Monday, January 21, 2008

Special Toddler Bento

We've been having trouble getting our daughter to eat lately. We're not sure why, she will eat just a few bites and then claim to be full and won't eat any more. So I've been trying to do more bento lunches for her to get her to eat more and it's definately working. And in this bento we have the return of the skewered veggies which are always scarfed down first, yay!

Left portion: Green peas on skewers, ritz crackers with mozzarella cheese and soy bologna hearts, Morningstar Farms chik nugget, lettuce, 3 french fries and ketchup in the blue bear container.

Right portion: Garlic and olive oil couscous with peas and a halved cherry tomato.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snowflakes and Soba Bentos

Triangle onigiri with mamenori faces, apple bunnies, snap peas, sesame carrots, miniature corn croquettes, soba noodles with mamenori snowflakes.

We all had pretty much the same thing in our bentos. My husband and I had our soba noodles in lime-bowls while my daughter had hers in a standard toddler-approved container.

I learned several things while making these. First - that I love mamenori and that it's fun to work with. The paper punch that I used to make the snowflakes worked perfectly with the mamenori. But the mamenori didn't want to stick to the onigiri at all and tended to curl up instead of stay in place. Second - I actually really like snap peas which I have avoided for years cause I thought I didn't like them. My rule of 'you have to try at least one bite of something new' for my 3 year old clashed with my rule of 'if she has to do it, mommy has to do it too' with unexpected results! Last - that I should have used something other than a light colored background for the bentos when the pictures were taken.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Japanese Curry Rice!

Anyone who is a fan of anime must be consumed with curiosity over the dish 'Curry Rice' which shows up in many anime. Okay, maybe not, but I sure was! For years I have (ocassionally) wondered what it was that made Jun Pei so rapturous over Curry. What is the incredible pull of Curry Rice that Rino and President Kanade love so much? Finally, after all this time I got a chance to find out and the courage to experiment.

You might get the impression from this post that I, too, am in love with Japanese Curry Rice and you would be correct! The really funny thing is that it reminds me more of an old-fashioned beef stew than it does a curry. Weird but true. All three of us agree that it's delicious, though, and I think we'll be eating a whole lot of it this year.Top portion: Japanese curry, baby tomato and steamed broccoli.
Bottom portion: rice with soy bologna heart, mozzarella Hello Kitty, nori eyes, mamenori nose and hair bow.

Top tier: Curry rice
Bottom tier: mochi, mamenori flowers and leaves. Soy hot dog flowers, steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes.

Top tier: Curry rice with snap pea leaves, baby corn flowers and veggie hot dog flowers.
Bottom tier: Veggie hot dog flowers, steamed broccoli, baby corn, baby tomatoes, mochi and lemon cream puff biscuit. The puff biscuit was very interesting - the biscuit part was just like a cracker and not sweet at all, while the cream inside was very sweet!

This is the box that the delightful curry sauce mix comes in. This one came from Super H Mart. It is medium hot, but can also be found in mild and hot flavors.

There are two of these packs inside the box. They are easy to break apart either into halves or fourths.

1/2 pack of Extra firm tofu cut into squares (Or meat product of your choice)
3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into squarish shapes
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thickly
1 onion, peeled and chopped into large segments
2 Tb butter
1/2 block of Curry mix
Lots of water

1. Brown tofu (or meat) and onions in butter.
2. Remove from pan and replace with potatoes and carrots. Add 2-3 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. Put tofu and onions back into pan with veggies and any remaining water.
4. Add the curry mix and stir until dissolved, adding water as necessary to maintain a mostly thick sauce.
5. Simmer for 5 minutes, continuing to add water if sauce gets too thick.
6. Serve with steamed rice in a 50-50 ratio with some of the rice underneath the curry but some on the side.

Note: The anime referenced above are: Jun Pei from "Those Who Hunt Elves". Rino Rando and President Kanade are from "Best Student Council".

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bento bags

These are bento bags that I made for really good friends of ours for the holidays so that they would have something to carry their brand new bentos in! They are of green cotton with Sho Totoro embroidered on one side. Shown here with the bento boxes inside to give them form.They were really easy to make, I followed the pattern of my husband's bento bag that came with his green kitty bento. I used backstitch to outline the embroidery and filled it in with chain stitch. It's all done one thread thick with DMC floss so that it doesn't stand up very much from the ground cloth.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year's Eve Bento

Going to a New Year's Eve sushi-themed party was the perfect excuse for another excursion to my Beloved Super H Mart! (Remember my first mention of Super H, ever so long ago? lol - now I'm so addicted to the place...) It was a fantastic party and I'm still bummed cause I forgot to take the Mamenori with me so that my husband and I could eat sushi too. I can't believe I did that. Oh well, we had a great time and A-chan had so much fun.

Mochi are still her absolute favorite dessert, I think she ate at least 4 of them that night. They do take a little getting used to but they are so yummy!

There are orange halves in the center and konpeito candies scattered around, plus the tier where I ran out of mochi got an extra splash of carrot flowers. I'd seen lots of tomatoes cut like the oranges are, but saw oranges done this way by PurpleDinosaur in the bento box group on flickr. I thought it was so pretty and had to give it a try. Here is a link to the pic, go take a look!