japchae frogs bento

17 11 2010

sorry for the sporradic posting, there have been a lot of random salad-in-tupperware, sandwich-in-ziploc-bag, and overpriced-to-go-from-the-concourse lunches lately.  nothing wrong with the first two though they’re not particularly photogenic; the latter is one of the main reasons i started making bento in the first place ($12 for a vegetarian sandwich and soup is just outrageous!).  so i’m really trying to get back into the swing of things, and tomorrow’s lunch is a start.

i had leftover japchae from sunday dinner that needs to be used up before it turns, so i decided to use that as a bed for two kiwi “lily pads” and quail egg frogs, inspired by these cute guys i saw a while back on luckysundae’s blog.  i used peas and sesame seeds for eyes, whereas hers appear to be cheese, but i hope they’re similarly cute.

in the back section, i have some lovely winter plum slices, a vine-ripe mini-tomato, one takuwan gingko leaf, a steamed broccoli floret, some pumpkin sections (i had roasted a whole bunch and then threw some in the freezer, so i all i needed to do with these was defrost), and a frozen product from the korean grocer that i’m trying for the first time — it’s called 김 마리, and it’s some sort of glass noodles mixed with veggies, wrapped with nori, and then deep fried (i am a strong subscriber to the philosophy that a little deep fried once in a while is good for the soul!).

this will probably be one of the last times i get to use this nifty metal box — i’ve used it so much that it’s been banged against hard things in my bag, and the lid has become a bit dented, meaning that it doesn’t seal as tightly anymore.  that makes me nervous when it comes to saucy (or in this case, sesame oil-y) foods, and so with my next paycheck i’m hoping to spring for one of the beautifully-made aizawa stainless boxes at bento & co., like this zen 01.





bibimbap onigiri bento

8 11 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is leftovers from tonight’s dinner, slightly rearranged:  instead of just packing the leftover black-and-brown rice into the tiffin (or a section thereof), i shaped it into two triangular onigiri, which i then partly coated in sesame seeds, and partly wrapped in sesame leaves.

i put a little bit of each of the namul (radish, carrot, mushrooms and pickled cucumber, plus some sprouts, ferns and sesame spinach buried underneath), and then fried up a few little quail eggs instead of one the big hen’s egg we used for each bowl at dinner.  finally, i packed some gochujang in a tiny mayo container, and added a vine-ripe tomato for color.

rearranging normal, eat-at-home dinners (whether using mini-versions of ingredients, or mini-portions) is one of my favorite bento past-times!





confetti rice bento

8 09 2010

tired work nights call for quick, easy meals; it’s no surprise that fried rice is one of my favorites. this batch has everything but the kitchen sink (leftovers from the last few weeks of summer produce): red and yellow peppers, serrano chiles, mushrooms, kosher hot dogs, spanish onion, kimchi, and zucchini, plus freshly-ground black pepper, soy sauce, gochujang, and a bit of sesame oil for flavor. the boyfriend hates peas and carrots, so i added a few of those, plus some takuwan strips, on top (rather than mixing in, which would mean he couldn’t pick them out) — i think the scattered effect looks a bit like festive confetti.

the rest of the box has steamed broccolini, cucumber sticks sprinkled with black sesame seeds, a fried quail egg, and a grape tomato. for dessert, i have a sidecar with green and champagne grapes, plus beautiful early-fall raspberries from my CSA share, garnished with a bit of mint.  that’s it; no fancy decorations this time (save for one pick), just a quick transformation of leftovers into a reasonably appealing lunch for tomorrow.

i need to take ruby on one more walk tonight, and then i’ll probably fall asleep watching the giants game.  g’night bento pals!





baseball bears bento

1 07 2010

last week i received an unexpected package from a kind and thoughtful friend — it contained picks galore!  i wanted to use the cute baseball cap and flag picks, and it’s baseball season (almost all-star time, in fact), so i put together a baseball bears bento.

