I’d been meaning to buy a new cutting board for months, but I couldn’t find a simple one with a right size and colour. Last weekend when we visited my uncle & aunt’s place in Gunma, my carpenter uncle casually asked me if I wanted a cutting board. I said yes, and he picked up a piece from the wood stack placed on their living room floor, and quickly sanded the rough edges for me in what seemed like a fraction of a second.
And voila, my new cutting board. At the moment, the kitchen is infused with a fresh woody scent of the mountains.
Last month, our beloved ash plant, Toneriko, started to shed its leaves. Not just one or two but most of them. The plant has been with us since I first moved in with my husband thirteen years ago. It has been a very easy plant to look after. In fact, it’s the type of plants we see everywhere around our urban jungle neighborhood in Tokyo, requiring little maintenance. But strangely, something was different this year.
I was worried and tried to cut some branches and give this green plant liquid as I had always done every year. The pot size seemed fine, the amount of watering appeared to be adequate, but nothing seemed to work. Despite my efforts, its leaves kept turning yellow and eventually falling onto the floor.
For the past few days, however, there are a lot of these baby leaves started to emerge. I immediately looked up online, and apparently this is “generational change” and occurs when plants are ready to move on and have a fresh new start.
It seems like it signifies our life as well, with a few positive changes coming our way. It’s been a challenging few years for us, but maybe we can finally sit back and relax…?
Shirasu-donburi (baby sardine with rice), made only in 5 minutes.
Rice (frozen – defrosted), Shirasu (baby sardine), chopped spring onion, egg (sunny side up), sliced Nori seaweed, dash of soy sauce
Made almost entirely by our 6 years old.
Last Saturday, our daughter’s primary school held “Undōkai” at their school ground, which is an annual Sports event organized by the school and students. The entire school (1st to 6th graders) are divided into two teams, White and Red, and compete. It is quite serious and formal – in a way it looks like a mini Olympic, with a proper opening ceremony with speeches & singing of the national anthem, followed by numerous games including cute dance performances and the exciting relay race, and completed with an impressive award ceremony.
It was the first time for our little girl as well as for her Dutch father to participate in the Japanese Undōkai. She just took it as it was, but my husband seemed to have gotten a little taken aback, describing it as a “military inspired parade”. I think he was exaggerating a bit, but maybe it could be a bit overwhelming if you’d never seen it before as an adult.
Anyway, at Undokai, traditionally everyone eats (usually homemade) bento for lunch on a picnic mat. I didn’t make anything special for the occasion but simple onigiri and some leftover side dishes. Still, we all enjoyed it together with all our friends.
To our surprise, our daughter ended up last in her group for the 40m dash. We always thought she was very athletic, but this proved us to be super biased about our own child. Instead, she performed superbly for the dance performances, showing us all the sweetest dance moves. Perhaps she could be a future performing artist…? … I know, I know, I shouldn’t pressure her into anything…
Win or lose, it was a great, memorable Undōkai, and we are very proud of her.
When my husband is out for dinner, I always cook something easy & quick but healthy for the two of us. Today, it was:
Pan fried sea bream (rose wine & balsamico sauce) & asparagus with steamed pumpkin as a main course
Freshly cooked rice
Cooking time: approximately 20 minutes.
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.
As requested by my daughter, I made sandwiches for her bento today.
Coming home, she told me that she had diligently followed my instruction by starting off with savory cheese sandwich, moving on to ham & cucumber, then to peanut butter & jam, and finally finishing it off with Nutella.
She also followed my instruction not to tell anyone she had Nutella in her bento, as sweets are not allowed for the bento time at school. I want to show her that sometimes the rules can be broken and live life a little, so she can learn how to be lenient and flexible in otherwise quite a disciplined environment. So every once in a while, I enjoy sharing this small piece of delicious secret with my little cheeky girl.