28 February, 2008

David Holmgren: "Beyond Sustainability"

I found a very interesting video interview with David Holmgren, who together with Bill Mollison developed the concept of Permaculture.

What I found so good about this is his description of energy use as part of the evolution of humans on the planet and his idea for the lower-energy (at least from non-renewable fuels) available future as an opportunity for a positive direction into more self-sufficiency, creativity, and even more importantly, a happier future for everyone. His is not a doom and gloom message. One of the basic ideas of Permaculture is to focus on "opportunities not obstacles". In other words, take the given parameters of anything and adapt to make them work. Humans have a long history of doing this already. Hopefully we will work toward a way of doing it in a gentler and kinder way to both ourselves and the planet.

The great thing about permaculture is that it is the basis for any positive adaptation and it has as many outcomes as there are ingenious users. It can take the form of anything from growing vegetables on your balcony in the city, to community gardens, agriculture cooperative farms, people supplying most or all of their food and energy needs on their own piece of land, even the re-greening of desert areas.

The beauty of it is that it can be implemented at any level, gradually and to any degree that people find workable. Greening the planet and producing some of your own food, locally, obviously saves a lot of energy. At the same time I think it can be the basis for a satisfying re-connection with nature that will awaken appreciation of ourselves as animals in our environment, a place that we depend on for our lives.

The disconnection between us and our natural home has allowed us to support the hungry technologial monster that the modern world has become. When will computers be fast enough? When will cars have a design that's cool enough? When will our cupboards be full of goods that are new and improved enough? And when will we have enough fashionable clothes so that we can appear beautiful to ourselves and others, and even more importantly when will we actually believe we are beautiful? I submit it won't be until we see ourselves as people who care for animals, ourselves, and the planet and act on that belief. Then, we should not even need mirrors to know our own beauty.

You can take a look at David Holmgren's work and there's even a short free book on the basic principles of permaculture to download on his website. In the writings section you can find a download for a report (in English) on permaculture as practiced in Japan.

24 February, 2008

Cooking with Joy

One of the best cookbooks in existence, the bible of cooking, is a big thick book with just a few illustrations, black and white pages, and a spiral bound spine. That last is important, because the book lies flat as you follow the step-by-steps of a recipe that is practically guaranteed to be delicious. The book, if you haven't guessed already, is The Joy of Cooking, a labour of love and dedication from several generations of an American family that started with a little self-published volume by Irma Starkloff Rombauer, in the late 1920s. A sweet cherub-faced widow in her early fifties, she wrote and self-published with her legacy the cookbook that changed American home cooking and went on to become a standard classic that has been revised many times and is still loved by new cooks and old.

Julia Child said about the 1975 edition, " ...it is number one on my list...the one book of all cookbooks in English that I would have on my shelf if I could have but one."

It was the book that taught me to cook. Before The Joy I could make a few basic things quite well, and I had taught myself how to make some vegetarian things from The Diet for a Small Planet series, but I was in no way prepared to face the responsibility of cooking every meal when I assumed the role of Mom to my husband's young family and we moved hundreds of miles north, away from my grandmother, mother, and aunts who might have been able to give me more of a hand if they were a bit closer.

Fortunately I came upon a copy of The Joy of Cooking. I don't remember where but I do remember thinking a bit about whether I could afford to buy such a large hardcover book when the money could be spent on so many other things. Looking through it I must have noticed the breadth of recipes and the sections on measurement, oven temperatures, canning and baking, and sections of how-tos for almost any category of food I could think of. It was nothing less than an encyclopedia and I found it fascinating. It stuck to my hands like it was magnetized. I made the right decision and plunked my money down.

That book was my stalwart friend through Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, teaching myself how to bake bread, entertaining, making homemade jams and liqueurs with the wild Labrador Partridge berries, blueberries and raspberries we picked, turning out tasty pies and delicious puff pastries, and making Christmases happy with spiced cookies and puddings. The baked carrot pudding that substituted for plum pudding when I couldn't get ingredients in the north turned out to be so good and quick that I continued to make it for years. And I'll probably make it again when I cook a family Christmas dinner.

I taught myself to cook by working through the book, trying at least one recipe in almost every category and poring over the how-to sections until I understood what spelled success or failure and until I could substitute for almost any ingredient, and customize basic recipes to make things materialize from ideas I had for tastes I wanted to try. The book was a great teacher.

