Yesterday I had a go at making some traditional Japanese sweets. Well, I say making but it was really just a matter of shaping them -playdough for grown-ups! The teacher was a retired sweet-maker who had been quite ill and bedridden for some time. This workshop was set up to help motivate him to become more active and I was glad to be able to take part. He seemed to enjoy it and I did too.
The teacher demonstrated how to make various shapes and then we all had a go. Each sweet is made by flattening a piece of coloured bean-paste dough, wrapping it around a lump of bean-paste filling and then shaping it. Of course, getting your shapes to look anything like the teacher's is not always an easy task...
Here are the finished sweets. Can you figure out what they are supposed to be?
Clockwise from the back left: a turtle (no, really), a camellia flower, a flower that I can't remember, a chestnut, a Japanese maple leaf, a tsukubai (stone 'bowl' often found in Japanese gardens) complete with water and floating fallen leaf, a chrysanthemum and another maple leaf in the centre. There were other, more deformed, ones too, but they were conveniently eaten before the camera came out.
I took some of them over to Ritsuko and Tomonori's house today as part of a pot-luck lunch with them and Miho. Miho and Ritsuko correctly identified every sweet. Yes, even the turtle!
Tomonori grilled sanma (Pacific saury, an autumn delicacy) over charcoal and Miho brought, not a chiffon cake, but a very tasty pumpkin soup. We also took H's top secret potato salad and this chicken and mushroom pie that I baked this morning - don't you think I've been quite domestic this weekend?