Ginger Bombs


This is a spicy treat to make with firm tofu. All you need is some firm tofu, fresh ginger, and salt.


The first thing to do is to grate the ginger. The more ginger you use, the bigger the bomb that goes off in your mouth when you eat these. Ginger is a good spice to use in the winter. It helps keep you warm. When you grate it, you don’t need to peel it. The best part of the ginger is in the skin.


Using your fingers, gently mix the tofu, ginger, and salt together. Don’t use a mixer or food processor as you don’t want to break down the tofu too much. You want the result to be a moist, crumbly dough. If you use a machine, you’re liable to turn the tofu into a dip, and then it will be too runny to handle.


Form the mixture into small cakes.


Dust the cakes with flour or with panko or bread crumbs.


Fry the cakes in butter or oil until golden brown. Four to five minutes on each side works for me.


Eat them while they are still hot. Other ingredients you could add are tomato paste, miso, coconut oil, honey, paprika, anise, allspice, or anything else you think could make them even better.

Tofu Crouton Puffs


When you want to make croutons, reaching for a block of tofu may be the last thing that comes to mind, but firm tofu makes a nice, crunchy crouton with a light, airy inside. Take an eight to ten ounce block of firm tofu and slice into half inch thick layers. Using paper or cloth towels, thoroughly dry the layers.


Cut the layers into half inch cubes.


Peel some garlic and crush/mince it. You decide how many cloves to use.


In a bowl mix the crushed garlic with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon or so of salt, and it you like add pepper. Add other spices if you’d like. Nothing is stopping you. You only live once, live it to the fullest.


Pour the olive oil-garlic mixture over the tofu cubed, and gently toss the tofu cubes until they are coated. Set aside for thirty minutes or so to marinate. While the tofu cubes are marinating, preheat the oven to 450ºF or 230ºC. After the oven has preheated, and about five minutes before the tofu cubes are ready for the oven, grease a 12 by 9 inch, 30 by 23 centimeter, baking pan with olive oil and heat in the oven. You want the oil in the baking pan to be hot when you put the tofu cubes on, otherwise they might stick.


Once the baking pan is hot, arrange the tofu cubes on the hot baking sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. While baking, every five to seven minutes, turn the tofu cubes using a spatula, tongs, or chopsticks, so that all sides can brown. Remove the tofu cubes from the oven when golden brown. Place on paper towel on cooling rack. You can snack on them while hot, or cool, and use them in salads or wherever you would use croutons.


You’ll find the freshest firm tofu at Belfast Feed Store. It is never more than three days old, and delivered fresh every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, usually around 3pm. The date it is made is clearly on the label, and you’ll find a recipe under each label. How do I know this? I make and deliver it.


Ginger-Garlic Pockets


Take slices of firm tofu, A Man and His Hoe® tofu if you are lucky enough to get some, and using a sharp knife, carve out pockets on one side of each slice.


Make a filling. I used the carved out tofu, ground pork, grated ginger, crushed garlic, and salt. Be creative. Use your favorite spices.


Stuff the tofu pockets with the filling.


Fry the pockets in hot butter or oil for seven minutes until crispy brown, flip over and fry for another seven minutes until both sides of the pockets are nicely browned. You may need to cover the pan with a lid for part of the time to thoroughly cook the filling.


Serve immediately while piping hot.

Warning: Only make this for yourself. If you make it for your spouse, friends, or children, they will demand you make it over and over again.

You’re Never Too Old to Do It Better


Better, this bread is better than before. I made a loaf following the instructions I found in an article, Bread for Success on bon appétit’s website. I deviated from the article a bit, as the size of loaf that article made was twice the size I wanted to make. They were using nearly three pounds of flour, and I like to keep my loaves at one pound or less.

The other difference is that they use mostly regular flour whereas I use all whole wheat flour. They also used a machine to mix the dough, whereas I do the mixing by hand. I think the dough prefers to feel my hand mixing it versus a cold, steel hook. Wouldn’t you? Instead of moaning, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” the dough says, “Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh!” when you use your hand. When cooking, it’s important to think from the stand point of the food you are handling. How would that food like to be handled? Does it prefer to be held this way or that? Touched this way or that? You want it to thank you for being kind and gentle. After all, it’s going to become part of you.

But, wow! The bread came out so well with a nice, crunchy crust, and soft, springy inside. Which goes to show, you’re never to old to do it better.


