The Food Jar, a Moveable Feast

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we have sharing on our minds. After all, aren’t all relationships about sharing? We share experiences, memories, meals, homes. Some of us share expenses, kids and responsibilities! We can’t think of one thing worth having, but not sharing. This Valentine’s Day, we wanted to steer away from the usual chocolate and flowers, and offer you something more to share.

If you are not yet familiar with our Stainless Food Jars, we invite you to get to know them. With state of the art stainless steel, vacuum insulation technology and gasket seals, these puppies are built to last! We have spent years perfecting these jars to create a product that keeps food warm and delicious with minimum spills. Now, we offer a wide variety in shapes and sizes for every occasion.

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So, why not give the gift of a homemade meal this V-Day? Whether you bring lunch to share with that special someone or offer a meal made with love to a friend or colleague, a hot meal is a wonderful way to show that you care. We have developed several romantic soups for this particular occasion. Check our recipes for ideas and inspiration, and make it your own! We promise, that special someone will not be disappointed! Cheers!

Nanohana, A Japanese Delicacy

This time of year green nanohana take on bright yellow blossoms and a fresh taste. The vibrant yellow buds on this favorite veggie are a sure-sign that spring has indeed sprung. Nanohana or canola plant is actually one of the oldest vegetables cultivated in Asia. With a look and flavor similar to broccolini, you will see nanohana in many Japanese meals as a side, kaiseki course, or pickled and served in a small dish. It is well loved wherever it lands on the table!

nanohana

Nanohana is a multifaceted veggie that can be served in a number of ways. High in vitamin C and other nutrients, every morsel is edible from flower to stem. You might find it in the states this year under the umbrella of “broccoli”, and you will be able to identify it straight away by its yellow flowers. Keep in mind that nanohana flowers can be very small in size sometimes making them a challenge to find.

If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon nanohana, you will have no problem making it taste delicious. You can boil, steam, sauté in a stir-fry or dip in tempura batter for a seasonal treat. If it is young, you can even enjoy it raw and thinly sliced in a hearty rice salad. Traditionally, nanohana is blanched, dipped in dashi and sprinkled with bonito flakes this time of year. Try it in the traditional sense if you get a chance!

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Nanohana with small yellow blossoms is a magical sign of early spring in Japanese culture. If you do find this vegetable in your local farmers market, it will be a sign of good luck for the months to come. Happy hunting!

Donabe, Japanese Earthenware

If you would like to give your one-pot dinners a rustic, country flavor, then treat yourself to a Donabe pot this year. Donabe are clay or earthenware pots for cooking in Japan. You can set them directly on the fire or pop them in the oven for a simple and delicious meal! This was actually one of the oldest tools used to cook rice. They were used in Japan before the invention of electricity. It is a uniquely traditional way to prepare rice.

Most Donabe that are crafted with quality are incredibly durable, and should be able to survive through years of use. There are Donabe in Japan that have survived for centuries! Occasionally however they do chip or crack. Do not leave Donabe empty over the heat. Make sure it is full of tasty food or rice before cooking!

donabe2If you do make the jump and decide to purchase a Donabe, then please keep us posted with pictures and recipes! We would love to see how you make these beautiful pots your own!

Product of The Month: Tuff Sports SJ-SHE10

The Product of The Month we would like to feature in February is the SMTuff Sports SJ-SHE10. Perfect for those who are active, this vacuum insulated bottle holds up to 32 oz. of your favorite beverage, hot or cold, for hours. With a lid that conveniently turns into a cup, the Tuff Sports is perfect for soccer practice, tennis matches, even your kids’ Tee-ball game!

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

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Winter is Ramen Time

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The more I think about the ramen culture, the more I think there’s more to it than meets the eye. On the one hand, ramen has become so trendy in America that it’s gone mainstream. Ramen restaurants seem to be springing up everywhere–from your neighborhood strip mall to urban boroughs. Yes, your styrofoam cup of noodles from your college days has grown up to become a deep, complex broth of sophisticated flavors. And the noodles? Al dente and hand made, of course.

