Friday, December 23, 2011

O-Jizo san, the grateful statues.....a tale from Japan

Mini Jizo statues picture courtesy of Wikipedia
O-Jizo san, The Grateful Statues
ONCE upon a time an old man and an old woman were living in a country village in Japan. They were very poor and spent every day weaving big hats out of straw. Whenever they finished a number of hats, the old man would take them to the nearest town to sell them.
One day the old man said to the old woman: "New Year's is the day after tomorrow. How I wish we had some rice-cakes to eat on New Year's Day! Even one or two little cakes would be enough. Without some rice-cakes we can't even celebrate New Year's."
"Well, then," said the old woman, "After you've sold these hats, why don't you buy some rice-cakes and bring them back with you?"
So early the next morning the old man took the five new hats that they had made, and went to town to sell them. But after he got to town he was unable to sell a single hat. And to make things still worse, it began to snow very hard.
The old man was very sad as he began trudging wearily back toward his village. He was going along a lonesome mountain trail when he suddenly came upon a row of six stone statues of Jizo, the protector of children, all covered with snow.
"My, my! Now isn't this a pity," the old man said. "These are only stone statues of Jizo, but even so just think how cold they must be standing here in the snow."
"I know what I'll do!" the old man suddenly said to himself. "This will be just the thing."

So he unfastened the five new hats from his back and began tying them, one by one, on the heads of the Jizo statues.
When he came to the last statue he suddenly realized that all the hats were gone. "Oh, my!" he said, "I don't have enough hats." But then he remembered his own hat. So he took it off his head and tied it on the head of the last Jizo. Then he went on his way home.
When he reached his house the old woman was waiting for him by the fire. She took one look at him and cried: "You must be frozen half to death. Quick! Come to the fire. What did you do with your hat?"
The old man shook the snow out of his hair and came to the fire. He told the old woman how he had given all the new hats, and even his own hat, to the six stone Jizo. He told her he was sorry that he hadn't been able to bring any rice-cakes.
"My! That was a very kind thing you did for the Jizo," said the old woman. She was very proud of the old man, and went on: "It's better to do a kind thing like that than to have all the rice-cakes in the world. We'll get along without any rice-cakes for New Year's."
By this time it was late at night, so the old man and woman went to bed. And just before dawn, while they were still asleep, a very wonderful thing happened. Suddenly there was the sound of voices in the distance, singing:
"A kind old man walking in the snow

Gave all his hats to the stone Jizo.

So we bring him gifts with a yo-heave-ho!"
The voices came nearer and nearer, and then you could hear the sound of footsteps on the snow.
The sounds came right up to the house where the old man and woman were sleeping. And then all at once there was a great noise, as though something had been put down just in front of the house.
The old couple jumped out of bed and ran to the front door. When they opened it, what do you suppose they found? Well, right there at the door someone had spread a straw mat, and arranged very neatly on the mat was one of the biggest and most beautiful and freshest rice-cakes the old people had ever seen.
"Whoever could have brought us such a wonderful gift?" they said, and looked about wonderingly.
They saw some tracks in the snow leading away from their house. The snow was all tinted with the colors of dawn, and there in the distance, walking over the snow, were the .six stone Jizo, still wearing the hats which the old man had given them.
The old man said: "It was the stone Jizo who brought this wonderful rice-cake to us."
The old woman said: "You did them a kind favor when you gave them your hats, so they brought this rice-cake to show their gratitude.
The old couple had a very wonderful New Year's Day celebration after all, because now they had this wonderful rice-cake to eat.

My friends at Wiki have the following information about Japanese Rice Cakes aka Mochi:
Mochi (Japanese: 餅) is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice (not to be confused with gluten) pounded into paste and molded into shape. In Japan it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki.[1] While also eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. Mochi is also a prominent snack in Hawaii, South Korea, Taiwan (where it is called 麻糬, Hokkien môa-chî or Mandarin máshu), Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

(picture found at

Mochi can be made in many flavors and colors! Kids will love this!
The following Mochi recipe is simple and can be made in a steamer or in the microwave. The video below the recipe demonstrates both methods of making mochi.

