24 August, 2010

Deerly Beloved

Okay, so I couldn't resist the punny title, but it's accurate to say that I love, not like, deer. Since as a little tot, when my granddad rescued an orphan deer and brought Bambi home to stay with us for almost a year, until he was old enough to be taken away in a government truck to the Shubenacadie wildlife reserve, my heart has belonged to beautiful, soft-eyed deer.

I used to feed him from first a bottle and then a dish, and I fed him handfuls of a particular fuzzy pink weed with a woody stalk that he could eat all day.  With sore hands it was hard to pick enough, but I didn't care. I loved him with all the passion of childhood when loves are so strong, so full of all the colours of emotion. Me and my Nannie called him home from the woods behind the house where he would wander during the day. And he knew his name and came for grub. Just like me.

The day the truck called for him and I had to let them take him was sad. I watched and watched until he was out of sight. I noticed that his spots were fading to a soft brown coat. And I'm sure his eyes looked sad too. He may even have cried as much as I did. That I don't remember but I never forgot him, not to this day.

This past week on a campimg vacation with my daughter to the woods and beautiful beaches of  Nova Scotia's South Shore, we had the chance to see two deer close up. And both times we were driving in a car. Once at dusk a pale beige buck paused for a few minutes before turning and leaping into the darkening bushes, but the second time was magic. I was driving down a small road to a picnic park on the way to breakfast and there she was on the side of the road, just a few yards away. Close enough that as I spoke to her she looked directly into my eyes and nodded her head a little, like a Japanese bow of greeting. Another car came after a few minutes and scared her, but it had been enough.

You know how the expression dearly beloved is adressed to those gathered at a wedding, the family of the bride and groom, the special ones that are invited to witness this important part of the lives of the celebrants - the ones they want to see the most and be seen by. It seems that, as I think about growing old, I want to end where I began, recognizing all the important loves of my life - you know, my family

Here is a picture taken by my beautiful daughter, R.J.O. She's just off to the left as the deer and I meet eyes. It's taken from inside the car. Please click on the picture to see it better.

06 August, 2010

Japanese Pickled Ginger

If you eat sushi or any other kind of Japanese food, you pretty much can't do without pickled ginger. It cleans the palate like a good sorbet would do if you were eating an European meal.  It refreshes your mouth so everything else tastes better.  And if you happen to be a ginger lover, it tastes great, too.

The stuff you buy in Asian stores is always a deep shade of red.  Maybe that's natural and maybe it's not.  Mine didn't turn a deep red at all.  It has just a light pink tinge, but then my plum vinegar was a light pink. It tastes good even if I didn't have time to fuss too much with slicing it paper thin.  I did also add just a few bits of red swiss chard stalk, trying to amp up the colour a bit, but it didn't work very well.  They look nice, though, and taste good bathed in the ginger juices.

I would say this ginger packs a bit of bite. As Jamie would say, it's "pucker". Give it a try and save a lot of money and trouble trying to track it down at the store, if you live outside Japan.

Keep it in a small Mason jar and it will keep fresh for awhile in the refrigerator and not dry out.  I quartered the recipe and still had a few leftovers but you might want to make the full amount if you are serving a crowd.

The recipe comes from a book called Vegetarian Sushi Made Easy by Hiroko Fukuhara and Yasuko Takahata.  It also has a good recipe for a vegetable dashi, that I used successfully to make miso soup. For the pickled ginger recipe and the dashi alone it's worth the price but it also has clear instuctions for a whole range of beautiful vegetable sushi, rolled in different styles.


Japanese Pickled Ginger

1 cup peeled thinly sliced fresh ginger
1/3 cup plum vinegar (Ume-shu)
2 Tb mirin

Put the ginger slices in a pot and blanch for 1 minute.  Take them out and drain them.  Mix the vinegar and mirin together and put in and soak the ginger slices. The recipe says it will turn red after 10 minutes.  Mine didn't.  You can use it right away or store it in the refrigerator.