knits by sachi

Celebration treats

IMG_20160824_132633_009
(Writing thank you cards for his grand parents in Japanese. He spent more than an hour practicing. Some characters are quite complicated!)

After receiving good results on A-levels last week, I have been wondering how we should celebrate this happy moment of my son’s life.

If his grand parents were here, we would have a big get together. We would absolutely love that.

But unfortunately, all our relatives are in Japan and what is more, my husband was away on his business trip, again, in Japan.

I tried my best and made his favorite sweets; choux puffs filled with homemade custard and whipped cream.

I also made ‘Mitarashi dango’, Japanese treat made with rice flour.
My family loves Mochi and dango. They are both Japanese traditional rice cakes made from rice flour. Our absolute favorite is Mitarashi dango. It is rather humble snack, but I made some for this occasion. I get cravings for them sometimes.

FotorCreated.jpgd

Mitarashi dango is a type of dumpling skewered onto sticks in groups of 3–5 (traditionally 5) and covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze. It is characterized by its glassy glaze and burnt fragrance.

In the past, I have tried to make some at home following a recipe I found on internet. The instruction said to cook the flour and water mixture in a microwave, so I did. Disaster! Thick, sticky mixture got stuck to the bowl and I didn’t know what to do with it. I managed to roll some of it into balls, wetting hands time to time, but it was such a nightmare. I struggled to clean the bowl afterwards, too, and decided not to try it ever again!

But recently, I found another recipe in a Japanese cooking magazine. The instruction said to add Tofu to rice flour, knead, and make them into balls. Then, you boil them in hot water. This sounded much easier and promising.

So, here I go again.

Recipe makes about 20
100g rice flour, ‘shiratama-ko’
100g tofu

for sauce,
1tbsp Mirin, sweet rice wine
1Tbsp soy sayce
2tsp corn flour dissolved in the same amount of water

1. In a bowl, mix rice flour and tofu and and knead. Add water to achieve earlobe softness. Roll it into small balls of about 1 inch.

IMG_9341

IMG_9342

2. in a small sauce pan, add ingredients for sauce and heat it until it thickens. Set it aside.

3. Boil water in a large pan and cook dumplings until they come up to the surface. Cook further 2 minutes or so. It is just like cooking Gnocchi.

IMG_9345

4. Drain water.
5. Place the dumplings on a plate and pour sauce over them.

IMG_9347
Traditionally, the dango are skewered and sometimes grilled, but I was too afraid to mess them up. Maybe next time.

Mitarashi dango made with only rice flour hardens whey they are cooled, but these ones with tofu do not. It was another reason I wanted to try.

My husband just came back from Japan with loads of souvenirs!

Rice cakes, Matcha chocolates and cooking ingredients!

IMG_9461

He got a mini rice cooker for my son, too. My son didn’t want a toaster or a kettle for Uni, he wanted a rice cooker. Fair enough.

Leave a comment »

A-level art

A long wait is finally over and the exam results are out.

This is my son’s final piece for his A-levels.

Copy of DSCF9170

The photo is not out of focus. It is painted in this blurry style.

The canvas measures 1.5m x 1.0m, and is the largest he has ever done.
I was pleasantly surprised by his rather bold decision. I knew he was more comfortable with A-4 and A-5 sizes.
Large canvas means you have more space to fill in. Pupils are given only 12 hours from start to finish in the studio. You need careful planning and wise time management.

He bought three canvases with 3 for 2 deal at the Hobbycraft and had practiced at home. He had simulated the process, using a similar image.

We all think it was a success.The model is a fellow student from his school. I would love a painting like this if I was her mum, wouldn’t you?

We are invited to the school art exhibition at the end of the last term.

DSCF9172

This is one of my favorites.

DSCF9175

Two years ago when he said he was choosing Art as one of the subjects to study in his Six Form, I just thought it may give him a little peace from more academic studies. He had Maths, Further Maths and Physics. I was half expecting him to drop Art in the second year.

I am glad that he followed his heart and kept it.

I do believe he has a talent, however, I also know the time and effort he puts into his work is enormous. He is always at it and gives more than he is asked for. He has a very strong portfolio.

His art teachers bought some of his work which is very kind of them. Maybe his paintings are worth much more than I know.

IMG_7340

He will be studying architecture in university.

