Ginger Soba Soup

Spring is coming at last to the northern midwest, and spring means rain. Lots of it. Yesterday was a cool, damp, rainy day and was perfect for soup. I’m proud to say that I made up this Japanese-inspired soup entirely on the fly, using ingredients that I keep on hand. It was delicious! It earned a thumbs-up from my husband and it will be a recipe that I keep handy. Here is the recipe, in case you’d like to try!

Ginger Soba Soup with Chicken and Egg

For the chicken:
Cut a chicken breast into bite-size pieces. Marinate in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon mirin or sherry, 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 15 minutes up to overnight.

For the Soup:
Ingredients-
5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce (diluted with 1/2 cup water)
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 package soba (buckwheat) noodles; package should contain three noodle bundles
2 eggs, lighlty beaten
A slash of mirin or sherry, to taste

Directions-
Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in the bottom of a soup pot or dutch oven. Add the chicken, stirring occassionally (the cornstarch marinade will form a nice golden crust, so don’t stir too much). Once the chicken mostly cooked, add the green onions (save some of the green tops for garnish!), ginger, and garlic and stir fry until fragrant. Add the chicken broth and soy sauce; bring to a boil. Add the mirin/sherry and soba noodles and boil for 4-5 minutes or until noodles are tender. Pour the beaten eggs into the soup and let them cook (do not stir) for 1 minute. Once the eggs are set, break them up with a spoon or chopstick. Ladel into bowls and garnish with green onions, carrots, shredded nori, bonito, or anything else that sounds good to you!

DISASTER IN JAPAN:
I am sure all of you have heard about the earthquake and tsunamis that devestated Japan. In the days that have followed, Japan has experienced nuclear emergency, food and water shortages, and a catastrophic death toll. I urge you all to keep Japan in your thoughts and prayers. You may donate to the relief by visiting the Red Cross online or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 (this will donate $10.) You can also check this out. Naomi of ImmortalGeisha (www.immortalgeisha.com) is auctioning off kimono ensembles from her personal collection, with 100% of the proceeds going to the relief effort in Japan. Follow the auctions here:

http://shop.ebay.com/immortalgeisha/m.html?_trksid=p4340.l2562

In the meantime, love and prayers to Japan.

New Bento Box!

I’ve actually had this a few months, but I forgot to make a post about it. My mother got my this box. It’s a three-tiered thermal bento, from Avon, of all places.

The tiers all stack on top of one another and can be fitted into the nifty little caddy, which securely snaps it all shut.

Each tier is pretty spacious and could easily fit a full bento meal. Which is why I think this is a “multiple person” bento. I now live in the vicinity of a nice metro park and botanical garden, so I see a bento picnic in my near future! And like I said, the box has the advantage of being thermal, so that also makes it nice for a picnic because it will keep fruits and veggies from spoiling quickly in this hot weather.

I can’t wait to use it!

Fed Up With Lunch!

No bento this week. With schedule changes I just haven’t had time. Today’s post is about a bento-related topic, however: school lunch!

I discovered the blog of an anonymous teacher who has decided to eat school lunch every day for a year and is blogging about it. I don’t know what school this lady teaches at, but the food her school serves just looks completely gross. It’s usually some blob of grease masquerading as hamburgers or pasta. And then you really think “wow, this is what KIDS are eating!” It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise here in the U.S. And now I think we can say that everyone is to blame here. Schools, for only serving food with little nutritional value; parents, for being too lazy to pack their kids healthy lunches or to even cook healthy meals for them at home; and, well, kids. I know some of you may not agree with that last one, but if kids are taught from kindergarten that eating junk every day is acceptable, then they’re not going to want to eat healthy food as they grow older and become more responsible for their own eating habits.

I know that school are trying to be cost-efficient with school lunches, and hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese are just cheaper and easier to prepare and distribute than stir-fry, salad, or sub-sandwiches with lots of veggie choices (though my school had a sub line. it was always long.) And I know that there are many families who depend on school lunches. But what if, instead of putting TVs with cable in the cafeteria (my high school also had this!), the school put that money towards serving better food?

How does this apply to bento? Well, I know that for me, bento encourages me to eat healthier. I requires portion control and a variety of color. And you know what they say, a colorful meal is a healthy meal! I think bento could also encourage kids to eat better, too. I’m not a parent, but I do believe that a child will be more inclined to eat something if it is fun and visually attractive. Of course, not all parents have time to pack a cutsie, over-the-top bento for their child, but they could easily put those ingredients in a lunch bag. There’s a lesson to be learned for school as well. when providing children with a meal, shouldn’t that meal be well balanced and healthy, as a bento should be? Lunch should be interesting and fun to eat, as well as being nutritious. Kids especially need good nutrition so they can be good students!

Here’s the teachers blog, called “Fed Up With Lunch”: http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/

Were you satisfied with your school’s lunches when you were a kid? If you’re a parent with school children, do you pack a lunch for them or give them money to buy school lunch? Are you satisfied with the lunches your school serves? Would you be willing to take time in the evening to pack a bento or brown-bag lunch to ensure that your child has a decent, nutritious lunch?

Spring is in the air!

It’s not officially spring yet, but the sun is out and the birds are singing, which means that it will soon be Easter! My mom is always on the lookout for cute bento items for me and the other day she picked up these cute Easter themed food cups and picks!

I am also looking forward to bento picnics. I started to get into bento after Christmas time and besides taking them to class, I don’t get much opportunity to take bento out or to pack it for other people  There is a nice botanical Garden in my area so I think I will have to visit with some friends and tasty bento lunches!! 😀