The amazing dish in the photo above is from my recent trip to New York–IPPUDO restaurant in Manhattan, which specializes in the Hakata style tonkotsu, the broth made from boiling pork bones for as much as 15 hours. As you might expect, the salty soup is rich, deep and hearty enough to be a complete meal. Here you see it with toppings of sweetish BBQ pulled pork and takana, a Japanese mustard green.
$22 for a bowl of this ramen, thank you–and I waited outside for 45 minutes to get in.

But there’s a dark side to ramen, especially in our country where we’re quick to criticize and raise the alarm on the dangers of unhealthy and yucky instant ramen. Too much sodium, too much processing, too much MSG. Wait a minute–instant anything is fast hotwaterfood, and not meant to be eaten 3 times a day anyway! A recent 2-year long study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition found that South Korean women had a greater increase of heart disease, diabetes and even stroke, as a result of eating two or more servings of instant ramen a week.

The study caused an outrage in South Korea, where national pride was at stake for a food as popular as kimchee. Easily the highest per capita consumers of instant ramen, or ramyeon as it is known there, in the world, the study triggered some deep emotions of stubborn resistance, some mild guilt and a lot of indignation. It didn’t seem like the South Koreans were about to give up their beloved instant noodles anytime soon. And to be fair, the study couldn’t prove that other factors in the test subjects’ diets didn’t also influence the outcome. The Koreans pooh-poohed the study, saying it came from the land of cheeseburgers.

Other critics point to how instant noodles have become a dangerous go-to solution for feeding the hungry in the impoverished parts of the world. The dried food stores well, ships chineseboyeasily, and it is above all cheap. Advocates of healthier, “real food” warn us of the dangers of super-processed food, and how the answer to world hunger lies in agriculture. But this is easier said than done; many people have no choice when faced with eating to survive.

Instant ramen can be eaten healthier with the addition of vegetables and other ingredients, and maybe less of the soup base which contains all the sodium. So if you can’t beat the trend, why not try to make it just a little better for you? Especially the packaged kind, which is so tweakable to suit anyone’s taste and food culture, no wonder it’s conquered the planet.

It’s funny to me how a food that is helping to feed the world can be the bad guy too. Bet Momofuku Ando never thought his invention would cause such a stir (Google him if you’re interested).

I’ll never give up my ramen, instant or otherwise.

Chinese boy on train, photo courtesy of The Noodle Narratives, University of California Press

Where Am I?
Can you guess where I took my Zojirushi bottle? Let me know! I was there for 5 hours…

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Finding Home in the New Year!

Finding Home in the New Year!

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Happy January! With a new year and a fresh start on the horizon, the possibilities to make this year a great one are simply endless! We have countless new products, recipes and tips to share with you. From rice cookers to stainless products, we are delighted to unveil the fruits of our labor. We spend years testing recipes and fine-tuning products to ensure they are just right for you – our number one inspiration!

While our office is located in sunny Southern California, our hearts and much of our inspiration still hails from Japan. It’s amazing just how much of Japan is available locally and all around us. From Japanese farmers and nurseries that specialize in native plants and produce, to Japanese markets filled to the brim with memories of home. There always seems a way to add familiar flair to whatever it is we do.

 

This year, we would like to focus on coming home. If you’re like us and have two places that you call home, you’ll understand what we mean. Maybe it’s that jar of market jam on your turkey sandwich or east coast lobster as a special treat! We keep a tub of homemade pickled plums in the office just in case we get that little craving for a taste of home! There are so many ways to create a feeling of “home” while staying local, it is just incredible!

 

We would like to share some inspirations from our home through Japanese produce, products, and equipment. In turn, we ask that you share your favorite kitchen secret from home. Pickled shrimp? Patty melt? Fish tacos? Whatever it is, we want to know! Share your kitchen secrets and memories with us on Facebook and here on the blog.  Cheers!

 

 

Mitsuba: An Unusual Dinner Guest

Looking for a new green to add to your repertoire? Mitsuba could be just the thing to bring a little something to the table this month. Mitsuba, also known as Japanese parsley is known for its three leaves, fresh taste, and versatility. Somewhere in between shiso and celery leaf, mitsuba is bright and herbal with a fresh edge. You can eat every last bit of the plant including the stems, roots and seeds! And it’s a cinch to grow. If you have a garden box or a backyard plot, your mitsuba should be abundant in no time!

