We were both sort of grumpy tonight and we hadn't eaten anything all day. Tonight was supposed to be the night where we learned how to make rice-on-the-outside sushi, but in this state, taking on such a project would've proven unwise. Instead, I turned to "Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional" because it's an amazing book and everything from it so far has been simple, quick and incredible.
Along with some mashed potatoes which turned out delightfully (not pictured), I opted to make the simply named Tofu and Vegetable Stew (Kenchin Jiru sounds awesomer though) which was basically some vegetables-- I used carrot, spinach, asparagus and peas-- simmered in a shitake-kombu stock* with soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil added; and a small amount of Cucumber Salad with Wa-Fu Dressing which was a simple cold marinated salad featuring rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, a sweetner, salt and sesame oil. When I was almost finished eating the stew (really a thin-brothed soup) and mashed potatoes separately, I added some mashed potato to my soup with pleasing results. For one, the potato thickened the stew, and the blandness of the potato was totally partied up by the stew. And although Bruce normally eats pretty quickly, he ate this meal with extreme speed and fervour. He even ate the asparagus and pinched one spear from me.
*when I suspect I might be making a Japanese soup, rice, inari pockets, stew, etc. later that day or the next day, I add a few shitake mushrooms and a 2-3 inch piece of kombu to about 3 cups of water in a jar and let it sit until I need it. This makes a nutritious deep stock which can be substituted for dashi stock which is normally fish-based and thusly undesirable to me.