It’s been another busy but short week for us. Monday was a school holiday since our daughter’s school was open on last Saturday for an art event. Tomorrow, 3rd of November is a public holiday in Japan called Culture Day. As such, there’s only 3 days of school, but since I took up this translation assignment for 9000 words of text, which is due tonight, I’ve been working non-stop since Tuesday.
Anyway I thought I’d take a break and post our daughter’s bento images because the bento making happens every day no matter what as long as her school is open!
Tuesday 31/Oct – Soboro bento
Wednesday 1/Nov – Macaroni in tomato sauce with aubergene & bacon
Thursday 2/Nov – Picnic tortilla wrap bento
Our daughter & her friends are on their way to the sweet potato farm for potato digging today. It’s their first time to take a chartered bus on their own, without being accompanied by their parents. Hope they’ll have fun.
OK, back to my assignment, 2000 more words to go!
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)
Incidentally when I finished packing my daughter’s bento this morning, I realised that the colours of autumn was everywhere. Tangerine, mustard, forest green, burgundy…
Usually, I would have put a bit more green to make it brighter (afterall this is for a small child), but thought that I would keep it as it was, hoping she would get my intension to teach her the subtle expression of a changing season.
Menu: Macaroni Amatriciana with broccoli, Boiled egg, Mashed pumpkin & cucumber salad
Japanese “Mikan” orange & Kyoho grapes for dessert
Which bento do you prefer? Japanese bento with rice, or Italian bento with pasta?
Pork shabu-shabu salad, Nori seaweed omelet, Stir-fried potato & spinach, Cherry tomato, Rice with furikake sprinkle. Banana & grapes for dessert
Macaroni with broccoli & tuna, Steamed pumpkin tossed with chicken soboro, Cherry tomato. Apple mousse & banana for dessert
Menu: Pasta with cherry tomato, broccoli and soboro (chicken crumble), Boiled snow peas, Pumpkin & sweet potato mash
Syrawberries for dessert
My daughter requested pasta for bento today. I asked her if she didn’t mind eating it cold (I prepare it warm in the morning of course, but it cools down by the time she eats it around noon). She said it’s ok because it is because of time as opposed to having it cooled deliberately in the fridge. Interesting observation.
* Note: There is no microwave at school.
Menu: Macaroni with broccoli & chicken, Plain omelet, Cherry tomato, Boiled broad beans
Strawberries & banana for dessert
Cooking pasta is actually quicker than preparing Japanese style bento.
While boiling the macaroni, in a cooking pan with extra virgin olive oil, I cooked diced chicken, broccoli (steamed ones, leftover from the previous day) and chopped celery. After a while I added some boiling pasta water to cook further without drying the ingredients. Just a minute before the pasta is ready, added salt and pepper to taste, poured the cooked pasta into the pan and tossed them all together. At the end, sprinkled grated parmiggiano for extra flavour. All of these steps took only 15 minutes.
Viva pasta! Buonappetito!
Menu: Farfalle with aubergine & tuna in tomato sauce, Baba ham kyuri, Mashed pumpkin with boiled egg
Apple mousse & mashed sweet potato for dessert. Dash of cinnamon on top
When I was growing up, my mum never packed pasta for lunch. Maybe sandwich if not rice, but never ever pasta in my recollection. In fact my mum hardly ever cooked pasta as it wasn’t as popular and widespread as it is now. As far as pasta is concerned, I remember my mum’s macaroni salad (i.e. macaroni mixed with sliced cucumber, carrot and ham, seasoned with mayonnaise) and Spaghetti Napolitan (i.e. spaghetti with bacon, green pepper and onion, seasoned with tomato ketchup – no idea why it’s called Napolitan though). That’s about it.
I remember going to this brand new, rather posh cafe/restaurant with my mum and sister in our neighbourhood in the suburban city of Gumma (where I grew up), ordering some pasta with very exotic names such as “Spaghetti Monte Mare (combination of mushroom & seafood)” or “Spaghetti Basilico (prepared with Japanese shiso herb instead of real basil because basil just didn’t exist at that time in Japan).” Considering how limited the options used to be for Italian dishes, it is incredible how authentic Italian cuisine has become over the years in this country.
About ten years ago I lived in Italy for over a year, and I fell in love with Italian pasta. I actually lived on it during my stay there. And now I cook pasta all the the time since I often get this craving for it. My daughter, being fed by me on a daily basis, loves pasta as well. When I ask her what her favorite food is, she always answers, “PASTA!,”not rice. Being Japanese, I feel somehow neglected by my own daughter, but the good food is universal, and so is the content of my daughter’s bento.
As per our girl’s request…
Menu: Spaghetti bolognese, Boiled egg, Boiled green beans
Apple mousse & banana for dessert
Menu: Fusilli with tomato & chicken mince, Baba ham-kyuri, Komatsuna omelet
Apple mousse, mashed sweet potato & raisins for dessert (with a pinch of cinnamon)
Menu: Fusilli bolognese with grated Parimiggiano Reggiano on top, Steamed sweet potato, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato
Kiwi for dessert
The grated cheese on top of the pasta. By the request of my daughter’s class teacher, the graceful Miss N.
To be honest I prefer putting the cheese separately so that the amount of cheese can be adjusted as I eat. Like mother, like daughter, our four year old also likes to have a control over this kind of thing. At home she loves scooping the fine powdery cheese with a small spoon and sprinkle it as she shakes her entire body. And naturally, once for our daughter’s bento, I put the grated cheese in a plastic wrap, twisted the top and placed it on the side of the pasta, expecting her to enjoy sprinkling the cheese by herself as she ate. But according to Miss N, a disaster apparently happened that day. Our girl’s clumsy fingers bursted the plastic wrap open, spreading the whole grated parmiggiano around her neighborhood… Miss N told me that day as a matter of factly that the school, focusing highly on building up children’s self-confidence, believes that the cheese should be pre-sprinkled on top of the pasta going forward. As diligent as I am… voila! The cheese, is now on top of the pasta.