May 2010

Just got home

We just got home from from our trip to Epcot. I didn’t find any bento accessories in “Japan” but they did have a few cute Hollo Kitty bentos so I couldn’t resist and picked one up.

When I got home though I checked my email and found out that I won
Hapa Bento’s giveaway contest! She is sending me 2 bento cookbooks and a really cute Hello Kitty bento set. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see those cookbooks and get some great ideas!
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Sandwich bento (bento #6)


After I made it I found the bottom tier of this bento to be a bit on the boring side. I had ham and provolone cheese that I needed to use so I made these little sandwich pockets. The problem is that I don’t really know how to decorate them. I put them in there with a hard boiled egg, tomatoes, and stars made of ham, cheese, and purple cabbage. Other than that I didn’t really know what to do.

The bottom tier has green onions, pita chips, green olives, carrots, grapes, and steamed broccoli. I also put a small container of hummus in the bag (it wouldn’t fit in the box).

D loves sandwiches so I really need to figure out a way to decorate them better. I guess that’s my mission for the weekend :). Oh, I made these last night but I shouldn’t have put the eggs in there yet. I didn’t think about the eggs making the bottom tier smell until I took it out of the fridge this morning. Lol, now we will have egg scented sandwiches ;)

So D and I have Disney tickets that expire next week which means we have to use them this weekend. Oh darn! We’ve been so busy lately that it is going to be really nice to get away for a day. We decided to go to Epcot which makes me really excited because I’ll get to do some shopping in “Japan”. I know it’s unlikely but I’m really hoping for some bento supplies!
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Pasta bento (bento #5)


I only made a bento for D because I have to go to the doctor today. This bento turned out really green, green is good though :)

The pasta is mixed with sauteed fresh spinach, mushrooms, and onions. He likes chewing on green onions so I put a couple in the top tier. The bottom tier also has 2 lettuce rolls that are filled with sprouts and carrot sticks with a strip of red cabbage around the outside. The meat is chicken with Bull Dog tonkatsu sauce.

I’m a little jealous that I don’t get to eat this one. The rolls would have turned out a lot better if I had some picks to stick them with.

I went on
All Things for Sale today and found SO many bento things that I want really bad! Their shipping is really reasonable too, I can’t wait to place an order. Hopefully next month I can get a few more bento items.

The super cute soy sauce containers I have leak no matter what I do. They are too tall to fit in my bento standing up so I have to lay them down and it’s just not working. Bah humbug. :( I really need some back-up bento boxes too. See, I have all these great excuses... Lol!
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Quick bento (bento #4)


When I got home last night I only made the rice for today’s bento. This morning it took a little longer then I expected to get everything else done. This bento is most of the same ingredients from yesterday except that I used ham and provolone rolls for the meat instead of turkey meatballs. The ham rolls are actually sitting on a bed of alfalfa sprouts which is hard to see. Also, there is a bottle of kimchi flavored furikake for the rice.

I heard back from JBox again and they apologized for the trouble, said that they will look into any inaccuracies in the size descriptions of their products, but again stated that they have never had any issues before. They also gave me a $5 credit towards my next order.

I feel better about it all now, I’ll just have to be really careful and follow photos more than written descriptions. I still need to get some different bento boxes that are the size I was expecting these to be. At least this means I’ll get to go shopping again :) Lol!
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First bento in my new box (bento #3)


I couldn’t wait to try out our new bento boxes, even though they are not what I thought I was ordering. I heard back from jbox this morning and they say that the dimensions they quote are the dimensions of the top cover and they should be close to correct. The top cover is what I measured and they aren’t even close. So, I can either ship them back to San Diego at my cost and order some new ones to ship from Japan, also at my cost. By the time I’m done paying for all this shipping I could buy another bento box.

I asked them to double check their measurements. She reminded me that there are photos too, but photos online don’t give you any sense of scale. When you say something is 5.5” by 4” I expect something close to that size. Anyway, now I’m ranting. I will keep you up to date with any more information I receive from them.

Now that the frustration is out of the way ... on to fun stuff! I made matching bentos for me and D today. The rice in the bottom tier is mixed with chopped green onions. The meatballs are actually frozen turkey meatballs. Frozen meatballs are usually a little scary to me, I’ve never tried them before so I hope they’re good.

I did a sketch before assembling the bento and changed a few things around, mostly because of adding the dressing.

The top tier is like a deconstructed salad, all raw vegees. We have spinach leaves, tomatoes, carrots wrapped with red cabbage leaf, green olives, broccoli, and mushrooms with a few red grapes for dessert. D wanted something to dip the vegees in so I filled furikake containers with ranch dressing.

The mean guy at the top is a babybel cheese. I used piping tips (for icing) to punch the eyes and eyebrows out of the wax. They worked really good. You could use them to punch cheese, deli meat, ... or really anything soft. There is also a small bottle of soy sauce in the bottom for the rice, not sure how it will be on the meatballs though (they are italian seasoned).

