Gardening tower

At a recent gathering of budding companies, we met the owner of these vertical gardens. Needing only 20″ diameter for the pot itself (your plant needs may differ) they can stack up to 62″ high, and grow everything from basil to carrots to lavender. It uses a hydroponic system to water and nourish the plants. A base mounted on ball bearings allows it to turn readily for even light.

foody garden tower

We would imagine that our testers would pretty much decimate the lower level.

Rabbits Making Mochi on the Moon

The myth of the rabbit making mochi on the moon is a favorite one in Japan, and seems to be as pervasive as the Easter Rabbit dying eggs story. It shows up in culture as toys, art, cartoons, religious art, and pop art.

I have created a gallery of images I have collected over the years. And you can see more pictures of the bunny, mochi, and moon quilt made for my niece here as well as find sources for fabrics.

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Rabbits, Moon, Grass, and Clouds: symbols of Japanese Autumn

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Last Autumn, we attended a little lecture on the Japanese tea ceremony and the Four Seasonal Icons of Japanese autumn culture – “Mangetsu (full moon), Oborozuki (moon obscured by clouds), Susuki (autumn grass), and of course, Usagi (rabbits). We learned why rabbits and autumn grass are paired and why the moon hides behind clouds in so many images of autumn, just as we Westerners will depict Autumn with dried corn, falling leaves, a pumpkin, or turkey.

At the tea ceremony, we were even given a sweet shaped like a rabbit.

Mochi bunny for autumn moon viewing tea ceremony
Mochi bunny for autumn moon viewing tea ceremony

Long blog short, the grass produces the seed heads at about the same time as the full moon, clouds are common at the time but also serve as a means of enhancing the fullness and brightness of the moon. The rabbit, meanwhile, is seen on the moon itself in many cultures, including Asian, indigenous Latin American, and native Pacific Northwest tribes.  In Japanese culture, the rabbit pounds rice into mochi.

Rabbit pounds mochi
Rabbit pounds mochi

The Japanese celebrate this full autumn moon much as we have Harvest Moon parties. Not surprisingly, the festival tend to be hundreds of years old and much more zen.

Tsukimi or Otsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar; the waxing moon is celebrated on the 13th day of the ninth month. These days normally fall in September and October of the modern solar calendar.

The tradition dates to the Heian era, and is now so popular in Japan that some people repeat the activities for several evenings following the appearance of the full moon during the eighth lunisolar month.

Tsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass (susuki) and eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon. Seasonal produce are also displayed as offerings to the moon. Sweet potatoes are offered to the full moon, while beans or chestnuts are offered to the waxing moon the following month. The alternate names of the celebrations, Imomeigetsu (literally “potato harvest moon”) and Mamemeigetsu (“bean harvest moon”) or Kurimeigetsu (“chestnut harvest moon”) are derived from these offerings.

Tsukimi refers to the Japanese tradition of holding parties to view the harvest moon. The custom is thought to have originated with Japanese aristocrats during theHeian period, who would gather to recite poetry under the full moon of the eighth month of the lunisolar calendar, known as the “Mid-Autumn Moon.” Since ancient times, Japanese people have described the eighth lunisolar month (corresponding to September on the contemporary Gregorian calendar) as the best time for looking at the moon, since the relative positions of the earth, sun, and moon cause the moon to appear especially bright. On the evening of the full moon, it is traditional to gather in a place where the moon can be seen clearly, decorate the scene with Japanese pampas grass, and to serve white rice dumplings (known as Tsukimi dango), taro, edamame, chestnuts and other seasonal foods, plus sake as offerings to the moon in order to pray for an abundant harvest. These dishes are known collectively as Tsukimi dishes (???? tsukimi ry?ri)

As International Rabbit Day (4th Saturday of September) falls so close to the same period, we would like to get bunny lovers better acquainted with this fascinating celebration.

Rhubarb

Tilbert is named for Seattle Tilth, a once great organization that used to simply promote urban gardening and stewardship. Unfortunately, its priorities shifted as it decided to “grow its mission”, and now it has joined the hipster bandwagon of promoting the raising of animals in your yard as meat. And of course, this includes rabbits because some whack job convinced them that rabbits are low cost and low maintenance, needing just leftovers from a garden. No mention of hay, sociability, companionship, or the fact that many domesticated rabbits can’t survive outside.

Needless to say, we stopped our donations not only to the ST, but to the radio show that featured their outreach member.

But one of the good things we learned from them is that one of the best fertilizers is rabbit poop. It not only can go into the compost bin, but it can actually be spread directly on plants. And guess what plant loves bunny poop? Rhubarb.

So we planted a few plants on our roof deck, and fertilize all year with stray pellets. When Food 52 came produced this group of recipes, we had to share it.

In particular, these two caught our eyes.

Rhubarb and Rose Ramos Gin Fizz

Serves 1

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces rhubarb syrup
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 or 2 drops rosewater
  • 1 egg white
  • ice
  • soda water
  1. Combine all ingredients except ice and soda in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Then add ice to shaker and shake a further 30 seconds. Strain into a tall chilled glass and top up with soda.
  2. To make rhubarb syrup, cut a pound of rhubarb stalks into one-inch pieces, wrap them in cheesecloth, and simmer for a half hour in 2 C water and 1 C sugar. Strain into a glass container with a lid and refrigerate.

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Naughty Rhubarb Scones

Serves 12-16 scones

  • 3 stalks rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2/3–3/4 cups heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Slice rhubarb stalks 1/4 ” thick. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl or bowl of food processor.
  4. Cut butter into flour mixture by hand (or whiz with food processor) until butter is the size of small peas.
  5. Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar.
  6. Blend in sliced rhubarb. (If using the food processor, just pulse — you want the slices left mostly intact.)
  7. Blend in cream until a soft dough forms. (note: you may need to add more than 2/3 cup depending on the weather,etc.)
  8. Transfer dough to floured surface and divide in half. To make triangular scones, flatten into 6-inch disks and cut each circle into 6-8 scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  9. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until reddish-brown on top.

food52_05-22-12-2-50

 

Find more here

Mochi Rabbit

At the tea ceremony and Japanese autumnal art lecture, we were told that bunnies would be brought out later in the evening. Imagine our surprise when tea ceremony sweets were passed around, and they came in the shape of bunnies.

Mochi bunny for autumn moon viewing tea ceremony

These little guys are made of mochi (rice flour) with an egg filling ad covered with a freeze-dried rice flakes. The ears are made by placing a hot piece of metal on the confection.

For more on the creator of these treats, see the Tokara webpage.