knits by sachi

Little Easter Bunnies

I haven’t done this for so long and I am feeling guilty. I should share more of my patterns online, yes, for free!

I do not at all mind doing this. Ideas come up one after another and I have so much I haven’t published. However, it takes a bit of time and care to write patterns. I also do not want to publish anything without getting pattern checked by a tech editor. I make stitch and row count errors, forget writing some body parts and my making up instructions aren’t clear enough sometimes.

But these bunnies have very short patterns and I felt I could manage without help. So here we go.

Littel Easter Bunnies
Size: 6cm
Materials
• 3g white/pink DK
• Small amount of Felted tweed DK
• Small amount of 4-ply dark brown
• Stuffing

Needles: 3mm

Abbreviations
Stst: stocking stitch
St: stitch
K: knit
P: purl
Kfb: 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
WS: wrong side

Body
Cast on 8 sts with white/pink.
Row1 (WS): Purl.
Row2: Kfb in each st. 16 sts
Row3: Purl.
Row4: (K1, kfb) to end. 24 sts
Rows5-16: Starting with a p row, work in Stst.
Row17: (p2, p2tog) to end. 18 sts
Rows18-20: Starting witha k row, work in Stst.
Row21: P2tog, (p2, p2tog) to end. 13 sts
Rows22-25: Starting with a k row, work in Stst.
Row26: k1, (k2tog, k1) to end. 9 sts
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Ears: make two
With felted tweed, cast on 4 sts.
Rows1-4: Stst, starting with a p row.
Row5: p1, p2tog, p1. 3 sts
Row6: Knit
Row7: P1, p2tog, pass the first st over the second and fasten off.

Tail
With felted tweed, cast on 10 sts, p 1 row. Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

To make up
Seam body and stuff. Attach cast-on edge of ears to head. With dark brown DK yarn, French knot eyes. Take two strands from dark DK yarn, embroider mouth and nose with backstitches.

This is such a easy quick knit. You can surely make a pair by Easter.

I got the idea for the design from Japanese sweets, Wagashi.

Wa-gashi are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea. They are commonly made of mochi rice cake, sweetened azuki bean paste, fruits and vegetables. Wagashi are typically made from plant ingredients. I am not too keen on butter, cream, sugar sort of sweets, but I absolutely love Japanese sweets. They are ever so dainty and pretty.

We all like small cute things. I hope you will enjoy my little bunnies.

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Tamagoyaki

This is another casual sushi I make at home; sushi with tamago, egg omelette.

I often make them with Inari zushi. They are both savory sweet and my son’s favorites. I made them for his birthday three weeks ago but again this week, to celebrate his success in driving theory test. I know it is only a half way, so it is a petit celebration.

When I serve these egg sushi to my non-Japanese friends, I often get nice compliments. They are not at all exotic, however, my friends all say that they have never had omelette served in this way.

The omelette is called Tamagoyaki which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg. These usually are prepared in a rectangular omelette pan.

There are several types of tamagoyaki. It is made by combining eggs, sugar, salt or soy sauce. Additionally, sake and mirin are used in some recipes. If you add Dashi, stock made from bonito flakes, it is called Dashimaki. Dashimaki is moister because of the extra liquid, and so it has a softer texture. The egg flavor is also a little milder.

Tamagoyaki is often served in the form of nigiri sushi, and also appears in many types of sushi rolls. In Japan, it is also served as a breakfast dish and in Bento box. It is children’s favorite, and we always serve it for New Years day.

This is what Mum made for this year’s celebration.

Tamagoyaki
Ingredients
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp soy sauce or 1/2 tsp salt.
1 tsp mirin, sake or white wine

If you do not want to darken the omelette at all, it is better to use plain salt. Alcohol will evaporate, but if children get put off by the smell of Sake, choose mirin or omit wine all together.

What you will need:
Frying pan (non-stick frying pan is easier to use)
spatula
paper towel

In Japan, you can get a square frying pan for Tamagoyaki, but I do not have one. I use common round frying pan.

Method
1. Heat the pan over medium heat and oil the pan. Wait until the pan is hot. You can test with a drop of egg mixture. If it sizzles, pour a thin layer of egg mixture in the pan, tilting to cover the bottom of the pan.

2. After the bottom of the egg has set but still soft on top, start rolling into a log shape from one side to the other.

3.Move the rolled omelette to the side where you started to roll, and apply a drop of oil to the pan. Pour the egg mixture to cover the bottom of the pan again.


4.When the new layer of egg has set and still soft on top, start rolling from one side to the other.

5. Repeat this process until the mixture is all used.

Remove from the pan and wrap it with a paper towel. Shape the egg when it is still hot. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

There is another version of Tamagoyaki with Dashi stock added. It is called Dashi-maki. Dashi is stock comes from bonito flakes (kombu seaweed stock if you are vegetarian).Dashi-maki has more flavour, however, it is a bit more difficult to roll because of the extra liquid. It is best to practice without Dashi until you get the hang of the rolling technique.
If you would like to try, add 1 tbsp of rice wine and 3 tbsp of Dashi stock to egg mixture.

When my boys were young, parents were always asked to blow eggs before Easter. Children would take egg shells to school to paint and decorate them. Each child needed to bring three egg shells so that I needed to blow six eggs! I ended up feeling light headed and dizzy in the end. It is amazing that the whole egg content comes out from such a tiny hole.

With six eggs, I always made, you guessed right, Tamagoyaki.

