Category Archives: uncategorized

Kindergarten bento – Tanabata festival (7/Jul/17)

Menu: Grilled salmon mixed in rice, Boiled egg, Boiled asparagus, Corns & cucumber salad

Grapes & banana for dessert


Today, 7th July is the day to celebrate Tanabata festival, where traditionally we put up our wish on a piece of rectangle paper and hang it on bamboo branches along with other colourful decorations made with Origami papers. It is the festival to celebrate a once-a-year rendezvous of this married couple, Princess Orihime & Prince Hikoboshi, who were derived from the stars (Vega and Altair) and separated by the Milky Way.

At our daughter’s school, they celebrated it by singing a Tanabata song and eating watermelon, one of the seasonal fruits in summer and very typical for summer festival, after their bento lunch. I totally forgot about it and packed grapes & banana for dessert… Oh well, lucky her to have extra dessert today!

Click here for more details about Tanabata, from Wikipedia.

Here is my daughter’s wish. It reads: I WISH TO BE A PRINCESS AND TRAVEL TO SPACE

Kindergarten bento – Carbo overload? (16/May/17)

For my daughter’s dinner the evening before, I cooked macaroni in tomato sauce with sea bream. She loves pasta, so I cooked bigger portion which she couldn’t finish.

Making the most of it, I fixed macaroni salad with the leftover macaroni. Usually in Japan, macaroni salad is made with mayonnaise, but since non of us really like mayonnaise in our household I just seasoned it with olive oil, salt & pepper. Healthier anyways.

When I packed bento this morning, I noticed there may be too much carbohydrates in the container. It’s quite common in this country to eat multiple carbos in the same meal (Japanese are carbo lovers), and my daughter most likely will develop her culinary preference in that direction. Whether it’s a good thing or not, the bento box came home empty.

Menu: Macaroni salad, Grilled salmon & wakame seaweed sprinkle mixed in rice, Boiled egg, Boiled green beans
Apple bunnies for dessert

Kindergarten bento – Accident (Thursday, 13/Apr/17)

Menu: Steamed pumpkin & chicken soboro, Omelet, Tomato, Boiled okra, Wakana rice with shirasu (baby sardine) on too
Grapes & strawberry for dessert

My daily bento making resumed this morning for the new Japanese school year. I got up early, set the rice cooker, made omelet, took out other ingredients from the fridge I had prepared the night before, packed them nicely, got dressed while the rice was being cooked, packed rice, all nice and neat in the bento box, right on time, and everything was going perfectly.

I was about to sit down at the breakfast table when I heard this “pshhhh” sound. My husband opened the new can of Illy coffee with which he makes his espresso every morning. By the way, this Italian brand does great coffee with excellent flavour, and we both love it. It comes in this vacuumed packed, beautiful aluminum cannister. Anyway, looking over the kitchen counter to see if there’s anything I should take with me to the dining table, I noticed there was a spray of black pepper-like powder all over the place, including our daughter’s bento. Looking at each other’s faces in horror, we realised my husband’s coffee spilled out of the can with the air pressure and landed all over on the food. Oh…

My husband told me this had never ever happened before. Yeah sure, but how about the bento? I wanted to scream but held back… (got whiny instead). He then innocently told me to just wash it off and wipe a little. Yeah right. How can you wash omelet or rice or soboro pumpkin with water… How convenient if you can do that! To my dismay, I had to repack everything. As for the omelet I chopped off the top part (hence shorter than the original), for the shirasu rice I scraped off the top and added the leftover (thank goodness I still had some left next to the rice cooker not on the kitchen counter), and for the soboro pumpkin I had to put them in a separate bowl, carefully remove the ones with most coffee on them and put the rest back (I’m pretty sure some coffee was still hiding inside but at that point I couldn’t care less).

Voila, here is my daughter’s repacked bento for the first day of this school year’s bento making. I’d say it’s a great start!

