My absolute favorite manga series is now officially licensed in English and available on Kindle
! I first saw Chihayafuru the anime series (watch it free on Crunchyroll
) and fell in love with the storyline and characters.
There was a combo English/Japanese print version of volumes 1 and 2 that came out earlier, but it was rather confusing to read (but I still bought them). This, which was just released, is an English language-only version on ebook.
Here’s the blurb:
Chihaya is a girl in the sixth grade, still not old enough to even know the meaning of the word zeal. But one day, she meets Arata, a transfer student from rural Fukui prefecture. Though docile and quiet, he has an unexpected skill: his ability to play competitive karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. Chihaya is struck by his obsession with the game, along with his ability to pick out the right card and swipe it away before any of his opponents. However, Arata is transfixed by her as well, all because of her unbelievable natural talent for the game. Don't miss the first volume in this story of adolescent lives and emotions playing out in the most dramatic of ways.
Camy here: I hadn’t heard of karuta until watching the anime and reading the manga series, but it’s really fascinating. It requires immense mental stamina and memorization skills as well as a physically demanding aspect in terms of quick, accurate reflexes. The series also highlights a key cultural component, the beauty of these extremely old Japanese poems.
If you’re not sure if you’d enjoy this series, watch the anime on Crunchyroll first (it animates the storyline up to about volume 9). I was hooked immediately and have been buying the Japanese-language manga series ever since (it’s still ongoing in Japan), even though I don’t understand Japanese all that well yet. There are illegal translations online, so I’m really glad to finally be able to support the author by buying the official English translation version.
There is a line in Pride and Prejudice
where Mr. Bingley is talking about the ball he plans to host at Netherfield:
“If you mean Darcy," cried her brother, "he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.”
I then found these two fascinating articles on white soup from the Jane Austen Centre
and the Austenonly blog
. I decided to try making it!
I followed the recipe from the book by John Farley, published in 1811, The London Art of Cookery and Domestic Housekeepers' Complete Assistant : uniting the principles of elegance, taste, and economy : and adapted to the use of servants, and families of every description
. You can download the scan of the original book from the link.
Here’s the original recipe:
PUT a knuckle of veal into six quarts of water, with a large fowl, a pound of lean bacon, half a pound of rice, two anchovies, a few pepper-corns, a bundle of sweet herbs, two or three onions, and three or four heads of celery cut in slices. Stew all together, till the soup is as strong as you would have it, and then strain it through a hair sieve into a clean earthen pot: let it stand all night, skim off the fat, and pour it into a stewpan. Put in half a pound of Jordan almonds beat fine, simmer a little, and run it through a tamis: add a pint of cream and the yolk of an egg, and send it up hot.
Also, it mentions a few pages earlier:
“In the preparation of white soup, remember never to put in your cream till you take your soup off the fire, and the last thing you do, must be the dishing of your soups. ”My foray into White Soup:
I didn’t have a pot large enough to hold an entire chicken and 6 quarts of water, so I halved the recipe:
1 package of beef shank, 1 pound (When looking up what a “knuckle of veal” was, I found this online: “Look for veal shank. The main thing for your stock is to get bones with a good deal of marrow. Knuckles, by the way, typically need to be cracked, whereas the shanks are often sold in 2"to 3" pieces, so the marrow is already exposed.”)
2.5 pounds chicken thighs, in lieu of half a chicken
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1/4 pound rice
2 anchovy fillets (I assumed the recipe meant 2 entire anchovies, so I minced 2 fillets)
A handful of minced fresh basil. I wanted to also add fresh thyme but didn’t have any, so I added a teaspoon of dried thyme.
1 large onion, diced
2 bunches of celery, chopped (When I was chopping, it seemed like a lot of celery, but then I started the soup and realized it’s a lot of soup
, so 2 entire bunches of celery ended up not being all that much.)
