Autumn is the season of bounty and harvest and around here I am reaping the benefits of people's gardens, fields and trees. Look what I was given just these past couple of days.
Two days ago when walking Choco one of the farmers called me over and handed me this huge bundle of nira. I guess we would call them leeks in the States. I love leeks but this is surely too much for two people! That night I made some delicious egg flower soup with them and last night I fried up some leeks and tofu but I still have half a bag left! Hmm. Wonder what I can make tonight with them... Leek pancakes? Cream of leek soup?
Next to those are a vegetable called hayato uri. Who knows what these are called in English. (I checked. It's called a Chayote. Do you know what that is? I don't.) They are from the cucumber family but certainly don't taste like cucumbers. The neighbor who gave them to me said she makes pickles so last night I made some overnight pickles and then another type of pickle that I'll serve tonight with dinner. I tried the one batch this morning and they weren't what I'd called a delicacy. I hope tonight's are better. I have eaten delicious hayato uri pickles so I know I'm just not doing something right, it is not the vegetable's fault...
And finally, in the wire basket those are persimmons. Persimmons abound in northern Japan and there are many different kinds. These are quite sweet and juicy. Some persimmons have to be dried before they are edible and some are flat and eaten crisp. When my kitchen starts to get an overabundance of persimmons (like chestnuts, all farmers seem to have one or two persimmon trees and my students bring them to me) then I make persimmon cake which my Japanese friends seem to really like. Tetsu may get these eaten before I can turn them into a cake.
And the other day the pastor's wife gave us some spinach and a Japanese radish. The radish is a favorite vegetable in Japanese cooking and great for soups and stews or even grated and served with fish. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to cook it up in a pork stew. It certainly looks like I don't need to go to the vegetable section of the supermarket for a while doesn't it?
While I may not be buying fruit and vegetables, I certainly bought a lot today in the way of ingredients for Halloween cookies that I have on my to do list for this weekend. You may recall that my oven bakes 9 to 12 cookies at a time and since I've got 40 kids in the pre-school to give cookies to (for Halloween) on Monday and 120 kids at the kindergarten on Wednesday, you can see I've got my work cut out for me! Nothing fancy (I don't have the time or energy to make cute Halloween cookies this year!) but hopefully they will be tasty.