consumed a cob of sweetcorn each (from a bag bought off the back of a farm truck which often comes round selling veges at weekends). Son2 grabbed a bottle of cold barley tea and a stick of string cheese, and headed off for 2 hours at cram school.

Son1 and I dismembered some of the green soybeans and whorled mallow I had bought at a vege stand on the way home, in the interests of his science test tomorrow.

By that time, son1 was HUNGRY again, but we didn't eat till 7:30, when son2 came back from cram school. Husband ate when he returned home after 10pm...pretty normal hours for a Tokyo worker.

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The rice includes an umeboshi cooked in with it to keep it fresh in lunchboxes tomorrow (bad wife! bad mother! should be up at 5am to cook rice...). The soup bowl (before miso soup was added) contains a fish sausage with a stick of burdock in the middle, and HALF A GREEN BEAN harvested by son2 from "his" plant at school. Shallow dish is squash and green beans simmered in dashi stock with soy sauce and sweet sake (mirin). Actually cooked that yesterday and forgot to serve it! Normally I would add the green beans at the last minute to preserve the color, but the family are getting sick of beans (very cheap from the infamous vege shack over the road at the moment), so I simmered them till they had absorbed more flavor.

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This is not so much a rough construction as a loose collocation...

On the small plate, pork slice panfried with ginger, deepfried eggplant with a dab of yuzu-koshou, and some boiled whorled mallow leaves.

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Whorled or "Chinese" mallow is slightly mucilaginous, like okra or melokhia.

Naganasu photo at bottom of page (Japanese text)

Shouga-yaki (pork slices with ginger) usually has the ginger mixed into it, but I often make it with the ginger and a tiny sprinkle of cornflour and soy sauce "sandwiched" in the middle. The eggplant was 50cms long, a "naga-nasu" from Kyushu. The whorled mallow leaves (oka-nori or "upland laverbread")

After dessert, the boys heard the breadtruck which comes every Tuesday evening, and insisted that we had a moral duty to introduce it to you!

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The driver was quite shy at the thought of making her worldwide debut. Not so my son2...

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In the end, they had to admit that the chocolate-filled cornet and the melon-pan had better be saved until tomorrow.

I will also save talk of pickles till tomorrow, because I have a video to transcribe for class tomorrow, a sample translation to do, a shirt to iron, and a dish of chicken simmered in soy sauce and vinegar to make ready for tomorrow's dinner...not to mention dishes and bath, and it's already 10:30pm Tuesday night Japan time.

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How exciting and lovely, Helen! What a wonderful start. Welcome to blogmania :biggrin:

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melon bread?

as an enthusiastic baker I'd love to hear more about that, and Japanese breads in general, one subject I've found it hard to get books on!

looking forward to this blog (first post is very promising!)

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Hello Helen!

i9049.jpg

I'm looking forward to learn about everyday food that is simple and sophisticated, opposed to the simple and primitive I know.

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Melon pan - is a sweetish plain dough bun, baked with a cake-batter topping, usually colored slightly green and crosshatched to (faintly) resemble the netting on a melon. One of Japan's oldest novelty breads.

Simple but sophisticated? That may be beyond me, but how about simple but different?

Actually, although it is practically invisible in the photo, the deepfried eggplant is a simple but perfect taste! The rounds of eggplant are dropped straight into hot oil, and fried, nothing else. Then you can quickly pat or wash off the oil and steep it in a seasoned stock, or just chill it and have it with a good soy sauce and some sharp condiment.

Better luck with photos tomorrow. I discovered that some small boy had altered the settings on the camera...

In any case, tomorrow! Nearly 1am in Japan, so I shall return the mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels) to the fridge and head for my futon.

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Better luck with photos tomorrow. I discovered that some small boy had altered the settings on the camera...

In any case, tomorrow! Nearly 1am in Japan, so I shall return the mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels) to the fridge and head for my futon.

:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Sons 1 and 2 sound adorable!