Years of cooking passed and I learned to cook without recipes. I rarely needed to consult a recipe for more than inspiration, unless it was an exacting one. Usually since baking is a little fussier to make perfect, I would consult the basic recipe for say, a muffin, and then improvise relying on my experience from years of cooking and what I had absorbed from The Joy.

That was until last year when I started eating vegetarian and gluten-free. That required a bit of research to understand how to get good texture in baked goods without relying on wheat. I started to read a lot of the gluten-free websites, blogs, and recipes online to find out what was possible. I experimented with gluten-free recipes but found after trying some, that though they were good, what I was really looking for were recipes that I remembered or tastes that I had loved or new tastes I wanted to love. I needed to customize similarly to what I had done years ago with recipes from The Joy.

So I started to try using different flours, based on classics from The Joy. This is for baked goods, you understand. For other things, unless I find something that looks delectable online, I just wing it.

I don't make desserts too often, because there's just me here to eat them. Delicious but dangerous. But occasionally, often on a Sunday around lunch time, when my grandmother produced her famous after-church pies, I feel a little pang for something sweet. Something sweet and homey, like those pies were. Reminiscent of Nannie's kitchen, with its buttery smell. Today I thought about the squares that were so popular in Nova Scotia when I was growing up. Many of them are indeed made with a pastry bottom and a pie-like topping, but without the difficulty of rolling out dough in a small kitchen. And I found squares are perfect for gluten-free cooking. The base can usually be "patted in" rather than rolled, which means no chilling, no waiting, no breaking. Easy as pie, or as easy as pie ought to be. And as good, maybe even better.

I found a wonderful recipe for Lemon Curd Squares in The Joy and adapted it to make it gluten-free. And just because I felt like it and I could, I added poppy seeds to make a lemon curd poppy seed topping. Serendipidy.

There's a bit of butter in this one, some I wanted to use up that's been frozen for quite a while now. Hokkaido butter, from the cold north of Japan, which is tasty and good. If you are vegan, you might want to try making this with a good non-hydrogenated margarine, or maybe even some vegetable oil. It will make the crumb more sandy and mealy, so you will have to experiment to get it good. I can't think of a substitute for the eggs. I'll try to experiment the next time I make them, but if any vegans out there have good ideas, please share.

Thanks to the Rombauers and the legacy of The Joy of Cooking for making my cooking life truly a joyful one. Here now, in their honour, are Lemon-Poppy Joy Squares.

Eat them and think of the woman who started it all. Here's to you Irma for all the joy.

*******Lemon-Poppy Joy Squares********

Combine in order and mix up until it forms a crust that cleans the side of the bowl ( Use a fork or two chopsticks held apart with your middle finger):
1 cup gluten-free mixed-flour(for baking)of your choice
or 1 cup all-purpose flour, if you can have wheat
1/4 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's)
1/2 cup melted butter (I used 1/8 cup mixed vegetable oil and the rest butter)
Press and pat into a greased small square or oblong baking pan. After you distribute the clumps of dough, press together to cover the bottom of the pan, then use your finger tips to even out the depth. Bake at medium heat (350 F or 180 C) for 10-20 minutes. Watch closely in a small Japanese oven, which cooks more quickly, and remove when golden brown. Mix:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 beaten eggs
2 Tb. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 cup poppy seeds (available in Japan from cake supply or bulk spice stores)
Pour the mixture over the warm baked crust and bake 20-25 minutes until brown on top and set. Let cool before cutting into squares or bars.

Try not to eat the whole pan. I recommend sharing.

18 February, 2008

"Green Worm" Chirashi-zushi

It's not really a recipe with green worms. That wouldn't be very vegetarian now, would it? See the previous post with the picture for an explanation. What looks like a little worm is really just a piece of cooked Mibuna, a Japanese vegetable. Please click on the name to see a picture and brief description.

If you live here you can easily find Mibuna; its a mild-tasting crispy thin-leafed vegetable with just a slightly bitter flavour that compliments miso soup, or sushi, anything where you want to balance too much sweetness or savouriness. I usually have found the chiriashi-zushi I've eaten here a bit too sweet for my taste so I used this vegetable to counteract that, and it worked very well.

