Sunday, December 6, 2009
There is another small green triangle onigiri, a cherry tomato, some cheddar bunnies and a few sweet midget pickles.
This bento also contains the teeniest tiniest apple bunnies I have ever made. They were so incredibly cute!! I used a Lady apple to make them. In the picture below the large apple is a Gala which I love and usually use in just about anything. The small one is a Lady apple that we got at Super H Mart. I have since learned that our local Kroger carries them! A-chan thinks they are the bestest cutest apples in the world. She has trouble biting into them since they are rather firm, but loves them once they are cut up.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The requirements of the award are to list seven facts about myself and then choose seven other bloggers to recieve the award. So here goes!
2- I love to play the harp.
3- Just like Lia Chen of Bentolicious, I’m horribly scared of cockroaches. There is absolutely no reason for it, but I am!
4- I have always wanted tattoos but am unable to get them because of my blood clotting disorder. It is a huge frustration! I particularly covet the traditional tattoos of the Rabari tribes in Gujarat.
5- My biggest fear: claustrophobia. It seems to be getting worse as I grow older.
6- As a child I was raised as a meat eater. I became a vegetarian when I was 21. But the traditional way of eating that I was brought up on is still very much a part of my cooking methods. So every meal has to include a ‘meat’ as a main dish, or these days a substitute soy product. This annoys me a great deal and I wish that I could change it.
7- I don’t like sugar. Sweet things in moderation are good. But ultimately we only eat something with sugar in it about once every two weeks. Of course we indulge heavily in sugary items when we attend conventions. Cons are not for healthy eating, you know! :)
1-Teapriestess at - Bento Mania
3-Gnoe at Graasland
4-Tanabata who does the Hello Japan! challenge - In Spring it is the Dawn
5-Lunch Bucket Bento
6-Bento Corner - Who gave me tons of inspiration and I wish was still updating!
7- Emilie at - The Conscious Kitchen
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
I came across a cookbook that I'd had for about a year and never cooked from. My mother had taken me on a trip to Denver and we had eaten at a fabulous Japanese restaurant called 'Domo'. They had a cookbook for sale, written by the proprieter and apparently I was so effusive in my liking for the food that the author even signed the book for me! So when I saw it I was overcome with shame for not having done anything with it, but also with a great desire to cook from it. But first I had to read it!
It's full of incredible amounts of information about traditional Japanese foods, cooking methods and food history. Reading it filled me with the joy of the geek who loves to know weird historical tidbits like the fact that tofu was originally a food reserved for nobles! But then it took me a long time to decide exactly what I wanted to cook. And then I kept changing my mind. Finally an idea hit me: I'd never eaten a Japanese breakfast so I should pick recipes from the breakfast section.
And then...I hit a stumbling block. I am more of a hidebound American than I thought because I suddenly kept putting off the actual cooking. Why, you ask? Because traditional Japanese breakfasts include things like vegetables and soy sauce, things I considered delicious for lunch and dinner but not so much for breakfast where I am fond of sweet, buttery foods. Notice the date that I am writing this - the very last day of the challenge - I was procrastinating! But this morning I folded up my sleeves, put on my apron and committed to a Japanese breakfast.
My breakfast bento was very easy to prepare and though I was initially reluctant, by the time I had finished cooking and gotten all the food in the box I was ravenous. I managed to wait long enough to take pictures of the bento and then armed with my trusty red shoyu pig and my chopsticks, I ate it all. Every bite. In record time. Even - and this is amazing - the cauliflower, which I usually hate. In fact, I only included the cauliflower in the menu because I was partly convinced I was going to not like the whole thing anyway so why not use a vegetable I despise. (I must note here that the only reason I had fresh cauliflower in the house was because at our grocery trip last week my daughter asked me "what is that? I want to try it." and I was so very proud of the fact that I didn't say "Eww, it's yucky, no way." but instead bought and cooked it and let her make her own conclusions. She likes it. Go figure!)
I am amazed at how much I really did like it. It tasted wonderful and I will be happy to have it again for breakfast! My bento was not completely traditional since I added a few items that made it more bento-ish. The traditional breakfast includes: Okayu: rice porridge, tsukemono: pickles, ohitashi: boiled vegetables, daizu seihin: soybean products, yakimono: grilled or broiled dishes and jobina: pre-prepared side dishes. The last 4 items are side dishes that you choose from, not include all in one meal.
Instead of okayu I used a rice ball because it's a bento :) For the pickles I chopped some gari and placed it on top of my soybean product which was yaki dofu. I chose carrots, snap peas and cauliflower for the ohitashi. The vegetables and tofu are supposed to be dipped in shoyu (soy sauce) and for that I had my soy sauce piggy. The tomato flower is completely out of place in a traditional breakfast, but I wanted to do something more pretty :)
The recipes were from the book "The Folk Art of Japanese Country Cooking" by Gaku Homma.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
There was absolutely no reason to make bentos today because we were staying home all day. It was just fun to make them anyway and play with the new letter cutters that I got from Jbox. I'd been drooling over letter cutters for about a year or so but just never could commit to getting them. But when I started making bentos for my daughter to take to school...well...I was already buying stuff for her bentos and it was the perfect time to get them cause they could piggyback on the shipping with the other stuff...and they weren't very expensive! (They were definitely worth it!)
