Winter is approaching to Miyama. How are you doing, everyone?
We had an important event this autumn to tell you all. Special guests came and visit our inn!
The special guests are people how were living in this old folk house before us. To tell you the more details, they are a family of a bother of the ex-owner of this house. He was born here, grew up here, married here, and lived here until his children were going to elementary school.
His name is Toru. Yes, he has the same name as mine. And more, his wife’s last name is Morimoto, just like mine. And surprisingly, his son’s wife is a Spanish. Yes, as you already know, my wife, Tina, is from Spain. And to make it more surprising, his son and her Spanish wife moved to Spain at the same time when I and Tina moved to Miyama from Spain.
Are these just coincidences or destiny…. I don’t know. Usually I am not superstitious, but this time I cannot help feeling some kind of invisible connection. I don’t feel that we just bought this house and moved in to live here, but I feel that we were led to Miyama to take over and take care of this old folk house.
Am I thinking too much?
This old folk house with thatched roof was build about 110 years ago by Toru’s grandfather. This color picture of the house was taken not so long time ago, but you can see the thatched roof still. In the next picture you can see his grandfather (center left), his grandfather’s mother (center right), and his grandfather’s wife (right), their son who is Toru’s father (left). The balcony of the third picture and warehouse in the garden still exist now.
This time, Toru came to visit us with his son and daughter who were living here when they are small, and Toru’s wife’s father. While his son’s Spanish wife and Tina were talking in Spanish, Toru’s family told me many interesting stories of this house. We really had a good time and enjoyed BBQ with them.
Just after the visit of our special guests, it started cold in the morning and at night in Miyama. Then, harvesting season came.
Our three persimmons trees fruited many persimmons, but most of them were pecked by birds and fell on the ground. We managed to harvest only several of them. I was not so disappointed because I was sure these persimmons were bitter. But one day, I tasted a little bit, and surprise! It was so sweet! Especially small persimmons origin of Kyoto, called Kubogaki, at the entrance of our inn were so good. I decided to fight with birds next year. Now we started to believe a “legend” that our old neighbor told us that a bear was eating persimmons on this tree a long time ago.
Like always, our neighbors keep giving us vegetables, and now we receive autumn vegetables such as chestnuts, shitake, beans, sweet potato…. It is a privilege that we noticed the change of seasons by the gifts from our neighbors.
All autumn vegetables were good, but especially, we liked “boiled chestnuts with astringent inner skin” that we made from chestnuts that our neighbor gave us. I have heard that this sweets is really difficult to cook. Fort he first time in our life, we tried this “boiled chestnut with astringent inner skin”. Actually it was rather hard than difficult.
Following the recipe that I found on internet, we put the chestnuts into the boiling water and boil them for about 2 minutes. Then, cool them down quickly in the ice.
From here it is just like a harsh punishment. You have to peel only the outer hard skin one by one with your knife, leaving the inner skin perfectly stick to the fruit of chestnuts. We just have to keep concentrating on peeling the hard outer skin of chestnuts. Yes, we can. But, the reality was something like, “Oh my god, I peeled off the inner skin again!!” The hands start aching. We started losing grip and our concentration…
This was just preparation. After peeling them off all, now we start COOKING.
We put water and peeled chestnuts to boil with 10g of baking soda for 20 minutes to get rid of the bitterness. Then, we wash the chestnut softly one by one with running water. We do repeat this process twice. Actually, when you wash the chestnuts, you are supposed to clean well with a bamboo skewer to leave the inner skin perfectly smooth. But we skipped this process since it was too much for us! (I think it does not affect so much to the taste although it will not look as good as ones that are cleaned well with a bamboo skewer.)
Now, we put the chestnuts to a pot with water just to cover them up and add 1/3 quantity of sugar to boil for 20 minutes and cool them off for 30 minutes. We repeat this process three times. It really takes time…. Only this process of boiling with sugar needs about 3 hours. If the inner skin of a chestnut was damages, the chestnut start crumbling into pieces during this process. So, it is really important to peel the outer skin without hurting inner skin!!
Anyway, it was really hard, but the result was amazing. The chestnuts look just like a brown jewel! And the taste is just beyond the imagination. We just forgot how hard it was, and wanted to make them again!
In the meantime, the winter is approaching to Miyama. The guests of our inn started using wood stove. Miyama had very little snow last two years, and many villagers are saying that we will have a heavy snow this year. Listening to their predicts, we are a little bit worried but pretty much excited to see snow.
Oh well, that’s all for today. I will write you soon. Take care!