3 quarts of water
1/4 pound raw almonds
1 egg yolk
1 cup cream
I put everything but the almonds, egg, and cream in my stock pot on high heat, raised it to a boil, then put the heat to medium and simmered it. My stock pot was extremely full—in fact, I kept back one of the celery bunches and let the soup simmer for about an hour to reduce the water volume, then added the rest of the celery.
I wasn’t entirely sure how long is “as strong as you would have it,” so I looked it up in my Williams-Sonoma cookbook, which said that a typical meat stock takes about 3.5-4 hours of simmering, partially covered. So I simmered for 4 hours, partially covered.
The soup got thick pretty quick, probably from the rice, so that it was more like a stew than a soup. Also, like when you make rice on the stovetop, the bottom burned. Sigh. I should have expected that.
I strained the solids only through a metal colander, and then I forgot to put the soup in the fridge to let the fats solidify on the top so I could skim it off. Sigh again.
I was a bit surprised at how little soup there was, but then I’d looked at how much solids I had, and it made more sense.
Put 1/4 pound of raw almonds in my blender with 1/3 cup water and pulsed until it was all ground up, then added that to the soup. In hindsight, I should have used blanched almonds so the soup would be more “white.” I then brought it to a boil and simmered it, covered, for 15 minutes.
Strained the almonds using a wire strainer, which was a rather tedious process. Belatedly put in the fridge to solidify the fats so I could skim them off.
I whisked the egg yolk, then tempered it by adding a little at a time into the hot soup, whisking in between until the yolk was hot enough, then whisked all of it into the soup. Then I stirred in the cream. Result:
It tastes fabulous! It’s extremely creamy and rich even though there’s only 1 cup of cream for the entire pot of soup, I think because of the rice and almonds that thickened it. The meat flavor and the almond flavor both come through. It’s extremely elegant as a cream soup—it deserves fine china and silver cutlery.
I had saved the meat, veggies, and rice because I couldn’t bear to throw them away. I stripped the meat off the bones and shredded it. Then I added it all back to the soup to make it more stew-y and significantly less elegant. Mr. Darcy would be appalled, but Captain Caffeine was pleased by the result.For next time:
This would have been an expensive soup in Jane Austen’s day, because of the amount of meat in it. And there isn’t even meat in the soup itself! It was a bit pricey even for today. It was also rather tedious to make.
Next time, I think I would instead make stock using my pressure cooker. I’d put in chicken bones instead of the raw chicken pieces. I might still use beef shanks because of the exposed marrow, plus they weren’t very expensive since there’s hardly any meat on them.
I’d probably stick everything in the pressure cooker except for the almonds, cream, and egg, but I’m not sure if my pot would hold everything so I might have to quarter the recipe in terms of the amounts of the other ingredients. Then after cooking, I’d continue the rest of the recipe.
Or if I can’t fit everything into the pressure cooker, I might simply make broth in the pressure cooker with just the beef and chicken bones, then simmer the clear stock with the other ingredients—but for considerably less time—and then continue with the almonds, egg yolk and cream.
Also, I think instead of cream I’d use whole milk, which would make it less rich and decadent and be a little cheaper.Even easier …
You could probably just get packaged beef broth and packaged chicken broth, mix them in a pot, and simmer the other ingredients (sans the chicken and beef since you already have broth). Then continue the recipe as written, but reduce the amount of time you simmer it.
Oh and hey, I just thought of something. Instead of the ground almonds, you could probably add almond milk instead.
What do you think? Would you make “white soup” like Mr. Bingley?
Yeah, it’s been a while since I last posted but I assure you, I am not dead. :)
I decided to jump-start my running again, and since I don’t run consistently if I’m not training for an event, I signed up for the 2017 Honolulu Marathon. It’s going to be harder this time since I’ve gained so much weight since the last time I ran (maybe 10 pounds?) and I have to take care of my ankle, which I sprained at the last marathon in 2010 and it still has a bit of scar tissue. However, I’m going to a chiropractor about that and my ankle seems to be doing well. I’m also armed with KT Tape and Rock Tape, Phiten discs, ankle wrap, and massage cream. Please send a prayer for me that I can be consistent in my training and not get (more) injured.
