Friday, October 30, 2009

How to Make a Watermelon Brain!

Okay, I saw this first on twitter, here. Warning: it's cool, but kinda icky. First, get a watermelon.

Cut in half lengthwise.

Shave off the green skin, leaving the white part.

Start cutting with a sharp knife.

Make brain-like folds as shown.

Mine looks kind of gruesome because the white rind was so thin that the red part showed through, making it look a bit too "bloody" for me.

But I guess it does look kind of brainlike. It creeped out my family! But they still ate it. And you know me, I had to make a mini:

Out of a radish. ^_^

Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Werewolf Toddler Snack Bento

I have lots of Halloween-themed bento this year ~ too many to blog. They were a lot of fun, though, and if you want to see them all in one place, you can glance at the dedicated set I made in flickr. I'm posting this one here just to let you know this one made Front Page on Flickr Explore, which was a first for me and was very exciting! This means the photo was cycled on the front page for some time (about 5 hours) on October 24th. Here's what the screen shot looked like.
I made the chicken and sun-dried tomato ravioli "werewolf" for TinySprite with mozzarella and nori facial details, and cut curved pieces for the paws. My mom thinks the paws are the best part of the bento. There are also peapods, strawberries and blackberries. Her Jack O'Lantern is cut from a mini orange sweet pepper. It's my favorite cutting material and I love that the vegetable is naturally hollow too! Here's how I cut my little pepper jack-o-lantern (a recent post), if you are interested :)

It's only 2 more days until Halloween! Tomorrow my boy has the day off, so he will spend it hanging out with his sister and me. Who knows what will be in store?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jack-O-Lantern Musubi Bento

Jack-O-Lantern Musubi Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I have made lots of Halloween themed bento so far this season, and I think this one is my favorite. I don't usually make onigiri because my boy doesn't love rice all that much. I think he would rather have something more interesting! But I really wanted to try to make a pumpkin riceball. Now I see why so many people like to make riceball kyaraben; their chubby faces are so cute! So I am pleased with how the "carved" pumpkin turned out, and I think the little floral touches add some charm to this otherwise "plain" bento :)

MisterMan has fish / lettuce "tacos" with homemade tartar sauce in container underneath. Roasted supersweet mini red pepper and red cherry tomato add color. Carrot rice Jack-o-lantern. Satsumaimo and Okinawan sweet potato flowers.

Fruit side has late season peaches, blackberries (kind of tart!) and black grapes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Japanese Food Carving Book!

It's called The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving, by Hiroshi Nagashima, and I glanced through it at Kinokuniya Bookstore last weekend. It looks fantastic, with big glossy pictures and clear tutorials. I wanted to sit right down and read the whole thing immediately, but the rest of my party was restless. Just look at the cover photo of the mini foods ~ is it not the cutest thing you have ever seen, ever?? Of course, if you have been following my blog, you will know that I am a passionate miniature enthusiast...ok, I am obsessed with minis. And lately, carvings too! The tiny sandwich there just blew me away. The other intricately carved shapes are equally as wonderful -- look at the butterfly! Perhaps you might take a look in your local bookstore and see if it's something you might like to buy to give you ideas for cute bento. I know I would love it.... *hint* ^_^

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Bunch of Halloween Bento!

I have embarked on a mission to include a carved jack-o-lantern of some kind in each of my son's bento until Halloween! I know what you're thinking: huh? why?
Hmm. I don't know.

Because it's fun? For this one I made a cucumber witch too, with rotini pasta hair. The jack is made from an orange cherry tomato. There's also a skewer of multicolored carrots, and some watermelon radish.

Here I made chicken, and the jack is a tiny carrot disc. The fruit side has yellow plum and tiny sugar plum, with sweet kiwi and carrot/sweet potato detail.

This one had banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), and the side box has romanesco, fruits, and a plum carved jack-o-lantern!

And finally, a ravioli bento with sweet potato jack. Did it feel like Jack overload? Putting them all in a single post kind of makes me look obsessed...but really I'm just very festive. Really! Wait til you see the post of the bento from this coming week. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

How To Carve A Mini Sweet Pepper Into A Jack O'Lantern

First, you need a mini sweet orange pepper. And a smallish knife. The only one I have is a paring knife, and its blade is a bit big for this use. If you have a scalpel dedicated to food, that would be much better! However, I have found that the serrations can sometimes come in handy when carving foods with a tough skin.

