A treasure trove of recipes




By Dragonfly Journey Committee (Seattle Keiro Nursing Home for Nikkei Concerns) Seattle: 2012, 198 pp., $20 (plus $5 s/h) paperback)

As cookbooks go, the “Dragonfly Journey Cookbook” is in a class of its own. The book is a fundraiser for the Dragonfly Journey Project at the Seattle Keiro Nikkei Concerns nursing home. The project aims to “support residents and their families during a loved one’s final journey at the end of their life.” The book begins by describing the project and the emotional and cultural support it offers and touches briefly upon the philosophy and symbolism behind the choice of the dragonfly.

Clocking in at almost 200 pages, the book boasts an impressive collection of recipes ranging from Appetizers to Desserts and This & That. The recipes included read like a scrapbook of culinary memories and many feature the names of the contributors and their families, lending it a very personal heartfelt tone.

The book also spans a diverse set of cultures with gyoza, guacamole and curry turnovers on the same page. It also caters to those with diabetic, vegetarian or vegan diet restrictions, offering modified versions of many of the recipes. In this way, the book really feels like a snapshot of the community that put it together; and it has a recipe to satisfy any craving.

Where the book really shines is in the traditional Japanese and Nikkei offerings. Their unassuming authenticity evokes memories of home-cooked dishes whose recipes could only be learned through careful observation. This includes basics like broth for ozoni (mochi soup) and oden to a whole section on tsukemono (pickles) that included many kinds that were new to me despite my ongoing quest to try new pickles. Overall, I couldn’t recommend this book more strongly.

Not only is it a tribute to a worthy cause but it is also an invaluable treasure trove of family recipes.

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