Middle of March bento

16 Mar

My younger brother and his wife came over to our house, and survived a sleep-over with our girls, as husband and I slipped away for an overnight trip with a dear college friend and her husband.  Uncle K announced he was coming with reinforcements (also known as bribes) – in the form of rice crackers, and ikura, or salmon roe. 

I grew up looking forward to a day I would be allowed to eat ikura until I was full.  My parents served ikura on special days – a family dinner night where my mother would prepare a huge batch of steamed white rice, and prepare a wooden hangiri or rice bowl, and mix the rice together with a sweetened rice vinegar mix with a shamoji  while she enlisted an innocent by-stander (usually father) to cool the rice with a fan while she deftly stirred the rice together.  “The key,” she would say, “is to slice into the rice, and not mash it together.”  I’d stand there rolling my eyes, fanning away with a paper fan, waiting for her to tell me I was relieved of my fan duties.

At dinner, the rice would be set at the table with pieces of sashimi, or raw fish on pretty plates, with squares of nori (seaweed) at each diner’s table.  Most often, the gorgeous, jewel-like balls of ikura would also be set at the table.  We would take a piece of nori (a square piece, about three inches x three inches, take a tablespoon or more of the rice and gently spread into half of the nori sheet, add a slice of sashimi (normally, it would be maguro, or tuna, hirame, or fluke, ika, or squid in thin slices, and mirugai or geoduck) and roll everything together into a nori cone.  We each had small dishes of soy sauce to carefully dip the sushi into, and enjoy.

To try to ease the burden of watching my kids, I had a huge pot of oden simmering when he arrived.  It had the usual goodies – various fish cakes, konnyaku, daikon, boiled egg, carrots, gobo simmered in a dashi stock, which perfumed the air, reminding both my brother and I of dinners growing up.  Definitely  Ofukuro no aji, literally translated as “mom’s home-cooking.”

Lunch for this week so far took advantage of the leftovers.

Monday’s lunch consisted of:

Left over oden – boiled egg, fish-cake “ballies,” carrots

Blanched snap peas

Steamed rice with nori furikake, or seaweed and sesame seed topping

Roasted beets in heart shapes

Tuesday’s lunch included:

Roasted chicken wings and drumsticks with salt, pepper and lemon

Boiled egg – simmered in dashi

Blanched snap peas

Roasted beets cut in stars

With the crisis taking place in Japan – earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear plant fires – my mind and heart have been elsewhere.  The news footage has been heartbreaking, and I’m worried for  my parents, my family, my friends – and for the future of Japan.  Thankfully my immediate family is outside the earthquake ravaged area; however, the effects are being felt.  Between the rolling blackouts, worries about food and fuel supply, and the potential effects of radiation deeply concern me. 

To ease my mind, I decided to cook. 

I made a turkey-meatball-vegetable soup, and let it simmer on the stove.  The turkey meatball included:

Minced onion, garlic and carrots


Ground turkey

In a pot, I added chicken stock, sliced carrots, onions, celery, and potato, and brought to a low boil.  Once the vegetables softened, I started dropping turkey meatballs into the boiling soup to cook.

My daughter’s lunch today included the aforementioned soup, and cut vegetables:  red peppers, cauliflower, beets cut into cat and heart shapes, and originally, I had steamed rice with denbu, or a fish flake topping as shown in the picture.  However, after I re-thought the amount of food already packed, I decided to change the rice for carrot sticks.

Hopefully she’ll enjoy her lunch.

Dad, Mom, I know you’re reading this – between the black-outs.  We are so worried, we are thinking of you both, the family, and sending strength, hope, and positive energy.


5 Responses to “Middle of March bento”

  1. julie March 17, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    i love your entries. they almost brought me to tears because your descriptions, pictures, and small anecdotes about your family life, your GIRLS, are not just words composed of letters but of love and tenderness.

    • spenmax March 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

      Aw thanks for your kind words. I appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by -!

  2. DADAD March 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Dear rei,
    Thank you for your message.
    We always read and enjoy the blog.
    We are safe and please do not worry about us now.

    Hope our granddaughters enjoy your lunch.
    See you soon.

    • spenmax March 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

      Hi Dad – we’re thinking of you all, and waiting for the good news that the situations are starting to turn positive. We’ll talk to you on skype again very soon. Please tell Mom hello too.


  1. New Year, New Grade, New Challenge… « Eating Battlezone - April 9, 2012

    […] onigiri with furikake seasoning, okaka filling, wrapped with a strip of […]

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