Friday, June 19, 2009
Viva! Anthocyanin -1-
Before I talk about my terrible two days with this anthocyanin-rich fruit, I think I should apologize. My "challenges" series may be quite misleading or unfair because they are digests of stressful incidents only and do not include positive aspects, such as what mom is perfectly capable of doing or what we enjoy doing together at this point.
Honestly, I started that series just to make my adjustment easier and to provide fun(?) reading for those who want to know what life in rural Japan is like. Nothing more. Having a little mental health training background, I would have been more fair and thorough in giving information IF my intention were to discuss mom's condition and treatment on this blog. But it wasn't, because this is basically a foodblog, after all, and I want to keep it that way.
Nevertheless, I'm adding a little more information here for those who are worried about my family because of my unfair input. Mom is not disoriented yet, and still capable of organizing and running a tea ceremony event. She lists up all the necessary equipments correctly (means matching the ranks and seasonal themes correctly), packs all of them, crossing out the listed items one by one and makes lottery to give participants thank-you gifts before they go home. Sometimes she collects necessary fee and distributes photos when necessary. She often does that all by herself, and so far never forgot to bring anything to the event. (Sometimes sorted the photos wrong, though. :p) Oh, and she has medical checkup every year.
Yes, here in Japan, ARICEPT is available, even for MCI patients (if the doctor thinks it's necessary), but IN BIG CITIES. In a very rural place, the issue is if there is any hospital at all in town. But it's possible to see Japanese diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease online as well as the limitations and side effects of the drugs used for treatment. In fact I had an experience of taking a senior to a doctor for testing and being involved in her case conference at a facility years ago. It was amazing how the diagnosis... Well, it's a long story, so perhaps I'll write about this whole thing in more details somewhere else someday.
Anyway, let's go back to yamamomo. Dad and I harvested about 4 kilograms of them in dad's orchard on day 1, which filled this big basket in the top photo and a big plastic bag. We really had to work hard, and it was hilarious. Why? Because the yamamomo tree was planted in a VERY inconvenient location. Dad's orange orchard is terraced on the hillside, and the flat parts are obviously meant for the orange trees only. OK. I'll reveal my artistic talent (Ahem!) to show you where the yamamomo tree was and how we harvested the berries.
Don't laugh. My family has been harvesting berries from this tree in this way from two generations ago. The berries are high up in the tree and the tree is weak, so we tie a net like this and one person climbs up a nearby, bigger tree and shakes off the berries. What was hilarious this time was that the net was not in the right angle, though we spent hours to set it, and nearly all the berries bounced on it and jumped over my head to fall on the ground! LOL
But that was not the hardest part. When we got home, dad said that yamamomo goes bad so fast so they must be kept in the fridge, and if no space in there, the berries should be eaten or cooked right away. Of course there was very little space in the fridge, so I had to start making jam with them right after dinner, alone, though I was already exhausted...
It was the most traumatizing jam-making experience in my life, honestly. I picked a recipe on a Japanese website, which called for 5 kilograms of yamamomo and said that the berries should be washed carefully and thoroughly. Give me a break. It's already 8 pm. I measured only 2.5 kgs of them, but my back started hurting when I finished washing them. Then I boiled the berries until soft, and seeded them by pushing against a coarse strainer with a wooden spatula. The instruction said that the mash should be strained through a strainer, but it was too fiber-rich that I gave up real soon. Instead, I processed it in an electric blender for 15 to 30 seconds.
Then cooking. The recipe said, "Don't cook it too long over low heat, or the color would turn dirty." Fine. But no matter how long I cooked, the jam didn't thicken at all. The wooden spatula and dishcloth were colored red. When it was past 10 pm, I saved half of the runny mixture as "yamamomo sauce," and threw in a bunch of pectin into the rest in order to put an end to this agony and go to bed. Yeah, the jam was set -- finally, and overly...
Next morning, the jam was too thick that it almost broke the spoon inserted in it, and the color was as dark as Worcestershire sauce. And it gave me a headache after I ate it. It was overwhelmingly sweet, with a hint of sourness of wild berries. AHHHHHHHHHHH....
So, dear readers, be ready for another jam pound cake post coming soon.
... to be cont'd ...