Oshogatsu – Japanese New Year 

I love Japanese new year. In my extended family it was more important than any other holiday, and the one time we all got together. And oh the food!! Most things were Homemade from scratch. Barbecued teriyaki chicken, gyoza, kinpira gobo. Platters of sushi. Even the rainbow finger jello! (hey, we’re Japanese American

But because of my multiple chemical sensitivities and intense fatigue from Mylagic encephalomyelitis, I haven’t been able to travel at all and haven’t been able to have people over to the house in a long time. Things like the lingering scent of shampoo, Deodorant or drier sheets can make me really sick. But slowly I’ve been collecting a small group of wonderful people who are scent safe for me, or are willing to make the effort to become scent safe. 
I live in Olympia, WA so many people are already aware that artificial fragrances are really poisonous and don’t use those kinds of products. One of my friends was willing to do a special load of laundry with products I can tolerate (and already doesn’t use drier sheets), and wash with products I sent over to her! I even had a friend who is even more sensitive than me attend via Skype! 

Ever since my husband and I met, on new years day we make mochi and ozoni, both traditional lucky new years foods. Mochi is sweet rice, pounded to be a soft dough. My husband makes batches of this to give to friends and family. 

A man is smoothing out a large round of mochi, about the size of a large pizza and an inch thick, on top of a piece of canvas covered with potato starch. He is in a messy kitchen.

Ozoni is a soup, usually with mochi in it. There are a million ways of making ozoni, and we like to have a variety buffet for people to assemble their own ingredients. We make almost everything from scratch. This year we had two kinds of broth: pork and veggie (for the vegetarians). In the bottom of the bowl went either a crunchy (toasted) piece of mochi or a soft (boiled in broth) piece of mochi. On top of that went the broth and any other fillings they wanted: broiled pork pieces, Shiitake Mushrooms, carrots, nappa cabbage, enoki Mushrooms, konyakku (yam cake), daikon (japanese radish), green onions and three kinds of miso, red and white soy based miso, and Chickpea miso for those who can’t have soy. 
A bowl of soup with miso, pork, Mushrooms, Daikon, carrots shaped like cherry blossoms, konyakku and green onions.

It was super delicious but the best part was having people I love over that were willing to make the effort it took to keep me safe. I might have far fewer people in my life now, but they are of far higher quality. 
Happy new year! 

A group of 9 people of a variety of ages, Caucasian and Asian, smiling cheerfully. There is a blurry image of another person on Skype on an iPad being held by somebody