asazuke

Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

Farmlog May 2013 25 November, 2013

Filed under: countryside,Uncategorized — johnraff @ 7:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

3rd~6th

  • A four-day break as it’s Golden Week.
  • Fantastic weather! Cold wind! There’s a winter-grade cold air mass passing over or something.
  • Outside town, more rice fields are being planted.
  • The uguisu welcomes us! The first of the season.
  • The sun already has a kick to it. In fact, despite that cool breeze there is as much ultra-violet coming down as in August.
  • Every day is a scorcher! We’re lucky this time.
  • Small black long-legged flies – mayflies?
  • Repair the big net round this year’s chilli field and plant some zucchinis. Fingers crossed…
  • Write notes for an Abe diatribe.
  • Frog voices starting up.
  • Yamada san and three others come over and we grill iwana fish. A big fire just manages to hold back the evening chill.
  • We leave early on Monday – the last day of Golden Week – expecting traffic jams, but it’s not that bad. (Another gorgeous day, and we hate to have to get back to Nagoya.)
  • Min. temp. 2°C, max. 20°C

12th~13th

peony in the garden

It rained on Saturday, but now a high pressure area is back with more fantastic weather – not a cloud. The village down the road looks beautiful in the late afternoon sun. The rice planting is finished here and the frogs are in voice.

At the house we get another welcome from uguisu and friends. That evening is a bit cold but we light a fire and barbecue some beef and vegetables. Shiitake mushrooms are good with butter and soy sauce. That odd-sounding combination of seasonings is quite good in fact. The Japanese are quite inventive with food – the other day on the radio someone was talking about coriander leaves + olive oil + udon noodles!

T goes to bed early leaving me to enjoy the spring night. Sipping awamori under the stars I have a few moments of alcoholic bliss. Have you ever felt so happy you could die right there? Sorry if it sounds silly, but it left enough of an impression that I made a note of it next day.

On Monday we enjoy yet more gorgeous weather. That chilly wind of last week is now just deliciously refreshing. This won’t last – another month and we’ll be in the rainy season. The weeds have flourished after Saturday’s rain – I must get the weed cutter out before they get tough and fibrous. Bamboo shoots are coming up too – I can make a bamboo shoot curry for Raffles.

Meanwhile, I completely wilt from working under this hot sun.

Min. temp. 3°C, max. 24°C


19th~20th

Of course that gorgeous weather couldn’t last, and now we’re getting a foretaste of the rainy season, our annual monsoon. The rain front has already engulfed Okinawa, and a corner of it licked round here bringing a day’s rain. By the time we get to the house it’s decidedly chilly too.

Vegetables in the supermarkets have got cheaper – cucumbers, eggplants and big early onions which are delicious in salads.

Monday is sunny again, but some clouds remain and it’s starting to get a bit sticky – more like the summer to come than the beautiful fresh weather we had the last two weeks. Sunday’s rain brought up a load more bamboo shoots so we dig up a couple – I can make a jar of crunchy spicy bamboo pickle. See a leech in the moist backwoods. The weeds have also put on good growth – some 1/2m in the last week – time to have a first go with the weed-cutter.

On our way back to Nagoya the sun is now going down well to the right of its winter path.

Min. temp. 10°C, max. 27°C


26th~27th

What a difference a week makes. Last week we still had the kotatsu switched on, but now we’re sweating. Sunday is sultry – even the breeze as we arrive doesn’t really take the edge off it, though it’s definitely nicer than Nagoya.

There’s been no rain all week and though the weeds are totally unfazed and have grown another 1/2m, the pumpkins, zucchini and goya don’t look much bigger than last week. I’ve brought out the first four chilli seedlings to plant, so have to fix the deer net and dig and plastic-mulch the first row of the field.

On Monday morning I’m woken by the uguisu just outside. It’s cloudy and cooler – actually quite pleasant. We’ve rain due tomorrow; Kyushu has already “entered tsuyu“. Plant the chillies, arrange the net (fingers crossed), cut more weeds and get my first leech bite.

Min. temp. 9°C, max. 27°C

sunset on the way back to town

Advertisements
 

Farmlog 8th~9th May 2011 19 May, 2011

Filed under: countryside,food & drink — johnraff @ 2:31 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,
  • Opened the car boot to load in bags and noticed how much the temperature has just gone up – inside the car the air was nice and cool, without any use of the air conditioner.
  • A beautiful day for speed-trapping, and there they were with their white motobikes, in their favourite spot, hauling in a middle-aged lady.
  • The May sun can be quite fierce – there’s a lot of UV out there too, which you don’t notice because of the cool wind so you can get burnt easily.
  • Wild wisteria out in the hills, azaleas, flowers come out one after another – spring is busy. Busy for us too – trees to be pruned, weeds to be cut, and the field where the chillies will be planted has to be dug up. That last job should have been done last autumn, leaving time now for the other stuff…
  • Got some mustard greens (karashina) at the 100yen stand. These have a nice hotness when raw, or pickled in salt, but are also good stir-fried, when the mustardy taste goes.
  • More and more voices around the house – frogs, a strange mournful bird like an owl an octave higher, another one has a beautiful call with a delicate fall at the end, as if it was speaking Thai… but no uguisu yet.
  • Lots of flies.
  • Dinner outside for the first time – a bit chilly but OK if you sit near the fire.
  • There wasn’t much rain last week, but in the woods behind the house there was one bamboo shoot. I made an Indian pickle with the crunchy part, and T cooked the rest with soy sauce, fish flakes and a couple of sansho leaves. Sansho has a sharp lemony smell but has a strange affinity with freshly dug bamboo shoot. Both seem to have an oddly creamy undertone, if that makes any sense…
  • Min temp 5°C max 24°C
 

