Tag Archives: Makinajian Farm

Fall bentos, school year 2013!

16 Oct

I do not know where the last few months have gone. Between the dizzying daily routine of work, followed by the relentless wheel of routines, I found myself shocked to be mired in the middle of October.

I have been packing bentos for both girls these days – with little time for decompressing or downtime. A few evening were spent on the laptop at the kitchen table, battling the desperate attempts of my cat Spencer, to settle down in my lap as I feverishly tapped away at keyboards and calculators.

This year, both girls are at the same school, and often have an opportunity to eat together.

The little one loves onigiri, while the older one prefers raw vegetable slices and sticks.

Edamame is a definite hit with the older one – the empty pods in a neat pile, while the little one sends her beans intact.

Quinoa has joined the repertoire – I gently wash, and simmer the grains in a stock – vegetable, chicken, dashi, or in some cases, roasted red pepper and tomato soup!

Raw cauliflower and turnip slices, pickled in soy sauce, rice vinegar and ginger are often requested.

A dear friend’s husband caught porgy – and I found creative ways to cook the delicious fish – grilled, baked, porgy fish cakes, porgy omelette, porgy chowder… The porgy fish cakes do make appearances in the girls’ bento.

Grilled chicken wingettes and drumettes are always a hit, as well as turkey meatballies – the poultry always sourced from our beloved Makinajian Farms. I have packed them simply seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice, while other times, with a sweet-savory ketchup/HP sauce/Worcestershire sauce glaze with the meatballs, or a teriyaki glaze for the wingettes.

Below are just a few samplings of recent bentos… And more to come!



(porgy fish cakes!) … and I technical glitch where I can’t seem to figure out how to rotate this photo!!








Wednesday bento and the blueberry chronicles

15 May

I realized I reversed Tuesday and Wednesday… alas… I still have not fully mastered blogging from my mobile…

We’ll just continue this as Wednesday’s bento!

Wednesday included:

Roasted chicken drumette and wingette – baked after being briefly marinated in soy sauce, mirin, lemon juice and sesame oil.  Always relieved when Makinajian’s has a package of these wings!

Carrot and turnip slices marinated/pickled in soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, grated ginger in a glass jar – and shaken up every time I opened the fridge

Blanched broccoli

Grape tomatoes, cucumber (Persian) slices, and blueberries

Multi-grain onigiri in tawara (rice barrel) shape, sprinkled with black sesame seeds for crunch, no center, wrapped with nori

The blueberries are plump and sweet, and my little one is starting to eye them curiously.  She seems to take after me – I was never adventurous eating fruit – and to this day, I’m very particular as to what kind of fruit (fresh, uncut, unsweetened) I am willing to eat.  I’m of the “I’d-rather-get-my-daily-fiber-and-vitamin-intake-eating-a-tub-of-salad” girl, rather than enjoying a piece of sweet fruit.  My mother-in-law always contributes a gorgeous green salad at family events for me (and me only!!) – and is entertained by the amount of greens I will consume in a sitting.

Blueberries, I was speaking of, and the little one.

Her favorite color is blue – “Bu-looooh!” she says, and she chooses everything blue – shirts, pants, cutlery, paper, sweets, pens, crayons… and marvels at her father’s blue eyes, the color of the sky on a clear, early summer day.

“Mama, blue berries are Bu-loooh!”  she says.

“Yes, they are, and they are yummy,” I tell her.

“I like them, and they were in MY bento,” my older one announces.

“… Ne-ne (shorted version for the Japanese word, “oh-neh-chan” or familiar form of “older sister”) can I have one?”

Handed a plump, deep blue berry, she expertly popped it in her mouth.  Her right cheek bulged, and her eyebrows furrowed as she concentrated on maneuvering the berry between her teeth. 

Her eyes opened wide, as she bit down.

“Mama, it’s good!” she exclaimed, and added, “I like blueberries!  They are buh-looh! My favorite!”

Catching my breath after a wedding, birthday parties and a shower, Oh my!

30 Apr

I always prided myself on being able to tap into what seems to be an endless source of energy…

However, the event-packed three days of April 20th through the 22nd truly tested the extent of this source, and also reminded me, proper time management and creativity can ensure a pretty varied lunch week.