As well as the bowl of sushi I made for lunch, I tucked the leftovers into a bento box for the next day's lunch at work. It was if anything better the second day. I didn't worry too much about how safe it was because the temperatures are so cold now that keeping it in my kitchen is almost the same as in my refrigerator. No kidding!

Chirashi-zushi is the name of sushi that is prepared with a base of sushi rice and then has vegetables and eggs, (and sometimes cooked shrimp) mixed in and also scattered on top. Because of the shrimp and gluten in the soy sauce used for cooking some of the vegetables, the only way I get to eat it is if I make it at home. That might be true for you too if you live outside Japan, though I know sushi has become the fast food of choice in North America. Or at least I've heard that. Guess I'll be able to see for myself soon.

This kind of sushi makes a nice lunch, though as I said in the last post, it takes a bit of time to put all the ingredients together. Unless you're a practiced Japanese homemaker.

But for those of you with a hankering for something satisfying and Japanese, you might want to spend a week-end morning or afternoon giving this a try. It's a great introduction to Japanese food as it's made in home kitchens.

This recipe is my adaption of one from Recipes of Japanese Cooking, supervised by Yuko Fujita and Navi International. It's a great book with a good section at the back on Japanese cooking utensils and a format with the left page in Japanese and the right page in English, the same recipe side by side. This makes it very useful for recognizing the kanji for the ingredients if you are learning Japanese, or just shopping for ingredients here.

Once you assemble all the ingredients it's pretty fast to put together. I made a bowl for lunch and a bento for the next day. It actually tasted much nicer cold the next day than when it was slightly warm. Japanese genius.

Here's the recipe, as I adapted it for what I had on hand. I used dried shitake mushrooms, organic egg shreds, mibuna and daikon cooked just a bit in the Japanese way. For the rice I used organic short grain brown rice, but if you can get Japanese sushi rice that will work fine too and be more "authentic". If you're like me, a beginner at making Japanese food, and you like sushi, this one should reward your patience.

If you're vegan you'll want a susbtitute for the eggs. Since they provide protein I suggest you use thin fried tofu wrappers, like the ones used for abure-age, give them a quick soak in hot water to remove the grease and freshen them, and then shred them the same way as the eggs.

If you can't get these in North America, I have a substitute. Take a block of firm tofu and freeze it. If it's in a package with liquid freeze the whole thing. After it's rock hard, let it thaw on the counter and when it has, press the water out (over the sink) with your hand. It will be easy because the tofu will have become light and spongy. At this point you can cut it up or tear it in pieces as for a scramble and give it a light fry up in oil, dashing in some salt and pepper. It should be light and tasty.

Green Worm (Mibuna) Chirashi-zushi (Gluten-free and Vegetarian)

To make the Sushi Rice:

Wash 3 cups of sushi rice (or genmai/short-grain brown rice ,which is my choice) and let it soak in cold water for 30 minutes with a piece of kombu (Japanese kelp). Remove the kelp and cook the rice with 1 Tablespoon of sake in the water. When the rice is cooked turn it into a big bowl and add these ingredients which you have first mixed up in a cup:

1 Tb. sugar (I used organic brown)
3 Tb. of Japanese vinegar ( a mild rice vinegar)
1 tsp. salt

Stir it lightly into the rice with a fork and allow the rice to cool. If you want to be really traditional you can fan it as it cools to give it a glossy colour.

Prepare the Shitake Mushrooms:

Soak 4 dried Shitake mushrooms in water until soft, pull out the stems, and then put them in a small pot and just cover them with some of the soaking liquid, 2Tb. sugar, 1 Tb. mirin sweet cooking sake, and 1 Tb. (gluten-free) soy sauce or tamari. Cook slowly until almost all the sauce is evaporated. Let cool and slice into slivers, and set aside.

Make the Egg Shreds:

Mix up 3 (organic) eggs as for an omelet until the colour is consistent, adding 1 tsp. sugar, and a pinch of salt and mixing it in. Lightly oil a small omelet pan. Each time put about a tsp. of vegetable oil in the pan and tilt it around so that it covers the bottom. Then pour the excess into a ceramic cup. Into the heated pan drizzle in a circular pattern about 3 Tb. of the mixture and tilt the pan quickly so the egg runs around and around and makes a thin coating on the pan. If it runs up and around the sides, that is okay. After only 20 seconds lift it up with an egg lifter and turn it over for a few seconds just until it sets. The egg shouldn't brown (but mine did since I was taking pictures.) Put it onto a plate and repeat the process, stacking the thin egg pancakes on top of each other. When they are cooled transfer them to a cutting board and cut the stack into shreds. Reserve.

