Tag Archives: Sugar snap peas

First quarter wrap up…

2 Apr

It’s hard to believe April has swept in so quickly.  The first quarter of the year, over, and we embark on the climb to the mid-year point.

In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in an interesting position.

Normally, I’m manuevering through all my obstacles on my own – but these days, I’m hobbling from place to place, the rhythmical “tap tap” of the cane giving away my presence.  I waddle, crab-like, through the house, whether it be carrying armloads of laundry (we are going through our night training stage) 0r trying to convince the girls it’s ABSOLUTELY bedtime.

Some days are overwhelming – the thought of visiting a client in New York City almost had me in tears when I thought of the distance and stairs I would have to climb at the local train station, as well as at my destination.  My weekend shopping routine is hampered with the thought of how and where I’m going to manage everything with a bum foot.  A co-worker left me a bunch of flowering branches and a note, telling me to hang in there.

Perhaps it’s the part where I have to ask for help – when I’m used to being able to do things on my own, at my own pace, with my own ability.

Either way, I can’t wait until I’m zipping about again!

A catch up session of last week’s bento…

Monday, I sent my daughter into school with Matzo ball soup in chicken stock and vegetables (carrots, celery, zucchini, onion and broccoli).  I picked up a love for this very comforting food during my early adulthood – I had a few years of close exposure to traditional Jewish comfort food.  I was introduced to matzo ball soup, kasha varnishkas, kugel,whitefish salad – and I especially loved when my roommate’s mother sent her back to college with these goodies after the holidays.

To this day, I reach out to my girlfriend to find out which brand of matzo meal I should use – she prefers Streit’s and Croyden House.  I know she chuckles, knowing I often “Japan-ize” the soup, adding soy sauce, ginger and scallions…

Needless to say, my daughter both love “ballie soup” and enjoy having it often.

The rest of the week included:

Tuesday, I cheated, and sent in left over take-out, which was katsudon, which is fried chicken cutlet, cooked with dashi and egg, atop steamed rice. 

Wednesday included:

Whole wheat penne pasta with marinara sauce

Baked chicken leg

Roasted beets in star shapes

Turnip and celery, marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil

Thursday included:

Baked chicken wing and drumette

Blanched broccoli and sugar snap peas

Roasted beet heart

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka filling, wrapped with nori

Friday – was pizza day!


Good bye dear friends of ichi-kumi

19 Mar

This past Saturday was my older daughter’s last day in her current class, ichi-kumi or class 1.

It was a proud moment to know she… no, we all survived a year of Saturdays that were committed to exposing, maintaining, and furthering her knowledge and experiences to Japanese culture. 

Thank you Papa for watching the little one all those weekends!  And thank you Jiji and Baba for your daily skype sessions, which continue to enhance both girls’ language skills.

I puffed up proudly as my teacher, in parting, told me she was proud to say that my daughter’s growth and improvement was truly impressive. 

Oh, the sweat, tears and lack of sleep paid off!!

I had both girls with me – Papa was busy gallivanting in The Big Easy, so I somehow managed to hobble and cobble together bentos for both girls, snag a parking spot close to the entrance, and corral the girls into the gymnasium to wait for the morning greeting from the head master of the school.

Bento for both included (little one’s onigiri not shown, it traveled in a smaller tupperware):

Boiled egg – heart shape

Turkey meat-ballie – I have a stash of these in the refrigerator and freezer that are pre-cooked.  I’ll often defrost one overnight, and include in a bento box

Boiled cocktail hotdog – the surface is scored, and when these boil up, the cuts spread open, showing the pattern

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka or katsuobushi (shaved, dried, bonito flakes) lightly moistened with soy sauce center

Blanched sugar snap peas and broccoli

Blueberries for my older daughter

The little one was very pleased to have her own bento box.  She pulled up a stool in the kitchen to peek over the counter to see what was included.  When she couldn’t see over the edge of the bento box, she decided to take matters into her own hands – and stood up in her booster seat (anchored securely to a kitchen chair), and declared, “Mama. do NOT want booberries.”

