Kindergarten bento – Time (4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12/Dec/17)

Whether it’s my age or I’m just being busy or preoccupied by my daughter (& husband) on a daily basis, the speed of time passing in front of me has recently been unbelievably fast. I feel this more clearly especially in December, because in Japan we tend to “finish” whatever is left undone by the end of the year so that we can have a fresh and burdenless start of the new year. The new year is a big deal in this country, just like Christmas in the West, and people become quite adamant about it. While I’m grateful for all the friends who contact me to have this one last cup of coffee of the year or to meet up for ‘Bonenkai,’ a year-end party, I can hardly find the time to do so.

This morning I looked back at the bento pictures I hadn’t uploaded and realised I didn’t upload any of it for the entire week last week, without really noticing all the days gone by. And it’s already Tuesday today. Where has all the time gone?!
4/Dec/17 – Grilled cod in saikyo-miso

5/Dec/17 – Penne amatriciana

7/Dec/17 – Sukiyaki

8/Dec/17 – Chicken (inspired by the Phillipina Adobo)

11/Dec/17 – Macaroni genovese

12/Dec/17 – Salmon fried rice

Kindergarten bento – Sandwich (1/Dec/17)

My strained back is gradually getting better, but I still cannot carry anything heavy, including groceries. The stock in our fridge is running out, and there’s one more day until the weekend when my husband can help me with groceries.

I managed to drop by at a bakery on the way back from my daughter’s afternoon activity and bought a loaf of white bread. By the way, in Japan, this white fluffy toast bread is super popular and can be found mostly any bakery (except for the modern fancy ones). Anyway, I knew there was still some eggs, bacon and cucumber in the fridge, and we always have cheese and appelstroop being the Dutch household, so I decided to make sandwich for my daughter’s lunch.

Menu: Sandwich (bacon/cucumber/cheese & appelstroop, Broccoli omelet, Peanut butter & banana, Strawberry jam), Cherry tomato, Cucumber sticks, Leftover potato in pesto sauce

Strawberries & mikan tangerine for dessert

Kindergarten bento – Frozen sword fish (30/Nov/17)

Last night I realised there was a pack of frozen sword fish filets in the freezer that I stored a couple of weeks ago. I decided to use it for my daughter’s bento in the morning, so I moved it to the fridge drawer so that it’ll get defrosted overnight. 

In the morning I simmered the filets in the leftover noodle dip sauce (I added sugar to thicken it). 

My freezer is getting empty. I’d better drag my husband out to visit a supermarket in the weekend!

Menu: Simmered sword fish, Simmered pumpkin, Spinach omelet, Steamed broccoli, Steamed carrot, Rice

Apple mousse & raisins with a sprinkle of cinnamon for dessert

Kindergarten bento – Variation attempt (29/Nov/17)

As I am still suffering with my strained back, I didn’t get a chance to go to a grocery store to replenish bento ingredients. This means I need to depend on my stock in the freezer. It’s handy, but I’m running out of the options.

Today I made an attempt to go for a Soboro (chicken crumble) variation. I mixed the Soboro into freshly cooked rice along with wakana sprinkle. It tastes more or less the same as my bi/tri-colour bento, but hopefully the new visual presentation makes a bit of s difference.

Menu: Soboro & wakana sprinkle mixed in rice (with nori seaweed on top), Simmered pumpkin mixed with lightly fried bacon, Boiled egg, Steamed broccoli, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato

Apple mousse & strawberries for dessert

Kindergarten bento – Strained back (16,17,20,21,24, 28/Nov/17)

Earlier last week I strained my back, possibly due to overstretching at yoga class, or just overworking on my translation assignment in the same sitting position for hours. It’s been haunting me for the past week. Does anyone here have good tips on how to get rid of the pain in your back?

