Friday, September 28, 2012

My City the Lucky Winner of New Radioactive Dump Site

Yesterday, the Japanese government, in its infinite wisdom, decided to give one hour's notice to our Mayor  before announcing our city was to host the Ibaraki Prefectural Radioactive Waste Dump.

This is from the Daily Yomiuri:

Ministry selects 2nd N-waste candidate site
Jiji Press
The Environment Ministry said Thursday it has chosen a national forest in Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, as a candidate site for the final disposal of radioactive waste from the prefecture.
The decision makes Ibaraki the second prefecture, after Tochigi, to have a candidate site chosen where radioactive waste released from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will be dumped. Both Ibaraki and Tochigi share a border with Fukushima Prefecture.
Senior Vice Environment Minister Katsuhiko Yokomitsu informed Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto of the ministry's decision when the two met at the prefectural government office.
Yokomitsu said the ministry intends to carefully explain to local residents why the site has been chosen and reassure them of its safety.
Hashimoto said he will make his own decision after hearing what residents have to say.
After the meeting, Yokomitsu told reporters that the ministry has no plan to provide subsidies to regions that host final disposal facilities.
However, he said the ministry wants to discuss the possibility of providing subsidies if requested by local authorities.
Takahagi Mayor Yoshio Kusama said at a separate meeting with Yokomitsu that the city will not accept the ministry's decision and strongly opposes it.
The mayor added that the city finds it difficult to trust the central government as it made the decision without prior notice.
As of Aug. 3, the prefecture had 1,709 tons of waste, such as ash, contaminated with radioactive cesium of more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.
The government is in charge of the disposal of all such waste found in the stricken Tohoku region.
(Sep. 28, 2012)

I know somewhere has to accept it, but it sure feels like garbage problems are following me around. First the hazardous waste disposal site proposed up the road, now this.....

Because it is a national government project, protesting it will not make much difference, but I plan to anyway.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hot and Cold Until the Equinox

Here in Japan they have a saying, "Atsusa Samusa Higan Made" (a pronunciation note, the "Made" is pronounced as "mah-day"). Literally "Heat and Cold until the equinox." And it is true! Until last Sunday it was unmitigated summer. Just beastly hot and humid day and night. But this week- we closed the bedroom windows and put a blanket on the bed for the first time since the end of June! I spent most nights up to the equinox just sweating without any coverings at all. It got down to almost 65 F last night!
So now I am wondering where did summer go? Where was the transition? Or is this the transition?

It happens every year, and every year I am surprised by it.

So here are a bunch of random summer pictures since I hate posts without pictures.
My carrot puller and his spoils

My split bamboo dome experiment.

A lizard my son found in a half filled bucket of water.

The dragon waterspout at a local Buddhist temple.

Snowy white eggplant with some sweet banana peppers.

A 1,000 year old Cedar tree at the local Shinto Shrine.

Yours truly on a family trip to Fukushima

Yours truly on the kitchen table.
(Ok, I cut the mouth by accident trimming around the
eggplants with my brush cutter. We added eyes later)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kudzu Blossom Jelly

It is that time of year again. The smell of Kudzu blossoms is everywhere, and the cheery purple flowers are hanging down like bunches of grapes. Bees are everywhere, and there is Eric, stripping kudzu blossoms with his right hand while catching them in a bowl held in his left.

The past few tries have ended up in Kudzu syrup, due to either a lack of pectin, lack of acidity, lack of sugar, or lack of skill (I think maybe all four..) This year I think it is different. I had a nice box of quality pectin, lots of sugar, and a real lemon to squeeze for juice.
This is a really small recipe- I want to make sure it works before I make liter upon liter of it. Since it is only 500 ml or so, I just used an old jam jar since the kids can eat that much jelly in an afternoon if not supervised. If you make lots and lots of it, follow proper canning proceedure and sterilize.

Here is how I did it:

  1. Collect about two cups of kudzu flower petals. You can just strip them off the flower stalk into a colander or bag as you collect them. 
  2. Wash the blossoms in cold water. I like to fill the bowl with water to the top to make the bugs float to the surface. Then I can skim them out. Bugs mean healthy kudzu, so don't freak out. I would probably freak out if there were no bugs... "OMG! Why aren't there any bugs? What is wrong with these blossoms?"
  3. Drain the blossoms and return them to a bowl. Now pour 500ml of boiling water over them, and put the bowl in the fridge for 8 hours. 
  4. Strain the blossom water into a kettle and throw away the spent blossoms. The water will look brown or gray. That is fine, it is not the final color.
  5. Add 1/2 Tbsp of lemon juice, and the pectin. Stir and heat on high to a full rolling boil. 
  6. Add 2 1/2 cups of sugar and stir and return to the rolling boil. Boil one minute more.
  7. Remove from heat and skim off the pink foam.
  8. Pour into sterile jars (or just clean ones if you are going to be refrigerator jelly people like we are) and cap. 
  9. Cool on wire rack.
  10. Enjoy.

Kudzu blossoms after steeping- Looks terrible now, right?

The liquid is not so bad of a color. Now to add some lemon juice and pectin...

Ummm.... jelly! (I hope, let's see if it sets....)