Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The egg was already boiled, shaped and in the fridge from the night before - As I've mentioned, I often boil 2 eggs to save time the next day. I would only boil one extra egg for this as the shelf life for peeled boiled eggs is much shorter than that of an in shell boiled egg and that is shorter yet than raw egg in the shell as boiling removes the protective oil coating from the outside of the egg. On one web source I perused, a responder claimed that coating the boiled egg (unshelled that is) in oil or parafin would keep it fresh longer - not something I have ever tried...
June 30 --
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens w/ star shaped sliced boiled egg, carrot flowers, radish slices and ham turkey & swiss pinwheels
Top Tier: Macaroni salad w/ kamaboko & green onion flowers, sundried tomato hummus, blueberry mochi, green tea candy and chocolate covered sunflower seeds
Side car: Pickled veggies (Giardiniera) in lettuce leaf 'cup', pineapple and blueberries
He also had some rosemary garlis triscuits in the lid for the hummus and of course his light ranch dressing.
I happily managed to use 4 of the items I picked up at Mitsuwa last week, though they were all small contributions :) I started to use the carrot flowers on the macaroni salad yet again and then remembered the naruto kamaboko and seeing it used as a flower on an onigiri in my review copy of Kawaii Bento Boxes :) It does make a simple and pretty flower, doesn't it?
This evening I plan to get back into walking with my neighbor when she walks her adorable dog Beau, so we'll see how much time I feel like spending on tomorrow's bento after the walk (it's been at least 2 weeks since I was so sick). Hopefully the thunderstorms will have all passed by then (though I do love a good thunderstorm!)
You've seen this box before, but again, it is from VeryAsia.com and is one of my favorites and the single tier came from Pikko - she sold it on one of her blog posts a while back :)
Monday, June 29, 2009
I just couldn't resist the close-up above - below is a picture of the salad tier and the full bento box (minus the sides) taken in Rob's mini portable photo light studio - Unfortunately, it really isn't big enough for my needs (really only big enough for a single tier bento...) - A web search for a larger light studio brought me to this post on making your own, so this will be my next project I think :): http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html
And here is the new bento box all closed up :) I mentioned the new box on Friday, but hadn't posted a photo - It is still out of stock on VeryAsia.com - Again, this was purchased at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ (595 River Rd - is it scary that I have the address memorized? ;P hehe)
My oldest daughter, Ahmetia, has been volunteering in the NJ Renaissance Kingdom, which just wrapped up yesterday. Kat also decided to attend yesterday and they each packed themselves a bento:
June 29 --
And here are bird's eye views of each tier:
And Ahmetia's Bento:
Friday, June 26, 2009
There were no bento the last 2 days as we celebrated Kat's Birthday - She's 18 now! :o and her Graduation. We went to Medieval Times for dinner and did the cake after we got home, so it was late and I was too tired to pack a bento for today, but here are a couple pictures from Kat blowing out her candles :)
Yesterday I took her up to Edgewater, NJ to Mitsuwa where we had lunch - we all ended up having the special at Kayaba of Gyudon (one of my fav Japanese dishes, I often buy the frozen version at the Asian market - I have forgotten the brand, but the box claims it has only 3.5 grams fat, whereas the other frozen one carries at Mitsuwa had something like 6 times that...) and Soba - For $7 each we couldn't even finish all of it! :) Kat is currently eating the Salmon Onigiri she got there yesterday.
We also got a naruto kamaboko that I hadn't seen at our market (they also had the pink w/ the white naruto design, but it was double the price and I just couldn't justify it at this time), a jar of nice red umeboshi - even though we still have 1/4 of a container in the fridge, but they just aren't as pretty red! I also got a package of green tea candy, which will be appearing in future bento, along with brightly colored chocolate covered sesame seeds :)
I also finally found Inari! Finally! :) I have never been able to find it at Hong Kong Supermarket (though it could be there, eluding me ;)
I also purchased a new bento box - one I had been wanting for a while on VeryAsia.com, but it has been sold out for months - Mitsuwa was about $1.34 more for the box, but no shipping, so WIN! :) They still only have about a 6 to 8 foot section of bento gear, but what they do carry seems to be of good quality and reasonably priced in comparison to what I have seen for the same or similar boxes online.
