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No Frustration Egg Deshelling – Making Perfect Eggs Every Time!

February 24, 2016
Easy peel egg shells.  It's all in the cooking.

Easy peel egg shells. It’s all in the cooking.

If there is anything that could make a free range chicken grin, then it would be this little snippet of time saving information.

You know those occasional boiled eggs you get which have the soul intention of ruining your day?

The eggs you pluck from the hot waters of your saucepan, only to spend the next five minutes fumbling around burning your fingers and separating the tiniest pieces of shell from the diminishing volume of egg left in your hand? Those eggs which …just … won’t … peel!

Well here’s the good news!

We have cracked the secret to cooking the perfect egg every time.

There is no reason to put up with clingy shells and crunchy mouth syndrome with your egg meals any longer! The perfect technique probably only takes a small adjustment to the way you’re cooking eggs already.

Here is what to do!
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Making DIY Miso Paste with Soy Beans (Half Year Update)

June 28, 2015
DIY Miso Paste made from Soy Beans is mixed at six month milestone.

At the six month milestone, DIY Miso paste requires mixing of the blended Soy Bean ingredients to help development of flavor.

Spring SeasonMiso paste is an ancient Japanese preparation with origins dating back almost a thousand years. The pungent fermented food has an acquired taste, but is extremely healthy as an addition to many popular Japanese dishes.

We wrote about making Miso earlier in the year in our blog post here.

We also produced a step-by-step guide to making DIY Miso paste for those interested in having a shot at making it at home themselves.

With our DIY paste having quietly sat in a cool place for almost half a year, it is about to enter a new Summer phase of fermentation. It was therefore time to re-visit our DIY Miso paste to give it a good thorough mixing to help aerate and redistribute the fermentation culture to ensure development of a rich and consistent taste.

Our home Miso paste project was started in late Winter, which we timed so that ingredients and base flavors had a chance to soak together and spread evenly throughout the entire mixture before Summer heat arrived. The next Summer phase however, is when the real added flavor and character of the Miso develops. As the temperature rises, the fermentation culture kicks into overdrive.

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Making Miso from Soy Beans – We’re all go!

January 18, 2015
Japanese miso paste

Japanese miso paste

winter-seasonA couple of weeks back we announced that we had received a DIY Miso making pack in preparation for our trek back into Japanese tradition and the ancient techniques of preparing this unique Japanese food. (The earlier story is here).

The DIY Miso kit was purchased from a special Miso manufacturing company called “Komego“, located in Fukui, Japan.  (At this stage, the company only supplies the kits to customers within Japan and website and all kit instructions are only written in Japanese.)

A complete step-by-step guide to how we made our Miso paste is provided here. We will update this guide as we continue fermentation and eventually re-mix and finally eat the Miso later in the year.

Japanese are usually very particular about the differing types and tastes of foods as produced by specialist regions of Japan.  Miso products are no different.  Various types of Miso can be produced with the taste depending on the origin of specific ingredients and the specific regional preparation techniques employed to make the paste. Read more »

Making Miso from Soy Beans (Part 1) – Received our DIY kit.

January 10, 2015

misobucketwinter-seasonToday at, we received a project pack for making our own Miso.  Miso is a very healthy, traditional food in Japan.  It is a fermented bean paste that is extremely important in the everyday diets of most Japanese.  A wide variety of miso pastes are used in Miso soup, ramen (noodle) soup, as condiment and in general, in an extremely wide selection of other everyday foods.

Miso paste takes many months to make as it is made from the gradual yeast fermentation of Soy beans.  When prepared and left to to sit over time, the bean paste takes on the consistency of something resembling Peanut Butter … but obviously with a considerably different taste! 

The paste adds a relatively a strong, distinctive Japanese taste and pungent oriental fragrance to dishes. The manufacture of Miso paste is quite an art and flavors can vary greatly depending on the Soy beans used and techniques used to make paste.  It varies from quite a light taste with a soft yellow color, to thick and strong taste with a dark tan color.

Unfortunately, traditional home made Miso paste has gone somewhat like that of DIY jam making in other countries.  Die hards still do make it, but for the vast, busy majority, it is usually cheaper and far more convenient to simply purchase commercially made brands from the supermarket.

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Japanese Miso – DIY Fermentation Project Complete

November 20, 2014


DIY Japanese Miso Cracker Dip

We have completed the fermentation of our DIY Japanese Miso Paste from raw soy beans.  The Miso making was a great success.

Many readers could be forgiven for reacting with an “Eeuuuwwwww!” upon seeing some of the photos of this process, but believe us, the final miso paste product is extremely tasty.  And healthy too!

It has been almost a full year since we started making our paste. The fermentation started in cold Winter months early in the year, soon after when we first discussed home DIY miso making. We later provided a full DIY how-to of miso making guide” when we started the mix, where we showed the ingredients required in the preparation and the techniques used.

Time has flown by. We provided a half year report on the progress of our fermentation project when the soy bean paste received a good mixing just prior to the arrival of Summer’s full heat. At the time, being exposed to only cool temperatures, little had changed in our premature miso paste and there wasn’t even a thread of flavor altering mold to be seen.

Given five extra months of development and an a blast of Japanese Summer heat in between, and that all changed!

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Invisible Messages on Bananas – No Ink Required

January 23, 2014

Banana Messaging Technology
Here is a fun DIY text messaging technology which any monkey can use. Banana messaging!

The fun part is the message remains near invisible when first written and takes time to develop. So it’s great for cheering up a your partner’s day as they first open the fridge in the morning (with your banana placed inconspicuously, yet stategically the night before), or for packing that extra smile in your childrens’ lunch box to be discovered later in the school day.

