knits by sachi

University challenge

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My older son wants to learn how to cook Japanese before he goes off to university next year.

He did some cooking in Kenya and Tanzania this summer during the World Challenge trip and has realized that cooking is one of the skills he needs to develop.

And he is right. It is a very important, essential skill, and if he wants to eat Japanese home cooking, he has to cook on his own.

So, he is learning the basics. How to cut, dice, Julienne vegetables, how to peel and deseed tomatoes, how to mince onions.

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He doesn’t need to go on the Master Chef. If he could cook himself the food he likes, that would make his university life more enjoyable. It saves him lots of money, too.

I am teaching him simple Japanese dishes, something you can make in a short time and does not require exotic ingredients. Most dishes are cooked over one hob, two the most.

We made this one last night. It is one of his favorite, “Niku soboro don” (cooked meat over rice).
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Soboro is simple yet convenient meat recipe.

Recipe
Ingredients (serves 4)

400g minced meat
2 tbsp minced or grated ginger
1 onion, minced
1 2/3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
pinch salt

3-4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt and sugar

any green vegetables to garnish

In a cooking pan, cook onions and ginger. Add meat and cook until the colour changes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer (covered) about 15 minutes.

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Make scrambled egg.

Place the meat over a bowl of rice and serve.

It is nice with pickled ginger or Nori seaweed.

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My son likes beef, but you can use chicken, pork or lamb mince. Tuna, salmon or Tofu mince are good for this recipe, too.

You can make a large quantity and keep it in the fridge up to one week. It also freezes well. You can add it to stir fries and noodles if you would like.

More cooking lessons to come.

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Knitted amusement rides

Here are some new additions to my knitted amusement park.

Knitted tea cups and a tea pot.

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For this amusement park, I made up some characters. I have these little babies with hats, a giraffe, a bear, a penguin and an elephant. Occasionally, my little bunny, a cat and a goose come to play.

I always start with the item which looks the most challenging. If I work the most of the set and cannot make the crucial part, it is very disappointing. I want to make sure the idea works before I spend too much time on the project..

For this set, it was the tea cup.

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It is a knitted circle. I started from the base centre, increased stitches to the rim, made a folding line and decreased stitches towards the inner centre base. It is lightly stuffed and the table is added afterwards.

I didn’t have the finished image when I started the project. I decided the teacups need a teapot in the centre, so I added it.

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I tried to squeeze my elephant, but he was a little too big.

I used to think tea cup ride was a gentle fun ride until I had a go with my friend who turned the table brutally. Only then I realized it was not a romantic ride like a carousel.

I have been to two Disney parks, one in Tokyo and one in Florida. I took my boys to Sesame Place, Sanrio Kitty Land and Lego Land. But how come they have no memories of these places??

But my boys left me fantastic memories. I cannot complain.

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All parts were quite easy and quick to knit, but the base platform took me a little longer. I decided to re-use it for another project which is this one.

Go-karts.

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There are more to come!

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Soya milk and green tea sorbet

Carrot cake is probably the only way to feed my sons carrot!
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Last week on British Bake-Off, we saw contestants baking with alternative ingredients.

Baking a cake without sugar, baking bread without gluten, making ice cream without dairy.

It is a bit of a challenge. Quite often your bakes do not turn well without conventional sugar, butter, eggs recipes.

I tried this recipe this summer. It is Soya milk and green tea sorbet.
I like using soya milk in my cooking. My family loves miso soup with soya milk. I do not like drinking it as much, but someone like my father who worries cholestrol level and has lactose intorelance, soya milk is just great.

Recipe
300cc Soya milk
10g Green tea powder
80g Sugar
100cc Water

The original recipe says dissolve the Green tea powder in soya milk, add sugar, sieve the mixture through paper towel lined sieve and freeze in the freezer.

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I found that the powder gets lumpy and does not mix too well. I think it is a good idea to dissolve it in 2-3 tbsp of warm water before you add to the soya milk.

The recipe also says to keep the mixture in a plastic container and stir with a fork a few times during the course of freezing.
I have a better idea. I always keep homemade ice cream mixture in a zip bag. I take it out of the freezer once in a while and give it a good squeeze.

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This is so much easier!

And here is what I made.

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It is light and refreshing.
Many contestants went for coconut milk as soon as they heard “non-dairy” but soya milk is another non-dairy alternative.

I would like to think cooking and baking with alternatives gives more choices in ingredients rather than limiting them. You never know, you may discover a great recipe.

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Macaroons!

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I am loving the BBC’s “Great British Bake Off”.

It is such a fantastic program. I enjoy watching it every year and I know I am not the only one.

I guess we like seeing baking disasters as much as great achievements. I am not being mean. We all like to know things go wrong for not only you but for everyone.

So, what is your baking disaster?

Mine is Macaroons. A few years ago, I had a go at Macaroons first time in my life. Macaroons are so pretty and I had always wanted to try.

I had my mixture perfect. I had two colours, pink and cocoa brown. My younger son, still in primary school then, helped me draw circles on baking sheets. I followed carefully every step in the recipe and voila, my Macaroons looked textbook perfect when they came out of the oven.

But you know what? They were stuck to the paper.
Apparently, I had used wrong kind of paper to line the baking tray. I was shattered. My son cried.

I haven’t tried Macaroons ever since. It became my trauma and they make me nervous.

But recently, I decided to knit them. Knitting Macaroons is so much easier than baking them!
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And here is the recipe.

Size: 4cm diameter
Materials
• Small amounts of DK colour of your choice
• Small amount of white DK
• stuffing

Abbreviations
St/st: stocking stitch
St: stitch
K: knit
P: purl
Kf/b: k one through the front then through the back (same stitch)
K2tog: knit two together
P2tog: purl two together
Skpo: slip1, knit1, pass slipped stitch over

Top and bottom piece: make one each
With the colour of your choice DK, cast on 10 sts loosely.
Row1: (kf/b) to end (20)
Row2: p
Row3: (k1, kf/b) to end (30)
Rows4-10: st/st
Row11: (k1, k2tog) to end (20)
Row12: p
Row13: (k2tog) to end (10)
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

With fasten-off yarn end, sew the seam. Stuff lightly. Work a gathering thread along the cast-on edge and pull tightly.

Centre cream
Worked with two strands of DK together, alternatively, use Aran or chunky yarn
With two strands of white DK together, cast on 8 sts.
Row1: (kf/b) to end (16)
Row2: p
Row3: (k1, kf/b) to end (24)
Cast off.

To make up
Attach all three pieces together with the cream piece in the centre. Secure with a few stitches.

So, what do you think? They can be pin cushions, too.

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