Farmlog 10th May 2010 10 July, 2010

Filed under: countryside,food & drink — johnraff @ 12:01 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday was one of those soft hazy Spring days as we set off out of town, stopping off at the bank to make sure there was enough in the account to pay next week’s bills. Just as I came out, there was a loud bang and something flew over our car onto the pavement. There are people who just throw empty coffee cans, or lit cigarettes, out of their car windows, but when I had a better look it turned out to be our offside door mirror! A passing car had ripped it right off. I had no time to see which car it was, let alone get the number, and T hardly knew what had happened. Sitting in the driving seat it must have been quite a noise, and we can only be thankful she didn’t have her elbow out of the window at the time…

A detour to the nearest police station to report the incident; there’s no hope of catching the idiots who did it and making them pay for a new mirror – $500!. On our way a good hour late. What a relief to enter the parallel universe in the hills and check out this week’s bird sounds. Every week there seem to be a couple of new ones. There had been a bit of rain and more bamboo shoots coming up – I wonder what the wild boar have been up to this year? They don’t seem to have been round our way at all, or there’d be a mess of ripped-up bamboo everywhere. They love that stuff, but so do we, and we’ve done OK for bamboo shoot this year.

That evening it was still to cold to eat outside, so we had sansai tempura in the kotatsu. Dinner under the stars is a treat yet to come, but soon! The insects aren’t in biting mood just yet, but I saw the first leech! Ugh.

Min temp 6°C, max 21°C

 

Farmlog 2nd~5th May 2010 (“Golden Week”) 15 June, 2010

Just like UK bank holidays, a few days off come up in the same week and there are 45 Km traffic jams all over the country. The weather’s often beautiful at this time too, though, so we joined the rush to get out to our place in Gifu for a long weekend – everyone else must have been going somewhere else and we got there in the same 2 hours or so as usual. 🙂

  • The second day we went for a walk on the narrow road that leads on to a couple of tiny villages above our house. Very nice day out in perfect weather. (More here.)
  • For some reason the wild boar don’t seem to have been round this year, and lots of bamboo shoots have been coming up in the woods behind the house. Freshly-dug shoots have a special aroma which you can keep by boiling them as soon as possible after digging them up. I suppose it stops the cells’ conversion of sugars to starch or something. You need a big pot to boil them whole with the skin still on, for about an hour, with some rice bran to take away a certain astringency. A handful of rice will do instead, and some people put in a couple of dried chillies. Then you can cook them with soy sauce and dried fish flakes, or make a nice spicy Thai salad or Indonesian curry…
  • Fantastic weather – scorching hot in the daytime, but a cool breeze, and cold evenings so you want to light a fire to eat outside, which we did, listening to music from Cape Verde and some old Laotian pop.
  • The wind brought down a snowstorm of cherry blossom from the wild tree behind the house.
  • An old guy from the houses down the road passes by in the early evening. He goes for a daily walk to keep fit, and looks as if his health regime is working OK.
  • Flowers everywhere!
  • Getting the chilli field ready – digging up a row, mixing in some compost and fertilizer then covering it with black plastic mulch to warm up the soil and keep the weeds down a bit. Four rows should do it this year – 16 big red chilli plants from Malaysia, 16 little hot “Ishigaki” chillies from Okinawa (not the usual “island pepper” but something more aromatic that a Thai friend recognized as “prik kariang”), and half a dozen Habaneros, just for yuks…
  • The birds and frogs are getting going, but the evenings are still fairly quiet, compared with the insects’ samba orchestra that will keep us entertained through the Summer. Those insects have a dark side though, and we both got mysterious itchy bites that stayed with us for days. Hmm.
  • Min temp 2°C, max 27°C
 

Bamboo shoots 16 May, 2008

Filed under: countryside,food & drink — johnraff @ 1:50 pm
Tags: , ,

We had a good rain last Saturday, and the next day out in our country place (where we escape from the city at weekends) lots of bamboo shoots were coming up. With a little bit of altitude we’re later than low-lying areas, but generally get some in early May. Unfortunately the wild boar (inoshishi) like them too, and usually chew up the tender tips, leaving us a few scraps. This year, though, I don’t know what they were up to, but they must have found somewhere else to eat because there were lots of beautiful shoots, just appearing from the ground.

You dig them up – most is below the ground, and they can be a bit big – and boil them with the skin still on till they’re tender. Like sweet corn, which loses its sweetness soon after it’s picked as the sugar gets turned to starch or something, bamboo shoots freshly picked and cooked right away are quite special. There’s a unique aroma and a certain bitterness or astringency (aku) which you just can’t get from the canned ones, or even the plastic packs in the supermarkets. T cooks them with soy sauce and fish flakes, topped with those special sansho leaves, which is very nice; we make an Indonesian style curry from it at Raffles – only at this time of year.

PS (3rd June) Last week the inoshishi discovered those bamboo shoots and tore into the later emerging ones, making a right mess. Luckily we got ours first, and some survived to grow up into new plants. Bamboo grows incredibly fast.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: