Welcoming June

June marks the official start Summertime BBQof summer, and at Zojirushi, we are here to welcome the season. The long days, warm weather and abundance of fresh produce throughout the summer season means more reasons for picnics, BBQs and summertime celebrations in the sun. So gather your family and friends for a get-together, and it’s time to get your grub on!

Rocking the summertime fare is easy with Zojirushi. Our state of the art technology is rooted in generations of tradition and excellence, so that you can be prepared each and every time you cook. Here’s to shared memories, good friends and of course, good food! Cheers and happy summer to you all!

Living Flowers Through Ikebana (生花)

Ever heard of Ikebana? Ikebana, also known as Japanese flower arrangement, is a traditional Japanese practice that is equal parts art, discipline and spirituality. The name comes from the word, ikeru (生ける) meaning “keep alive, arrange flowers” and hana () meaning” flower.” Together, it means “to give life to flower.”

The focus of ikebana is a bit different from floral arrangement in the U.S. Ikebana focuses more on stems, leaves, line and form, than colors, although minimalism is important in color and arrangement. Some arrangements might have just one or two flower blossoms while others may be just stems and leaves. There are several different styles of ikebana from the old and rigid to the modern and free. Each style has a similar set of principles, while showing slight differences in composition and form.

Ikebana is believed to have emerged out of Buddhist practices in the middle of the fifteenth century as a ritual offering of flowers to the spirits of the dead. Over the years, it has become a pillar of Japanese culture, and today is practiced by many from children to housewives.

Ikebana has gained popularity in the US, and most cities have ikebana clubs or classes that anyone can attend. As complicated as ikebana might seem, it’s surprisingly relaxing and meditative once you get into the flow. The trick is to not think too much about it, and just let it wash over you. After a while, you won’t know who’s arranging who! So, if you are looking for a new hobby this summer, try ikebana. You might be surprised by what you find in the leaves and stems!

Product of the Month: Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker BB-HAC10

BB-HAC10This month we’d like to feature our nifty yet wonderfully charming product – the Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker! With the Home Bakery Mini, you can enjoy fresh baked bread everyday without waste. Its sleek white look and study handle make it easy to store and transport. This compact unit saves countertop space and is the perfect option for smaller households. Like your bread soft or firm? Now you can choose, with three texture options from regular, firm, or soft. With its quick baking cycle option, you can enjoy fresh baked bread in just two hours. The unit also comes with courses for kneading pasta and cookie dough without the mess. It even has a jam function for all of your seasonal summer fruits! Now you can have both, homemade bread and jam all from one!

http://zojirushi.com/products/bbhac

May Markets in Abundance

We are delighted to welcome the warmth of May! As we make our way closer to summer, we are reminded of the magic of the farmers market. We find that starting with high quality ingredients is the first step to creating delicious meals. In fact, it’s the same motto we’ve used for years in creating our products – only the best.

Shopping at farmers market is a great way to learn your way around the kitchen. What could be more inspiring than buying your food directly from the farmer? And, with a Zojirushi product, you don’t even have to worry too much about cooking it!

If you haven’t found your local farmers market yet, it’s time to get started. Spring produce is plentiful, and seasonal ingredients often encourage us to become creative cooks. We can’t wait to see all of your market driven creations through Facebook and Twitter. Nothing inspires us more than connecting with you, and seeing how you use our products. Wishing all of you a happy and delicious May!

May – 皐月 (Satsuki)

There are reasons why each month gets its name in Japan. May in Japanese is 皐月, pronounced ‘Satsuki’, meaning “the time to plant rice seedlings”. Satsuki is a wonderful example of how the meanings behind the name of each month in Japan are connected to the seasons and the events. While some months have a more metaphoric interpretation, May is a literal translation. Another unique tidbit about Satsuki is that it’s a common name in Japan for girls.

Natto

Natto is a fermented soybean, but don’t let that deter you from trying it. It is one of the best sources of protein and is filled with rich nutrients that are said to prevent blood coagulation, enrich skin and balance cholesterol levels.

The process of making natto is very unique. After the beans are washed and soaked for about half a day, they go through a steaming process. From there the beans are mixed with a bacteria culture– this is similar to how certain yogurts and cheeses are made. The total fermentation process of aging the natto bacteria takes up to 24 hours. Then it is placed in a refrigerator to be cooled.

Natto has a very unique texture almost like a sticky paste, and a strong scent and flavor due to the fermentation process. It is a common breakfast item in Japan – usually eaten with rice – that is often consumed in a small, white container with yellow mustard and natto sauce.

The Art of Sumo

Sumo is known throughout the world for its wrestlers engaging in a full-contact physical sport, and is one of the few sports that are professionally practiced only in Japan. So what is sumo? It is a wrestling match consisting of two large men facing off in a round ring, called dohyo, with the objective to force the opponent outside of the ring. Wrestlers are not allowed to touch any of his body part to the ground except for their feet.

With its long history, several elements of traditional Japanese culture and customs remain within the art of sumo. The most noticeable is the outfit. During the match, rikishi (wrestlers) wear his hair in a topknot, while the gyoji (referee) wears a silk outfit resembling the style of samurai during the Edo period (1603-1868). Prior to the match, rikishi throw salt into the ring as a form of purification, as the dohyo is considered a sacred place – much like the ritual of salt purification within the Shinto religion.

The life of a sumo wrestler is quite interesting. They live in a communal living environment called heya which are “training stables”, along with their trainers and assistants that help them with everything outside the ring – from tying their hair into topknots to preparing their wardrobe.

Practice begins at 5am and ends before noon. After practice is breakfast! Sumo wrestlers only have two meals per day and have a specific diet called chanko which includes a variety of stews and fish. After breakfast is free time, but many wrestlers take naps to get bigger.

So are you ready to eat like a sumo wrestler? We have for a special Chanko recipe that comes straight from the sumo kitchen! Now just because you eat the same dish as a sumo wrestler doesn’t mean you’ll take on their stylish figure. It would take a whole lot of chanko for that!

Chanko Recipe: http://www.zojirushi.com/recipes/-i-chanko-nabe-i-

Product of the Month: Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-AAC10/18

Our new Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-AAC10/18 is the perfect rice cooker especially for novices. It comes with micro computerized Fuzzy logic technology that delivers consistency in cooking delicious rice every time. It is loaded with multiple menu settings including steam setting. Yes, you can use it to steam vegetables, fish and dumplings too! The automatic keep warm function will keep your rice warm and ready to eat, when you’re ready for a meal!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/nlaac

Spring has Sprung

April is finally here, and we are ready to welcome spring with open arms. Winter has been a wonderful time for warm meals and introspection, but now we are ready for warm weather, fresh produce and new life. As the days get longer, we can’t think of a better way to enjoy the sunlight than with friends and family over a delicious meal. So grab your loved ones, pack a meal and plan for a lovely afternoon outdoors.

In the busy pace of modern life, it can be easy to get tangled in the stress and schedule of work, family and caring for a home. Sometimes we forget to stop and enjoy the moments with the ones we love. Food can be a great way to get us out of our heads and into the present moment. After all, everyone has to eat. Why not slow down and enjoy the moment?

At Zojirushi, we know how busy you are. We work hard to make your time in the kitchen as effortless and efficient as possible so you can spend more time where it counts – at the table. If you only get one or two moments to slow down each day, please, spend those moments with the ones you love. And remember a home-cooked meal can be just as easy as a store-bought one. The only difference is, the one you make at home will feed you more than ever imagined, because that’s where the love is.

Fermentation, an old practice finds new life

One of the biggest food trends of 2013 has been fermentation. People everywhere from Portland, Oregon to New York City are making, gifting and trading jars of everything from live kefir cultures to sauerkraut to kimchi. Publications for foodies and health-foodies alike are declaring fermented foods both healthy and delicious. And we, at Zojirushi, agree.

While fermentation has been around longer than human beings themselves, many in the US are rediscovering the age-old practice and breathing new life into it. The slow process can be a great way to step out of modern life and into a simpler era where people lived in harmony with the cycles of nature.

Fermentation literally means the chemical breakdown of a substance by yeast, bacteria or other microorganisms. It is the process that has brought us beer, wine, cheese and pickles. It actually starts the digestion process before we do, making nutrients more accessible to the human body.

Japan has a long history of fermenting foods that dates back to many centuries. In fact, most Japanese staples are in some way fermented and are full of living bacteria: miso, shoyu, sake, katsuobushi and tsukemono. And, many Japanese homes have a jar or pot of something pickling in the cupboard. Umeboshi or salted plums as well as nukazuke or fermented rice bran pickles are two simple forms of pickles that are easy to make at home and commonly found throughout Japan. You will find that the flavors vary slightly from region to region as each prefecture has its own style, making every pickle you taste unique in flavor profile much like a fine wine.

The process is so simple, even you can do it right at home. Homemade pickles make a great side dish to any meal, a unique gift, plus they’re great for your health. You can find many easy recipes and tutorials online, and put a personal stamp on your creation. We look forward to seeing what you make, and hearing all about the magic you create in the process. Happy pickling!

Japanese Tea Ceremony – Sado (茶道)

Having a history that dates back to centuries, Sado holds a long tradition that has evolved over time to an exquisite customary event it is today. It is an elegant display of aesthetic and social excellence as well as an art of performance involving preparation and serving of matcha, the Japanese green tea.

The concept of Japanese aesthetics is found in the definition of Wabi-Sabi, an idea of the most austere form of finding acceptance in imperfection; a belief derived from the Buddhist teaching. The characteristics of wabi-sabi include finding beauty in simplicity and harmony, a balance that is achieved and enhanced with practice of sado.

There are a few essential steps to properly preparing tea at a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Prior to meeting the host, the guests purify themselves by washing their hands and mouth at a stone basin, then they are called to a small room where the host greets each guest with a silent bow. Depending on the formality of the event, guests are served wagashi, a sweet traditional snack, or chaji, a full course meal, with tea.

The preparation of tea begins by gracefully cleaning the utensils-including chawan, the tea bowl, chasen, the whisk, and chashaku, the tea scoop. The host offers the prepared tea to the guest. Each guest takes a sip and wipes the rim of the chawan before offering it to the next guest. Upon receiving the chawan, bows are exchanged and the chawan is raised as a gesture of respect to the host. When the chawan is returned to the host, the host then cleans the utensils and exits the room, completing the ceremony.

The art of sado is so important to Japanese culture that it once was commonly taught in schools. Today, there are classes and clubs dedicated to learning and mastering sado.

Product of the Month: VE® Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-DYC40

This month we would like to feature one of our most advanced water boilers, the VE® Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CY-DYC40. Unlike our other water boilers, this model comes with a battery operated, cordless dispensing system for extra portability. Also, the vacuum-electric hybrid keep warm system keeps water warm non-electronically, providing energy efficiency. The micro computerized temperature control system comes with 3 temperature settings for various uses like making cup noodles, blanching vegetables and steeping various types of teas. All, simply so that you can enjoy hot water whenever and wherever you want!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/cvdyc

The Beauty of Traditional Japanese Craftsmanship

Kaiseki, an Edible Art Form

A trip to Japan can seem like a journey to another planet for some westerners. From the maze of Tokyo subways to the quiet of Kyoto temples, Japan is very much a living contradiction. It is one of the few places in the world where ancient traditions exist alongside modern technology. In Japan, you can order a bowl of ramen, a cappuccino – even a hotel room without ever seeing another human. You can also find some of the greatest handmade items in the world, from silk kimonos to artisanal sweets. While the Japanese have utilized modern technology to their benefit, they have not overlooked the value of craftsmanship and old world tradition – especially on the plate.

In Japan, no meal is more familiar than Kaiseki, a traditional style dinner served at special occasions. There are two types of Kaiseki. Kaiseki (会席) is a traditional multi- course dinner that is served at special occasions such as weddings and funerals. Then there is the type served before a tea ceremony, which is written (懐石). They are both read the same, but used differently.

Let us bring your attention to the Kaiseki (懐石) style dinner. The kanji for Kaiseki literally translate to “stone in bosom” coming from the old practice of Zen monks who would put warm stones in front of their robes to prevent hunger. Over time these kanji began to mean the cuisine for a get-together.

Today Kaiseki exists as a multi-course meal, but also as an edible art form. Everything is considered when putting together a Kaiseki: taste, texture, color and season. Even the dishes and garnishes are carefully chosen to reflect the season and flavor of the meal. The courses have a progression starting with a light appetizer and culminating with dessert and tea. To experience a full Kaiseki is to taste the real flavors of Japan.

Kaiseki is an exquisite embodiment of the Japanese palate, and a far cry from the miso soups and California rolls of your neighborhood sushi restaurant. There are a few restaurants in the US that serve Kaiseki, but the only way to truly experience this edible art form is to travel to Japan. If you ever make it that way, be sure to try a traditional Kaiseki. Be prepared to spend hours eating with the ones you love, and you will surely have an unforgettable experience. Happy eating!