Mochi Recipe ( Japanese Rice Cake Recipe )
Mochi dough recipe :
Ingredients :
2 cups water
2 cups glutinous rice flour ( mochiko )
1 cup sugar
potato starch, or soy bean flour for dusting ( katakuriko, or kinako )
1 tbsp strawberry jam ( optional )
1/4 tsp pandan ( screwpine leaf ) extract ( optional )

Method :
1) Sieve glutinous rice flour in a big bowl ( to prevent clumps) and set aside.
2) Mix sifted glutinous rice flour, sugar and 2 cups water in a bowl. ( optional: add strawberry jam for pink mochi dough or pandan extract for green mochi dough)
3) Making mochi
Steaming method : pour flour mixture into an oiled pan. Place in steamer and steam on medium for 30-45 minutes.
Microwave method : pour flour mixture into an oiled microwavable pan. Microwave 10-15 minutes covered.
4) Dust some potato starch ( Katakuriko ) over a large flat-surfaced board. Knead dough until a smooth texture is achieved.
5) Shape dough into mini-logs and cut into bite-sized portions.
6) Fill or top dough with your favorite stuffing or topping.
recipe found at Melting Wok

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Go Mango Walk

 "Happiness in a Mango Walk" by Mallica "Kapo" Reynolds
Mango Walk is a Jamaican folk song that has been performed by steele bands for many years.
My favorite version of this song was recorded by John Langstaff on his
"Songs for Singing Children" album. As far as I can find out "mango walk" 
refers to a mango orchard, and "Number Eleven" is either a type of mango or a size.
But no matter which explanation is correct, the song is just fun to sing.
Mango Walk 

My brother did a-tell me that you go mango walk,
You go mango walk, you go mango walk,
My brother did a-tell me that you go mango walk
And steal all the number 'leven.

Now tell me, Joe, do tell me for true,
Do tell me for true, do tell me,
That you don't go to no mango walk
And steal all the number 'leven. 

I tell you, Sue, I tell you for true,
I tell you for true, I tell you
That I don't go to no mango walk
And steal all the number 'leven. 

a midi with the tune can be found at 
information about mangoes can be found at
One of the easiest ways for kids to eat a Mango is shown in this video.

More Mango ideas:

Mango pops:
  1. Puree fresh mango in a blender or food processor.
  2. Pour the puree into ice cube trays
  3. Cover the tray with plastic wrap
  4. Place a popsicle stick or toothpick into each cube
  5. Freeze.
  6. Take out of the freezer when ready and Enjoy!


Mango-Pineapple-Banana Smoothie

1 large mango diced and chilled
5 slices canned pineapples chilled
1 banana
1 cup of Orange Pineapple juice
4 ice cubes
  1. In a BLENDER, blend the banana with the orange pineapple juice until banana is well mixed.
  2. Next add the ice cubes,the mangos and the pineapples, blending for 1 minute on high or until ice is slushy.
  3. Pour into glasses and enjoy! 

Check out this super simple recipe for Spiky the Mango Hedgehog

This video demonstrates several ways to cut a mango.

The fabulous recipe and picture above just found at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Riddle Song

February is National Cherry Month and the first thing I thought of, after cherry pie, was a wonderful old folk song called The Riddle song.

 The Riddle Song also known as I Gave My Love A Cherry or simply The Cherry Song is an English folk song. Usually sung as a lullaby, The Riddle Song is said to have been brought to the U.S. by the settlers who lived in the Appalachian mountains.

 I gave my love a cherry
That had no stone
I gave my love a chicken
That had no bone
I told my love a story
That had no end
I gave my love a baby
With no crying.

How can there be a cherry
That has no stone?
And how can there be a chicken
That has no bone?
And how can there be a story
That has no end?
And how can there be a baby
With no crying?

A cherry when it's blooming
It has no stone
A chicken when in the shell
It has no bone
The story of how I love you
It has no end
A baby when it's sleeping
It's not crying.

(Note: The third item "a story that has no end" is sometimes changed to "a ring that has no end". Two video versions of this song can be found at the end of this blog after the recipe.)

Before the usual recipe, I thought I would add a few interesting facts about cherries and a quick and easy art project that you can do before or after your cooking project.

Cherry Art:
Use a halved, pitted cherry to draw on paper.

Cherry Facts:
Sweet cherries are available in late spring. Sour cherries are available in June or July.

Cherries grow on trees like apples or plums.

Cherries are high in antioxidants and a source of beta carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Cherry-Lime Slush

Makes 10 servings

4 cups cherries (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), washed
12 ounces frozen limeade
1 tray of ice cubes
1 cup sparkling water
 10  5-ounce paper cups
  1. De-stem and pit the cherries.
  2. In a blender, purée the cherries with limeade and ice cubes until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into a bowl.
  4. Stir in sparkling water.
  5. Spoon mixture into 5-ounce paper cups and freeze until firm but not solid, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
 recipe found at wondertime