Wednesday, September 19, 2012

JapanFest DayTwo

I can hardly believe how quickly this week has gone by.  On Monday my face was sore from smiling so much over the weekend!  Tuesday was entirely taken up with tests at school.  Today there were more tests but they were outweighed by the beautiful blue skies and clear weather.  Now that my exams are over I am able to finish up my posts about the wonderfulness of JapanFest!  Everyone loved seeing A-chan's lunch so much on Saturday that I decided to make a bento just for display on Sunday. People's reactions to seeing the bentos in person were so sweet and it made me very happy.

In the bento: Two plain onigiri, an apple bunny, blackberries, edamame on a pick, tofu karaage, carrot stars and almost invisible in the back were steamed broccoli and tiny tomato halves.

The onigiri were very quickly formed with the use of a triangular rice mold.  Their eyes were punched out of nori with a face shaped puncher, but the mouths were cut with scissors.  I used the end of a toothpick to apply sriracha sauce to make the cheeks.

In addition to the display bento we each had lunch bentos.  On Sunday A-chan's asthma was under control so she got to come along, yay!  Her bento had the same contents as the display with the addition of some kiwi slices.  Mine had Japanese curry instead of onigiri.

We had a fantastic time.  One of her favorite things was seeing all the Koi.  She also loved the games in the ginza.

A-chan in her new Yukata and me in my Aunt Takiko's Michiyuki. Her Yukata and face paint matched!

Playing games.  This one was the ring-toss.

The consolation prize for the ring toss was cotton candy. She loves cotton candy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

JapanFest Day One

JapanFest was incredible.  A-chan and I had a great time!  I am extremely grateful to my two helpers, Andy and Lucci, without whom I would have been lost.  To everyone who came to the presentation or stopped by the booth, thank you.  It was lovely to meet all of you and get to spend time chatting with so many wonderfully nice people!  I'm going to break up my post about JapanFest into two parts because otherwise it would be way too long.  At the bottom of the post are a few pics from the first day.

On Saturday I had made A-chan a bento but her allergies had aggravated her asthma and she had to stay home with her grandma.  She didn't get to eat the bento but  I got to display her lunch at the booth instead which was very cool.  Since I had made a white bear during the week I decided to make a brown bear for her to eat at the event.

In the bento: Fried rice onigiri bear, baby tomato on a panda pick, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, veggie hot dogs, baby corn spear, a strawberry, a carrot flower and some blackberries in a silicon container with a tiger pick.

To make the teddy bear I took a small portion of fried rice without veggies and made lots of little onigiri.  Since the fried rice is a little oily I used saran wrap to form the onigiri and keep the oil from getting on my hands.  His features were cut from provolone cheese and nori, stuck to his body with a tiny bit of mayo.  The nose was a pick stuck through the cheese and into the rice ball.  The vegetarian hot dogs were cooked before cutting the heart shapes with a tiny heart cutter.

The white teddy bear was awfully cute but I think that I prefer this one.  Which one do you like better?

Part of the ginza.  This booth sold yummy adzuki ice cream , dango and mochi!

I'm not sure what this structure is called.  Our booth was right across from it 

Japanese Archery!  So awesome. I got to handle a bow and practice drawing it. How I wish that I lived in Atlanta so that I could take lessons!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sweet Teddy Bear

We are in full swing getting ready for JapanFest tomorrow!  It is going to be so much fun and I am so excited.  And I even managed to fit the table in the car all by myself.  Go me!  To celebrate the upcoming fun  I made this cute onigiri teddy bear.  Nothing says happy like a smiling teddy bear, right?
Both of us are hoping to purchase some of our favorite Japanese sweets tomorrow: Mochi for A-chan and Dango for me.  I'm particularly looking forward to the Archery demonstrations as well.

In the bento: Lots of onigiri, carrot flowers, steamed broccoli, chickpeas, nectarine slices, frozen blueberries, strawberries and baby corn.

To make the body of the teddy I mixed scrambled tofu into the rice before making the onigiri.  Then I added two whole cloves for the buttons, making sure that A-chan knew to remove them before eating the onigiri.  The head and paws are just plain rice.  The facial features were cut from soy turkey slices, provolone cheese and nori with a few black sesame seeds for cute eyelashes.  Her cheeks were painted on with strawberry jam.  The jam might be a little weird but it seemed like a good idea at 6 am, as though jam is somehow cuter than sriracha!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sleeping Pandas

A-chan had asked for panda onigiri.  I had inari that I needed to use before they went bad.  We compromised and gave each little panda onigiri their own inari bed.  I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but I think that they are absolutely adorable!  This bento has way too much orange in it - I didn't notice how many carrots were there until looking at the pictures.  That's okay, A-chan loves carrots!

In the bento: Panda inari zushi/onigiri, steamed broccoli, carrot flowers, an apple bunny, baby corn, a pick of edamame,  a container of sesame carrots and two nectarine slices.