For the Daikon :

Cut around 4 inches of a small Daikon into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick rounds and slice them into shreds. Put them into a small pot with 1 tsp. of turmeric and 1-2 tsp. of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cook for just a few minutes to blanch them. They should still be a bit crisp. Drain and reserve.

For the Mibuna:

Cut a good handful of Mibuna into about 3 inch/5 cm. lengths including the leaves (slice off the root end) and blanch in boiling water with a tsp. of Japanese vinegar and a pinch of salt and/or 1 Tb. of soy sauce just for a minute. Don't overcook them, you still want a little crispness. Drain and reserve.

Assembling the sushi:

Mix 2/3 of the ingredients into the sushi rice and stir gently to combine. Arrange the remaining ingredients on top as a garnish. You can be as creative as you like with the arrangement.

If you can't get Daikon or Mibuna, I suggest that julienned carrots could be substituted for the Daikon, which are more usual anyway.

Other additions can be:

Snow Peas, stringed and quickly blanched in salted boiling water, drained and rinsed with cold water and then cut in half.

Renkon/Lotus root:

Peel and sliced thinly, cut into quarter rounds, and put into water with a bit of vinegar added. They should be boiled just a bit, then put into a bath of 3 Tb. stock (the extra mushroom soaking liquid is okay.)

Pretty much any vegetable you enjoy would be good in this recipe, so experiment away. If you come up with any yummy combinations, please let me know. I'll be hungrily waiting.

13 February, 2008

Ketchup: Let's Get Jiggy With It

Poma amoris. Pomme D'amor. Love-apples. Long thought to be an aphrodesiac. Why not?

They make food sing and dance. Pizza arias, mozzarella duets, pasta sonatas, and ketchup jigs.

Ketchup. Let's stop right there. I love ketchup, just like my Dad did. He even liked it on fried eggs, and I have to say I agree it's one of the best pairings around. Ketchup cuts grease, plain and simple.

I could eat it on most anything, but I like it on French fries the most. Just can't enjoy them the same way without it, though there are two problems with that in Japan.

1. It's hard to get a hold of good ketchup.

2. You might have to postpone indefinitely your next vacation if you need to eat it every day. (It costs a lot, especially the big H.)

Fortunately, I don't. I love it but I can wait until the next French fry freak-out before I really need a fix.

Or so I thought until I tried the recipe for homemade ketchup in Joy of Cooking.

Just for fun I decided to spice it up and make a chunky-funky chili version that I could use as a condiment with Indian foods.

What I got was a pretty assertive and revelatory love-apple sauce to love. After I made a potato, cauliflower and daikon Indian -style dish to go with it, I loved it even better.

Here now, for an alternative to those sickly chocolate recipes that you're all scarfing down before you sink into hot baths with scented candles and sip wine with your SigO's, you poor babes, is the recipe for, Let's Get Jiggy With It Ketchup, just 'cause sometime you're gonna have to come down from those sugar highs and eat REAL food again. And maybe do a jig.

Happy Valentine's!

Let's get Jiggy With It Ketchup (Gluten-free)
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

This is a small recipe. It makes a bit more than 320 g or a couple of cups

Put in a saucepan and heat:

1 bottle Hikari tomato puree (or 320 g, maybe 2 cups, of any good tomato puree)

Add (I used the food processor):

1 small fresh yellow or white onion, minced
2 dried hot long red peppers and 1 dried bonnet pepper (or 2-3 small hot red peppers), minced
1/4 cup celery leaves, washed and minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

Simmer until the vegetables are soft, a few minutes, then add:

1/2 to 2/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar and:

1/2 -1 tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp garam masala

1/2-1 tsp ground black pepper
I ground most of these from whole spices, including a 2 inch / 3 cm piece of cinnamon stick, in a clean coffee grinder for popping good flavour)

Simmer the ketchup covered (it will spit as it reduces) about 20 minutes or so, adding a bit more water if necessary.

Add 1/2 cup cider vinegar and about 1 tsp salt and simmer up to 10 minutes more.