* We love Illy coffee and recommend it to anyone who likes espresso. Just do not open the new can next to your food 😉

Kindergarten bento – Chicken shio-koji (31/Jan/17)

Menu: Stir-fried chicken thigh marinated in shio-koji, Boiled egg, Steamed broccoli, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato, Rice with goma-konbu 

Apple for dessert


In the busy morning, this clever shio-koji can help you save a significant amount of time. Just sprinkle a spoonful of shio-koji on the bite size chicken thigh, quickly toss everything and stir-fry them in a frying pan. No oil needed, as the fat of the chicken thigh gives enough grease, and once brown add tiny bit of water (a tea spoon) and cover the lid and steam-fry for a minute (this leaves the chicken nice and moist).  This whole process takes only 5 minutes.

food for thought – relativity of beef stroganoff and raspberry muffins (recipes at the bottom)

for humans, blood relationship can be stronger than any other relationships you can have. even if you look totally different or act entirely opposite, you are connected, deep down with your roots, with an unavoidable biological fact – you share the same blood.

my dear little sister and i can be the perfect example of this theory. we have the same parents and background and grew up together. however we don’t really share anything in common when it comes to our personalities – our interests, our behaviours, our thoughts, our values, our expertise, our ideologies and what have you… my sister has never been abroad, whereas i have been all over. she is a loving mother of 2 children, 8 and 6 year olds, has rarely exposed herself to the competitive world of capitalism. i, on the other hand, was quite focused on my professional career, and had never really thought of starting a family until i got married recently.

i am wondering if this theory can apply to food as well. as one of many examples, i would like to propose a bond between beef stroganoff and raspberry muffins.

who would ever think that they share something in common? in reality, they actually do share 4 ingredients, namely:

– sour cream
– butter
– sugar
– flour

last night i cooked beef stroganoff for dinner, which required sour cream as kind of like its taste enhancer, and was left with quite a portion of sour cream unused. after the dinner, i looked up some recipe ideas ferociously on the internet, and decided to bake raspberry muffins so that i wouldn’t have to waste the sour cream. not to mention this experiment resulted in a big success, fulfilling the sense of pride in myself (that i did not waste anything) and the appetite of my husband with a sweet tooth.

as odd as it may sound, in my mind the beef stroganoff and the raspberry muffins from last night are blood related brother and sister, who turned out to be very different in their appearances and tastes, but make me happy nonetheless. to some degree, to be a parent must be quite similar – you love your children no matter what, no matter how different you are or how different you look. i know my parents love my sister and i equally, however different we are. after all, we are their creations, who are inevitably connected with their combined histories.

beef stroganoff 2011
(in january, i posted a recipe of my easy beefstroganoff. this time the taste came out better than before, so i am re-posting a upgraded recipe)

ingredients:

350g beef slices (the leaner, the better) – seasoned with salt & pepper, then with 2+ table spoons of flour
1 table spoon of unsalted butter for beef
3/4 onion – chopped
1 table spoon of unsalted butter for onion
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms – 3 of them chopped, 3 of them sliced
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of white wine
1 beef bouillon block
3/4 cup of milk
a half lemon squeeze
1 table spoon of sour cream
salt & pepper to taste
a sprinkle of brown sugar

1. in a frying pan, melt the butter and stir-fry the beef slices until brown
2. pour the beef into a cooking pot, along with the water & white wine and the bouillon and put on a medium heat
3. once the water starts boiling, lower the heat, put the lid on and simmer for 40 minutes or so, removing any scum on the surface
4. while waiting for the beef to be nicely cooked in the pot, in the same frying pan which the beef was fried, melt the butter and put the chopped onion. cook until the onions became opaque
5. add the shiitake mushroom in the frying pan and stir-fry further
6. pour over the onion & shiitake into the pot
7. add salt & pepper to taste, and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the liquid become thicker in texture.
8. add the milk and the lemon juice, cook for another 5 minutes or so
9. sprinkle the sugar over the sauce and mix
10. mix in the sour cream and stir before serving
11. serve it with brown rice

raspberry muffins

dry ingredients:

2 cups of flour
1 tea spoon of baking powder
1/2 tea spoon of baking soda
a pinch of salt
1/4 tea spoon of cinnamon

wet ingredients:

100g of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs (large)
150ml of sour cream
sprinkle of vanilla extract

1+ cup of frozen raspberries

directions:

1. sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl
2. make a hall in the centre
3. in another bowl, mix the butter until creamy and add the sugar and mix well
4. add an egg, and mix well, and then add another egg, and mix well again
5. add the sour cream and vanilla extra, and mix well
6. pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and quickly mix all the ingredients with a wooden stick
7. add the raspberries and mix quickly
8. fill the mixed ingredients into 12 muffin tins (lay paper cups beforehand)
9. bake in 180C oven for 20 minutes or so.
10. rest for 5 minutes, and remove the muffins from the tins on the rack to cool down
11. (optional) sprinkle the powder sugar on top