Sugar Snap Peas, Shrimp, Somen
peas-and-nasturtium_2675Spring in the garden begins with hope; planting seeds is an act of faith, anticipating a bountiful harvest to share. In May, I planted a short row of sugar snap peas in the window box outside the dining room window. The picture in my mind was of green vines shading the meals we’d share together from the hot summer sun.
I also planted some nasturtiums at the front edge of the window box because they have brilliant peppery edible flowers and leaves. I anticipated that they would provide color once the spring/early crop of peas needed to be removed.

These fruits of my labor inspired this very seasonal meal.

Spicy Sesame Noodles for Lunch

I thought sesame noodles would be a great lunch for my friend and her daughter.

Ever since they cat-sat for us last summer, the young lady has been eager for us to leave town again so she could play with the kitties. Spring break was a good time to invite them for a visit. Gracie, Mikey, and Sula were happy to wake up for the special attention, petting, and playing with strings.

All went well until, as my daughter once said, “My mom doesn’t have any children so she doesn’t know what kids like!”

Spicy Sesame Noodles

Snow is falling almost invisibly, like drizzle, yet suddenly I notice the snow is becoming thick on the grass. The mild spice in this Japanese noodle dish is like that: you aren’t conscious of its heat until you realize you are warm from the inside out. While this recipe is usually eaten in the summer because it is served cold or at room temperature, the pepper makes you forget about the chill.

(Japanese) Pan-Fried Chicken, Part 3

A delicious dinner calls for an encore! This chicken, marinated in a traditional Japapanese combination of sesame and soy has a sweet and spicy spark of honey and pepper. As inspiring as the flavors of this dish are, it also proves to be a recipe which allows for much diversity: no one wants to eat the same meal day after day!
Use the chicken to make sandwiches or to top a crisp summer salad. Even better: make sesame noodles topped with chicken, sweet red pepper, and green sugar snap peas.

Miso Ramen: a night for a fire

The romance of a fire on a cold night is a perfect setting for a bowl of hot ramen. All three cats made a rare joint appearance to watch what skill Tess and J. exhibited by slurping noodles while sitting on the floor!
Home-made stock is key to an exceptionable bowl of ramen; it’s a delightful surprise to turn up a container of the broth from the deep back of your freezer—one of the many nice discoveries made as we slowly move house.

New Year’s Soba with Duck
We shared our lucky-long New Year’s soba and duck with my sister and brother and his wife. The dish is a tradition at our house for the holiday, and this year we ate at her house.
I cooked the food in my own kitchen and brought it over. With a little planning, the meal made the trip without a problem. I made some carrot tsukemono, bought some pickled onions, and matcha ice cream. My sister-in-law provided some very nice champange.
After a hard day of New Year’s Eve shopping at Ikea, I was too tired to stay for toasting with more champange at midnight—
I was lucky and long asleep when the old year ended…

Noodles and Japanese Shells

Noodles—quick convenient comfort, ease and pleas-ing, satisfaction certain, and fine when cooking for me. While Mr. Tess was working in New York during the past two weeks, my meals centered on this flour and water paste: a blank canvas each time, with a palette of possibilities. Here is a selection of options to stimulate your imagination—the small pictures link to recipes which I’ve written about in the last year or so. And finally a tuna salad with echoes of Japanese flavors.

Ja-ja-men: Japanese Spicey-Pork and Udon
I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.”
— Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest)
Jajamen is a recipe which came to Japan from China through Morioka city, the center of Iwate Prefecture. Morioka is famous for three major meins(麺(noodle dishes): wanko soba, Morioka reimen and Morioka jajamen: fat hot udon noodles with minced cucumber, leek and special miso.
Diners add vinegar, chili oil and garlic as they like. After eating, raw egg and reserved udon water are added with several seasonings. This is called Chiitan. (scroll down to see the pictures)

Serendipitous Okra Spaghetti with Mussels
This is a story of how through serendipity and an open mind I came to love okra.
I’d eaten it only once, one bite, 30 years ago: it was a very slimy vegetable, suited to aliens and not for human consumption.
Husband woke me up to tell me about a radio story about how strong mussel beards are. Strong and Stretchy.
Later when I was at the store, a package of okra looked so lovely that it jumped into my cart. I thought, okay, taro is slimy and hairy and that turned out to be good.
So here we have recipes for steaming mussels, cooking okra, and making a fantastic Japanese style spaghetti!