Monday, August 31, 2009

Tiger Bento

Tiger Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
For MisterMan, Rock Cod Bento #2 -- this time steamed in ginger scallion sauce with shoyu and sesame oil. I gave him a brown / black rice onigiri with a sweet potato tiger on top, roasted asparagus, Okinawan purple potato flower, roasted cherry tomatoes, yellow capsicum rings, and a bit of broccoli. Almost all red fruits today: strawberry, raspberries, red grapes (underneath), red plum, and 2 beautiful snow-white lychee!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rock Cod Bento

Rock Cod Bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
My first-grader gets: rock cod pan-fried in olive oil, butter, garlic and herbs for just a few minutes. The fish was fresh-caught by a friend (thanks George!). A tiny brown & black rice flower onigiri with sweet potato cherry blossom topper, steamed broccoli and peapods, garden-grown yellow pear tomato, and skewer of Okinawan purple potato and avocado flowers. On the fruits side, big strawberry, lychee, blueberries, orange tomatoes, flavor grenade plum, grape, and mango plum slices (all yellow, all the way through!)

I am really gonna miss all these amazing summer fruits when the season comes to an end!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Star Wars Bento #1

Star Wars Bento #1, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Because MisterMan is such an *avid* Star Wars fan, I had to indulge his greatest fantasy to have an actual Star Wars bento :)

Ma po tofu (minus the chili sauce), cucumber dividers, red Bhutan rice onigiri "Death Star" after destruction, TIE fighters cut from radishes (one of them was still red inside after peeling -- this is the "bloody" one -- o_o. Tofu Stormtrooper. Fruits section has black plum from friendly neighbor, strawberry, apricot, blueberries and lychee. Last section has peapods, sweet potato and Okinawan purple potato flowers.

I sort of wonder if he will even eat the fighters, or keep them to play with ;) This is #1; I know he really wants to see his favorite characters but I really have to work up to that...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Winged Dragon Bento

Winged dragon bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Another sandwich bento for MisterMan ~ this time a salmon salad melt on whole wheat sandwich thins. I mixed in lite mayo, diced onion and celery (for crunch), pepper and garlic powder. I would have loved to put hot sauce, but alas, not for my boy. I melted the cheddar, and added fresh spring greens. Carrot sticks, orange sunsugar cherry tomatoes with mozzarella perlini and fresh basil snipped from the garden complete the veggie sides. Oh, and the kosher dill "dragon" with blueberry eyes :) He has Dinosaur Egg plum wings (with veins, even!), and strawberry "scales" with more blueberries, and black organic grapes too.

Have a fanciful day :)

Hokusai Rice

Hokusai rice! This must be a zen batch. on Twitpic

I guess this will be a zen batch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

3 pals pasta bento

3 pals pasta bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Pasta "ears" orecchiette with tomato basil sauce and steamed yin choy, with broccoflower and peapods stuck in there too. Yin choy look similar to chard or kale, and the reddish-green leaves turn quite red after cooking. Like beets! A side salad with sliced red zebra tomato, homegrown yellow pear tomatoes and Okinawan purple potato flowers. Fruit section includes honeydew wedges, lychee, black and red grapes, and raspberry.

Monday, August 24, 2009

pool bento! ...or... goodbye summer :(

I took the kids to the pool, thinking we would swim for an hour or so. Well, I couldn't get them out of the water and by the time they finally climbed out onto dry land, it was 3 hours later and we were famished! So, this time I am packing a LOT of food for us in case we hang out all day again!

Here, my 3 tier tiffin comes in very handy! I have packed: peanut butter and blueberry jam on sandwich wheat thins, fresh blanched peapods, apricots and 2 kinds of grapes, bunch of strawberries, Asian pear, plum, carrots, yellow pear garden tomatoes, tangerine, nectarine, banana, mozzarella sticks, and cereal bars. The three tiers stack into a tight-locking frame with attached handle -- it's so cute and fun to carry. Of course, not everything you see here fits, but some of it they will eat at the playgroup they will go to first (while I swim my own laps).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Purple Bunny with Carrots Bento

For TinySprite: Okinawan purple potato bunny with double carrots on an almond butter sandwich... with fruits: lychee with grapes underneath, blueberries, blackberry, raspberries and cherry. Quail egg flowers, cut with zigzag knife.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Garlic lemon salmon bento

Garlic lemon salmon bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
I try to make a point of having fish (salmon is best) at least once a week, since it's so delicious and it's packed with omega-3s too. So this is why you see salmon bento so many times here! Luckily, the family likes it a lot and I haven't had any complaints yet ;)

So this one has a garlic lemon sauce, on a bed of greens, with an orange tomato/mozzarella perlini (after seeing them in hapa's bento, I had to get them --they are so cute and mini) skewer, more cherry tomatoes, Okinawan purple potato gingko leaves ~ can you see the shape? It is so pretty...I should have used a ligher background. Other side has peapods, yellow pear tomato, pluot, white nectarine, blackberries, strawberry and lovely lychee.

