Friday, January 13, 2012

Interesting Find

Not far from our home is a mid-sized shopping mall full of your average mix of department stores. One thing I've found in common with most of the shopping malls within our reach however is the presence of the odd import store here and there. Within such establishments one can find a wide assortment of items in no particular order... it rather feels like going to a garage sale... inside of a mall... very strange...

Anyway, back in August I found this little number at one such store and apparently I never completed the post about it (me?? forget to complete a post!? un-possible I tell you! ehehehehe) ^_^;  - It has been shown in action in a few posts since then.

I had to do some research since it was sold just as you see in the picture below: just some scotch tape to hold the lid on, no packaging or any other information. The store in question doesn't actually sell bento items from what I've seen, so I'm not sure why this was even on their shelf but it turns out it's a product made by Inomata of Japan and originally it should have had two tiers much like a picnic sized bento box. Apparently it also retails about $35USD: I paid $8USD for my "lighter" version. All in all, not a bad buy, it holds a reasonable amount of food and I like the ability to use all or none of the little dividers, my only wish would be perhaps a silicone seal around the edge or at least a bento band but considering the second tier is missing... perhaps I should just be glad it has a lid!  -_^

New Bento Box Find!
"New" Bento by Inomata of Japan

I don't go to the mall import shops very often but it can be fun to leisurely browse around from time to time. What strange/unexpected places have you found cool gear in?

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Request for Tuna Salad??

Oh my, it's been over two weeks since I began authoring this post! Time flies when you're... well trying to tie up loose ends at work... ^_^; I digress... back to the story at hand...

The Tiger had a slightly odd request (at least I thought it was odd...): tuna salad and crackers for lunch. As long as I've known my husband he's never been very fond of tinned fish: I can't say that I was ever expecting such a request. I came up with a recipe a bit different than my mother used to make (i.e.: tuna + mayo = done),  I think it turned out quite well.

2 cans of tuna fish packed in water
2 tbsp mayonaise (your choice)
2 medium sized dill pickles diced and well drained
2 small onions finely diced

  • Drain the tuna, and by "drain" I mean "use your hands and squish as much liquid out of the tuna as you possibly can - I want that tuna dry!"
  • Combine with diced pickles, onions, and mayonaise in a mixing bowl
  • Mix well
  • Add additional mayonaise to taste, I tend to err on the side of caution with salad dressings so use your own discretion, just remember that you can always add more later but you can't take it back once you've added it! 

12-13-11 (2)
[The Tiger's Bento 12-13-11]
[My Bento 12-13-11]

I prefer rice with my tuna as you can see in the second bento photo; to keep the Tiger's crackers from becoming soggy I used a highly compartmented bento box that we keep in the cupboard (in all it's manly... pink-ness... he teased me a bit about that).  The full contents of the first bento (counter-clockwise from the top): mashed Japanese sweet potato and a silicone cup of rice-vinegar-pickled vegetables,  a container of stir-fried bell peppers and onions, followed by the tuna salad with little dill pickle hearts as garnish, and finally the crispy crackers. The second bento was very similar but contained rice instead of crackers and carrot kinpira in place of the stir-fried bell pepper dish. 

Do you have any "secret ingredients" that you add to your mother's recipes? 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rule 25

I finally got around to reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan that my good friend has been reminding me about for ages now. One of my favorite and incredibly succinct rules within his text:
Rule 25 
"Eat your colors. The idea that a healthy plate of food will feature several different colors is a good example of an old wives’ tale about food that turns out to be good science too. The colors of many vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain—anthocyanins, polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids."

Pollan, Michael (2009-11-24). Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (Kindle Locations 389-392). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition. 

I've also heard/read several times hat it's common practice in traditional Japanese cuisine to include at least five colors with each meal. Making sure your food is varied in color certainly seems to be nutritionally sound advice to me! Below are a few of our re-energized attempts at integrating more color into our lives.

