Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Holidays Bento Pals!

Not much bento activity these holidays; we had 2 feet of snow and spent a lot of time doing this:

(that's me with the snowblower at the end of my driveway)...

...and this:

Santa did bring me a nice new bento box though, so I look forward to many happy-lucky lunches in the New Year!!

Happy New Year to everyone and here's wishing you health, love, happiness, and bento in 2010!! Itedakimasu!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Super-packed Bento

Upper level: jasmine rice and umeboshi, broccoli with rice vinegar and mirin, sesame tofu.

Lower level: Kiwi, cherry tomatoes, clementine, baby carrots.

I stir-fried the broccoli in a tiny bit of sesame oil; then for the last 3 minutes of
cooking I poured about 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar and 1 tsp of mirin over the broccoli and just simmered that. It was so good!

I've been wrapping bento box Christmas gifts (share the obsession!) along with copies of Susan Yuen's lovely Hawaii's Bento Box Cookbook for all my friends who have expressed even the tiniest interest in bento. I hope that in 2010 more of us will be sharing the love of bento!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Darling Clementines!

Is there anything better on this earth? These sweet and tasty naturally bento-sized fruit are packed with nutrients and enzymes for health.

Something about winter and snow makes me yearn for citrus. When I was 4 years old, I used to ride my tricycle to my grandfather's house every morning. I think I was a little pest. But Grampie always welcomed me with a smile and he always made us each a glass of fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice. I can still see his old man's gnarly hands and the green ceramic juice thingy. And his sweet smile.

Food, love, memory.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Love the Salad Rolls!

Jan's bento today has: fresh veggie-tofu salad rolls, carrots and broccoli, a few rounds of roasted golden yam with cheese stars in between them, spinach and lettuce lining the bento box, and skewers of fresh shrimp. Kitty holds spicy peanut sauce, and another little container of wasabi mayonnaise is included for the shrimp. In top of the furoshiki I added a clementine and a mini-Snickers bar.

When I first was learning to cook, I followed recipes slavishly. I was even one of those fools who would go out and buy the specific brand of baking soda recommended by the baking soda company who were presenting the recipe, in a magazine say. I was so literal!

Now I finally have the courage to change things around and sometimes it doesn't work, but it is much more fun. These salad rolls are a little wacky:

I used soba noodles instead of rice noodles, because soba is better for Jan's diabetes. I had no mung bean sprouts so that (actually my favorite ingredient!) is absent. I used a food processor to shred the veggies, which resulted in too finely chopped cabbage tending to fall out of the roll unless you exercise extreme care. I added radishes for color and spice. And I cut little tofu planks to lay along inside each roll. But they taste wonderful!! I tested them thoroughly last night. *-*

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breakfast Bento and a Pomegranate Tip

Friday I had to get to work extremely early so I brought a breakfast bento.

In the top container, yogurt, blueberries, and some nuts.
In the bottom container, a toasted mini-bagel with peanut butter, a clementine, and some pomegranate seeds.

Now here's a neat way to get your pomegranate seeds out & separated without producing a bloody mess on your counter.

Slice just barely through the pomegranate skin from the outside, in quarters, like this:

Then peel the skin down gently along the slices, to reveal the seeds in all their glorious little compartments:

The seeds can then easily be removed and you don't smash them, as you would when cutting the whole fruit in sections first.

Usually when I make a great discovery like this, it turns out that everybody knew it forgive me if this tip is already general knowledge!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My New Favorite Bento Seller on EBay

Oh my...I have been browsing unnecessary bento boxes on EBay and I found a new favorite seller: priesjapan. They are located in Japan but have pretty reasonable shipping, and a 'new buyer' offer of two shippings for the price of one.

I feel a bit guilty in telling you about their bento boxes because...they are so cute!!
And their descriptions in killer-cute Engrish are even better. I just bought the one above. Here is part of the information from their ad:

And there's more, about size of bento boxes:

"Most failure at the purchase of a lunch box is size differences.
Even if size is describing numerically, you should not have feelings.
If this is seen, you can realize a size, as it had a lunch box in the hand.
Your failure is defended!"

I feel much better.

"A Lunch Box is a casket of lunch.
All the menus are settled in one.
A full-course lunch starts at the moment of opening a Lunch Box.
Let's enjoy Japanese Lunch Box Menu using this Lunch Box!"

