All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Breakfast, October 12, 2012

Tom has been a star in our kitchen lately. He bakes great bread. He is getting really good at pozole and dishes with beans, from soup to salad. He repeatedly made jabara kyuri to use as many cucumbers as possible from the greenhouse. He cooked warabi bracken for the first time, grilled eggplant for the first time, used a tortilla press for the first time, and he tried my new daikon radish grater for the first time – all in the last few weeks.

I get cranky, however, because of an insufficient variety and amount of vegetables. On a deadline-free, stress-free day after a few weeks of a hectic work schedule, one word was echoing in my head – vegetables, vegetables, vegetables….

The temperature has dropped to 38F (3C) at night for the last few days. Kyuri Japanese cucumbers in the greenhouse are still producing but will probably stop soon if the weather stays like this. The same goes for shishito sweet peppers. Shiso perilla plants are doing great, and shiso for hanaho flower spikes has a number of flowers right now.

We often eat grilled atsuage but with minimal vegetables (grated daikon and ginger, and sliced green onion). For this breakfast, I made a thickened sauce with carrot, green onion, shishito sweet peppers and shimeji mushrooms. Ankake dishes with potato-starch thickened sauce are appreciated in the cold season, as the sauce keeps the items underneath warm. I probably should have added ginger (juice from grated ginger) to the sauce at the end for extra aroma. Ginger also warms you up. I’ll try it next time.

Kyuri and shiso flowers are made into a small, pickle-type dish. Shiso flowers easily discolor, and this has been a challenge with dishes I have been trying to make. Adding them at the very end, in this case, is the best solution.  Cooking with flowers is fun. Because shiso flowers are at their height in the greenhouse right now, they are the current subject of my experiments.

Leftover beaten egg from tempura batter the night before is turned into miso soup, topped with arugula. Nutty arugula adds character to this very mild soup.

Now we have carrot, shishito sweet peppers, green onions, kyuri cucumbers, shiso perilla, and arugula. Seven  vegetables. Not bad. But the amounts are small. Looking around, I spotted chigensai baby bok choy. There is no sesame oil or seeds (except for toasted sesame seeds on rice) in other dishes, so chigensai is made into my typical gomaae. Avoiding the same ingredients gives you more variation in taste, color, aroma, texture, etc. at the end. The veggie count has gone up by one. Eight veggies! I hear the victory bell going ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong! I am vegetable happy.

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