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.
For the past week, I’ve been trying to prepare healthy meals as much as I can, which is inspired by the well-balanced meals introduced in the book I’ve recently read, by Mrs. Kimiko Horikoshi, the wife of late Danjuro Ichikawa and the mother of Ebizo Ichikawa, both are renowned Kabuki actors in Japan. It is amazing to know how much thoughts have been put into their meals everyday. Certainly it is something to aspire to, although my architect-desk-working husband may not need so much nutrition on a daily basis!
Thursday 23rd, Sashimi dinner with my daughter
Friday 24th, Fried Aji (yellowtail mackerel) dinner, minestrone soup, Tofu/Edamame salad (following the recipe by Mrs. Kimiko Horikoshi)
Monday 27th, Hiyashi Chuka (it literally means chilled Chinese) noodles*, with chicken veggie soup
* Hiyashi Chuka noodles, is a perfect dish for a hot summer evening like last night (32C in Tokyo, hottest I’ve ever experienced in the month of May). Served with boiled chicken filet (used the boiled water for the soup), and black vinegar & sesame sauce.
Spaghetti aglio & olio with broccoli & bacon
Leftover gratin (pumpkin/potato/green beans/edamame) – used milk instead of cream
Tricolor Donburi (“soboro” chicken crumble/scrambled egg/green beans)
Miso soup (with cabbage, carrot, spring onion & potato)
Pumpkin in dashi broth
Okra/cucumber/Wakame seaweed in vinegar sauce
Click here for chicken soboro recipe
Gulp! Someone is missing out something delicious tonight.
… have a bowl of Zōsui.
Zōsui is rice porridge cooked in broth. I mixed in a bit of miso paste to taste. It’s very light and easy to digest, which I needed desperately today.
Beside me my husband was eating bread for lunch (we both work from home). In our household, it is quite common to eat completely different types of food at the same time, especially for lunch. Perhaps it is one of the most important, unspoken rules we have at home in our international marriage – leave each other alone when eating your comfort food.
Came across these beautiful plates yesterday at @utsuwakaede made by @muraidaiske. I’d been looking for a set of small plates for ages but couldn’t find the one that clicked with me. When I saw them displayed at the gallery I fell in love with them instantly, and knew I was making the right choice.
Can’t wait to use them.
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.
Monday: Can’t remember
Tuesday: Hamburg steak with vegetables
Wednesday: Tomato & aubergine pasta, sautéed chicken with asparagus
Thursday: Ginger pork, Hijiki, Hiyayakko (fresh tofu)
Friday: Hijiki rice & Tempura
Now ready to rest. Have a good weekend!
My alarm went off at 7:00am sharp this morning, and with it, I heard some banging noise from our kitchen.
Our daughter was already dressed for the day, and for whatever reason without any advance notice, she started preparing our breakfast. Swinging her messy hair, she was running back and forth between the kitchen and dining table, with a huge smile on her face.
Still in our pajamas with our droopy eyes, my husband & I looked at each other in amusement. Peeking from the side of her eyes, she knew we were looking. I could tell she was enjoying our attention. Diligently putting plates & cutlery (as well as Dutch appelstroop & cheese) on the dining table, she pretended she hadn’t noticed our presence.
After a while, with a little help from me, she even made our coffee using the Italian mocha maker with frothy warm milk (microwaved, but still).
At the age of 6, our daughter has proudly mastered the Dutch style breakfast in style.
During this year’s so-called Golden Week holiday, we visited my family and relatives in Gunma prefecture, 150km north of Tokyo. Growing up, all I wanted was to get out of the suburban city where we lived, but going back there with the new perspective through my daughter’s eyes, everything looks different. Thanks to her, I’ve rediscovered what I had missed and failed to see all these years ago.
For the past few years in every May, we visit my aunt & uncle who live in the mountains for Takenoko diggings. After climbing up the ladder on their retaining wall to get to the bamboo grove behind their beautiful wooden house, we avidly started searching for the little shoots peeking out of the fertile soil. It is my daughter’s third time this year, and she appeared to be confident and know exactly what to do with the large spade.
We dug more than 20 of them and brought all of them home, many of which we shared with our neighbors back in Tokyo. I cooked a few of them (need to boil them for an hour as a preparation), from Takenoko rice, Takenoko curry and the most popular Takenoko Tempura (fritter). I served the tempura on the bamboo plate handmade by my auntie, as a side dish to the Udon noodles also from my hometown of Gunma.