Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Buns of Steel!

A character from Ranma 1/2, Martial Mayhem, Buns of Steel video. I just couldn't stop myself. It had to be done. To get the blue for his tunic I took a little bit of blue gell food coloring and smeared it all over a raw gyoza wrapper. It's not quite the right color, but it is definately blue!
Eyes, mustache and belt were nori. Sleeves were cucumber slices, mouth was a bit of tomato. I don't think he came out all that well, but it was so much fun to try!

We all had the same thing: Vegetable fried rice with tofu egg-substitute mixed in which was sooo yummy, cabbage buns, corn croquettes, teriyaki tofu & onions, black olive skewers, baby tomatoes, japanese wheat cookies.
The red and blue flowers in mine and my daughter's bentos were done with the food color gel on gyoza wrappers, the yellow 'clouds' were tofu egg-substitute omelette cut-outs. It was wonderful to try out somewhat more traditional decoration with our two bentos. The mix of flowers and clouds was nowhere near as elegant as the art that inspired me to try this, but it was definately worth the trying!

LCE #42

Mashed potatoes with black olives, grapes, cheesy love with grilled cheese hearts and fairy bread hearts.

I wanted to make something cute but not very difficult or needing much thought. This is the result. It went over very well, in fact!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bouquet Bento

A 'cheer-up' bento for my daughter. The main decoration is on a background of soy turkey & cheese sandwich which was cut specifically to fit this bento. The large flower was cut from a cheese slice and then sugar dots were pushed in on their sides so that they stick up a little. The orange flowers are carrots which were cut out with my tiniest flower cutter. The last flower was done with corn and a pea for the center. Blue sugar dots provide a bit more color. The stems and leaves are cut from cucumber peel, the large flower's stem has the peel side down to give a different color.

The rest of the bento included pretzels, skewers of corn and peas, baby tomatoes, mozzarella coins and a side bowl of tomato soup. The soup bowl is one of the toddler bowls that you can get as a rainbow stack at Walmart or Target. They are very economical, travel well because the lid is usually pretty tight and best of all they are microwaveable!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Family Picnic Bentos

A bento for my husband, daughter, mother and myself. We were supposed to eat our bentos at the lake as a picnic. But it rained. So we went to a park that has covered pavilions instead. And it continued to rain. The bentos were pretty yummy, though!

The menu: Veggie & Balsamic vinegar pasta with black olives and carrots, grilled cheese sandwiches (heart, flower & star), baby tomatoes, veggie potato pancakes, blueberries and carrots, cucumber slices.

It was a bit more challenging to do yet a fourth bento, I kept running out of counter space!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bao Bentos!

Top tier: Cabbage bun with carrot flower, carrot sticks, steamed broccoli and apple flower.
Bottom tier: Sesame Seugai (restaurant leftovers, yay!), baby tomatoes, carrot slices, blueberries & more steamed broccoli.

Cabbage bun & carrot flower, carrot sticks, baby tomatoes, steamed broccoli, Sesame seugai leftovers.

Sesame suegai leftovers, baby tomatoes, steamed broccoli, blueberry and apple flower skewers, cabbage bun, Zoo Land cracker, carrot sticks.

We finally tried the buns from Super H Mart!! They are yummy and soooo easy to cook. I just put them in a tupperware container, put a sheet of microwaveable cling wrap over the container with a small corner open for a vent and microwaved them for 2 minutes. How great is that?! A word of caution, though, overcooking is really bad. I managed to overcook one that I cooked seperately and it came out as a rock.

Indian Leftover Bentos

Since my toddler didn't like the Indian dinner the night before, her bento is pretty different from those of my husband and I.

Top tier: Mixed dried fruit, 'Fruit by the Foot' rose, cinnamon graham crackers w/ peanut butter, snap pea snacks, carrot sticks, Morningstar Farms Chik nuggets and a container of ketchup.

Bottom tier: Curried rice and peas, Alphatots french fries, carrot stars.

My husband and I both had curried rice and peas, Gujarati carrot salad, Aloo Bhaji. Since cauliflower and I don't really get along too well, I had extra peas and he had extra Bhaji :) Technically the carrot salad is supposed to be grated, but I didn't have the energy for it so I just made ribbons. It still tasted really good, though!

Monday, June 11, 2007

OMG Garlic Bentos

These bentos were characterised by the amazing amount of garlic in the pasta. The recipe was shown to me by an old friend of my husband's when we were a whole lot younger than we are now. We still call it R's Meal in honor of him. It consists of mega portions of minced garlic, olive oil, salt and basil.

We all had pretty much the same stuff in all of our bentos: R's Meal pasta with tomato flower, black olive & cucumber leaves, vegetarian forfar bridie, corn, cucumber slices & container of HP sauce. My daughter's bento included some of the Zoo Land biscuits from Super H Mart which are yummy, but not at all sweet like I was expecting them to be. They are more like butter crackers and a tiny bit flaky.

LCE #41

I'm trying to get back in the swing of the Lunch Cuteness Experiments. Here is an attempt at a Train Grilled Cheese sandwich with cheese & cucumber accents, lettuce smoke and a star grilled cheese mini sandwich. Pickles, tomato soup (oops, it was actually vegetable soup) & apple slices rounded off the lunch.

The Train was actually a big hit and she ate everything off the plate which was amazing!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Recipe - Summer Soba

The original recipe for this dish was 'Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce' from Madhur Jaffrey's "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking". But as is so often the case with my spice cabinet, I didn't have all of the ingredients that it called for and ended up making substitutions. Here is the recipe as I make it.

