All of a sudden, I had a craving for bread that I used to eat when I lived in Japan. There are a lot of amazing small bread & pastry boutiques all over Japan. Every time I set a foot in a shop, I get caught up in an irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread.
There are lots of selections, and I always take the time to choose what I want. But somehow I usually end up selecting a simple French bouquet or Boule that is a traditional round-shaped bread. They are flavorful but simple and never get tired of. Also, there are many ways to enjoy this bread, such as by eating with your favorite soup or dipping in with your favorite oil. If you can not eat the whole, there is a delicious way to keep them for a few weeks, making rusks!
A rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread. In some cultures, rusk is made of cake rather than bread. I make rusks from the leftover cake (only pain type without frosting & icing) as well since it will last longer.
All you have to do is slice the bread thinly and brush them with olive oil or your favorite oil and bake them for 15-20 min with 325F until they get all harden and dry. Then, you can have crispy delicious rusks. If you use bread with raisins or dried fruits such as figs or apricots, you can have sweet rusks like biscottis. I used walnuts, sunflower seeds, and some dried goji berries to add some color and sweetness when I made my Boule this time. It came out pretty good. : )
Amazake is a traditional sweet drink made from fermented rice. According to Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), the second oldest history book of classical Japan. amazake dates from the Kofun period – about 300 to 538 CE.
The name “Amazake” is written with the characters for “sweet” (甘) and “sake” (酒). Despite being called “sweet sake,”, it contains little to no alcohol. One version of amazake is made by adding water and sugar to the Sake-Kasu (lees leftover from the fermentation process of making sake. ) Since Sake-Kasu contains alcohol, this version contains some alcohol.
The other is made by fermenting rice porridge with Koji. This is the non-alcoholic version of Amazake, you just need three simple ingredients to make: water, brown rice, and Koji. You don't need to add any sugar to make it sweet. During the fermentation process, the concentrated sweetness develops as the abundant digestive enzymes in koji break down the complex starches in the rice, making it easily digestible. Once you make Amazake, you can keep it in the refrigerator for about 3-4 weeks. I am happy to share the recipe of this non-alcoholic Amazake with you.
Here's my Amazake recipe.
3 cups of brown rice, 6-7 cups of purified water, 1-3 cups of KOJI (more Koji, sweeter Amazake - For beginners, I recommend the same ratio with rice)
1. Rinse brown rice, drain.soak in the purified water in your pot overnight.
2. Soak rice in 6-7 cups of purified water in your pot with a lid overnight.
3. Turn flame to medium flame, & let cook gently until rice boiling without the lid.
4. Turn heat to low flame and cook for 30 minutes with lid.
5. Turn off heat and let the rice sit covered for 15 min.
6. Let is cool down to 130- 140 ºF and add 3 cups of KOJI and stir well for 3 -5 minutes and put the lid.
7. Leave it in a warm place of 130-140 ºF for 8 -10 hours
☆ It is essential to keep the temperature as it is. If the temperature is higher than 140 ºF, the KOJI will die, or if the temperature is lower than 130 ºF, the KOJI cannot activate fully to ferment the rice.
There are many options for fermentation. I often use a big pot that fits my small clay pot (please see the photo that I attached as below.) You can also use the oven to keep the temperature warm. If you have a rice cooker, you can always use it. After completing step 6, you can simply put it in the rice cooker and set “KEEP WARM” mode, leave the cover open but cover with cloth instead, and leave it for 6-8 hours. Once Amazake Is done, you can keep it in the refrigerator. I usually use the blender to make it creamy texture so it can be used as a sweetener easily.
Why do Japanese people love Amazake so much?
Once you mix brown rice porridge with Koji, the fermentation process starts immediately. While the brown rice and Koji are collaborating in the bowl, they produce amazing nutrients such as vitamins B1, B2, B6, pantothenic acid, inositol, and biotin.
Also, the nine essential amino acids are miraculously produced in the process of proteolytic enzymes as Koji is breaking down the proteins contained in the brown rice. Our human body requires 20 amino acids in various combinations to form the proteins our cells need to function. However, our body can create only 11 of the 20 amino acids. The rest of the essential amino acids can't be made on their own. Hence we need to resource from the outside, which means it derrives from our diet. In Amazake, you can find these 9 essential amino acids in it.
Amazake is rich in enzymes and probiotics to aid in digestion and help to maintain the good flora so that our intestines keep us regular. In Japan, Amazake is now called "a drinkable vitamin IV shot" since it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet - almost the same content with the expensive intravenous therapy which is so popular in Japan nowadays.