I’m getting The Spinster’s Christmas
translated into Japanese! I was able to hire a woman from my church who is a professional translator, and she is doing about a chapter every 2 weeks. Now I have to figure out how to format an ebook in Japanese, with vertical text and running left to right.
I am also getting anime-type illustrations done for the book so it will be like a Japanese light novel. This is my first time working with an illustrator and so far the drawings have been really good. The Japanese version will be released in three volumes, so I had three covers done, and the illustrator is doing a black and white illustration for each chapter. Here’s a preview of one of the covers. Isn’t it awesome?
As for writing, I’m working on the second book in the Lady Wynwood series
and hope to have that done by April or so, and then it’ll go into editing. I will also have that second book translated into Japanese. If I can, I’ll also have illustrations done for that one, too, and the illustrations will be released with the English-language version.
And for those of you wondering, I do hope to return to the Gentlemen Quartet series
after I finish this book in the Lady Wynwood series. I have 3 other books (loosely) plotted for my musical Gentlemen.
If you belong to my email newsletter
, you'll be sure to hear when the next book (Gentlemen Quartet or Lady Wynwood) is available.
That’s what’s up with me? How can I pray for you?
I had a really bad allergy attack yesterday (so did Captain Caffeine) and so I did some internet searching and found this article on cayenne pepper tea to clear sinuses from allergies or colds
However, being a wimp about pepper and also knowing that my stomach is rather sensitive to it, I knew I couldn’t take a tea like that straight even with food, so I came up with this recipe to disguise the pepper in Chai Tea, soften it with milk, and adding extra honey. Also adding the cayenne in twice the amount of hot water (from the original recipe in the article) helped make it less painful.
The article also warns about this, but drink this tea with food. I ate some Snyder’s pretzels in between sips and that helped to keep my stomach from getting upset by the pepper. What also helped was drinking some baking soda in a glass of water. If you have problems with acid reflux, I wouldn’t suggest you try this recipe.
Also my lips were burning pretty badly from the pepper, but my throat and tongue weren’t too painful. Warning: the pepper sinks to the bottom, so either keep stirring/swirling as you drink it and/or don’t drink the last 1/4 cup.
It took at least a cup of the tea, but about 10-15 minutes after drinking it, my nose ran like a marathoner and my sinuses cleared. However, I had to drink the tea again in a few hours when they stuffed up again (darn allergies!). I’ve been looking for a way to naturally clear my sinuses when I have a sinus headache ( as opposed to taking Sudafed), so the next time I have a headache, I’ll be trying this tea.
As for the specific tea I used, I like Adagio’s Masala Chai tea
because I like the flavor of the tea blend the best out of the types I tried. However, as Captain Caffeine likes to point out, I am a bit of a tea snob and have higher standards for how my tea should taste, so a cheaper Chai tea would work fine.
About Adagio: I drink a lot of Chai tea normally because I enjoy it, so I buy it from Adagio in bulk and it’s relatively inexpensive. I also like Adagio’s Jasmine tea, Genmaicha, Berry Blues (non-caffeinated), Mango Melange (non-caffeinated), and Matcha. If you’ve never tried Adagio Teas and you’d like a free $5 gift certificate, send me an email through my website (www.camytang.com) and I can have Adagio email it to you. (Make sure your email address is spelled correctly.)Cayenne Pepper Chai Tea
1 tablespoon loose Chai Tea or teabags for 2 cups (you can also use decaf tea for decaffeinated version or see below)
honey (to preference)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup milk
Steep the tea in about 400 mL (less than 2 cups) boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea/teabags and add honey to taste (I added closer to 2 tablespoons of honey). Add cayenne pepper and stir. Add milk.
Lower caffeine version: Use more than 1 tablespoon of tea (I use 1.5 Tb). Add about 200 mL boiling water to tea, steep for 30 seconds, and throw out the hot tea. Then add 400 mL boiling water again to the wet tea and steep for 5 minutes.