Okay, starting to cook a little for bento now. Does boiling somen noodles count? It's been so hot here that somen salad is really the best thing to cool down with. I topped this one with shredded carrot, ocean salad, green onion and furikake. You could also add lettuce, egg, ham, krab, kamaboko, or whatever you like. I put some tsuyu in the round blue container for him to pour on the somen just before he eats it. To the side I put the standard three: steamed broccoli, yellow cauliflower and romanesco. In the bottom tier of this cool skinny bento I put all the fruits: cherries, white nectarines and -- yes -- lychee!! It's not summer if I don't make my traditional lychee/blueberry panda. So here he is. I also added some other panda pals too, so they can have a panda party in the skinny bento! Not sure how I feel about this shape yet. I've seen others use it so elegantly, but I feel like I have to handle it carefully or it'll flip out of my hands and fall straight on the floor. It is unique though, isn't it?
Another no-cook bento today! This one is that kid favorite: the char siu bao. I have used a similar bread to make a Pirate Monkey, and a raccoon Kireizukin Seikatsu, and this time I made Hamtaro. I slipped a knife between the baked brown layer and the fluffy bread layer to make his white face, and I used the extra brown part to make his ears. For his eyes I halved a black grape, and poked a little circle of bread and another little piece of nori on top, securing it all with a rice stick. The rice sticks were also useful for whiskers. His nose and tongue are ham and I cut his mouth from nori as well. The other side of the bento is separated from the bread side in this unique box by Sistema. I filled the two sections with all kinds of fruit and veggies: cherries, strawberry, blueberries, white peach, black grapes, carrots, broccoli, yellow cauliflower and romanesco. Whew! There's a lid that secures the bread section, and then the whole thing closes together with the pink latch on the right side. I was even able to fit the tiny fork in there too!
I added my lunch to Shannon's What's For Lunch link here: you can too!
Still going easy on the bento cooking -- and furikake salmon requires all of two steps: slather with kewpie, sprinkle with furikake, and fry! Okay, I guess that's 3 steps. But still, very quick and easy. I lay a few pieces of the salmon on some green lettuce, then tucked in a piece of steamed broccoli and a tiny cup of enoki mushrooms sauteed in shoyu and garlic. I added some raw carrot flower garnishes for color as well. As for the fruit, it looks like they're all dark red ones today: strawberry, black grapes and red plum. Even though this box is undivided, I keep the flavors separate with silicon cups and fresh lettuce "baran". These little forks are from my mom's flatware set. She gave them to me since they are so cute, easy for kids to handle and perfect for bento. Don't you agree?
This is MisterMan's first bento for his summer session. Just in case I am out of practice, I decided to use my reliable MRB, which has served me well all school year long. I've had this 3-sectioned round bento box a long time, and it is one of my favorites. Not only does it keep everything separate, but it comes with a tight-sealing clear latched lid under which I have about a half inch of clearance to place decorative touches on top of the inner boxes.
I am easing back into bentomaking, using store-bought rotisserie chicken for this bento. I sliced a few pieces and lay them in a green lettuce leaf in one section. I did cook rice, using a mixture of white, bulgur and red lentils. The red lentils are smaller than regular lentils and cook faster, so they kind of fell apart in my rice cooker. I mixed them all in anyway, and didn't hear any complaints. They actually gave the rice a kind of sandy hue. If I had taken the time, I could have made a cute beach scene with a towel and beach toys. But since my boy's not a big rice fan, it might have gone to waste. I did make a little riceball rolled in furikake, and placed it in the next section, along with a piece of steamed broccoli. The final section got a big juicy strawberry, sliced peach and black grapes. And for a summery touch, I cut some orange and yellow carrots to look like slippers (or slippahz, more accurately), which is what we all lived in last week. Okay! I think the bento thing is coming back to me now. ^_^
We're baaa-aack! Spent the last two weeks on Oahu visiting family and not making bento. Well, I did make one. I used my "heirloom" aluminum bento box that belonged to my grandmother. It's quite small, with a permanent divider and a lovely oval shape, and a tight-fitting domed lid (including a rubber gasket) with double latches on each end. It's very cool and unique.
