Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 12

I was watching a television show on the NHK channel in NYC yesterday. The show featured non-Japanese bento which made me start to think about my bento selections. With a change in work schedule, I have started taking two different bento to work. Because the second bento will be for my dinner (around 7 PM), I need to take things that can stand up to several hours without being refrigerated.

For lunch today, I decided to make another chopped salad with fixings. I already have salad dressing at work so I didn't find the need to take up space by bring dressing with the bento. I have shared this green bento box before and it is one of my go-to boxes since it seems to carry just the right amount of food. In the bottom level, I used store bought chopped greens. I also included olives, fresh mozzarella balls, gerkins and grilled chicken. I was in the market the other and noticed that there are brands of pre-grilled and cooked chicken. Although I made my own, it is nice to know that if I am in a bind, I can buy this pre-cooked chicken. I was going for the sweet (gerkins), sour (olives), bitter (salad greens) and salty (mozzarella).
I was in Bed, Bath and Beyond the other day and found this collapsible meal kit which is designed like a bento. The kit contains a sauce container and spork in the lid. The top and bottom are non-divided spaces that collapse. There are four locking clips that lock into the bottom level lip. This system is made my Smart Planet. I found that the bottom level collapses very easily and needs to be filled very full otherwise it collapses with carrying. To rectify this, I placed a divided Sistema clip container in the bottom layer to keep it sturdy. In the top layer, I put soft foods that would be protected. 

Meal Kit by Smart Planet
For dinner, I made finger sandwiches and placed them in the top layer with four bean salad. In the bottom layer, I used the Sistema container to hold picked vegetables (carrots and cauliflower).

As you can tell, I am trying to eat more vegetables and trying to find ways to do so.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 8

Today's Bento returns to one of my favorite boxes--the Bentgo All-in-One Stackable Lunch/Bento Box (Green). There is something about the dimension that I like about this box. The rice section is 2 inches deep and top compartment is divided. The lid is slightly domed so I can use my silicone bento accessories to segment the different foods.

Today's lunch includes more vegetable rice, smoked sausages, Japanese potato salad (in silicone cupcake bakeware), and pickled green beans.

I have been trying to add more greens things in my diet. I have been experimenting with pickling and decided to try with green beans. I will provide the recipe in a future post.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 6

Well--I'm back. I haven't done Bento in a long time because life just got too busy. My day off at the theater changed and my schedule, and especially my cooking schedule, was thrown off completely. I found that I was so tired from not having a full day off that all I would do was sleep and rest--rather than cook or clean.

Now that I have returned to a regular schedule and have Sundays off again, I have decided to revisit Bento. One of the many things that I have learned is that I don't need as much food as I used to eat. More importantly, I have reduced the amount of meat that I have been eating.

In support of this realization, I decided to use smaller bento boxes that are readily available. Today, I am using the black box. It is a two compartment layered box. The width of the boxes are about 7 inches. The total height of the unit is 4 inches. The combined depth of the unit is about 3 inches.

The bottom box is about 1.5 inches in depth and is supposed to hold the rice (the largest portion of the meal).  The upper box is about 1 inch in depth and is supposed to hold the rest of the meal. The portions are designed so that approximately one-third of the upper box is supposed to be filled with protein (meat) and the other two-thirds are supposed to be filled with garnishes, sides and fruit.

So for today's lunch, I have made vegetable rice (made with frozen vegetables), Japanese potato salad, gerkins and smoked sausages.

Well--I'm off to eat.

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9

Today's lunch includes:

  • Miniature sausages
  • Smashed Potatoes with garlic and bacon
  • Green beans
  • Chopped salad with dressing
  • Berries galore
The smashed potatoes were made with the leftover fingerling potatoes from last week. To make smashed potatoes:

  • Pan fry some two slices of bacon (or you can oven bake).
  • Remove bacon from the pan and remove all of the fat except one tablespoon
  • Add one tablespoon of your favorite oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • Add a teaspoon of chopped garlic. Let the garlic bloom in the oil.
  • When you can smell the garlic, add your pre-cooked potatoes (If you don't have pre-cooked potatoes, microwave some potatoes until they are par-baked.
  • Turn the potatoes in the oil/garlic mixture.
  • When the potatoes are warmed through, take a potato masher and partially smash the potatoes so that there is a wider surface to brown.
  • Season to taste (I used lemon pepper, seasoned salt, cayenne, and parsley flakes.
  • Crumble the bacon on top when removed from the pan.
  • Splash a tablespoon (or to taste) rice wine vinegar (optional).
I chose to add the rice wine vinegar since these are Japanese bento.

Friday, February 6, 2015

February 6

Happy Friday. This is the last bento of the week and therefore it is time to clean out the fridge.

Today's lunch includes:

  • a chopped salad with leftover julienne carrots, water chestnuts and cucumber
  • boiled egg
  • garlic and olive oil roasted fingerling potatoes
  • raspberries and blueberries
  • Italian salad dressing
Have a great weekend and I will see you next week with more bento.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 5

Today's Lunch is featuring one of my new bento boxes. It is a smaller container than the one I featured yesterday. As we continue along, I will start sharing the sources of my materials but until then I want to feature the food that I am preparing.

In the bottom tray, I have included the last of my vegetable steamed rice that includes mushrooms and carrots. To add a little crunch, I added canned water chestnuts.

In the top divided tray, I included some of the Japanese potato salad in two smaller silicone cuts that is surrounded by shredded carrots. I also included some sliced cucumber which is surrounded by blueberries. If I had to do it all over again, I would have placed the cucumbers in a different colored cup. The shredded carrots and cucumbers are dressed in an Italian vinaigrette dressing.

  • Blueberries
  • Shredded carrot and cucumber salad with Italian vinaigrette dressing
  • Japanese potato salad
  • Vegetable steamed rice with carrots, mushrooms and water chestnuts

My Bento History

Just an introduction to this blog. This blog will be dedicated to all things bento. American style bento, Japanese style bento, bento accessories, bento shopping, bento everything. I have been obsessed with bento since the 1980s when I lived in Japan while stationed there with the US Navy.

My love affair started when a local vendor shopped by our ship to offer pre-made lunches. We could order on a daily basis by being on the pier when he arrived or we could put in advance orders. More importantly, the Bento Man (as he was called) knew our ship's schedule before we did. On Mondays, he would take orders for the remaining days of the week (only working days, Monday to Friday). He would meticulously keep schedule of what boxes had been returned or not. The first rule you learned: never question the records of the Bento Man. If you said you didn't return one of the lacquered boxes, you still had it. Case closed.

More importantly, on Friday, you could put in your order for the following Monday or the following week. One day when I ordered an entire week's worth of Bento for the following week, I was told: "Only order Monday to Wednesday--you not here rest of week." We hadn't officially been told of our deployment the following week but the Bento Man knew already.

And so it began.