I like how this one turned out; balanced and nicely visually pleasing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pizza bento

Pizza bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
This is sherimiya brand pizza ~ healthy and fresh! Making pizza is yet another good way to use up all the stuff in the veggie drawer ~ you can put whatever you like; doesn't matter! Look what I put: semi-dried tomatoes, fresh yellow tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli (steamed and coarsely chopped), thin sliced eggplant, cheese... I forgot the onion and olives, but those are good toppings too. Anyway, they gobbled it up, just as I thought ;) The lavash bread is quite thin and bakes crispy, which we like.
Since there were so many veggies in the pizza, I just made a small side of peapods, tricolor tomatoes, and more pickled bittermelon with raw carrot thrown in. Fruit section has quite ripe peach, YUMMY lychees, strawberry, cherries, grapes, rasp- and blackberry.
MisterMan goes to a park with lake today, for more "camping" adventures. I wonder what he will discover...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Banh Mi bento

Banh Mi bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
Let it be noted that this is my favorite sandwich bento basket. I love it a lot, and wish I could send more sandwiches to school with my boy just so I can use it :)
MisterMan gets barbeque pork Vietnamese sandwich (Banh Mi), and I added bean sprouts and extra cilantro (and removed the jalapenos). Sometimes I will add lettuce, but this time I just added a side salad in the tiny stainless box with tricolor tomatoes and pickled bittermelon. The pickling juice acts as a perfect salad dressing, too.
He will flip when he sees the fruit section! I don't think I've ever given him quite so much variety: blueberries, peaches, peapods (ok, not a fruit but I needed the vibrant green color), raspberries, blackberry, Italian plum, cherry and lychee. (doesn't the lychee look luscious?? .mmm, I am soo in love with them..)

MisterMan goes "beachcombing" for shells to make into artwork, halfway through Camping Week at Summer Adventures...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chickie bento

Chickie bento, originally uploaded by sherimiya ♥.
This one is for TinySprite: Under the colby jack cheese chick is a little chick sandwich with almond butter. Propping them up are blueberries, and an edamame skewer. A bunch of Bing cherries, and cottage cheese with peach, strawberry and wheat germ.

All my peaches are ripe right NOW, which is what I get for buying so many at the Farmer's Market last weekend. So, you will see lots of peaches in these bento (as the family is seeing at our meals at home too ;) S'okay ~ peaches rock.


Homegrown Lemon Boy tomatoes and Applause tomatoes, with homegrown (by my neighbor and transplanted by me) sweet basil. Fresh mozzarella. Fresh cracked pepper and olive oil drizzled on top. Is anything more refreshing and cool than caprese salad and a cool beverage on a warm summer evening?

Red Zebra Tomatoes

Green zebras I have seen, and used. The red zebras are stunning, fiery, sizzling. Love 'em.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chirimen Bento

This bento was said to resemble the colorfully patterned beautiful chirimen fabric -- by some very kind bento friends over on flickr. Perhaps it may be also due to the large variety of seemingly random food items in this bento! The egg scramble has all kinds of leftover veggies thrown in, which is often how we make egg scramble. Most times we only think of making it when we notice lots of veggies in the drawer nearing the expiration date. Anyway, this one has tomato, onion, mushroom, red pepper, and is sprinkled with homegrown chives. On the side are peapods, star cut radish, leaf cut golden beets, and tomato & pickled bittermelon salad. Also some sweet potato sticks. I had to put the fruits in a separate bowl because there were so many ~ this is why I love summer so much! You can see white nectarine, lychee, cherries, straw-, black-, blue-, and raspberries.
What do you think? Too much? Well, let's just say the boy came home with 2 empty boxes :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Shave Ice" Bento

Ginger fish over a bed of greens, with 2 yellow pear tomatoes and some roasted asparagus make up the main protein part of this bento for my 6 year old son. I made "shave ice" rice, using tricolor rice, shaping into a ball and placing into a cupcake cup. Do you think it looks like rainbow flavor? I used beet juice for pink, curry and turmeric for yellow, and nori furikake for green -- all natural colorings look best in bento, for a subtle (not garish) look. I also made caprese skewers, using very cool Japanese black cherry tomatoes, homegrown basil and fresh mozzarella. There are a few extra tomatoes next to the skewers sprinkled with feta as well. Fruit section has kiwi, blueberries, peaches, tangerines and Bing cherries.

