Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Yes, yes it is.

Design Festa Performance © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Design Festa Performance © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Taken at Design Festa, a celebration of weird Japanese art held bi-anually in Odaiba, Tokyo.

For more: アートイベント デザインフェスタ | Art Event Design Festa.

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Time for a quick Photo Friday post:

Children's Masks, Japan © 2006, Juniper Stokes

Children’s Masks, Japan © 2006, Juniper Stokes


I snapped this picture while hiking, yes hiking, on Mount Takao, near Tokyo. It’s good to know that if trees aren’t enough, children  can also find colorful and slightly scary masks in the forest.

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This winter has me turning to root veggies for my seasonal nourishment, and I usually have a wide selection of root vegetables on hand–potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, turnips, onions–anything that can be pulled from the ground. But the other day, in the mood to cook, I opened my refrigerator to find only bag of organic carrots and a gigantic daikon radish*. Luckily, limitations often lead to great creativity. I decided to challenge myself and see how many ways I could prepare a carrot-daikon combo, and I came up with three new and delicious recipes. All three recipes are seasonal, easy, and healthy, so enjoy!

English: Picture of a pile of Daikon (giant wh...

Daikon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Though daikon is a type of radish, which I usually associate more with summer, they can actually be planted in fall for a winter harvest and prepared in ways similar to most root vegetables. Plus, they are super healthy, with high levels of vitamin C and B complex and the potential to act as a digestive aid.

Each of the following recipes is for a single serving–make sure to at least double each recipe if you’re cooking for more than yourself!

Recipe #1: Shredded Carrot and Daikon Salad 

This raw recipe is a great way to prepare daikon with all of its digestive benefits in tact. The salad keeps well for a few days, and letting it sit at least overnight allows the flavors to merge.


  • 1/3 large daikon
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbs shiso ume furikake
  • juice from one ginger medallion
  • splash lemon juice
  • big pinch of sugar
  • salt to taste


First, prepare the daikon and carrot by shredding them into strips. I used a vegetable peeler with a wavy blade. This type of peeler is commonly used in Southeast Asian food preparation. It’s not only great for quickly shredding veggies into strips, but it will give sliced veggies a decorative edge.

wavey edge veggie peeler

wavey edge veggie peeler

Next, sprinkle the carrot and daikon with shiso ume furikake, a pinch of salt, and a big pinch of sugar. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning meant to be added to rice, though I find all sorts of fun uses for it. The shiso ume furikake I used in this recipe contains a bit of salt and sugar, along with purple shiso, or perilla leaf, and dried ume, or pickled plum. It’s sweet, sour, salty, and delicious.

Ume Shiso Furikake

Ume Shiso Furikake

After sprinkling the furikake, salt, and sugar over the daikon and carrot, add the ginger juice and a bit of the ginger gratings. I used a Japanese-style ginger grater, which is very effective for squeezing out ginger juice. This process also creates fresh ginger gratings, and it’s nice to add a bit of these, as well. If you don’t have an actual ginger grater, try using a garlic press to expel the juice.

Japanese-style ginger grater

Japanese-style ginger grater

Once you’ve added the ginger, toss everything together with the olive oil and lemon juice. Let everything sit for at least an hour so that the flavors can meld.

Carrot Daikon Salad © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Shredded Carrot and Daikon Salad © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Recipe #2: Roasted Daikon with Carrot and Onion

No root-veggie trio would complete without a roasted dish. This simple recipe allows the daikon and carrot flavors to take the spotlight, with just a hint of onion for a flavor boost.


  • 1/3 large daikon
  • 1/2 medium carrot
  • 1/2″ slice of white onion
  • olive oil, to coat
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice the daikon and carrot. Take a half inch slice from the center of a large white onion and separate the rounds. Toss the vegetables together with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread everything evenly on a baking dish or pan. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping once to prevent sticking.

Roasted daikon and carrot © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Roasted daikon and carrot © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Recipe #3: Super Healthy Simmered Daikon

I love this dish. I don’t think I’ve ever been served this dish precisely, but it is definitely inspired by my time eating gorgeous veggie food in Japan. The warmth and rich sesame flavor give it the satisfaction of a comfort food, though just about all the ingredients are super-food healthy.


