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Japanese Farm Food (2012)

by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1714137,201 (3.82)8
Japanese Farm Food, now available in paperback, offers a unique look into life on a Japanese farm through 165 simple, clear-flavored recipes along with personal stories and over 350 stunning photographs. It is a book about love, community, and life in rural Japan. Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012: USA Winner, Best Japanese Cuisine Book "Our life centers on the farm and the field. We eat what we grow." --Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Japanese Farm Food offers a unique window into life on a Japanese farm through the simple, clear-flavored recipes cooked from family crops and other local, organic products. The multitude of vibrant images by Kenji Miura of green fields, a traditional farmhouse, antique baskets, and ceramic bowls filled with beautiful, simple dishes are interwoven with Japanese indigo fabrics to convey an intimate, authentic portrait of life and food on a Japanese farm. With a focus on fresh and thoughtfully sourced ingredients, the recipes in Japanese Farm Food are perfect for fans of farmers'' markets, and for home cooks looking for accessible Japanese dishes. Personal stories about family and farm life complete this incredible volume. American born and raised, Nancy Singleton Hachisu lives with her husband and teenage sons on a rural Japanese farm, where they prepare these 165 bright, seasonal dishes. The recipes are organized logically with the intention of reassuring you how easy it is to cook Japanese food. Not just a book about Japanese food, Japanese Farm Food is a book about love, life on the farm, and community. Covering everything from pickles and soups to noodles, rice, and dipping sauces, with a special emphasis on vegetables, Hachisu demystifies the rural Japanese kitchen, laying bare the essential ingredients, equipment, and techniques needed for Japanese home cooking. "Nancy Hachisu is...intrepid. Outrageously creative. Intensely passionate. Committed. True and real. I urge you to cook from this book with abandon, but first read it like a memoir, chapter by chapter, and you will share in the story of a modern-day family, a totally unique and extraordinary one." --Patricia Wells "This book is both an intimate portrait of Nancy''s life on the farm, and an important work that shows the universality of an authentic food culture." --Alice Waters "The modest title Japanese Farm Food turns out to be large, embracing and perhaps surprising. Unlike the farm-to-table life as we know it here, where precious farm foods are cooked with recipes, often with some elaboration, real farm food means eating the same thing day after day when it''s plentiful, putting it up for when it''s not, and cooking it very, very simply because the farm demands so much more time in the field than in the kitchen. This beautiful, touching, and ultimately common sense book is about a life that''s balanced between the idea that a life chooses you and that you in turn choose it and then live it wholeheartedly and largely. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your rich, intentional and truly inspiring life." --Deborah Madison "Nancy Hachisu''s amazing depth of knowledge of Japanese food and culture shines through in every part of this book. You will feel as if you live next door to her...savoring and learning her down-to-earth approach to cooking and to loving food." --Hiroko Shimbo "Taking a peek into Nancy Hachisu''s stunning Japanese Farm Food is like entering a magical world. It''s a Japan that used to be, not the modern Japan defined by the busyness of Tokyo, but a more timeless place, a place whose rhythms are set by seasons and traditions and the work of the farm. Japanese Farm Food is so much more than a cookbook. This book has soul. Every vegetable, every tool has a story. Who grew this eggplant? Who made this soy sauce? Nancy doesn''t have to ask, "Where does my food come from?" She knows. Here''s a woman who grows and harvests her own rice, grain by grain. Not that she asks or expects us to do the same at all. What she does offer is a glimpse into her life in rural Japan, with its shoji screens and filtered light, and recipes from her farm kitchen that you can''t wait to try." --Elise Bauer, SimplyRecipes.com "Japanese Farm Food is a lovely book about the culture, landscape, and food of Japan, a true insider''s view of the Japanese kitchen, from farm to table, by a passionate and talented writer." --Michael Ruhlman… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
I am working my way through two Japanese cookbooks right now, both of which are filled with insight and craft (my review of Sonoko Sakai's Japanese Home Cooking: Simple Meals, Authentic Flavors coming soon!).

Nancy Singleton Hachisu's Japanese Farm Food is, as advertised, very much about farm life in Japan and the food that grows there. For that reason, it resonates more as a narrative for me than a cookbook, as many of the ingredients are specific and connected to the life of the farm. She is not as free with the substitutions as Sonoko Sakai, but there are a few (blackstrap molasses for kuromitsu, for example). To call her a purist wouldn't seem totally correct, and that's largely because of the beautiful narrative she constructs about life on the farm and learning how to acculturate in meaningful ways. In truth it is inspiring, if somewhat a bit daunting at times.

In addition to spending massive amounts of time preparing food (most of it grown on the family farm), Hachisu also runs an English-immersion pre-school/kindergarten, adorably called "Sunny-Side Up!" Her anecdotes about the children and the photographs (by Kenji Miura) of their wonderful joy are one of the best parts of the book.

Originally from Northern California (Bay Area), Hachisu describes herself as a "town girl" (182), and one gets the sense that everything is indeed relative. She advocates buying local, and one might find themselves frustrated on that front if "local" isn't Japan. As with most cookbooks, the book suffers a bit from inconsistent cross-referencing and incomplete indexing: If a recipe calls for dashi, it often includes the page reference for making the dashi. However, I'm still waiting for the cookbook that indexes ALL the recipes that use dashi (or any other distinctive ingredient to that cuisine). Sometimes the recipes are helpfully grouped together, as is the case with the kaeshi on p. 310, which is necessary for flavoring the dashi of the following recipe, "noodle dipping sauce." But these are nitpicky quibbles. Many of the recipes, particularly some of the salads and vegetable dishes, are accessible for novices, and require only basic staples such as soy sauce and miso. The majority of the dessert recipes are for ice cream (mostly adapted from Lindsey Shere's Chez Panisse recipes), and you'll want to have an ice cream maker (although the patient internet searcher can likely come up with alternative methods). I am curious to try her method for making anko (the sweetened paste made with azuki beans) since I made Sonoko Sakai's version, which was wonderful, but time-intensive.