Japanese Tradition: Bamboo Craft: Takezaiku (竹細工)

Bamboo craftwork is one of the oldest artisan traditions that were primarily used by peddlers for carrying their items. Dating back to Muromachi period (1337-1573), it has a rich history from all areas of Japan.

Bamboo has many unique qualities that enable it to be widely used for a variety of everyday items in Japan. Although it is technically a grass, some can grow as tall as trees and grow remarkably fast. What makes it unique is its properties that allow for it have a universal use.

Such items made from bamboo include kitchen utensils, flutes, furniture, interior and exterior walls, as well as many other things. Baskets are the most common items made from bamboo.

Different regions in Japan have become known over the years for specializing in unique bamboo crafts. For instance in Takayama in Nara prefecture, they found a way to use bamboo to make tea whisks that are important to the Japanese tea ceremony. Today Takayama is where the majority of tea whisks are made, with over 120 different types offered. The craftsmen of Miyakonojo in Miyazaki prefecture use bamboo to make archery bows and arrows. Tokyo is also known for making fishing rods from bamboo.

Product of The Month: Mini Bento Stainless Lunch Jar SZ-GD02

Not only is this thing cute and adorable…its durable and amazing!

The unique design utilizes a stainless steel outer body with vacuum insulation which helps keep your meal hot for hours. The main bowl and two side bowls are all microwaveable and BPA free. It comes complete with reusable chopsticks, chopstick holder and easy to carry zip-up tote bag.

Enjoy a great meal on the go. This is a great idea if you’re looking for a way to cut costs this year. Have you ever stopped to calculate how much money you could save if you packed a lunch for work at least once per week? This can be a great way to enjoy food from home wherever you are!

http://zojirushi.com/products/SZGD

Happy February!

February is the month of love and sweets! Not only is the 14th Valentine’s Day, we will also be celebrating National Chocolate Month, all month long! So chocolate lovers, what better time than now for an excuse to indulge in your favorite chocolate treats!

Even better, did you know that chocolate has been linked to serotonin levels in your brain? It is known to make you feel better and lower blood pressure. It’s also an international symbol of love, so share your favorite chocolate dessert with the person you love.

Wherever you are in the world this month, take some time to celebrate by sharing a bit of chocolate with the ones you love. That means family, friends, co-workers and partners. Wishing all of you a very happy February full of love and sweet eats!

Ramen

One of the most popular foods in Japan, especially on a cold winter day, is ramen. It’s hard to believe that ramen has only been a part of the Japanese foodway for about 100 years. Yes, only 100 years! Surprisingly it is of a Chinese origin that was later introduced to Japan. At that time, it was called “Shina Soba”, “Shina” meaning China and “Soba” meaning Japanese buckwheat noodles. Chinese cuisines were becoming familiar across Japan in the early Showa period (mid 1920s to 1930s), and ramen quickly became a popular dine-out dish.

Today ramen has an identity far from its Chinese roots. From the giant steaming bowls in subway stations to the instant packets in the supermarkets, ramen has become a symbol of Japanese culture. It’s up there with Mt. Fuji, Skyscrapers, and kimono! You can find ramen at every turn in Japan from the miso ramen of Hokkaido to the tonkotsu ramen of Hakata.

In America, chefs across the country have elevated the bowl of ramen to an art of fine dining. They are taking ramen and twisting it on its side. We have seen ramen made with abalone, mushroom – even banana-coconut ramen pudding! The creativity never seems to end.

If you don’t have a ramen restaurant near you, instant ramen can be a fun creative way to throw a “make your own ramen party”. Add a variety of fresh ingredients such as homemade broth, organic scallions, chard, soft boiled egg or slow roasted meat and make it gourmet! Whether you enjoy a packaged ramen, or the gourmet variety, you’ll taste a little bit of Japan in every bowl. A history rich with international flavors!

Japanese Culture – The Kimono 着物

The origin of the word Kimono means ‘clothing’ in Japanese. The first Kimono appeared during the Nara Period, around 710 AD, and many changes have been made to the style of kimono since then. As new techniques were developed, the kimono became more comfortable to wear, and suitable for all body types.