 

Enjoy mitsuba raw in a fresh salad or in your morning green machine. Garnish freshly chopped mitsuba over steamed clams and other fish dishes for a fresh finish or add to soups and stocks for an exotic edge. Mitsuba would also be great tossed in a rice salad with other fresh herbs and some lemons. Needless to say, there are many delicious options for this happy three-leafed plant!

 

Tell us how you like to use this magical little plant here on the blog. Who knows, it just might end up in one of our new recipes! Happy cooking!

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Homegrown Pickles: Using the Tsukemono Ki

No Japanese table is complete without a little pickled something. Daikon, plums, cucumbers, cabbage — you name it! We love a little salty/sour something during mealtimes. And we’ve got some good news – you can DIY your own pickles with the help of a Tsukemono Ki! Can you say it three times fast?

 

The Tsukemono Ki is a handy little tool made for pickling vegetables fast. In ancient times, pickles were made in giant wooden and ceramic tubs with large stones. This was a messy and time-consuming process that has been made more convenient over the centuries. The small and easy to store Tsukemono Ki is a little pickle pot that sits on your table, counter or in the cupboard with a lid that has a screw attached to an inner plate that applies pressure to make Tsukemono.

It will make crisp and crunchy pickles out of just about anything in a matter of hours. And they are widely available online and in Japanese markets!

 

Go ahead, experiment and mix a little bit of your home with ours. How about pickled Washington Apples? Napa Cabbage? Bell peppers? You be the judge! Pickle away and let us know what you find. Here’s to a little something sour! Cheers.

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PRODUCT OF THE MONTH – Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-GBC05

We are delighted to share with you what just might be our cutest product yet…

Our little Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer is all dressed up in a beautiful new stainless dark brown color! This gem pairs the latest Zojirushi technology with streamline design to create the ultimate appliance for singles and young couples featuring…

 

  • Superior induction heating (IH) technology
  • 3 cup size ideal for singles and smaller families
  • Detachable and washable inner lid
  • Automatic keep warm
  • Made in Japan

 

http://zojirushi.com/products/npgbc

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I’ll Shoyu!

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OK, old joke, I know…sorry, but I always get a kick out of puns that cross international language barriers. Shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce, the most awesome condiment in the history of Asian cuisine. And since I could totally sustain myself on Japanese cooking exclusively, I just love shoyu.

I pretty much drizzle it on anything if I’m having a dish with white rice–but I do not dump it on the rice! First of all, that would be way too much sodium for me, but it’s just the purist in me that wants to eat white rice the way it was meant to be eaten–as an accompaniment to your entreé, not as a side dish. I still wince when I see people do this, but hey, I get it–rice has no flavor on its own. But the flavor comes from the foods you eat with the rice. Here’s a hint if you travel to Japan: refrain from doing it because it’s just bad form–let’s keep the white rice white, people!

Having said that, I am guilty of overusing shoyu and probably season my food when it

Hiyayakko--cold tofu

Hiyayakko–cold tofu

doesn’t really need it. But my argument is that good quality shoyu enhances the flavor of grilled fish, pan-fried steak, boiled vegetables, even fried eggs. And it absolutely belongs on cold tofu and boiled spinach.

So where does soy sauce come from, and who discovered it? All soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, but there are many variations, ranging from the thicker, inky black sauces to the more transparent, reddish ones. Taste, color and texture is controlled by intricate differences in the brewing and fermentation process, and by the aging process as well, much like the way fine wine is made. I won’t get into too much technical detail here, but when purchasing soy sauce, just avoid the ones made by chemical processes. The best ones are naturally brewed.

Ohitashi--boiled spinach

Ohitashi–boiled spinach

The Chinese, of course, discovered soy sauce more than 2500 years ago, which makes it one of man’s oldest condiments. But the Japanese didn’t start their version until about 500 AD., when a Zen priest is said to have brought it back from China and started modifying its ingredients and brewing technique. The Kikkoman® company first introduced their soy sauce to America back in the 1800s, and they have been producing shoyu locally from Walworth, Wisconsin since 1972.

Soy sauce is widely used today by both professional chefs and home cooks. I’ve heard of shoyu being the secret ingredient in curry dishes and tomato based beef stews, so it’s obviously not being used just to bring the salt flavor out. Much of it has to do with the inherent umami in soy sauce, too. The Kikkoman® company even recommends sprinkling it on ice cream because it “draws out the flavor and gives it a delicious caramel-like aroma.” Whaaa? I haven’t tried this one yet–I think I’ll keep my Haagen-Dazs® the way it is.

