In Japan, it is said that “toshi-no-se,” the year-end, is bound to be busy, as everyone starts acting somehow anxious to finish off things prior to the fresh start of the new year. As mentioned before, the new year is a big deal in this country, and we do everything to make sure the new year to be quiet and special.
This year was no exception for me also, and I was running around like a headless chicken without any time to stop and take a big breath… until we left for our Christmas holidays in the Netherlands to visit my husband’s family. Hesitantly we dropped unfinished errands, hurriedly packed our suitcases, left beautiful & sunny Tokyo, and arrived in the equally beautiful, but quite dark Netherlands yesterday. It is Christmas Eve here in the Netherlands, and things already seemed to have slowed down, and people are starting to relax for the festivity to begin. The sense of rush I was feeling in Japan is nowhere to be seen here. It’s an interesting realisation what a huge difference there is depending on which culture you’re in.
Looking back at the bento photos I didn’t have a chance to upload before our departure, I can vaguely remember how I managed all these bento making during my busy schedule. It’ll resume in the new year, but for now I’m relieved that I won’t have to do it for the next two weeks.
15/Dec/17 – Grilled cod in saikyo-miso
18/Dec/17 – Simmered sword fish
19/Dec/17 – Nikudon-don
20/Dec/17 – Macaroni genovese
22/Dec/17 – Chicken soboro
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
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot more translation assignments. It’s a client driven business, so it’s highly due date sensitive. Because of that, I couldn’t post any of the bento pics last week, working my head off to meet the deadline.
I work freelance from home, primarily because I want to be flexible enough to have ample time with my daughter. She’s the only child, and I don’t want to miss a thing and don’t want to regret at a later stage of my life that I should’ve spent more time with her when it’s too late.
Having said that, I also think having a career is very important for one’s life. It is a great part of who you are, and gives you confidence as well as an independent mindset. Doing freelance was the choice I made, so that I can manage to have both.
The downside is I don’t get paid so well. The rate of freelance translation projects is not something you can brag about. But I take pride in doing this job. I hope one day my little girl will look back at this period of her life and remember her happy time she spent with her mummy, who always gazes at her computer, typing and mumbling something weird.
Tuesday 7/Nov – Bi-color bento with grilled salmon flake & scrambled egg
Wednesday 8/Nov – Onigiri for 2 (the school closed before lunch and it was raining outside, so we had a indoor picnic on the living room floor at our apartment)
Thursday 9/Nov – “Omuraisu” Omelet rice bento
Friday 10/Nov – Grilled Spanish mackerel bento
Menu: Grilled cod marinated in saikyo-miso, Boiled egg, Steamed pumpkin, Cucumber & Steamed cabbage salad, Goma-konbu
Kiwi & banana for dessert
One of the readers of this blog once mentioned that she had noticed a lot of egg used in my daughter’s bento. Thinking about it, I do pack some form of egg almost everyday. My daughter loves egg, and on top of it, it not only gives bright colour but also fills up the space in the bento box.
But ever since then, I started to have a no-egg-day, once a week, for my daughter’s bento.
From last April, my daughter started getting hives. Without anti-histamine, it comes back almost everyday. She had a blood check done, and the result came out completely clean, so it’s not because of egg or any other food. But I’m hoping this no-egg-day initiative may shed some light…?
Menu: Nikudon (pork on rice), Boiled green beans, Steamed broccoli, Cherry tomatoes
Frozen apple mousse & raisons for dessert
Menu: Dried jako baby sardine, boiled spinach (chopped) & sesame sprinkle mixed in rice, Lightly fried sausage, Boiled okra, Boiled egg, Cherry tomato
Japanese Nashi pear for dessert
My daughter didn’t finish her bento today. It is a little disappointing to see one third of rice and a sausage, as well as the entire dessert untouched. Her teacher told me she didn’t stop chatting over the lunch table. While it’s heartwarming to picture the scene, I’ll need to do something about our little miss chatterbox!
For the past weekend, we went for a short trip out of Tokyo. We came back to our apartment on Sunday evening, resulting in the usual problem of not having enough food in the fridge for our daughter’s bento the next day.
In such circumstances, frozen stock comes in handy. This morning I defrosted bolognese sauce I made the other day and mixed it with macaroni. I put a lot of veggies (e.g. onion, carrot, celery, garlic) in the sauce, so it’s quite nutritious (actually I put them in the blender so that they almost get pasty, and that gives an amazing flavour to the sauce). I had a leftover cucumber and egg in the fridge, so I whipped this up:
The frozen star-shaped steamed carrots made with cookie cutters are also quite handy. I always make them in bulk with my Le Creuset Steamer and store them in the freezer. It’s really a lifesaver on a day like this!
Menu: Macaroni bolognese (steamed carrot slices on top), Cucumber sticks, Boiled egg
Japanese Nashi for dessert (also leftover in the fridge)