Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Learning from Experience

Ume Plums Juice Project (started on May 28th, 2012)

 When was the last time I made ume plum juice this way? Perhaps two years ago...?  OK. It was in 2010. Hmmm... so last year was the only year that I didn't give this a try. But I have a confession. The attempt in 2010 was not successful and that was the reason why I didn't feel like trying it again in 2011. In 2010, I used crystallized sugar, which melted very slowly. So before enough juice came out to cover the ume plums, it was already late June and the temperature and humidity rose to an uncomfortable level. As a result, obviously an unwanted process took place in the jar and spoiled the juice.

Well, I can proudly tell you that I've learned a lesson. See? This year I have started this project much earlier and used granulated sugar! Also, I didn't use speckled plums at all this time, because the batch made with speckled ones in 2009 did not taste good. For this first batch, I used store-bought, good green ume plums only.

I'm going to make the second batch tomorrow, using store-bought plums AND a handful plums from the tree in our garden.
Hope I have a success this year! :D

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cafe on the Rock

Last week was a real eventful week. Maybe some of you already know very well about the period with many national holidays we have in Japan at the end of April and in the beginning of May. The period is called "Golden Week." In Japan, it's the time you HAVE TO travel, or camp, visit your grandparents, or visit Tokyo Disney Land or Universal Studio Japan or other known travel destinations. OR GEOPARKS. Yes, of course. So some people did choose to come to our Geopark, which we appreciated very, very much!  :D

To offer such visitors our local cuisine (and to gain a little extra income), this year we tour guides set up a food stand called "Cafe on the Rock." Well, nothing fancy, but just to serve some drinks, desserts and light snacks. And we used local ingredients as much as possible. The jelly was made from locally harvested seaweed. Fruits and sweet potatoes were from our member's orchard and veggie garden. The fish and rice we used for traditional Japanese pilaf were also local. Even the water we used was locally harvested Deep Sea Water (desalinated). So, actually, instant coffee, sugar, cinnamon and coffee lightener were probably the only store-bought things.

To make jelly from seaweed: You wash dried seaweed, cook it with water and a little vinegar...
Then pour it into a cloth bag and wring it to get the starchy liquid out.

We mixed in instant coffee, loquat preserves and Konatsu citrus confiture to make three different kinds of jelly.

Sweet potatoes were chopped, deep-fried and covered with icing. :)
We also had tokoroten (agar noodles) in these bamboo containers which were also made from the bamboo trees donated by a member's relative. They were boiled beforehand to sterilize. Sorry, I couldn't take photos of the noodles and pilaf, because they were sold out pretty quickly.
We are thinking about doing this again in summer vacation season. :)
Hope you could come and watch and taste our progress!


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