  • 1/3 large daikon, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medallion grated ginger w/juice
  • 1 Tbs Eden Organic Seaweed Gomasio
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • a splash maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs red miso
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

First, bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add the daikon and carrot, along with the gomasio, and reduce to a simmer. Gomasio, also spelled gomashio, is Japanese sesame-salt seasoning. I like the health bump dried seaweed gives to this Eden Organic blend, which includes dulce, nori, and kombu.

Eden Organic Gomasio with Seaweed

Eden Organic Gomasio with Seaweed

Continue to simmer the above ingredients for about 20 minutes. Once the daikon and carrot are cooked, stir in about 1 Tbs red miso (more to taste), and simmer for another 5 minutes. If you’d like a bit of heat, this is the time to throw in the red pepper flakes. Finally, remove from heat and stir in the ginger, maple syrup, and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Simmered daikon and carrot © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Simmered daikon and carrot © 2013, Juniper Stokes

I loved all three of these dishes. I wonder what I’ll come up with next time my fridge is nearly empty . . . !

Best daikon photos ever:

WordPress blogs:

A couple of random recipes:

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Life has been a bit hectic lately, and I haven’t been able to post nearly as often as I would like to. I’m working on a few longer posts that should be finished soon, but for now, I at least wanted to add another “Photo Friday” . . . even if it is Sunday. Maybe I need to rethink that category name . . . .

Anyway, with life’s rapid pace and winter on its way, this photo of an idyllic summer picnic caught my attention. I took this photo back in 2006 while wandering through the open spaces behind Meiji Shrine in the Yoyogi/Harajuku area of Tokyo. It never ceases to amaze me that in Tokyo you can be struggling through a crowd of tourists and anime-esque teenagers one minute, only to find yourself in a park like this the next. Tokyo truly is an amazing city.

A Perfect Picnic © 2006, Juniper Stokes

A Perfect Picnic © 2006, Juniper Stokes

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Happy photo friday! You’ve heard the rumors, and they’re true: Tokyo is crazy-crowded. Here is a shot of Shibuya Crossing . . . on a quiet afternoon.

Shibuya Crossing © 2006, Juniper Stokes

During my first three months living in Tokyo, knowing I would have to face crowds like this was often enough to prevent me from venturing outside my apartment. By the time I left, this was nothing, and I can still “crowd walk” like a pro. It’s amazing what we can get used to as humans.

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One of my favorite aspects of Japanese culture is the attention it places on all things seasonal. Spring’s cherry blossom season may be one of the most famous examples of seasonal Japanese celebrations, and I was never one to miss out on the noon–midnight parties that celebrate this short but wonderful time of year. Still, the fall was always my favorite season in Japan. Summer’s humidity had finally relented, winter’s chill had not yet taken hold, and red maples and golden ginkgos decorated every street and park, celebrating the rare and perfect weather gifted by the autumn months.

Every fall, along with many of my Japanese cohorts, I had my camera out in full force. I made special trips to various parks after work and mountains on the weekends. I would go on long bike rides in search of perfect fall beauty. And my efforts were rewarded. In honor of the season, and a bit of “natsukashii” (kind of like nostalgia), I am dedicating this “Photo Friday” to fall in Japan.*

*I know you know this, but these are totally and completely all mine and copyrighted. Yes, they’re beautiful, but please don’t use them without my permission and giving me credit. Arigatou!


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After having so much success making Summer Squash Salad, Greek Style, I decided to experiment with some different flavors. This version of squash salad was basically born from three things I have in the garden: squash, Thai chilies, and Thai basil.

my first Thai chili peppers © 2012, Juniper Stokes
They go from green to purple, and are ready at red!

It’s my first year growing Thai chilies, and I’m happy to be having a lot of success here, as well. And I always like to have at least one pot of Thai basil growing in addition to traditional basil. (Thai basil has a bit of a spicy-sweet quality to it, and is wonderful in Vietnamese summer rolls.) And as I’ve mentioned before, I have plenty of summer squash to play with.

