Elizabeth Andoh's kitchen is gleaming and organized — as expected of an award-winning cookbook author, teacher, food writer and Japanese food authority. For Andoh, it comes from a practiced awareness of possibility.

"It's being in touch with what you've got," she says as she sautes leftover daikon, carrot and pumpkin in sesame oil. "You're constantly producing trim in the kitchen," Andoh says, "and that's another thing you can do something wonderful with."

Andoh arrived in Japan in 1966 on a two-month scholarship from the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan, rocked by John F. Kennedy's assassination. "If the president of the United States could be assassinated, then nowhere was safe," she says. "It was a really vulnerable feeling, and I wanted to take a step back."