“a cute riding red hood” bento

13 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is packed in a new box i got from kir devries, an online store with a selection of great shinzi katoh boxes.  this box is the “a cute riding red hood” two-tier, and to inaugurate it, i made a red riding hood kyaraben.  shinzi katoh designs are whimsical and unique, and i was thrilled to find an online supplier in the states with low shipping costs (plus they offer free shipping on orders over $50!).

my red riding hood (or should i say “riding red hood”) girl is made of cheese with yellow soy paper for hair, and white soy paper (dyed red with food coloring) for the hood and dress.  her eyes are nori, and her nose and hair squiggles are food coloring.  the bows in her hair were cut from nori with this cute tiny bow punch from jlist.  she’s on plain white rice, with cheese and sesame seed flowers, and in the same box are two soy nuggets, a grape tomato with a yellow heart food pick, a flower-cut carrot, cucumber slices, and some mint leaves.

the other tier has sliced kiwi (accented with one purple potato flower) in a paper food cup, with a plump strawberry, two more flower-cut carrots, and some purple potato slices.  here’s a picture of the lid of the box, so you can see how closely i tried to model my kyaraben after shinzi katoh’s design:

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the past few days have been full of excitement: the apartment search has continued at a frantic pace (preventing me from bento-ing), and i think i finally found the perfect place… fingers crossed, and i’m not going to say more because i don’t want to jinx it before the paperwork goes through.

on monday i also found out that my “spring butterfly” bento won the spring bento contest hosted by bento & co.just bentofrench bento!  i’m so sorry for not getting to this earlier, but i did want to take this opportunity to repeat my congratulations to all who participated, especially to lia of my bentolicious and sheri of happy little bento (two of the best bento pals and competitors a girl could ever ask for)!  i’m extremely honored to have won, but the best prize was the chance to see the other contestants’ inspirational ideas and to make some new international bento contacts — it was really a great experience, so thanks again to maki, mook, thomas and erico for hosting!





anpanman bento

18 01 2010

tomorrow’s lunch features anpanman, the beloved japanese cartoon character.  i made my anpanman out of a vegetarian “chik’n” patty (i like boca brand’s spicy flavor), with a cherry nose, strawberry slices for cheeks, and nori for the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

the patty is on top of some rice that i sprinkled with shiso furikake, and filling up the rest of the box is some roasted baby bok choi (made in the toaster again, with just salt, pepper, olive oil, minced garlic and gochu garu), enoki mushrooms, sweet potato hearts (made from two teardrop shapes each), cherries and pea pods.

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i know i usually stick to bento on this blog, but i wanted to do a quick restaurant review since i had the day off from work today (for MLK day) and took the opportunity to eat some dim sum in chinatown with friends.   this time we tried jing fong, which gets mixed reviews food-wise but has the classic ambiance we were looking for:  a huge, bustling banquet hall with tons of carts (as well as a hot buffet).

here are some shots of the hot buffet line:

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and here are a few of the goodies we ordered from carts:

from the top:  various dumplings, other savories (stewed tofu, fried tofu with shrimp, and eggplant with pork) and sweet sesame pastries.

overall, the consensus of internet reviewers was pretty spot-on, in that the experience was lively and fun, and the food was ok.

as you can see from the menu card at the left, we stuffed ourselves (with no less than 21 dishes), until we felt like we needed to be rolled away in wheelbarrows!!! it was a fairly good bargain, at only about $16 per person, tax and tip included.  that said, i preferred the food at ping’s (where the eggplant is so divine i featured it in a previous bento). if choosing based on food alone, i wouldn’t necessarily go back to jing fong (after all, there are still many more dim sum places for me to try!).

