05 November 2009

More Backlogged Bento Action

Simple and tasty bento: carrots, dried plums, 3/4 of an orange, a nori-wrapped onigiri, and four turkey & scallion potstickers. (My potstickers are shaped oddly--like very tiny, lumpy eggrolls--because I used square wonton wrappers, not round potsticker wrappers.)

01 November 2009

A Tale of Two Bentos

Well, there's really no tale, so to speak, about these bentos, but it makes for a good post title. These are from my first 2 weeks in Casper (thus from mid-August), and as such, they are rather basic in nature.

The first contains a bottom tier of sushi rice decorated with strips of nori. Middle tier holds almonds, blueberries, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Top tier holds M&Ms and soy sauce fish.

Another fairly basic but incredibly tasty bento: bottom tier holds salami, cherry tomatoes, an herbed cheese Laughing Cow wedge, and a clementine. Middle tier holds rye toasts and a trail mix of cashews, dried pineapple, and dried mango.  Top tier holds one of my chief weaknesses: Good-N-Plenty candies.

Many of the things in this second bento are courtesy of my good friend Virginia, who was an absolute goddess of kindness and packed a wonderful tote of snacks for the trip. The tote came with me to the farmers' markets in town, too, and carried home the blueberries and carrots. I carry with me the thoughtfulness of my friends, too.

31 October 2009

Why, hello.

 Rumors of my death, etc.

I have been doing a delightful lot of knitting, really, and this is Adamas, by Miriam Felton. It was knit for a most delightful friend, and I love this pattern. I had been attempting a different pattern for a long time, and wow, it was a wretched process. I think I spent 5 months and only got about a foot of the pattern done. I declared it a loss, and then knit the whole Adamas in a few short months, so I think it was a good choice.

I forgot the yarn name.  Alas.

I've also been bento-ing.  I'll try to spread these out over a few days.

This is one of my lunches from August, actually.  Sushi rice with nori checkerboard squares, almonds, dried mango pieces, blueberries, carrots, and furikake in the little container. The top tier holds M&Ms and some coffee candies.

04 June 2009

Oh, knitting, you fickle mistress...

I think the universe mocks me for neglecting my blog. I knit a Nutkin that I can't put on my foot, and today, I cast off on the Adamas shawl, only to find it is woefully small, even blocked. So I've frogged the cast off, the 12-row edging, and rehung the umpteen million stitches back on the needles and replaced all the markers.

Let's just say that that was not a satisfactory experience.

On one hand, I need to do this. The shawl is a gift, and it would be both lame and useless as small as it turned out to be. And I do enjoy the knitting--I like this pattern a lot. On the other--ooooooh, I dislike frogging.

Maybe someday I'll have a FO to post.

I did score major yarn goodness on vacation, though. Pictures to come when there's natural light.

22 May 2009

This is not helping.

I've been hideously remiss in taking care of this blog.

I have some backlogged bentos from April or so that I'd like to get up here soon, and I'm starting my summer work schedule, so I might actually have bentos to show sometime in the future. I was supposed to have one today, but...then I fainted and knocked my rice off the stove.

I'm fine, but it'll be peanut butter & jelly for lunch now. *sigh*

Next week will find me in Portland, Oregon, so hopefully I can find something awesome and bento-blog-worthy out there.

08 March 2009

These were from Thursday and Friday.

Top tier contains jicama, snow peas, carrots, strawberries, almonds, gjetost, miniature gummi bears. Bottom: Rice with black sesame seed & shiso furikake decorations, broccoli, leftover steak pieces.

And then Friday's bento holds:
In the top tier, roasted yam bits, snow peas, jicama, strawberries, & blackberries. Bottom tier holds onigiri with nori decorations, oven-roasted broccoli, and chicken with Thai chili sauce.

Yam oven-fries are my new favorite thing, food-wise. These took about 20 minutes in my toaster oven (just a couple of French-fry-sized pieces of yam cut into 3/4 inch chunks, tossed in olive oil, and roasted at 425 degrees).

07 March 2009

Two bentos!

Two bentos from last week. First one is just a bit of a snack bento: strawberries, blackberries, almond pieces, and honey-wheat bread with honey butter in the container.
And then a full lunch featuring more of the same: berries, carrots, bread, homemade gyoza rolls (I'm not sure what to call them, but they're just chicken gyoza in larger egg roll wrappers).

Nothing terribly exciting, but it's hard to be terribly exciting early in the week. I'll have more interesting lunches when I post up the end of the week.