OK!! I'm in. Even if you aren't shopping for bento boxes, go look at their collection. They are the real thing!

I admit I also bought this one, even though it was a bit $$$:

I could not resist the inscription" The sheep is saying, "WHY AM I FEELING SO COLD?" Haha; too perfect for this frigid winter day.

Soba Bento

O how I love soba noodles!

Did you know soba are lower in carbohydrates than most other types of noodle? Important for diabetics and dieters. These lovely buckwheat noodles stand up to a sauce, keep their texture, and are very satisfying in a bento lunch. They always get a high score on the NHAB Scale: Not Hungry Again Bento.

So today, in the midst of a cold snap (it's 1 degree F. outside as I write!), my bento has:

Spinach sauteed briefly in olive oil, sesame soba, carrots and 'egg rolls' (flat omelet rolled and sliced); then in the other tier, sugar snap peas, clementine, and blueberries.

Stay warm everyone!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"How Have You Been?"

I love it when my lunch talks to me.

Especially in a helfpul, slightly enabling manner.

This little bento is willing to bring me anything, anything! I could ask it for rubies, or a horse property in Kentucky. A new saddle! Or maybe this bento box has magic powers and could make it not be Monday.

As it is, it is bringing me 3 fat umeboshi and black sesame onigiri, soy sauce in the bunny, ginger pork meatballs, and veggies, with a nice pear tied up in the furoshiki.

What more could I want really?!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NQBR: "Densha Otoku: Train Man" You must seee!!

Continuing my digression about movies, you have got to see "Densha Otoku: Train Man" right now!!!

Don't delay. Just rent it, buy it, find it on NetFlix, whatever you have to do. Watch this movie as soon as possible.

You will love it I guarantee and I stand behind my guarantee 100%.

"Train Man" is a geeky young Japanese man who has never had a girlfriend in his 22 years of life. A random encounter with a belligerent drunk on a train causes him to come to the aid of a pretty lady, and the movie unfolds from this situation.

But this does not begin to describe the cuteness of this movie. Train Man is a member of some online community, and the film flips back and forth from his online advisors, many of them as geeky and inexperienced as he is, to his actual situation: seeking advice about what to do with a prospective date.

Train Man changes his appearance on their advice: haircut, new clothes, shaving, etc.

A trio of hysterically funny online friends who happen to be the geekiest men in the universe completely captivate you and make you want to date all of them. "NAAAHH!!! She is inviting him to her house!!!! It's the ultimate defeat for all of us!!"

Absurdly comic scenes involving them are the most crazy/cute moments of the film.

As here they are depicted involved in a fantasy trench warfare situation. They may be gaming or they may just be thinking about their crazy online lives without dates.

The female lead looks a bit older than the male lead and I found this refreshing. Nothing in the film addresses it. She just is who she is: a youngish woman still living with her parents, no boyfriend until Train Man comes along.

The film has so much cute detail and so much visual beauty that you will certainly enjoy it. And without giving too much away I hope I can say: it looks like happily ever after is what's promised at the end.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anime Fun!! "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds"

It doesn't usually take me 20 years to see a movie but with this one, it did.

OK I am little behind the cultural trends. "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds" was released by Studio Ghibli in 1984, based on a manga series that ran from 1982-1990. I got it from NetFlix with special features including a history of Studio Ghibli that was...not terribly exciting, except that it showed how many cigarettes Japanese men can smoke in a day - the overflowing ashtrays, the guys talking with cigarettes dangling from their lower lip, it was apparently a very smoky era for the anime movie.

Nausicaa is a great role model for girls, except for the fact that she appears to have given up wearing underwear.

She talks to trees and animals, she is utterly fearless, she collects botanical samples, she hates violence, she flies a glider with the skill of Luke Skywalker, and she saves the world.

The creature with the multiple eyes up above is called an Om, and when angered its eyes glow blood-red. The Oms on the march in this movie are visually stunning, as indeed is everything else about it. It is old-style drawn animation and has a peaceful beauty about it that digital animation lacks.

Set in a post-nuclear world like so many other films, this one shows a fragile culture kept non-toxic by the gracious winds which sweep in from the sea, and by a forest of trees who are hard at work cleansing the earth of toxins. The forest is misunderstood and feared by everyone except Nausicaa, who finally discovers its secret and thereby the key to saving human civilization.

