Simmered Chicken and Miso Meatballs
japanese chicken meatballsA sunny sky in winter in Southeast Michigan means cold, and brings cravings for warmth and comfort. This Japanese nabemono meal is a satisfying chicken soup served with a bit of fun while evoking fantasies of far away places at our familiar dining room table.

The meatballs are flavored with miso, ginger, and garlic. Tossing them from hand to hand makes the surface smooth so that when they are added to the hot-pot they are soft and very attractive.

Shabu Shabu Gift

aroma-induction-cktp_0747Oh winter cold, winter dark, winter comforts so dearly embraced: it’s when friendly time beside the fire and good food is most satisfying.

A nabemono is a warm and convivial way of sharing meal. A pot of water or broth simmers in the center of the table, surrounded by plates of meat, fish, tofu, fruits, and vegetables. With chopsticks (or fondu forks) diners slide morsels of food into the simmering stock to cook, then lift them out to a plate.

This Christmas, my sister and my daughter surprised me with an induction cooktop and prepared a lovely Christmas Eve shabu shabu!

Shabu Shabu Christmas

faux stained glass Christmas bird made with tissue paper and glue
It’s been many years since I decorated for Christmas.

This year has been different. I discovered the faux stained glass installation I made in 1979. I’d displayed them for several years, then we moved to apartments/house with small windows so they went into deep storage. When I found them a few weeks ago, my first impulse was, “Bah! Humbug!” and toss them into the recycle bin. But both husband and daughter said, “NO!!”

Oden: Japanese Hot-Pot おでん
Oden is a Japanese hot-pot dish in which an assortment of fish-cakes and dumplings are cooked in dashi, kombu stock, and/or chicken stock, with other ingredients including daikon, konyaku, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes. The delicacies you might choose for your oden hot-pot include hanpen, atsuma-age, iwashi tsumire, chikua, shrimp balls, kagosei ika maki, sankaku ganmo ichimasa, tako bei, konnyaku, shirataki, kamaboko…
and many others

Nabe with Swordfish
Mr. Tess made his famous Kajikimaguro no Yuan Yaki (Swordfish in Yuan style) accompanied with fried potatoes. The kitchen is still in the process of moving, so there was only one smallish frying pan to cook with. As a result, he fried a pan of potatoes: it was an opportunity to test the warming drawer on this stove. Then he fried only one of the two swordfish steaks. We have been cooking with gas for decades and it’s a learning curve to understand how to cook with electricity.
This nabe recipe is the natural consequence of the circumstances: fish, mushrooms, and leftover potatoes to make a delicious hot pot.

Mushroom and Pork Nabe
…and melt your cold cold heart…
Oh Winter: the season for simple social nabemono. Gather ’round a hot pot and share a meal to warm your body and spirit.

I have finally begun to move kitchen things into the new house. I designed my old tiny kitchen myself to be as efficient as possible. This kitchen is large, with plenty of counter acreage, but it’s been a puzzle to figure out where things should be stored. There is plenty of cabinet space but much of it requires a ladder to reach! The drawers don’t slide well so I can’t pack too much weight into them. The bottom cabinets are deep and need slide-out trays in order to make items in the back accessible. Oh, the problems of such plenty!
At least Mikey knows where he belongs.

Spicy Sesame Sauce: Buta Shabu Shabu
Chilled fruits and vegetables, cool thin slices of pork, and a spicy sesame dipping sauce make a festive summer meal. The colors are beautiful and everything can be prepared ahead of time.”Open sesame!” Seeds explode from the ripe pods on sesame plants. Depending on the cultivar, seeds will be ivory, golden, red, brown or black.

Have you ever wondered where sesame seeds come from?

Oden—Nerimono: Ready-to-eat Japanese food
One of the most delicious winter meals is oden: a one-pot stew made with all sorts of fish-cakes. It’s a great deal of fun choosing interesting looking fish cakes, just because you like the way they look. But this means that you buy a great deal more food for your meal than you can eat. A very convenient way to have oden is to buy a package of assorted fishcakes. These packages even include a packet of concentrate broth.
You get 6 to 9 different nerimono, ready to eat in only minutes. Plan ahead and boil a couple of eggs, potatoes, and daikon—many of these fish cakes are salty and many are fried. Yum

Kamo no Jibuni: Duck Prepared in Kaga-style
Jibuni is an unusual nabe (hot pot) dish among the many versions favored during winter in Japan. It comes from Kanazawa city and is the capital of Ishikawq Prefecture, located on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Duck is sliced then coated with a mixture of wheat and buckwheat flours, then added to a salty-sweet broth. Seasonal vegetables are also added to the broth. Quite a nice meal!