Hosting two Thanksgivings in Japan taught me to love the holiday and its food again. My friends are amazing cooks, and the sheer sense of community, of getting together to remake a tradition in our own way really made the holiday feel special.
Last year, I did a recipe-roundup of our meal. This year, I’d like to offer more recipes and suggestions for making Thanksgiving special in Japan or wherever you are.
Recipes marked with an asterisk indicate that the recipe contains ingredients that may be unavailable in a standard Japanese grocery store but are available at import stores and gourmet stores. (And there’s notes, as always, either on the recipe page or by the title if it’s off-site.)
Happy Halloween, readers! How about a spooky chocolate-pumpkin cake with cupcakes that you can make in Japan?
I went to QFC tonight to pick up some pumpkin beer, and there was only one kind on the shelf. One. Normally I”m not overly concerned with Christmas decorations coming out before Halloween, but how am I supposed to celebrate the spooky season with no pumpkin beer?
EDIT: I raided the local QFC a week later and got these:
The day is saved!
So, before all the fantastic pumpkin beers go, here’s my opinion on this year’s best and most pumpkiny. I’ve included notes, so if you prefer a more fruity pumpkin to a spicy one, you can make your own choices.
If every Japan food blogger is required by law to cover okonomiyaki (twice), then every food blogger in the US and Canada is required to offer a homemade version of Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.
The most popular variety has pumpkin purée rather than syrup mixed into it. Whether you live in Japan or the US, you don’t have to worrying about buying canned pumpkin before the Thanksgiving hoarders get to it or even stocking up on the orange pumpkins that seem to disappear on November 1 to make your own purée. Where there is squash, there can be “pumpkin” spice latte. No import store required.
Trying to shift your mentality of “I can’t have it because I can’t buy it in Japan” to “I’ll make it myself!” is hard. Really hard. For example, let’s take my recent discovery of how to purée kabocha to substitute for pumpkin purée/canned pumpkin in American recipes. Kabocha and pumpkin have different textures. Pumpkin has more water content, so mashing and processing boiled or baked pumpkin (something I might have phoned my mom about in grad school) results in a texture like thick applesauce. Mashed kabocha is more like mashed potatoes.
Prior to adding water, it’s more like mashed kabocha.
Trying to substitute mashed kabocha for canned pumpkin does not work. This is what I was told, and it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t purée it by adding water and blending.
I know, I know. How the hell else do you make purée? Continue reading
Starbucks Crunchy Caramel Latte and Pumpkin Muffin
One thing I love about living in Japan is trying the seasonal sweets and drinks in cafes, conbini, and grocery stores. “Seasonal food” is partially the function of the availability of the harvest, such as a café’s changing the menu from summer blueberry cake to fall fig tarts for desserts; however, part of “seasonal food” is more related to cultural perceptions of seasons and their associated foods: Pepsi’s Salty Watermelon soda and Pocky’s and other company’s mint flavors for summer probably had less to do with available ingredients and more to do with the collective consciousness of what are summer flavors; Candy Corn Oreos come from a desire for Halloween food, not from the candy corn harvest.
I love Halloween and autumn, and with more companies in Japan creating Halloween flavors or packages for their products, I’ve decided to do a series on taste-testing these products. Continue reading
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Thai Carrot Soup (recipe by Frugal Feeding)
This article is featured in the J. Festa October 2011 edition: “Entertainment in Japan,” hosted at japingu.
The second three-day weekend of “Silver Week,” the week in mid-September with both the national holidays of the Autumnal Equinox (shûbun no hi, 秋分の日) and Respect for the Aged Day (keirô no hi, 敬老の日), found me and a fellow foodie touring Hida-Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. We sampled most of the local specialties, dined at a number of adorable cafes, and sampled some local brews on our trip (more on these to follow in later posts), and as we left Takayama and headed for Kanazawa, we decided to pay a visit to an orchard in Hida for some apple-picking.