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finally, i wanted to pass along an award i received from two lovely ladies, lia of my bentolicious, and tata of bonito’s cooking wonderland.  thank you so much lia and tata, i’m honored!

there are no rules to this award, so if i’ve passed it along, please don’t feel obligated to keep passing or to post on it or anything — but i thought it would be a nice chance to give a shout-out to my favorite blogging bentoists.  so, debra (hapa bento), sheri (happy little bento), pikko (adventures in bento making), and susan (hawai`i’s bento box cookbook), plus lia and tata, here’s to you!  i ♥ all of your blogs!





happy 101 award and new rice cooker

14 01 2010

lia (from one of my favorite bento blogs, my bentolicious) and lexi (from diary of a delinquent housewife), both passed along this award to me — thanks ladies!

the rules for this award are as follows:  copy the award image into a post; list 10 things that make you happy; tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day; link to their blogs; and notify the award recipients (who should link back to the sender’s blog).  ok, 10 things that make me happy shouldn’t be too hard, right?  here goes (not in order of importance):

  1. my boyfriend and my dog.  whenever i am upset about work or whatever, they both always have a way to make me smile.  (ok, sometimes more the dog than the boyfriend, but dogs are just like that — they are always game to give you affection, and never have their own problems going on that would prevent them from focusing on you!)
  2. new bento supplies!!!  i’ve received/am about to receive a few great new things from bento pals, and i am very excited to debut them here soon — keep your eyes out for some cool new decorative accents in my bento lunches!
  3. horror movies.  i know that it’s weird to be happy about people getting killed and stuff, but come on, it’s fictional.  and they’re such a guilty pleasure, and i love that my boyfriend puts up with watching them all the time, even though he hates them.  thanks honey!
  4. time with my dad.  i’ve always been a daddy’s girl, and always will be.
  5. um, FOOD!  obviously!  i eat when i’m happy and it makes me happier, i eat when i’m stressed and it calms me down, i eat when i’m bored and it entertains me.  i love exploring new dishes and types of cuisine, new restaurants, new cooking techniques — everything about food (ok, except maybe the “cleaning up” part…).
  6. new shoes!  need i say more?
  7. music.  in college (and even after, in law school) i used to be really into staying “up” on a lot of different new music scenes and going to shows all the time.  now that i work a real job, i rarely have the energy for shows, and tend to spend my free time doing other things besides researching new bands and what’s “hip.”  but my favorite music is still my favorite music, and there is a certain special happiness that comes from listening to something you love but haven’t heard in a while, or making a great mix for a road trip, etc.
  8. fall.  it’s my favorite season, and every year, as september starts to dwindle and we approach the crisp and crackle of chilly october evenings, i get super excited.  halloween is my favorite holiday, and it’s sort of the highlight of a season full of other things that make me happy, like apple picking and taking out my scarves and sweaters.
  9. my friends.  i’m so lucky to have a great hodge-podge of old friends (still have the same best friend i made when i was 14), new friends who share my professional interests, medium-old friends (from college and law school), straight and gay friends, friends of different sizes/colors/religions, friends from and/or living in different parts of the world.  i don’t know what i’d do without this network of support, commiseration, fun, etc.  knowing i have access to all these different people (and their ideas and perspectives) makes me truly happy.
  10. being organized.  i’m kind of anal, and i get extremely satisfied (which is a kind of happiness, no?) when i have labelled things or come up with a new system for storing stuff, etc.  one year for chanukah my boyfriend got me a p-touch labeler; i know it’s kinda weird, but it was one of the best presents i ever got!

ok, so now you know how big of a dork/corn-ball i really am.  oh well!  here are the ten bloggers to whom i am passing along this award.  hey blogger friends, if i didn’t pick you, it’s not because i don’t love ya!  some of you had just already been selected by previous happy 101 recipients.

1. karina at bunches and bits; 2. hippomum at chara-ben workout; 3. mook at french bento; 4. lian mama at lian mama obento; 5. shoppingmum at mothering corner; 6. babykins! at soul soup soap; 7. texasmomof4; 8. dicentragirl at touch of nectar; 9. javapot at mycuppatales; 10. tammy (aka kashmirkat) at an american in bento.