This bento contains homemade fried rice with egg, kamaboko, green onions and ham. There's also a piece of steamed corn and Okinawan purple potato in the main compartment. In the small section I stuffed the Awesomely Unbelievably Delicious Hilo Lychees, which you will be familiar with if you follow me on twitter.
I have been totally obsessed with these fruit during my whole vacation, which happened to coincide perfectly with the height of Hilo lychee season. The reason this variety of lychee is so superior to all others is because of its generous size, large quantity of juicy sweet flesh, nice easy-peel skin, and teeny-tiny seed. It really is the most luscious thing you will eat all summer. If you get a chance, you really must try it. Don't let the high price deter you. It's totally worth it. Okay! Let's move on.
For color contrast I tossed in a few boiled peanuts, which -unpeeled- are great for keeping kids busy for an hour or so on a hot afternoon. And I forgot to bring any cute accessories, but my mom did have some picks, so I added the leaf pick for fun. There! I worked my bento chops. A little.
It's the end of school / beginning of summer bento! This one is for TinySprite. I got the idea for the mameshiba hot dog rolls from Sofia of From Japan With Love, who posted a picture of mameshiba hot dog sushi that were so cute. I didn't have rice, so I substituted bread which I flattened by rolling with a glass jar, then wrapped the cooked turkey dog and sliced to fit the box. I added nori detail for the faces. I also made a one-egg tamagoyaki with shredded spinach, some cucumber, steamed purple cauliflower, sliced plum and golden apricot. All packed up in my cute Hello Kitty box. She ate it this afternoon before going with her brother to his kung fu class, and I was happy that she ate everything. Even the "purple broccoli", which she bragged about. Next time I'll put a bigger piece in!
Okay, I know this is not a bento, but since I didn't make a bento today this is what I am going to post. I wanted to make these Hello Kitty carnations I saw blogged here by zakka life. Isn't it cute? It would be so nice for MisterMan's teachers on the last day of school, I thought. This is Jessica's example:
I read through the instructions and thought "pretty easy!" Well, yes, but for one thing. You need WHITE CARNATIONS. If you have been following me on twitter you know that I have been looking for these white carnations a couple days now. I have gone to every florist and flower vendor within a reasonable driving radius and guess what? Nobody has them. In fact, nobody has much of anything these days. I don't know if it has anything to do with the graduations, proms, weddings, etc. that all happen to take place in June but I have a sneaking suspicion it might. Or it might just be my lousy luck.
Well by today I am so sick of calling places and driving around that you'd think I would just give it up. Nope. I am determined to make these! So this means I either have to use white mums (not the massive double ones, which could possibly work, but the wimpy single ones) or colorful carnations. That's right: there are no white carnations but you can have one in any color of the rainbow you desire. I got to choose between red, maroon, near-black, purple, magenta, pink, yellow, green, orange, and bicolor combos of the aforementioned. *sigh* So I chose orange, pink and purple.
If you overlook the color issue, the making of these Hello Kitty flowers was pretty straightforward and successful. I used black buttons for eyes and gold buttons for noses (since I didn't have any yellow). I cut ears and whiskers from cardstock and added ribbon bows.
I neglected to buy floral tape, so I had to use wire to secure things, and even resorted to my trusty glue gun. Not sure if the hot glue will really hold til tomorrow; I think maybe I should have run out to get the floral tape. Another thing I would do differently is make the bows smaller; I know they look humungous and odd here, and while we're talking about the bows I probably could have used colored cardstock ears to match the strange colors I used for their faces. *eta: I colored the ears to match and it looks better :)
All right. So besides all that, I think they came out pretty well! So what happened when MisterMan got home and I asked him if he knew what they were? He said "Bears?" And when I asked TinySprite she said "Monkeys! With tails!" What?! Sweet boy of mine, when I threatened to toss the unrecognizable flower creatures out rather than embarrass myself by gifting them to possibly horrified recipients, he said "No! I'll just tell them it's HELLO KITTY, so they'll know!"
