I recall bringing my own lunches to school in a white, panda bear lunch box, wrapped in a furoshiki. My mother’s lunches were always a careful mix of color – most likely a balance of nutrition, flavor, and even more so – a result of good time management.
I try to keep this in mind, but some days, I simply get stumped. I wonder to myself, what can I pack for my daughter that keeps well, tastes good, and isn’t repetitious.
Last night, as I pondered her menu on my hour drive home from work, I tried to remember some lunch staples that were packed in my own lunches. A few items came to mind – onigiri wrapped in nori, broccoli with dressing – and then a favorite… Hotdogs, or mini hot dogs were sometimes cut, and sautéed – the heat curling up the hot dogs to resemble an octopus, crab, a flower… Fortunately (for my conscience and for my daughter), I had picked up some Applegate Farm hotdogs, and had these readily available to experiment with.
I cut a hot dog in half, and then made lengthwise incisions about a quarter length along both sides on one hot dog half. The other, I made incisions on only one side, about a third of the way up. I then heated up a frying pan, and was happy to see the hot dogs curl up – the one that was cut on both ends curled up, almost resembling a crab or a flower, and the other one resembling an octopus. It brought back a flood of happy memories of picnicking with my family on a blanket, as well as sitting with my parents on a warm Saturday afternoon, enjoying undokai, or Sports Day, hosted by the weekend Japanese school.
Today’s lunch is:
sautéed hot dog in the shape of an octopus and crab/or flower, resting on a bed of sautéed organic spinach
Sautéed organic sweet potato, sprinkled with a little sea salt, as well as sautéed organic Japanese eggplant, seasoned with a little soy sauce
Steamed multi-grain rice, mixed with black gomashio
Julienned and sautéed organic Napa cabbage, celery, onion and aburaage, sautéed in a little canola oil until the vegetables softened, and then braised in organic chicken stock, a little soy sauce and a dash mirin