ťọ śêê ŧĥîņĝş ďįffěŗêńţĺý

There is pressure at work for me to become Wonder Woman; my low-stress job looks very different when ten time-consuming projects must all be finished instantly, if not yesterday! I laid out a poster with an image of the words, “dreaming of a greener tomorrow.” I emailed it to everyone, then corrected the typos. Big sigh of relief, until the following day: some how I’d erased the word “of” from the sloganand no one had noticed… We’d all been looking at the type but missed the whole picture!

Today’s post is inspired by the wafu spaghetti recipes in which Japanese cooks look at Western-style spaghetti but use Japanese ingredients. I looked at spaghetti and meatballs and I wondered how that dish would be with Japanese flavors. I liked the technique of dropping chicken meatballs into liquid from the tori-nabe recipe. I liked the flavors of  umeboshi and shiso with chicken in this yakitori recipe; thought it would be easy to put the umeboshi past inside each meatball. I wanted a little richness and remembered walnut miso dressing. I didn’t scientifically write down amounts as I cooked so if you try this recipe, use common sense.
Japanese Spaghetti and Meatballs
serves about 3 to 4
12 ounces ground chicken
shiso leaves (about 2 Tbs. chopped)
1 egg
2 tsp. shoyu
1 Tbs. saké
1 Tbs. sugar
about 2-3 Tbs. umeboshi paste (remove pits and mash)
1 Tbs. mirin
about 2 cups water or chicken broth
1 package of ekoki mushrooms, sliced
Combine chicken, shiso, egg, soy sauce, and sugar. If the mixture looks too runny add some panko bread crumbs.
Mash the umeboshi with the mirin. Now, my plan was to put a little of the ume paste into each meatball, but things got out of control time-wise so I mixed that into the meat.
Bring the water to a nice simmer, and drop the meatballs from two spoons into the water (see the tori-nabe recipe linked above for technique).
Cook a few meatballs at a time so the water stays at a simmer. As they turn white remove them to a plate and drop more meatballs into the liquid.
Once all the meatballs are partially cooked, return them to the liquid to finish cooking. They will be tender so be gentle.
A few minutes before serving, put the mushrooms to simmer in the stock.
¾ cup walnut meats
2 tablespoons white miso
1 TBS mirin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Toast the walnuts and rub the bitter inner skin off. Reserve a few nice looking specimens for garnish. Grind the walnuts in a suribachi (or small food processor) until they look oily.
One at a time, add the miso, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce. Add water/stock from the meatballs to make a soupy sauce.
12 ounces thin spaghetti or capellini, cooked
a bunch of spinach, blanched
nori cut into strips for garnish
Toss the hot pasta with the sauce / dressing. Line pasta plates with the spinach. Top the spaghetti with the meatballs. Garnish with the nice looking walnut halves and nori.

