Category Archives: Eating Local

Happy New Year! Pics of Japanese New Year’s Food

Happy New Year, everybody! Or as we Japanese would say, Akemashite Omedetō!

As many of my readers know, I’m a Japanese transplant to the Natural State. You can get a girl out of Japan, but you can’t get Japan out of a girl, so this author celebrates New Year’s Day religiously.

Japanese observe New Year’s Day like Americans observe Thanksgiving or Christmas. It is THE most important holiday for us.

Americans spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families and party with their friends on New Year’s Eve. There is no Thanksgiving in Japan, and although some Japanese celebrate Christmas with their immediate family, many Japanese spend Christmas with their friends, especially with their boyfriends or girlfriends. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, however, are for families.

The Japanese New Year is elaborate, especially when it comes to food. We spend several days before the coming year to cook special New Year dishes. Fortunately or unfortunately, I’m allergic to many of the ingredients in Japanese New Year dishes, so I cook a minimum number of dishes each year.

I managed to take photos of some of the dishes. Hope you enjoy them!

Thank you always for reading GreenAR by the Day & I wish everyone a happy 2011!

Japanese eat noodles on New Year's Eve. Noodles symbolize longevity. Most people eat buckwheat noodles, but since I'm allergic to buckwheat, I eat udon.

We eat ozōni, or a Japanese soup with mochi, on New Year's Day. Mochi is a sticky rice cake. How you cook ozōni depends on where you're from. I'm from Nagoya, so our ozōni is very simple. We put mochi in fish or kelp broth flavored with soy sauce, and serve with boiled spinach, fish cakes, and fish flakes. Since I'm allergic to fish and spinach, my ozōni has none of them.

Eddy holding up mochi. See how stretchy it is! Due to its stretchiness, many older people choke on mochi, some times passing away. So far in 2011, thirteen people have died due to mochi's stretchiness.

Clockwise, kouhaku namasu, kuromame, kurikinton, and tataki gobō. Kouhaku namasu is made from daikon radish and carrots. Japanese consider the colors red and white to be good colors, so we make kouhaku (red-white) namasu (slaw) to celebrate the new year. I used carrots from Jerusalem, Arkansas, to make the slaw. Japanese eat kuromame (black beans) because the color black wards off evil. The pronunciation for the word beans (mame) is same as the word active, so we eat kuromame on New Year's Day. Kurikinton, or mashed Asian sweet potatoes with chestnuts, symbolizes wealth because the color is similar to that of gold. I used Asian sweet potatoes that I bought at the River Market Farmers' Market to make this dish. Japanese eat tataki gobō, or burdock roots with sesame, because burdock plants have very deep roots, thus they symbolize a good foundation.

We drank a good bit of sake, beer, and champagne. Once again, they disappeared before I had a chance to photograph them. I snacked on dried squid dipped in soy mayo while I drank.

Green Giving: Give Food! Part 3

Back from left to right - My homemade peach butter & apple butter. Front - My homemade strawberry jam. All made using Arkansas fruits. Photo by Nao Ueda.

The Green Giving series continues today with more ideas on how to give food instead of “stuff” this holiday season.

I give same things to folks every year for holidays. This year is no different. My holiday gifts consist of:

  • Homemade strawberry jam made with Arkansas strawberries
  • Homemade blackberry jam made with Arkansas blackberries
  • Homemade peach butter made with Arkansas peaches
  • Homemade apple butter made with Arkansas Black apples
  • Local honey or sorghum
  • War Eagle Mill cornmeal (upon request from family members)
  • Homemade candied pecans made with Arkansas pecans

Nothing says “I love you” like homemade goodies. In return, Eddy’s family always gives us fresh shrimp from South Carolina where they live. We enjoy the shrimp throughout the year, throwing them into gumbo, pasta, omlets, and on top of pizzas.

Not much of a cook? Don’t worry. Several Arkansas farmers offer jams, jellies, honey, and sorghum for sale, including:

War Eagle Mill and the House of Webster also offer jams, jellies, and preserves, so check them out!

This concludes the Green Giving series. The world is full of “stuff.” We can all do our part to keep “stuff” out of landfill, support local economy, and see our loved ones happy. Let’s give green this holiday season!

Green Giving: Give Food! Part 2

The Green Giving series continues today with more ideas on how to give food instead of “stuff” this holiday season.

Do you have foodies on your holiday shopping list? If so, how about giving them dining experience?

Many locally-owned green restaurants offer gift certificates. Some of my favorite green restaurants include:

A gift of dining experience at a locally-owned green restaurant keeps “stuff” out of landfill, helps protect the environment, and supports local farmers and economy. Can’t beat that!

If your special someone is more interested in cooking at home, give him or her a gift certificate to a locally-owned green-minded grocery stores such as Argenta Market (North Little Rock) and Ozark Natural Foods (Fayetteville).