There's a sad quality to the film: Nausicaa is battling against the inherent violence and aggression of humanity, and she almost loses the fight. We get a sense that another time, it might have gone differently, and we would all drown in a toxic sea of hatred and environmental poisons of our own creation.

Very pretty movie though and the award-winning sound track of ghostly themes and haunting songs is lovely too.

Studio Ghibli (pronounced zhee-blee, as they carefully explain, because "Gibbly sounds like a noise your stomach makes!") also produced many other blockbuster anime films in the 1990's including "My Neighbor Totoro", "Princess Mononoke", and more.

Years ago my younger son went through an anime phase and "Princess Mononoke" came and went through our lives but I paid no attention. What was I thinking? I missed a great chance to connect over Japanese films and lady heroes.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you have many anime days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hello Kitty Hello Sandwich!

It seems that packing a bento in a single-section container has its own challenges, more difficult than the two level containers with dividers. I'm slowly figuring out that if you really pack i.e. place everything right up against something else, the food arrives at noon in better condition - not shaken up and falling apart.

Here I made Jan a sandwich out of kalamata olive flat omelet, lunch meat, and cheese; then I stuffed a fresh sweet pepper with green olives and stashed that in the lower level. Granny Smith apple with peanut butter in the center, a pack of mystery snacks from the Asian grocery, sugar snap peas, mustard Kitty, and a small white chocolate pudding topped with chocolate chips. I put wooden picks through the sandwich layers to hold them together in transit.

My goal was to have the pudding arrive upright and sandwich still holding together and: Mission Accomplished.

Here's a photo of the types of picks I use. Jan is particularly amused by the somewhat phallic koala bear. The long slender ones are great for sandwich integrity.

These are all either from EBay sellers or J-List and are quite inexpensive.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bento Invades Dinner!!

Help! Bento is taking over my life.

Here you see yesterday's dinner, which I decided to put in the sectional flat bento boxes I haven't otherwise used much. I got home from work early and started making small amounts of: steamed broccoli splashed with mirin, winter Delicata squash with a bit of rice vinegar, sticky rice cylinders, shrimp quick-fried in hot chili oil, shoyu tamago, and (packaged, microwaved) yakisoba.

It was really a fun supper. Unfortunately we watched the news while eating it, which I hate doing because nothing ruins a good meal faster than world news.

Here's Jan's lunch from 2 days ago:

The top container has folded flat omelet, sugar snap peas, and cold sesame soba noodles; the lower container has a mini-pepper stuffed with feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, grapes, and a tiny white chocolate pudding with a gummy octopus attacking it. Apparently the octopus was outmatched, because some ingredient in the (sugar-free fat-free) pudding began dissolving the poor guy before lunch time arrived.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BLT Bento

This year my friend Laura and I attended the Harvest Festival in our town. We wandered around the food booth until we came to a beautiful family: mother with blond braid down to her waist, holding a beautiful blond apple-cheeked baby; 3 other blond children all radiantly eating dried apricots, and quiet blond dad. These were the owners of a local dairy that was selling cheeses and hog shares.

Laura and I are both increasingly worried about our contaminated food supply, so we circled back to the family again and read their hog share pamphlet. Finally we broke down and reserved a hog share (40 pounds of assorted chops, steaks, bacon, roast, ham, etc.) each.

The pamphlet described blissfully happy hogs, who wander in sunny pastures all day long and dine on whey "The Perfect Food for Hogs" left over from the cheese-making process. It was a little strange to think of our hog, so happy in the autumn sun, blissfully not knowing about his upcoming trip to the butcher in St. Cloud and eventual fate in our freezers. I named our hog "Socrates", after John Stuart Mill's claim that:

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.

Philosophers debate whether the pleasures of a pig are equal in value to the pleasures of a human, and Mill says no. Our hog Socrates might have disagreed.

Anyway even though it sounds weird, this little hog-share venture has so far paid off in the best-tasting bacon in the universe. So I made BLT's for our bentos on Monday.