As for me this week, I have another pattern out in Knit Now magazine; turtle family.

turtles

The family consists of five members; mum, dad, big sis, brother and baby. Turtles walk slowly but steadily, and swim incredibly fast. I like turtles.

It has been a good week.

Leave a comment »

Summer holidays

IMG_9293.jpg2

I have lots of happy childhood memories of summer holidays. Every year around this time, I think about them.

Japanese academic year starts in April so that the summer holidays come between the first and second terms.It starts around 20th of July and ends at the end of August. It is the longest time off from school during the year. Homework is often given, however, kids have plenty of time to play outdoors, go camping or travel with family.

When I was in school, we had a couple of assembly mornings to attend so that the teachers could check on us. It was a bit of a nuisance, but it wasn’t exactly compulsory and often, it came with a swimming session which I loved.

Most schools in Japan, public or private have their own pool. It may not come with a roof and only available in summer, but it is fantastic to have one. I spent more time in the ocean, but that was out of necessity. Swimming in clear water was a treat.

After swimming, we were offered ‘Shogayu’ served by dinner ladies.

‘Shogayu’ is a Japanese version of ginger tea. More consumed in winter, it is used as a home remedy to treat sore throat and the common cold. I enjoyed it in summer. It is thick and syrupy since cornstarch is added at the end of cooking.

FotorCreated.jpgs

Receipe
Ingredients

Serves one
1 Tbsp ginger juice
300ml water
1-2 Tbsp honey or sugar
2 tsp Katakuriko (potato starch) or cornstarch plus 2 tsp water
Instructions

Grate ginger, squeeze the juice.

In a pot, add water, ginger juice and honey, and put on medium heat until just before boiling.

Mix Katakuriko and 2 tsp of water well in a small bowl. Add the slurry to the tea and stir well. Heat for a couple of minutes until it has thickened a little.

When your body is cooled from swimming, having this ginger tea was so nice and comforting.

I am utterly amazed at the achievements of Japanese swimming team at the Olympics. They have been doing so well.
Those swimmers spend 5-6 hours or even more in a pool every day, swimming over the black lines. What a determination and commitment!

And behind every athletes, there are Mums and dads, carers and siblings who have been supporting them. When the athletes are still young, parents accompany to training sessions and galas. There are teachers and coaches and volunteers. It is a team effort, and I have done that myself.

I spent long enough hours waiting around at leisure centres to be able to publish knitting books!

So, well done to Olympians, well done, mums and dads!

img_6304.jpg3

Leave a comment »

Knitting in summer

You don’t fancy knitting in summer? You can try nautical knits.
IMG_0137

This is a key holder to hang on a wall. I made something a bit useful for a change.

I made this set for Knit Now magazine a few issues back; Summer knits.
IMG_9457

You may not get woolly thoughts much in summer, but making these nautical toys may be nice.

I love nautical theme. Maybe it is because I grew up near a beach. I also like the colour combination of red, white and blue. In summer, I make quite a lot of beachy, summery things.

After the magazine article came out, I knitted more items for this summer knits set.

IMG_9157

This time, I added softer colours as pink and mint green. Using felted tweed yarn for some items worked well. I have also tried anchor and steering wheel of a ship. I thought they may be a little challenging to make but I think I did rather well. The set became much more lively.

IMG_9155

I have seen images of pretty crocheted shells and wanted to make some with knitting. The knitting part is not too complicated. I just knitted long skinny triangle pieces. However, I found it a little tricky to find their perfect length and making up into an attractive shape.

IMG_9160

I also made a bag to keep the items together.
I tried to knit a mesh bag, but I found it rather difficult. Then, I remembered my boys crocheted football bags in Waldorf elementary school (yes, they learned crochet and made fantastic stuff!) and I decided to try crochet.

I could not find a pattern so I made it up. My crochet skill is so basic and I won’t be able to make exactly the same one again since I am not too sure if I recorded the stitches and rounds correctly.

IMG_9162

I am quite pleased with the result. It was worth a try.

I was never been a great fan of cotton yarn, well, until now. I mainly knit toys and for toys, I prefer wool. You can knit firmly and the finish is neat. It isn’t easy to knit tight with cotton.

For this mesh bag, I used cotton yarn and I loved it. I liked the texture and how it felt on my hands. The bag is summery, light and very soft. I really enjoyed the project.

Maybe I should make a bigger one for my shopping. I think there are some patterns for mesh shopping bags online.

IMG_5894

Sea turtle babies; my favorite animal.

2 Comments »