I chuckled. 

The little one’s palate seems to take after mine – at the age of 3, she shares the same love of spicy and salty things, and comes with her mouth open when I’m eating kimchi, or doesn’t balk when I add a tiny orange dot of sriracha sauce in her lentil soup.  Not to mention, I myself am very picky with my fruit selections, and unless I am in the mood, I would rather eat my body weight in vegetables than fruit. 

Meanwhile, my older one declares everything TOO spicy, but will scarf down HER body weight in fruit.  Oh.  Except she has an aversion to anything white – cheese, yogurt, butter, cream cheese… except for vanilla ice cream.

To my oldest daughter – Hurray for graduating from the first pre-K class in Japanese school!  Good bye, ichi-kumi friends, thank you for the memories!

First week of March 2012 – bento wrap up

12 Mar

Works kept me busy, humming along, with various projects and tasks taking up time and energy.

I was starting to get into the swing of things again, and I was trying to step out of the “routine” bento.


Thursday bento included:

Baked chicken thighs, seasoned with white pepper, salt, soy sauce and slivered ginger, pulled off of the bone

Blanched broccoli florets

Blanched sugar snap peas – I make extra and serve as a vegetable side at dinner, which both girls love… They both sit at the kitchen table peeling the two sides of the pods apart, and slo-w-ly, pick each pea out, chew carefully, and nibble down the pods. 

Boiled egg in star shape


Japanese school lunch included:

Baked chicken drumstick – marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and baked in the oven at 325 degrees until the meat is melting-ly tender, and is falling off the bone.

Half a boiled egg – heart shape (the other half was packed in a mini-bento for the little one)

Marinated quartered, and sliced raw turnip, and celery ribs (about 1/8 inch thick) marinated overnight in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and grated ginger.  The turnip slices – sweet, and delicate on their own, are a perfect match for the refreshing flavor of this marinade.  The celery adds a subtle herby, grassiness, as well as an additional crunch – I fill a glass, Marinara sauce jar full to the top with the sliced vegetables, and add the marinade in a ratio of 1:1 for soy sauce and vinegar, 1/4 the amount for sesame oil, and a healthy size of ginger, grated in a little ceramic grater carried over from my childhood.  I add the lid, and shake everything together, gently, and leave in the refrigerator, turning it upside down on occasion.  The girls love this “pickle” and snack on it as they wait for dinner in the evenings.


I’m still getting the hang of the new bento box – trying to gauge the appropriate amount of food can be challenging sometimes.

Not to mention, with my newly injured foot, it has been a challenging trying to coordinate everything while hobbling around the house trying to keep the flow of things consistent.

I laugh as I just re-read above sentence – and a scene from a recent film comes to mind. 

As you may know, I am an avid fan of Hayao Miyazaki.  He directed Howl’s Moving Castle, and in this film, there actually is a scene where a newly “aged” character is hobbling about, trying to figure out what had just happened to her.  (I’m withholding details in case you are planning on seeing the film)

Dear reader, if you ARE familiar with the scene – my recent weeks remind me of the scene where Sophie is creeping past the mirror in her hat shop, and jumping upon seeing her reflection – and creeping past, muttering to herself that this is just a bad dream.

Now that I think about it, perhaps my daughters’ obsession with turnips came from this recent film viewing?  ** There is a character in the film named “Turnip Head.”

Turnip head or not, I hope my foot heals quickly so I can return to my normal self again… soon.

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!

A little greens here, a little gomashio there…

2 Feb

It’s hard to believe January is over, and February has hopped on board.

My daughter’s bento box broke, so we are now substituting with a tupperware with silicone cups for sections.

I lived in Atlanta, GA during my high school years, and I enjoyed a little dabbling in Southern culture.  I fell in love with collard greens, as well as boiled peanuts.  Sometimes, I have business associates who come across canned boiled peanuts and they ship them up to NY with a chuckle… but they are never the real deal.

I was happy to come across some collards at my beloved farm – and decided to take on the greens challenge for this week.