I do have mixed feelings about meat eating. I've spent several years being a vegetarian off and on throughout my life. Currently I think there's a place in the moral universe for humanely raised meat animals. A short life on a farm eating whey among pretty children in sunny pastures might be life enough. I don't know...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bento with Carrot-Tangerine Salad

This bento for my husband was a little high in carbs on the right-hand side: sticky rice, curried black beans and lentils, octo-dogs, pickled sweet peppers, jello-jigler in cup and gummy I wanted something for the left side that would be light and veggie-nourishing.

I invented this super good salad:

Carrot-Tangerine-Coconut Coleslaw with Blood-Orange Infused Olive Oil Dressing

The name is almost longer than the recipe!!

Grate two raw carrots. Peel, seed, and chop one medium tangerine. Toss together with a generous sprinkling of grated coconut. Drizzle with the olive oil and if you don't have the blood-orange infused kind, which I stumbled upon in Madison, just use plain olive oil and a squeeze of orange or lime juice. Toss together and refrigerate for a bit. Pack into bento and go!

This was so good; the coconut balanced the sharpness of the blood orange flavor and the tangerine, and altogether it was a very awakening lunch side dish.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bento of my SuperEasy Noodle Sauce

I have been reading a lot of noodle recipes and cookbooks lately, and it seems there is a very easy, common, basic noodle sauce that everyone can make in about 30 seconds which tastes glorious. It is the common denominator at the bottom of many fancier more elaborate noodle sauces.

Here's how it goes:


Cook up your soba according to package directions, as much as you like. (Or use some other noodle of preference.) Soba often come bundled in individual servings wrapped in a paper band.

When soba is cooked, pour it into a colander to drain. Do not rinse the saucepan you cooked it in!

Instead, while it's warm and your stove burner is still hot, put the pot back on the burner and pour in (assuming one serving of noodles):

1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup mirin
1 Tablespoon sesame oil

Let this warm and stir it a bit to blend. Then return the noodles to the same pan still with no extra heat under it, and toss the noodles in the blended sauce ingredients. Voila! It tastes divine. And how easy does it get??!

You can then add: chopped green onion, fresh snow peas, cooked shrimp, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, cooked chicken, cooked omelet sliced, radishes, spinach, anything!!!

In today's bento I had the basic soba with sauce plus I threw in some frozen peas for the last few cooking seconds, added some green onion and sliced 1-egg omelet, and loved it!

Plus there was spinach salad with blood-orange infused olive oil and pomegranate seeds. Yummy lunch with a 6.5 on the NHAB "Not Hungry Again Bento" Scale.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Strawberry Chocolates from Germany

This bento for Jan included sticky rice, curry, beets, shoyu tamago somewhat beaten up in the peeling process, carrots, tomato, dill pickle slices, and (Ta-Da!!) strawberry chocolates from Germany.

These were an impulse purchase at the checkout line in the ritzier grocery store in my neighborhood, a store I try to avoid because:

(a) it is frequented by senior citizens who drive around randomly in the parking lot with murder on their minds;

(b) It is pricey;

(c) I am worried about it because the owners invested so heavily in becoming 'upscale' on their last remodel that I smell fear on the managers who walk around smiling and greeting customers.

BUT they do have some good stuff and I highly recommend these Casali Schoko-Erdbeeren which are "extra-fruchtig mit Erdbeerstuckchen: "Extra-fruity with little pieces of strawberry". Claim confirmed! They have real lumps of strawberry inside.

German candy especially chocolate is so good. In fact (random story alert!):

I hosted a German exchange student, high school level, once for a month. On his first night in my house this young man emerged from his room bearing a big bag of mixed candies: chocolates, gummies, mints, etc. He handed it to me proudly saying,

"My mother sends this to you - she says candy in the U.S. is terrible!"

This was my first little inkling that our guest was going to be very honest.

His honesty continued throughout the visit.

"This soup is very bad! I'll have my mother send you some recipes." His way of saying these things was so frank and so innocent that it was impossible to get mad.

"You aren't such the housekeeper, are you?"

"Didn't you sleep well? You look all...beaten up."

I was making a little video about my horse, and he was allowed to use my computer and viewed it.

"Your movie is so emotion, it makes me want to vomit!" That was just about over the line, but even that didn't cause me to explode at him. That required this comment:

"Your son is very...irritable."

Friday, November 6, 2009

The bento of enormous dessert

Part of it is my creative photo angling, but part is due to the sheer size of my chocolate pudding here. I was thrilled to see it made it to lunch without becoming indissolubly bonded to the paper cupcake cup I put it in. This is diet pudding - no fat, only the milk calories you make it with, and it tastes amazingly good. 15 minutes later, I want to eat more pudding, but that could just be me.

