May already, Monday lunch

3 May

My mother-in-law had a secondary Easter dinner event at her house Sunday afternoon, and all the little cousins were able to get together for some family time.  Out of concern for the newest family member’s health, I had declined to participate in a get together last week out of fear I might still be a little under the weather, and didn’t want to risk getting my 3 week-old nephew sick.

The girls enjoyed gathering Easter Eggs, as well as some baked ham, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables.  I tucked into a gorgeous salad my mother-in-law always has for me when I come over – and wondered aloud where my weekend ran off to.

I came home, and promptly commenced the weekend routine of cooking for the week – roasted beets, roasted chicken drumsticks, turkey meatballs, mabo dofu, and a lentil soup (after commandeering the ham bone from my mother-in-law’s house).

The following went into this week’s version of mabo-dofu:

1/2 pound ground turkey

1/2 onion, grated (or put into food processor)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 inch piece ginger, finely minced

4 scallions, chopped into 1/8 inch pieces

1 tbs canola oil

1 1/2 tbs miso paste

2 cups water, chicken stock or vegetable broth

1 tbs shiitake powder

1 packet bunashimeji (mushrooms)

1 package Medium Firm House Organic Tofu, cubed

I heated the canola oil in my cast iron skillet over medium heat, and added the minced garlic, ginger and grated onion.  I stirred everything well as it sautéed to make sure nothing burned.

Once the garlic/ginger/onion was fragrant, I added the ground turkey, and continued to saute the mixture, breaking up the turkey.

I then added the shiitake powder to the turkey mixture, folding everything together in the pan.

When all was mixed well, I added the liquid – I used chicken stock today – and allowed it to come to a boil.

I reduced the heat to a bare simmer, and added the miso paste, taking care to dissolve it into the turkey mixture. 

Once everything heated through, I added the tofu, cut into 1/4 inch cubes, and carefully folded everything together, taking care not to mash the tofu pieces.  I also added the bunashimeji mushrooms, which I had cut off the very bottoms and pulled them apart.

I let everything slowly simmer (careful not to boil) for 30 minutes, folding everything together occasionally, and added the scallions before turning the heat off.

I added a quick drizzle of sesame oil for fragrance and depth.  For my own portion, I add toubanjan paste (spicy miso paste) or sriracha sauce to spice it up.

For Monday lunch, I included:

Turkey mabo-dofu over steamed multi-grain rice

Blanched sugar snap peas

Roasted beets in heart shapes


As I picked up my girls from daycare, my older one looked at me and said, “Mama, I ran out of time and couldn’t eat any of my bento.”  I looked at her, and said sadly, “I guess you’ll have to have your bento for dinner then.” “OK mama, I will,” she responded.

Once we got home, she grabbed her lunchbox, and brought it to me.  “Mama, you need to open it for me so I can finish it,” she asked.  I opened her bento box, and it was completely finished – as my daughter beamed, “Mama, I finished ALLLL my bento – surprise!!”

“ALLLLL bento!” the little one piped up right after her. 

I hugged both girls, tightly.

On September 11, 2001, our lives were irreversibly changed by the horrific events that unfolded.  I vividly remember I was on my way to a client meeting in Westchester County, NY, and I heard the breaking news alert on the radio.  When I heard “A small plane has crashed into the north tower,” I frantically dialed my dear friend and colleague, Wayne Russo’s extension.  I got an “all circuits busy” message.  I then tried to call my good friend Andrea who worked at Aon Corporation in the second tower.  I couldn’t get through to her, live, and I kept getting her voicemail.  I was later relieved to know, a policeman had chased her away from the towers, and she managed to walk home to Brooklyn.

I lost 295 colleagues that day, and several more acquaintances.  I lost two dear friends, Eric Evans and Wayne Russo who I think of,  and mourn daily.

Late Sunday night, May 1, 2011, my husband received a voicemail from his brother.  I had heard my cellphone go off, but I was in my bedroom getting ready for bed, and wasn’t able to pick it up in time.  I then saw a text from my brother.  My husband went into the living room, and I heard him call out, “Did you hear about this?”

I turned the news on, and next thing we hear, the mastermind of that horrific day, was finally removed from existence.

A flood of emotions – relief for my friends and their families – but also grief, as I revisited those heartbreaking days after September 11, as my dear girlfriend looked for her beloved Eric – as Wayne’s family tried to make sense of his and others’ senseless deaths – it ALL came back in waves.

Sunday helped end a chapter in the continuing saga that commenced on September 11, 2001.  I know we are all here, for a reason – and that we carry on with a sense of duty and of honor – and to live our lives fully and meaningfully, respecting the memories of those who have gone before us.

Just a few thoughts as I think of those lives so callously and heartlessly extinguished by the deranged, inhumane, and meaningless actions of a few.

Semper Unitas.


3 Responses to “May already, Monday lunch”


  1. Spring time is here – Tuesday lunch « Eating Battlezone - May 3, 2011

    […] mabo-dofu over steamed multi-grain […]

  2. Day 2 of the new 2011 school year « Eating Battlezone - September 8, 2011

    […] with blanched watercress, carrots, napa cabbage, poached egg and an informal tablespoon of mabo-dofu (this version had sautéed ground turkey, bunashimeji mushrooms, tofu, minced garlic, minced […]

  3. December 2011 bentos ~ first week through the 8th « Eating Battlezone - January 3, 2012

    […] turkey mabo-dofu this version including chopped watercress, served over multi-grain […]

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