Poke the knife in where you want the eye to be, and push down just enough to make the length of the triangle which you desire. Luckily, triangle shaped eyes are desired here, since this is the easiest shape to cut. Follow with the other 2 cuts, and push the triangle into the pepper with a toothpick. Repeat for the other eye.

The nose is an upside-down triangle, and ideally should be smaller than the eyes. This can be hard to do, so if it comes out bigger than the eyes, it's okay! Alternatively, you may go back and make the eyes bigger if you like. The mouth is by far the hardest part. Unfortunately, there is only me to cut and take photos, and I can't do both! So this is the only "process" photo you will see. Here, the serrations help to "saw" slowly at the pepper so that you may proceed more deliberately. Push the cutout pepper pieces into the pepper. Turn the knife at the obvious points whenever you would like to make a tooth. If it's your first time, I would suggest a single upper tooth. Don't worry, it will look cute like that! Try to go slowly to avoid dental accidents :)

When you finish, he should look like this! As you can see, mine is messy, but it's okay. I've been told crooked teeth denote character. If you like, you could cut the pepper under the face to make it more pumpkin-like.

And look! How cute is that. :) See him at work in this cute bento!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

Rachel gave me an award, how sweet of her. Thanks Rachel! You can check out her blog, Home Is Where The Heart Is!  (Lia from Bentolicious also gave one to me, thank you Lia!)
The rules are simple, pick 15 new-to-me blogs to pass this award to. It was tough to find blogs that haven't already been awarded, but I found 10 which I like!  :)  I hope you take a look at them, they are all great blogs!   

Coconut Crumbs
dosankodebbie's etegami notebook
Savory Simple
Judy's Bento Box
Pigs Do Fly
Gourmet Mom on-the-Go
TELL IT RIGHT - Coffee & Tea with a hint of reality

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ghost Snack Bento

Ghost Snack Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Boo! Here is TinySprite's snack bento ... she gets pasta with sweet potato flower, fresh organic raspberries from the market today, Okinawan sweet potato "apple" shapes, maroon carrot skewer, edamame skewer, and mozzarella ghost.

I have been making a whole Halloween bento series, and I realized I better start blogging them before I run out of days! This is the first one... a cheese ghost, because my girl is a cheese fiend and can always be relied upon to accept simple cheese as a last-minute snack option! Super easy way to make the bento a bit more festive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bento Guest Post

Tania from Pure Natural Diva asked me to write a bento tutorial for her site on Whole Living With Style and Ease. I made a butterfly bento with step-by-step instructions. Please take a look at my guest post there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sausage & Forbidden Rice Bento

Chicken sausage (all natural, TJ), Forbidden black / brown / white rice onigiri with radish and sweet potato detail, sesame spinach and garlic enoki. Maroon & yellow carrot skewer. Purple & yellow cauliflower, tomato, peapods.
Fruits: plum, strawberry, black grapes and golden raspberries.

This one is not so fancy, but has lots of interesting tastes :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Skull Bento

Skull Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Here is my FIRST contribution to the Halloween theme bento! (I will be posting many more :) A skull onigiri with purple carrot eyes, and Okinawan sweet potato and yellow beet detail. When MisterMan saw it, he said "Cool! You made a Tusken Raider!" WHAT?! *sigh*

Lemon crusted salmon (I did not make this, alas), romanesco, yellow and purple cauliflower, peapods, sweet potato, and radish atop arugula sprouts. Fruit box has little strawberries (they are getting very tiny these days), giant black grapes, plum, golden raspberries and blueberries.

We might also call this a Day of the Dead bento.... which it also might call to mind...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Garlic Shrimp Bento

Garlic Shrimp Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
MisterMan has garlic shrimp, a superfast dish cooked in minutes on the stovetop in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Next to the shrimp he has romanesco, which I was so excited to find locally :) At the same market I also found arugula sprouts, and the two hearts are cut from yellow beets. Purple cauliflower, tomato/artichoke salad, peapods and purple/maroon carrot skewer. Fruit section includes strawberry, golden raspberries, dapple dandy plum grapes and blueberries.