Nowadays, Amazake is gaining huge popularity among many Japanese women of all ages as "beauty serum to drink" because of its high content of B vitamins, and Kojic acid to suppress the formation of melanin to glow and moisturize your skin. Not to mention it's biotin to aid healthy skin and glossy hair. In German, biotin was called "vitamin H". The H stands for "Haar und Haut" which is for hair and skin.
As for myself, I use Amazake in my cooking in so many ways such as deserts, Japanese vegetable stews, or for dressings. Whenever I want to add some sweetness or umami into my dishes, I use the Amazake that I made myself. Especially when I make desserts, I use it in place of refined sugar.
White sugar contains no vitamins or minerals. It is a simple carbohydrate that has a simple chemical structure that is easily and quickly utilized for energy by the body, leading to a faster rise in blood sugar. Then, your pancreas secretes insulin to control your sugar level like a security alarm which leads to a stagnated pancreas in the long run. Amazake with brown rice porridge, on the other hand, is made up of complex carbohydrates and contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals that take longer to digest, meaning that it has a low glycemic index. It is slowly absorbed by the body to be used as a constant and steady source of fuel, leading to a steady blood-sugar level.
Brown rice - Japanese staple food
Among cereal grains, brown rice is the most balanced. Its size, shape, color, texture, and proportion of carbohydrates, fat, protein, and minerals fall in the middle of the spectrum of the seven principal grains. Rice is particularly soothing to the brain and nervous system, and our species most developed organs.
I prepared 100% plant-based organic scones for my Airbnb guests this morning. I usually make Japanese infused risotto with seasonal vegetables. But since they are staying more than a few days, I thought they might enjoy English breakfast scones for a change. The plates came back with no leftover. So, I think my little experiment was successful. Yey💕
Here's the menu I prepared.
☆ Kinako (roasted soybeans) infused scone
☆ Classic scone
☆ Home-made blueberry jam
☆ Home-made fig jam
☆ Whipped coconut cream
☆ Corn Potage Soup
☆ Roasted organic twig tea
Here's the information about my Airbnb guest room. If you have a plan to visit Santa Cruz, or San Jose area, please come to stay at our guest room.
I thought it was going to be one of those typical mornings for myself and my Airbnb guests. When I brought breakfast to their dining table as uaual, one of the guests looked pale and uneasy. When I asked him if he was OK, he told me that he had a sharp pain on his back. When I looked at him carefully, I recognized that he was wearing supporters to protect his knees and back. He was a retired biochemist, and now working for a company monitoring water quality.
They told me that during the previous day, they were working in the field all day measuring streamflow at the reservoir near Los Gatos, and they were scheduled to go back to the field again to do more research. When I saw the pain on his face, I felt so sorry. So, I offered him a traditional Japanese heat treatment using Konjac on his back. He looked a bit skeptical at first, but he told me that he wanted to try it. So, I gave him the heat treatment along with a foot bath.
After about half an hour or so, I came back to their room to see how he was doing. To my surprise, he was walking properly. His face had eased up and tuned joyous. I could tell he had restored some energy, and I felt so relieved and happy for him. This simple heat treatment with Konjac always brings me a positive result. However during this special occasion, it worked like magic on him. I think the additional foot bath helped to release the pain faster by aiding to smooth the blood circulation flow.
The heart inside our body circulates blood in the body like a pump. After traveling to every part of the body, the blood returns to the heart. It is a constant journey to keep us alive. If you have cold feet, while the blood passes through them, your blood also gets cooler and congested. Then, while your blood is in a poor state it travels to your reproductive system on the way back to the heart, resulting in the temperature of the lower body to cool down. By giving him a warm foot bath, not only was his overall body temperature increased and muscle tension was relieved, but it also helped to boost his immune system as well.
He was so fascinated with this natural remedy using strange looking Japanese Konjac. He asked me where to get it and how to do this treatment so that he could do it by himself at home. This was a joy for me, I was able to share with him the ancient wisdom of a way to release the pain without using medicine. And he was not just a guest. He was one of the keepers of the source of our life - water! What an honor to take care of them as our guests.
The method of Konjac treatment is very simple. All you need is to boil Konjac for 20 minutes. Then, you wrap the Konjac in a towel and apply it directly to your stiffened area such as shoulders or low back. It is also good for gastrointestinal diseases, chronic diseases, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, and other sicknesses. If you have a cramp during menstruation, you could try this method as well. You will be surprised how soothing it can be. If you have insomnia, try to place the Konjac on your belly before you go to bed. It may help you to sleep better.
Here are the items that you need to prepare:
 1-2 Konjac (you can buy at local Asian store)
 Boil water first and put Konjac in the pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
 Wrap Konjac in a think towel.