Wash and scald out the hikari bottle or a jar with boiling water, not forgetting the cap, and fill with a funnel and ladle. Leave about a half-inch of headroom. Cap it and allow it to cool before keeping it in the refrigerator*. I'll probably finish it in a few weeks. In fact, I know I will.

It was just about heaven on a fried organic egg with genmai for this Valentine's Day breakfast. In fact that's dancing in my belly right now, kicking the cold right to the kerb. But I would also try it with any Indian food instead of a chutney.
And what a great excuse to make some home made french fries soon. You know I'll be jigging up a storm the day I make that combination.

*Note: If you want to keep it longer, please see instructions for sterilizing and bottling from any good cookbook on canning. The general idea is to scald the jars and lids in a boiling water bath before filling them in a big pan on the stove and then the filled and capped jars in the same bath for around twenty minutes. All the instruments, spoons and ladles etc. that will touch the sauce need to be sterilized in the same way.

11 February, 2008

Being Home

When I think about living in Japan for so many years, 2 + 7 as of the beginning of April, I start to wonder whether this isn't as much my home as Nova Scotia where I grew up, or Labrador where I spent 12 years raising a family.

I often wonder what home actually means. I'm not sure, but right now I think it means the place where I've lived, worked, set up a household and especially my kitchen, enjoyed learning about the local food, and just slowly began understanding the names of and how to cook many of the local vegetables that I've had the fun of discovering in the Farmers' Market. Started to learn how to cook them, I should have said, because the home cooking of Japan, though pretty simple in its use of techniques, is a little exacting when it comes to the presentation of things and the many steps required to make even the simplest dish.

Take chirashi-zushi. Its the sushi that looks easy, the one in the box with ingredients mixed in and then spread artistically, or even seemingly casually, over the surface. It subs for other kinds, especially in home kitchens where homemakers don't always have the time to roll up sushi. Especially as it takes a couple of hours to get all the ingredients ready. As I found out this morning when I realized that I've really missed sushi and other Japanese food since I've cut out gluten and had to stop eating prepared food. I started around 10:00 and I was finished around 1:30 or 2:00.

It was a nice lunch, though. With a few cups of locally grown tea, really nice.

Some of that time was setting up what I thought was a semi-artistic arrangement and taking pictures. But I've got a lot to learn both about food styling, and photography. I usually spend so much time wrangling with the light sources and angles of shots that I don't notice that the rim of the container needs to be wiped, that there is a small piece of vegetable on the rim that looks appetizingly like a little green worm crawling away.

I never notice those things until I see the close-ups on the computer; too late because by then I'm pretty tired of shooting the food, and in some cases it's snugly in my belly anyway. After all, I was shooting my lunch.

I know I need a better camera, but frankly I can't afford one. I need a photography course too. Maybe that's in my future, if I continue loving writing and blogging as much as I do now.

What I'm getting around to, and crawling all over the place, a little like that imaginary worm, is that I'm going home in two months. I've decided to leave Japan, though every morning when I wake up and look around at the Shoji paper casting soft light on the tatami, and the rich dark Japanese wood of the posts of the room, and wet my mouth with a cup of leftover tea lifted off the hori-kotatsu that I sleep beside (my dining table and night table), I wonder why I'm leaving. I feel a little sick at the pit of my stomach for the love that I've found for my home here, the mornings in the back garden filled with ornamental bushes and small palm trees, camellia, red berries, leaves coloured yellow and green, and the large crooked pine towering over all. The place I wash my clothes in an outdoor machine and hang them up to dry on clotheslines under the narrow roofed veranda.

My breath of fresh air and piece of sky in the midst of the concrete, the place where my cat friend, Mustache, often greets me as she crawls out from under the house, where she likes to sleep.

I do know why I'm leaving Japan. I've found at last that there is no way to have the family that I've realized I've wanted for a few years now. And it's too far away from the family I have left in Canada. I'm lonely and for that there is no cure here. I've got lots of students that I cherish and some acquaintances, but no deep friendships. The ones I've made have come and gone, and I've grown tired of making friends only to lose them within a year or two, as they move on.

And my Mom is growing older, and has developed Parkinson's disease. Though she has helpers come in a few times a week and her sisters live nearby, as well as my family who can take a look in on her once in awhile, I fear as she gets well into her seventies that she can't take care of herself properly. I want to be close enough to keep an eye on her.