[Lunch for Two]

The Tiger requested that I pack him a bento for lunch once again, for a long time I've only been packing one for myself. The bento above contains leftover chicken wings from an outing at BW3 (or Buffalo Wild Wings as they're officially called), a stir-fry featuring bell peppers, onions, and bokchoy, and a little cup of instant pickles from The Just Bento Cookbook by Maki Itoh. I wasn't sure how I would like them but surprisingly I find myself making up a small batch for a snack since then: the Tiger enjoyed them as well. 
[My Bento 12-6-11]
12-6-11 Little Guy's Bento
[The Little Man's First Bento 12-6-11]
This bento is special; it's the first bento I've ever made for our little man. I was surprised to find that he didn't eat the sweet cherry tomatoes, even though those have been a favorite of his for a long time now: instead he devoured the shredded pickled veggies! o_0 My, oh my, how toddlers taste in food changes!
[Adding the Color Purple: Japanese Sweet Potato 12-12-11]

I tried a Japanese sweet potato for the first time in the bento above, they're dark purple on the outside and a creamy white color on the inside, in the photo above it's the veggie on the far left, I've peeled the skin off after baking it which left the insides a bit stained but all in all it was delicious: very sweet and had that wonderful starchy, filling texture that makes potatoes of any sort awesome in cold weather. I find that I like this variety of sweet potato even more than the orange-fleshed variety that is commonly available in our region. I also tried out a recipe for carrot kinpira from that I'm completely in love with! I'd never tried cooking carrots like that before: I recommend stopping over to and checking it out yourself. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Ears!

Let's start this out by saying "Ohmygoodness!! Thank heaven tomorrow is payday; I just ate the last apple!"

Seriously, last apple... cooked the last of the rice up last night... last of the edamame... yeah... ^_^; mama bunneh went to the cupboard but the cupboard was bare! We'll have to rectify that as soon as possible!

Meanwhile, here's what I scraped together with what we had on hand: as mentioned, rice / apples / edamame, there's also some canned sweet potatoes and some black olives (which for some reason didn't really work for me today but... that's neither here nor there). The rice is garnished with an umeboshi & some black sesame seeds from the pantry.

The cupboard is almost empty but there was enough there for apple bunnies!! 

You might notice that the apples are... different. I figured I'd try my hand again at making apple bunnies (because I love bunnies & they're awesome) after my last attempt was more or less a failure. We'll just say that last time... there were a a lot of bunnies that suffered from mono-ear... it's a terrible thing, really. Practice makes perfect though, I'm hoping that by the time our son is old enough to appreciate that his apples have ears: I'll be a pro!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Taco Salad Bento

I read this a post by Maki on a couple weeks ago about her husband's adventures in making Taco-couscous for one of their bentos.

That post came back to me this morning when I was rooting around in my fridge for something to pack for lunch today. I decided to pack some leftover chili from last week (that reeeeeeeally needs to be used up), some lettuce, and taco sauce. It's not exactly the way that you would usually think of taco salad, considering there's no actual "taco" in the form of chips, tortillas, cheese, rice, sour cream... or anything like that but it seemed like a good plan to use up our leftovers.

Also contained in this bento was my breakfast of soy yogurt and dried cranberries, that's the upper left compartment and isn't included in the taco salad by any means... although, now that I think of it... plain soy yogurt does make a decent substitute to sour cream... but that's a different story altogether!

"Taco Salad" Bento
So here's where it's assembled for lunch and I think it's now fair to call it taco salad ^_^

How I ate the taco salad
If you happen to be at all curious about the chili, it's a mild blend of my own creation. I used kidney and black beans, onion, tomatoes, garlic, corn, and various spices and let it all stew together for a few hours. The idea was to make something mild enough to be enjoyed by the little one but still flavorful enough for the adults in the house.

Also, as promised, here are a few photos of the new bento set in full:

korean style bento set detail
Subtle Details

new bento setkorean bento set