Soba noodles, drained and rinsed
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Carrot, thinly sliced
Onion, extremely thinly sliced

Sauce ingredients:
1 TB sesame oil
4 TB black sesame seeds
1 TB Tamari
1 TB Soy sauce
1 TB Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 ts sugar
1/2 ts cayenne
1/2 ts salt
1/4 ts white pepper
1 TB vegetable oil
3 TB vegetable stock

1. Cook Soba noodles according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse well with cold water, set aside for a few minutes.

2. Combine all sauce ingredients together and whisk until well mixed.

3. Arrange cold soba noodles in a bowl with vegetables on top.

4. Pour sauce over noodles and veggies right before eating so that they don't get soggy. I use a lot of the sauce myself, but I put less for my husband and even less for my daughter. Sometimes if we are eating this dish at the table rather than in a bento I will have the bowl of sauce on the table, allowing each person to get as much sauce as they like.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Summer Soba Bentos

Left to right: Summer Soba with carrot & cucumber, Sweet Love Broccoli & Tofu, rice underneath an apple flower with carrot center & cucumber leaves.

Top tier: Apple square, Sweet Love Broccoli, rice with Sweet Love Tofu

Bottom tier: Summer Soba with Dragon: Cucumber body & wings, mustard seed eyes, carrot fire & wing detail, onion clouds.

Top tier: Sweet Love Broccoli & tofu, apple bits, cherry tomato, rice chex cereal with mixed dried fruit.

Bottom tier: Summer Soba with carrots, cucumbers, onions & black sesame seeds.

The Sweet love broccoli is so well liked in my family that I decided to try expanding it with tofu, which was delicious! I fried the tofu triangles first and then browned them in the leftover sauce mixture after taking out the broccoli. Yum! (Sweet Love Broccoli recipe here: )

My Summer Soba dish is from the 'Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce' recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking". I didn't have any black vinegar so I substituted with balsamic vinegar instead and added about 2 TB more of the vegetable stock. It was fantastic, we all three loved it and ate every bite.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Inari Maki Bentos!

My daughter's bento: Rice hidden under peas, corn & sesame carrots. Inari zushi sleepy time friends with mozzarella heads, carrot hair & hands, origami paper faces, cheese slice blankets. Skewer of peas, corn & carrots, Japanese sesame cookie, babybel cheese, hash rounds, broccoli & black olives

My Bento: Japanese turtle shaped cookie who hid sesame carrots, babybel cheese, hash rounds, broccoli, 3 inari zushi with provided seasonings and corn centers. Rice hidden under sesame carrots, corn & peas/broccoli mixture.

My husband's bento: 3 Inari zushi with provided seasonings, pea and corn centers, Japanese wheat cookie, broccoli, hash rounds. Rice hidden under corn, sesame carrots and pea/broccoli mixture.
This is the first time that we've tried Inari Maki. It was yummy! At least, I thought so. My toddler had vastly different opinions and stopped at one bite. My husband felt that it was okay. (I'd thought he knew what it was, but he didn't. He mentioned that the pastry was a little squishy, poor guy.) It was a little bit sweet and the seasonings for the rice were a little bit sour. Overall I was pleased. They were easy to make and fun to eat, although these were tiny - much smaller than I had expected.
On a side note, I learned this evening the difference between inari zushi and inari maki. The zushi refers to filling the tofu pocket with sushi rice while the maki refers to regular rice or vegetable filling.
The japanese wheat cookies were yummy. The turtle and the folded one have a taste and texture that reminds me of fortune cookies, but with something extra added to give them a little kick. The sesame cookie is harder to describe. It was very good too, especially since I (and apparently A-chan) love anything with sesame seeds in it/on it.

Lunch Cuteness Experiment #40

3 plain onigiri with carrot stars on top, apple bunnies, peas with carrot star cut outs, udon noodles with carrot ribbons.

I'm having trouble making the adjustment from the high chair tray to the toddler plate. It's much harder for me to make cute lunches on the plate than on the tray. With more practice at it, perhaps my brain will switch back into cuteness functions but lunches are a lot more plain right now.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Super H Mart Loot, Part 3

I had not thought to find anything vegetarian in the frozen section, but I was so wrong! There were lots of things like the two items below that were vegetarian and that I really want to try.

Savory Stuff:
Cabbage Buns

Veggie Gyoza

Left to right: Udon noodles, Inari Zushi with seasoning packets for rice, Buckwheat Soba noodles.

Super H Mart Loot, Part 2

We had an excuse to go back to Super H Mart on our next trip into Atlanta and here are pictures of what we bought. This shopping experience with them was much better than our last one. Perhaps our mood was improved by not being so tired, not having been rained on, etc.

Since we are vegetarians our shopping reflects only a small percentage of the wonderful array available. Most of the things in the store have some sort of english labeling, including an ingredients list which is soooo helpful! I've never spent much time in grocery stores like this one, full of exotic things that I have no idea what to do with. But it's been great fun just browsing the aisles and picking up a few things to experiment with. And I can't resist the sweets! Don't be intimidated, have an adventure, it's worth it. :)

Sweet stuff:

Cookies for my toddler.

Pocky, wonderful Pocky!

3 kinds of Mochi: japanese rice cakes with sweet red bean filling.

Top Left: Sesame seed covered, Top right: Mochi without sesame seeds

Top: Japanese wheat cookies

Bottom: Korean cookies