Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kabochataro, or Little Squashling

Kabochataro and his Blue Hubbard Squash

I may not be much of a farmer, but that here is a big ol' squash. Big enough to fit a small kid into. It reminds me of the Japanese folk tale called Momotaro- or "Son of a Peach!" or "Little Peachling."

So here is the fairy tale from fairytales4u with a bit of word search and replace:


A LONG long time ago in Japan there lived an old man and an old woman. One day the old man went to the mountains to cut grass; and the old woman went to the river to wash clothes. While she was washing a great thing came tumbling and splashing down the stream. When the old woman saw it she was very glad, and pulled it to her with a piece of bamboo that lay near by. When she took it up and looked at it she saw that it was a very large squash. She then quickly finished her washing and returned home intending to give the squash to her old man to eat. 
When she cut the squash in two, out came a child from the large kernel. Seeing this the old couple rejoiced, and named the child Kabochataro, or Little Squashling, because he came out of a squash. As both the old people took good care of him, he grew and became strong and enterprising. So the old couple had their expectations raised, and bestowed still more care on his education. 
Kabochataro finding that he excelled everybody in strength, determined to cross over to the island of the devils, take their riches, and come back. He at once consulted with the old man and the old woman about the matter, and got them to make him some dumplings. These he put in his pouch. Besides this he made every kind of preparation for his journey to the island of the devils and set out. 
Then first a dog came to the side of the way and said, "Kabochataro! What have you there hanging at your belt ?" He replied, "I have some of the very best Japanese millet dumplings." "Give me one and I will go with you," said the dog. So Kabochataro took a dumpling out of his pouch and gave it to the dog. Then a monkey came and got one the same way. A pheasant also came flying and said, "Give me a dumpling too, and I will go along with you." So all three went along with him. In no time they arrived at the island of the devils, and at once broke through the front gate; Momotaro first; then his three followers. Here they met a great multitude of the devils' retainers who showed fight, but they pressed still inwards, and at last encountered the chief of the devils, called Akandoji. Then came the tug of war. Akandoji hit at Kabochataro with an iron club, but Kabochataro was ready for him, and dodged him adroitly. At last they grappled each other, and without difficulty Kabochataro just crushed down Akandoji and tied him with a rope so tightly that he could not even move. All this was done in a fair fight.
After this Akandoji the chief of the devils said he would surrender all his riches. "Out with your riches then," said Kabochataro laughing. Having collected and ranged in order a great pile of precious things, Kabochataro took them, and set out for his home, rejoicing, as he marched bravely back, that, with the help of his three companions, to whom he attributed all his success, he had been able so easily to accomplish his end. 
Great was the joy of the old man and the old woman when Kabochataro came back. He feasted everybody bountifully, told many stories of his adventure, displayed his riches, and at last became a leading man, a man of influence, very rich and honorable; a man to be very much congratulated indeed!

And a word or two about the squash- it was delicious! But so big! I microwaved some and ate it with a dash of salt- delicious. I pressure cooked large cubes- two times! delicious. We made pumpkin soup. We put it into ton-jiru (Japanese pork soup). Delicious.
My only complaint was that it cooked to a mush too easily. Japanese kabocha squash are much firmer, and they don't lose their shape so easily. You can cook up cubes and serve them as cubes. This one was softer than tofu! Touch it and it just kind of melted. But that did make for very good soups and stews.
Maybe after a month or two of cool storage the other squash will be more firm. This one was pretty fresh from the garden.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Sticky, Hairy Balls

Mmmm.... Hairy....

Closeup of my balls
Man, I love my hairy balls!
I got the recipie... I mean recepie...reci..... My friend Anna from Walden Effect had a post on how to make them. Not a very precise recie..%$##$!. Not very precise directions, but it is not a very precise kind of dessert.

You need:

  • nuts (any kind) 1/2 cup (I used a bag of mixed nuts)
  • three kinds of dried fruit (any kind) 1/2 cup each (I used dried bananas, prunes, and mango)
  • 1 fresh lemon or other citrus (I used sudachi)
  • some shredded coconut about 1/2 cup

First, I put my nuts into the food processor and pulsed it a few times to chop them up quite fine. Then I dropped my banana into the mix. Add the other dried fruit and chop it up fine. Then add some lemon juice (in my case Sudachi) and mix it up so it is sticky. Then just roll them between your palms until they are round, and (this is the only part that was my own idea) drop them in a bowl of shredded dried coconuts. Presto! My sticky balls were now hairy and not so sticky.

Hold my balls in the palm of your hand and feel their dense heft. Just don't squeeze them too hard or they will lose their shape and make your hands sticky.

And delicious! People just can't keep my balls out of their mouths! The salt from my nuts and the sweet from the fruit makes a delicious balance that is just right! But if you really want to make it even better, try dipping my balls in honey before you pop them in your mouth.

I can't wait to serve them at a party. I'm sure they will be a big hit. I can just imagine all the people tweeting about it from their iPhones. "Eric's Hairy Balls are so delicious!"