upside down, and round and round...

although the sun still scorches my back when I water my herbie babies on my balcony, I know the season is shifting into autumn. Recent disappearances of summer fruits from stores remind me of that. The best summery thing I enjoy every summer is various stone fruits when they come into season. this year, I tried a new method to eat them: not raw, but cooked fresh fruits. Well, it wasn’t actually new since I had already tried when I lived in London many times. One afternoon, sitting in front of fat plums, a sweet and tart upside down plum cake sprang to my mind. The problem is, I now have no oven to bake. (There is room for an oven to fit, but I would feel compelled to change my old kitchen unit if I did.) So I made one with my muji non-stick frying pan. It turned out great!

simple method:
1. caramelise cut fruits with brown sugar and fruit liquor or brandy.
2. spread the cake mixture (self-raising flour, eggs, sugar, milk and veg oil) over the half-caramelised fruits. And keep a lid on it until it's cooked throughout on very low heat.

3. make crème anglaise and put aside.
4. spread the cream over the cake and then cover it with a thin pan cake like a sandwich.

critical moment:
5. flip the cake out onto the plate.
incredibly easy and quick! voilà, some of my summer fruitages.


caramelise them.

ready to taste.

let it snow a little? why not!

figs: this fruit has no stones, stii its flavour gets richer when cooked like peach and plum.

caramelise them, too.

well done.

serve it with a spoonful crème fraîche.

almost all kitchens have an oven in europe and the states. but, just in case yours gets out of order, or you don’t have enough time to bake a cake, my simplified method really works for you!


manjusaka  曼珠沙華

during 彼岸 higan, which is the equinoctial week, we japanese would visit our family graves because of the buddhist tradition. so i, too, went up to kyoto and visited our family temple where my father and my mother’s ancestors all lie at rest, today. as the temple is situated in the mountainous area and the grave yard overlooks the valley, people, both deceased and alive, can enjoy the spectacular view. it was too hot (the temperature rose above 30 degree celsius!) to appreciate it in the sun today, though.

after coming back home, i was a bit tired and had a nap. then, i went out to the park with my camera to look for 彼岸花 higanbana (manjusaka in sanskrit; spider lily in english), which only blooms during the equinoctial week. in the woodlands, i could find the blood-colour flowers here and there. they looked mystic, but beautiful. and, i wandered about in search of on something more mystic: white spider lily. there should be some in the park. i at last found a white mass near a serene pond just in time for the sunset. i felt something mystic like zen!



after the emerald rush

these days, i’m enjoying reading your latest post reporting on shifts in season one after another. Everyone appears to bid the summer lingering farewell. i wish that this summery day, like today, will last longer than it normally does. we ultra season-sensitive japanese don’t say it “summer” once september begins, but, another long summer has been actually forecasted in japan so far … yes, due to the global warming.


in the height of summer, the whole area of my local park, from meadows and marshes to woodlands, turned emerald green. and now, after the peak of summer, i can see many hues and shades of green and brown, or even red and yellow in there. whenever i have a late-afternoon walk in the park amid a balmy late-summer breeze, every little discovery of the new season makes me feel just great.

pic 1, 4, 5
nelumbo nucifera, 蓮 hasu: it’s lotus as you know. this ancient plant is pretty common in japan. and, believe it or not, we eat lotus roots (rhizomes) !
pic 2, 3
typha latifolia. 蒲 gama in japanese. how do you say it in your language? the first time i ever saw this plant was in my picture book “bambi.” many decades later, i could find a myriad of real typha in the park nearby very happily.
pic 6
japanese maple. 紅葉 momiji: the most famous colour for leaf peeping, which the japanese can’t enjoy autumn without. but, i took this pic in late august. i guess something wrong has happened to its environment in the park, since it’s too early for the foliage to develop such a bold autumn colour. usually, we go and see displays of crimson-red momiji leaves in urban areas as early as mid november. incidentally, i’ve also found a 紅葉スモモ beniha-sumomo, red-leafed plum tree, blossoming in the park orchard for the second time this year.
pic 7
bitter melon. ゴーヤ goya. what amazing colours! do you remember the green ones in my past post? it’s turned egg-yolk yellow and produced red beans inside. i’d had no idea that bitter melons would mellow so colourfully until i found this in the park.
it seems like another perfect sunday for a glass of white wine (chilean, this time) even after making a bad start with a croissant burnt. have a relaxing sunday and a great week!


