Tag Archives: Quail Egg

A very un-wintery break from all things routine

27 Feb

The nudges were subtle, but definitely, there.

“R- chan, you’ve been very busy?”

“The last time I saw something was … February 2nd?  I do read your blog without being prompted, you know…”

My father, ever the supporter, was dropping hints.

Then, a dear friend of mine who sends me cyber-encouragement through her site visits (the counts keep me going) noted the last entry… and I finally gathered my wits together to try to play catch up.

Work was indeed, hectic for the past few weeks.  Several business meetings in various local areas sapped my energy, as well as my creativity, and I found my bentos were starting to fall into a routine.  I realized I started depending on my husband, mother-in-law, and daycare provider – but truly, there were certain limitations such as meeting times, train schedules and closing hours to be carefully planned around.

Of course, the girls didn’t go hungry.

I was pleasantly to discover, my daughters loved the zucchini slices that were sautéed in canola or olive oil until the edges were barely translucent, and then tossed with soy sauce and lemon juice.  Chicken wings, drumsticks and turkey meatballs were staples – but the occasional mini-hot dog was also a big hit.  Sugar snap peas were available again – and these made great additions to the bentos when quickly blanched after being rinsed and de-stringed.  Broccoli, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, carrot and celery sticks were staples – as they were quick, healthy, and added crunchy texture to lunch.  The rice cooker was my best friend – and between onigiri, and steamed multi-grain rice topped with either sesame seeds or gomashio, I had the carbohydrates covered.

Blackberries and blueberries were also available, as well as the smaller sized Fuji apples I was able to buy in bags at Trader Joe’s. 

I then realized, I was so busy, I hadn’t stopped at the Japanese store in weeks… and realized I NEEDED to stop by when I had run out of soy sauce.  I cannot function without soy sauce!

I made a quick stop at the store, and picked up quail eggs, ginger, daikon, and frozen udon noodles.  I realized afterward, it is amaebi, or sweet shrimp season, and had neglected to pick up a pack of these delicious seasonal treasures of the ocean.  They are a bit of an acquired taste – both in texture, as well as in preparation.  The shrimp are eaten raw, and similar to eating crawfish, you twist the heads off, peel the delicate shells off, which easily peel off, and pop the tails into your mouth.  They are creamy and delicious – similar to the texture of scallop sashimi.

I can attest – you either love them or hate them – I fall into the “love” team, while my husband definitely falls into the latter due to the texture.

I’ll have to go back this week and hope the season isn’t over…

Needless to say.  Back to trying to step back into the bento blogging routine!

Saturday Bento – one for you, one for me

27 Sep

Japanese school bento was packed for my older daughter – and my little one had her own bento to take to her Nanna’s.  Papa left on Friday to catch up with a dear friend of his, and his future in-law’s, so we had some time with a full-house of estrogen of all breeds – human, feline and canine.

Saturday bento included:

Baked turkey meatballs – ringed with shelled edamame

Boiled quail egg (and edamame)

Roasted beets in hearts

Blanched watercress, tossed with soy sauce, lemon juice and black sesame seeds

Multi-grain Onigiri with turkey soboro filling, wrapped in nori

The little one was extremely happy to have her own little lunch box to take to Nanna’s.  Her watercress is actually under her turkey meatball – her box didn’t have enough space for another silicone cup. 

My older daughter has a lunch box that coordinates with her backpack – red for English school, pink for Japanese school.  The little one has a lunch bag with ladybugs on them – she loves her ladybugs, and I hear her anxiously looking for her “Tentoumushi (ladybug) bag where are you?”

Meato-ballie lunch

21 Sep

I have a suspicion my daughter spends much of her time at lunch carefully eating her edamame – one bean at a time.  Sometimes her bento box is completely empty (with the exception of the empty edamame pods), while other times, all items with the exception of the edamame are barely touched.  I’m fairly certain it is similar to the “baby corn effect” where my girls will sit at the dinner table and carefully eat row by row of baby corn, spending an easy hour sitting at the dinner table.  Fun for the girls, a bit long for Mama whose mind is always racing towards the next scheduled chore after the girls have gone to bed…

For today, I decided to shell her edamame, and create a fun lunch, hopefully adding variety, as well as trying to shave off some “distraction” time.

Turkey-carrot-celery-ginger-garlic-onion-oatmeal meatball, lightly coated with a sweet/savory sauce of 1:1 of ketchup and HP sauce (and a couple of drops of Bulldog Worcestshire sauce), surrounded with shelled edamame.  Eyes of tightly wrung watercress with a mouth of beet.

