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December 09, 2009

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Sarah O'Toole

Oh, gougeres! My favourite!
Nancy, your writings are a feast for the senses ... the warm cozy kitchen, scrumptious goodies on the table, the excitement and anticipation of the main meal (who's sitting where??) and, since I have a pretty good imagination, almost as satisfying as the real thing! Who am I kidding?

Rodney Fong

Here we are in the middle of feasting season, just done with Thanksgiving, and then on towards Christmas and New Year's. I can hardly wait to read what you write about New Year's events or rituals, as we have some exposure here to things Japanese. Our cuisine is a mix of both traditional (gotta have the turkey and stuffing) and local (sashimi, sushi, Korean kalbi short ribs, mochi rice casseroles and the like). And in between my wife's exasperation with my mom about food items, or our polite eating at her uncle's home, where the turkey is not so great, and varying degrees of ono (which is our way of saying what is "oi shi") of pot luck items that everyone brings, it still comes down to a time of being with family and friends (and lots of sports on TV for me). Christmas and New Year's, as I have mentioned, will be more of the same. Now we throw in Christmas gingerbread, cranberry macadamia nut cookies, butter mochi, haupia chocolate pie, Chinese jai, more sashimi and sushi, and we've got another feeding frenzy for the next month.

Yes, Japanese tourism is way down, as well as tourists from just about everywhere, including mainlanders due to the economy. Chinese are the next great source of tourists we are trying to attract. Businesses are hurting everywhere, schools are shutting down 1 day a week, as are most government services, but the holidays hopefully will help to uplift spirits and look forward to a better year next year. Aloha.

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Sarah: Well, if anyone could imagine the holiday dinners from the writing and photos, it's you (having attended your fair share in the day). Gougères never lose their appeal for me as well. I made them in California with some trepidation, as I didn't have Tadaaki's flour or eggs, but they still were a hit. I'm a lot like Baachan these days, give me appetizers any day, and I can almost skip the main course. Though that's not quite true. It's nice to have something warm in the tummy. I also made the turnip soup in the U.S. (had to push Pam on that one as it introduced an extra course and we had to scrounge up some small bowls). We served it standing up in black miso soup bowls I had brought as a present some previous year. A dollop of crème fraîche and a few sautéed turnip greens completed the soup nicely. I never get tired of that one either, though I'm thinking of a doing a carrot soup for Christmas dinner. Who knows, the menu is percolating. Chizuru is downstairs as I write, baking Christmas cookies. I'm hoping to slide out of that chore all together this year. Great to hear from you.

Rodney: Wow, what an assortment of holiday foods. I love the melting pot mélange of flavors and countries involved. What's a mochi casserole? I'll be writing about mochi soon, as we still pound it in the hollowed out tree trunk in the front yard on the 30th. Butter mochi? Is that mochi sautéed in butter? Do you guys eat anko (sweet azuki bean paste)? These days I've been salting my own cod for brandade, etc.. It's delicious as "sashimi" after a few days as seen in the photo. You salt the cod on both sides and let it sit in the fridge set on a wire rack over a cookie sheet to catch any drips. After a week, you reconstitute the cod in cold water to use. It's simple, but amazingly delicious. I pound the brandade with some garlic, warm cream & olive oil in a Japanese grinding bowl: suribachi with a surikogi. The texture is fantastic. Way different that commercial salt cod. But here I go talking about food again. Have a great Christmas, I'd love to hear more about the hybrid customs.

preeva tramiel

HI, Nancy,
Gougeres look great!
Love reading about your different holiday traditions! I really admire your steely will to keep your own customs overseas, and love to see how they morph.

I bet the homegrown turkeys were better than Butterball!

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Preeva: Yes, learning when to stick to one's guns and when to roll with it is a work in progress. The homegrown turkeys were killer and I keep hoping we'll get our act together and actually get them ordered on time. Maybe this coming spring. I missed the chicken extravaganza for Thanksgiving and asked the boys which they'd prefer for Christmas: chicken or duck. Christopher answered emphatically, "duck." So that's that. They're a bitch to pluck, however. More coming on that.

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