biscuit tins

this time, i’m going to talk about nothing to do with weather or floras. well, it’ true that the most enjoyable part of my life is associated with seasonal changes of nature. but, my artsy side seems never to be influenced by seasons or even bad weathers. (oh, it’s another fine summer’s day; ideal for an italian white wine here in osaka.) matter of fact, i’m pretty design-conscious. i can be fussy or crazy about colours, patterns and shapes of end products that some talented persons have created. for this reason, i have a tendency to fall for things that can be my collectibles.
meanwhile, i tell my mother, who can’t throw anything away without feeling guilty, to stop accumulating rubbish. in her drawers and cupboard, i’ve been seeing a host of strings, rubber bands and shopping bags sit still over these years. i do understand that any woman of my mother’s generation experienced the times when anyone simply could not afford to waste anything because of the war. i, however, say to her mercilessly: “mother, do you really need a dozen of empty plastic yogurt tubs?” it’s no joke.

on the other hand, when it comes to pretty things like ribbons, boxes and biscuit (or tea, coffee, cocoa power?) tins, i am not in a position to tell my mother to get rid of that stuff. actually, i used to have way too many tins. i still keep some in spite of frequent relocations of my base crossing the seas, back and forth, in the past. my old biscuit tins all look ravishingly beautiful. in fact, years back, when i jumped off a double-decker i’d taken from piccadilly after shopping at fortnum & mason, i left my handbag. i was totally carried away with a gorgeous lazzaroni biscuit tin i’d just bought there. i know i’m sometimes such a comic. * **

pic 1
maker-unidentified french bonbons tin: i don’t really remember this … probably i bought this in london since the tin charmed me, while i clearly remember the bonbons were not so tasty. this tin now contains my sawing kit.

pic 2, 3
lazzaroni amaretti cookies tin: this is quite ubiqitous. i used to have all three sizes. the tall one is a perfect size for spaghetti. this spicy macaroon’s tissue wrapper is beautiful, too. design-wise, i prefer retro to modern, by the way.

pic 4
another lazzaroni biscuits tin: i eventually bought this after several visits to fortnum mason. this is the tin that cost me my handbag. several months later i received a letter from the london transport lost property office, telling me to collect my handbag. a good world? but, i had to pay for restoring charge.

pic 5
ladyfingers (french sponge type biscuits) tin: i think i bought this when i lived in 横浜 yokohama. i was going to make a charlotte with these biscuits, but i ate them all before making one. threads, buttons and beads are crammed in there now.

pic 6
末富 suetomi japanese biscuits tins: my new numbers. in my opinion, these minimalistic tins are the best designed confectionery tins in japan. 末富 suetomi, an well-established confectionery in 京都 kyoto, does have its own aesthetics not only for confectioneries but for packaging as well.

pic 7
(additionally) whiteman’s sampler box: i bought this in new york last year. it is not a tin as you see. and it is a bit girly, you might think. still, this nostalgic feel makes me so hard to throw away when empty.

have a beautiful sunday, everyone!


calendrier des fleurs

september. what flowers can you see in your garden? i picked a few leftover lavenders from a pruned hedge in the park (don’t tell it anyone, please) and placed them on my bedside table. the fragrant is soothing. then i thought of my personal flower calendar -- scabiosa should be for september. i took this picture as above in my london flat exactly 20 years ago! i’m still very fond of this sweet flower and my daughter still snuggles down into this scabiosa colour blanket in winter in tokyo. but in london, people actually start grabbing a blanket this month. over here, my kind of summer -- like a mediterranean summer -- has just begun.

i enjoy the coolness of bed sheets at night and the sun during the day. still, the sunlight is different now: the days have become shorter and shorter, while the rays of sunlight have become longer and longer. what i love this season best is everything seems to glint in a ray of sunlight and it reminds me of my ancient september trip to scotland. if someone asked me what the most beautiful scenery i’d ever seen in my life was, my answer would be the divine landscape of the moors with rabbits leaping and heathers blowing that i saw from the train window on my way from inverness to glasgow.

those views of the scottish highlands were absolutely heavenly. i’m sure my mind will be milling about with rabbits in the scottish heath whenever i look up at the clear blue september sky. in the meantime, as the humidity level got lower, a diligent part of me was looking for something productive. i’ve just started my new “white” project: this time, an all white patch-work quilt for my bed. there seem no headboards that match to my image of my newly painted white bedroom better, so i am making this not as a cover but as a headboard, like a tapestry? i hope to show you the complete hand-sawn white quilt in next several months.