i root for the san francisco giants, whose colors are orange and black… but these adorable caps were blue, so just use your imagination!  certainly the sentiments on the flags (やったね translates to “you did it!” and がんばりましよう translates variously, according to my japanese-speaking twitter pals, as “go get ’em,” “hang in there,” “keep trying,” “work harder” or “give it your best shot!”) apply to my team… it’s been a rocky season so far, with some great moments (posey’s brilliant debut; beating the hyped-up red sox), and some not-so-great moments (getting swept by the dodgers; the shameful and disgusting decision to trade loyal veteran and mentor catcher bengie molina mid-season).  um, keep trying, brian sabean. work a little harder, tim lincecum. sigh.

anyway, sorry for the baseball tangent, and thanks for the picks you-know-who, i love them!

i made these bears from a chicken egg and a quail egg, soaked in hot water with 4 drops of red food coloring.  i cut the eggs in half the long way, and added ears/muzzles made from fish sausage and eyes/noses/mouths made from nori.  my bears sit atop turmeric-dyed rice, which is layered on top of my favorite spicy stewed tofu.  i have a butter lettuce “baran” to separate the rice from one vegetarian chicken tender, a vegetarian-ham-wrapped okra pod, two grape tomatoes, more CSA blueberries (plus two lovely golden raspberries, also from my share), and a few pea pods.

GO GIANTS! (and go bengie, even if you’re on the rangers!)





shikai maki bento

23 05 2010

thank you all for sharing so many wonderful links in your contest entries!  i had a wonderful time this weekend browsing through them — some took me to blogs i already know and love, and some took me to totally new sites i had never even heard of.

tomorrow’s bento has a few sources of inspiration:  one is the luxirare shikai maki bento that brenda posted in the comments, and another is the beautiful work of my good bento pal jenn (bentobird).  i tried to echo the natural elegance that her boxes epitomize, and it seemed fitting to incorporate her style into this meal, since her boxes often include sushi.  for the sushi component, i tried my hand at this interesting square-format sushi (using a handy how-to video on youtube!).  my roll contains shiso rice, kiwi strips, cucumber, and fried tofu… i need some more practice (the kiwi layer, in particular, didn’t hold its structure because the kiwi was so slippery), but i have the general idea and am sure i can improve!

another source of inspiration this week was a long-postponed first trip to minamoto kitchoan, the fine purveyor of gorgeous wagashi (japanese sweets) located on manhattan’s chi-chi 5th avenue.  here is a photo from their display case (these are plastic, but do look just like some of the items they are selling):

alongside tomorrow’s box i have a shobumochi packaged to look like a beautiful iris.  this will cap off my dessert fruit section (kiwi slices, pomegranate seeds, two juicy blackberries and one ripe cherry), which will in turn balance my veggie section (peppery arugula, a tiny sweet red pepper, two asparagus tips, two carved takuwan flowers, and a quail egg). to fill up the empty space in the box, i placed a bottle of soy dressing and a pair of disposable chopsticks (both decorated with washi tape in complementary colors).  the box is packed in a pretty red-patterned furoshiki that i received from another sweet bento friend.

— ♥ —

getting back to the contest… i edited the entry comments in order to number them, and then used the random.org website to generate a random integer from 1 to 95:

the winning entry, number 79, is abby of totoro bento!  congratulations!  please get in touch with your mailing information and i’ll mail your prize package right away.





kimbap bee bento

15 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is leftover kimbap from tonight’s dinner… mmm, i LOVE me some kimbap!  my boyfriend is great at rolling it, and it’s such a tasty and healthy treat, especially on warmer days/nights.  my kimbap is vegetarian, with egg strips, takuwan, sesame spinach, and spicy tofu.  the kimbap slices are separated from the rest of my food by a zig-zag-cut carrot strip baran, an idea from one of lia’s awesome bentos.

i’ve also got some steamed broccoli, purple potato flowers, a big fat strawberry, some grape tomatoes, two vegetarian chicken nuggets, and a few pea pods.  hovering over the broccoli, about to collect pollen from the potato flowers, is a cute bumble bee.  i’ve seen a bunch of cute bees lately, from akinoichigo’s to lucky sundae’s to mombento’s, and this is my take on the theme:  a turmeric-dyed quail egg with nori strips and facial features, and white soy paper wings.