Over time, people began to wear kimonos in layers of colors. The colors were selected depending on the occasion and season. In the Kamakura Period (1192-1338), colors and patterns of kimono began to represent social status. Common people wore colors that represented their political class, and warriors dressed in colors that represented their leaders.

During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the Japanese adopted western clothing with heavy influence from foreign cultures. Kimonos with family crests were required when worn for formal occasions.

Today kimonos can often be seen at traditional events and special occasions. They are often worn at weddings and graduation ceremonies. Some kimonos are so difficult to put on that many women use the help of their mothers, or enroll in kitsuke classes where they learn how to wear them properly.

Product of The Month: Stainless Mug with Tea Filter SM-JTE34/46

Zojirushi is featuring the Stainless Mug with Tea Filter (SM-JTE34/46) as the Product of The Month in February. This mug comes with a stainless steel vacuum insulation that keeps beverages hot or cold for hours. The Tea Leaf Filter lets you steep your tea directly inside the bottle and stops loose tealeaves from flowing out while drinking. It has a nonstick interior coating that allows for easy cleaning and comes with wide mouth that accommodates full sized ice cubes when making cold drinks. The mug is available in two colors and in an 11 oz. or 16 oz. capacity.

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/smjte

Happy New Year from Zojirushi!

We hope you all had a wonderful New Year! The New Year marks a fresh start for all of us. It is a chance to trade in old habits for better ones otherwise known as resolutions. It is a path to spring cleaning, healthy eating and mending relationships. What better way to start fresh this year than at the table? If you have been meaning to make more meals at home or use more produce from your local farmers market, then go for it! Clean out the fridge, and stock up with local winter produce. Let the freshest fruits and vegetables guide your daily menu inspiration. Let us help you in the kitchen with our wonderful line of rice cookers and indoor griddles and grills. It is our firm belief that shared food creates shared memories that last a lifetime. With very best wishes for 2013, Happy Cooking!

Panko: A uniquely Japanese item

It’s surprising how many people in the US aren’t familiar with panko.  The light-as-air breadcrumbs are not your all American store-bought breadcrumbs nor are they the homemade variety of your mother’s generation. In a category all its own, panko has a light and delicate quality to it that offers the perfect airy crunch to most proteins. In the Japanese cuisine, you will find most deep-fried food such as tonkatsu, croquette and ebi furai coated with panko; it creates a deliciously crispy coating on the outside. In fact, you have probably seen the gold and flaky meat on white rice showcased in the window of your local Japanese restaurant. While panko is becoming increasingly well known across the states, we are seeking for more creative ways to put a new twist on this old favorite.

These flaky morsels are made with crustless bread making them less likely to absorb oil and grease. They are the perfect breading to achieve a light, non-greasy fry. In the states, we have seen a new wave of panko recipes with items like fried chicken, eggplant parmesan, crab cakes, cobblers and salted caramel panko shortbread. These crunchy flaky breadcrumbs can be used wherever traditional breadcrumbs are called for and more. They will add a uniquely light crunch to any meal that will be sure to impress guests and get the conversation started.

Panko can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores as well as in your local Japanese market. Sprinkle it on top of a seasonal gratin, fruit cobbler or even as part of a crunchy pie crust. As always, be sure to share your creative use of panko with us on Facebook (facebook.com/zojirsuhiUSA) and Twitter (@ZojirushiUSA). We look forward to seeing your creations!

Japanese Traditions

The art of calligraphy, dating back to the art form introduced by China in the sixth or seventh century, is still an important element in the Japanese culture today. The brush dipped in ink is used to create an art of characters, using various shading of the ink while maintaining accurate composition of each characters.

In January a very special Japanese tradition is celebrated. On the 2nd of the month, the first calligraphy writing of the New Year called Kakizome (書初め) is held. This is when we write words or phrases that symbolize our resolutions or wishes for the year to come.

Product of The Month: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-PBC10

This multi-functional electric skillet allows you to cook many things, from sautéing to stewing, and grilling as well.  The adjustable temperature setting can keep your dish at a specific temperature, so it is a must have product for parties and get-togethers. It is easy to use and easy to clean with its titanium infused ceramic cooking surface. And it is the ideal tool for a warm at-the-table dining. Let the fun of hotpot cooking begin!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/eppbc

Visit Zojirushi 101 for delicious recipes and fun tips for hotpots!

