My First Onigiri, or Rice Balls

Tonight we had such a yummy dinner, and the kids really enjoyed helping out. First, we picked up our initial organic farm share of the season. The box was about half full, since it's been a slow start for gardening this spring. Next week promises to have a full to busting box with kale and lots of greens, but this week we got butter lettuce, spinach, arugula, scallions and a generous quart of the sweetest strawberries around.

Then we came home, and I let my 4 year old pick out what would go in the rice balls, using leftovers and fresh picks from the fridge. We decided to make 4 kinds, one of each for each person. We used two cups of cooked pink Madagascar rice to encase the following:
roast chicken with neufchatel
pan-fried whiting with tamari and dulse flakes
raspberries with fresh mint
and adzuki beans with white miso and a little nutritional yeast

My favorite was the roast chicken, followed closely by the raspberries. My son adored the raspberries and the fish. And my 16-month old daughter devoured it all. YUM!

The pink rice is not really the right kind of rice to make onigiri, but it sure was pretty. I am looking forward to receiving my new rice molds, which should make the process even easier -- and less messy.

We served it dinner on small plates with butter lettuce underneath, and had fresh strawberries for dessert.


For the birds

The coop is done done done! painted and complete with roosts, automatic feeder and fenced in from top to bottom.

Lucas and Buffy hanging out in the run.

Mr. Goldfinch waiting for us to leave so he can go back to the feeder.


Fresh Food, Asian Themed.

This Wednesday our farm share starts. I can not wait to see what goodies our fabulous farmer, Paul, has packed in the box for us. We will get an 18x18x24 box chock full of organic, local veggies EVERY week from now through the end of October, all for less than $30 a week. It's amazing.

Since I've been bitten by the Bento Bug, I have decided to take the plunge and go asian this summer making miso soups and veggies and rice all the time. To that end, I needed to find an asian grocer to buy reasonably priced items like dried seaweed, furikake (rice seasoning), and umeboshi (japanese apricots, which for some reason are labled plums in the U.S.).

In my neck of the woods, there are some latino and middle eastern grocers, but no asian ones that I've ever seen. I looked on Amazon and around online, and kept coming back to "the asian food grocer" which is FABULOUS. Low shipping, and if you buy over $100, it's free. And everything is so much cheaper than at my local stores, anywhere from 1/2 to 1/5 the price.

Then, I bought fancy rice very inexpensively at our natural food market where there are bulk bins. And I found an easy read about Japanese home-cooking, "Japanese Women don't Get Old or Fat". Odd title, but some good recipes and basic instructions. I read it in just a couple of hours. Next book on my list is "Yum Yum Bento", lol. How can you not want to read something with a title like that!?


The Bento Bug

Well, it's official. After gazing at various bento images over the last 6 months and experimenting a little with my son's school snacks, I have caught the Bento Bug. Lucas will be going to all-day kindergarten next year, and I want to make sure he'll be eating a full nutritious lunch to keep him going. But he's an active, talkative soon-to-be 5 year old. What to do? BENTO!

With his birthday coming up in two weeks, I have decided now is the perfect time to take the plunge and bought an arsenal of Bento supplies, starting with the boxes themselves. I spent a lot of time at various internet stores like amazon and specialty shops, but settled on a great little Japanese storefront on ebay, http://stores.ebay.com/SAKURA-ZAKKA-SHOP?_trksid=p4340.l2563. I got him a pokemon box and sweet bear box, as well as little egg molds, rice ball molds, and food dividers shaped like animals and vegetables. I also bought a set of alphabet picks, so I can spell out some words -- perfect for a little boy learning to read!

I am so excited. I know this will take some more time than a quick sandwich and an apple but I also have faith that a lot more of my efforts will end up in his tummy, making for a happier boy at the end of the day, and thus a happier me.

In Japan, bento boxes are expressions of a mother's love to her child. I intend to take this to heart. I bought the various decorations and boxes so that the meal will look different and exciting every day, also inspiring more excitement when he opens his lunch... And I was careful to get shapes and boxes that my son will enjoy.

I bought a t-tiered blue bento box for my husband, too, who has finally been remembering to take meals to work for the last few months. This should make it even easier for him, too :)