I want to spend the big holidays with my children and their families. I have a grand-daughter that I've seen only a few times. As she heads into her third year, I'd love to be there to see some of that growing and learning that is so joyous in those first years. I'm missing that.

I've given up a lot to be here in Japan. I came for the challenge, and to get the teaching job that was so elusive after returning to school in my early forties to get my Education degree. Full of enthusiasm and idealistic as any younger teacher, I wanted to engage in my passion. The kind of teaching I found here didn't really satisfy that urge, based as it was more on the illusion of teaching and the business of getting money, rather than any real sense of mission.

Eventually I made the teaching more of what I wanted, getting jobs where I had the freedom to set up my own curriculum. I've enjoyed that quite a lot, but eventually the lack of progress of students, mostly because of the very restricted time you can spend with them, meant that most classes are at such a low level that enormous patience is required to teach them. In only a few could I broach the big questions that were on my mind or introduce small snippets of the texts I was longing to bring them.

I love literature and poetry and the music of language. I wanted to bring them great writers and philosophers and big ideas, make a great big soup of our ideas and creative energies that would swirl us into that plane of magic that sometimes happens in a class when everyone is engaged and inspired. Occasionally it happened despite the limits of my teaching and the barriers of our communication. But there were inevitable disappointments, ones that made me long for a change.

Then there is the political environment. Disappointingly, the government seems to be stepping backward into a scared and defensive stance in dealing with its non-Japanese residents and visitors to Japan. Maybe they are only following the United States and if the government gets a change there we can look for some more forward-thinking policy. And they might finally pass human rights' legislation. I hope that's the case, both for people like me and the Japanese as well. I think this country could benefit greatly from a real mix of people and ideas and more active democracy. That could only freshen and strengthen Japan, if it were embraced.

So, though I know why I'm leaving, I find that I've become a little Japanese. The culture has seeped into me deeper than the skin that looks different from those around me. Perhaps that's why I resent and am surprised when people still stare at me as if I were a visiting giraffe. I feel in some ways as Japanese as they. Why can't they see that, I wonder.

I love many things here and will miss them dearly when I return to Canada. The elegant arrangements of seasonal flowers in every train station. The ease of bicycling to do my shopping. The convenience of train travel. The rice fields and vegetable fields of the countryside, with their changing colours, season by season.

The exquisite tea cakes that one of my students brings to class at the change of the seasons.

The small shop around the corner with lovely green tea and strawberry manju (tea cakes), seasonal manju, and the next-door family-run coffee shop, guarded by two enormous twin Dalmations, that makes smoky flavoured, freshly roasted coffee every week for sen sambyakku-en for 300 grams, about $13.00, worth every yen and maybe a few more besides.

Obviously I could go on a lot longer. Japan has a lot of things to love. I think those that have founded families here are the lucky ones. They can stay forever if they like. Japanese families are by-and-large very supportive. If they accept you and you can accept Japanese ways, you will find a network of arms that can hold you up forever.

Even a lone teacher can feel this kind of support, in perhaps a more limited but also freer, way. I have a lot of affection for those of my students who have been with me for years. Many of them have supported me through deaths in my family and the birth of my grand-child, in their quiet way.

We've seen the seasons come and go together and talked about everything from the special colour of cherry blossoms at night, to the grave washing rituals of o-bon. We've dressed up and designed and carved "American" pumpkins at Hallowe'en and had a regular Christmas party at a nice restaurant every year I've been here. They have never allowed me to pay, and given me a gift besides.

I'll remember this kindness forever, and though I grow indignant at political policy, and sometimes impatient with citizens who never seem speak up about what they think is wrong, or question too much the racism here, except in rare instances, I know I have grown to love them and Japan with a love that will never fade.

So when I sit in my mother's house in Nova Scotia a few months from now, looking at the sunrise over the the ocean surrounded by the sea air and pines that I love and have longed for, wondering what my life is going to be like from now on, and while I go on to live that life, hopefully amid family and friends, I know that while I may be gone from Japan, perhaps forever, at the end of that life be it short or long, the feeling of home that I found here, I will never have forgotten.

Note: The recipe for Green Worm Chirashi-zushi, will be up pretty soon.