For Japanese school, we had a boiled egg pressed into a star, grape tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumbers, and a mini frank with diagonal patterns cut into it, then boiled. An onigiri with okaka seasoning wrapped in nori to seal the deal.
Monday’s bento included cucumber slices, carrot sticks, blackberries, and left over chicken chili from the weekend. We ordered from a great place in our town called Buffalo Grille where I cave into my cravings for great buffalo wings and their chicken chili, which includes chunks of chicken breast, plump kidney beans, and melting, soft pieces of tomato, mildly seasoned.
My daughter was out of commission with a fever and an upset stomach, which kept her home for two days. During the two days at home, I made Japanese comfort food, which is rice gruel, or okayu, where I took left over rice, and gently boiled it with twice the amount of water, stirring to make sure the bottom didn’t boil. I added a generous amount of my favorite ground shiitake powder, grated ginger (I squeezed the juice out, and then finely chopped up the remaining fibers and added to the okayu) and added a beaten egg before turning off the heat. The egg turned into opaque strands as I stirred it into the hot okayu. I topped my daughter’s portion with a small amount of minced scallion, right before serving. A drizzle of soy sauce for flavor. My mother would make a similar version – but I don’t recall hers including ginger or scallions, but she would include her mother’s home-made umeboshi, or pickled plum. Salty, sour, mouth-puckering, burst of flavor that jolted energy through my body – I haven’t seriously introduced umeboshi to my girls, but I will do so, soon!!
Friday, my daughter opted for pizza, so we were back on track.