I thought this bento would feel "cool" on a hot summer day, but too bad it can't be a real shave ice, right? :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Caterpillar Bento

Lemon risotto with asparagus makes a fresh summer bento lunch. The caterpillar is made of yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and raw purple carrots, with chive detail. He sits on a bed of red lettuce. I find the vegetables are more likely to get eaten if they're cute! Don't you think? Fruit section includes kiwi, apricot, strawberry and blackberry.

This bento is for my 6 year old son, and he'll take it to summer fun, show his buddies, and get a healthy & nutritious meal all in one. Love this bento box, btw. When your bento is cute, the transparent lid serves to show it off ;)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pandapple Bento

I don't usually do character (charaben) bento, simply because I don't do it well! But I couldn't NOT make Pandapple with the radish. I like to use radish because it's quite easy to cut and manipulate, it's bright and pretty, and what's more, it tastes nice and sharp in bento. For Pandapple radish, simply peel the red off the lower part with a small knife, leaving a straight line dividing the two colors. I put a cucumber leaf into the top of his head (after cutting a slot in the radish with a knife), and halved a blueberry for his ears, securing them to his head with tiny pieces of maifun (rice stick). You may have to premake the holes in the radish with a toothpick for this part. The facial details are cut from nori. Quite easy, yet cute, right?

Other parts of the bento include: edamame skewer, orange sun sugar tomato, strawberries, yellow carrot spears, red grapes, blackberries, and purple cauliflower. Yes, this vegetable was grown to be this color; I did not color it myself. You can find all kinds of interesting produce if you'll visit your local farmer's market. I always encourage people to shop locally :)

TinySprite smiled to see this bento, and down it all went! That's what I like to see!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bunny Bento

Today I decided to make a cute bento for my toddler; what's more, I remembered the quail eggs I bought earlier this week and decided to use them. First, I hard-boiled the eggs. Peel them carefully, so as not to get too many nicks and blemishes. It's best to do this with a dry egg. For the ears and arms I cut radish shapes with my plastic cutter, and inserted the ears into the head after cutting small slots into the egg with a small knife. The facial details are cut from nori. The carrot is a tiny triangle cut from a real carrot, and the carrot top is a bit of cilantro (this will not be eaten by my girl, which I know from experience). Bunny sits on a bed of soba, which she loves. Noodles of all kinds are a big hit with her. Perhaps you can see a failed egg under the soba as well. In addition, she gets a sweet potato and a golden beet flower, and various summer fruits: blueberries, Bing cherries, golden raspberries and strawberry. Finally, I decorated with snips of fresh herbs from my garden: rosemary, mint and lemon verbena (my favorite). It is a fragrant and happy bento for my little girl, for sure!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gourd Bento

OK, I called this Gourd Bento because the onigiri is shaped into a gourd, on top of which I put 3 pieces of sweet potato to emphasize the shape. Can you see this? I also decorated the gourd with 3 yellow beet flowers with purple carrot centers. The main protein of the bento is roast chicken, and the onigiri, which is made from Forbidden (black) rice. Also included in the main section is a radish, purple carrot spears, and some sliced tomatoes (green zebra, red, and yellow).
The fruit section takes advantage of the summer fruits I found in the market today: ripe red strawberries, white nectarines, black grapes (underneath), Bing cherries and golden raspberries. My 6-year old also gets a small section of no-salt cottage cheese with blueberries, pumpkin seeds and wheat germ.
And a little inverted alien pal to eat with.

Garden bounty

Yellow pear tomato, quite ready for picking, on my overgrown bush. I love the way these cute, bright fruits look in bento.

Garden bounty

Applause tomato, very red and firm! This one will be sliced up for use with another garden item...

