another recipe, this time for creamy stew.

I'm back with another recipe but first some updates on my very interesting life.

last month, I taught a lot of our classes alone, and this week until the 6th I am teaching alone again! it's all good fun though. our 3 9th-grade students are starting to study for their high school entrance exams. I feel kind of sorry for them because it's all they do over winter break... study for their exams (at least that's how it was with last year's 9th graders).
we also had two halloween parties, one at the Kibi (main) classroom and one at the Tsujido classroom in Arida city. they were fun. I dressed up as hen-na ojisan...
hilarious! he's one of my favourite comedy characters...
come to think of it, this is the second year in a row I dressed up as a man.. last year I was Chuck Testa hahaha. I remember when I was like 10 or 11 I went as one of the Thompson twins from Tintin, too. strange...

and I rode another 160 km on my bike (over 3 days)... on sunday I rode to wakayama city to buy two lights and a bike pump. but when I got to the bike shop it started pouring rain. nothing like I've seen in vancouver... this was almost typhoon style! so the nice guys at the shop told me to wait until it stopped :) and lo and behold, it stopped an hour later (also nothing like I've seen in Vancouver!) by then it was dark though, so the shop guy lent me a light so I could ride home more safely. the trip to the shop and back home is about 70 km apparently. but the next day I wanted to return the light. so I rode back to the shop again... this time I brought them some really nice persimmons too. mmm persimmons.. probably nature's most perfect fruit.

today  I rode way up a mountain road in part of Aridagawa called Kanaya. it's about 13 km from home.
took this picture from a bridge...
... the bridge in this picture! (this was taken at my lunch stop)
my bike had a rest while I ate a quick lunch in an orange field.

as for this week's recipe... in japan there is such a thing called "cream stew" which is basically like a creamy chicken-vegetable soup. the stew part comes in a box.
except I think I can make a better one, japanese style... and without using milk or chicken to boot!

ingredients (feel free to add your other favourite veggies)

- canola/sunflower/vegetable oil
- an onion, coarsely chopped
- a couple of potatoes (yellow or white, not baking), washed, eyes removed, and cut into chunks
- a carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
☆ oyster mushrooms or other mushrooms, cut into slices or coarsely chopped
☆ sliced lotus root [renkon], boiled
☆ julienned bamboo shoots, boiled
☆ your choice of tofu (I chose deep fried soft tofu blocks called atsu-agé. you could also use ganmo, deep fried tofu balls; or sliced usu-agé, deep-fried tofu; or crumbled firm tofu.), cut into easy-to-eat pieces
step 2
- a tablespoon of all-purpose flour (optional)
- naga-imo/yama-imo
- unsweetened, unflavoured soy milk with a high solid content (I'm sure any soy milk would do, or even unsweetened almond or coconut milk)
- salt and pepper
- for garnish: green onions and/or nutritional yeast


1. in a pot, sauté the onions in a tablespoon or two of oil until lightly browned. add the potatoes and carrots, add water, and simmer until soft.
2. meanwhile, prepare the ☆ ingredients. add to the pot and let them incorporate.

step 4
 3. after that, prepare the cream stew part. peel the naga-imo and, using a fine-tooth grater, grate it into a bowl. the end product should be the consistency of raw eggs. the peeled naga-imo feels like a wet bar of soap, so don't let it slip out of your hands!
to the grated naga-imo, sift in the flour. but I don't think you actually need it because the naga-imo will thicken the soup enough. you can always add flour after if it's too watery.
4. to the imo-and-flour mixture, add some soy milk. I think I added a cup and a half or so but it really depends on how creamy you want the stew to be, and how much imo you grated. I grated the whole thing, it must have been half a cup or so. mix this well and you should have something that looks like a batter. add some water to this if it seems too thick to you.
5. there should still be water left in the pot... add the cream mixture to it and stir well. at this point if you think you need the flour, add it so it can cook. simmer for a few minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. make sure that the mushrooms are cooked through and everything is soft and tender.
6. taste test and add more soy milk, salt/pepper, water, or simmer more until it's to your liking.
enjoy! I had this for dinner with some green pea rice I cooked this morning. all you have to do is make regular rice except add green peas and a bit of extra water too.

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