The inari skins were lightly boiled in a mixture of water, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar for several minutes and then dried. I folded the tops of the opening inside and pushed the onigiri halfway into the inari pockets.  Then I added the nori, sesame seed and sugar dot details.

I use mustard seeds in cooking quite a bit, particularly Indian food.  It just occurred to me recently that they would make fantastic bento decorative touches!  I like how they look on these carrot flowers and loved the fact that they were easy to put in place and didn't require as much fiddling as sesame seeds.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stamped Sammie Rolls

Hello Wednesday!  I'm glad to finally have time to post this week.  How does school become so utterly time-consuming?  Yesterday I was a volunteer model for the ultrasound students at my college.  They told me that I had a beautiful Aorta, how cool is that!

In the bento:  Two peanut butter roll sammies, Morningstar Farms sausage links, baby corn, steamed broccoli, a cherry, strawberry halves, three baby carrot flowers, some edamame pods and lemon wedges.

The sandwich rolls are fairly dense.  I took slices of bread and cut off the crusts before flattening them with a rolling pen.  Then added the peanut butter and sugar sprinkles before rolling them.  Each one has two slices of bread rolled up in order to make them substantial enough for the Hello Kitty stamp.  They were then wrapped in saran wrap and tied at the ends with large ribbons.  Getting the ribbon ends to fit into the bento enough to get the lid closed was quite the challenge!

I hope that everyone is having a great week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fruit Friday

It is that time of year again.  The school pizza rant is here!  Today is the first day of school pizza on Friday for A-chan and it made me grumble and grump all morning.  I despise it.  I loathe it.  Why am I so upset by it?  That's a good question and one that I have tried to solve for myself today.  Partly because it undermines everything that I am attempting to teach my child about good nutrition.  Another factor is that I hate having to scrounge around to find exact change to put in the envelope in a society where cash is fast becoming obsolete. There is a part of me that is acting like a 5 year old who's toy just got taken away because it's a morning where I don't get to make a proper bento.

But it goes deeper than that.  It's almost as if this one thing usurps every ideal that I am trying to instill in our family  - not just good nutrition but also less waste (they are served on paper plates) and the evils of peer pressure.  I know that the reason for Friday pizza is a good one - they are raising money for the class.  And I absolutely love everything about my daughter's school except for this one thing.  It seems extremely petty to be so upset about it, honestly.  But at the same time it seems as if the school is trampling on all the hard work that parents do.  I know that I am overreacting.  By the end of autumn I will be excited about making fruit-only bentos again.  Today, however, I am going to revel in my grumpiness.

In the bento: Strawberries, peach slices and a huge bunch of tiny champagne grapes.

A-chan was happy about having Fruit Friday bentos to go with her pizza again.  When we went to the store to purchase fruit for the week she desperately wanted to try these itty bitty grapes for Friday.  I love it when she wants to try new foods!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hot Dog Lions

I remember when A-chan was about three years old and I was delighted with the use of hot dogs that could be cut up in clever ways for bentos.  They looked so appetizing and fun that I couldn't wait until she was old enough that it was safe to give her hot dogs that weren't cut into minuscule pieces.  This style of hot dog use was one of my favorites to look at.  I was in a big hurry so my cuts are very messy and not nearly as pretty as I would have liked, but I'm still happy with the hot dog love!

In the bento: Two tiny peanut butter circle lion sammies surrounded by hot dog manes.  Boiled edamame, baby carrots, baby corn, grapes and a large cherry tomato cut in half.

The lion faces were punched from nori and secured to the bread with a tiny dab of peanut butter on the back which was applied with the tip of a toothpick.  The hot dogs were cooked then sliced almost all the way through, then secured in a circle with small pieces of uncooked soba noodle.  In the background is the container that I filled with ketchup for dipping hot dogs in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After DragonCon Bento

It was the morning after DragonCon and few groceries were in the house.  The worst bento transgression was about to occur for we had no fruit!  It pained me greatly but still I labored to put one together, swearing to shop just as soon as I could.   Instead of lettuce to line and to cushion I cut apart muffin cups and used them where needed.  What a wonderful time we had at that pinnacle of Conventions, meeting lots of great people hither and yon.  Much thanks to all those who attended my classes, I had a fantastic time and I hope that you did as well!

In the bento:  Peanut butter and sugar sprinkle sandwiches, steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes on Kappa picks, baby carrots, cheddar cheese chunks and the tiny chick container of frozen blueberries which was all the fruit I could find.

It was a fantastic convention and we loved every minute and we can't wait for next year!  We dressed up in several different costumes.  Here are a couple of pics of our matching Victorian outfits.

 It's always a difficult transition to come home after an amazing event and I made the mistake of forgetting to stop for groceries.  Luckily we had enough food on hand to make a bento but I was a little nervous for a while this morning.  In the background is A-chan's snack container filled with the last few Cheetos that we had left over from our junk food stash in the hotel room.