Sunday, December 26, 2010

ready, set...

My plan is to start bento in January... I'll be beginning a new job in the first or second week of January, so, in order to have something to look forward to and something fun for lunches, I'm holding off on bento 'til then.  I do have one I made for a trip, so I'll post that... when my camera reappears. 

However, I did go to an Asian grocery store a few weekends ago and picked up lots of great stuff: nori, furikake, sushi rice, mirin, soy sauce, some pocky, and a few other fun things.  I'm all ready to bento!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

winter bento

I tried to do a winter-themed bento... next time, I won't bother.  I definitely don't see a life of kyraben ahead for me!  ;)  The broccoli was old, anyway, so I just made this for looks and because I was craving onigiri.  And, I was hungry and wanted a snack.

I tried to do an inverse-type thing... white tree with green background.  :)  Sprinkled a little furikake on the onigiri, with some carrot "angels" and flowers.  And, a star at the top of the tree.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

my first bento!

Last night I whipped up my first bento-- now that my supplies had arrived-- that I would eat for lunch today.  My brother had an all-day basketball tournament, so what better time to bring a lunch?

- 2 onigiri (1 in each tier... with a little furikake mixed in).  These were wrapped in plastic because I'd made them the night before and didn't want them to dry out in the bento
- baby carrots with ranch (in the little green cup)
- cucumber slices
- deviled egg (I used 1 half for the photos but included the other half before I packed it
- turkey meatballs with red pepper flower for garnish
- satsuma

I was surprised at the amount of food I can pull from a bento as I was eating, but the tiers are shallow!  I guess I thought I might be able to stand a baby carrot on end, at least.

*Sorry, I'm definitely not a photographer, much less a food photographer!

Friday, December 10, 2010

my first supplies!

A box arrived today... I'd been tracking it... waiting for it... my first bento supplies!

Granted, I'd picked these out last week, when I knew a lot less about bento.  I'd placed the order last Thursday.  I'd only been reading about bento for two days, so I wasn't even entirely sure what I would need, but figured I could set up a pretty good selection.

here's my loot... early Christmas present to myself:

- A lock-and-lock blue/green system (in the case)
- Urara yellow two-tier bento
- green onigiri case
- yellow "deli style" snack box, and they (All Things for Sale) threw in the larger one as a gift!
- animal soy sauce bottles
- triangle onigiri molds... already used these
- flower-shaped cutters
- sauce containers (4)
- cute "head" picks
- a container of furikake, as I'd never had it before.  Put some in my onigiri  :)
- 5 little silicone cups

Yes, the bentos were small, but at least I was prepared.  I'm mostly confident I can fit what I want into the Urara one... stay tuned later tonight or tomorrow morning for my first bento!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

bento foods

I'm developing a long list of food I can use in bento.  I've arranged it into five categories: protein, starch, veg (cooked and uncooked), and fruit/sweet.  Since I like cooked veg much better than raw, I'll try to include one from each category, just so I will get some raw veg.  And, I probably won't include fruit unless it's something in-season (like satsumas!) because I'm not a fruit fan.

I'm also not a fan of eating the same thing all the time; thus the reason for the long list. When I look at the tiny bits of food I see in bentos, I think "don't they get tired of eating 2 cherry tomatoes EVERY DAY?"  ;)  When you use little bits, they don't get used up as quickly.  

When I say long, yes, I do mean long.  Quite a compilation of recipes.  If anyone actually reads this blog sometime and asks for the list, I'd be happy to oblige.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

dollar store foraging

I checked out a few dollar stores over the weekend and found these:

Oddly enough, at two different dollar stores... the larger box at one, the two smaller ones as a set at another.  There were also a koala double-pack, and I wish I'd picked those up as well, now that I know what I'll use them for...

The small panda cups are the perfect size for a hardboiled egg... took one to work today! In fact, you can see an egg in the bottom one in the photo.  ;)

My first unofficial bento... I call this my "snack set."  The larger panda will be good for a nice-sized snack... probably about a cup and a half.

I'm finding I really like pandas-- taking over my sister's favorite childhood animal.  I think it's the black and white contrast.  Or maybe seeing Ling Ling and Sing Sing in the Washington zoo in 1990... I actually remember this because my sister was so excited.  I think it was the highlight of her trip.

anime, me?

This interest in bento has started me watching Hikaru no Go.  I never though I'd be watching anime-- and enjoying it.  I'm sure the focus on a strategy board game helps-- in fact, I'd now like to try Go, when before I had no interest in it.

I can now say "yes" in Japanese.  :)  And, I saw some kamaboko in a soup bowl during an episode... I was like "something I recognize."  I was rather excited when Hikaru's friend brought him a furushiki-wrapped bento during the Go tournament... and, I knew what it was.

I'm turning into some kind of Otaku.  ;)  Actually, I learned that phrase from a student last year-- it was the subculture he studied.  And, I have a long way to go, and knowing me, once I pass a certain level of competency (usually when I understand the basics of a subculture's jargon), it's time to move on...

Friday, December 3, 2010

My latest: bento

Now this isn't especially surprising, as it deals with FOOD.  However, I've never had much of an interest in Asian cultures, not even food-wise, so that was surprising.

I've recently read these two blogs "cover to cover:"

I'm learning a lot of new terminology: nori (well, okay, already knew that one), tomo, soboro, onigiri, oshibori... all of it Japanese English, I guess.  I'm still unclear on some pronunciations.  :D

There are MANY bento blogs out there, but I prefer the ones that focus on Japanese-inspired foods and not American takes on bento, with goldfish crackers and Hershey's bars.

One of the reasons this interests me is the healthy food.  Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, little processed food (although the Japanese do seem to have an interesting obsession with processed cheese and hot dogs).  I can easily shape this to fit my nutrition needs by including lots of protein, whole grains, and veg!  Plus, I've never been a sandwich person (I pretty much skip over all the sandwich bentos), so I like these lunch ideas much better!

All the cutesy accessories don't hurt either.  It surprised me that I was attracted to this, as I'm not much of a cutesy girl, but the kawaii (cute, I think, is a rough translation) really draws me in.  Cute+food=yummy!  There are super-fancy bento called kyraben,

but I don't plan to make anything that complicated.  Mine would probably look more like this:

That is, when I start this sometime next year.  ;)

I have a lot of interests

Some people say, too many.  And while I admire folks who have blogs dedicated to one thing, that would never work for me.  I get excited about a new idea for weeks to months, and while I'll always be interested in it, new obsessions come along.  So, this blog is to track all of those.

Past obsessions:
Pilgrims and the Mayflower
Oregon Trail
Mary Lyon and Mount Holyoke
books and reading

Recent obsessions (within the past five years):
board games (2006)
Slovakia (2005)
anything culinary, specifically Greek food
mountain biking (Mar. 2010)
Appalachian Trail (Apr. 2010
hiking and backpacking (May 2010)

My friends and family would remember more...