Fabulous Furikake

12 Jan

Adult vs Anime Furikake

The last time I went to H-Mart, I picked up a couple of packages of furikake after reading about it on another blog.  It has been in my bin of dry filler ingredients since then partially because I couldn’t read anything on the packaging. I have no idea what in the world I bought.  One is the “only in Japan” crazy-colorful anime packaging obviously intended for kids (I think) and the other is in much more conservative packaging.

The anime furikake comes in small, single-serving envelopes, so this is the one I decided to open and pack into my lunch.  OMG!  (I hate that phrase, but it actually applies this time… apologies.)  It may even be bad furikake, I don’t know, but I love it.  I already love sushi rice and eat more than I should, but this stuff makes it even better!

The single serving envelopes make it super easy to pack in the lunch, but actually sprinkling the furikake on top would certainly add some decoration to plain rice.  The next trip to H-Mart will definitely bring more fabulous furikake into my life!

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Tuesday Tools: A Very Bento Christmas

11 Jan

A Very Bento Christmas

No, I did not spend my Winter Break making bentos in the morning for us to eat at our own table later that day, but Christmas was very good to my bento toolkit. (I did spend some time learning to do something new for bentos… dumplings, but that’s for another post.)

Although most of my extended family are crafty and creative, gift giving is purposefully utilitarian at times.  My spouse is a programmer and whipped up a quick program that allows people to add items to their wish list and see items from others’ lists.  Its all for good reason since no one wants to buy someone something they won’t use and it gives the list maker the opportunity to drop in items that they would really enjoy even though they might not purchase for themselves.

I added bento items that I knew I would enjoy but certainly didn’t need. My family delivered since the items were relatively inexpensive and really fun to search through.

Now I will share the bounty of my Very Bento Christmas:

  • Animal Shaped Fork-style Picks
  • Stainless Japanese Vegetable Cutters (flying bird, cloud, star, 3 flower)
  • Egg Molds (car, bunny, fish, bear)
  • Plastic Cutting Mats (4 color coded large, 2 small) – not pictured
  • Candy Eyes (small and large)
  • Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches by Maki Ogawa and Crystal Watanabe
  • Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go by Joie Staff

I will be hitting on tools as often as possible on Tuesdays, with more pictures, uses, etc.  Join me next week for Tuesday Tools!

BTW – You can see a list of all of my tools on the My Toolkit page.

1.2.2011 – Tomato & Corn Flowers and Cookie Cutter Duck

10 Jan

Try New Things Ducky

One of the things that I learned in probably 3rd grade, and then all over again from another Bento site was the the bigger variety of color in your meal, the more healthy and nutritious.  Bento sites and books seem to “preach” this idea quite a bit, and I am a believer.

I was going for color with this particular bento.  It gave me the gentle nudge I needed to include a veggie my kiddo doesn’t normally eat (tomatoes) and use one of the items from my Christmas bento haul… the small candy eye.

I also always try to incorporate a variety of textures.  O recently saw a Sesame Street “Word on the Street” Podcast… the word was crunchy.  We have been talking about what is crunchy, so I included a couple of crunchy things (pita chips and sugar snap peas) so we could have a conversation about the crunchy things in her lunch.

I got the idea for the tomato and corn flower from another bento site. (Would love to give out credit here, but I simply can’t find the site that I saw this technique.) You simply remove the “goo” from a cherry tomato half and full the resulting 4 chambers with corn.  She loves corn, so I thought it might entice her to try the tomato.  She didn’t end up eating the tomato, but enjoyed pulling out the corn from its “holder.”  I will make them again and hopefully she will try the tomato one of these days.

Ingredient List: hummus, pita chips, cream cheese and turkey sandwich, candy eye, blueberries, sugar snap peas, tomato and corn flowers, cheese cubes

Tools: divided bento box, small silicone cup divider, large metal duck cookie cutter

TopicFail Friday: The o in LITTLEoBento

7 Jan

Woman cannot live by Bento alone, right?  (Well, actually… maybe you can, but that doesn’t make my point, so I will just ignore it.)

I thought it would be fun to be off topic on Fridays, so this is TopicFail Friday!  This week’s TFF? Little o… the little wild thing that inspires a Mama to make fancy little lunches.

O is my 2.5 year old girl that is just a little bit bigger than life. Her most recent pastime is showing off her Yo Gabba Gabba “big girl panties” to just about everyone she runs across.  She spends her days making up little songs, dancing her way to and fro, and generally being overly dramatic. I think I have an artistic soul on my hands.  She also really enjoys getting to cook with Mom… the girl makes a mean scrambled egg.

I know she’s mine and its probably not an unbiased assessment, but I really and truly like my kid.  She is really enjoyable and certainly keeps life interesting.  She has a caring little spirit and we feel truly blessed to get to help her along her life’s path. I should also say that we are blessed with an awesome “village” of people that love her like nothin’ else.