(Since Konjac is very hot, you might need a few towels to wrap Konjac to avoid burning your skin. When you apply wrapped Konjac directly to your skin, you may not feel hot at first, but it gradually becomes unbearably hot. It supposed to be very hot to make your skin slightly pink to bring out the best result, but you need to be careful not to burn your skin at the same time!)
 Apply wrapped Konjac on the liver, kidney or stagnated area and leave it for 20-30 minutes. As for beginners and children, they can start for 15 min.
1. It would be better to apply this method while your stomach is empty.
2. Please make sure that you go to the bathroom before. : D
3. You could use the same Konjac for a few times. But do not share it with others since Konjac has the ability to observe the toxins. After you use Konjac, you can keep it in a container with water in the refrigerator.
What is Konjac?
According to the Japanese Konjac Association, Konjac normalizes cholesterol, prevents high blood pressure. Since it consists of 50% water and 40% Glucomannan (dietary fiber), the body finds it hard to digest, thus sliding right through you and cleaning out your intestines all the while giving you the illusion that you are full. Glucomannan is an amazingly dense, high fiber substance that can expand to 200 times its size upon entering the digestive tract. It envelops calories, carbohydrates, and fats in fiber. Therefore, as these food particles pass through your digestive system, the body regards them as fiber, and flushes them out of your body, along with the toxins in the digestive tract. It’s no wonder the Japanese call it a “broom for the stomach.” Glucomannan also attracts water in the digestive system and becomes a gel, slowing digestive processes and trapping carbohydrates so it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Konjac is one of the miracle food for detoxification.
Although Konjac is a wonderful medicinal food, you can use it as an external treatment to nourish and rejuvenate your organs as well. It helps to dissolve stagnation and tension, melt blockages, and stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic flow.
Live Jazz Bossanova in the midst of the woods on a beautiful evening of the summer solstice. Izumi, Paul, Jack & Joshua played cool music for my friends, and I made 100% plant-based Japanese food.
Thank you so much for everyone who came all the way to join us! So nice to see everyone and spend special time together! Love you all💕
Authentic organic Umeboshi plum, Umesu (red & white), Activated ume charcoal, etc. produced by Mume Farm finally came to Santa Cruz from Chico! Their Ume products were introduced to locals at Japanese Cultural Fair on June 8th, 2019.
Ron & Kiyoko took over the plum farm a few years ago from Kazuko and her deceased husband, Junsei Yagi who were students of George Ohsawa, a Japanese founder of macrobiotic. They work so hard to take care of the plum trees while succeeding predecessor's will, and finally, they are producing beautiful products that help to heal our bodies. Japanese Umeboshi has so many medicinal benefits, but so hard to find the one without food additives nowadays. Thank you Ron & Kiyoko for making the wonderful products!
American Almond Orchards
6975 County Rd S, Chico, CA 95928
Please join us for the special event on Saturday, 6/22 at 4:30-7:30 pm at a private house in Scotts Valley! We just had a wonderful spring jazz concert last month, and it was a great success. Now, we are going to have the summer solstice this month, it will be wonderful if we get together and celebrate the power of the sun in the fresh mountain air.
Beautiful live Bossanova jazz music will be performed by Izumi, Jack, and Paul♬ The fee is $40 including 100% plant-based Japanese dinner. I make everything from scratch using local organic vegetables and grains.
Izumi Hayakawa, a talented jazz singer, has been performing based in the Bay Area and Tokyo. You can visit her website and listen to her music on her website.
The concert starts at around 5-6pm. So, please arrive at 4:30 pm. Cold home-made herb tea will be served shortly after your arrival. After the concert, I will serve you delicious healthy Japanese dinner from 6-7:30 pm. You can check out the blog to see our previous concert, which was held a few years ago.
If you like, you can come much earlier, and walk around the woods or just sit around the porch in front of the house with your friends and enjoy the crispy fresh air! The exact venue will be informed after receiving your reservation. Please email me at Shinobeau@iCloud.com to reserve your seat!
We are sorry to inform you that we will be canceling the one day retreat tomorrow, due to a neighborhood blackout that was caused by a tree falling down. Yufuko will be back in August, so we hope we can plan another retreat in fall. Once the date is decided, we will inform you more details. Thank you.
I am happy to inform you that I am going to hold a one day retreat at my house in Scotts Valley this coming Sunday on May 19th from 10 am - 3 pm together with my dear friend, Yufuko at my house!
Yufuko, a teacher (sensei) of Japanese tea ceremony, an incredible pottery artist, and an instructor of yoga will lead us to a beautiful class of gentle yoga (breath, stretch, and relax for all levels), Chabana (Japanese flower arrangement for tea), and Japanese tea ceremony. Yufuko, creator of No Gate Tea in Berkely is now based in Nara Prefecture Japan to deepen her quest of pottery. She will guide us to the new world of silence to connect with our true self through all the classes she offers.