This is one of my favorite bento boxes, because of its classic round shape, 3 divided sections, and transparent lid! All important aspects of a cool box to me. The topper would be if it had all those characteristics AND were made of stainless steel... but I am still on the lookout for such a thing. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sticky Rice Bento

Sticky Rice Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I made sticky rice using brown and white rice, and added a bunch of goodies into it as well. This batch I made using the mushroom broth, which made it more flavorful. There's also a tomato stuffed with chopped olives and feta, peapods, star radish, and tricolor cauliflower. On top of the rice I put three orange sunsugar cherry tomatoes and a skewer of purple and yellow carrots (they still had some at my market last weekend!)

Fruit side has strawberry, blueberries and one of the awesome Dapple Dandy plums. They still had these too, but they are definitely getting a lot smaller.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Honey Garlic Pork Bento

Honey Garlic Pork Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I made honey garlic pork ribs, and I have been wanting to use shiso recently ( I did use it in tamagoyaki a few days ago -- it was good!). After the meat is cooked through, I sprinkled the shredded shiso on top, so it didn't really cook. It adds a nice minty flavor; very nice.
So, MisterMan got some pork slices, and a brown / jade rice bunny onigiri, but I used a sandwich mold instead of a rice mold, which was bad planning because I subsequently really had no way of sliding it out after I shaped it. So, anyway, it's a girl because I wanted to use the associated bow cutter, and isn't it cute? He also gets purple and yellow cauliflower, peapods, ocean salad, garlic sesame spinach, and tricolor tomatoes. Fruit section has yellow plum (don't know the name of it but it's sweet!), organic strawberry and blueberries.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Watermelon Radish

I found this pretty radish today. It looked very plain and ordinary on the outside. White and greenish.

But with a magenta heart inside!

It is a watermelon radish. Peppery and strong! Very pretty in bento :) Recipetips says you can use it as you would a regular radish, and that it may also be referred to a Beauty Heart, Rose Heart, Shinrimei, Misato, Asian Red Meat, or Xin Li Mei radish. I used it as an accent detail with side veggies in a recent bento, and I think it would also be good in a salad. Perhaps you can find it in your market and try it yourself :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goldfish Bento

Goldfish Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I stir-fried spinach yakisoba with shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, garlic and green onion; no meat because I didn't have any. Topped with carrot goldfish. These goldfish cutters are handmade with built-in eye cutouts; very intricate and precise. I have found that carrots are the optimal substrate for this cutter: they are the desired color, and they are stiff enough to hold up well to display the lovely curved shape. If you cooked sweet potato only until firm, you might get a nice result (but I like sweet potato much softer).
I also quick-sauteed horenso (spinach) in garlic and shoyu and topped with sesame seeds. Satsumaimo / Okinawan sweet potato flowers (I could have used my double flower cutter for this one, but instead I used a simple cutter for the flower, and cut out the center circle using a bit of straw -- easy and convenient!), purple cauliflower and tricolor tomato skewer. Fruit side has strawberries, raspberry, blueberries and plum.
This is quite a bright and colorful one! I think it might be the ultra-violet purple background ;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mini: Watermelon!

I made this mini watermelon from a green zebra heirloom tomato, after inspiration from playing with fire and water, a blogger who did a very similar thing (brought to my attention by Laura Bento, who knows my obsession with minis!). If you haven't seen green zebra tomatoes, they are characterized by green striations, very watermelon-like in nature. I scooped one out, cut out a corresponding size watermelon, popped it into the tomato shell, and placed sesame seeds on top. You can see that my watermelon scoop is not a perfect match for its tomato shell, but it was only my first novice try. I'll try again, you can be sure :)
Isn't the baby watermelon just the cutest thing ever? I mean, look at it!! Tee hee! Made for bento, I think :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chicken Teriyaki Bento

Chicken Teriyaki Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I made chicken teriyaki, one of the kids''s nice to put the broccoli next to it so MisterMan can eat it with the sauce. There are also sweet potato stars, yellow cauliflower, tomato, peapods and red leaf salad with marinated artichoke heart.
Fruit section has sliced red pear, tangerines, raspberry, blueberries and red grapes (underneath).