I'm really looking forward to this blog!

Helen, can you tell us a little more about yourself? Where do you work? What's your neighborhood like? etc.

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Simple but sophisticated? That may be beyond me, but how about simple but different?

Foreign and exotic are both synonymous with sophisticated. Don't let on otherwise and milk it for all you can. :biggrin:

Life is tricky with small boys in the picture, but rather interesting.

When being received at a Japanese inn, one is almost always given green tea in one's room. One hot day on our first trip to Japan we were served a cold drink that was very refreshing and appealing. It turned out to be Mugicha. It seemed unique and unlike iced coffe or tea, or any other infusion we knew. It's available in NY's Chinatown and I suppose other Asian markets in the US. We drink it unsweetened as it was served to us in Japan.

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Simple but sophisticated? That may be beyond me, but how about simple but different?

Actually, although it is practically invisible in the photo, the deepfried eggplant is a simple but perfect taste!

Once I learned quite a bit about Japanese woodwork and tools and was excited by the sophisticated simplicity, as I called it. Maybe I'm just misusing the notions.

My knowledge of Japanese cuisine is very limited (and the little is acquired in Europe, to make it worse), but I experienced similar impressions. An undue projection of a misused notion? :smile:

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Mmm, pickles! I don't know very much about Japanese food beyond sushi, but I have always loved the various pickled items served as garnishes. Looking forward to there rest of the week!

Walt

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Really looking forward to your blog, helenjp, and much thanks to Boris (whose blog I also enjoyed) for tapping you. Busy working mother of two putting together interesting and healthy meals...reminds of somebody I know.

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Boris kindly told me on Sunday that he was tagging me. Gave me a day or two to panic. :unsure:

You have the official apology of the forum staff for that, Helen--it wasn't Boris' fault. Even without knowing about the new method being implemented for blogger selection, he was already thinking about you as a possibility. We had to get our "ducks in a row", because the guidelines have never been "in print" before, and somewhat stupidly left him (and you, by proxy) hanging.

I want to interrupt this blog once and hopefully only once, to let people know that if they have interest in doing a Foodblog, they should be PMing SobaAddict70 to express that. Because we are at the beginning of the "gathering names" stage, it may be a bit rocky initially until we build up a nice list of interested parties. After that, we hope it will go pretty smoothly, and a blogger looking for a successor will always have a nice resource provided to them by Soba to work from--no more trying to guess who might really be interested, who may or may not have gone before, how to get a diverse regional spread, etc.

So please, please... all of you let Soba know about your interest, and Soba in turn will be his usual efficient self, maintain an ongoing resource which allows the next blogger to have possibilities right on hand, but as many have expressed to us "doesn't ruin the mystery" here in the blogging threads themselves.

To get back on topic (yes, that is important, even for an administrative message, right?) I'm looking forward to this one. Even "ordinary" Japanese food can be interesting. And the contents of that breadtruck look very familiar to me, even if the delivery mechanism isn't. I live in the Fort Lee, NJ area, which is kind of like the "Little Japan" of the NY Metro area and those particuar baked goods are not unknown to me, but may seem quite strange to many others in the U.S. Even familiar seeming stuff like a "custard bun" isn't done anything like how you'd expect if all you grew up with was Italian bakeries. :laugh: But get to the bean paste filled stuff, the hot dog buns with hot dogs already inside, the curry buns, and the corn-covered pizza and well... what seems natural in Japan just looks weird (but often very good) to us.

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What, pray tell, is the HTST process mentioend on the can of Aroma Black coffee? I see mention of "preserving heat" on the can. Is this product served hot and if so, how is it heated up? I've tried both canned and bottled black coffee drinks here in the US but they're always served cold.

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Helen,

I am so looking foward to your blog!! :biggrin:

So that is what the other side of Tokyo looks like........ :biggrin:

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What, pray tell, is the HTST process mentioend on the can of Aroma Black coffee? I see mention of "preserving heat" on the can. Is this product served hot and if so, how is it heated up? I've tried both canned and bottled black coffee drinks here in the US but they're always served cold.