The Mars store in the center however is very overpriced after being spoined by Ichibankanusa.com - making me even sadder that they are going away :( They had the very same Putifresh and Clickety Click boxes seen at Ichibankanusa.com for $6.99 - more than 4 times the price I paid!
I am so jealous of those who have an Ichibankan or Daiso or the like near them! Though my bento collection is probably too big as it is!
Plan to be back on Monday with a new bento post! :)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday's bento isn't all that pretty - the egg did not want to peel and then I think some of the membrane was still on it and caused the egg slicer to catch and make it even worse, so I tried just putting it yolk out, but it's still kinda ugly... For today's, I went back to letting the water get to a light boil first, then added the egg and let it simmer for 10 minutes - Once again, it peeled more easily (though not as easily as when the water was at a full boil when I added the eggs) - I think it just works better for fresher, harder to peel eggs. I have also read that adding a little baking soda, salt or vinegar is supposed to help, but I haven't tried that yet.
Want to peel an egg without 'peeling' the egg? Rob got this to work twice - lol - check it out :) -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN2gYHJNT3Y
I would have liked to have added red pepper or grape tomato roses to the salad for more color, but I didn't have either - it wasn't until today that I realized I could have used radish again - Oh well...
The flower sandwiches are held together with cute picks - you can kinda see the green one, but the orange one is hidden by the cherries. There is an elephant pick holding together the center pinwheel on the salad since it was not 'anchored' by the side of the container.
June 24 (now for June 25) --
Side Car: Mixed Greens Salad w/ ham turkey and swiss pinwheels, a bear shaped boiled egg and carrot flowers
Bottom Tier: Macaroni Salad w/ carrot and green onion flowers and edamame
Top (Onigiri) Tier: Flower shaped ham turkey and american cheese sandwiches, baby carrot sticks, pitted cherries, a ringding in the center with foil to protect it from moisture and some blueberries tucked in the spaces
June 23 --
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens w/ ham turkey and swiss pinwheels, radish slices and a boiled egg that was car shaped but the egg slicer kinda mangled it :(
Top Tier: Macaroni salad w/ carrot and green onion flowers, blueberries and apple and melon gummies As always for his salad, he had a container of light ranch also
The first bento is packed in an Onigiri box by Hakoya that is no longer available from the soon to be gone ichibankanusa.com and the salad is in a food storage box from seventh avenue: http://www.seventhavenue.com/Kitchen-and-Entertaining/Food-Storage/Food-Storage-Set.pro?fpi=25115&catCd=DI
The second bento is in another Hakoya box purchased from VeryAsia.com
As soon as their stock is sold out, that's it, so if there is a bento box or goodie you've had your eye on and it's not already sold out, better get it now!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I am slowly improving on the antibiotics and am trying to get back into the swing of things - in the meantime, I have two bento for Rob and one Kat packed the week of the convention that I didn't get a chance to post with all the preparations and I, of course, have to tell you how the bento workshop went :)
June 9 --
Top Tier: Pitted cherries, snow peas, baby carrot sticks, blueberries, macaroni salad w/ carrot and green onion flowers and black sesame seed 'ground'
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens w/ grape tomatoes, radish slices and carrot flowers, car shaped boiled egg and asian fruit jelly
June 10 --
Top Tier: Mixed spring greens, carrot flowers, ham and swiss pinwheels and pumpkin shaped boiled egg
Bottom Tier: Pitted cherries, Blueberries, Macaroni Salad w/ carrot & cilantro flowers
And Kat's bento:
June 10 --
Top Tier: Kamaboko, Cherries, kiwi, blueberries and tamagoyaki - a little broccoli filler
Bottom Tier: Radish, baby carrots, onigiri
Once again, we forgot to take pictures during the workshop :o It gets so hectic doing a workshop, this time with 37 people, that we didn't even think about it until we were done cleaning up and were on our way back to the hotel room :(
I did the eggs in the egg mold the night before and we ran to Shoprite and got the rest of the produce the afternoon before. I had bought a hotplate so that I could do the eggs in the hotel room, which was a real pain - the water did not want to boil and the eggs were horrible to peel - it was impossible not to tear off pieces of egg while trying to peel them, no matter how carefully we tried :( On the second batch, Rob thought to use a carefully placed hand towel over the pot and we were able to get a good boil going. Even though every boiled egg tutorial will tell you not to place the eggs into already boiling water, we did it anyway. And although the eggs cracked a bit while boiling, they came out great and were a breeze to peel :) Batch 3 was more like batch 1 but not quite as bad as we tried putting the eggs in and then covering - the water just took too long to reach a boil, so for batch 4 we made sure to do them as we did on batch 2 and again they were much easier to peel. I was just happy when all 4 dozen were done (minus the unusable eggs - we needed to have 40)
We were lucky enough to have plenty of time for setup and having the sign-up sheet ahead of time made things so much easier this year - and we learned a few things yet again to change for next year to make it even smoother :)
Kat gave her presentation while Rob and I put out plates of produce etc. on the tables and rice as soon as the rice cookers were done - we put the hot rice into plastic disposable bowls and put a bowl to about every 4-5 people - and then we got to packing bento! We handed out various ingredients and gave a few quick tutorials on things like making a grape tomato rose as everyone was packing the food into their bentos.