Monday lunch included:
Baked turkey-arugula-vegetable meatballs, including ground turkey mixed with minced onion, celery, carrots, as well as well blanched arugula, water squeezed out, and chopped finely.
Seaweed salad – pre-packaged, and found at Makinajian Farm. Thinly sliced kombu, seasoned with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds and vinegar.
Roasted beets, heart shapes
Vegetable spirals with baked chicken sausage pieces, mixed with marinara sauce

Tuesday lunch included:
Vegetable pasta spirals with baked chicken sausage pieces in marinara sauce
Baked chicken drumstick
Roasted beets in star shapes
Carrot sticks

Wednesday lunch included:
Blanched asparagus spears, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
Seaweed salad
Baked turkey-arugula-vegetable meatballs
Cauliflower pickled in soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice and minced ginger

Thursday lunch included:
vegetable spirals in marinara sauce
Turkey-arugula-vegetable meatball
Pickled, sliced turnip
Roasted beets in star shapes
Sliced cucumbers

Friday was pizza day!!

Friday night, Baba arrived to stay with my family for the weekend. She shadowed me all day on Saturday, and spent some quality time with the little one as my older one attended school.

I packed both girls a bento box – the adults had onigiri for lunch.

The girls’ bento included:
Baked turkey meatballs
Boiled Trader Joe’s cocktail pups with patterns
Blanched asparagus spears
Cucumber slices
Roasted beet slices in star shapes
Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, wrapped iwth a strip of nori

Actually, the adult onigiri had umeboshi, or pickled plum center.  The girls tried a small taste, and the older one’s mouth puckered up very quickly – while the little one’s eyes grew wide.

I laughed – I always loved having umeboshi with a cup of green tea after a meal with my parents.  My maternal grandmother would send over packages of home-made umeboshi that she salted and dried at home…   The salty, sour pickles have a faint undercurrent of floral/fruity flavor.  It brings me back to an unforgettable summer I spent in my mother’s hometown of Gifu City, playing with the neighborhood girls I had met at the local elementary school I had enrolled for the summer.  We sucked on umeboshi, carefully licking away every morsel from the pit in the middle, and telling each other stories how one must never bite or swallow the ume pit, lest we anger the umeboshi spirit.

The  wildest things 8-year olds come up with!

Post spring break 2012

30 Apr

My daughter’s spring break zipped past, and unfortunately, my work schedule did not allow me the luxury to take the much-needed and desired time to slow down and to catch up with her.

I managed to take a very quick day off on Friday, and we (the girls and I) enjoyed a day without rushing about. We also had a “special lunch” at Takumi restaurant, where the daily specials included Ten-don (Steamed rice topped with tempura, battered and deep-fried vegetables, seafood and meat) with a side of hot soba in soup, as well as a ramen special.

Saturday’s bento included:

Baked turkey hambagu, a.k.a. small, individual portioned meat loaf topped with a sweet savory sauce of ketchup + Bulldog sauce + HP sauce (2 tbs each, mixed well).  I include vegetables, such as onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic, which are minced in a food processor, and mixed well (by hand) into a pound of ground turkey.  I take palmfuls of this meat mixture, and mold them into small meat “loaf” rolls, and bake in a 350 degrees oven for 30 minutes, covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for the last 10.  I baste them with the aforementioned sauce, reserving a tiny bit to add a fresh coat at the very end.  If the meat mixture is too runny from the vegetables, I will sometimes adjust with a handful of steel-cut oatmeal, cooked multi-grain rice, or whole wheat bread crumbs.

Sliced red peppers

Carrot sticks

Onigiri with okaka center

The rest of the week steamed ahead.

Monday included:

Broccoli tempura

Boiled Trader Joe’s cocktail pups, scored

Carrot sticks

Sliced red pepper


Tuesday was a similar lunch day with:

Trader Joe’s cocktail pups

Red pepper slices and carrots

Blanched watercress, liquid squeezed out well, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, tossed and flavored well with soy sauce, rice vinegar and katsuobushi  or shaved bonito flakes

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, with a nori belt

Wednesday morning, I realized I had forgotten my daughter’s lunchbox at daycare – hence the random tupperware made do.

Whole wheat ziti with marinara sauce and sautéed onions

Celery and carrot sticks

Blanched watercress and shirasu omelette

1/2 of a honey tangerine which my daughters have both fallen in love with.  I found them in a bin at Makinajian Farm, where the label listed it as “Mic’s favorite!”  If the co-owner loves them, they must be good.

Thursday lunch included:

Blanched watercress, liquid well squeezed out, seasoned with okaka.  I try to make sure to drain any extra liquid to try to minimize the potential for messes.

Carrot sticks


Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, nori wrap.

Friday was pizza lunch!!

Poultry herbs – the kitchen standby

5 Apr


Makinajian’s has a wonderful selection of seasoning products. I also use the shiitake powder from this brand.

It is a delicious blend of fragrant herbs that I can use when I don’t have fresh ones from the garden.

I shake this blend on all poultry (chicken wings, drumsticks, meatballs, roasts) in addition, to my essential – soy sauce!

