ALREADY AUTUMN, STILL AUTUMN

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One of the main reasons we chose to live in this area was because we could feel four seasons  like we could in Japan.

Japanese religion ,Shinto, is based on the nature such as  wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility, and I believe the large part of our culture is based on this religion.

We cherish each season, celebrating the traditional and historical seasonal events even now, and the many of those events are associated with ,,,

of course,,,

FOOD!!!!

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I love summer, but I have to admit the autumn is already around the corner.

In Japan we often call the autumn as the season of the pleasure of the table, MIKAKU NO AKI.

The stars of the autumn flavor are chestnuts, matsutake (mushroom), sweet potatoes, persimmons, and Pacific saury!

Saury is spelled as 秋刀魚、which indicates fish caught in autumn and shaped like a sword.

Ohhh, now I miss autumn flavor saury, missing summer flavor already.

In September, we celebrate OTSUKIMI (viewing the beautiful full moon event in the middle of September), making TSUKIMI DANGO, sweet dumplings offered to the moon.

At the same time in this period, we start enjoy chestnuts.

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It is still warm here and is early for OTSUKIMI, I cooked chicken thigh with chestnuts, celebrating the coming autumn.

I ‘ve used chestnuts in turkey stuffing before, but it was my first time I used them in a WESTERN (for me) dish other than turkey.

Why didn’t I use chestnuts for Western dishes?

BECAUSE chestnuts is always for KURI GOHAN for me!

KURI GOHAN (chestnuts rice) is the most popular and typical Japanese autumn flavor.

I believe every house makes KURI GOHAN at least once in autumn season.

This is not versatile rice which goes well with any dish, but it is very Japanese and goes very well with Japanese food.

Maybe  you could enjoy KURI GOHAN with MISO SOUP, SHIRA AE, and grilled saury.

Today I will show you how to prepare the KURI GOHAN.

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I was gladly surprised to know that  we could get beautiful chestnuts here in VA, and when I got them, I was so excited to make KURI GOHAN.

Chestnuts have thick skins as you know, and in my case it took a WHOLE DAY  to peel them!

YES! 

ONE WHOLE DAY and I got rewarded with painful red fingers, but it’s worth it!

To soften the skins, we usually put them in the water overnight or if you don’t have time, you could boil them for 4-5 minutes.

I put them in the water overnight like,,,

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this.

Then the next day I did peeling.

First you need to peel the bottom part (thickest part) of them. You can sit on the chair if you want.

It takes long time…

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My friend gave those beautiful chestnuts cultivated in her orchard, and she already cooked them a little, so the chestnut color was yellow.

She didn’t cooked through.

I used this half-way cooked chestnuts for KURI GOHAN.

Here are the ingredients you need to make KURI GOHAN.

  • 3 cup of sticky rice ( such as Sushi Rice)
  • water (10% more of the rice, so it would be about 27oz)
  • chestnuts as many as you want ( I used approximately 1 cup of them)
  • 2 (scant) teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of Sake

In Japan some people use MOCHI GOME (very sticky rice) along with regular white rice,  but as you could see the photo above, I used regular white rice  with some ancient grains.

For the instruction of the cooking rice, please check the previous post here.

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Ohhhhh, smell so good!

I didn’t want my husband to make an effort of finding chestnuts hidden in the rice, so I generously used them.

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After the steaming time, you could mix the rice gently and distribute chestnuts evenly.

If you couldn’t find raw chestnuts, you  could use cooked chestnuts in the vacuum-seal package.

However they might get very soft during the cooking process, so even though you might get hurt, I recommend you use raw chestnuts.

You might ask why I am keep telling you “you get hurt” for just peeling one cup of chestnuts?

I did more than 1 cup.

I don’t know how many cups I peeled their skins!  Probably,,,,,,

8? 10? 12 cups?

When my friend gave me those beautiful chestnuts for the first time, I was dancing with joy, so I did peel them all even though it hurt me, but a few days later the friend gave me more again !!

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I couldn’t dance any more.  She kindly gave me three or four times, and each time gave me TONS!

I didn’t want to waste them, so every time she gave me, I peeled and distributed to the freezer bags and froze them.

SO you think I am cooking autumn dish ahead of the season, but actually,,,NOT!

They are the last year’s product.

I heard they last 1 year in the fridge, so it is totally safe to use them (I believe).

I have to use them up before my friend gives me this year’s product!!

Now I had to confess.

Even though I love KURI GOHAN, I was a little tired of making it (all year round!!), so this time I used them for the WESTERN dish as I told you, and cooked them with chicken thigh.

I brined chicken with chestnuts and leeks with white wine, and added whole grain mustard at the end.

It was a success!

I borrowed the recipe from bon appetit, and chagned a little.

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Thank you, chestnuts!

They did good job in this dish!

Now I have to think again what I could use them for.

I have several more chestnuts in the freezer bags in my fridge……

HURRY!!  The autumn is coming!!!!

a package from my mom, and how to trash used oil

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Every mother is wonderful.

She always takes good care of her children even though they get old enough.

Yes, I am over 40, but still I am her baby.

About every two months, my mom sends me a thoughtful package over the sea.

It is usually way so heavy that even the strong delivery guy hesitates to carry to my  home.

My mom always prepares a package upstairs at her house, and after filling goodies in a big box, she carries it downstairs.

Just imagining her carrying that heavy stuff makes me cry.

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She knows everything about me.

I sometimes wonder if she hides somewhere in my house and checks what I am missing.

She has a special power to read my mind and she sends me what I really need.

Of course, she never forgets to send seaweeds  since she knows I love them.

Thank you, mom.

This time she sent something else besides seaweeds she always wanted to send to me,

which is,,,,,

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SUSHI OKE (wooden bowl for Sushi Rice).

This bowl keeps rice nicely warm and  adjusts the moisture of rice.

A little scent of the wood  also enhances the flavor of the rice.

I had been wanting to have this for a long, but when I went back to my country, I always forgot to get one in the busy schedule.

When I opened this package and saw SUSHI OKE, you could imagine how happy and lucky I felt.

Also she sent me,,,

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this.

Could you guess what this is?

It is not food.

As you could see in the package photo, it is for used oil.

Among Japanese living in the US, sometimes they talk about how they trash used oil.

We shouldn’t pour oil directly into the sink, so many of us put newspaper into an empty carton of milk or juice and pour oil into it to soak oil, then trash it.

In Japan, many of us use this package. It is so convenient and easy.

When I deep-fried KA RA A GE, I had to trash the used oil.

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I reached to this box.

In a box, there are small packages, so took one.

Each package has powder.

In the hot oil, I sprinkled the powder and stirred well.

Then just left it for a while.

After 30 minutes or so,

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oil got solid.

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It is easy to flip.

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You can just throw this into a garbage bag!  That’ it!

Ok, now you know how to use it, but WHAT IS IT?

There are several brands of oil solidifying agent like this in Japan, but all of them are made from plants substances, so it is safe to use and good for environment.

Thanks to my mom, I live in the US as though I were in my country.

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful mom and I am so lucky to have two mother countries.

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Now I enjoy this Japanese sweets my mom sent to me at my favorite place in the US, thinking of my mom.