Credits: Hiyayakko by pixelatedcrumb, Ohitashi by otakufood

Where Am I?
Can you guess where I took my Zojirushi bottle? Let me know! I go here almost every other week…

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December Is The Month of Celebration

We are so happy to be celebrating the holiday season with you again! This time of year is always special as families come together, gifts start piling up under the tree, holiday parties are in full effect, and the colder weather makes warm recipes that much more delicious!

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Food, however, is not the only thing ringing through our senses this season. Since 1925, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been the song playing throughout theatres, malls, and radio stations during the month of December. This is also a time when people are running around buying gifts and putting together grocery lists.  Although it is a busy season, don’t forget to take a moment, relax with a cup of something warm and soothing, and enjoy life! Soak in this holiday season with everything that makes it special.

Toshikoshi, The Year End Soba Noodle

Soba is not as well known as Ramen is in the States, but it is a delicious and widely available noodle made from buckwheat flour. Often served cold with a chilled dipping sauce, you will find soba noodles everywhere from convenience stores and train stations, to specialty restaurants and food courts in Japan. The cut and texture of the noodles, as well as the temperature and flavor of the broth all depend on how and where you are eating soba. New Year’s soba have their own distinct flavor and name that is as fun to say as they are to slurp – Toshikoshi Soba!

soba

Toshikoshi Soba is the year end noodle dish eaten on New Year’s Eve. They have a distinct flavor and way of preparation, but what it symbolizes is what matters most. The tradition of eating soba noodles on New Year’s Eve dates all the way back to before the start of the Edo era, between 1603 and 1868. Back then, the act of eating long noodles symbolized a long life ahead. Buckwheat is a strong and resilient plant that can survive harsh weather, and therefore, this symbol of strength is another reason we enjoy soba during this time of year. Buckwheat noodles are also a symbol of letting go of hardships because they are so easy to cut while eating! Overall, Toshikoshi Soba is a way to offer good luck for the year ahead.

Toshikoshi Soba is served warm in a hot broth made of dashi, mirin, and soy sauce. This dish is often garnished with fresh cut spring onions and fish cake. If you are intrigued, keep in mind that you can enjoy soba all year round. Buckwheat noodles are delicious and lower in calories than whole-wheat pasta! They are rich in Magnesium, B vitamins and can act as a powerful antioxidant. Did we mention that they are also delicious?

So, what are you waiting for? Check the imported food aisle in your local grocer, and start experimenting with this wonderful noodle variety! Happy hunting!

Hyakunin Isshu – A Popular Game For This Season

If you have ever been in Japan around this time of year, you may have seen some people playing a unique card game based off of 100 ancient Japanese waka poems. Each poem has been written in a specific rhythm accompanied by an intricate drawing. These pictures and poems serve as an anthology of Japanese history.

Today, there are two variations of the card games used with these Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. One is called Karuta asobi and is similar to a matching game where you need to identify two matching cards. The other game is called Bozu mekuri and it utilizes the images on the cards. The object of that game is to gather as many cards as possible by the end of the deck.

Product of The Month: VE® Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer (CV-DCC40/50)

This month, we would like to introduce our brand new Water Boiler, the Zojirushi VE® Water Boiler & Warmer (CV-DCC). What a great product for us to feature this month, as it would be the perfect gift for that special someone who loves freshly brewed tea each day. The newest in our magnificent line of appliances features…

  • Super VE technology that allows for excellent heat retention.
  • 4 temperature settings that offers micro computerized control
  • Quick Temp setting that lets you keep water warm without boiling
  • Auto Shut-Off, a safety function to prevent damage from overheating

For more information and specific product details visit our site.

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

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Flu Season Comfort

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Ever wonder what everybody else eats when they’re down with a cold? Having been brought up on okayu, or rice porridge, whenever I came down with the flu as a kid, I started wondering what other cultures do when the sniffles take over. Of course, the great American cure is chicken soup–apparently it’s even good for the soul; and there have been scientific studies done on its actual physical benefits too, like the steam from hot soup being good for congestion, or the inhibitive effects on inflammation which is the cause of sore throats.