Jasmine rice topped with carrot letters makes up the bulk of the bento. On the left side: one half of a veggie hot dog (I actually made a veggie hot dog look kind of elegant, woot!), some steamed broccoli, a baby tomato and mozzarella cheese sandwich on a star pick, a cute mozzarella and nori kitty, apple flower petals and one tiny fruit chew flower.
When we sat down to eat our bentos my daughter stole all the carrot letters from mine and ate them in about ten seconds. So I think maybe she's going to enjoy eating words in her own in the future!
Her bento had stirfried tofu and baby corn on jasmine rice, raw carrot slices in a heart container(apparently not nearly as fun or tasty as the carrot letters...), black olives on a heart pick, baby tomato, sweet pickle, and a hunormous mozzarella cheese butterfly. I had originally wanted to make the butterfly fancier and prettier, but she just wanted it plain so I complied :)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Top layer: two small square onigiri with carrot flowers on top, a triplet of baby corn, some Morningstar Farms chik nuggets cut in halves, a purple pig filled with soy sauce and a Lady apple.
Bottom layer: Hello Kathy onigiri with carrot flower, more baby corn, a baby tomato, udon noodles with peanut sauce and carrot flowers.
My favorite part of this bento was the tiny apple which actually fit into one of the smaller bentos we own. The bunny onigiri was made by my daughter with a mould! Her favorite part was all the carrot flowers.
I'm really enjoying making her school bentos, though some are definately coming out better than others. I think it depends of the amount of prep work I have done the night before and the amount of sleep I get :)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This was one of a series of bentos that I made for a panel on bentos that was all about how to make cool and cute bentos without any special tools. Since I tend to use the tools on a regular basis, it was a very neat challenge and got me thinking outside the box. I have to say that I love the alien, absolutely love him!!
On the very bottom is a well-packed layer of jasmine rice covered with a sheet of nori to create a space background. In the near corner I created a shaped 'bowl' of white rice, filled that in with a mound of curry and made a 'roof' over the curry with blue rice. I topped off the UFO with a black olive and some edamame.
In the other corner is the hungry alien with a croissant body, tortellini pasta and black olive eyes held together by red toothpicks, green baby spinach hair and yakiudon tentacles. The mouth is a tomato flower with a nice pickled ginger tongue - the best use of gari that I've made yet!
I couldn't wait to get to this bento after dance class, it's definately going on my list of favorites. It was so much fun and really tasty, but mostly just plain hilarious. If I ever need a good pick me up, I'm going to recreate this one :)
The box I used was just one tier of a three tier picnic box. I would generally fill it all the way up with food for a multi-person picnic. Since there was a lot of blank space (yes, it's a pun) in this bento it was perfect for just me.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
As fall begins to really turn cold I'm starting to feel more in the mood for heavier dishes and spicier dishes. Scottish flatpie is a fall family favorite, as is Shepherd's Pie. But while everyone else starts getting out soup recipes...I am again reminded of how much I don't like 'american' soups. I love greek soups, asian soups, Indian soups, but the generic american vegetable soups are too bland for me. It may just be that my mom made veggie soup way too often when I was growing up? Anyway...I've never really been a fan of Mr. Bento...mainly because I love the cuteness of my bento boxes and he's just too adult for my asthetic taste. But I want soup and he's perfect for soup, so he might get added to my Christmas list this year.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Check this out! Seriously. If you want to have a fun way to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture, this is awesome!
I learned two surprising things about Tanuki. First that they are a real animal. I saw pictures and they are so cute! But I had always thought they were mythological. Second was about their um...robe/weaponry which is not at all what it seems and is a bit surprising.
Also I truly enjoyed reading the stories by Lafcadio Hearn who compiled Japanese ghost stories in the late 1800s. One of the most fascinating things for me was the similarities to the Celtic fairy tales that were compiled in Scotland and Ireland by Joseph Jacobs during the same period. It was mainly the narrative style that reminded me of the Celtic stories, however it struck me that the stories in both areas had similar aspects. The fact that they were trying to have some understanding and control over scary situations by explaining them in terms of 'otherworldy' phenomena was clear. And it brought to mind the fact that no matter what culture you grow up in, all humans basically fear the same things and our imaginations run in the same direction when given the opportunity by the things around us.
Now back to the bento! On the left there were one large pumpkin onigiri and one small, both with broccoli stems. Some Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, carrot maple leaves, a cherry tomato, and some baby corn spears. On the right was a large amount of udon noodles in peanut sauce with broccoli and a tanuki on top. Mr. Tanuki was made of bread, fruit roll-up and white cheese with a huge carrot hat behind him and an udon noodle hat-tie. He looks kind of silly instead of scary, but I'm not good at the scary stuff! I did want him to have that hat straight behind which is a traditional depiction.