Garden bounty

Lemon Boy tomatoes, impossibly bright and yes, lemony yellow, begging to be picked and shown off in a cool summer salad, perhaps.

Garden bounty

Can you guess what this lovely basil will become? hint: in combination with ripe tomato... and with fresh mozzarella and fresh cracked pepper with a drizzle of olive oil...

OK, not just a hint ~ it's no secret that I love caprese salad, and it ranks as one of my favorite all-time salads.


You really gotta love that bean crud.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Making the soba noodles

You should cook soba (buckwheat) noodles for only 4 minutes, then rinse quickly in cold water. They should be nice and slippery, and kind of al dente.
You can blanch a whole bunch of spinach in boiling water for less than a minute, and it will shrink down to a tiny log that you can smush in your palm! Try to get all the water out. Keep it in this log form so that it will be easy to chop roughly.

You can use premade sauce, but it's just as easy to make your own. Here is what I put in my sauce: rice vinegar, mirin, shoyu, lime juice, sesame oil and grated ginger. It's tangy and fresh. You can toss everything together with the noodles, or you can arrange the spinach and green onion (and surimi) on top for a beautiful presentation, and then drizzle the sauce.

Soba Bento

Here I finally make a Japanese bento, cooking soba noodles and blanched spinach. I also topped the noodles with surimi (artificial crabmeat) and green onions. You can also put shredded nori, but I packed that separate so it wouldn't get soggy before eating. I also packed the sauce in a piggie container for my boy to squirt over the noodles right before eating. The sauce is homemade, using rice vinegar, mirin, shoyu, lime juice, sesame oil and grated ginger. It's tasty!
On the other side I placed sliced green zebra tomatoes (these are green and look tart, but they are actually quite sweet), a yellow pear tomato and an orange sugarsweet tomato. On the side are golden beet spears. For his fruit he gets a half pluot (brown skin, dark red flesh -- the sweetest kind!), blueberries and golden raspberries. Oh, I almost forgot the purple carrot disc skewer; I think this adds a nice colorful detail, don't you?

Quail eggs

I got these 10 for $1.09 at my local Asian grocery. Aren't they cute?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mini Bento: Fresh from the Market

Sometimes a bento can be cute, and sometimes cute. Miniature = cute. Miniature edibles are super cute, and miniature bento are awesome! You will find that I like to make mini bento just for fun, from time to time. :)
For this one I used Okinawan purple potato as the table for the bagel chip and pretzel basket, holding some green onions and cilantro fresh from the farmers market. Also included in this bento are carrot spears, okra stars, a little brown rice onigiri with furikake and a cherry tomato, a lychee, cherries and blueberries.
Here is the real-life inspiration for this mini:
My recent farmers market haul that included purple and yellow carrots, purple peppers, various eggplants, golden beets, orange cherry tomatoes, and pluots. Whew! This produce was beautiful right out of the earth.

Forbidden Rice

We rarely eat plain white rice, preferring to make mixed riced using several other kinds of grains. For the rice I made today, I used equal parts white rice, brown rice, pearl barley and Forbidden (black) rice. This black rice is short grain; do not confuse it with wild black rice, which is actually a grass and is rather a long grain. When you cook Forbidden rice, the black color will extend to the other kinds of rice, resulting in a very interesting color combination. This batch looks dark purple to me. If you routinely use whole grain to boost your white rice, you may come to love the crunchy / chewy texture it adds to the rice. All of us in the family love it, kids included!

Cute Hamster Bento

This bento is for my first-grade boy, to take to his Summer Adventures day camp with him. I like this round bento, divided into sections, because it makes the food look nicely organized and separated. In the protein section he has teriyaki sesame salmon on a lettuce leaf, with a cup of Forbidden Black Rice mixed with brown, white and pearl barley (a separate post), made to look like a cupcake with a "cherry" (tomato) on top. Also in there are some peapods.

In the vegetable section he has a sweet potato, golden beets cut into flower shapes, red and orange cherry tomatoes, and purple carrots lightly steamed. I added a cuteness factor: little hamster friend made from yellow pear tomato and radish, with nori facial details.

Fruit section is nearly always his favorite part, and today he has yellow peach slices, Bing cherries, blueberries and golden raspberries. As you can see, I can fit quite a lot into this bento, and my boy gets a yummy, healthy and nutritious lunch to give him energy throughout his day. Have fun at camp, buddy!