When I’m tired and not super interested in making a fancy lunch, I will just think of her little question from yesterday… “Hey mama, can I see my super cool yunch (lunch) dat I gonna eat up today?”

12.15.2010 Bento – Flower Power

6 Jan

12.15.2010 Bento - Tidy Flower Power

I am going to post a few more recently prepared bento until I “catch up” to current Bento of the Day…

Probably not the best packed or healthy bento I have ever made, but super quick and fun to make.  I really like to use leftovers because it (usually) means at least part of the lunch is home cooked.

This particular bento was made from leftovers from a local burger joint that we enjoy from time to time.  My girl rarely eats all of her food when we go out, so we save everything that I think I can cut a shape from.  Makes it a little easier to justify buying her her own o-friendly* meal when both of us grownups are wanting far-out foods.  I simply took the burger and punched 3 flowers out and arranged them with ‘tater tots to stabilize the burger flowers and catchup.

*Let me clarify that the kid eats a pretty wide variety of food – partly inborn, partly because of constant exposure, and partly because of Bento – especially where veggies are concerned.  She usually just eats whatever we are having… which makes it even easier to pack her lunches.

Tips:

  • Quickly use flat-ish leftovers like sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, etc. by simply cutting shapes with small cookie cutters.
  • To keep things speedy, I prep veggies or simply buy ready-to-eat veggies. I wash and prep them as soon as I get them home so that when I am packing a lunch, I am not also having to deal with prepping veggies.  I do the same with fruit.
  • I buy 3 or 4 different veggies and 2 or 3 different fruits and use them in different combination throughout the week to reduce waste (use it all up), encourage me to use seasonal produce, and to take some of the guesswork (and time) out of packing the bento.

Ingredient List: pre-cut carrot chips, sugar snap peas, blueberries, leftover hamburger flowers, leftover ‘tater tots, catchup

Tools: divided Tupperware container, small silicone cup dividers, small plastic flower cookie cutter

Bentos B4 the Blog, part 4 of 4

6 Jan

Here is the last two of a few of the bento that I made and photographed before setting up this blog…

Breakfast and Lunch (August 11, 2010)

Leftovers

Handy breakfast

My kiddo will rarely eat breakfast at home, she’s just not hungry.  (Now in the car when we are about 10 minutes away it another story!)  I usually pack her something for breakfast and lunch.  Sometimes I am even industrious enough to make two bento, although with this particular breakfast I use the term more loosely than ever.  Mostly, the breakfast was just a conglomeration of what I had on hand.  At this point I was finally getting faster and had figured out that it was much nicer to do them at night after the wild one had gone to bed that in all the commotion of our morning.

Breakfast Ingredient List:  blueberry muffin, raspberries, toasted coconut covered goat cheese balls

Lunch Ingredient List:  gummy letters, carrots, leftover pan fried talapia, catchup, leftover mashed potatoes, grapes

Tools:  divided Tupperware and a snap-top container, small silicone cup dividers, Wüstof paring knife

Learn:  nothing much except how to put them together faster and pack tighter

Bentos B4 the Blog, part 3 of 4

5 Jan

Here is the third and fourth of a few of the bento that I made prior to the blog…

A REAL Bento Box

In a REAL Bento Box (August 8, 2010)

Not that my other containers weren’t working, but I got obsessed with buying a real bento box.  Because I wanted to lay hands on one before I bought it, I scoured the internet looking for a clue that might lead me to a local store… nada.  I looked at various “fancy” grocery stores… nada.  I literally drove myself nuts looking for one.  Then I found H-Mart, the mother of all asian markets in a suburb of the DFW metroplex. (cue the Angels singing)

That place is CRAZY and I got to go shopping by myself, a very rare occurrence.  I think I spent 3 hours in that store, but that is another post altogether!

So, I packed my first lunch into a REAL bento box! This doesn’t actually happen to be the one I packed… I think I bought it in May of 2010, but this picture was the first one I took with the new box.

Ingredient List:  spinach lasagna, grapes, pretzel fish, cheese sticks, raw green beans, carrots

Tools:  a REAL divided bento box, large and small silicone cup dividers, Wüstof paring knife

Learn:

  • The Good: getting better at packing
  • The Bad: could have filled in spaces a bit better
  • The Ugly: pretzel fish probably need to be sealed so that they don’t get stale

Breakfast Bento

Breakfast bento

I also made a breakfast bento for the first time… in a REAL bento box.  Still could have packed better, but I got to use two of my NYC Japanese grocery acquisitions – a very cute, small forest creature bento box and a fancy sauce bottle. (The whole NYC Japanese grocery experience is definitely another post.)

Ingredient List:  pancakes, raspberries, syrup

Tools:  small bento box, small silicone cup divider, sauce container