Tag Archives: Umeboshi

Saturday bento for two (three and four)

19 May



Saturday bento!

Roasted beets in shapes – kitty for the older one, heart for the younger one

Watercress ohitashi – blanched watercress, water well drained, cut into bite sized pieces. Seasoned with katsuobushi flakes (dry, cured, shaved bonito) with a drop of soy sauce

Pickled cauliflower with lemon juice, rice vinegar, mirin soy sauce and grated ginger

Hard boiled eggs – various shapes – heart, star (and not shown) and bear

Multi-grain onigiri with turkey soboro center filling, wrapped in nori. Baba’s onigiri had an umeboshi center.

Grilled chicken from earlier this week, de-boned

We stopped by the Japanese store after class – Baba picked up my daughter’s favorite, daifuku, or ankoh, or sweetened red bean paste, wrapped in mochi, or rice cake. What a treat!


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!

Bento for June 2011 Undokai (Sports Day)

13 Jun

For my daughter’s Japanese School Field Day (Undokai) on Saturday, I packed four types of onigiri, vegetable sticks and hummus, mini sausages with patterns, boiled eggs, fresh fruit – and for my non-onigiri eater, ham-Jarlsberg-Mayo-lettuce on brioche.

Saturday’s weather was a bit gray, chilly, and drizzly.  We met up with my daughter’s classmates at Cunningham Park, where in my childhood, I had also attended Field and Softball Day.

It was fun to watch the children, split up between red and white teams, and participate in Rajio Taiso (literally, Radio Exercise).  When I attended weekend school, we would all gather in the school gymnasium, listen to the familiar piano-introduction for the tape-recorded music signaling the start of the routines.  It was nostalgic hearing the slightly warble-y tune, and watching the children exercise – many of them simply imitating the older students – to warm up for the event.

My daughter participated in a group dance wearing a helmet which the mother’s made with cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil, with little metallic pipe cleaners curling outward, as well as a running race, an obstacle race where the children ran to a clothes-line with anpan clipped to the string – they grab the anpan and race to a parent waiting for them with a hula hoop.  The parent-child team hops into the hoop, and then run to the finish line.

I packed:

Four types of onigiri – center of umeboshi, okaka (katsuobushi + soy sauce), mentaiko, and a filling made with sauteed blanched and chopped kohlrabi leaves mixed with katsuobushi (shaved bonito), seasoned with soy sauce, mirin and sesame seeds.  The umeboshi onigiri rice was pre-seasoned with red shiso (perilla) Yukari seasoning.  Normally, one wouldn’t use mentaiko for a filling, but I was too busy to grill the shiozake (salted salmon) so I decided to improvise.  Each flavor had a different shape – the umeboshi was easy to identify with the rice mixed with the purple-y shiso flakes; the okaka was tawara (rice barrel) shaped; the mentaiko was shaped like a disk, and the kohlrabi leaves were triangular.  Each one was wrapped with a strip of nori.

Mini sausages – I scored several, as well as attempted to make gerbera shapes that Makiko Itoh presents beautifully in her blog – but I forgot to split the sausages lengthwise, so the flowers did not come out right.  I explained to my family, they were improvised – and just to pretend they were pretty pattered sausages… (they looked like accordions).  I boiled the sausages to heat through, and allowed them to cool.

As for home-made items … my boiled egg menagerie.  I was happy to see they molded well. (from top left to right: Star, heart, rabbit, car, fish, bear)


The other bento items were easy – carrots, celery, green pepper and cucumber sliced and served with hummus, and fresh fruit – grapes and watermelon.

Papa didn’t fancy onigiri for lunch, so I made ham and Jarlsberg and mayo on a delicious brioche with some lettuce leaves, fresh from our garden. 

My brother and his wife braved the chilly drizzle to cheer on their niece – and to spoil the little one with hugs and kisses. 

An interesting experience – the parents had received an email from the school regarding reminders for attending Undokai.  One interesting point was stated in a vague, but direct sentence. 

“There may be ice cream trucks that arrive during the event.  Please remember, this event is considered a class event, and we appreciate you keeping this in mind.”

There was a Mister Softee truck that circled the area, slowly, in hopes the approximately 100 children and family members would be drawn in by its jingle.

Amazingly, not a single person broke out of the event to buy his wares. 

I must say, (and I think my husband secretly must agree) I was pretty impressed…