Onigiri with multi-grain rice, and a center filling of finely minced blanched watercress from which I’ve wrung out as much liquid as possible.  I then mixed this with a tablespoon of turkey soboro for a different taste and texture.  A piece of nori wrapped around it.

Roasted regular and chioggi beets in heart shapes

Boiled quail egg + yellow cherry tomatoes from the garden

Another week starts, third school week for Fall 2011

19 Sep

My weekend experience at the drive-thru made me re-think my bento and meal strategy.  I wanted to continue with the bento making, but I realize, sometimes the choices were becoming a bit redundant, especially when I was too pressed for time, and I didn’t plan in advance.

After a pleasant lunch with my older daughter’s school mates and their parents at Fortune Wheel for dim sum , I went on a cooking rampage at home.

Turkey meatballs, ground turkey soboro, mabo-nasu (eggplant with ground turkey and tofu), roasted beets, roasted chicken drumsticks and wings, vegetable (arugula) lasagna, whole wheat rotini pasta with hearty tomato sauce… I was on a mission.  For dinner, we had leftovers from last week, which allowed me to continue cooking up a storm.

I went to sleep only after I was satisfied, knowing I had a wide selection of items to freeze and to fall back on during the week.

For today’s bento, I packed:

Baked turkey-oatmeal-celery-ginger (conventional)-garlic-carrot-onion meatballs (sesame seed eyes and beet mouth)

Blanched (with the water squeezed out well) watercress, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces, seasoned with a little soy sauce and lemon juice

Boiled quail (conventional) eggs with tomatoes from the garden (sesame seed eyes)

Blanched edamame

Whole wheat rotini with tomato-maitake-celery-carrot-onion sauce

Saturday School bento for the 17th and a slight drive-thru hiccup

19 Sep

On Saturday, the little one tagged along with me to her sister’s school.  We sat in the cafeteria with the other waiting parents, and we sang, colored, and took a walk outside in the school yard. 

The little one was more excited about the little bento I packed her, similar to her sister’s.

Saturday bento was:

Boiled quail eggs

Blanched edamame with a little sea salt

Mini-hot dogs (conventional) patterns cut into them, and boiled

Roasted beets (regular and chioggi) in heart shapes

Onigiri with steamed multi-grain rice, center of okaka, wrapped with nori

An interesting thing happened on the way to school.  Despite my efforts to wean myself off of my morning cup of Joe, I sometimes can use a jumpstart for the morning.  Needless to say, between the bento preparation, dressing, feeding, herding and corralling of two stubborn little sisters into my car, I somehow managed to forget my cup of coffee.

I brilliantly thought, ‘I’ll just go through the drive through at McDonald’s for a cuppa…”

Now, dear reader, desperate times mean desperate measures.  If I had only woken up 10 minutes earlier, I could have had my cup of coffee, snuggly situated in my car rest – but I just. Couldn’t. Wake. Up.  Before.  6:30.

I pull into the driveway, and see a line of cars and groaned inward.  Yet, what really set me off, was the following exchange from my girls who had JUST eaten breakfast.

H:  Oh, Mama, I’m so hungry.

Me:  (Inwardly thinking !#(@*%)$?)  I don’t understand… You just HAD breakfast at home.  I asked you if you wanted anything else, you said you were full.

A:  Fwench Fwies!  Hungry!

Me:  (Again, in my mind &#$*@^$#*!!).  You JUST ate.  Why are you saying French Fries???

A:  Nanna!  Fwench Fwies!

H:  Mama, I’m hungry.

At this point, my blood pressure rising as I was inwardly kicking myself, I made a swift departure out of the parking lot, away from the  line of cars.  I swore in my head, the 10 minutes of  lack of sleep were besides the point, I will WILL myself awake to never repeat this dialogue.  I was even more concerned, HOW does a three year old associate the drive through at McDonald’s, where I can actually COUNT how many times I’ve driven through with them (Most often at the behest of my husband who used to be a fast-food junkie, and usually when pressed for time for meals FOR HIM)? 

I grilled my husband when I saw him, how often he went through the drive through at McDonald’s.  “Not that often, ” he replied – although I was starting to doubt everyone.  My little one did say, Nanna, leading me to think, does my mother-in-law take her?