I have no idea what the HTST means, maybe Helen does, but you can buy the canned coffee here either hot or cold. Even in the same vending machine. Convenience stores also have a special storage area (like a hot refrigerator?) usually near the register to buy hot drinks.

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mugicha (summer staple drink made by boiling teabags of roasted barley kernels)

Quite interesting, especially the fish sausage (chikuwa?) in the miso soup! I'm looking forward to your pickles.

One question: Do you use mugicha teabags?

EDIT to add:

HTST stands for hot temperature short time.


Edited by Hiroyuki (log)

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Thanks Hiroyuki and Torakris! There was time this morning to cook breakfast, make two bento lunches, and finish reducing the stock for a chicken dish for dinner, and time to photograph it... but NOT time to upload photos!

Self intro and talk of pickles later today...about 6 hours' time?

Breakfast is our big family meal of the day, and I try to keep that in mind when the alarm goes at 6am...

This morning we had our usual home-made yogurt with kiwifruit and banana. This is a routine, and my husband Keiji usually does that. I split some bread rolls and filled them with lettuce, seasoned and drained tomato cubes, and scrambled egg, and son1 fished around in the nuka-zuke (rice bran pickles, of which more later) for cucumber and eggplant, washed them and sliced them, and added another couple of cucumbers to the pickle bed.

We always have English tea with breakfast...Keiji spent most of the '80s in New Zealand, and somehow we both like English tea in the morning and green tea at night. At this time of year, roasted tea (houjicha) is refreshing at night too.

Barley tea seems to be popular in Korea too, but I think it must be Japan's major contribution to human comfort! Plain and simple, but indispensible.

Hiroyuki, the fish sausage in the soup is definitely Tuesday-itis - out of the freezer and into the pan is the way I cook on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We would normally have more veg in the soup, but needed to showcase the two school-grown green beans! :laugh:

Must go...tells self, must not forget lunch on table. Today's lunch is quickly fried tempeh (a firm cultured soybean product from Indonesia) with chilisauce, lemon, and fish sauce; half a boiled egg dipped in salt, pepper and cornflour and quickly browned on the cut surface only, Chinese chives (nira) blanched, squeezed and dressed with karashi-su-miro (mustard/vinegar/miso), and left-over deepfried eggplant. Rice and pickles for husband, whole wheat flatbread for me (I'm slightly allergic to rice).

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I am also looking forward to following your blog. I do love many Japanese foods.

Pickles are a particular passion of mine and I am intrigued at the way almost every ethnic group on earth has found this way of preserving fresh fruits and vegetables.

Amazing, isn't it.

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The rice includes an umeboshi cooked in with it to keep it fresh in lunchboxes tomorrow (bad wife! bad mother! should be up at 5am to cook rice...). The soup bowl (before miso soup was added) contains a fish sausage with a stick of burdock in the middle, and HALF A GREEN BEAN harvested by son2 from "his" plant at school. Shallow dish is squash and green beans simmered in dashi stock with soy sauce and sweet sake (mirin). Actually cooked that yesterday and forgot to serve it! Normally I would add the green beans at the last minute to preserve the color, but the family are getting sick of beans (very cheap from the infamous vege shack over the road at the moment), so I simmered them till they had absorbed more flavor.

i9043.jpg

This is not so much a rough construction as a loose collocation...

What a great start to your blog, Helen. How cool that son2's HALF A GREEN BEAN has been immortalized on eGullet! :biggrin:

Is that "the infamous vege shack over the road"? This is in Tokyo??

I hope you'll have time to post some pics of your kids' bentos. Do you get "creative" with them? (I've seen the thread Kristin started about bento):smile:

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Anyone else notice it has been exactly six months since torkris blogged? Very good timing.