All that is required for writing a DIY banana messages is:

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Mushrooms – Morel or False Morel? (Update)

May 8, 2013
Morel or False Morel?

Morel or False Morel?

Spring SeasonUPDATE STORY – Do we have delicious edible Morels, or toxic False Morels growing naturally in our garden?  It has been on our minds ever since finding our new residents a little over a week ago, as reported here.

Other than the often mis-leading appearance to tell sponge mushrooms apart, one of the best ways to help identify edible Morels from extremely poisonous False Morels, is to cut them in half longitudinally.

Important: Do not eat natural or unidentified mushrooms without firstly seeking expert opinion for all identifications!

Our specimen mushrooms were quite dry and had a hard, firm body by the time we decided to slice them down the middle a week or two after finding them.  Normally, a generally crusty nature would be an indication that a mushroom might be a False Morel, but in this case we believe the mushroom bodies had simply dried out.

We were able to see a number of important identifying features that indicated ours were likely Morels of the Morchella genus, rather than False morels.

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Sponge Mushrooms -The Morel of the Story

April 30, 2013

Spring Season

Sponge Mushrooms - Morel or False Morel?  A true life and death question.

Sponge Mushrooms – Morel or False Morel? A true life and death question.

These interesting little sponge mushrooms just popped out of the ground in the last few days. They were found in a sheltered, low light area under a well established stand of giant Japanese bamboo.

While looking very much like an edible species of mushroom, as non-experts of toxic fungi we’re not about to rush these little guys off to the chef thinking we have just bagged a free delicacy.

Similar looking sponge mushrooms, or either morel or false morel as they are also known, are the fruiting bodies of either the Morchella or Verpa fungus Genus. Each Genus contains species which look relatively similar, but offer very different experiences if consumed!

Morchella, although not without its toxins and allergy risks, can offer a delicious dish if cooked correctly.  Verpa however, are all toxic False Morels.  If mistaken for identity, when consumed they offer anything from mild stomach upset and organ failure (usually liver and kidney), to a slow, quite permanent death.

All culinary considerations and risks of identifying natural mushrooms aside, we haven’t seen sponge mushrooms of any species growing in our garden in the past. We have made a keen effort to stop using sprays in the last few years, so we are  flattered that this little fungus has decided to come and call our garden home.
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Winter tasks for Growing Japanese Nashi

February 26, 2013


A ripening Japanese Nashi (Chinese Apple Pear) in Japan.

Large and juicy Japanese Nashi (Asian Pear) ripen in late Fall in Japan, but high quality production requires considerable orchard management throughout the year.

Juicy Japanese Nashi are a delightful fruit which ripen in the Fall season in Japan.  The fruit is also known elsewhere as Japanese Pear, Asian Pear, Chinese Pear, Korean Pear or Apple Pear.

At this time of year when cold Winter winds are still blowing, Nashi fruit trees in Japan remain bare and without flowers, fruit or leaves.   Orchard farmers’ preparations for a perfect crop of juicy Nashi from the heavily budded branches however, have already begun.

Production of any crop of high quality requires a huge investment of time, skill and patience on the part of the grower.  Nashi growing, due to the uses and often sacred significance of the fruit in Japan, takes this concept of attention to quality a step further.  Harvested fruit is expected to reflect near perfection in appearance, size and taste when harvested from orchards and presented to consumers in Japanese supermarkets.

Even in Winter, Nashi orchards are kept in a very ordered and precise manner.  Matured trees are carefully trained over years onto trellises and head-high wires that support the spreading branches.  Well established management routines ensuring quality fruit development run throughout the year.

Lines of Japanese Nashi Fruit Trees in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.

Lines of Japanese Nashi fruit trees span a trellis in an orchard in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.  (Click to enlarge)

Pruning after harvest encourages each year’s new bud loaded branches to tower skywards from the support trellis.   These new branches produce the sweetest and best quality fruit as they have the most direct lines of nutrient and sugar supply from roots and leaves.

In order to improve production and access to developing fruit, Winter orchard tasks see every individual new branch carefully bent back from its skyward trajectory and tied onto the supporting trellis wires.  This allows the branches to bare heavy  loadings without fear of breakage and a reduced chance of wind damage to individual fruit.

Training the new shoots back onto the trellis requires that the bark at the base of each of the new branches be slit longitudinally with a trimmer knife.  The long string of dormant buds is then carefully maneuvered  downwards towards the trellis, ensuring the internal structure of the branch is not snapped or damaged.   The branches are then securely tied down to the support wires of the trellis and the initial cut in the bark is wrapped with grafting tape to reduce the potential for disease while the bark heals.

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Japanese Onion Planting and Harvesting

January 30, 2013
A matured crop of Japanese Onion (Negi)

A matured crop of Japanese Onion (Negi)

winter-seasonJapanese onion, or negi, as they are called locally, are an important part of the Japanese diet.  The vegetable has a long stalk and non-bulbous base, unlike normal white or brown onions grown in other countries. The relatively light onion taste of negi is somewhat similar to that of chives, but the plant itself is significantly larger.

Both the lower crispy section of the hollow green leaves and the solid white shanks are edible and are usually sliced for use as ingredients in a huge variety of common Japanese foods.  In miso soups, within skewered yakitori sticks, with fish dishes, in ramen noodle soups and as strong tasting toppings and decorative finishes for tofu and sushi, to name a few.

Onions growing is therefore a large and important industry in Japan.  The seasonal growing cycle runs more or less all year round, with planting and harvesting timed to occur at regular intervals during all seasons to maintain supply.

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