I’ve been back in Tokyo for about a week now. The transition has been good so far, although I am not enjoying the heat one little bit. Mostly because it is keeping me from my normal routine grocery shopping trips and other such things. Fortunately, I am married to this very sweet man who will do the shopping for me so I don’t have to haul my neatly 6 months pregnant self out in the humid heat. Thanks honey.
I did venture out yesterday with hubs to do a little walking around our neighborhood. We went to a couple of stores, visited the new Starbuck’s when I got too hot to move, and went to a brand new grocery store to get supplies for our meals over the next couple of days. While things seem mostly back to normal now than they were in March, there have been some small changes that I have noticed. One of those changes is the plethora of food that is more clearly labeled to show it is from Hokkaido, Japan. Many people feel it is safer to buy food from Hokkaido because it was not affected at all by any of the radiation business. I really appreciate this since I’m trying to be extra (and probably too) careful while I’m growing this life inside of me. (I’m taking the little kick I just got as I typed that last sentence as a thank you from the little guy.)
For a while, the escalators were turned off at many train stations. They are back on now. I have noticed that the typically brightly lit vending machines are dark. And the amount of air-conditioning is much less than it would otherwise be at this time of year. Fortunately it is still used, just not as excessively.
While some things are different, others are exactly the same. As we walked through the grocery store, I came across one of my favorite things this time of year: figs. Huge, beautiful, and calling my name, the figs made it into the basket and home to my kitchen. I’ll definitely be buying more figs to make things like jam, cookies, and to eat fresh with a little ice cream. But today I decided to try something a little different. Fig and walnut bread sounded just perfect.
As the bread baked, the apartment began to take on the familiar smell that I remember from last spring. Cozy, welcoming, and delicious. I instantly felt calm and relaxed with the scents, sounds and tastes of home.
Fig & Walnut Bread + Muffins
Recipe adapted from Sugar & Spice
This bread is much like zucchini or banana bread. It has a heavier texture and is perfect with a simple spread of butter and a glass of milk. The bread or muffins freeze well for about a month. The muffins are especially great because they thaw quickly for a last minute breakfast.
2 ½ cups sugar
2 cups ripe figs, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk (or use this substitute)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the mashed figs and the vegetable oil.
Sift the flours, soda, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the fig mixture alternately with the buttermilk and beat well.
Fold in chopped the walnuts.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased and floured loaf pans or muffin tins.
*I had to cover my bread with tin foil about 15 minutes into the cooking time because the top was browning too quickly. Keep an eye on yours in case you need to do the same.