Oh, okay then. ^_^
Try it if you like! But make sure you can find the white carnations.
What, you say we've already had a banh mi bento recently? Really? Let me check...nope, last one was 2 months ago! But it's true I've made other kinds of sandwich bento in the meantime. Let's face it: sometimes it's easier to make a sandwich bento than prepare "real food" and there's nothing wrong with that. Today was such a lovely day, we spent most of it outside and I didn't do any cooking at all. We got Vietnamese takeout and took home some banh mi for lunch. Today it is chicken. I cut it in half and added extra spinach and cilantro to fill out the green veggies, then wrapped in wax paper and snuggled them into the basket part of my Keroppi bento box. The lower tier is just big enough for some early summer fruits: white peach, rich red plum, golden apricot, tangerine, blueberries, and more homegrown strawberries. Oh, and some purple cauliflower because I am in love with the vivid hue. I live for summer fruits, and these are just the beginning. The plum is still a little tart, but I really do like them like this. The peaches are super sweet. And the strawberries -- well, these are bigger than the mini ones I packed a few days ago, and they are bursting with sweet flavor. It's such a treat to enjoy fresh picked fruit, and if you can't grow a fruit tree, you can definitely try a strawberry plant. They're very small and prolific; you can enjoy a handful of fruit with each bloom. And they're so cute! I'll try to remember to take pictures of the baby fruit as it matures from a tiny green berry into a luscious red one. You'll be hooked.
This is MisterMan's last bento of the first grade. It makes me a little nostalgic, just like at the end of kindergarten. He's growing up so fast and I always wonder how long he'll be agreeable to taking bento for lunch. He's still the only one in his class having bento for lunch, and so far the response by the other kids has been positive. The girls especially -- he says they come over and say "Awwww, so cuuuuute." I guess the boys are too manly for that. Anyway, I'll still have TinySprite to make bento for. She'll start preschool this summer, hopefully. She's much pickier than her brother, so it'll be more of a challenge!
End of school marks the beginning of summer for us so.. Happy Summer, Bento Friends!!
Mochiko chicken is normally deep-fried, but I've made it using a recipe adapted from hapabento. It's baked instead, and although you don't get the same fried effect, it's still pretty good!
Marinate 1lb chicken (cut into bite-size pieces) a few hours in:
Equal amounts (4T): shoyu, flour, cornstarch, mochiko flour, sugar.
1 egg, one minced garlic clove, finely chopped green onion (white part)
Add chicken pieces to hot, oiled pan at 400F.
Bake until cooked, and broil if necessary to get a crispy crust.
Along with some mochiko chicken I added steamed purple cauliflower and raw carrots. The flower is made of satsumaimo and purple potato. The fruits are kept separate with a lettuce baran, and there are some good summer fruits now! White peach, golden apricot, and look at the little plum! I forgot the variety, but it's dark red inside and out, and sweet-tart. Love 'em. I also made crispy kale using a recipe from Steamy Kitchen. Basically all you do is wash and thoroughly dry your fresh kale, tear into bite-size pieces, toss in olive oil (and garlic powder if desired) and bake at 350F until crispy. Toss a few times while cooking to make sure it's crispy all around. It's prettier if you crisp until just before the leaves start burning, but I'll tell you that the brown bits are crunchy and very fun to chomp. You can seriously eat a whole bunch of kale in minutes this way. Even your kids will like it, no lie!
I am a former research scientist turned stay-at-home-mom of 2 who got started with bento in an effort to help my kids learn that eating healthy and nutritious foods can be fun and cute. I make a bento lunch for my 13yo (8th grader) son & my 10yo (4th grader) daughter every school day, and post the pictures on my sherimiya ♥ flickr photostream. Here in this blog is where I describe each bento, and you'll also get a peek inside our family adventures. Thanks for taking a look, and please let me know what you think ^-^!