Tag Archives: Furikake

End of February and a leap day 2012 bento!

29 Feb

Jiji and Baba sent over a new bento box after hearing I had inadvertently snapped off the handles to my daughter’s pink lunch box.

“I can’t wait!” she exclaimed, and bounded out of bed.

Tuesday’s bento box debut was a hit. 

Baked chicken wingette, steamed multi-grain rice with sesame seed and katsuobushi furikake, roasted beet hearts, homemade turnip slice pickles (soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a little beet juice for color) and left over (conventional) dry-sauteed string beans from an earlier dinner.

All was well, I thought. 

Until I was running around today, the once-every-4-year visit of the 29th of February, when I couldn’t find the little black band that locked the bento box together.

As you can see in the picture below, the bento box consists of two stacked layers, with a middle insert separating the two.   The box is held together and “locked” shut with a black band…. that my younger daughter evidently pilfered and hid somewhere in the house.

Papa had picked the girls up, and had taken care of the evening routine, as I had to unexpectedly attend a wake for my daughter’s teacher’s son.

I should have realized the perils of having “loose” pieces that seem to grow legs and disappear through the house…

Hence today, I was back to the substitute tupperware until: A) the little one produces the coveted black band or B) I can come up with a viable alternative that is more than simply a rubber band.

Today’s bento included:

Chicken drumette and wingette

Sliced cucumber and carrot sticks

Turnip slice pickles

Leftover (conventional) chicken lo mein

I have to admit – my little one was extremely jealous of her older sister’s package that arrived from Japan. 

“Where’s MINE???” she insisted over Skype.

“We’ll bring it with us when we come to visit, ” promised Jiji and Baba – but at this point, my little one was shaking her head, and stomping  a socked foot.

“I want a bento box too!!” she announced.

“You can hold mine,” my older one offered – the little one grabbing the new bento box, shaking it, and saying, “Me too, me too, me too.”

This evening’s project will be to track down the missing band…


Where does the time go? Tuesday bento, second week

13 Sep

The new school year means a new routine for the fall.  Due to drop-off issues, my work hours are currently 10 – 6, which means a very long day for my girls.

By the time they are eating dinner, it is close to 8:00 pm, and by then, the winds of crankiness and irrationality are starting to whirl around the kitchen. 

After an hour of coaxing them to eat, with patience running ragged, tempers starting to get stretched thin, and the exhaustion starting to set in with mother and daughters, tension mounts in the kitchen sometimes.  My intentions of preparing the next day’s bento items seem to disappear, and I have a vague recollection of cleaning up the kitchen after preparing dinner.

My intentions of cooking meatballs/mini-burgers/soboro/mabo-dofu went out the window last night.

For today, my daughter will just have to eat “her usual” for lunch:

Roasted drumstick

Roasted beets (regular and Chioggi) cut into hearts

Blanched edamame

Onigiri, seasoned with yukari, which is seasoned red shiso powder, seasoned with salt, wrapped with nori

.  I mix it into the multi-grain rice, and form into onigiri.  Today’s center is chopped Japanese pickle (cucumber and eggplant, seasoned with salt and red shiso), or shibazukeMaki from “Just Hungry” has an excellent article on pickles here.


Homestretch for the month of May

26 May

My busy season at work appeared to have sped up the flow of time, dramatically, and before I realized, we are now at the end of May.

May was the month of onigiri experimentation, and although I enjoy the convenience and zen of making the rice balls, I know I need to continue experimenting to keep my daughter’s lunches fun and interesting.

Today’s lunch included:

Boiled egg – in a bear shape

Mini-onigiri with dried seaweed, sesame seeds and salmon furikake (store-bought, conventional seasoning for rice)

Mini-frank flowers (conventional) in a blanched broccoli floret forest.  I cut the small sausages in half, and scored the cut surfaces.  I then dropped them into boiling water for a few minutes until cooked through, and the pieces curled outward

Grape tomatoes


My daughter’s school is closed tomorrow, so she is off to daycare with her younger sister.  I hope to get out of work early, so I can pick them up early, and play outside with them.

The vegetables in our garden are starting to pick up some steam, and we recently harvested the season’s first lettuce leaves.  This year, we planted broccoli rabe, kale, lettuce, pole beans, soybeans, three types of tomatoes, sweet peas, two types of Japanese cucumbers, zucchini, scallions, and artichoke.  It is our third year growing vegetables, and we are starting to learn from our past mistakes.

Our top 10 mistakes are listed below – and I chuckle as I recall each one:

#1.  There is no need to plant more than ONE grape or cherry tomato plant

#2.  Do not plant more than one zucchini plant in a row, especially in the sunny spot

#3.  Do not plant and stake bush beans next to the trellis

#4.  Watermelon and eggplant do not grow well in a pot

#5.  Determined rabbits will squeeze through fencing to devour soybean sprouts – protect your garden with a fence + chicken wire, or you will be left with stubby stems throughout the garden

#6.  Do not prune zucchini leaves in the hopes you can remove powdery mildew, especially if it is on every leaf

#7.  Guide and monitor your children when they are helping to weed the garden – otherwise they may pull up entire rows of broccoli rabe and sweet pea sprouts

#8.  Tomato plants are extremely resilient.  Therefore, your neighbor may find a renegade tomato patch in their yard, most likely sprouted from the tomatoes from YOUR garden

#9.  Slugs/bees/worms/ants (and any other insect) are not frightened of you – as much as you may be frightened, disgusted, or fearful of their slimy bodies munching through the tender leaves of your young vegetables.  Screaming, jumping or wringing hands do not make them go away.