tomorrow’s friday — i’m hoping for an apartment-hunt-free weekend for myself (still waiting to dot the last Is and cross the last Ts on the apartment i found), and a fun and sunny weekend for all my bento pals!





sweethearts bento

5 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is really quite simple, but still sweet:  two lettuce-wrapped, molded onigiri (using leftover brown-and-white rice, in this mold) with purple hearts on top.  the hearts are made from a small amount of the same rice, mixed with my purple shiso powder.  using this concentration of shiso powder makes the rice very tangy and salty, but i won’t eat the hearts in one bite each — i’ll nibble a little bit with each bite of the plain rice.

the rest of the box has a piece of kosher hot dog, some purple potato slices, some clementine wedges, a beautifully ripe strawberry, a fancy-cut quail egg, two takuwan slices, a steamed broccoli floret, and a few pea pods to fill in empty spaces.  the other tier to this box (not pictured) has the rest of the hot dog, more takuwan and broccoli, a piece of cheese, and a piece of kiwi to round out the meal.

this had to be quick and easy, as i’m pretty busy this week looking for a new apartment.  this process, which i always avoid until the last possible second, is extremely stressful but also exciting.  wish me luck!





more monkeys bento

4 04 2010

friday’s soboro-based bento was a little bit out of my comfort zone as far as bento crafting goes, so i wanted to give it another shot with something more my style.

these monkeys are based on a monkey face i found on google images, and are made from vegetarian ham and cheese (with nori and sesame seed for facial details, as usual).  they’re layered over mixed brown-and-white rice (trying to be healthier!) with peas (i really liked the color and flavor they added to last week’s bunny-eggs bento).

another bento trend i’ve seen a lot of lately is the use of printed wax paper.  akinoichigo-san and shoppingmum use some very stylish newsprint and strawberry papers in their lovely bento boxes, but all i could find at my local japanese market was a plain butcher’s brown and a subtle heart print.  tomorrow’s lunch features the brown, which i think goes nicely with my bamboo spork.

the rest of the bento has purple potato stars, portobello veggie burgers, a fried quail egg, steamed broccoli, a few cherry tomatoes, some flower-cut carrots and a few pea pods.

hope all my bento pals had a wonderful holiday weekend!





st. patrick’s day bento

16 03 2010

happy st. patrick’s day, bento friends!  like susan, i’m 1/8 irish, so i like to show my (albeit distant) roots with some extra green on this holiday!

my st. patrick’s day lunch is a light one, consisting of two cylindrical, pale green rice onigiri (made in a mold after mixing my rice with some of the green rice powder i received from a sweet pal last week — i know, i know, i’ve been going crazy with the colored rice!  i’m taking a break after this one, haha) in clover-leaf paper food cups, topped with some pre-cut nori in four-leaf-clover shapes.

the rest of the box contains a fancy-cut quail egg atop a steamed broccoli floret, some takuwan slices, baby carrots and pea pods, blackberries, and grape tomatoes on an enamel-and-metal four-leaf-clover skewer i found at my local M2M korean mart.

my grape putifresh box adds to the green theme, and the shamrock hashi (blurry in the backround) are the perfect finishing touch on this holiday meal.

[as seen on food news journal, stdandme]





h-mart goodies bento

16 02 2010

as i mentioned yesterday, the boyfriend and i stocked up at a huge h-mart in flushing.  this box includes my h-mart goodies:  jap chae in the top right section (topped with a yellow carrot and pea pod flower), fish jun in the bottom right section (topped by two purple potato butterflies), and spicy stewed tofu in the bottom left section (topped with a fried quail egg and scallions).  in the top left section i have dessert:  slices from a baby pear from h-mart’s fab produce section, some blueberries and a kumquat, and some two-toned, sweet korean dessert balls.  these balls are a rice-flour and sesame paste concoction labeled “muffin honey rice cake” (this is a form of dduk, which is used in both savory and sweet applications).

you may also notice that i have finally found the cool, slightly-convex four-sectioned box that some of my favorite bentoists are using these days.  i got mine at banzai living‘s flushing location.  woo hoo!