Everyone made onigiri in the mini mold each received and each received an egg inside the egg mold to keep, along with their bento box, bag, some picks etc. We even drew names for prizes - we were originally going to vote for the best, but since not all the eggs came out great, I felt that would be unfair...
They all seemed happy and the only question we had at the end when we asked was "Why are you so awesome?" - That, of course, made my day :)
I would have preferred to post about it while everything was fresh in my mind, but that just wasn't going to happen while I was so sick.... Hopefully the bento posts will get back on track!
Monday, June 8, 2009
By the time I got back from my walk w/ my neighbor last night and finished watching Slumdog Millionaire, it was getting late and I really just wanted to pack a quick bento. I was going to make pasta salad since we're out of his usual Macaroni salad, but I changed my mind and just threw in the deli spirals from Sam's Club.
June 8 --
Top Tier: Pineapple, Snow peas, baby carrot sticks, deli spirals
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring greens, ham and swiss pinwheels and grape tomato balloons
Strawberry and melon gummies in the lid
Edit - forgot to list the bear shaped boiled egg - must have been my subconscious since it didn't turn out that great - the egg was a little too small (and I buy large eggs!)
Kat finally did a Charaben! :D This is Deady, from a comic by Voltaire.
June 8 -- Top Tier: Spinach Namul, Bean Sprout Namul, quail eggs, kamaboko, baby carrots and coconut gel w/ strawberries (which she said was yummy together)
Bottom Tier: Rice w/ furikake, Sugar snap peas blanched & tossed w/ a little olive oil and salt & pepper, broccoli and Deady made from Nori, cheese and roasted red pepper
And a close-up :)
Rob's box from VeryAsia.com - Kat's from HappyMall.com
Balloon picks from a set of picks from ichibankanusa.com - I have also seen them on jbox.com
Happy Bento-ing! :)
Friday, June 5, 2009
I got the new bento toy I ordered from jbox.com, so we had to try it out!
I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new bento tool :) It was like Christmas when it arrived, along with new Hello Kitty Mayo cups for Kat and a set of cute small silicone food cups.
Next time we'll know we need to spray the reservoirs w/ cooking spray because they stuck a bit when we tried to get them out. I love new toys!
Planning still continues for next week's Bento workshop at AnimeNext. I realized 2 nights ago that I forgot I had ordered silicone cupcake cups for the bento sets too, so I ordered some heart shaped ones and hope and pray they arrive in time - but I am not holding my breath. I have yet to receive a shipment notice and have found this company to sometimes be a bit slow in getting things shipped, so if it hasn't shipped by Monday, I may have to cancel the order and either leave them out or pay more for them somewhere else... :(
My neighbor knocked on the door earlier than expected last night for our walk, so I just stuck the bento in the fridge until I got back and then just threw in the last bits, so it isn't the prettiest bento I've ever done...
Top Tier: Bold Chex Mix, Sundried tomato hummus and macaroni salad
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens, ham and swiss pinwheels, grape tomatoes and egg slices w/ fun yolk shapes :D
Side Car: Strawberries, pineapple and checkered apples
Top Tier: Strawberries, Blueberries, spinach namul and apples
Bottom Tier: Crab sticks, Egg slices w/ fun yolk shapes :D, baby carrots and rice w/ furikake
And where we got our boxes etc!