I also wanted to experiment with some new yuzu vinegar I’d just bought:

yuzu vinegar, © 2012, Juniper Stokes

I first became familiar with yuzu during my stay in Tokyo. The fruit itself is not eaten plain, but its juice and rind have a wonderfully unique citrus flavor, something between a grapefruit and lime and mandarin orange all mixed together.

Yuzu is commonly used to enhance Japanese dishes, and I was happy to find this vinegar. Still, I would have preferred a bit more yuzu essence in the salad, so if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with access to fresh yuzu, add the juice and zest to the salad, as well.


  • 1 yellow summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 Tbs yuzu vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lime zest (or yuzu if you’re lucky enough to have one)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs chopped Thai basil
  • 1 Thai chili (or less if you’d like–they’re strong!)
  • 4 chopped green onions


First, I wisked together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lime zest, and Thai chili. Then I added the zucchini and squash, and let sit overnight.

For this salad, I decided to skip trying to make the squash and zucchini into fancy ribbons, but I did at least use one of each color:

one small zucchini and one small yellow squash, sliced © 2012, Juniper Stokes

I topped the salad with Thai basil, parsley, and green onions right before serving.

spicy squash salad © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Another healthy, mostly raw meal  . . . with a kick!

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Click, gurgle, hiss . . . and breathe in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Enjoying a cup of fresh, hot coffee is one of my favorite parts of my morning routine. For years, I’ve taken my coffee with a bit of cream and no sugar–though it’s often accompanied by a bite of organic dark chocolate. For the antioxidant benefits, of course.

Lately, I’ve been adding a bit of spice to my coffee. It started with cinnamon. One of my favorite local coffee shops serves a lovely cinnamon and honey coffee drink, so cinnamon was a natural choice. Then, I saw a bottle of pumpkin pie spice sitting on the counter (it is getting to be the season for everything pumpkin) and a new favorite was born.

pumpkin pie spice and a very special mug from Japan***      © 2012, Juniper Stokes

***A note on the mug: In general, the Japanese love their characters, and this aspect of the culture gradually rubbed off on me during my years in Tokyo. I don’t really know the whole story of this banana guy, but I do know that the writing on his face reads “fu fu shi” in katakana (a Japanese phonetic script). Unfortunately, I don’t know what “fu fu shi” means. The box this awesome little mug came in features a picture of this guy smiling with some sort of wistful tear, while another picture features him sitting in a large easy chair, in a bathrobe, with a fluffy cat. Strange and genius. I love it.

And back to the spices: Adding spice to your coffee, whether you take it black, white, or sweet, is a great way not only to enhance flavor, but also to sneak in a morning health boost. The following spices are some of my favorites (most are found in pumpkin pie spice), and all have some surprising health benefits:


Cardamom has been known to improve digestion and help the body detox naturally. It contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and manganese.  In ayurveda, cardamom is thought to help balance all three doshas, or types of body constitutions, though it is especially good for kaphas, the more earthy and grounded dosha.


Nutmeg is total powerhouse spice with a long list of benefits. It’s relaxing and calms anxiety, and it’s helpful for indigestion and nausea. It has antibacterial properties that fight bacteria in the mouth to help relieve bad breath. As far as detoxing goes, nutmeg is thought to be especially beneficial for the liver and kidneys. Nutmeg has also been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Nutmeg contains Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.


Cloves are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant, and they may help provide relief from a variety of ailments related to these areas. They are also good for nausea, and may benefit the heart. They are also thought to encourage mental focus and creativity. Cloves are a source of Vitamin K and manganese.


Ginger is another great warming spice. It’s well known for soothing all sorts of digestive issues, including nausea and gas. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, and is known to boost the immune system. Ginger is another spice that may help the heart, as well. Ground ginger is a great source of manganese.


Cinnamon is another powerhouse spice. It has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and provide arthritis relief. Cinnamon has antibacterial properties and has been shown to help with fungal infections (such as candida). It has been connected to improvements in memory and cognitive functioning, and it’s packed with nutrients, including fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese.

cinnamon, from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even if coffee isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ways to sneak these health-boosting spices into your morning. Try adding them to oatmeal, yogurt, or a morning protein shake.

Safety–More is not always better. Some of these spices can have negative effects if taken in large quantities. A little daily flavoring is all you need to enjoy their benefits.

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