25 February 2009

Otro Bento

From Tuesday:I do so love my bone cookie cutter. Today it has cut out some wheat and sunflower seed bread to be accompanied by a little container of butter and honey. There are some dried cranberries tucked around it, and there are (as always) carrots on the side. Both sides, actually, top and bottom. The bottom tier also holds edamame and some sweet-chili-glazed chicken. (I'm out of broccoli...and everything vegetable-like except carrots.)

Nothing exciting, but the bread is really tasty and is emblematic of my intention to start eating more whole grains/less super-refined flours. ...except for baking. Sometimes, good ol' AP Flour is what is necessary.

22 February 2009

Three Bentos

Wee skotch of a backlog from this past week, so I've got three bentos to share today.Wednesday's was onigiri with nori stripes, carrots & sugar snap peas, and the silicon cup is filled with a mix of almonds, pistachio kernels, gjetost cubes, and two delicious little gingerbread bits that were baked by my friend Virginia.

Thursday's bento was especially delicious because I had homemade gyoza/"egg rolls" to dip in Thai chili sauce (which are both in the bottom/right side tier). What happened is that I was making gyoza and ran out of gyoza wrappers, so I put more filling into eggroll skins to make longer versions. I'll have to do that more often, as they are ideally shaped for bento, and two of them would be perfecto for lunch. They're accompanied by my (toaster)oven-roasted broccoli, and I'll give the recipe for that at the end of this post. Top (left side tier) holds sugar snap peas, carrots, a moro/blood orange, and a homemade "trail mix"--bits of dried apricot, dried fig, dried mango, and almonds.

And Friday's lunch was more broccoli, carrots, sugar snaps, moro orange, gjetost squares, and two panda cookies. Bottom holds avocado maki (oh, how I love you, avocado maki), carrot accents, and three dried figs.

(Toaster)Oven-Roasted Broccoli

Preheat toaster oven or regular oven to 425F.

Drizzle your preferred amount of broccoli spears (two ounces makes a good portion for a single bento lunch) with a little splash of olive oil (about a teaspoon or so). Season with a pinch of salt, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Squish it around with your hands so the oil coats the broccoli fairly well and the spices stick. (I find that the more willing you are to get your hands messy the less oil you actually need, in this case.) Put it on a baking sheet (if you're using the oven) or a bit of foil (toaster oven) and roast until the cut stems start to brown and the edges of the florets are getting a bit toasty-looking. This, inexplicably, takes about 12 minutes in my oven or 5 in my toaster oven. I don't understand it, but it's a convenient difference. Cool before packing in bento.

And for someone who dislikes pretty much all other forms of cooked broccoli, I love this stuff. I actively look forward to it, and I find myself cramming extra into whatever spaces I can find in my lunch.

17 February 2009

February 17 Bento

Pretty happy with the way this one turned out! Carrots, sugar snap peas, cranberries, a blood orange, gjetost triangles, and almonds under the cheese bits in the top tier, and onigiri, roasted broccoli, and mini-chicken burgers in the bottom. And, also, it was pretty darn tasty. Blood oranges are amazing.

15 February 2009

Miniature eclairs

Everything is better with tiny eclairs.

Homemade chocolate pastry cream from Dorie. Choux recipe also from Dorie. Honestly. Just go grab a copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours. Delicious stuff.

(this post brought to you by my stunning lack of academic motivation)

14 February 2009

Knitting Content! (and the usual bento stuff)

FINALLY. A finished object with a photo! Well, rather, a pair of objects, as one mitten (regretfully) does little for many of us. Unless you happen to be a pirate with a proper hook, in which case one mitten is likely all you need. I am not married to a pirate (avec hook or otherwise), and so I made him two mittens for Valentine's Day!I started with Laura Kasian's Basic Cabled Mittens pattern and turned left at Albuquerque and kept going. I owe a great debt to the pattern for shaping and proportions, and I switched out the three 4-stitch short cables for one larger six-stitch.They're knit in Berrocco Cuzco, which is fantabulous, held double, so that they will be the warmest mittens ever, because we are having the coldest winter ever here in the land of the lost. I got it at the always-a-pleasure Spin A Yarn on Mitchell Ave. (I think it is Very Important that the yarn store is so close to the hospital. ...if I had been thinking clearly, when I was having my overnight stay last February, I would have sent my husband there, first, instead of home to get me some nice pyjama pants.)

Ravel Them.