The Holiday Season

Winter

December is a time for celebration in many traditions. It is a time to come together with the people you love over big meals, and celebrate life. At Zojirushi, we work hard to help cultivate the magic at the table. If we can make your experience in the kitchen easier and more convenient, then we are doing our job.

Whether you are making something simple, or something complex, what’s important is that you’re making it with love. A meal made at home is a meal worth sharing. No matter how you choose to celebrate this December, we hope you are sharing these moments with the people you love. As always, we would love to hear from you this holiday season with pictures and stories from your home kitchen. To see how you use our products and recipes of your own is why we do what we do. Here’s to a season filled with good meals and love. Happy cooking!

Onigiri, a common Japanese food

Heard of sushi? Sashimi? What about onigiri? Most people in the states may have not. Onigiri is simply white rice formed into a triangular or oval shape and filled with anything from fish to pickles and wrapped in seaweed. Sound delicious? While this standard Japanese food closely resembles sushi, it is not a form of sushi. The rice used for onigiri is plain rice or sometimes lightly salted, while rice used for sushi is seasoned with vinegar, sugar and salt. This simple treat, sometimes called rice balls, is found in convenience stores across Japan and other parts of Asia. If there is a Japanese supermarket nearby, you may even find it there too!

These rice balls are rich with Japanese history. Dating back to the 11th century, Lady Murasaki, a Japanese novelist and a poet, wrote of people eating tonjiki, the original name of onigiri, in her well known diary Murasaki Shikibu Nikki. And as rice balls made rice portable, samurai were known to pack them in a bamboo sheath and take them as their meal during battles. It wasn’t until the 1980s however, that these snacks were mass produced by machines and became widely available in stores.

A simple item made of seaweed, rice and a salty something in the middle might not sound too appealing to the standard American palate. Some folks might find it boring, unfamiliar or just plain too heavy for an afternoon pick-me-up. In Japan, however, that is exactly what it is — a little sustenance on the way back to the train station.

To understand onigiri, is to begin to understand Japanese cuisine. How? With a few basic ingredients, you can find depth that spans centuries. Next time you are in your local Japanese supermarket, keep an eye out for the onigiri shelf. Pick out few different fillings, take them home and experiment. You might be surprised by what you find. You can also always make your own onigiri at home. With a Zojirushi rice cooker, you are more than halfway there!

Product of the Month: Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-NVC10/18

Our December Product of the Month is the most innovative rice cooker from Zojirushi, the Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-NVC10/18.  It uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) that allows the rice cooker to actually learn from your cooking history and adjust its cooking cycle for perfect results.  It also cooks rice with the same consistency so that you’ll have tasty rice in summer or winter.  The inner pan is coated with platinum infused nonstick coating which alkalizes the water when poured into the inner cooking pan.  Alkaline water breaks down the protein on the surface of the rice grain and water is able to penetrate the rice grain more easily, making it taste sweeter.  In addition, this machine has 3 pressure settings and multiple menu settings for the best cooking results.

The NP-NVC is by far the most complete and exclusive rice cooker we have offered. This product undoubtedly advances the latest technology and engineering capabilities to provide you with the best rice cooker experience.

http://platinumricecooker.com/

November is here!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already November. October has flown by leaving us in a barren wonderland of brown and orange. School is in full swing and holiday season is just around the corner. At Zojirushi that means one thing— more cooking!

Between the crisp weather, the short days and the holiday season, there is plenty of reason to get together over good food. And, why not make this year different from the rest? Who says Thanksgiving dinner needs to be the same old turkey, string beans and mashed potatoes? Step away from the norms of yesteryear, and make this season your own. Surprise your friends with something completely unexpected this time.  Whether that means a meal made entirely from local ingredients, or turkey enchiladas with rice and beans, we ask you to use your creativity this holiday season.  And as always, Zojirushi will be here to help you along the way.

We look forward to hearing from the most important people in our company: You! We want to see all the individual ways that you create thoughtful and innovative meals this November.  Please share your, stories, pictures and recipes with us on our Facebook and Twitter page. We really look forward to seeing what you create. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Okonomiyaki

How do you like your pancakes? Do you take them with butter, maple syrup, chocolate chips or blueberries? How about pork? What about with bonito flakes and mayonnaise on top? Sounds good? To most Americans, probably not.

Okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancakes, are savory  treats enjoyed for lunch and snack across Japan.  Often filled with things like seafood, bacon, cabbage or green onion, these pancakes are significantly more substantial than their American counterparts.  Okonomi literally means, “what you like” and Yaki means, “grilled” making these sizzling delicacies, quite literally, a mixture of whatever you want.

If you ever have the chance to travel through Japan, be sure to sample okonomiyaki whenever and wherever you can. There are many versions of these pancakes depending on the region. However, you don’t need to cross the pacific to try okonomiyaki. These pancakes are fun and easy to make at home. A simple Google search and a trip to your local Japanese market are all you need to explore new flavors in your own kitchen. And the best way to make okonomiyaki at home? A Zojirushi Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle!

So, next time you’re stumped on what to make for Sunday lunch, why not try something completely new and different? Surprise your family with something they’ve never heard of and never could have imagined.  Happy cooking!

Product of The Month: Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker BB-PAC20

This month we would like to highlight the Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker (BB-PAC20).  From our great line of bread machines, this is the newest edition.  If we could sum up the true value of this product it would be versatility.  The technology behind the Virtuoso Breadmaker is amazing.  It is as easy as adding all of the ingredients in the baking pan, closing the lid, and pressing the start button.  With automated settings the Virtuoso knows the correct baking time and temperature to deliver perfect breads every time.  With multiple menu settings, you can bake a variety of breads from white to gluten free to sourdough and even make jam and cake! This product makes baking easy and fun for novice to experts.  The Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker will make the perfect gift this holiday season!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/bbpac

At Zojirushi we’ve taken the time to test tons of incredible recipes.  Go to our website to check out all the delicious recipes you can start making in your new breadmaker. http://www.zojirushi.com/user/scripts/user/prod_recipe_list.php?prod_category_id=3

Moving Into Fall

Happy Halloween!

The end of October marks a favorite holiday in the US, Halloween! For many, Halloween means costumes, trick-or-treating and parties. For us, the holiday is a great time to get together with family and friends, and enjoy good times over food and drinks. At Zojirushi, we bring you products that help you entertain effortlessly so that you may focus on the things that really matter.

This season, we’d love to see you get creative with your cooking. Scour your local markets for the freshest and most beautiful ingredients, take cues from our collection of recipes and just have fun with it! From rice cookers to breadmakers to skillets, we’ve got plenty of tools to help you make a great feast.

Don’t forget to share pictures of your creations with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to see how you make Zojirushi your own!

Kawaii Bento

There is an expression often used in Japan to describe the cutest of the cute: “CHO KAWAII”" SUPA KAWAII” meaning “Super Cute”. For as convenient and functional as most things are in Japan, they are often just as cute. We are a culture that has perfected the idea of cute from nail art, to vacuum bottles to home appliances. And, our food is no exception.

Ever heard of a bento box? Bento is a boxed lunch of Japanese cuisine.  It’s a single-portion meal often consisting of rice, fish or meat, as well as cooked and pickled vegetables. You can find bento boxes everywhere in Japan, from a local convenient store to a fancy restaurant. But most people still make their own at home.

Bentos can be traced all the way back to the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), and continues evolving through the times. Although the traditional Hiromaru bento with just rice and a single pickled plum can still be found, the bento has developed into much much more. There is kyaraben, or “character bento” modeled after popular anime characters, and oekakiben or “picture bento” modeled after people, animals, buildings and plants. Yep, that’s right, cute boxed lunches! All you need to do is search “Bento Decorations” to find endless pictures, tips and tools for bento making and designing.  You will find everything from cat shaped rice balls to flower shaped carrots, anime character molds and animal shaped bread.

Preparing a bento is a fun and creative way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. It might take a little bit more time to prepare than your usual peanut butter and jelly, but it’s so much fun! There are so many resources online; you will be making your own edible creations in no time! Don’t forget to share your work with us on Facebook and Twitter. Happy cooking!

KARE RICE

Most Americans associate Japanese food with sushi, some may think of ramen. But do you think about Japanese curry? Believe it or not, curry is one of the most popular menu item in Japanese cuisine. Dating back to the Meiji era (1868-1912), curry has a rich history in Japanese culture. Originally introduced by the British during their occupation of India, curry has since been widely accepted by Japan and is now considered their national dish.

