knits by sachi

Japanese Kuri-gohan, Chestnut rice

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The festive season is approaching, and we started to see Christmas girts and decorations everywhere.

We start early in Britain. Because we do not have Thanksgiving, after the Halloween, we go straight to getting ready for Christmas.
It is lovely to see all those Christmassy things.

Supermarkets’ products become more interesting, too, but what I like the most is not a hamper baskets or a large tin of chocolates.

It is chestnuts.

I really look forward to this season for chestnuts.
I like them cooked in any way. Traditionally in Japan, we boil chestnuts, cut in half and scoop the inside with a tea spoon. In old days, we did not have an oven in our households, let alone a fire place, so that boiling was the easiest cooking method.

We also cook “Kurigohan”.
Chestnuts are called kuri in Japanese.Japanese home cooking is all about cooking with what’s in season and this is one of my favorite. Kurigohan is steamed rice with chestnuts and is a popular Japanese autumn dish.

Ingredients; serves 4
400cc short-grain Sushi Rice
20 chestnuts
2tbsp Sake
2tbsp Mirin sweet rice wine if you have
1 tsp Salt
10cm dried kombu sheet
420dcc water
Method

Wash the rice and soak in water for 30 minutes, then drain.
Soak the chestnuts in boiling water for 15 minutes to make them easier to peel.

I have this fantastic tool; chestnuts shell peeler which my husband brought from Japan.
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But I do not expect anyone to have this in Britain. You would be using a knife.
Make a cut in the bottom of each chestnut, then peel off the shell carefully.

Soak the chestnuts again in hot water. It is easier to peel when they are warm.
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Then, you peel the inner skin. This time, I have to use a knife, too.
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I wish I could say this is easy peasy, but I would be lying if I said so. It isn’t. It is a time consuming hard work, and I need to keep encouraging myself. End result is yummy, and I will get rewarded with smiles.

Good news is the hard work ends here.

Put the rice, water, sake, and salt in a heavy bottom pot and lightly mix all together. Then place chestnuts on top. I use a rice cooker. You can cook following manufacturer’s instruction.

Bring the rice to a boil over medium heat. Once water is boiling, turn the heat to low and cook covered for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed. If you see there is still water left, continue cooking for a little longer.

Remove from the heat, and leave for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with toasted sesami seeds if you wish, then serve.

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Ever thought of cooking chestnuts in savory dishes like this? You can peel chestnuts and cook them with vegetables and meats, too.

I make this dish only once a year. My hands ache after peeling 20 chestnuts. But I know there is no Japanese restaurants in London serves Kuri-gohan (simply too much work!) and I want to please my family who loves it.

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Update on my amusement park

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Hearing what happened in Paris last weekend has put us in a great shock and sadness. We have been taking it for granted to be living in peace. This incident made us realize how fortunate we are to live in a country which provide us safety, equality and human rights.

Recently, I was talking to my son about visiting museums in Paris this winter. I wanted to see the carousel, too, which has inspired me to create the knitted carousel.

I know we will be able to do this soon.

The knitted carousel did well in the Craftsy Awards, and I also received kind messages from many people. Thank you so much!

I have added more rides for my amusement park. Tea cups and kart ride as in a previous post, and I have a few more.

Here is the latest addtion: the parachute ride.

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I have never been on one of those and I guess this is a fast falling, thrilling ride. My little friends seem very relaxed in it, so let us think this one moves very slowly.

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I guess this can be a baby mobile if you take it off from the wooden pole. I wanted to make more animals but the problem is, knitted and stuffed animals can be a little too heavy for a mobile. I didn’t want to make it over crowded either.

I have my favorite elephant, giraffe and bear with my little baby boy.

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I wish we could all live in harmony like this.

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On the Remembrance Day

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Last Sunday, we celebrated the Remembrance Day in the UK.

Every year, when I see people wearing Poppy flower pins, I wonder why we don’t do something like this in Japan. We do have ceremony on 15th of August for “shusen kinenbi”, literally the end of the war anniversary, but we do not get involved enough. May be because we lost the War? It seems that people want to forget about it and get over with it as quick as possible. And I have an impression that the ceremony is to morn the war victims who died inland and praying for peace and not much about soldiers who served the country during the War.

Recently, one of my sons became interested in our family history and asked if he could see some old photos circa 1945.
“Did anyone go to the War?”

Yes, my grandfather, your great-grandfather.

I asked my father to dig out some photos, and he found some which I had have never seen before.

This is my grand father.

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My older son looks a bit like him.
He was sent to China for 8 years. He had a very rough journey coming back, getting robbed in the train and all. It took him over a year to get back to Japan. When he finally returned, all he had was a backpack and an empty lunch box.

Here is another photo.

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This was taken on the day my father’s uncle was leaving to attend the War. The little boy in the centre is my father.

As the war continued, all healthy male were drafted into the army. You would receive “aka gami” meaning red letter.

Red letter” refers to the draft notices received by men during the war. These were hand delivered by army soldier or special delivery men. It was considered a great honor to receive a call to service by the Imperial Army, and families would celebrate out in the open, but, understandably, many recipients and their loved ones secretly dreaded the arrival of such notices.

Some of those who drafted were as young as my son or even younger.

The lady in the first row of this photo is the mother and she is about to see her third son off. No wonder she looks so sad.

My father was introduced to his father a few years later from this day. I remember my grandfather as a gentle man, always very kind to me and my brother, but he never developed bonding with my father.

My son seemed touched and quietly excited to find out about his ancestors. We will look for more photos next time we visit my parents. My mother was born and grew up in Hiroshima and surely, she has a lot of stories to tell.
Each family has a history, and I would like to keep the record for my sons and the generations afterwards.

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Book promotion and more

My book publisher, Search Press is running a promotion of my third book, Mini Knitted Toys.

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This book contains so many patterns. Originally, we started with 96 pages format as the previous books, but we struggled to fit the all projects we liked and added some more pages to the book. It is a real bargain.

To enter the competition, please go to this link, and simply “like” and “share*. I am sure they will dispatch to any destinations if you are selected to one of the winners.

Some more updates.

In the next Issue of Knit Now magazine, you will receive a calendar full of my knitting toy projects. I have an advance copy that the editor kindly sent me.

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It is a handy A-5 size and each month, you get a project with pattern.
The calendar has girly, pastel coloured look, and it even comes with stickers! It is made with fine quality paper and quite sturdy. It can stand on your desk.

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I think some photos are a little too bright, but the editors must worked very hard to create this calendar. It isn’t too easy to fit all patterns in such small spaces.

You may recognize some of the projects, but I have added new ones, too. I hope you will enjoy it.

And one more thing.

I entered the Craftsy Award just before their closing date. I wish I had have found out about it a little earlier, but I gave it a go anyway. And I am one of the finalist! I am very flattered.

The one I submitted is the carousel.

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Today- Friday, November 6th – Mark Montano (Sorry, I am not too sure who he is…) is announcing the winners of The Craftys LIVE via webcast at 4pm Pacific (7pm Eastern, 6pm Central).

Over 100 crafters, makers and bloggers will be attending the live event in San Francisco to celebrate all the entries and cheer for the winners.

The Craftsy webcast will be hosted on YouTube. Here, you can watch on live.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FkHLNYzkOSE

If you miss the show, you can watch it here:

I am thrilled to know that I was picked out of over 1,000 nominees as a finalist in the Knitting category! Well done, me!

I was given this badge I can proudly display.

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I also received nice comments and requests on the pattern. I will surely work on the pattern and find a way to publish it some day.

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