And then there are two days of bento action, both featuring that short-grain sweet brown rice I found, which is definitely a success. It takes about an hour to use it for bento (50 minutes of cooking, 10 minutes of resting, plus however long it takes you to fuss it into the shape you like, which could be twenty minutes for me), but if speed is not your intent (and it never is with me), you can do all the other assembly work while it's cooking. ...and also shower, do some dishes, pack up your belongings and necessities for the day... Hence, I didn't find the long cooking time to really be a problem. And, of course, if it is a little problematical for you, just make a bunch at once and freeze (which is what I did with half of the rice, and used it in Friday's lunch).

Onigiri wrapped in nori, carrots, dried apricots, dried figs, almonds, and panda cookies with a bit of soy sauce in le fish. The sweet brown rice was super-tasty--just a wee hint of nuttiness that still played well with the seasoned vinegar (because I make all of my onigiri with sushi rice).

Friday's bento contained brown rice onigiri with nori and shiso furikake. The shiso furikake bleeds a very pretty shade of intense fuschia, and someday I will actually do something with that interesting property, but I only use it in small amounts because it contains MSG and that can sometimes play merry hell with my stomach. It's tasty, though. It's accompanied by more (toaster)oven-roasted broccoli (this time with olive oil, chili flakes, dried orange peel, and garlic--delicious) and sweet chili-sauce glazed chicken.
Bottom tier contains pez de soy sauce, carrots, cheese spears, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and grapefruit sections. I tried to brulee my grapefruit (sprinkle it with a bit of sugar and zap under the broiler), but my toaster oven's broiler isn't beefy enough to do it, and my gas oven's broiler would probably destroy the silicone cup (a chance I don't really want to take). Grapefruit still tasty, though.

10 February 2009

Bento and Macarons!

First: today's bento.

Kiwi, carrots, broccoli, cheese & almonds, and a container of hoisin/chili sauce for chicken karaage. Bottom tier holds said chicken and a brie/honey/dried fig "sandwich." I didn't feel like making rice this morning, and I still have some bread to use up. It's not the most balanced meal I've ever put in my bento, but I figured having raw broccoli gets me some points. (Having the dipping sauce helped!)

And now on to the exciting part: macarons.

After seeing how beautiful they look all over the internet, I decided I had to try making them myself. And I admit to a bit of fear, since I do have difficulty dealing with kitchen failures, and I have seen many tales, far and wide, of the potential pitfalls of macaron-making (fiddly egg whites, humidity, etc.). But. A friend of mine could use some sweetness this week, so today was the day.

I used a recipe from Tartelette, whose method and recipes I've seen hailed far and wide, and I tweaked it for flavorings. Rather than recopy all of her hard work here, I'll send you to the recipe: Gingerbread Macarons. Mine omitted the nutmeg and cloves and added about a tablespoon and a half of sifted cocoa powder, because chocolate and cinnamon together are so lovely.

I used Bob's Red Mill almond flour, and I also blitzed it with the powdered sugar (in my blender) until it was, indeed, far finer than it was in the package. I aged my egg whites over night, and I did let my piped macarons rest on the counter for 30 and 50 minutes.

My oven is a touch hot, so next time, I will check on them at about 18 minutes, because at 20 minutes, they were a bit crunchy when completely cool. But the inside texture is delightful. Look!

For the filling, I used dulce de leche, made in the David Lebovitz fashion. Next time, I think I will put a dish cloth beneath the caramel-holding baking dish, because the center of mine got a bit overdone. It was delicious, but the texture was not smooth--the center got a bit over-caramelized. The little chewy bits were delicious, but not as polished-looking as I would like. But the final product?

Delicious. And they have feet! Proper macaron feet! (You have no idea how excited that makes me.)

Now I just have to not go into a sugar coma.

09 February 2009

A Proper Bento

Finally, I got it together enough to make a real bento for the day! I think it was fueled by my vast new love for Thai sweet chili sauce. The bottom tier holds mini chicken burgers, glazed with Thai sweet chili sauce, sitting on sushi rice rounds. That's accompanied by (toaster)oven-roasted broccoli. In the top tier, there is kiwi, carrot rounds, a little red silicon cup of cheese bits, and the green cup holds a mix of pistachios, almonds, dried cranberries, and dried figs.

On the way home today, I also stopped at the new health-food store (...which may have been the first time I'd ever been in such a thing), and I scored some sweet brown rice, which claims to behave in the same way that sushi rice does, but with more Nutritional Value. It does take 50 minutes to cook, but I'm really not a speed-bento person, so that's not so bad. I snagged some dried apricots, and some almond flour. I have a yen to try my hand at macarons, because they are all over the blogosphere, and they look beautiful and also delicious.