Rob's main box came from veryasia.com and the side car came from ichibankanusa.com
Kat's box was purchased at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ
And that awesome Egg Yolk shaping 'toy' came from jbox.com :D
Thursday, June 4, 2009
We are down to a week until we go up for the AnimeNext convention here in New Jersey. This is really for our daughters. Rob and I don't dislike Anime at all, but we're not Otaku either (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otaku) - lol. For the last few years, we have gotten a hotel room so that we can relax while the girls enjoy all the convention has to offer and not worry about us wanting to go home when they want to do all the very late night activities.
So, Kat and I are gearing up for our Bento workshop and trying to make sure we have a plan and everything we need, aside from the food we'll purchase next week. We're really getting anxious for it :D
This is one of the utensil sets I send w/ Rob's lunch each day along with the salt and pepper filled fish bottles :) Just thought I'd share :)
Top Tier: Mixed Spring Greens w/ ham and swiss pinwheels, carrot flowers and a car shaped boiled egg
Bottom Tier: Pineapple, Strawberries and Macaroni salad w/ carrot and snow pea flowers
One of the reasons I debated whether or not to start blogging, aside from the fact that I'm really just plain boring, is that the bento I pack for Rob are mostly very similar, except for those times that I get to feeling like I really wanna do something more fun - Like the Simpsons Bento :) Today's is one of the typical bento days...
And here is Kat's for today:
Bottom Tier: Umeboshi Onigiri, Baby carrots, bear shaped boiled egg, mushrooms, a little iceberg and broccoli for filler
Top Tier: Blueberries, strawberries and pineapple
And now for where I got the boxes :)
The utensil set and fishy bottles came from ichibankanusa.com
The butterfly box is from Happy Mall: http://www.happymall.com/japan/lacquer_lunch_box.htm
The bunny box Kat used for today is from VeryAsia.com: http://veryasia.com/bentobox.htmlThey also sell some Asian food items, rice cookers etc...
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
For today, I wanted to use an example of a bento packed in a regular container. This one is very fruit heavy and a little light on protein I think, but very healthy w/ lots of different colors :) I read an article just the other day on phytonutrients and how different colored produce contains different phytonutrients (not that I didn't already know that, but it was a good reminder!). What I didn't know, or more to the point, realize, is that the darker and deeper the color, the more phytonutrients the produce contains - so always look for the darkest orange carrots, the brightest red strawberries and the greenest cucumbers :)
I don't use food picks all that often - mainly because I just don't think about them. Besides, Rob probably doesn't find them quite as cute as I do - lol :) But they are a fun way to add some cuteness when you don't have the time, or even just the energy, to do any other cute touches.
Tier 1 -- Pineapple, Blueberries, kiwi, Cucumber slices, carrot sticks and macaroni salad w/ nori flowers all decorated w/ some food picks :) Tier 2: Mixed Spring Greens Salad w/ strawberries and walnuts - He has raspberry vinaigrette in a container for the salad
The outer design of the strawberries was lost as I did the inner flower design, but I didn't have the patience to redo it last night - I decided it would do as it was :P
Top Tier: Cajun Catfish chunks (leftovers), rice w/ an umeboshi, spinach namul
Bottom Tier: Blueberries, Pineapple and strawberries
Bird's Eye View:
The box I used for Rob's bento came from organize.com and is a great value: http://www.organize.com/lunchbox.html
Kat's box is yet another from ichibankanusa.com from the Natural Lunch line: http://www.ichibankanusa.com/natural_lunch.asp
Happy Bento-ing :)
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I was so glad I was well stocked when I packed last night's bento as I was packing it pretty late and my mind was on other things. When I went on my nightly walk with my neighbor, I discovered that my car had been hit earlier in the day - no note, nothing but damage :(
So, I very nearly didn't pack Rob a bento for today, but then realized that he really needed one since he was going to be at a dealership today in an area he is not familiar with. So, out came the frozen deli spirals from Sam's Club. I was also glad that I had boiled and molded an extra egg the night before :)
Top Tier: Macaroni salad w/ nori and black sesame seed face, deli spirals, babybel light w/ flower cutout and bold chex mix
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens salad w/ ham and swiss pinwheels (was out of turkey), carrot flowers and pumpkin shaped boiled eggSide car of pineapple and blueberriesMelon and strawberry gummies in the lid
And Kat's bento for today:
Top Tier: Rice w/ umeboshi, spinach namul and tamagoyaki
Bottom Tier: Pineapple, imitation crab stick and blueberries
Bird's Eye View:
All of today's boxes came from ichibankanusa.com and the sidecar bowl came from a fellow lj user who was selling some of her gear.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Last week, I started walking with my neighbor when she takes her dog for his evening walk :) He is an adorable Shephard and is just the sweetest thing :) I have mentioned bento to her before, but what better to way to show what it is than to pack one for her, right? :) Since I am so used to packing the more American foods in the bento for Rob, hers is very similar to his. I of course intend for her to keep the boxes and bags for future use (I love getting people into bento - not that she has to do it - lol). She seemed excited when I dropped it off to her as a surprise last night - I just wish I had thought to pack a plastic fork in it just in case!
