Italian-Inspired Garlic Asparagus

I love to cook. As a child I wasn't much interested in food or eating, but when I learned to cook around age 18, I suddenly discovered the joys of eating. Even so, some of the foods that the humans around me eat are inedible for me; this is less of a problem if I cook my own meals. In particular, my digestive system doesn't handle dairy (especially butter), eggs, and hot chili peppers very well. Oddly enough for a fox, I have never liked meat either, which means that I don't buy it or cook it for myself, or order it in restaurants. I do eat fish and tofu, however. I don't like foods that are too greasy or cloyingly sweet, either. True to my roots in western Japan, I tend to make mild dishes: if I am using soy sauce and/ or cooking sake, I don't add salt, and if I am using "mirin" (sweet cooking sake) I won't add sugar. Most of the food I make is neo-traditional Japanese food with the salt and sugar content greatly reduced, but I also sometimes make pseudo-Chinese or sort-of-Mediterranean dishes, plus some dishes that have no discernible ties to any culture. In any case, vegetables are front and center.


That's enough backstory. Now for a recipe! How about some garlic asparagus?


Ingredients: Asparagus (4-6 stalks if cooking for one), black pepper, minced garlic, cooking wine or sake (teaspoon), a drizzle of olive oil, and a little bit of water as necessary


1. First, mince the garlic. Add the garlic, black pepper, cooking wine, and olive oil to a frying pan.



2. Wash the asparagus and cut off the hard ends. This is easier if you leave on the rubber bands.




3. Start heating the frying pan on high. When it starts to bubble, add the asparagus.



4. Lower to medium heat. Cook off some of the liquid.



Olive oil can turn carcinogenic if overheated, so be sure not to keep it on high too long.

Does this seem maybe, sort of Italian-ish? Asparagus was one of my grandma's favorite vegetables, so I think of her every time I cook it. Eldercare is no picnic, but now that she's gone I cherish the memories. I pack this asparagus into my bento box often.

As you can see, the key to cooking my style is to be very lax about precision. I deliberately don't measure out quantities. I think the meals are more "homey" that way.

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Welcome to My Handmade Cozy Life!

Hello and welcome to the Handmade Cozy Life blog! As the title suggests, the aim of this blog is to document the ways in which I make a lot of things myself in an attempt to live a truly rich, abundant, cozy life.


The term "handmade" emcompasses many types of crafts, so a quick explanation of what exactly I do is in order here. The type of thing I make most often is food. Yes, that's right, home-cooked meals are a big part of my handmade cozy life. I also do patchwork and other types of hand-crafting, which I'll also share here sometimes.


Now, what exactly do I mean by "cozy"? I chose this word to form part of my blog title out of a desire to conjure up an image of abundance and comfort borne of self-sufficiency. Since the look and feel I'm aiming for is the kind of comfort we associate with Grandma's house, the result is pseudo-vintage by default. I've always loved old-timey florals, semi-antiques of questionable market value, old kimonos, and doilies--you can never have too many doilies!--so my home gives off a decidedly Grandma-ish vibe, of which I am very proud. My idea of true luxury is spending the time and effort on food and daily goods, so I aim to implement all the little tricks that my grandma--and probably your grandma, too--used in her attempt to live just a little bit better on less.


What is a "rich lifestyle," anyway? My idea of wealth is NOT a lifestyle in which you have a lot of money or surround yourself in expensive things. What you need to live a rich, abundant life is not great heaps of money, but a determination to get maximum value out of what you do have, and a little ingenuity. I scour 100-yen stores and antique flea markets for things that fit my asthetic, and if I can't find something, I make it myself. Once I get nice things cheaply, I use them, because my daily life is occasion enough to enjoy them. I cherish my relationships with the people who really matter to me, and try to live at a standard that is high enough that I can show my friends hospitality. I treat not just my friends but even myself with the same consideration, because making my living space cozy enough for myself takes a certain investment of time and effort. At the same time, whenever there is something I really want to eat, I can eat it whenever I like, because I make it myself. That is why a handmade life is a cozy life.


A word about me is probably in order here. As you can see from my profile picture, I am a fox sprite who can use human language and take human form whenever I wish. Since making things by hand takes time, many people might assume that you have to be an affluent stay-at-home spouse in order to live like this (then again, they might not). But I am neither affluent nor a full-time homemaker. Though originally from the Kobe area, I am a fox who currently lives in Tokyo disguised as a 30-year-old single human woman who works full-time in a corporate environment. I face constraints on time and money (just like you) as my reality, so I have to be clever about it, but if I can create a rich, handmade cozy lifestyle, so can you. I plan to share the methods to my madness on this blog. I hope this helps you to make your own handmade cozy life!