Kitchengardenjapan recently became all the richer by cashing in on our hedge funds. The noichigo (wild strawberry) season has begun.
I’ve mentioned before that the name is a misnomer – they’re actually more akin to raspberries, though much more delicate. This hyper delicacy means you never see them for sale, they’re too flimsy to withstand picking and packing. But in the countryside, if you know what your looking for – and they’re child’s play to distinguish - one can forage for a sweet treat that cash cannot buy. Simply look for the bright red balls in roadside hedgerows.
Noichigo lend themselves best to be eaten just-picked, under blue skies. They also go well in jams. But perhaps the easiest dish to make is to mix them with yoghurt. Simply wash gently (unless you’d like the accompanying ants as protein), pat dry and roughly mix the two together. Ideal as is, or a topping for morning pankakes. A fantastic forager’s feast.
The Seven Steps
Hi everyone. My name is Tom, and I’m an asparagusholic.
(Cue “Hi, Tom,” scattered applause round the room)
It all started a few years ago, when I planted four crowns….
(Knowing nods, empathetic smiles)
I thought, y’know, I could control it. Have it once in a while, as a special treat…
(“Special treat, yessss”)
But then, I couldn’t stop misself. Every year, I’d buy more crowns. I just needed more…
(“More crowns, more crowns”)
But then, you know, the wife started noticing these empty bags lying around, and complaining when I asked for money…
(“It’s hardest on the partner”)
So I switched to seedlings, I figured they’d be easier to hide. But it got worse…
(“Seedlings are a slippy path”)
So I switched to seeds.
(Sharp intakes of breath)
I’d lock myself in my room, just watching and spraying, and spraying and watching. I just couldn’t stop. I’d (sob!) think of nothing else…
(“Don’t worry, take your time”)
And now it’s almost the end of the season. Only about 2 more weeks to go! What am I going to do? I can’t wait another whole year! What shall I do What shall I DO?!?!?!?
(“We’re here to help. The important thing is that you’re here”)
-Broken- My name is Tom, and I’m an asparagusholic.
This being a blog not just about food but of family too, I’m going to take this opportunity on this, the last day of the Golden Week holidays, to claim my fatherly right and violate my children’s privacy (har!) by putting up a couple of pictures. After all, they’re growing too.
The first is of Sunbeam, all dolled up and ready for yesterday’s Boy’s Day photo shoot, a financially emasculating tradition whose price tag never fails to invoke an eye-watering wince. (As an aside, being married to a Japanese lady by culture and tradition equates to financial emasculation, so though it wasn’t me that opened my wallet, it was still my cash being forked over, ho hum). Aside over, Sunbeam, now approaching the big 0-3, so far lives up to his name. He’s a ray of light wherever he goes, not to mention an avid collector of woodlice.
Next up comes Wiseguy. This spring has seen him transform, and farming-wise, he’s a shadow, ever trailing. The Japanese have an endearing metaphor to descibe this - kingyo no fun. In English, goldfish shit. A great piece of imergary. A (self) proclaimed genius (though still unable to wipe his own ass), he likes nothing better than to pot, plant, pick vegetables, and throw incredible Sunday evening tantrums (must be his genius expressing itself). He’s also started out helping in the kitchen, much to his mother’s delight.
So there you have it; the boys are getting big. As too, are the asparagus. Happy Days!
Of all the different types of trees in the orchard, perhaps the cherries are kitchengardenjapan’s favourite: the blossoms, pink or coral white, form on the bare, leafless branches in early spring, a drunken feast for two of the senses and the first bringer of life avian and insect after the long, unforgiving winter.
The blossoms give then way to a leafy vivid green growth, which, for a while, cunningly camouflage fruit forming from flowers.
In May comes the cropping: an annual battle to thwart the birds, who love the fruit, after which, an elegant repose, soaking up the summer and autumn until the leaves drop, revealing a skeletal frame.
2013 is set to see the biggest ever crop ever. Limbs are literally sagging, begging to be picked, lifted of their burden. Why? Pure luck? Favourable weather conditions?Providence? The trees being another year older? Or is it the result of planting dozens of blooming-in-tandem, pollinator-frendly daffodils around their surrounds? I don’t know. But they’re loaded, heavy with promise. And if the last reason is the reason, I owe myself a pint.
Have a look. Click on the pic.
I’m thinking the latter.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old fart, but when I was young, Outdoors was the place to be: tramping over moors, building dams, dens and treehouses, fishing for sticklebacks and frogspawn, falling in rivers, coming home – just on time - for tea, filthy yet exuberent. Mucking about, our generation used to call it.
One of the hats kitchengardenjapan has is as an owner of an English school. I like to think of it as the best in town, one of the reasons being that we take the kids outdoors.
This past weekend saw Learn & Grow’s annual easter egg hunt/bamboo shoot dig/picnic, held under clear blue skies.
Some would call it mucking about. I call it learnin’.
Many thanks for the photos go to Travas.
Spot The Ball
One of the great things about being a parent is watching your kids grow. Educatin’ ‘em, teaching right from wrong. And perhaps most importantly, getting ‘em to do your bidding.
Wiseguy, our eldest, now 4, now knows how to harvest (f)huki (butterburr).
And hide like a ninja.