Wednesday, April 29, 2009

04/29/09 Bento

I was able to stick to my morning routine for the most part today which even allowed me to whip up a very quick and dirty tamagoyaki for my bento.  Usually I avoid cooking in the mornings and prefer to just piece a bento together with what is already made.

04/29/09 Bento

The top container has an onigiri filled with seasoned seaweed paste (I believe this is called nori tsukudani) with perilla.  This is the first time I've wrapped an onigiri completely with nori instead of doing just a strip or two.  It felt difficult to get it completely wrapped in a presentable fashion, but it was quite tasty this way.  Next to the onigiri is my quick and dirty tamagoyaki, with lots of soy sauce.  I need to get some dashi to make proper tamagoyaki at some point, but for a quick five minutes this morning this worked out well and was very tasty at lunch.  Beside that are slices of a "tofu pup" which is a vegetarian (it might be vegan?) hot dog alternative and some diced celery.  Chick sauce bottle has soy sauce for the onigiri and the rabbit has bull dog sauce for the tofu pup.  

The bottom container has three strawberries (sliced, though you can't really tell from this picture), some apple slices and an apple flower and then two kumquat slices.  I've decided that I don't care for the kumquats.  I may juice them and use the juice as an apple coating.  I cut the apple on the same plate I used for the kumquat today and the citrusy taste on the apple was kind of good.

On the side is my last mini chocolate bar.  I may or may not get more of these in the future - they are quite tasty, but not cheap and higher in calories than I thought.

The produce for my bento stock is dwindling so I will have to go grocery shopping tonight or tomorrow night.  I try to buy a little bit of a lot of different types of produce each time I go to the store which usually lasts me for a week or more.  I think I might adjust my buying though, so that I go to the store more often to theoretically get fresher produce into each bento.  The strawberries in today's bento had definitely seen better days so I was hesitant to use them, but didn't want them to go to waste either.

I would also really like to try umeboshi, but have only been able to find them at the Asian grocery store in a bigger jar.  Since I don't know if I'd like them or not, I'd rather not buy the bigger jar and see most of it go to waste if I find out my palate doesn't appreciate it.  I think the solution to this would be to try to order something with an umeboshi from a Japanese restaurant.  Of course, I'd have to find and go to a Japanese restaurant in the area first!  

(There are plenty to try, it's just that I'm kind of a weenie when it comes to trying new things by myself and haven't found anyone else to go with me yet.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

04/28/09 Bento

For the past few weeks I've been trying to get myself into a good, easy-to-maintain morning routine.  Ideally, my morning would look like this:

4:45am - Wake up, stumble to the bathroom still half-asleep, briefly wash face and put on workout clothes. Grab water bottle, keys, ID and head out the door to the gym.

5:00am - Get to gym, work out for 45 minutes.

6:00am - Get home, shower.

6:15am - While letting hair dry and comfortably lounging in my robe, catch up on blogs, and other social networking sites like twitter and flickr.

6:45am - Get dressed, fix up hair somehow.

7:15am - While preparing the day's bento, eat bowl of cereal.  Take pictures.  With any extra time, read or play DS.

Between 8:00 and 8:15am - Leave for work.

This is how I want it to go, but that doesn't always happen.

Last night I was trying to do too many things at once and didn't get to sleep until 11:30am or so.  A few months ago, this would have been early, but it is decidedly late when I'm trying to wake up before five in the morning.  When my alarm went off, I made the decision to stay in bed, sleeping instead of going to the gym.  I finally got out of bed at 7:30am which didn't leave me much time to do anything.  I got up to the kitchen at 8:00am and put together a bento after chiding myself for considering fast food or other such options for lunch instead when I have plenty of healthy, tasty food at my disposal already.

04/28/09 Bento

(I should make myself a light box, but I don't really have anywhere to store one and can't leave it out in the kitchen all the time. Maybe I'll start taking my stuff outside in the morning to take the pictures?)

On the left is a breakfast bento with pita chips, hummus, strawberries and kumquats since I didn't have the time to eat breakfast this morning.  I'm still not sure how I feel about kumquats.  I may have gotten a bad batch, but they seem overly tart to me, even with eating the rind too.  I like them better as small slices than halves, though, that's for sure.

The main bento is two onigiri filled with seasoned seaweed paste with perilla, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, a quail egg and celery for filling gaps.  One of the fish has soy sauce and the other has oyster sauce.  There's an apple for a late afternoon snack.  I bought this apple for its color so I could make checkerboard apples or apple bunnies, but didn't have the time.