Everything did fit, although I had to push down the fruits :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mini Bento: Pancake Stack Bento

mini pancake bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I am posting a mini bento from last spring because it's a favorite of mine and I just haven't had time to do many mini bento snacks lately. This one was for my toddler daughter. It includes her favorite ham & cheese rollups, plus a selection of fruits: strawberries, tangerines, and grapes. I also put in 2 peapods, because she will only agree to eat vegetables if they are present in small (one or two pieces) quantities. The mini part of the bento is the mozzarella cheese "plate", with real mini pancakes on top, topped with a tiny square of cheddar cheese "butter" and real maple syrup. The nori utensils I made using my craft punch. TinySprite loved the pancake, calling it "Baby pancake!", cuddling it, singing to it, and kissing it. It was so funny, I wish I had taken a photo of that scene :)
I have lots more mini bento ideas, and I am such an avid mini fan... there will definitely be another one soon, I hope!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Burrito Bento

Burrito Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Chicken-rice-bean burrito on lettuce with Okinawan sweet potato bamboo leaf cutouts and satsumaimo flowers. Tomatoes, peapods, broccoflower, broccoli, purple cauliflower, and purple-yellow carrot skewer. Fruit side has green plum, strawberries, and (not olives but) red grapes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wonton Bento

Wonton Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Here is the pork wonton bento, using the wontons I made in a previous post. To complement MisterMan's lunch, I added a tomato - feta salad, various sweet potato flowers using my cool double flower cutter, peapods, okra detail, purple and maroon carrot skewers which alternate with fresh peas, mushroom - zucchini saute from yesterday, and various fruits: tangelo, raspberries, strawberries and grapes.

I used 2 stainless steel Daiso containers, each with its own tight-sealing plastic lid (I love these).

Monday, October 5, 2009


Look what I found at the farmers market! I didn't think we had romanesco here, since previously I had only ever seen "broccoflower", but it turns out it is grown on several farms in coastal California. Broccoflower looks more like green cauliflower, and I have used it before in bento (as here), but the cool thing about romanesco is that "its shape could be described as fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral." (Wikipedia) Wow!
Thus, it is infinitely cooler than broccoflower. And, it's incomparable in bento -- see my first use here :)
Sadly, its season is short, but I hope to see it again soon. If you see it, you may want to try it yourself ~ it tastes like cauliflower, but with perhaps a slightly nuttier or pepperier flavor :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making Sticky Rice

I made a batch of sticky rice today, and this time I used a mix of brown sweet rice, white sweet rice, brown short grain and white short grain rice, in a ratio of 2 cups sweet rice to 1 cup short grain rice. I also used more than the usual amount of liquid because I noticed in the past that brown rice needs more water to attain the same level of stickiness. If you have time, you should also soak the rice a few hours before cooking. I've soaked sweet rice overnight with good results. I like to take a picture of the rice before cooking because I think it looks pretty cool.
I soaked some dry shiitake mushrooms, and sliced them before putting them to cook with the rice. I used the mushroom broth to make the rice.
It's not traditional to use fresh bok choy, but I do because I like the addition of dark greens. I think it looks nice, and it's another way for the kids to get a serving of leafy greens. I chopped the leaves and stems and put them in the pot with the rice. I also added lup cheong (Chinese sausage) and green onion. You can also use char siu if you like. Everything cooks together and you have a quick and easy one-pot meal! I should have taken a picture of the finished product, but my camera battery died and I forgot to upload it later. I did make a bento with it, though, and you can see it here. Oh, sticky rice does make a good bento :)
*ETA: Here's the finished sticky rice, all ready to eat...

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Array of Noodles

From left to right: cha-soba (green tea soba), udon, (regular buckwheat) soba, somen.
Aren't they pretty? Somehow they look very pleasing to me like this ~ calming and comforting.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Autumn Bento

Autumn Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Here is my contribution to the "Autumn" theme bento!
Pan-fried snapper in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. We ate them with sour cream/lime juice, cabbage, scallions and cilantro in tortillas for dinner. MisterMan gets leftover fish for his bento, along with mushroom & zucchini sauteed in garlic and olive oil, various color carrot skewer (purple, yellow and...I found MAROON carrots!), peapods, and lotus-cut radish. I tried to cut the lower petals more curving -- for this I used a rounded cutting edge. I think next time I'll make the petals wider.
Fruit side has strawberry, red grapes (under), Asian pear and red raspberries.
"Autumn" part comes in with sweet potato maple leaves with sesame seed detail ~ this is how my Japanese maple is starting to look these days.... less red and more bronze....