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
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
I overslept this morning. In such a panicky morning, frozen chicken soboro, sautéed minced chicken, comes in handy.
While Soboro is being defrosted (just in room temperature), quickly make scrambled egg and boil green beans. Once the beans are boiled thinly slice them, place them along with Soboro and egg carefully on top of freshly cooked rice. Voila, it’s done!
Steamed mashed pumpkin also came from my dear freezer.
Menu: Chicken Soboro bento, Steamed mashed pumpkin, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato
Tangerine Mikan for dessert
As spoiled as a child can be, my daughter told me the other day she wouldn’t want to eat the same thing from one day to the other. Ha!
Luckily, she forgets stuff overnight, and today’s bento is filled with our dinner leftovers. The bento box came home empty.
Menu: Simmered sweet potato with chicken thigh, Spinach goma-ae, Tomato Omelet, Riceixed with wakana sprinkle & dried jako (baby sardine) with sesame on top
Tangerine Mikan for dessert
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)
Menu: Grilled snapper in moromi-miso (bought from the street fishmonger), Spinach Omelet, Boiled green beans, Cherry tomato
Tangerine mikan for dessert
Omuraisu is a Japanese name for Omelet & Rice. The ingredients are still scarce in my fridge, so this is my ultimate effort to come up with something that is both ethtetically and nutritiously satisfying.
Menu: Omuraisu, Steamed broccoli, Cucumber & cherry tomato salad
Kiwi fruits for dessert