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i wasn’t going to update the blog today, since i didn’t bring a lunch to work (i had a lunch meeting with a client).  but since i got the cool award from lia and am posting anyway, i thought i’d take the opportunity to discuss my new rice cooker.  i also noticed last night that, since i did my post on kong bap, a bunch of people have clicked through to the amazon link i provided to my new toy.

yup, that’s my baby.  ok, so cuckoos are not that sleek or modern (unlike this zojirushi i looked at) — in fact, some of them have really corny designs, like pearlized red with old-lady-ish flowers.  BUT, after my boyfriend and i did a TON of research on this, we determined that this cuckoo model would be the most versatile.  it has a “multi cook” setting for foods other than rice (so that i can do stews, chili, kalbi jjim, etc.), and it is a pressure cooker, so it’s able to cook brown rice (and beans, or brown rice and beans together, which is kong bap) much more quickly than a regular rice cooker.  we tried the pressure setting with white rice as well, and it came out surprisingly tender (but not mushy), with the right amount of moistness and stickiness.  most of the zojirushi models are NOT pressure cookers, and the one that is costs waaaay more than my cuckoo.

plus, when it’s getting ready to vent steam, it makes noises that remind me of a choo-choo train, and it even goes “toot toot” (or maybe it’s “coo koo” or “choo choo”)!  not kidding!  the rest of the time it talks to me in korean, and it sings a little song when my rice is completely done.   if you want a giggle, check out this cuckoo commercial, in which the woman literally cuddles with her cooker at the end, or this one, which is apparently aimed at the “stylish” rice cooking set.

what will they come up with next?  a rice-cooking robot who actually stands in your kitchen and rinses the rice for you before cooking it perfectly?





kreativ blogger award

20 11 2009

lia over at my bentolicious, a super cute bento blog i visit frequently, has graciously nominated me for a KREATIV BLOGGER award!!

the rules are that i get to post seven interesting factoids, and then nominate seven other bloggers.  in my seven things, i’m going to try to include a few things about me you might not have guessed about someone who decorates her soy chicken nuggets with little bear faces!  so, away we go —

  1. my dad and i (i’m totally a daddy’s girl) are re-building a 1974 honda cb450 — it’s a small-ish motorcycle, and we’ve already re-built the engine and most of the exhaust system.  i got my motorcycle license last fall in anticipation of finishing this thing and getting my “zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” on, but it’s a loooooong project and parts are hard to find!
  2. i love getting tattoos!  i have at least seven of them, and i often get them when i travel, as a sort of souvenir of the trip.  (my largest tattoo is a huge piece i got from renowned tattooist john long in shanghai — it’s some peonies, which i’m told is china’s national flower.)
  3. i am a high orange belt in the korean martial art hapkido. it’s very difficult to find time to train in my busy work schedule, but my friend tommie tries to keep me motivated to hit the dojang.
  4. this year my boyfriend got me really into two sports i would never have otherwise been excited about — baseball (our team is the san francisco giants) and formula 1 racing (i root for mercedes mcclaren because, well, lewis hamilton is not bad on the eyes!).
  5. i am a virgo, and while i don’t necessarily subscribe completely to the idea of horoscopes or anything, i can tell you that i exhibit all the classic attributes of virgos — most of all, i am a huge perfectionist, and am extremely detail-oriented.
  6. this one will not be a surprise to those of you who have been reading the ingredients in my bentos — i LOVE anything pickled.  for years when anyone asked me my favorite food i would say pickled ginger (usually the response was “that’s not a food, it’s a condiment”), but in the past few years i have expanded to takuwan, all kinds of kimchi, etc.  if it’s pickled, i will eat it!
  7. for years and years, i was a vegetarian.  at the end of  college, i started to eat fish, and in the past few years, i have occasionally even eaten chicken and beef.  (i can’t eat pork or shellfish products, because they are not kosher.)  i recently began reading the book eating animals by jonathan safran foer, and it is inspiring me to reconsider my dietary choices yet again.

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well, that’s me…  any surprises?  this is such a fun way for us to learn a little bit about each other besides what we put in our bentos!

picking seven other blogs to nominate is tough, but after some thinking, here is my list:

1. jenn at bentobird; 2. ceinwyn at bento bliss; 3. maki at lucky sundae; 4. lil’chan at lily’s kleiner bentoservice; 5. judy at judy’s notebook; 6. MandLmom at pigs do fly; 7. my mealbox

can’t wait to see what these bento friends say about themselves!

ok, now i’m really off to california… happy bentoing for the next week, and see you when i return!