And I will prepare a healing cuisine for lunch to rejuvenate your liver, and gallbladder which connect with the season of spring according to traditional Chinese medicine. Also, while you are having lunch, I will talk about how to take care of these organs.
Here's the schedule of the retreat.
Date: May 19th, Sunday, one day after the full moon
10:00 Welcome drink - Home Remedy Soup to rejuvenate your liver & gallbladder
10:15 Breathing - Introduction to the Respiratory System
10:15-12:15 Gentle Yoga for all levels
12:30-13:30 Healing cuisine lunch (mini-talk for how to take care of your lever & gallbladder)
13:30-14:00 Meditation Walking
14:00-14:15 Chabana - Japanese flower arrangement for tea
(We will use the wildflowers found in the forest during the meditation walking.
Yufuko will bring her beautiful hand-made ceramic vases for us to use for chabana)
14:15-15:00 Japanese tea ceremony
（I will prepare healthy Japanese sweets that go well with Japanese authentic Matcha tea)
Where： private house in the midst of the redwood trees
( I will inform you the address once I receive your reservation!)
I am sure you will find Yufuko's every class profound and give you a new perspective on your daily life. And, I will prepare the meal to balance out your energy. We have limited space for 8 people, so RSVP to Shinobeau@iCloud.com if you are interested.
The photos below are from the autumn retreat we collaborated together last year.
Here's the information about Chabana.
Chabana is neither too informal, nor overly designed, but arranged with the nature of the flower in mind. Like tea, what matters most is the mind in which your arrangements stem from. When you are resting in a calm and balanced space, the arrangement of flowers for tea will reflect these qualities and inspire them in others. It is an art like any other, requiring frequent practice. And like any art to be mastered, freedom stems from the form, meaning more repetition and input in the beginning until you slowly step out of the way and let the creative process naturally work through you. It becomes less of you arranging the flowers and more of letting them arrange your state of being, as they do in Nature...
Japanese lunch box catering service to the Japanese community on a Happy Mother's Day💕 I prepared these lunch boxes thinking about my mother in Hiroshima, Japan. 🙏
It took almost 2 days for just making the preps. I hope everyone enjoyed the food.
♡ Kenchin vegetable soup
♡ lotus root & oatmeal balls
♡ potato salad with home-made chickpea mayonnaise
♡ beet salad together with beets stem and leaf prepared respectively
♡ gluten-free spring roll of bamboo shoots & vegetables
♡ squid ink style pasta using Hijiki & Nori (seaweeds)
♡ garland chrysanthemum leaves dressed with tofu and tahini paste
♡ daikon rice using 2 whole daikon radishes accompanied with boiled green top
♡ sweet azuki bean paste & Matcha mousse with fresh strawberry sauce
I used Kuzu root starch for thickening Matcha mousse. Kuzu is one of the essential ingredients of macrobiotic cooking and traditional Chinese medicine. It improves the entire body maintaining in a well-balanced manner. It has been used for more than thousands of years in Asia. Since it is not synthetically made such as any other drugs, there are no side effects, and it is safe, effective for everyone. Here are some amazing medicinal benefits of Kuzu.
- Purifying the blood - promoting excretion of waste in the blood and improving the quality of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, etc.)
- Promoting blood circulation - smoothing blood circulation helps to enhance the function of general organs, increasing the metabolism
- Improving the immune function - improving the immune cell generation for making body tissue flexible, softening and strengthening blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, joints, etc.
- Stabilizing autonomic nervous system - enhancing endocrine function - the hormones secreted from endocrine glands are well-balanced
- Improving digestive function such as the stomach, intestines, pancreas, gallbladder, etc.
- Stabilizing the blood sugar - an increase of pancreatic activity to regulate sugar metabolism, so high blood sugar drops, and low blood sugar rises.
- Enhancing the liver function - liver, one of the essential organs with the largest size and ability of the human body responsible for over 500 duties, help to enhance blood quality together with functions of whole-body organs.
- Improving the functions of the kidneys - eliminating waste products and other harmful substances from the body to the outside.
- Enhancing the functions of the adrenal glands - Improving the allergies and autoimmune diseases, and help to prevent infections and cancer
- Improving cardiovascular function - strengthening blood vessels and heart tissue by regulating blood quality and circulation.
- Natural pain relief - the pain will be alleviated by sending oxygen while the flow of blood was promoted, and it will help to eliminate stagnant degradation components in the bloodstream.
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Health & Balance