21 August 2008

Two Bentos and a Tip!

It's been a rough week--school starts on Monday and I'd be lying if I said I was anywhere near ready. That's why I'm doubling up on the bento--just no time to post yesterday, which was this one:
Customary cinnamon brown sugar bagel with PB and honey, broccoli, sugar snaps, carrots, sunsugar tomato, cheese, and, because of said gross week, a Lindt creme brulee chocolate square and a maple sugar candy. Oh, how I love me the maple sugar candy.

Then today, I used up some leftovers--Italian chicken and balsamic-roasted squash and cherry tomatoes, with carrots, cashews, and dried plums in the bottom tier. Bruschetta topping, carrots (hiding some cheese bites), and strawberries and lychees in the top. Not shown are two pieces of white toast I carried separately for the bruschetta topping.

By now, I'm sure you've noticed how much carrots feature in my bento. Not only is that because they're my favorite vegetable, but also because I have a nifty trick (that's probably not all that new to some of you) I got from my mom to avoid having to peel carrots every morning. Once or twice a week, I'll peel most of a bag of carrots and cut them into my favorite bento shapes--some into sticks, some into penny-rounds, some into planks like you see in the bottom tier here, and a few into the decorative stars and flowers that occasionally make it into my lunches. I put them into a handy Tupperware container, fill with cold, fresh water, and stash in the refrigerator. The water keeps the carrots' turgor pressure as it ought be, keeps the carrots from drying out (as peeled and cut carrots are wont to do), and then they only need a quick blot on a clean, dry kitchen towel before they're ready to pack up. Sometimes the carrots will curl a little bit, but that's kind of helpful if you want to make an edible barrier that isn't a straight line. If you cut the carrots very thin, you can even make circular (or ovoid, really) carrot "corrals," like you see here or here.

Another teensy tip, I guess: I keep a separate kitchen towel for bento prep in the morning, so that I can pat dry any of my freshly-washed vegetables without using disposable items, like paper towels. The salad spinner is also helpful for this sort of thing, but I seldom feel like going to those lengths in the morning.

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