#10.  If planting from seed, mark your rows.  I’m currently trying to figure out if the row of eggplant I thought I planted actually sprouted, or the weeds are taking advantage of the fact I can’t discern which is what.

Hope to have some dishes/recipes based on our garden soon.

P.S. I must add to my commentary regarding the Bento box song, Baba originally suggested to Jiji to search for the lyrics on-line.  Thank you, both Jiji AND Baba.

Onigiri = Sushi?

17 May

 As I picked up my girls from daycare last night, my older daughter put on her serious face and told me, “Mama.  I tried a little bit of everything in my lunch.”

“Did you like what was in your bento?” I asked.  I was a little worried about what she might say about her lunch-mates’ comments.

“My friend said, ‘You have sushi for lunch!'” she beamed.

I was amazed.  I don’t recall knowing many 4-year olds who knew what sushi was… I figured this wasn’t the time to open up the debate over vinegared rice roll = sushi, regular rice ball = onigiri, but I was amused.

She added, “I want another ballie for tomorrow!”

I gently corrected her.  “It’s an onigiri, ok?”

“Ballie?” asked the little one.

“No, it’s an onigiri,” I repeated.

Both furrowed their eyebrows.  Ballie, no ballie or onigiri, they wanted one again.

When I got home, my daughter brought out her lunchbox and said, “Mama, can you help me open my bento box so I can finish it?”

The bento box seemed extremely light – but I unlatched the cover and gave my daughter the bento box.

“Mama, ZEEEEEEEN-BU Owatta-yo! (Mama I finished eeeeeverything!)” she beamed, as she proudly held open her bento box.  She held up her empty lunchbox on Skype to show Jiji and Baba in Japan as well.

“Good job!” they both said.  Jiji, I believe, is beaming because his onigiri idea has been so successful. 

Today’s lunch included:

Age kama (fried Kamaboko, or fish-cakes) cut into cat shapes

Grilled salmon fillet (conventional, wild)

Blanched asparagus

Sprouted brown rice onigiri mixed with furikake with sesame seeds and katsuobushi

Boiled quail eggs (conventional)

Sliced red peppers

Broccoli and Beets, please

10 May

My older daughter loves fruit – blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, apples, watermelon… The little one is a bit pickier, and scrunches her face up at the berries, pokes them, and tells me defiantly in two languages, “Don’t wanit.  II-no!”  The older one swoops in, and says, “OK!  I’ll help you then,” and runs off with the rejected berries.

Yesterday, I received a request from my daughter for broccoli and beets.  She also requested I include natto, or fermented soy beans as her rice topping. 

If you are not familiar with natto, it is a unique Japanese food that is often served for breakfast over rice.  Natto is very pungent, and has a very unique smell, texture and consistency.  In western cultural terms, I liken it to a very strong cheese, with a similar taste – a strong, unique taste – I’ve heard it reminded someone of Guinness! 

Natto is sold in small styrofoam containers, and is prepared by putting it into a bowl, adding chopped scallions, soy sauce or dashi stock, and mixing everything together.  The natto is sticky, and the more you stir (usually with chopsticks), the more stickier and viscous it becomes.  At our house, we add blanched and chopped okra when it’s in season, or mekabu, a type of seaweed that has a similar viscous texture.  Once everything is mixed well, we pour it over bowls of steamed rice and enjoy.  It’s nutty, salty, and delicious – and reminds me of home.

Again – natto is certainly an acquired taste, but I believe there are similar products in other Asian countries.  I feel it smells similar to Korean doenjang, but with a different texture.

Needless to say, I don’t think natto is a good option for my daughter’s lunch, but I’ll be certain to prepare it for her during the week.

Today’s lunch included:

Mini-hot dog (conventional), with a cute pattern – my mom always cut a pattern into them

Blanched broccoli florets

Roasted beets – in star shapes

Steamed multi-grain rice with furikake or dried seaweed seasoning


No natto, but hopefully everything else makes up for it!

A little blue Thursday

13 Apr

All seemed normal as I got my older daughter ready for school – face washed, lunch packed, breakfast on table.  I got her seated at the table, and then walked into the little one’s bedroom to get her ready. 

She wasn’t the bouncy little girl I always see in the morning, and seemed a bit under the weather.

I got her dressed, teeth brushed, face washed, and sat her next to her sister in her high-chair.

She poked at her food, shook her head and said in a tiny voice, “No want it.”  Definitely not my normally determined and assertive two-year old.

Without a temperature, it was difficult to ascertain what was wrong with her until later in the morning.  We spent a day snuggled on the couch – I attempted to work from home, while she was cocoon-ed in a blanket next to me with the occasional “Mama mi-mi (infant language carryover for milk, or in this case, something to drink)…”

Thursday’s lunch  for my older daughter included:

Turkey/flax meatballs, baked

Roasted beets in star shapes

Blanched broccoli with katsuobushi and a drop of soy sauce

Steamed multi-grain rice (brown rice, quinoa, millet, wheat berries, barley) with sesame seed and nori furikake (seaweed seasoning)