OK, I have to stop complaining about how cold I am - I've just read about the Arctic temperatures over at Heather's place (http://shinshuulife.blogspot.com/2010/01/wed-be-better-off.html) and she wins! And actually yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day, even though we've once again woken up to a very heavy frost (and solidified olive oil). The weather here is so fickle, but I really appreciated the reminder that Spring will soon be on it's way, especially after such a cold spell.
I took Heather's advice and invested in some warmer footwear for inside the house:
They are effectively feather futons (duvets) for feet (modelled here by M - I should have bought them in any other colour than pink!). They are doing the trick, warm toes = happy mummy. And these, teamed up with the huge, cosy fleece house coat sent to me by a very sweet friend up in Hokkaido (I owe you, Vicky!), are making me far more pleasant to live with.
Something else that made me happy this week was being asked to sample some prototype food products which have been developed with a view to becoming new '名物' (meibutsu, local speciality) for Kotahira. It's very much a Japanese thing, the desire to have a unique product which might become synonymous with the place of it's origin. If they can come up with just the right kind of product, they could rake in millions as the tourists come in their hoards to buy their omiyage (souvenir goodies). The powers that be of Kotohira have decided that they want their town to become famous for... garlic! I was given a bottle of garlic infused soy sauce, and a jar of garlicky miso to experiment with:
They are branding it 'Garlic Zamurai' and I rather like the package design. The soy sauce has a very pungent garlic smell, so I used it in recipes that called for garlic but without adding any, any they turned out great! The miso is far more interesting, not your average miso at all. It's chunky and spicy (I thought that the slivers of green were negi (spring onion) but they turned out to be sliced green peppers!), delicious actually, although I could probably use more of it if it didn't have quite so much kick to it. I tried it out on K the other night, making a sauce to spoon over some pan-fried tofu:
I can't quite remember what went into it, but it went something like this:
2 tablespoons miso
60ml dashi (stock, I used kombu)
1 tablespoon sugar
a splash of soy sauce
a splash of cooking sake
Mix the ingredients together in a small pan and simmer gently until reduced.
3 hours ago