My husband and I have come to an age when we must begin to see things differently. He been talking about retiring for a year or so, and he just got his first pension check: that makes it official. Doesn’t that put the future into a new perspective? And my father is reaching a point where my sister is afraid to leave him alone while she is at work—he forgets where he is. What if he goes outside without shoes…
But truly, at every age we must begin to see things differently: 1st day at school, first chocolate, last time you saw your first lover, the first snow of the year, the last time you spoke to your mother… Hey, fill in the blanks.  Ćĥẫńģể ǐś ťhẹ óñŀỵ ĉọņšŧặñť.
To see things differently even after 30 years of marriage is normal. I am very nervous about this retirement issue, while he is optimistic about finding other work to keep us in miso. Trying to arrange in-home ,or assisted living care, overwhelms me while he takes one bit at a time.
To see things differently has caused some stress between us, and sometime words spoken under duress have caused pain.

~~~ cup of coffee for you, tessie.
err… morning… ooohhh… thank you
slides his hand along my side shoulder to ankle; stretch awake
he lays down beside me and says, “I had a dream just before i woke up…”
sigh his or mine?
“…There was a big brass band, well not big—
like one that walks around playing. trumpets trombones tubas”
starts humming, sits up, a false start more musical than throat clearing
sings a capella
Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money, maybe we’re ragged and funny
But we’ll travel along, singing a song, side by side
I don’t know what’s a-coming tomorrow, maybe it’s trouble and sorrow
But we’ll travel the road, sharing our load, side by side
Through all kinds of weather, what if the sky should fall?
Just as long as we’re together, it really doesn’t matter at all
When they’ve all had their quarrels and parted, we’ll be the same as we started
Just traveling along, singing our song, side by side
Yeah, now, through all kinds of weather, what if the sky should fall?
Just as long as we’re together, it really doesn’t matter at all
Now, when they’ve all had their quarrels and parted, we’ll be the same as we started
Just a-traveling along, singing a song, side by side

10 thoughts on “ťọ śêê ŧĥîņĝş ďįffěŗêńţĺý

  1. Tess I think “dreaming a greener tomorrow” makes perfect sense. “Dreaming of a greener tomorrow” implies that it is only a dream – somehow whimsical and illusive – whereas “dreaming a greener tomorrow” sounds proactive, assertive – I dream and I expect that dream to be fulfilled. I dream and have the ability to bring what I dream of to life…you get my drift. As to the blank – another leaf could easily fill it!

    Also I like that your husband sings to you. When we were about to be married and went along to see the celebrant, (an English teacher by day who looked like a Shakespearean actress) she told us that she had been married 25 years and that on St Valentine’s Day her husband still brought her breakfast in bed – toast, tea, marmalade on a tray with a tiara. She wore the tiara in bed sipping on her milky tea, pampered and royal for a morning. I don’t own any really sparkly jewellery but I do quite often get tea and toast in bed – on the weekends anyway. Perhaps Mr Tess could serenade you on the 14th with pale pink Champagne and a compote of winter fruits?

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Indeed I do get your drift. And I could have added another leaf, but it was from a business sponsoring our contest.

      They sent it with a gradient background and we planned to just photocopy the fliers so b&w was better—no background. Then it was decided to send color copies to a few special supporters. But I’d laid it out at an angle so the edges of the pic would show unattractively with the colored background. That’s how I erased the “of.” Anyway, it’s funny, none of us noticing right away!

      J. doesn’t usually sing to me! Well, in the car sometimes, or in the kitchen, or while music is playing…

      I like your description of ‘royal for a day’. Sounds so romantic. But what I like even more is that your husband sometimes brings you tea and toast in bed. It’s not an occasion, nor is it a special date: just a moment in your life.

      My hubby brings us croissants on Saturdays,from a bakery that makes them better than most in France!
      (But I must ask, what do you do with the crumbs in the bed?)

      best to you,

  2. Tess, I know! Eating in bed is a vexed question. I hate even the merest crumb in bed – I am truly the princess and the pea. But I LOVE tea and toast and where better to have it than snug, book in hand and pillows plumped. Good rye bread toasted, spread of cold butter and lashings of homemade plum jam and a cup of Russian Caravan. Life is good!
    As to the crumbs I sweep, sweep, sweep them into my hand as I make the bed and throw them out the window. Birds are grateful. What I really want is one of those French wooden handled brushes – you know the ones which sit in a small wooden tray. But sweeping into the hand is good for now.

    • Oh, yes.
      Love Love the term “vexed question.”

      Long ago, I used to shop in a very classy consignment store, and they had sterling silver thingy-s that I think were called ‘table butlers.’ Could be they were British? but they were very efficient at sweeping crumbs off a table. Sort of a silent sweeper. Do (did) you have those? We have one where I work. Could be an antique!!

      Non electrical, with a rotating brush sweeping stuff into a covered dust-pan. Almost silent. The ones for use on tables were cute and somewhat useful.

  3. Oh, now I want a table butler! Or just a butler…I want Jeeves! But not all the time and I don’t require my newspaper to be ironed or my clothes laid out or to be told that this don’t go with that or that Madam is too old for eggy soldiers. But I would watch him sweep things. And I would call out for the kettle to be put on at regular intervals. Actually something else I’ve always wanted is a samovar…although I have so many things *sigh* but your antique table butler sounds very appealing.

    Your work sounds interesting too Tess. You have owls come in to visit and antique table butlers to sweep the crumbs from the table! Sounds very civilised. When I was a child my mother worked in a somewhat antiquated teachers’ college where all the staff wore their academic gowns about the place and played tennis. Morning tea was served in the common room at eleven – choice of cakes, sandwiches, crumpets or scones. It was wheeled in on a trolley. Wonder if they had table butlers for their crumbs? We used to hope to be sick and have to tag along to work. I remember there was a huge to-do about whether or not to let the student wear pant suits. It was the late sixties and still shocking in Melbourne to think that women had legs!

    • I’ve lost my table butler at some time, but that consignment shop is still in business. It is now selling things from the seventies and eighties. LOL.

      We had a maid and a chauffeur, but one of us (J or I: a point of contention) gave them some time off. And guess what? We have not seen them in years. We must have been either too demanding or too messy for them to continue with us…

      I house-sat for one of my professors in college one summer. He and his wife had been in the Peace Corp in Afghanistan and they had the most beautiful samovar I’ve ever seen. I was always afraid one of my friends would touch it when they visited!

      I wouldn’t say the place I work is elite. We have a large number of regular customers who easily fit into the “eccentric” category. But they could make for some interesting anecdotes. Like the guy who buried his house and can heat it in winter with 2 logs per day. Or the two guys who invented some sort of clamp thing for males after surgery to prevent leaking…

  4. Wow! The mind boggles! Imagine burying your house! I like light too much, but maybe if it was a choice between light and freezing…You have enough material here for a novel Tess!

    • Well, that guy is eccentric. Maybe not so out of sense as my father these days. He lives out in farm country so he didn’t have to deal with subdivision regulations. Or city regs.

      The under-ground for energy-efficiency concept has been in vogue for a while.

      The University of Michigan added to its law school with a huge underground facility 20 or so years ago. The original law school was patterned and built after some uni in England (Cambridge?). So building the new enlarged part of the school underground maintained the original appearance. But that is built with a glass “roof” so natural light filters all the way to the lowest level.

      I wish I lived in a novel!
      Or maybe a fairy-tale…

  5. Hi Tess, I have not made ramen stock for a long time and it’s time to make it. This time I have been able to get the pork bones in Basel. Not an easy task. I have a book talking about 27 Japanese Ramen places, how they made their broth. So I will inspire to attempt to make another batch of homemade broth.
    Reading your Japanese spaghetti recipe, I have actually been looking for the Japanese Spaghetti recipes lately but there are not that many. I do have the plum paste at home. Will give a try!

    • Hi Janet,

      How great: I have been thinking about making ramen stock again too!
      If I can ask, what is the name of your book? And if you make a recipe with it, I will be very much interested.
      I have to find the bones and other pig parts by going to different stores, and special ordering for the chashu ramen topping. Best get on it asap…

      I know there are many variations of Japanese wafu spaghetti because there are so many pictures, both real food, and plastic replicas. Recipes, not so much.

      This spaghetti recipe is very nice: Japanese, but with familiar undertones of European/American spaghetti. But it is only from my imagination! I can’t find many recipes either! Yummy, though. Give it a try!

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