While Takumi was here his friend kept coming over and bringing me more vegetables from his parents' farm, and another very large box of blueberries. Another neighbor showed up with some sweets the other day too.
If I was a proper Japanese, I would, within a day's time reciprocate with an appropriate gift of something or other, more sweets or pickles of my own or something. Sometimes it is hard to get into this mode because as soon as you reciprocate the original giver will bring you something else to thank you for the reciprocation. You can see how this goes...
I'm very bad at knowing what is a proper thank you present for, let's say a bag of pickles, and probably my neighbors don't expect anything from me anyway because I'm American and don't do all the customs. On top of that I am an extremely lousy cook so I can't just make a little extra of our dinner and take some over. About the only thing I can do (and I don't even do that very well) is bake.
Although citified housewives, those that have lived overseas and some of the younger housewives will have ovens, at least the farm wives around me and housewives of my generation or older don't have a oven in their homes and therefore no one does any baking. Bread, cookies, cakes are all beautifully made in bakeries and are considered bought items. My cookies and cakes (I'm not up to bread) never look as attractive as what one can buy but sometimes they turn out fairly tasty. Sometimes not.
Yesterday I baked 4 blueberry coffee cakes and praying that they were edible, I wrapped them up and took them to my neighbors and to Takumi's friend's mother to thank everyone for their generosity. I never tasted them myself so I don't know if they were any good (that's the trouble with cakes. With cookies I can sample one before I give them away) but everyone was very pleased even though they didn't look so fantastic.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup margarine
1 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
Heat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Prepare streusel. Beat remaining ingredients. Mix in blueberries. Pour into pan and dot with streusel. Bake 45 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons margarine
In the evening another neighbor brought over a bag of fresh squid which I did prepare and serve for dinner. I was honored to think my neighbor had enough faith in my Japanese cooking abilities to think I'd even know what to do with squid but Tetsu thought it more likely that she didn't realize that Americans don't fix squid regularly.
I'll have to bake some more coffee cake and take some to her.