The process takes three days,

煎り酒 – Irizake


Irizake, a dipping sauce made from sake, dried plums, fish flakes, and salt, is having a comeback in Japan. Historical references to this sauce go back to the end of the Muromachi period (1336~1573). During the Edo period (1603~1868), irizake was an indispensible seasoning. If you were to have sashimi back then, you would dipped your fish in irizake instead of 醤油 – soy sauce. In Japan, soy sauce did not become a seasoning for the masses until the middle of the Edo period, and its current form did not appear until the late 1800s when scientific understanding of fermentation combined with industrial manufacturing to enable mass production of soy sauce.


Irizake is easy to make. You first mix the sake, umeboshi, and salt together, and bring it to a boil. Once the alcohol has boiled out, you add the fish flakes and simmer until the amount of liquid has been reduced to half. Strain it, and you have irizake, a seasoning with a history of six to seven hundred years.


The very oldest versions of irizake are even simpler. The sake and umeboshi are boiled until the mixture is reduced to half. The result is strained, dried seaweed is added, and let to soak for a day or two.

Worth Waking Up


Any day that starts like this is a day worth waking up for. It’s late October and there are almost no clouds in the sky. A cool mist blankets the neighbor’s horse pasture, and as soon as the sun rises, it will float away (the mist not the pasture). Now you see it, now you don’t.

You often read about tourists flocking to see the fall colors in New England. Hordes of tourists from all over Asia sojourn to Japan to see the maples turn red and yellow. So how come there aren’t crowds thronging the vineyards in late fall to see the grape leaves turn? Grape leaves know how to party at the end of fall. They put on brilliant colors before they fall. Picnicking among the turning grape vines, bottles of wine in tow, that would be a lot of fun. Can’t you see vintners recommending certain wines over others when viewing red versus yellow grape vines?

Or should you drink the wine from that particular grape to truly appreciate the fall colors of that vine? Smell the wine, smell the leaves, can you detect the flavors of the wine in the leaf? You can’t? You need to drink more wine until you can.

Or you could have a taste test where you try and match the wine to the colorful leaves. Take a sip and guess which dried leaf made that wine.


It was a perfect day for splitting more wood. Most likely, this will end up in next year’s wood stack. There’s enough stacked for this winter. It’s time to start working on next winter’s stacks.

20151027 Stewartia

And what is this that is trying to bloom? A stewartia pseudocamellia. Nearly all the leaves are off the tree. Just a few dry, red leaves are left, and yet it’s trying to bloom? Maybe it’s roots have tapped into the grape vine’s roots and it is feeling tipsy. Oh please, oh please, just one more bloom. Plants can be like children. I don’t want to go to sleep yet. I don’t want to wait until spring.

Softening the Edges


Ever notice when you cut raw potatoes how sharp the edges are? If you’re cooking for someone you love, take a minute or two to do something about those edges. Do you really want to serve them sharp-edged potatoes? Before cooking them, it’s easy to soften the edges with a peeler. Just run the peeler over the cut edges. With the edges softened, the potatoes will be easier to eat once they are cooked.


With their edges softened, the potato pieces will look more appetizing in dishes like potato salad, curry rice, and niku-jyaga 肉じゃが.


What to do with trimmed off edges? Toss them in a salad, put them in soup, mince them and use them to thicken stews, or let the chickens have them along with the other scraps you have for them. They’ll turn them into wonderful eggs.


Impatience Rewarded


For nearly a year I have been waiting for this recipe to finish. Last August I made my first batch of miso and set it in the pantry to age. I meant to wait until August, but now that it almost mid July, my curiosity got the best of me. I brought the crock out of the panty.


Lifting the lid, it certainly smelled like miso. I made my miso with soy beans, brown rice, barley and salt. What transforms this mixture into miso is koji, or Aspergillus oryzae, a fungus used to ferment a number of food products. Humans have been using Aspergillus oryzae for some 2,000 years.

Lifting the parchment paper I used to seal the fermenting miso, I am face to face with my home made miso.


Opening it a few weeks early was worth it. My impatience was rewarded with some of the best miso I’ve ever had. There really is something to making some foods yourself in small batches. Now I can start making a batch every three months. One of the places I researched said that if you let it ferment for two years, it tastes even better. If I make enough batches, I will have the patience to let some ferment that long.


Kneading Bread Dough? Use a Bowl

I’ve been baking bread for half a century. One of my household chores as a small child was helping my mother bake bread. Even though I make bread without kneading, at times I just need to get my hands on a lump of dough and spend a good ten minutes kneading it. It is a very satisfying experience.


Growing up we kneaded bread on a board sprinkled with flour. I’ve found that what works much better is kneading bread in a bowl. The dough doesn’t stick to the bowl like it does to a wood board, so you don’t need to use any extra flour. In a bowl, the dough stays in one place, and a bowl is much easier to clean than a large wooden board.