This lunch also had a cheese omelette burrito in a whole wheat tortilla wrap, apple slices, and carrot coins. It was good! I realize I have an interior score contest going, for the bentos that get me to dinner without getting hungry. This was one.

So on an NHAB (Not Hungry Again Bento) scale of 1-10 ranging from "I felt like I had not eaten yet" to "I wasn't even hungry at 6 p.m.", this one gets a NHAB SCORE of: 7.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Dogs' Fortune!!

When we get Chinese take-out, the dogs get the fortune cookies. I always read them their fortune and this one was highly appropriate.

They do like to chew power cords.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Curry - It is So Good!

Today my bento had pinto bean and tart apple curry, sticky rice with almonds, and cilantro and Savoy cabbage coleslaw with several fat delectable umeboshi on top.

It was completely yum and so satisfying that even though I ate it at 11:30 a.m., I was still not hungry by 6 when I got home from work.

Curry curry curry; it makes the house smell divine, it satisfies all the senses, it brings me home to my soul. And apparently it is very good for you as well, since curry powder has been shown to be beneficial for the processing of trace minerals and iron in the body. So everybody eat curry like crazy!

Here's my own personally-invented recipe for the bean and apple curry above:

Pinto Bean and Tart Apple Curry

1 cup of dry pinto beans or other beans you like
2 medium tart apples such as Granny Smith or other; chop in 1" pieces and core but do not peel
one small onion
one or two small sweet peppers, sliced into nice bento size chunks
curry powder, fresh as you can get it
3 tablespoons canola oil

Rinse dry beans, checking them carefully for pebbles (I found 4 rocks in one cup from my co-op! I am shocked!!)

Soak them for an hour or a day or overnight, whatever; this step is very forgiving.

Bring beans to boil in 3 cups of water; boil for about 40 minutes or until almost done (not too done or they'll be mushy).

Drain beans and put aside.

In a big saucepan or skillet, heat the canola oil and fry up the onion until it appears pearly (about 2 minutes); add the sweet pepper, apple pieces, curry powder, and as much water as you like for a saucy but not watery consistency. Cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat; don't toast the curry powder too hot or it gets bitter.

Finally mix in the cooked beans and simmer for just awhile; turn off the heat and let the flavors chat for awhile. Eat and enjoy!!! Super cheap supper and boy is it good.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fishy Fishy but Egg Salad!

This little double-decker koi bento is one of my favorites but quite challenging to pack, for some reason.

In this one for Jan, I put egg salad - one of my ultimate comfort foods; when I am on my deathbed, bring me some egg salad with capers and Kewpie mayo and I will die quietly I promise! -- and a few slices of Cure 81 ham, plus sugar snap peas and Persian cucumber pickles I made hastily and they're so good.

Just as some bento boxes seem to take in way more food than you'd expect, some others take in less, and that's my feeling about little koi. It's killer cute, but you need to be strategic. Employ strategery. That kind of thing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Salad Rolls!

I just love Thai salad rolls with lots of yummy cilantro and whatever fresh veggie ingredients are on hand. I am slooooowly getting better at working with the papery wraps they require: not burning my fingers in the water so much, for example and not breaking them in the rolling process.

My goal is to get to the point where I can just whip up 4-5 rolls for a dinner without making a big nervous production of it. The wraps store well in the frig and even come in a container meant to reclose...

So our lunches yesterday were these. Jan's at the top had the rolls, then in the bottom container spicy shrimp and sweet pepper fry-up, with part of my massive tomato harvest on top. The tomatoes are those little spheroid objects in pale red and green. Ha ha Mother Nature, you are a comedian. These tomatoes grew on the back deck to a certain point and then froze in time, neither reddening nor becoming larger. "That's it for us!", they cried in little squeaky tomato voices.

My bento:

has also some of these jokers, all of them green. We both have no-bake oatmeal fudge cookies as our treat, made from my mom's handwritten recipe which I will keep forever.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday!!!! Bento

Sticky rice, sesame tofu with green onion, Persian cucumber and tomato with ume vinegar and a few olives.

