My Edamame babies:
Quite often in magazine interviews, I am asked this question:
Where is your favourite place to knit?
It is the dining room. Our dining room is connected to the kitchen and has the largest table. I don’t have to feel isolated because I get to chat with my family when they come in for lunch or a snack. I can also keep an eye on the hob and the oven. How lucky I am to work from home! I cook and knit at the same time. We have an empty room upstairs since my older son has moved to London for his uni, but my workspace will stay right here in the dining room.
I love baking bread and biscuits. I am not a fantastic baker, but I enjoy it very much. Boys used to say they could smell bread outside the front door when they come home from school. It is a nice, homey feeling.
I also slow cook beans. I buy dried, soak them overnight and cook. They taste much better than tinned beans and give you much better value for money. You can cook a lot in one go and freeze if you like.
I am sure there are hundreds of recipes to enjoy beans, but being Japanese, my favourite is the Japanese way, Nimame.
Nimame literally means cooked beans. It is usually simmered in soy sauce and sugar and has sweet, savoury taste.
1 cup dried soybeans
2 1/2 cups water
1 four-inch square of Kombu if you have
2 tbsp mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Soak the soybeans in a large bowl of water overnight or 8 hours. The soybeans will grow four times in size.
2.Drain water. Place the beans in a large pot with water and simmer 1.5 hours until the beans are tender.
3.Place the soybeans in a medium-sized pot with measured water. Cut Kombu into small squares. Add to water. Add rest of ingredients. Place the drop-lid on top and simmer for 30 minutes.
I like adding a little more colours and flavours. I usually add dried Shiitake mushrooms and carrot.
This is home cooking and many have their own recipe. I do not like to make beans too sweet, but if you prefer, you can add some sugar.
If you cook any beans with soy sauce and mirin or sugar, it is Nimame. I cook pinto beans, black beans and sometimes chickpeas in the same way. You can add potatoes, too. So simple, but nutritious and yummy.
We eat Kuromame, Black soybeans for New Years Meal. Eating Kuromame is considered to bring you good health for the new year.
In Japanese, the word ‘Mame (beans)’ means hard working. If someone said to you ‘You are mame.’, he is saying that you are hardworking who never cuts corners. It is a compliment. Traditionally at New Year meal, people ate Kuromame and pray to be in good health so that they would be able to work hard in the fields until you are dark as Kuromame beans.
Kuromame is black soya beans and differs from the black beans we can get at our supermarkets, but I cook black beans the same way with soy sauce and mirin/sugar. It turns out softer and less glossy, but I still like it.
When I was an exchange student in Indiana, USA, my host mother often cooked us baked beans and I loved them. The recipe is different from what we have in the UK. It wasn’t sweet at all, had a smokey flavour and served with cornbread. I can make something similar, but not as good as hers. I wish I had the recipe.
We are having very cold weather with lots of snow and sleet. Staying home and cooking beans is utterly fantastic.