Monday lunch included:

Baked turkey-grated onion-garlic-carrot-celery-ginger meatballie

Collard greens seasoned with a little vegetable stock, and pancetta.  I carefully washed a bunch of collard greens from the farm, cut off the tough stalk end, and carefully shaved the main “vein” of the green down the center.  I then rolled the leaves, and cut them into 1/8 strips.  Into a medium pan, 2 cups vegetable stock, a tbs of pancetta (I keep pre-cut pancetta in the freezer) and the carefully rinsed greens over medium heat.  The leaves turned brilliant green, and then a darker olive color.  I cooked until the liquid was cooked away on medium-low heat – about 45 minutes.  Not truly an authentic “Greens” recipe using smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey wings – but satisfactory!  A delicious balance of the sweetness of the greens, and of the salty and savory bits of pancetta in this home-y dish.

Multi-grain onigiri with grilled and flaked shiozake (salted salmon) filling, wrapped with nori



Tuesday lunch was:

Baked chicken wingette and drumette seasoned with soy sauce, lemon juice, poultry seasoning

Roasted beets in heart shapes

Zucchini slices sautéed in canola oil, seasoned with white pepper and soy sauce

Blanched sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes

Steamed multi-grain rice


Wednesday lunch included:

Turkey meatballie

Carrot sticks

Grape tomatoes


Steamed multi-grain rice topped with a little gomashio, or ground black sesame seeds and salt seasoning

Thursday lunch included:

Baked chicken wingette and drumette seasoned with soy sauce, lemon juice, black pepper

Sliced zucchini sautéed in canola oil, drizzled with soy sauce

Roasted beet hearts

A little homemade celery and turnip pickle mix, the vegetables sliced into 1/8 inch pieces – the celery cut on angles, the turnips peeled, and thinly cut by hand into thin slices, sprinkled with a little sea salt, a tbs of rice vinegar, a tbs or soy sauce, a tsp of black sesame seeds added and mixed well.  It’s a refreshing, tangy mix of vegetables, still crunchy, but lively.  The little one kept asking for “More! More!” as I was mixing the vegetables with the seasoning in a bowl.  I had come across Cathy Barrow’s article in the New York Times earlier this week- and this must have gotten me thinking about the tangy mix.

Whole wheat linguine with a little (Trader Joe’s jarred, I cheated…) marinara sauce

Tomorrow is pizza day.  It’s almost Friday… this week has been quite busy!

Thursday bento for a chilly day

26 Jan

My daughter’s lunch schedule has been a bit off, with Pizza on Tuesday, and a hot lunch co-sponsored and hosted by my girlfriend (whose son also attends the same school) filling in the past two days.

My girlfriend has a holistic nutritionist background – therefore, I was confident her lunch would be delicious and nutritious.  She served a lovely minestrone soup with grilled cheese – my daughter told me her soup was delicious, and that she was happy to see Auntie J_____  helping with lunch.

Today’s lunch was quickly assembled as I had  few morning items that needed to be taken care of, last minute. 

Baked chicken drumstick (soy sauce, lemon juice, poultry seasoning)

Grape tomatoes


Purple beet hears

Steamed sugar snap peas

The weather was chilly, with the occasional flurry passing through.  Just another routine day in the chaos of the week.

Snowed out lunch

24 Jan

Japanese school was cancelled due to the snowfall, but I had put together a bento the night before – so I simply served it to the girls (the little one had one too) after their afternoon making snow angels in the yard.

They had:

Blanched snow peas

Steamed multi-grain topped with Japanese tsukemono or pickles – these are a bit salty, but I had bought them on a whim one day (a moment of homesickness) at the Japanese store, I thought it best to eat them, bit by bit.  The green pickles are minced cucumbers mixed with shiso buds, and the orange, gobo, or burdock pickles.  I really should take the plunge and make them myself, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet… The pickles are conventional, and I also suspect have a little color enhancer.

Roasted yellow beet stars

Grape tomatoes

Baked chicken wing, with soy sauce, lemon juice, and black pepper

Today is actually, Pizza Day, due to a modified schedule – so no bento!