And Public Service Announcement: If you have black sesame seeds in your furikake for lunch, check your teeth before going to your next meeting!! Don't ask me why I am thinking about this today.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rain Sleet Snowblobs and Bento

Winter is upon us here in northern Minnesota. Yesterday it snowed large wet blobs of icy stuff that was most unpleasant to feel upon the face and hands. My dogs were horrified to walk out on the deck and feel it slippery with ice.

My bento for today has nice fresh sticky rice and three beautiful umeboshi from my Madison Asian grocery haul; Persian cucumbers from Trader Joe's in Madison also, a rather flat omelet, yogurt, ginger jam and sunflower seeds for topping the yogurt, and a Snickers mini.

Here's the little peanut gallery that watches me prepare bentos every morning; they are hoping I will drop down some rice or crumbs:

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Trip to Madison Wisconsin

With my trusty doggy companions, I visited my second Number 1 Son in Madison this past weekend, and had some fun bento-related times.

First of all, I was able to salvage his damaged rice cooker. This lovely Zojirushi rice cooker with 'smart' brains had been left with some rice inside until it rotted and became too terrifying to deal with. So son and friend moved it from their previous abode, onto the back deck of their present abode, but did not deal with it any further. It was there last June, and there it remained this October.

I got it cleaned up and ran a load of rice through. There were strange pincher-backed bugs inside it who rushed out when it began to heat. But the rice was cooked to perfection. All Hail Zojirushi, who make a rice cooker that can withstand several months in the sun and rain with rotting rice inside and an interior bug colony, and still cook up perfect rice!!!!!

OK, that was gross.

We did have some more positive food-related times. But first here's aphoto of my son the geneticist:

Oh my am I proud of this dude. Yes he trashed his rice cooker, but he is working on a genetic cure for eye diseases which might have a spin-off for Alzheimer's. He manipulates DNA all day long. He is awesome.

So back to our food in Madison: we had great sushi

at a place where the waitress was so cold she was like an angry relative. But the sushi was divine and the green tea was like dynamite to the brain.

And the next night we went to the Flat Top Grill where you select your ingredients and then they are grilled for you on a giant grill surface:

This was most educational because it showed how easy it is to make awesome Asian grilled dinners. We chose rice or noodles, veggie ingredients, sauces, and meat or tofu, then at the end you could put a pick into your bowl to indicate what extras you wanted: egg, flat bread, shrimp skewer, etc.

It was all then thrown into the grill and brought to your table when done. I had noodles and veggies and a coconut curry sauce with hotness; it was divine.

My dogs indicate their support of the Wisconsin Badgers here but alas! the Badgers lost their homecoming game this same weekend -- an event we noted mainly as it caused ghastly traffic problems as we went about our business.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Noodle Mania

I loooove noodles. So imagine my joy when Amazon sent me a message that this book had been published. How nice that has such psychic powers. I try to resist these little ad placements this case it was kismet. I literally could eat noodles every day at least once.

The author, Corinne Trang, has eaten noodles in all parts of the world and has the equivalent of a Ph.D. in Noodleology; she grew up with several different kinds of Asian grannies and aunties making their own noodles and fighting over the best combos of toppings and broths.

Trang sets our minds at ease by saying that any noodle can be used in any dish. There are better and worse choices but no catastrophes with this divine ingredient. The book has great recipes like this one:

Somen noodles with spicy shrimp curry and peas!! I need to make this asap; what a great winter lunch or supper. There are tons more great looking recipes for all the types of noodles, and explanations of the way these types came to be.

It also has great general cooking tips including a section on what you need to have in your kitchen (both foods and tools) in order to make great Asian recipes of all kinds. She is very economical and practical, and I plan to buy a copy of this book for both my sons when they get a bit more settled in their adult lives.

Today's bentos reflected the noodle influence:

Soba with the basic noodle sauce consisting of a splash of mirin, a splash of rice vinegar, a splash of soy sauce, and a few drops of sesame oil to make it all stick. Into the soba went some previously barbecued pork, and some sweet red pepper rings. Shoyu tamago (soy-soaked hard boiled egg) with black sesame and fluffy salt furikake.

There is also another attempt at carrot kinpira, not a rousing success (tasted like salty carrot slaw). Need to look around for a better recipe. And some tomatoes from the frantic harvest prior to frost.

So noodles for everyday and everyone! is my new motto. Noodle up!