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Amezaiku, Japanese candy craft

My sugar bunny for Easter;

I had heard of this craft, Amezaiku, but I had never seen it made in person. During the last trip to Japan, we had an opportunity to watch this amazing work or art.

Amezaiku is a Japanese candy craft. An artist creates a scultpture, using their hands and other tools such as tweezers and scissors. Some are painted with edible dyes.

Animals and insects are common shapes created to appeal to children. Intricate designs are created with expert speed.

This is a very old art created over 1000 years ago. It originates in temples in Kyoto as offerings. The art spread beyond temple in 17-18 th centry and flourished as street performance.

The candy base is prepared beforehand with a starchy syrup. The mixture is kneaded and pulled by hand, and formed into a large ball to be stored until ready to use. At the stall, the candy ball is heated to make it pliable again.

The artist has to pinch up the hot candy mass and quickly roll and mounted on a stick. Our artist used white candy and knead a drop of food colouring. He then pulled, twisted and clipped into form an animal. Speed is essential to the art since the sculpture must be completed before the candy cools and hardens again.

My friend kindly bought my boys one each, my older son chose an elephant, my younger one, a rabbit.
I recorded a video, but the artist did not want it to be shared, so that I will post something similar just to give you the idea.

We were told that the Amezaiku would keep a month without melting. It has been over three months, but the rabbit still looks nice. I do not know what happened to the elephant since my older son took it with him. May be, it has been eaten.

This rabbit is just too precious to eat.

My friend also gave us these sweets. They are for celebrating arrival of New Year with the Chinese zodiac animal motif. This year is the year of rooster.

Rabbit and chicken? Aren’t they perfect for Easter?

Talking about Easter, I have some knitting patterns coming up for this season, and one of them is this; Chicken and chicks in Knit Now magazine.

I have another Easter project coming up in the following issue, too.

Days are getting longer and we are having more sunny days. We have a summer to look forward to. It is utterly fantastic.

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Cooking with seaweed

One of my friends called me the other day and asked how she could cook Kombu seaweed. I often get these questions relating to Japanese food ingredients.

She said she tried boiling but it turned out like a huge sheet of rubber. She is a foodie and a health nut and knows all the health benefits from eating sea vegetables, however, she does not quite know how to cook them.

We eat seaweed or sea vegetables very often in Japan. You can get them fresh, but dried seaweed may be more popular. It keeps very long in your larder and is very convenient.

Unfortunately, you cannot get too many varieties in the UK, but you can get wakame and Kombu from local supermarkets.

Wakame may be more familiar, but Kombu is not too well known. It usually comes as a hard dried sheet and looks quite inedible. When it is rehydrated, it becomes like a rubber and again, it looks inedible, so what do we do with it?

It is often used to make stock. It is used to make a light broth for Asian soups like miso, noodle soup, and tofu soup. To make one quart of broth, fill a pot with 4 cups of water and a 20cm strip of kombu.

As I wrote in a post in the past, I use Kombu to make the broth for Oden. I also use for miso soup, Udon noodle soup. Kombu is packed with Umami, or savory taste and it gives depth to the flavour of your dish. Should you through away after you make the stock? No, of course not. You can cut them into smaller strips and cook with bit of soy sauce, mirin sweet wine until the liquid is all gone. It is called Tsukudani and often eaten with steamed rice.

I also use Kombu to make this dish: Gomoku soy beans.

It is stewed soy beans with quite often, root vegetables. Simple cooking with not a lot of ingredients, but it is nutty and delicious and nice for a snack as well. Gomoku means a few things mixed. ‘Go’ is the number five, but you can have more than five thing when you use the word.

I make quite a lot in one go since it takes some time to cook soy beans. We used to be able to buy cooked soy beans in a tin, but it has been disappeared from supermarket shelves, so, we have to start from soaking dried beans.

I recommend to use at least 1 cup or 160 g dried beans.

Recipe
Ingredients
160g dried soy beans
30g carrot, diced
5 slices of dried shiitake mushrooms if you have
Kombu sheet, 3 x 10cm, cut to about 1 x 1cm
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine or white wine

This is just a guidance. You can be quite relaxed about measuring seasoning for this recipe. Add more soy sauce or sugar if you would like. You can also add Dashi stock granules if you have some. Add green beans cut to small pieces or diced potatoes. I would choose salad potatoes in that case so that potatoes will not get too soft and mushy.

1. Soak soy beans over night.
2. Cook soy beans in lots of water for 1-2 hours until soft. Drain cooking water.
3. Add water to soy beans just to cover the top. Add all ingredients and simmer for further 20 minutes.

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Make sure your soy beans are fully cooked and soft enough before you add seasonings. If you add them too soon, beans will not get any softer no matter how much more you cook. If you find cooking liquid evaporating too fast, you can add water a bit more.
After cooking for 20 minutes, let it cool. Flavours will soak in as the dish cools down. Adjust the taste with soy sauce, salt and sugar afterwards if necessary.

This recipe works with other beans. When I don’t have time to cook dried beans, I use tinned chickpeas or kidney beans.

I found some beans in tins are a little too soft, but if you shorten the cooking time, it should be fine.

When I have ‘Hijiki’ which is another kind of seaweed, I use it instead of Kombu.

It looks like this dried.

You need to soak in water about 10 minutes before cooking. Cut them shorter if necessary. Be careful, it increases in volume by 10 times when it becomes rehydrated. 15-20g dried Hijiki is good enough to cook with soy beans.

Seaweed is full of vitamins and minerals and has no calories. Isn’t it too good to be true?

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