Tag Archives: Nori

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!

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

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Heading towards end of May bentos

5 Jun

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Thankfully, my girls love their vegetables and fruits. Late spring/summer starts bringing a variety of veggies and fruit that can be enjoyed raw, or with minimal preparation.

Tuesday included a bento packed with:
Grilled chicken (drumstick, de-boned)
Blanched broccoli and asparagus
Cauliflower pickle in lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil for fragrance
Cucumber slices
Blueberries
Mini multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, nori belt

Wednesday included:
Savory omelette with broccoli and shirasu
Blanched asparagus spears with soy sauce, lemon juice and olive oil drizzle
Raw, red pepper slices – my older one adores these sweet, crunchy, slices. The little one is a bit more cautious, but more often won over by her sister’s enthusiasm, and quick pace of munching through them – the only evidence remaining are her hands and face faintly stained by the pepper juice.
Cauliflower pickles
Mini multi-grain onigiri with okaka center

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Thursday was pizza day, due to the shortened week in observance of Memorial Day.

Asparagus Monday!

23 May

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The weekend’s left over dinner is lunch in this Monday!

Grilled chicken drumette and wings, first marinated in (guess what?) soy sauce-lemon juice-olive oil-poultry herbs, and grilled over distant heat until the skin is crispy. Fresh squeezed lemon juice while the chicken is still hot

Blanched asparagus, ponzu dressing

Grape tomatoes

Blueberries

Onigiri with turkey soboro filling, nori wrap

The locally grown asparagus are tender, and full of flavor. I blanch quickly to retain snap and taste. They sell them at Makinajian’s Poultry Farm in delicate bunches, pencil-thin, and a beautiful green with purplish hues that turn brilliantly as they blanch.

The girls love the tender spears – a harbinger of springtime.

Monday Tuesday – quick and easy

15 May

Mother’s Day (in the US) was this past Sunday, and I had the rare opportunity to have both my mother, and my mother-in-law together, live (not SKYPE-D), this year.

The earlier portion of the day was my mother-in-law’s “day,” and we spent a few hours at the local petting/animal zoo, feeding lambs, llamas, goats, and parakeets. 

The latter portion was spent at my house, where my brother and his family joined in celebrating my mother’s birthday and mother’s day.

We had a lovely evening, barbecuing, chatting, and watching the kids run through the yard, enjoying the visiting uncle/Aunt and cousin, and racing back to Nana and Baba for hugs and kisses.

I benefitted from Mother’s Day dinner – as the leftovers were perfect for bento!

Monday bento included:

Grilled chicken drumstick with poultry seasoning and a sprinkle of lemon juice

Sliced yellow peppers, grape tomatoes and blueberries

Multi-grain onigiri in tawara shape, no filling, sprinkled with black sesame seeds, wrapped in nori

 

Tuesday, similarly, a quick and easy lunch:

Grilled chicken drumstick (poultry, lemon juice seasoning)

Sliced peppers, cucumbers, blanched asparagus

Blackberries

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka filling with nori belt – a tiny tiny onigiri

 

Wrapping up the week

15 May

Thursday bento included:

Roasted drumette and wingette

Roasted beets in heart shapes

Blanched asparagus spears

Cucumber slices

Blueberries

Vegetable spirals in Trader Joe’s marinara sauce, with thinly sliced (pre-cooked) TJ’s sweet sausage

 

This bento was actually for Japanese school.  It included:

Roasted  beet hearts

Grape tomatoes

Blanched asparagus pieces with tossed with a little katsuobushi and soy sauce

Rolled Omelette with shirasu (boiled baby sardines)

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, wrapped in nori

I had actually made four similar bentos – one for my little one, who had a quality “papa” day at home, one for Baba and one for myself – as we had a class-outing to the local park with her grade, and we spent a nice afternoon outdoors.

 

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!”

May Monday and beyond with koi nobori, and yoroi kabuto

9 May

I realized, I did not address the issue of Kodomo no hi, or Children’s Day in my earlier entry.

Traditionally, May 5th of each year celebrates the health and happiness of boys – which was subsequently changed to all children (and became a national holiday).  Carp streamers, or koi nobori are flown throughout Japan, and in households with boys (sons), a traditional warrior helmet, or kabuto are displayed, similar to the hinamatsuri dolls that are displayed for Girl’s Day in March. 

My nephew's set from my parents

My daughter enjoyed folding kabuto with origami at Japanese school with her classmates, and they all got together under a koi nobori streamer up in display in the gymnasium, waving their own hand-made koi nobori.

Monday bento included:

Baked salmon cakes, which happened to be a hit when I made them a few weeks ago.  A can of salmon, two minced celery stalks, 1/2 minced onion, 1 tsp grated ginger, 2 minced scallions, one beaten egg, a palmful of black sesame seeds, 1 tbs mustard mixed well by hand, and subsequently pan-fried in a cast-iron (minimal canola oil) over medium low heat until the surface formed a crispy crust on each side.  They are healthy (I include skin and bones, and mash everything together when mixing by hand), quick, and tasty even at room temperature, or straight out of the refrigerator.

Pickled turnip slices – soy sauce, lemon juice, drop of mirin, grated ginger and rice vinegar for 2 – 4 days.

Grape tomatoes and cucumber slices

Blueberries

Tawara shaped onigiri, no filling, sprinkled with black sesame seeds for crunch and color, with nori wrap