One of the most valuable parts of the book--and here I'm considering photocopying the pages and laminating them since I suspect I shall return to them often--are the charts and glossaries in the back. The "Vegetables by method" and "Fish and Seafood by Method" charts motivate the cook to actually understand, not just follow, the recipe. It is also very useful should one have to decide based on what's available/in season.

The whole book is beautifully produced, from the lovely "matte" finish of the photography, the easy-to-read font, and the overall design. Her stories--interspersed and as prefaces to recipes--are wonderful to read, and tinged here and there with the wistful and nostalgic, but also the pragmatic sensibility of living and eating in communion with the earth. As I explore the recipes I may make a substitution here or there that Hachisu might frown upon, but I will at least try to approach my cooking with the reverence and sincerity she seems to bring to her craft. ( )
  rebcamuse | Aug 4, 2022 |
This is a beautiful book. It is a joy to look through and the recipes are great, too! The photography is inspiring. Makes me want to get up and cook! ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
This is the real deal - this is the food we learned to love while living in rural Japan (Shikoku) in the late 80s. ( )
  Tobyann | Apr 25, 2013 |
A great introduction to Japanese cooking and the quiet lifestyle of the Japanese farming communities, foods, and lifestyle.
( )
  midgeworld | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Japanese Farm Food, now available in paperback, offers a unique look into life on a Japanese farm through 165 simple, clear-flavored recipes along with personal stories and over 350 stunning photographs. It is a book about love, community, and life in rural Japan. Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012: USA Winner, Best Japanese Cuisine Book "Our life centers on the farm and the field. We eat what we grow." --Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Japanese Farm Food offers a unique window into life on a Japanese farm through the simple, clear-flavored recipes cooked from family crops and other local, organic products. The multitude of vibrant images by Kenji Miura of green fields, a traditional farmhouse, antique baskets, and ceramic bowls filled with beautiful, simple dishes are interwoven with Japanese indigo fabrics to convey an intimate, authentic portrait of life and food on a Japanese farm. With a focus on fresh and thoughtfully sourced ingredients, the recipes in Japanese Farm Food are perfect for fans of farmers'' markets, and for home cooks looking for accessible Japanese dishes. Personal stories about family and farm life complete this incredible volume. American born and raised, Nancy Singleton Hachisu lives with her husband and teenage sons on a rural Japanese farm, where they prepare these 165 bright, seasonal dishes. The recipes are organized logically with the intention of reassuring you how easy it is to cook Japanese food. Not just a book about Japanese food, Japanese Farm Food is a book about love, life on the farm, and community. Covering everything from pickles and soups to noodles, rice, and dipping sauces, with a special emphasis on vegetables, Hachisu demystifies the rural Japanese kitchen, laying bare the essential ingredients, equipment, and techniques needed for Japanese home cooking. "Nancy Hachisu is...intrepid. Outrageously creative. Intensely passionate. Committed. True and real. I urge you to cook from this book with abandon, but first read it like a memoir, chapter by chapter, and you will share in the story of a modern-day family, a totally unique and extraordinary one." --Patricia Wells "This book is both an intimate portrait of Nancy''s life on the farm, and an important work that shows the universality of an authentic food culture." --Alice Waters "The modest title Japanese Farm Food turns out to be large, embracing and perhaps surprising. Unlike the farm-to-table life as we know it here, where precious farm foods are cooked with recipes, often with some elaboration, real farm food means eating the same thing day after day when it''s plentiful, putting it up for when it''s not, and cooking it very, very simply because the farm demands so much more time in the field than in the kitchen. This beautiful, touching, and ultimately common sense book is about a life that''s balanced between the idea that a life chooses you and that you in turn choose it and then live it wholeheartedly and largely. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your rich, intentional and truly inspiring life." --Deborah Madison "Nancy Hachisu''s amazing depth of knowledge of Japanese food and culture shines through in every part of this book. You will feel as if you live next door to her...savoring and learning her down-to-earth approach to cooking and to loving food." --Hiroko Shimbo "Taking a peek into Nancy Hachisu''s stunning Japanese Farm Food is like entering a magical world. It''s a Japan that used to be, not the modern Japan defined by the busyness of Tokyo, but a more timeless place, a place whose rhythms are set by seasons and traditions and the work of the farm. Japanese Farm Food is so much more than a cookbook. This book has soul. Every vegetable, every tool has a story. Who grew this eggplant? Who made this soy sauce? Nancy doesn''t have to ask, "Where does my food come from?" She knows. Here''s a woman who grows and harvests her own rice, grain by grain. Not that she asks or expects us to do the same at all. What she does offer is a glimpse into her life in rural Japan, with its shoji screens and filtered light, and recipes from her farm kitchen that you can''t wait to try." --Elise Bauer, SimplyRecipes.com "Japanese Farm Food is a lovely book about the culture, landscape, and food of Japan, a true insider''s view of the Japanese kitchen, from farm to table, by a passionate and talented writer." --Michael Ruhlman

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