MADISON, Ind. (January 2004) When Yaeko Kakimoto, a native
of Japan who now calls Madison, Ind., home, asked Jane Stewart for
her spiced pecans recipe, I thought that instead of sending
her the recipe Id just ask her to come over and show her how
to make them, said Stewart.
by Ruth Wright
women in Stewart's class.
The invitation was the beginning of what has since become an informal
cooking class Stewart now offers to several Japanese women living
in the area. Twice each month, Stewart invites the ladies into her
kitchen, where she teaches them to prepare traditional American recipes.
Keiko Hattor, who has lived in Madison for three years, said that
tuna and salmon are some of her favorite recipes. Meatloaf is a favorite
of Akira Shibatas family.
One primary difference between American and Japanese recipes is the
way ingredients are measured. In Japan, where the metric system is
the standard, scales are often used to weigh ingredients. Natsuko,
who has lived in Madison for three years and just recently joined
Stewarts class, said she had to adjust to using a different
The cooking class favorites are as varied as the dishes they make.
Sayoko Ogata favors desserts, Because I like sweets, she
said. Hisae Michimoto said her family likes the salmon. Eiko Masahiko
said she just enjoys learning typical American recipes, particularly
Fumiyo Sue Oshimi, who has only lived in Madison for seven
months, is new to Stewarts class. Oshimi said she hopes to learn
to make vegetable soup.
The class started last February with five or six ladies who began
meeting at Stewarts house every other week. Soon, Stewart received
so many requests that she had to divide the class into two. Each class
now meets once a month.
Stewart said she typically likes to help the ladies prepare an entre,
a vegetable, a salad and a dessert each class. After the work is done,
she sits down at the dining room table with her students to enjoy
the fruits of their labor. Janes recipes are very
good, Kakimoto said.
by Ruth Wright
Stewart (center) with students.
Stewart admitted that, although most of the women had studied the
English language before moving to the United States, communication
in the beginning was sometimes slow. They understood a third,
I understood a third, and the other third we less pass, said
The use of a hand-held computerized translator and an Japanese-English
dictionary helped the process. I think were doing much
better now, said Stewart.
A retired registered dietitian, Stewart has worked as a food service
director at the Madison State Hospital and at Tallahassee Memorial
Hospital in Tallahassee, Fla. She also worked for several years as
the director of food services for the Lake County, Fla., school system,
which included 30 kitchens.
Stewart moved in 1990 into her downtown Madison home, where her spacious
kitchen provides plenty of elbow room for the students. Before starting
her cooking class, Stewart said had put her house up for sale and
had considered moving away from the area. Now her students are hoping
shell decide to stay around for a while.