Bottom Tier: Checkered apples, pineapple and blueberries
Top Tier: Egg Chick on a nest of grated carrot, pea pod halves, broccoli, macaroni salad w/ carrot and pea pod flowers, sesame seed 'ground' & a grape tomato & nori ladybug and a little of Kat's Spinach Namul :)
Single Tier: Mixed spring greens w/ carrot flowers and grape tomato roses (I meant to add grilled chicken, but forgot :o) I also threw in a packet of light Italian dressing, not knowing what she likes...
I always love the egg chicks when I see them in bento, but Rob likes his egg sliced for his salad, so that doesn't really lend itself to the egg chick. I cut the egg right away after peeling it; I think I should have let it cool first as the yolk started to crack as it cooled... Also, the beak and whatever the thing on top of the head is called are just carrot pieces, but they didn't really want to stay put, so next time I'll have to do that differently. The eyes are black sesame seeds.
I also finally tried the checkered apple :) I am fairly happy w/ how they came out and how relatively fast and easy they were to do. I rolled it in a little lime juice to retard browning - I prefer the flavor of lime juice over lemon juice for this purpose. I wanted to arrange the fruit into sort of a flower, but it wasn't working for me, so I just put it in sections as usual...
I think it's a little light on protein since I forgot about the chicken breast, but with the single tier of salad, it should be filling enough :)
Now on to Rob's bento:
Top Tier: A little leftover frittata, blueberries, checkered apple, pineapple, Macaroni salad w/ carrot flowers and pea pod stems/leaves and black sesame seed 'ground' and a grape tomato ladybug w/ nori dots and faceBottom Tier: Mixed spring greens, leftover grilled chicken breast, star shaped boiled egg and carrot flowersSabra Hummus to go cup (and a few extra crackers thrown in his bag and light ranch for his salad)
Sunday I decided to finally make a Frittata. I had been wanting to for quite a while, but had just never tried it. I sauteed onion and red pepper in about 1 Tbs butter, then added sliced mushrooms and torn spinach leaves and sauteed just enough to let the spinach go limp. I wasn't sure of the best way to season the dish, so I seasoned the veggies w/ salt and pepper and then added the 6 beaten eggs. I poured that into the cast iron skillet and added feta cheese (I meant to add ham and forgot!). Using a heat proof rubber spatula, I stirred it around a bit and cooked a few minutes until the bottom seemed set. It then went under the broiler until then top began to brown slightly. It didn't really puff up like I expected, so next time I plan to try moving it a little closer to the broiler. Overall, I was pretty happy with it. I had intended to use a wedge in Rob's bento, but he wasn't sure it would be good cold, so I just used a little :) The verdict: it was ok, not something I should go out of my way to make for bento, but if we have it already, it's fine.
Now for Kat's bento!
Top Tier: Brown Rice, Stir fry w/ tofu, chinese broccoli, baby bok choy and onion
Bottom Tier: Apple, pineapple, blueberries and imitation crab stick
Now to where I got the boxes...
Both my neighbor's and Kat's boxes came from ichibankanusa.com and are sold out there, but I have also seen them on http://www.jbox.com/ (but not as cheap as ichibankanusa.com!)
Rob's is from VeryAsia.com
Whew! That was a long one today - lol :)