A few years ago, there were several news reports and articles regarding brand recognition by toddlers, and the power of marketing

I realized the uphill battle I have, and was reminded again at how lonely it is, sometimes, facing the marketing behemoth, otherwise known as McDonald’s. 

Needless to say, once we turned onto the main road, away from McDonald’s, my daughters both said, “Mama, what about your coffee?  We’re hungry.”

I handed them two mini-onirigi I had packed as my breakfast and lunch, and told them if they were hungry, to eat every bit of them.  My little one proceeded to chomp away at the entire rice ball; however, my older one ate half of hers, and said she wasn’t hungry.  I reminded her how she had just told me she was SO hungry, so she really needed to finish the onigiri  to ensure she could focus at school.  She nodded, and finished the other half. 

Must. Set. Alarm. Ten minutes. Earlier. and NOT. Snooze!

Rogue Matt’s Wild Cherry, beets, quail eggs for lunch

12 Sep

As you may recall, last year, I made the newbie mistake of planting 10 cherry and grape tomato plants.

Needless to say, after being overwhelmed by red, yellow and orange marble-sized tomatoes that proliferated until the first frost, I swore up and down, I would only plant two cherry tomato plants. 

On the other hand, I’d plant countless pole beans this year, as these would probably be a bit more manageable.

A blog of how to avoid the “Jack and the Beanstalk” syndrome will soon follow.

This year, I was poking around the garden with my head-lamp lighting a little conical way through the dusky garden, I discovered I had pockets of tomato breeds I had not planted in the garden THIS year. 

One of them was a random Matt’s Wild Cherry plant that had deliciously red fruit clusters, perfect for picking.  Most likely this plant had regenerated itself from a rogue tomato dropped in a random patch between the herb pots LAST  year.

The issue I had with these adorable tomatoes were their inability to keep fresh for longer than a day.  The sweet and intense fruit have very delicate skin that split once they are picked off of the stem – so they were very difficult to store until I stopped at Makinajian Farm to see they simply clipped the tomatoes, including the stems, and packed them into containers.

For Saturday school, I packed a cluster of these rogue tomatoes (including the stem), and expanded from there:

Boiled quail eggs (conventional)

Roasted beets

Onigiri (1:1 mix of white and multi-grain rice) with okaka filling, the rice pre-seasoned with sesame seeds, and some unseasoned flakes of katsuobushi, wrapped in nori

Sliced Armenian cucumbers

Age-kama with burdock from Miyagi Prefecture – my little attempts to try to support the regional economies devastated by the tsunami caused by the 3/11 Tohoku region earthquakeAge-kama is surimi or fish that has been pounded and processed into a paste, and then cooked – whether extruded, or molded into shapes and steamed – and then deep-fried.  Many times, MSG is used as an ingredient – fortunately, the age-kama I bought did not include it in their ingredient list.  Is it a healthy item?  I think in small quantities, it’s a nice treat to have as a side in bento on occasion.  These were cut into cat shapes.

Day 2 of the new 2011 school year

8 Sep

My daughter had a wonderful day yesterday, and she told me she enjoyed her bento.  “Mama, I liked my bento very much.  Can you make another one for tomorrow?” she asked.  The little one piped up, “A__ too, me too, bento!”  Sometimes I pack a small bento for my little one on the weekends to snack on while I am at Japanese school with my older daughter, and she happily points to it and says, “Mine!  My bento!”

Today, I packed the following items:

Grilled chicken drumstick – pre-seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Blanched broccoli, with some katsuobushi and a few drops of soy sauce for flavor

Boiled quail eggs (conventional)

Roasted Chioggi beets in plane shapes

Onigiri with steamed multi-grain (white, brown, millet, quinoa, wheat berries and barley) with toasted white sesame seeds and a little salt mixed in before I formed the onigiri.  Center is okaka (katsuobushi seasoned with soy sauce).  I’ll have to find a different filling for next week.

Two slices cucumber

Small snack container with cherries for dessert

My daughter asked for udon noodles (thick, white, wheat noodles) in soup for lunch.  I still haven’t figured out the most efficient way to transport these without having a complex assembling process at lunch… The issue being that the noodles will absorb all the soup if they are left in a container for too long.

Over the weekend, I had made udon noodles in a shiitake mushroom stock garnished 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 ginger, chopped scallions, simmered in stock and seasoned with miso) left over from an earlier dinner.  I topped it off with chopped scallions from the garden.

Dear reader, any good ideas to transport this?