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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Learning to make Japanese Bento Box Lunches for School | Maris Ehlers Photography

Last night we had a wonderful opportunity.  A good friend of mine, Cynthia, came over with her daughter Alison and their houseguest Reiko, from Japan. 

They are Reiko's host family while she is in Minnesota student teaching with the Bloomington Public Schools (at the high school level). The Amity Institute has sponsored Reiko here for her year of student teaching (high school) with the Bloomington Public Schools.  The Bloomington Sister City Organization is also a partial sponsor of her stay (Alison is a board member representing Bloomington Senior High School).  

We had gotten bento boxes for the kids lunch boxes early this summer from Pottery Barn Kids as a way to hopefully jazz up lunchtime this year and avoid the school hot lunch altogether.  They both do better when there are a variety of little things to munch on for lunch.  More than the average lunch box or cooler, but it includes both a very durable hard plastic bento box and a snug fitting lunch cooler. 

Amelia's bento lunchbox from Pottery Barn Kids.

Amelia and Alison discovered a mutual love of all things Hello Kitty a few weeks ago, and so while their family was preparing for Reiko's arrival we decided a bento box making session was in order.  

We not only had a great time together, we learned a few words in Japanese, and experienced some wonderful food and camaraderie.  The girls came with all of the ingredients and even brought along some special treats for the kids' lunch boxes this next week.  

Oh, and because we were at this awhile, we even had pizza from The River Inn in Historic Hanover to tide us over. 

I hope this inspires a few of you to think outside the lunch box this year.  I know it did me! 

Our dog Ruger REALLY likes Japanese food.  Or thinks he would.
Reiko rolls asparagus and bacon rolls while Alison prepares Japanese rice. 

Here Alison starts showing Amelia about the wonders of Origami.  She was in heaven! 
When the girls were getting started I asked Reiko what she would like to drink, and she said "Pop!"  :) 

Here Amelia is cutting cute little shapes out of boiled carrot slices to top crisp green beans.  This was her favorite. 

When prepared, these were scrumptuous! 

A break for River Inn Bendix pizza

Here Alison and Reiko make beef rolls with fresh vegetables in them.  They had a delicious Japanese sauce over the top.  

Alison is pressing the rice into shaped molds:  there was an elephant, a teddy bear and a fish, among others. 

The beef rolls being sauteed. 

Alison's little boxes with animal shaped toothpick fork thingies that we used to secure the beef rolls. 

Reiko, Amelia and Alison when everything was done before we invited everyone to the table

An adorable origami dog that Reiko and Amelia made

If you are interested in buying bento boxes, there is a wide selection to choose from.  They range from very elegant to stinkin' cute.

Here is a cute Hello Kitty one available through 

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