Thank you, Hello Japan! I enjoyed this challenge so much and I can't wait for the next one!
The rice colors aren't showing up very well in the photo, but the Jack o lantern is orange rice and the robot head was yellow rice. Nori was used for the faces, a broccoli stem for the jack'o'lantern's stem and whole cloves for the robot's antennae. Carrot ribbons were a great addition to the bento for fun! A-chan loves to eat carrot ribbons. There were also some garbanzo beans in a half moon shaped tin with a feta ghost on top. The feta had a hole in it just where the ghosts's mouth needed to be!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Also included were a peanut butter and honey bunny-shaped sandwich, apple, peas and feta on skewers, baby tomatoes, chickpeas and a flower of soy turkey painted with blue food color as an experiment. While she loves the pink potatoes, the blue soy turkey was apparently very suspicious and didn't get touched. She did say that it was very pretty though.
I've seen a lot of people on Flickr using the black sesame seeds as eyelashes and I thought it was a fantastic idea! It's so cute :)
Monday, October 26, 2009
Candy corn has always been one of my favorite Halloween treats, but I hadn't been able to find vegetarian candy corn in years. I finally found some this year and bought four whole bags of it! My little girl is definately enjoying it just as much as I. In my turn, I was thrilled to finally be able to share this holiday treat with her! She loved the idea of candy corn onigiri. This is one of the things that I did with the fall colored rices from a few weekends back :)
The remainder of the ingredients are veggie gyoza, fried tofu sticks, blackberries, an apple picnic blanket, sesame carrots, some baby tomatoes, a babybel cheese round, hello kitty soy sauce bottle and one bottle of sriracha sauce.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The doggy is a Boca chik patty sandwich and hamburger bun, part of the patty was cut off to make the ears and paws. The bows were cut out of carrot. Mozzarella cheese and nori for the face. A tulip cup full of chick peas, baby tomato halves and tiny cubes of feta took up most of the bottom portion of the box, with just enough room left over for two miniature potato pierogies and a HUGE blackberry.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Teriyaki tofu, mozzarella cheese clouds, korean veggies, rice with teriyaki sauce, baby tomato birdies with spring onion tails, house full of cheese cubes, nori kitties watching the huge birds.
I'm not very happy with how it looks, though I think the birds are cute. The artistic part of my brain was on vacation!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Top tier: Vegetable pie with cheese & soy turkey giraffe, tomato flower with cucumber leaf, greek baked potato and blueberries.
Bottom tier: Lion body is of couscous, mane of soy turkey and face of cheese with nori and carrot detail, carrot ears and paws. Hiding behind the lion's head are some garlic bagel chips. Steamed broccoli, greek meatballs (in this case the recipe is altered to be vegetarian) and a blueberry with an elephant pick.
I'm really excited about it. In fact, I dreamt about bentos last night! My girl has a list of kyaraben that she wants me to make her for school. She and I looked at Jbox.com yesterday to see if they had "special school bento stuff" that I could get for her to make it a little more well, special for her since she's already used to having bentos. This is the first time she has actually shopped for bento stuff and picked out things for herself, it's soooo cool! (The items that were necessities: the soy sauce bottles shaped like pigs and a pikachu bento box)
To be absolutely sure that everything is perfect for the first school bento, I'm planning ahead. I already know exactly what I'm going to make and have pre-thought all the ingredients and steps. We'll see how it goes. So excited!!!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
I used a gourd shaped rice mould to make the fried rice onigiri and cut strips of nori for the designs. There are fried tofu sticks on the left side with a small container of korean bbq sauce to dip them in. Steamed broccoli, cheese sticks and soy turkey fill in the gaps. Gaara's clothes are nori and soy turkey, his face was the white part of morningstar farms soy bacon, His hair was the red part of the soy bacon. Eyes from nori and white soy bacon part.
I skipped the symbol on his forehead this time - one of the things I want to fix next time :) He has a fantastic glare I think, though!
The small bottle was originally from a set of sugar sprinkles for cookie decorating. As soon as it was empty I snatched it straight into my bento tool set.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Pink rice flower-shaped rice ball (made using a flower shaped rice mould) with an apple center, steamed broccoli, one tiny carrot flower, 3 mini potato pierogies (steamed and then shallow-fried in butter), a lovely strawberry and 3 spears of baby corn.
This is just a quick note to everyone who attended the bento panels at AWA this year - thank you soooooo much for coming, I enjoy doing the panels immensely! I'm sorry that my friend Dee wasn't able to join me for them this year, and hope that she can next year. (You're awesome, Dee - I missed you this year!!)
I'm working on uploading the step by step presentations, but have run into the snag of not knowing how to do that. So I'm learning and should be able to have them up soon! Please be patient with me :)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
A snack bento for a healthy bite on the run: green grapes, apple bunnies and two hello kitty candies.