The bento took me half an hour, so I was running a little late for work (I start at 9:00am and my office is about 35-40 minutes away).

Unfortunately, even after making the bento, I caved and had Wendy's for lunch. Just a small fry and some nuggets with a Coke, because anything more than that and I would have felt really stuffed and disgusting.  So, the above bento was actually for dinner instead.  I ate it before I left work so I wouldn't have to bother with dinner when I got home.  But I did have fun with the apple!

Checkered Apple

This took a lot longer than expected, but was pretty simple aside from the big chunk I accidentally scooped out toward the bottom. I don't see myself making these in the morning for weekday lunches, but maybe for special treats on the weekend or in the evenings.

Sanrio Trip and 04/27/09 Bento

Over the weekend, my boyfriend, Kyle, and I went with a friend of ours to the Sanrio store at one of the big malls south of Denver.  It's the only official Sanrio store in the area, and it's not too far away so it made for a nice Sunday afternoon excursion.  I had been there in February, but didn't buy anything.  This time, though I found three bento boxes and a slew of stationery items to use for swaps and pen pal correspondence. 

Sanrio Bento Boxes

I was excited to use the new boxes for my bento on Monday.  We went out for dinner at Noodles & Co. Sunday night and I tried their potstickers for the first time.  They were fairly tasty, so I saved two to have with lunch.  I also saved most of the tofu and vegetables in my Med Salad to have as well.

04/27/09 Bento

The side box has celery with hummus in a sakura-shaped silicone cup and sliced kumquats on top of quartered strawberries.  On the far left is a mini bar of chocolate with almonds and cranberries.

Top container (which is actually the bottom tier of the Sakura box) has the leftover Med Salad ingredients with extra diced celery and a quail egg.

Bottom container (which is the top tier) has the two potstickers, grape tomatoes and a little panda full of the sauce that came with the potstickers (it was sweet and spicy, but not salty enough for my tastes).  

Everything is on a bed of green leaf lettuce, mostly for decoration because I discovered that I don't particularly care for the taste of it.  It's possible that I didn't get a good head of green leaf lettuce, but I also don't know much about leafy veggies since I grew up in an iceberg-lettuce-in-chef's-salads house.  Does anyone have any other recommendations for tasty leafy greens?

I was worried when I bought the bento boxes that they wouldn't be big enough for my lunches.  The bento box I've been using is a little bigger than the Sakura Hello Kitty box, but using the Mashumaromitaina Fuwafuwanyanko box as a snack/fruit box is perfect.

Kyle is understanding and encouraging when it comes to my bentoing and even my budding kawaii obsession, but I realized as we were headed toward the overwhelmingly pink Sanrio store that not everyone understands why people like bento or kawaii.  Our friend was a little wary of all the pink, and I gave both of the men leave to go to a more manly store if they wanted.  They did, of course.  I understand that kawaii isn't everyone's cup of tea, but since it overlaps with bento so often, it has definitely grown on me.

Sakura Helly Kitty Bento

"Falling cherry blossoms

settle on Kitty's ear,

and put a dance in her heart."

How could you not love that?  I think more people need dances in their hearts!

Afterwards, on the drive back home, I was trying to explain bento and aside from "cute, healthy lunches" couldn't come up with anything that would do it justice.  How do you explain bento to your friends, family or coworkers?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Introductory Post!

I'm going to make this post a short one so I can get something written here so I can stop fretting over my first post and how to make it perfect! Next week I hope to start posting daily with my bento from that day during the week and other little things on the weekends. We'll see how it goes!

I love everything about bento - the time it takes, the finished product, the community surrounding it on the internet. I dabbled in it a little bit last Spring when I first discovered it. I had been browsing the internet for healthy lunch ideas and was immediately obsessed. My very first bento was made on May 1, 2008:

Bottom Bento


Since then I've amassed a sizeable amount of bento related products, gadgets and doodads. (The onigiri above was made using a square cookie cutter and plastic wrap - it came out well, in any case.)  My collection isn't quite as big as I'd like it to be yet, but it will get there eventually. Most of the items I have, I've bought through The Asian grocery stores I've been to in my area do not have a lot in the way of bento items. But supposedly there is an area in downtown Denver, Sakura Square, that has a lot of different Japanese stores and restaurants. I hope to go there someday soon so I can browse their selection - and not have to wait for a package from Japan!