Harvesting Ume: Ryoko Olson in her professional environment climbing trees (note her awesome boots and toolbelt), trimming branches and raining down Ume. No cape required for this superhero! She totally re-did the tree & harvested the fruit while talked to neighbour obaachan & held basket.
Just a few quick snaps from the mellow New Year’s time at the Fujita household – just me, Ryoko, baby Ichiro and our wonderful grandma and grandpa, sitting around the house, eating special food, with bits of TV and music and, importantly, fire in the woodstove.
The year begins with Ichiro Stanley pensively observing a few flakes of snow floating down at Tsuchida Cottage. They disperse before landing (Like all of your hard ships will this year).
I suspect you eat food, likely more than once per day. While I dabble in many mediums of art, the kitchen has never been a place of creative comfort for me however… I’m working to add a few new skills to my repertoire, as well as watching the unique techniques take a bus out for some traditional Japanese favorites.
Also, paying attention to the importance of plating and presentation and choosing an interesting variety of dishes when serving – I’m probably better at this part than in the preparation but hey, one revolution at a time.
As such, very little in the way of annotations or details, or quality of photos for that matter, just evidence of living life at such a cottage.
The results are sort of a hybrid of Japanese and “western“ dishes, and usually served rather Japanese-style meaning lots of little plates as we sit at usually a low table on a mat to enjoy the creations.
While life is still exciting and new here, I occasionally remember to take a snapshot of things prepared, most of the time I don’t, but sometimes I do, and since I did, i’ll share with you. There are loads of these round-ups elsewhere in this archive if curious.
+ Dinner choices (& results) at Tsuchida Cottage with Snapper (Tai) or Wagyu (beef) +
Amongst all the goodness in our lives with the wonderful baby, we’ve received some treats. Some are part of Japan’s “summer gift” tradition, others specifically for the baby (so many to document, will get to them eventually) and some because folks are nice and adore Ryoko.
In this case, we received a box of luxurious premium wagyu beef and a whole tai (snapper) fish / the combo of the 2 provided several fantastic meals as you might expect.
Because i am grateful and obsessive, i present documentation.
For the record, these are salt fermented though i did a couple with vinegar and sugar which are great too. the salt does some kind of magic anaerobic fermentation creating pro-biotic goodness. The taste is clean and simple with the veggie taste and texture intact.
chop up whatever veggies i have (in this case, carrots and daikon and onion)
stuff in a sanitized (not really sterilized) jar (stashed in hot water for a while on stove and handled with tongs)
toss in a garlic/onion and a bay leaf (there’s an enzyme which helps the crispyness)
top off with brine (basically 2 Tbps of non-iodized salt to 1 litre/quart water)
fill to top and/or put a cabbage leaf or something on top to push the veggies below water line
stash em in dark place for a few weeks, months – will be fizzy when ya open up
after open, stash in fridge.
there’s all sorts of complications you can add to the process but i am a simple boy. have done a load of batches now and all turn out decent. mild, clean, crispy.
and yes, someone has already sent me the Portlandia “pickle that” clip. thanks.
Just another food round-up from Tsuchida Cottage. Of course, we are cooking at home, groceries get delivered (and some from garden/yard). We have a little convection oven. Added in a few Japanese words just case PS “washoku” is word for traditional Japanese food – usually fish (grilled or raw) and various side dishes, while “yoshoku” is Japanese-i-fied foreign-inspired food which has become Japanese (i.e. croquettes, om-rice (omelette on rice), hamburg, fried shrimp, spaghetti). Also a few ramen, pizza and other hybrid style meals in here. Carry on. No big deal.
To be clear: this is the 1959 Hollywood/King Vidor version with Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda and others… There are several adaptations of the classic Tolstoy novel and this frankly, is not the best by any measure. Even at 208 minutes the story is incredibly compressed and huge critical chunks simply cut out. It really lacks in its reliance on camera trickery which, perhaps was innovative at the time, but has the feeling of “clean it up in post“… Especially with the sound editing/mixing, it’s a mess. All that said, I totally enjoy it Mostly because of Audrey.￼
There’s is a much longer Soviet-era Russian adaptation (7 hrs) by auteur Sergei Bondarchuk ￼￼￼(co-wrote, directs and acts) ￼from 1967 / it’s endlessly wonderfully long, came out in a series in Russian language (naturally) with various French and German as needed. It’s truly epic so you got to settle in / plan for the long-haul / ￼rousing battle & party scenes interspersed with slow contemplative vignettes. The actors arent as pretty/shiny as other versions but hey, realism ￼(I have this one of three long VHS tapes)￼. ￼ Then, there’s a BBC series from 2016 which is in general very well done – aside from a few casting choices which I for some reason find incredibly annoying (but I’m kind of like that). Pacing is good and cinematography is often great.￼￼ if you’re going to settle in for one, this is probably the best all-arounder/entry point. Lily James is a worthy Natasha.
￼Another good all-arounder albeit a bit melodrama-esque came in a 2007 series. An international production so well done on various languages & casting actors from different cultures / a bit hard to find as was made for European release. ￼
There is also a 1972 British made TV series and a 1915 b&w film, neither of which I’ve seen.
Have you seen any of the series? Any opinions on a favorite? Have you read the book?￼
I mean, if not now, when?
Ted says: The Soviet version is one of the most amazing films ever made I think. It’s now on a criterion Blu-ray release.
I reply: indeed, the backstory of the creation is just as epic as well. He had free rein to state museums, use of the Army personnel and helicopters etc / Must get my hands on the criterion as I’ve only watched on the VHS tapes which, leave a little bit to be desired.
Ted: Factoring the current rate of exchange, it supposedly the most expensive film ever made. Like 800 million or something.
Me: Epic in every sense of the word! Although hard to calculate the true cost of the budget with all of the government resources/access use. Have you seen any of the other versions? Comments?
Amidst all the chaos and commotion and confusion and concern, my adorable wife and our incoming child are bright healthy and happy… Everything going normal except for all the stuff that’s not.
Receiving excellent care at “sun clinic” near our home and today spent time making Plan A, Plan B and so on￼ with lovely midwife & wonderful dr. + I’m learning a lot more birthing specific Japanese words – we also checked out the birthing room and the room where we will stay for a couple days afterwards, and then shared a moment under sakura tree.
Some of the fun/extra parts of preparing for the new arrival – including stroller and crib shopping and what not – well, need to be adjusted. We’ve got a baby bath, some clothes and a diaper strategy. We’ve also been reading to the belly in both English and Japanese and of course lots of music.￼
We’re getting the house already as best we can and and i’m doing my best to be a sweet supportive husband instead of worrying about everything everything everything.
We’ve canceled tea ceremonies and picnics and get togethers of course & have had food delivery service set up for some months now, plenty of rations, masks and first aid kits and blah blah blah so we will work on the garden, plant trees and stay busy in the barn.￼
We got this and June is going to be a magical month for us. ￼We hope some calm come to the world at large by then but the future is unwritten.￼