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matzo ball soup

Most comfort foods during times of illness are easy to digest and kind of on the bland side because, let’s face it, we don’t have much of an appetite when we’re sick anyway. Hot broth like chicken soup does make us feel better, doesn’t it? It’s also the recommended food in Germany too, and the Jewish variation is Matzo ball soup, often called the “Jewish Penicillin”.

bianco

bianco

In Italy it is of course pasta, but it is strictly dieta in bianco, meaning a white diet. Nothing more than boiled pasta with a little bit of butter or olive oil and parmigiano, the water used to boil the pasta can be a beef broth, but it has to clear, strained, and fat-free. Other cheeses are too strong, so parmesan is used as the only flavoring, and small pasta is used so it can be chewed easily.

Australians love their Vegemite on toast when they’re sick, even though it hasn’t beenvege described in flattering terms by others. President Obama once said “It’s horrible” and called it a “quasi-vegetable by-product paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast.” Vegemite is actually leftover brewer’s yeast extract mixed with vegetable and spice additives. It’s been described as salty, slightly bitter and malty, but it is rich in umami, similar to beef bouillon.

khichri

khichri

In India, a simple porridge of beans, vegetables and rice called khichri (pronounced kich-ah-ree) is their comfort food–used to nourish babies, the elderly and the sick. To many Indians it even has spiritual meaning as a detoxing and cleansing health food. Many versions use spices like curry powder or tumeric, and the white rice (basmati) and lentils are usually cooked to a porridge texture when introduced to babies as their first “adult” food.

congee

congee

And speaking of rice porridge, the Chinese version of okayu, known as congee, and the Korean jook, are both also popular foods for the sick because it is easily digested. Compared to okayu their rice gruel is more soupy. There are similar dishes in other Asian countries as well, under different names of course. In Burma it is hsan byok, in India it is kanji, and in Indonesia it is known as bubur. If you would like to try Japanese okayu, you really don’t have to wait until you’re sick. You don’t even need a rice cooker if you have a thermal food jar like the one in this recipe from Zojirushi. Many rice cookers also have porridge settings, but be sure to read the instructions carefully before cooking this special type of rice dish.

Depending on where you grew up in the world, I’m sure there were comfort foods that you still remember to this day, and I’ll bet if you have kids, you’ve passed it on to them. Being sick wasn’t all that bad, now was it? What did you have when you were sick?

Credits: Matzo Ball Soup by sassygirlz, Bianco Pasta by rinaz, Khichri by inner-gourmet, Congee by shavedicesundays

 

Where Am I?
Can you guess where I took my Zojirushi bottle? Let me know!
Hint: I was only here for about 5 minutes!
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Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving!

Time is flying dear friends, and we have so much to be grateful for this month. November marks our favorite American holiday, the tradition of Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving embodies everything we at Zojirushi believe in. From coming together with loved ones, to sharing a homemade meal, Thanksgiving is a great time for cooking, eating, and giving. It is a time to reflect on all that we have, give thanks for our blessings, and also to give back to the less fortunate. Food drives and community potlucks are some of our favorite weekend outings this time of year.

As we meditate on the spirit of giving, we recognize that it is not only in the charitable sense. Giving thanks is an obvious one for November, but we can give in so many different ways! Ask your kids to give a little more when they do their homework, give more to your spouse, or hold the door open that much longer for a stranger. Whatever giving may mean to you, put it into practice this November. Let’s pay it forward and give!

Although this month is all about giving, it is not the only thing on our mind. We’ve got eating and cooking on our minds as well. With all the delicious seasonal produce available in November, who wouldn’t have food on the brain! From hearty fall pumpkins and squash to luscious persimmons and sweet seasonal quince, we are endlessly grateful to our local farmers!

We hope to share pictures, recipes and ideas with you throughout the month as well as through the winter holidays. We find that YOU are always our biggest inspiration so let us know what you are cooking and eating this month, and Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers, Zojirushi!

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Finding Zen in the Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden or Nihon Teien is a magical place where one may find peace, serenity, art, and balance. These traditional Japanese gardens create perfect miniature landscapes that can be surreal and breathtaking. Throughout Japanese history you will find royal gardens for pleasure and art, or Buddhist gardens for peace and meditation. Stepping into a Japanese garden today is sure to calm the mind as well as please the senses!