Although it was inspired by Indian curry, Japanese curry has its own flavor and style. Ranging from deep reds to mustard yellows, it’s often served with rice, bread, or udon noodle. A typical Japanese curry sauce has chopped vegetables with chicken, pork or beef. Sometimes it is topped with tonkatsu, breaded deep fried pork cutlet, or a hamburger patty.  Most Japanese homes make curry using instant curry roux. Pre-made, ready-to-eat curry is also widely available in most Japanese supermarkets.

The next time you find yourself in a Japanese market, keep an eye out for the curry section. Japanese curry rice is one of many delicious Japanese comfort food.  Try something new next time because you never know what you might discover. Food is a passageway to new cultures and fascinating histories, so dive in!

Product of the Month: Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-TSC10/18

The Zojirushi Product of the Month for October is the Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-TSC10/18. This is a multi cooker that blends simple functionality with complex technology. It is equipped with a computer chip that automatically adjusts cooking length and temperature accordingly to cook flawless rice. It even has a “Harder Rice” setting that would cook the rice firmer, perfect for pouring curry sauce over! It doubles as a steamer with its Steam menu setting and a steamer basket and it comes with a cake menu setting that lets you bake a cake in your rice cooker! Not to mention, it is attractive with the now so popular brushed stainless steel finish that will definitely go with any kitchen.

http://zojirushi.com/products/nstsc

September Welcomes A New Season

Fall Back Into School

September means one thing for most people—back to school.  And, whether you’re sending your child back for another year, or heading off to college, we have products to make the return to school more exciting. Our Stainless Lunch Jars make the perfect accessory for lunch and snack time. The stackable inner bowls that go inside an insulated container make it easier than ever to have fresh, home-cooked food away from home. Our line of conventional rice cookers and water boilers make simple food that much simpler for the busy and budget conscious college students. Whatever your back to school needs are, we’re confident we have the product to meet them. Wishing you and yours a great school year full of fun and learning.

Eating Seasonably All Year Round

As summer tapers into fall and the days shorten, our local markets fill with new and different produce. We slowly see the end of fresh summer stone fruit and heirloom tomatoes, and welcome a wide variety of squash, cabbage and beans. Our light cravings from long warm days transform into a need for heavier fare to warm us through the colder months. As with summer, all things must come to an end. But with one end, comes a new beginning–fall. At Zojirushi, we welcome this change and look forward to cooking a brand new collection of recipes with seasonal fall produce.

The month of September holds two very interesting celebrations in Japan.  The first is Keiro-No-Hi, Respect For The Elderly Day that is on September 17th.  It is similar to Grandparent’s Day celebrated in America except in Japan all elderly people are recognized and respected on this day.  The second celebration is Jyuugo-ya where we recognize the harvest season and decorate our homes to witness and enjoy the full moon.  Traditionally, people enjoy tsukimi dango, or “moon-viewing rice dumplings” and use seasonal fruits and vegetables as decorations and bring a table outside to gaze at the beauty the full moon brings.

September Is National Rice Month!

In 1991 the Federal Government in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture appointed September to be National Rice Month.  The goal is to promote rice use and consumption.  This month you will find displays and information about rice facts supplied by the USA Rice Federation throughout retail stores. 

Rice has always been an important part of the Japanese diet, and the US has seen a rapid growth in rice consumption in the past few years.  There are two reasons for this growth.  One is the expansion of certain ethnic groups which have always had rice as a part of their daily diet.  The second is the increased exposure Americans get to new foods and cultures.
http://www.usarice.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=114&Itemid=122

In honor of National Rice Month, we are posting one rice recipe a day on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to “Like” or “Follow” us!
Facebook.com/ZojirushiUSA
Twitter.com/ZojirushiUSA

Product of The Month: Stainless Mug (SM-KHE 36/48)

In September, Zojirushi would like to spotlight the Stainless Mug SM-KHE36/48.  This is a very ingenious beverage container.  Designed to keep the contents warm or cold for hours, it also has many features that make this easy to use and amazingly durable.  If you list all the things you’d want in a portable mug you would find those elements in this Zojirushi Stainless Mug: a flip open lid with safety lock that prevents the lid from opening accidently, a stopper that disassembles easily for thorough cleaning, and a Slick Steel™ finish interior that prevents stains and corrosion.  Quite simply, the Zojirushi Stainless Mug is the next evolution in travel mug design and function.

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/smkhe