Christmas 2011 breakfast

5 Jan

Weekend breakfasts at our house usually include buckwheat in the form of soba noodles, which the girls enjoy slurping up with their training chopsticks.  This allows Papa to sleep in, as he is one who must have been a cat in his past life – if he could sleep for 80% of his life, he would be content. 

For Christmas morning, I decided to forego the noodles, and make waffles with the awesome buckwheat pancake and waffle mix I found at the store.  I dusted (and washed) off the waffle iron that dwells in our storage closet, pre-heated it, and mixed the waffle batter together, following the recipe on the back of the bag.  The consistency was interesting – it was more elastic than the 100% whole wheat waffle batter I usually make, and the color was a pretty grayish color which reminded me of … soba noodles!

I ladled the batter into the waffle iron, and set out to make a breakfast that would rouse Papa out of bed.  (He retired after the kids opened their gifts at the crack of dawn).

We had scrambled eggs (Makinajian’s of course!), bacon, waffles with maple syrup that we enjoyed after pouncing on Papa to wake him up.

My brother and his family came over afterwards, and we had a nice time with them as we opened gifts. 

Then, more chaos as we rushed to another round of visiting with Nanna, and then her best friend, Auntie C____ for roast turkey (they are a Makinajian convert too!) and ham.

My girls and Papa were content – and I was even more content, as I parted Auntie C’__’s home, triumphantly, with the turkey carcass and ham bone to make stock and soup at home. 

The small pleasures of life!


Christmas Eve 2011 – the Turducken challenge

4 Jan

At Thanksgiving, Papa paused, and said, “Why don’t we have a turducken?”
I pushed back, feeling my beloved roast turkey couldn’t be de-throned, and told him, “No, no, no.  Turkey is for my favorite holiday!” 

So we had a gorgeously juicy and moist turkey from Makinajian’s for Thanksgiving.

Then, year end festivities began, and we started the usual-last-minute-what-are-we-doing-for-Eve dinner debate.  No goose (last year’s Eve), no turkey, no duck, no capon, no chicken, no fish, no pork.  Hmph.  I personally loved my roast goose last year despite the thin layer of fat I had to scrub off from the oven and surface it managed to sputter onto, but alas…  Perhaps this was a time to cave into Papa’s turducken.

Papa and I had our first encounter with turducken (de-boned chicken stuffed in a de-boned duck, stuffed in a de-boned turkey, tied together) at his boss’ Christmas party a few years ago.  I remember being impressed by the sheer, solid mass of protein – but even more exciting, was the fact I had FINALLY encountered this magnificent Cajun dish that Jeffrey Steingarten had so deliciously documented in The Man Who Ate Everything. 

I drooled the first time I read and re-read the section on turducken.

I called Makinajian Poultry Farm in the hopes they might magically be selling turducken, but to no avail.  I then started seeking options on-line, until a lightbulb turned on in my head.

What about Fairway Market?  I recalled my mother-in-law ordering a massive leg of lamb a few years ago which we triumphantly roasted, and created a perfectly carnivorous Christmas.

Once I confirmed I can order the massive bird(s) at Fairway (although the head butcher was out that day), I gave my husband the reins to order the size he wanted.

On Christmas Eve, after snoozing a couple of times from 4:30 am, we put the turducken into the oven at 225 to slowly roast for 9 – 10 hours.  Given the 3:30 pm (but everyone always comes fashionably late) start time, we thought we had ample time.  The goal was for the internal temperature to reach 165.

Twelve, stressful hours later, our turducken interior reached 165, yet, when we started carving it, we were alarmed it was still a little pink.  Perhaps we should have allowed it to rest.  However, with the thought of our hungry guests’ stomachs rumble as the gorgeous scent of roasting turducken perfumed the air, we decided the best thing to do was to start carving, and as a desperate last-ditch attempt – we microwaved the pinkish interior.

It was quite a gorgeous sight to see…

We finally sat down to eat around 5:30pm, after pulling crackers, and putting on our crowns, we tucked in for our meal.

Accompanying the turducken was:

Roasted parsnips and carrots

Mashed potatoes

Mushroom saute – I took Eringi, Bunashimeji, maitake, and regular button mushrooms, sliced them into 1/8 inch thick slices, and sautéed in a little butter and soy sauce until limp. 

Pan sautéed brussel sprouts with pancetta with a soy sauce drizzle

Jellied cranberry sauce, ridges intact (per Papa’s specifications)

Green salad – courtesy of Nanna who always makes a huge one for me

Sausage stuffing – Papa had insisted that Stove Top stuffing was the best; however, I have now (he grudgingly admits) converted him to the virtues of my own stuffing… albeit I do use a mix!

It was quite a lovely Christmas Eve.  Now, if only I could convince my dear farm they should start selling turduckens….