Japanese Garden - Blog

Take a moment, close your eyes and imagine a monk delicately drawing lines in the sand of a Buddhist rock garden. Now imagine some golden Koi as they swim through a trickling pond. Then, there is that smell of bitter green tea from a teahouse nearby or a woman shuffling along in her kimono and tabi. These are all characteristics that can be expected in a Japanese garden.

While Japanese gardens seem distinctly of Japanese culture today, they actually originated in China. Japanese merchants who were inspired by the Chinese gardens of the Asuka period, approximately during the years 538 – 710AD, brought the concept back and made it their own, although the culture of the Japanese garden is known to date all the way back to the year 74AD!

Like most things, Japanese gardens have evolved over the centuries while remaining an essential part of the culture. You can find old and modern style gardens all over the world. That’s right, you don’t even have to go to Japan to experience the zen of the Japanese garden. Most American cities keep their own! So check your local parks and museums for a Japanese garden today and enjoy!

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An Ancient Game Still Popular Today

Sugoroku is a popular game played in Japan. It is almost exactly like backgammon with a few minor differences. The illustrious history behind this game is fascinating as well. Once outlawed in Japan for nearly 100 years due to it being used for gambling, it is now a commonly played game by both young and old. What helps make this game popular is the vibrant artwork displayed on the playing board. The rules never change but the elaborate decorative element makes each board unique. There are more variations of game boards than we can even count!

http://www.sugoroku.net/index_e.html

Product of The Month: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50)

For November, we have selected a Product of The Month that could be a huge help to you in the kitchen this Thanksgiving. We’d like to present the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet. This electric skillet can serve for multiple purposes. Its unique design allows for deep soup-type recipes, a flat plate for traditional grilling, and also works as a steamer! Because of how easy it is to clean along with the quality of the product, we are confident that this will be a wonderful edition to your kitchen countertop.

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

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Everyday is a Holiday

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November 17th is Homemade Bread Day

You’ve heard of those wacky holidays that you read about sometimes, that nobody seems to take seriously? Like Houseplant Appreciation Day (Jan. 10th), Lumpy Rug Day (May 3rd), or Be Late For Something Day (Sept. 5th)? I like that last one better than the one that follows it on Sept. 6th, Fight Procrastination Day–honestly, make up your mind–are we supposed to be lazy, or not?

A lot of these days are legit though, and have websites and events that support them every year. Did you know there is a National Rice Ball Day (April 19th) and that September is National Rice Month? It may not surprise you that it’s sponsored by the USA Rice riceballFederation, which promotes rice awareness by helping thousands of grocery stores across the country set up special displays during the month. Retailers typically see an average increase in their rice sales of 50% to 400% during these campaigns, so you know why they’re marketed.

So here are some of my favorite holidays. One special day from each month. Not all have official origins, but I’m sure that someone is remembering these special days somewhere.

January 23rd is National Handwriting Day. Remember that pen and paper is still cool and way more personal than email. Created by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (duh!) back in 1977 to remind us not to forget this basic skill. They chose January 23 because it’s John Hancock’s birthday, who provided us with the most important signature in U.S. history.
hancocksignatureFebruary 27th is No Brainer Day. We can all use a day like this–don’t do anything that requires more than a minimal amount of thinking. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it quickly! This day was actually created by someone that’s been documented, but I didn’t want to research it because that would be against the spirit of this day.

March 10th is Middle Name Pride Day. I like this one–some of us hate our middle name; some of us use it regularly. But someone in your family gave it to you for a reason, so honor them by remembering it once a year.

4th Thursday of April is Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Surprisingly, this day wasn’t initiated until 1993; I would have guessed its origins to be much earlier in our history. Not surprisingly, it was founded by the Ms. Foundation For Women as a way to give girls more insight into work opportunities and future careers.

May 9th is Lost Sock Memorial Day. Perfect! I have at least 12 of them in my sock drawer, waiting sadly for their mates to come home. Alas, they wait in vain…but their owner never gives up hope.