With or without pain, bento making continues. I generally enjoy cooking bento for my daughter, but at times, especially now with the sharp pain in my back, I wish there was an alternative. I wonder if they (her school) judge me if I just put store bought bento in her backpack… In Japan we have unspoken rules everywhere, and where homemade bento is required such as at her kindergarten, it just has to be homemade bento no matter how simple it is. Also, I’m so used to making bento with different ingredients and colours I don’t know how to make them simpler and not let my daughter down too much at the same time. 

Ah, the joy of bento making!

16/Nov/17 – Onigiri

17/Nov/17 – Stirfried-tofu (my daughter ate only 1/3 of it, saying she didn’t care for it much. What a disappointment!)

20/Nov/17 – Sword fish & lotus roots

21/Nov/17 – Penne amatriciana

24/Nov/17 – Chicken soboro & scrambles egg 

28/Nov/17 – Sausage

Kindergarten bento – Sandwich a la Maman (15/Nov/17)

When I lived in the Italian city of Milan 13 years ago, I shared an apartment with two amazing, beautiful ladies, one from France, and the other one from Sweden. We all attended the same master’s course in a graduate school in Milan, studying fashion & design management. Despite our shortcomings and different backgrounds, we got along very well, and after a while we became almost inseparable.

One day, the three of us took a short trip to Paris to visit the French flatmate V’s family. Three young & crazy women traveling together with a limited budget… Any of you who’s taken a European low cost carrier would understand that their airport terminals are always located in a secluded area outside the city, which requires a long bus ride and a lot of walking/running before/after catching your flight. It was no exception for our Paris trip, and it felt as if we were always on the move in some type of transportation whether it’s a bus or airport shuttle or tram or whatever, but after what felt like a 10 hour journey, we finally managed to arrive V’s home-sweet-home in the Left Bank of beautiful Paris.

The trip was a blast, and we got to spend some quality, heartwarming time with V’s parents. Her mum, Maman, was a great cook, although she never admitted she was, and always told us she was cooking nothing special. Maman always gave us a shy, humble smile at our compliments and excused herself back to her small kitchen.

After spending a few wonderful days in Paris, it was time for us to go back to Milan. Of course, we had to take the same route back, involving a metro ride to the bus stop and a long bus ride to the distant airport. As is always the case when traveling with V, we were running late to catch our bus and hence our airplane, too.

Knowing her daughter very well, V’s sweet Maman prepared sandwiches for the three of us to eat in the bus, because she knew we wouldn’t have time to stop for a proper meal. She made one sandwich with freshly baked baguette from a bakery near by with the leftover pot-au-feu meat from the evening before. The other one was this simple sandwich made with a Pan Viennoise (long soft milk bread) with butter and boiled pink ham. Both of them were so simple but exceptionally tasty. It was the first time for me to eat Pan Viennoise as sandwich, and I can still remember the perfect combination of the milky butter and the salty tasty ham… Mmm, it was absolutely divine.

Now fast-forward to the present time in Tokyo in 2017, I randomly spotted Pan Viennoise sold on the shelf at a nice French bakery in our neighborhood. The next morning I made a sandwich using the Pan Viennoise I bought, of course with boiled ham & butter, just like what Maman made for us 13 years ago, for my little girl’s kindergarten bento. I prepared the sandwich, thinking of V’s dear Maman with a sweet smile as well as my precious memories of my time in Europe.

Menu: Pan Viennoise sandwich (boiled ham & butter/cheese & appelstroop/peanut butter & apricot jam/strawberry jam & butter), Plain omelet, Boiled green beans, Cherry tomato

Banana for dessert

Kindergarten bento – Soboro (14/Nov/17)

Menu: Chicken Soboro on rice with nori seaweed, Cabbage, cucumber & corn salad, Cherry tomato & broccoli omelet, Boiled green beans

Apple bunnies for dessert 

The Soboro (chicken mince crumble) I used today was the last bit of what I made a few weeks ago that had been kept in the freezer. Of course it’s useful, but I shouldn’t have kept it too long as it’s flavour wasn’t as good as when it was freshly made. My daughter finished it all, so I consider it was still acceptable…