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.