1st Friday of June is National Doughnut Day. Contrary to what you might think, this day was not a marketing ploy by Krispy Kreme® or Winchell’s® or Dunkin’ Donuts®. During WWI, the Salvation Army sent hundreds of brave women volunteers to the front lines in Europe to lend moral support to our fighting soldiers. They made home cooked meals and fried doughnuts, often in hot oil inside metal helmets. The day was established in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army to honor these volunteers.

hotdogs2July 23rd is National Hot Dog Day. You’ve gotta love the American hot dog, consumed by the millions on the 4th of July. Like that other “mystery meat”, SPAM®, no one is quite sure of what’s in a hot dog, and no one really wants to know.

August 13th is National Left Handers Day. Are you a southpaw? I mean, I feel your pain, but I’m sorry–you’re only 10% of the population.

September 13th is Fortune Cookie Day. These are real fortunes found in actual cookies (which is an American invention by the way):
•You will receive a fortune. (cookie)
•You will be hungry again in one hour.
•You are not illiterate.
•Life will be happy. Until the end when you’ll pee yourself a lot.
•The fortune you seek is in another cookie.
•Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.

October 2nd is National Custodial Workers Day. I love this one. It’s only right that we recognize the thousands of janitors who work tirelessly behind the scenes at our schools, churches, offices, etc., to keep the place clean and in good working order. At schools, they are often long time employees who love their work and genuinely love the kids.

November 17th is Homemade Bread Day. No explanation necessary–just start baking; it’sbread so easy these days. If you want to bake the mouth watering Blueberry Bread at the top of this post, take out your breadmaker and go here.

December 10th is Human Rights Day. On a serious note, the United Nations created this day to promote the awareness of human rights around the world. It’s something we take for granted in America, but don’t forget that freedom is not a given in many parts of the world.

So do you feel like you want to create your own holiday? Unfortunately, it takes an act of Congress to get a holiday passed, but anyone can declare a holiday–it’s free. Once you declare your own special day, it’s up to you to publicize it. If it’s interesting enough, you might get some support and people may start to remember it and even celebrate it with you. Good luck!

Where Am I?
turkeyleg2Can you guess where I took my Zojirushi bottle? Let me know! Hint: This is a very famous place. BTW, have a great Thanksgiving!

 

October’s Greetings!

We hope that you are having an enjoyable fall this year. As summer green turns to gold and brown, we enjoy the crisp dark nights of autumn. Warm squash and potatoes fill our plates and hearty stews take the place of light summer salads. There is so much to celebrate this time of year! A brisk evening walk can remind you of the magic this season has to offer.

Between back to school madness and holiday party planning, it can be difficult to stop and enjoy the little things. Give yourself a break this year and enjoy a little. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Take time to enjoy the smell of the changing leaves and flickering pumpkins on doorsteps.autumn-19440_1280

Holiday projects can create space for new adventure, shared memories and edible treats! The simple act of carving pumpkins creates endless seeds for roasting or homemade granola. Fresh fruit can be cut and decorated in festive shapes for Halloween and trick or treaters can try artisanal snacks in lieu of commercial grade candy.

No matter how you spend your fall, be sure to ENJOY it! As always, Zojirushi will be there with you every step along the way. We hope our stainless products provide space for elevated boxed lunches and our water boilers allow you to sip on home brewed green tea You can rest easy knowing that we’ve created the best of the best to help you get through the holiday season with ease. As always, happy cooking!

 

Shogi: The Japanese Strategy Game

 

Just when you think you know everything about Japanese culture, we will surprise you with a fun new fact. Ever heard of a Japanese board game called Shogi? It’s a 2 person strategy board game similar to the American game of Chess. Shogi can be traced all the way back to Chaturanga in India in the 6th Century. It can be traced in its current form back to the 16th Century – now that is a long time ago!

 

shogibox2-httpwww.japanese-games-shop.comshogijapanese-chess-shogi-in-a-box-is-backattachmentshogibox2If you want to play this game, you’ll have to learn the Kanji. Pieces are not shaped like kings and horses, but marked by their kanji. There are kings, pawns, bishops, rooks and so on. The game is like chess in that it is about movement, strategy and turns. It is believed that shogi has the highest game complexity of all chess variants.

There are two professional organizations for the game in Japan – one for men and one for women. Both organizations plan various tournaments around the country. But you don’t need to be professional to play. In fact, you don’t even need to buy a board! These days, there are plenty of online games available at one’s fingertips.