Helen I am so excited to learn more about pickles. My fridge usually has a few varieties from my local Japanese market, but right now it's empty. I have a feeling I will be making a trip to the market tomorrow :smile:

Do Western eating habits affect your family's food life?

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Helen, great stuff so far!

About the tempeh. Suddenly it's appearing all over- is there some sort of tempeh fad going on? I remember eating it in high school when I was a vegetarian, and just naturally assumed that it was a Japanese product. So it was a big surprise when I first came to Japan and couldn't find tempeh. And now here it is.

So how is it usually cooked?

HTST. Probably this refers to the making of the coffee rather than hot storage. This particular can of coffee was likely bought and drunk cold- in the summer most vending machines switch to all cold drinks.

This Hot Temperature Short Time concept is really important to Japanese coffee. Coffee shops (the old-fashioned, dying breed kind, not Starbucks type chains) don't use coffee makers or espresso machines- they make each cup of coffee in an individual filter, using a special pouring technique that ensures each ground of coffee is equally saturated for the shortest time possible.

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Helen, great stuff so far!

About the tempeh. Suddenly it's appearing all over- is there some sort of tempeh fad going on? I remember eating it in high school when I was a vegetarian, and just naturally assumed that it was a Japanese product. So it was a big surprise when I first came to Japan and couldn't find tempeh. And now here it is.

So how is it usually cooked?

HTST. Probably this refers to the making of the coffee rather than hot storage. This particular can of coffee was likely bought and drunk cold- in the summer most vending machines switch to all cold drinks.

This Hot Temperature Short Time concept is really important to Japanese coffee. Coffee shops (the old-fashioned, dying breed kind, not Starbucks type chains) don't use coffee makers or espresso machines- they make each cup of coffee in an individual filter, using a special pouring technique that ensures each ground of coffee is equally saturated for the shortest time possible.

smallworld, if you've got inside knowledge on the HTST method of coffee preparation, you should post more here. :smile:

My brief visits to Japan were during the cool(ish) months of September and April, so I didn't know about the hot (HOT!) vending-machine coffee not being available year-round. Makes sense though. I felt particularly clever when I figured out that the RED buttons on the vending machines were for hot (HOT!) beverages and the BLUE ones were for cold... :hmmm:

If you're not wearing gloves, learn to juggle fast.

As for tempeh: it may be Indonesian, but some of the best tempeh I've eaten in a restaurant was in Kakegawa, Shizuoka prefecture ( a bit southwest of Tokyo). Well, it was really more of a bar than a restaurant, but the Indonesian food struck me as totally authentic (I lived in Jakarta as a child). Marinated in tamarind and grilled to perfection. Yum.

Helen, do you eat out often? I don't mean "fine dining" necessarily (budget, kids, busy schedule and all that!), but do you go to neighborhood restaurants, or buy from street vendors? We've already seen the breadtruck. :biggrin:

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About the HTST process:

HTST refers to one type of retort sterilization that considerably reduces heating time by applying a blast of air hotter than in conventional processes to coffee-containing cans, thereby keeping coffee aroma from thermal degradation. The unique waist-wave shape of the can contributes to improved thermal efficiency of this process.

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i9077.jpg

Found a few of those single-use coffee filters! The ground coffee is in the filter, set inside a little cardboard holder. You pull the filter apart at the top, set the lugs of the holder over your cup, and pour in the hot water...

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Son2 just had some nori (seaweed) tempura snacks and a glass of barley tea...plus a cob of sweetcorn. The nori snacks were left over after a boy stayed with us at the weekend.

I teach at the horticultural department of a university on Wednesdays...the part-time staffroom never has any chalk or photocopy paper, but always at least 3 types of tea, coffee, and often little dishes of candy with notices on them saying "Please eat the candy"!

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Gotta rush DS1 to cram school, DS2 to violin. See you guys in about 2-3 hours..

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Sorry forgot to say, the teabags in the photo are roasted green tea, green tea, and English tea.

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