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
My strained back is gradually getting better, but I still cannot carry anything heavy, including groceries. The stock in our fridge is running out, and there’s one more day until the weekend when my husband can help me with groceries.
I managed to drop by at a bakery on the way back from my daughter’s afternoon activity and bought a loaf of white bread. By the way, in Japan, this white fluffy toast bread is super popular and can be found mostly any bakery (except for the modern fancy ones). Anyway, I knew there was still some eggs, bacon and cucumber in the fridge, and we always have cheese and appelstroop being the Dutch household, so I decided to make sandwich for my daughter’s lunch.
Menu: Sandwich (bacon/cucumber/cheese & appelstroop, Broccoli omelet, Peanut butter & banana, Strawberry jam), Cherry tomato, Cucumber sticks, Leftover potato in pesto sauce
Strawberries & mikan tangerine for dessert
Last night I realised there was a pack of frozen sword fish filets in the freezer that I stored a couple of weeks ago. I decided to use it for my daughter’s bento in the morning, so I moved it to the fridge drawer so that it’ll get defrosted overnight.
In the morning I simmered the filets in the leftover noodle dip sauce (I added sugar to thicken it).
My freezer is getting empty. I’d better drag my husband out to visit a supermarket in the weekend!
Menu: Simmered sword fish, Simmered pumpkin, Spinach omelet, Steamed broccoli, Steamed carrot, Rice
Apple mousse & raisins with a sprinkle of cinnamon for dessert
Menu: Chicken Soboro on rice with nori seaweed, Cabbage, cucumber & corn salad, Cherry tomato & broccoli omelet, Boiled green beans
Apple bunnies for dessert
The Soboro (chicken mince crumble) I used today was the last bit of what I made a few weeks ago that had been kept in the freezer. Of course it’s useful, but I shouldn’t have kept it too long as it’s flavour wasn’t as good as when it was freshly made. My daughter finished it all, so I consider it was still acceptable…
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 felt lazy in the morning and just defrosted the hamburg steak I made the other day. I usually eat the same thing for lunch at home as my daughter to see how it tastes like. It worked just fine.
Menu: Hamburg steak (defrosted), Spinach omelet, Boiled green beans, Rice with furikake sprinkle, Steamed carrot
Apple bunnies & kiwi fruit for dessert
It looks like spinach, but tastes more like a mixture of garlic chives and Chinese cabbage. It makes a great side dish when simply sautéed with either olive oil or sesame oil, with a pinch of salt & pepper.
Today I cooked fried rice with chopped Komatsuna along with jako, dried baby sardine. Just stir fry chopped spring onion with a table spoon of sesame oil, add chopped Komatsuna, then rice, and sprinkle a little bit of salt, pepper and konbu dashi powder (or konbu tea powder) to taste. In order to avoid making the fried rice soggy, make sure to stir fry Komatsuna well. Sprinkle some sesame at the end.
Menu: Komatsuna fried rice, Sausage, Boiled green beans, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato & broccoli omelet
Apple bunnies for dessert