Kindergarten bento – Childhood (18/May/18)

A few days ago, I mentioned about the bright colours I tend to use in my daughter’s bento, which I naturally inherited from my mum. I kept thinking why my mum’s bento involved so many vivid colours, especially considering her strong preference on subtle, understated hues when it comes to her clothing (which I also naturally inherited). Thinking back, I’ve never seen her wearing bright red, yellow or green that we both use in our bento’s.

Then I remembered about my conversation with my mum while back, when I was still living at my parents’ place, maybe over a cup of green tea after dinner sitting in Kotatsu*. She told me the story of her bento, reminiscing her childhood memory. She said, growing up, she was always embarrassed with her bento her mother (my grandmother) made for her. During lunch time at school, she always hid the contents of her bento, covering them with the lid of her bento box, so her friends would not see what she was eating. She said her bento was always filled with only very basic ingredients, usually just rice with an umeboshi (pickled plum), pickled veggies and nori seaweed dipped in soy sauce. Sometimes, maybe omelet if their chickens lay some eggs in the morning. Her memory of bento was colourless and somber, despite the fact it wasn’t her intention to put her mother down. It was not so long after the war, so there was limited amount of food supply. They lived in the mountains, and most of the time they depended on their own rice and vegetables they grew in the fields. Moreover, her mother had six children to take care of, on top of working in their rice and vegetable fields and silk farm. Simply put, she did not have luxury of making colourful bento.

This seem to have significantly influenced my mum on how she prepared bento for her daughters (my sister & I). She wanted to make visually cheerful bento with vibrant colour palette, so that we didn’t have to go through what she had gone through, and she could give us different experience surrounding what’s inside this tiny box . I remember being always proud of my mum’s bento. I never had a slightest thought of hiding it from my friends. It was quite opposite for me, I always wanted to boast how pretty my bento looked. All these years I never thought about what was behind my mum’s bento. And now, more than ever, I sincerely appreciate my mum for her beautiful bento and embrace all the amazing history that comes with it.

* Kotatsu is a low table with a heating device under the table top, with one or two layer/s of blanket covering the table under the table top to preserve the heat

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Kindergarten bento – Last kindergarten picnic (17/May/18)

Every year at my daughter’s kindergarten, they hold an annual spring picnic at the large public park, with compulsory attendance of at least one adult from each family. It was our third time and the last time, since it is her final year at kindergarten. With a touch of relief I mostly felt sentimental, that we wouldn’t be coming here any more in this style, with her teachers, friends and other kindergarten families, following some tedious instructions and these comical, animal-like dance moves to kickstart the day. I found myself enjoying every minute of it, even wishing that this peaceful moment would last longer.

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Kindergarten bento – Is it colourful? (15/May/18)

I’ve been told a few times what colourful bento I make. Looking at other people’s arty and beautiful bento images via Instagram or Pinterest, they may be right, the bento I make are quite lively and bright compared to theirs.

But it’s almost automatic for me. For me the colour palette in my daughter’s bento is totally normal. It’s how my mum used to make bento for me. And it always consists of three main colours: red, green and yellow. Maybe it’s time for me to explore a bit more, incorporating ingredients with more complex or subtle colours, so that I can potentially teach my daughter about the world of Wabi Sabi (and I have to learn it first).

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Kindergarten bento – Frozen tori soboro (14/May/18)

Monday morning after a busy, eventful weekend.

There’s nothing else more useful than the frozen “torisoboro“, the chicken crumble, to prepare a quick bento for your little one.

For recipe, click here.

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Kindergarten bento – Picnic Expedition (11/May/18)

My daughter and her class had a so-called “Picnic Expedition” today. Basically, they left school during school hours and had a walk to a nearby public playground, where they played a bit and had picnic with their bento.

It sounds nothing special for us grown-ups, but it’s a big deal for the kids who usually only stay within the kindergarten property. They walked hand in hand with their designated partner, going through a small path they would never take with their parents. There was even a special instruction to the bento for the expedition – something “easy-to -eat”. Her class teacher reminded all the parents yesterday to pack finger food for lunch for the expedition, as the kids would be eating on a picnic mat instead of a table. Very hands-on adventure, but never mind, it is a wonderful concept for small children.

My daughter asked for onigiri (rice ball) for her special day, so here they are.

* The bento cloth in courtesy of Atelier Garaya

 

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Kindergarten bento – Leftovers (10/May/18)

Last night for dinner, I cooked beef steak with pan-fried potatoes, carrot & chicken filet soup, stir-fried komatsuna & corns, and boiled broccoli.

The leftover ingredients have been transformed into the bento for my daughter today.

Menu:

  • Rice mixed with boiled chicken filet (from the soup) & green furikake sprinkle (with goma-konbu on the side)
  • Potato salad (from the pan-fried potatoes) with boiled carrot (from the soup)
  • Corn omelet
  • Boiled broccoli
  • Stir-fried komatsuna

Although I was quite happy with the makeover, my daughter claimed yet again that the chicken (well she thought it was fish) was too dry.

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Kindergarten bento – Komatsuna omelet (8/May/18)

Just so my 5-year-old daughter eats more green, I sometimes put chopped spinach or komatsuna greens in omelet. She usually eats it all, but I was a bit unsure about this time since I might have added too much komatsuna.

When she came home, as expected, there was a few strings of komatsuna left. I just wanted to tease her a bit and asked her why she didn’t finish it all. She frowned at my interrogation, and whether trying to avoid getting into trouble or not, she said, “I don’t like this omelet with spicy green, but I always eat it because you made it with love”.

She left me there speechless.

 

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