These unsweetened rice cakes are eaten on New Year's Day in a special soup called ozoni to bring about good fortune and health and all that jazz. Our family has been getting together since 1955 to make mochi. We have two electric machines and a bunch of gas steamers to cook the special Koda Farms Sho-Chiku-Bai sweet rice (old school method is with a pound it by hand with a mallet.)
I think this year was a record - 190 pounds of rice! That took about three hours alone just to wash and soak on Christmas day (thanks Mom for doing that!)
Days later, my cousin and I are still cleaning the house and putting back things (we need to clear out three rooms of the house for mochi day). Of course, the benefit is that I'm eating fresh toasted mochi every day!
Looking forward to joining JustJenn's family for her annual New Year's feast...featuring our mochi for the ozoni soup! :)
Happy New Year everyone! 2012 is going to ROCK! - mary the food librarian
Other mochi-related posts: 2010, 2008, 2007 family event, sweet mochi with red beans, zunda mochi from sendai, blueberry mochi cake.