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
I wish I had one more ingredient to add more green to the bento today. I only had garlic chives in my fridge that was green… which ended up in omelet.
Later on I went to a grocery store and replenished my fridge with green ingredients. Only then have I realised it’s actually weekend and there’s no need to make bento for the next 2 days. Well, it happens…
Menu: Garlic chive omelet, Coleslaw salad, Cherry tomato, Grilled Spanish mackerel in saikyo-miso, Rice with sesame sprinkle
Japanese Nashi pear for dessert
Not being a morning person, like any other morning I forced myself to wake up this morning by turning my iPhone on and checking the weather. Whether it is good or bad, this always works for me.
Anyway, I prepared my daughter’s bento as usual, even diligently following her wish to enclose a pack of furikake as she saw one of her school friends did the same.
Menu: Grilled Japanese “mutsu” fish in saikyo miso marinade, Boiled egg, Cucumber/tomato/corn salad, Steamed broccoli and Rice, Banana & Apple mousse for dessert
Furikake on the side
5 minutes before our daily “Ittekimasu (I’m off, bye!)” ritual, I was also packing up my own bag to leave with her, because I had to attend a PTA related meeting followed by some volunteer work at her school. Going over today’s schedule in my head as I packed (of course in a super rush), I thought, ok, after the volunteer work I’ll just pick her up downstairs, because there is no afternoon class today… yep we have a play date arranged at the Midtown park afterwards, so I’ll also need to pack picnic mat… I can buy lunch at a supermarket there… oh, lunch… oh? lunch? Ah, didn’t I just make bento! Oh, all the effort was not called for… it was totally unnecessary! I could’ve slept longer this morning… What an idiot…🤣
Another great start of the day, and a good reminder to always pack the night before.
Menu: Grilled cod with saikyo miso marinade, Spinach omelet, Veggies from miso soup, Rice with goma-shio (sesame & salt sprinkle)
Sliced kiwi for dessert
Our daughter loves miso soup, especially with cabbage. She had a cold for a week and at long last is getting better. At the same time her appetite is coming back as well, and I made her favorite miso soup as part of her dinner. She gobbled all the cabbage & carrots in the soup before eating anything else on her dinner plate. She must’ve craved veggies after a week of eating only yogurt, jelly and apple mousse. So this morning I thought why not putting in the leftover miso soup veggies although it is not common at all to reuse them for bento. For Japanese, miso soup is miso soup, it’s not ‘okazu’, the side dish. It never occurred to me until now either, but there should be no problem to pack your soup ingredients in your lunch box. There is no such rule, and no one can blame you for that. Plus my daughter loves them, and they are very tasty.
It may sound funny to hear my excuse for using the miso soup veggies, but sometimes you feel hesitant to break one’s habits repeated for years and years. Well, I also admit that I was being lazy in the morning and wanted to stay in bed for 5 extra minutes rather than getting up to make one extra dish for bento from scratch.