 

Whether you are a seasoned chess player or just looking to get your feet wet, you can dabble in the game of shogi without much commitment. So go ahead, try something new! Let us know what you think!

 

 

Ankimo: The Foie Gras of the Sea

 

Can you imagine a rich briny pillow of sea? It’s just salty enough, but creamy and smooth like butter. In Japan we call it Ankimo, which is monkfish liver. It is treated with salt and sake, steamed and rolled into a cylindrical terrine. It is then sliced and served with fresh vegetables and ponzu sauce. The finished product epitomizes the Japanese flavor profile.  h

Are you intrigued yet? If you are a fan of pate or foie gras, this might be for you. The creamy, buttery quality is not unlike chicken and duck liver. Because it comes from a large fish, it could be too fishy for some. Perhaps it is an acquired taste for the American palate to be discovered and then enjoyed. In the spirit of trying new things, order ankimo next time you are out for sushi. Who knows, you just might surprise yourself! Happy hunting….

Product of The Month: Stainless Mug (SM-KHE36/48)

SM-KHE-GroupIn September we would like to bring attention and talk about a simple yet amazing product from Zojirushi. Our Product of The Month is the SM-KHE Stainless Mug. Not only is it featured in some dashing new colors but it performs perfectly maintaining hot or cold beverages for hours. If you are looking for a high quality water bottle this is it!

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

Hawaiian Kine Rice

finishedI was raised in Hawaii “during hanabata days, when Chunky’s was da bes’ plate lunch in Moilili fo’ ono grindz.” Although I just dated myself tremendously with that statement, I’m guessing that most of our readers don’t even know what I just said, so I’m not too worried. The point is, as important as rice is to the culture of Japan, it is equally as important to our tiny state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Probably the most famous Hawaiian variant of a Japanese rice dish is the classic Spam Musubi, the Hawaiian rice ball (more like a brick) made with SPAM®, rice and a sheet of nori (seaweed). There are 2 basic styles–with the slice of SPAM® on top of the rice and a strip of nori wrapped around its waist like a belt, or with the SPAM® slice buried in between two layers of rice and completely wrapped with a sheet of nori, leaving the ends exposed.

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SPAM® is the canned mystery meat that everyone loves in Hawaii. Introduced by the Hormel company in the 1930s, SPAM® became a popular wartime food for the military because it could be shipped easily without spoiling. Even after the war, the large military presence on the Islands made it a local favorite, and the Japanese-Americans there created the Spam Musubi, their own version of the traditional onigiri (rice ball).

Today, you can make Spam Musubi with a rectangular rice press, designed to form perfectly shaped little bricks of rice. The SPAM® is sliced, pan fried and seasoned according to family recipes that add anything from teriyaki sauce to flavored rice sprinkles to pickled vegetables for extra zest.

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Earlier I mentioned the “plate lunch”, a unique meal most certainly native to Hawaii. With most plate lunches, there is an entree, macaroni salad as a side dish, and rice. What is distinctly Hawaiian, however, is that the rice is always served with an ice cream scoop, forming one or two balls of rice on your plate. “One or two scoops” of rice on a plate lunch essentially makes the difference between a small or large plate lunch. I believe the aesthetics of eating rice that’s been mashed into a perfectly round ball may not be to everyone’s liking, but hey, it works in Hawaii!

Another local favorite is Fried Rice, which you may say, is just fried rice. But if you think about the thousands of different ways this simple dish is prepared all over the rice eating world, you’ll understand why “Hawaiian style” is unique to the 50th state. It almost always has bacon in it, if not Portuguese sausage or SPAM®, or all three if they happen to be around. This would truly be a deluxe version. If you added bits of the pink and white kamaboko (Japanese fish cake), you’d really be stylin’. On the other hand, if you’re a student on a budget or just out of ingredients around the house, you can make the “junk kine fried rice dat only get peas and carrots inside.” Rest assured, it will still taste great and be quite filling if you do it right.

Rice is awesome, isn’t it? Even the haoles eat rice in Hawaii!

Where Am I?
gym copyStarting this month, I’d like to share my shot of my Zojirushi Vacuum Bottle, out in its natural environment in the great outdoors and not stuck in my kitchen cupboard. Can you guess where I took it? Let me know!