Nikudon, pork on rice, is one of the most popular recipes in my blog. It is my mum’s recipe and was passed on to me and my sister before we “married out of the family”. I’m planning to pass it on to my little girl too, once she becomes old enough to be able to handle knives and gas stove.
Incidentally on the same day, my parents came all the way to Tokyo from their home in the countryside, in order to buy their youngest granddaughter a so-called “Randoseru”, a chunky backpack used by the most of elementary school children here in Japan. I don’t know when it started, but it is kind of a modern tradition for grandparents to buy a Randoseru for their grandchildren. Our daughter was no exception, and her eventful visit to the Randoseru shop was carried out with her proud grandparents.
Additionally and coincidentally, we found out that the word Randoseru is derived from the Dutch word “ransel” (backpack). My Dutch husband got pleasantly surprised that his roots, hence our daughter’s too, is also part of her exciting milestone happening away home home.
Despite the distances, our daughter is surrounded by the traces of her roots, whether it’s the food we eat, the words we use, or the custom we follow.
In busy mornings, these ice pouches become super handy. I usually keep several of them in our freezer.
For our daughter’s bento, I usually pack freshly cooked rice, as it is still tasty even after it cools down. Cold rice from the fridge or defrosted rice from the freezer does not taste very well in a bento, unless it’s heated up again to its original condition before packing, which can be a little tiresome. Hence I usually set the rinsed rice in the rice cooker the night before with the timer on, and let it do the job by itself, and get the freshly cooked rice first thing in the morning.
The problem however is heat. The rice needs to cool down before putting the lid on; otherwise it would form a lot of steam, which is not good for food preservation. To combat this, I use these ice pouches, by placing them under the bento box for five minutes or so. It works really well, and I must admit I can’t live without them now.
This is my original Chicken Balsamico. It’s been highly approved by the family.
500g chicken thigh (cut into bite size, put salt & pepper in advance), 2 celery storks (sliced), 1 clove of garlic (chopped), 15 – 20 cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 – 2 bay leaves, 1 table spoon of olive oil, dash of white wine, 2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 table spoon of honey, 100ml water, salt & pepper to taste, and a dash of soy sauce for extra flavoring
In the medium sized pan, on medium heat, fry the celery & garlic with olive oil until golden, then add chicken, fry further until golden, and pour in white wine.
Add cherry tomatoes, water and balsamic vinegar & honey, as well as bay leaves, stir, and put the lid on, lower the heat and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or so.
Sprinkle salt & pepper & soy sauce to taste.
That’s it, easy & quick! You can either cook celery leaves together, or sprinkle it over the stew once it’s done.
Monday was a public holiday in Japan, and we went to this beautiful and exciting museum called Team Lab / Borderless.
As soon as you step in to the museum, the world of fantasy spreads before your eyes, with the incredible combination of darkness, exuberant lightings and dreamlike hues. Kids start squealing in excitement, and grownups get stunned, marveling the creativity put into it.
Having been inspired, the next morning I wanted to make a colorful bento for my little girl, but I totally forgot about grocery shopping. I didn’t have much in my fridge, and all I could come up with was this unflattering bento. The panda pick was my pathetic effort to give some accent. Maybe that is how the reality goes, and I accept my shortcomings to start a new week.
Is it true that time passes in proportion to your age? I remember that a day seemed extremely long and slow when I was around my daughter’s age, longing eternally for all the fun events to happen. But now I can’t seem to catch up with the days passing in front of me, and even ordinary events fly by in light speed. And when I do stop and look back, I notice that a week has gone by just like a wind, as well as a weekend, and so begins another new week.
I don’t even remember making these bento last week. Where has the week gone?
This happened before… Upon retuning from her school today, my daughter diligently handed over her empty bento box to me for washing. As I opened it, I found the most of the Nori seaweed stuck on the back of the bento box lid…
For the first time, I packed mashed potato in lieu of rice for our daughter’s bento today. All the dishes in the bento are the leftover from the previous evening’s dinner, except for the boiled egg.
As Japanese, it required a bit of contemplation to do so – we simply don’t eat potato as much and are not accustomed to it. For me, potatoes are vegetables, and not staple food. But my half Dutch daughter didn’t seem to care at all, and the bento box came back empty without any complaints.