So, those are some of my ideas on how to give food instead of “stuff” this holiday season. The Green Giving series will continue tomorrow with more ideas, so stay tuned!

Green Giving: Give Food! Part 1

The Green Giving series continues today with ideas on how to give food instead of “stuff” this holiday season.

Do you have locavores on your holiday shopping list? If so, why not give them…

Subscription to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

In recent years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here’s how it works. A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or “subscription”) and in return receive a box, basket, or bag of seasonal produce on a regularly scheduled basis throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin.
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow.
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh locally-grown food.
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking.
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.

Central Arkansas is fortunate to be home of Basket-A-Month (BAM) Community Supported Agriculture program. Launched in 2005 by Jody Hardin’s Foodshed Farm, the program currently serves more than 200 households. BAM members enjoy the best that Arkansas has to offer while supporting local farmers and economy.

Interested in giving a subscription to BAM this holiday season? Visit www.arkansasfood.net to learn more about the BAM program.

Membership to Online Local Food Market

Web-based local food markets have been popping up all over the state. Here’s how they work. Unlike co-ops, buying clubs, or CSAs where everyone gets the same box of stuff (and you don’t know what you’re getting until you get it), with online local food markets, you get to order what you want, in the quantities that you want, from the farms that you want.

The first step is to create an account with an online market.  Once you have an account, you will be notified on certain day of the week about the market being open. You will then have several days to place your order on a website. After you place an order, you will receive an email confirmation that indicates when to pick up your order. Easy, huh?

Many online local food markets require membership to help defray administration costs. This holiday season, why not give a membership to n online local food market to your special someone?

Arkansas is home to the following online local food markets:

Locally Grown provides web support to these online markets, and it says on its website that additional markets are coming to the following Arkansas communities: Mountain Home, Maumelle, Benton, Searcy, Jacksonville, Mount Ida, Heber Springs, southwest Arkansas (Hope, Arkadelphia, and Texarkana), Leslie, and McCrory. That’s a lot of markets!

Green giving options for Arkansas locavores are endless these days, so let’s take advantage of them!

The Green Giving series continues tomorrow with more ideas on how to give food instead of “stuff” this holiday season. Stay tuned!

Preservation Technique: How to Store Pecans

 

Shelled pecans ready for the freezer! (Photo by Nao Ueda)

I love Arkansas pecans. Every year around this time, I buy about 20 pounds of pecans from Jody Hardin of Foodshed Farm. What do I do with that much amount of pecans? I shell ’em, freeze ’em, and enjoy ’em throughout the year.

Storing pecans is easy. Here is what you do:

  1. Select plump pecans that are uniform in color and size.
  2. Shell and clean pecans.
  3. Place them in freezer bags.
  4. Freeze.

Easy, huh? Shelled pecans can be kept in the freezer for up to two years. And they can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly during the two-year freezing period without loss of flavor or texture.

Wanna stock up on Arkansas pecans and enjoy them throughout the year? Buy them from the Arkansas Sustainability Network’s Local Food Club.

RSVP for La Lucha Space Holiday Event

Come celebrate local food and the holidays!

Join La Lucha Space for its Holiday Event, Saturday, December 4 at 6 p.m. at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway. A local meal will be served (chicken or vegetarian), along with music from Joel Ludford and friends, as well as a silent auction that will highlight some of our local food producers. This will be a joyous occassion and an opportunity for La Lucha Space to raise funds for 2011.

RSVP is required for the event. Please follow the link on the front page of La Lucha’s website, http://laluchaspace.com.

For more information, contact Sandra Leyva at sandra@laluchaspace.com.

I’m Thankful for…

  • Everyone who has read or reads my blog, Thanks for all the comments and encouragements!
  • My friends, both old and new. What would I do without you guys?
  • Our chickens, Paris Hilton, Alpha Ueda, Beta Ueda, and Gamma Ueda, and our duck, Ueda Go. Thanks for eating bugs, fertilizing the land, and giving us eggs. You guys have been great companions!
  • Our bees for pollinating plants. I would appreciate in the future, though, if you would refrain from stinging my head and between my thighs. They hurt.
  • Our cats, Baby and Lulu, for putting up with the humans, chickens, duck, and bees. Actually, we humans do more putting up, but if I say that, I think they will pee on our bed.
  • Local farmers and producers who feed us, most notably all the farmers at the Certified Arkansas Farmers’ Market, all the Asian vendors at the River Market Farmers’ Market, and the Arkansas Sustainability Network Local Food Club.
  • Local businesses. Thank you for services that you provide and for investing in my community!
  • Arkansas’s natural beauty that inspires me in countless ways.
  • Local green activisits. I can’t list all of them because Arkansas has so many, but that’s a good thing.
  • My partner in crime, Eddy. I love you very much.