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Nancy Singleton Hachisu moved from California to Japan in 1988, with the intention to stay for a year, learn Japanese, and return to the United States. Instead, she fell in love with a farmer, the culture, and the food, and has made the country her home. Nancy has taught cooking classes for nearly 20 years, and also runs a children's English immersion program that prepares home-cooked meals with local ingredients. She has been a Slow Food convivium leader for more than a decade, and a food-education leader for Slow Food Japan for the last several years. Nancy, her husband, and three sons live in an 80-year-old traditional farmhouse on an organic farm in rural Japan.
As an avid gardener I'm always looking for cucumber, eggplant, leafy greens and pickle recipes. What simple, distinctively new (to me--an American cook) recipes I found for the overflowing bounty from my gardens! Plus there are plenty of new ways with fish, chicken, meat and eggs.
UPDATE Jan. 2, 2013: See bottom of review.
As an adventurous cook I'm always looking for the next unique technique that keeps me curious and will keep me on my toes learning in my kitchen. (One of my mottos is "If you are not learning, you're dying." This cook book provides so many new techniques that I found my heart racing as I turned each page.
As a conscientious and concerned member of this world in which we live, and as an independent and individual thinker, I found the author's memoirs full of important thoughts and viable opinions.
While you will find peace and comfort in this book, in its writing and in its beautiful pictures, it is not a book of calming haiku poetry and a return to an older time and pace--but the grace of haikus and the respect for the old ways runs harmoniously through this book. The author's writing is creative and descriptive, both in her memoirs and her recipe instructions. The author and (what we learn of) her husband seem to be hard-working, down-to-earth people who love food, love their family and friends and try to give back to the community and the earth. There is an aura of respect in this book; such respect: For the spiritual, for the land, for the food, for life and for others.Read more ›
What Peter Mayle gave us from his year of living in Provence, Nancy Singleton Hachisu has given us the incredible gift of her twenty five years lived in the Japanese countryside. This book is so much more than a cookbook. Nancy, an American from Palo Alto, California, raised three sons with her husband Tadaaki in his home village in rural Japan. This book is the story of that life told through food - the day to day harvesting and creation of beautiful meals prepared simply from ingredients harvested that day. As I turned the pages of the book and read phrases or gazed at the evocative images, I wanted to step into the scene and live the experience. Nancy, an accomplished chef before she moved to Japan, has managed to transcend cultures and bring us the simple, real food that used to be part of living. JFF is a masterpiece to be treasured!
This is the ultimate down to earth, realistic slow food movement cookbook - memoir - photographic volume that belongs in every foodies' library. The recipes are simple - the Japanese equivalent to the West Coast rancher food of my own youth. The main difference? the old-time skills are rural Japanese not the old country i.e. Finland. Living in Seattle, most of the Japanese ingredients including fresh vegetables. For some cooks, shiso leaves or yuzu juice may present a bit of a problem but everything is finable.
Although the stories behind the recipes are fascinating, the recipes also present another side of Japanese cooking with a bit of world-wide fusion tucked into the very traditional. Examples: 1. a sesame-miso vinaigrette with rice vinegar and rapeseed oil. 2. a charcoal-grilled yellowtail collar with soy sauce and daikon 3. new potato tempura 4. stir-fried snap peas with miso, red pepper, ginger 5. red bean rice ... All in all this is a tribute to the universality of fresh food, simply prepared.
If this appeals to you, also consider Shiro Kashiba: Wit, Wisdom and Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer by Shiro Kashiba and Ann Norton (sorry product link is not working correctly).
This book looked really good from the previews I read. So good, I almost ordered two of them. I wish I had. The one I did buy is so precious I could never even think of lending it out to anyone.
I don't live in a place where I can buy any of the fish, so that makes quite a few of the things here undoable for me. I can't even buy non-red miso locally. So in a way, this cookbook is a bit of a pain. If you live in a big city you will probably have better luck. I'm in a town of 9000 that is 75 miles from anywhere.
Still, it's beautiful, and thoughtful, and filled with amazing looking things. I'm quite pleased with myself for having purchased it. I don't have many Japanese cookbooks, but this is easily better than all of the others combined.
I had the good fortune to spend six months in Central Japan in 2010-2011; during my stay, I took four Japanese cooking classes in three different cities focusing on traditional cooking methods and regional specialties, including a class led by Elizabeth Andoh (author of Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen and Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions). The act of making and preparing food according to tradition (including the concept of kansha, or appreciation) was a deeply spiritual journey for me.
I contacted Nancy Singleton Hachisu through her blog, and she was kind enough to send a review copy of Japanese Farm Food. When I opened it, it was an instant homecoming for me. Memories of prowling the morning markets at Takayama, admiring the kaleidoscope of pickles at Nishiki Market in Kyoto, or learning about the many varieties of sansai (wild mountain vegetables) at an Osaka department store food hall came rushing back.
After a compact look at Japanese farmhouse pantry staples and tools and a handy three-page visual dictionary of cutting and cooking techniques, you'll find the Japanese equivalent of munchies: tsumami. These are simple preparations that showcase the freshness of the ingredients, like ikura (salmon roe), edamame, eggs pickled in soy sauce, fried fish and Okinawan staple goya champuru (stir-fried bitter melon with egg and red pepper). The pecan miso was an absolute revelation; I used SOUTH RIVER ORGANIC 3-YR BARLEY MISO 1 LB, and the depth of the flavors was superb.Read more ›