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!





chirping chicks bento

30 03 2010

well, supposedly it’s spring, but it hasn’t felt like it for the past couple days in NYC — chilly temperatures and constant rain, ranging from a drizzle to a downpour.  hopefully tomorrow’s lunch will cheer up my day!

these chirping chicks are made from rice colored with the yellow deco-furi (rice powder) packet from the package of 5 colors that my sweet bento pal sent me (thanks again, you-know-who!).  they have nori eyes, edamame beaks, and the sister chick has gochujang cheeks and a fish sausage flower.  they’re in the medium size from this lovely lace cups set i got in my j-list box this week.

this tiffin-style box is pretty deep, so i put a thick layer of mixed salad greens down before i added the chicks.  then i filled the rest of the box in with steamed broccoli, a few more fish sausage flowers, grape tomatoes, takuwan slices with sesame seeds, flower-cut carrots, and a slicked chik-n patty (soy chicken). i would call this lunch vegetarian, except that i suspect the deco-furi is fish-based.  oh, and the fish sausage too, i guess.  oh well, it’s mostly veggie.

here’s a close-up of this chirping brother and sister:

wishing you all a sunny wednesday!





“woman in a hilltop teahouse” bento

21 03 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is my entry for the japan society’s virtual bento box battle.  i chose to imitate “woman in a hilltop teahouse,” a beautiful woodcut by japanese artist utagawa kuniyoshi.  click here to see the woodcut (image 10 of 26), part of the japan society gallery’s display entitled “graphic heroes, magic monsters:  japanese prints by utagawa kuniyoshi from the arthur r. miller collection.”

i chose this image because the lovely woman is dining… although it’s not a bento box on the bench with her, it could be, and she’s very much enjoying her peaceful and relaxing meal, as i hope to enjoy this lunch!  her bench is made of vegetarian ham, and she is made out of cheese and nori, with food coloring mixed with a few drops of water for a watercolor painting effect.

in the background i have broccoli, flower-cut carrots and a few pea pods, asparagus tips, a purple carrot skewer, takuwan slices with sesame seeds, a few grape tomatoes, a perfect little mini-plum (labeled “prune plum” in my market), and some blackberries, almost hidden behind the sesame leaf baran.  the teatime lady and her bench are layered over white rice, which is itself layered over stewed tofu for the protein component to this meal.

entries for the bento box battle are being accepted through wednesday, march 31, so there’s still time for you to make one if you haven’t already!

UPDATE:  the judging is over, and this box was selected for first prize!  take a look at the other winners over at the japan society’s website, and my congratulations to all who participated, especially lia, lucky sundae, pikko, and laura bento, all of whose entries were gorgeous and proved very stiff competition!





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]





spring butterfly bento

14 03 2010

tonight’s bento features a handmade cheese, soy paper, and nori butterfly.  the unexpected package i received on thursday also contained a package of these cool colorful soy papers, and over the weekend i had the brainstorm to apply cut-out pieces to white cheese to resemble the colored markings on a butterfly’s wings.  you like?  the white cheese was cut with a toothpick from a template i cut out of paper, and then layered on top of vegetarian ham that i cut with an x-acto knife.

i also used the yummy red shiso meshi i received in the same package to make some lovely purple rice for the butterfly to alight on.  the purple rice is layered over stewed tofu for some extra protein.

the “garden patch” in this box is separated from the rice by two sesame leaves (natural baran for hapa bento’s BOMB theme).  the butterfly is headed for those sweet potato flowers, which are growing out of the broccoli; there are also grape tomatoes, pea pods, blackberries on one of the “hairpin” skewers maki posted on flickr recently, a star-cut radish, and some takuwan strips in a paper food cup, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

did everyone remember to move their clocks forward an hour?  what a bummer to lose an hour of sleep, but at least it’s an official sign that spring is here!

here’s a close-up of my butterfly:

[as seen on craft gossip, stdandme, all about the cute, and thebaffled]

UPDATE:  this bento won the spring bento contest hosted by bento & co. / just bento / french bento!  congratulations to the other members of the top 15 and to all who participated, and many thanks to everyone who voted for me — i truly appreciate your support!  the best prize, though, was the opportunity to see the inspirational ideas in all the other contestants’ fabulous entries, and making some new international bento pals whose work i didn’t know about before.  what a great experience!





ume ladybug bento

4 03 2010

a pretty quick and simple one tonight, since dinner was leftover bibimbap and for tomorrow’s lunch i had to make do with the extra rice and some stuff from my freezer bento stash.

my ladybug is an ume pressed into the rice and decorated with nori.  the ladybug is headed for a big carrot blossom, and the non-rice section of the box has a tamagoyaki slice, an edamame shumai, some sliced vegetarian chicken nugget, a tiny orange pepper, pea pods, kiwi slices and  half a strawberry.  i had some ladybug paper, so i used that as a background to compliment my ume ladybug.

i used a sesame leaf as a natural baran, laying it in the box, pressing my rice in, and then folding the edge of the leaf back over the rice.  don’t forget to enter your natural baran ideas into hapa bento’s BOMB (best of the month bento) comment thread!

[as seen on MSN japan]





“chicken” nuggets bento

21 10 2009

bento 23

lucky sundae’s adorable doggie bento inspired me to check out the neat bento character recipes provided on the ajinomoto webpage as part of an ongoing contest.

my bento is copied from this cute chicken bento, except i made mine with trader joe’s soy chicken nuggets.

the chickies’ beaks are yellow beet, eyes and feet are nori, combs are soy pepperoni. the chickies are sitting on rice, which is just one layer on top of a layer of shredded cheese, and beneath that a layer of refried black beans (all leftovers from veggie burritos the other night). the top veggie portion is purple broccoli with a cheese-and-sesame flower, yellow wax beans, “twist” cut yellow squash and cucumber, asparagus, two red grape tomatoes, and maki’s pickled radishes.

[as seen on epicute, micro krill, and lin loves]