I think the first real bento is a success! I want to find more small containers for things like dressing because the furikake container takes up a lot of room. I guess I could put the furikake in the bag outside of the bento... just want to make sure it won’t spill and mess up my bag.

I can’t wait to eat lunch today!
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JBox order


My JBox order came in yesterday! This means I actually have bento boxes! The shipping said it would take 2-4 weeks and it took 2 weeks so I was really happy to see the box waiting for me when I got home.

I ordered 2 bento boxes, a pack of 3 oval silicon cups, a pack of 2 soy sauce containers, a pack of 2 furikake containers, 2 different types of furikake, and a triangle shaped sandwich press.

I haven’t had time to actually use any of my new stuff so I will post reviews as soon as I use it.

One thing bugs me though. The bento boxes were advertised as square boxes measuring 5.5” by 4” and they aren’t. They are actually long and skinny (measuring 6.5” by 3”). I emailed JBox to ask if I had been shipped the wrong item but I really don’t expect them to respond until Monday. I
really didn’t want long skinny boxes. I have so many decoration ideas that just won’t fit in these boxes. I’m a little disappointed that they aren’t what was advertised. Don’t get me wrong, they are very nice and very cute, just not what I wanted. We’ll see what happens.

The boxes are really cool. The top lid comes off and there are some small hashi. The lids for the top and bottom tiers are rubbery so they make a pretty good seal. The top tier has two containers that can be taken out. I like that I can choose to use both, one, or none of them.
The bottom tier has a movable divider that slides back and forth and can be taken out. When put together the elastic band fits really snug to hold everything in place and it all fits perfectly in the bag. Even though they aren’t what I thought they were, I do really like these boxes.

I can’t wait to try out my new stuff.
I might have to make some tuna sandwiches for a snack today to try out the sandwich press. :) The furikake bottles seem a bit large for me, they take up way too much room inside the box but they are super cute. The soy sauce bottles are absolutely adorable. love them! I just want to make sure they don’t leak before I give them a proper review.

I went to three different oriental markets in Tampa today but I didn’t find any bento supplies. I was really hoping to find some cute picks because I don’t have any yet. I did find some more furikake to try and a bottle of Bull Dog tonkatsu sauce.


I’ve been wanting to try the Bull Dog sauce for a while now. It says it’s a vegetable and fruit sauce but after tasting it, I don’t think I would like it on fruit at all. It tastes like a steak sauce to me, it’s good, but not for fruit. I did read it with some left over vegees and it was good. I think it would be great on meat.

Happy bento-ing!
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Sketches

I really want to get into posting bento arrangement sketches. I think they are a fantastic way to get inspired. I made 2 sketches for my last bento on 5/18/10 so I started a sketches page and posted them.

The one I chose to use last time actually isn’t my favorite, I think the other one is better. There is WAY too much starch in this bento with the sushi, onogiri, and potatoes. If I made this again I would replace the potatoes with apple slices, I just didn’t have any.

My artistic skills are seriously lacking but I think they do the job. :)

My order from
jbox is supposed to come in 2 to 4 weeks after shipping and it hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet but I’m so excited that I look for it every time I come home! I can’t wait!!
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Sushi and leftovers


So my boyfriend requested sushi for lunch tomorrow. He’s lucky that I still have the supplies to make krab sushi. I had frozen the krab that was left over from last time in a vacuum freezer bag. To switch things up a bit I decided to make two variations: the original and a krab salad style roll. I made two matching bento lunches for us.

To make the krab salad I just chopped it into small pieces and mixed it with a little bit of mayonnaise and ground pepper. Then rolled it up in the nori and rice like last time. Be careful when rolling a salad style sushi roll. The insides are wet and very slippery so if you roll or squeeze it too tight it will squish out the sides.

I made enough rice so that I would be able to make each of us an onogiri as well. I decorated them with nori and sesame seeds this time.

For dinner we had grilled pork chops, steamed broccoli, and roasted red potatoes with an herbed butter. We had leftover broccoli and potatoes so I decided to use them as well. I made all of the ingredients the night before but assembled the bentos and decorated the nori in the morning. I
don’t have any baran yet so I didn’t want to leave it put together in the fridge overnight.

I had to put together our bentos in tupperware again, it works just fine, just isn’t nearly as cute :) They are also smaller than the bento boxes I ordered, which is probably a good thing because I don’t need to eat that much. I really wanted to take some fruit but I didn’t have anything to keep it separate from the other food, so I just took it in another little container. It would have looked a lot better if I could have lined the container with lettuce but I was out.

I’ve been looking at the bento accessories online and I can’t wait to get my stuff in. I’m going to go by Bed Bath and Beyond to see if they have any small silicon cups. What I was really missing from these lunches was a soy sauce container. I also forgot to get pickled ginger and wasabi from the grocery store.

The hardest part of this lunch was making the sushi. Other than that it was really simple. The design possibilities for these ingredients are endless. I had so many different ideas. I’m going to try to sketch them out from now on. It will be nice to have multiple sketches for the same list of ingredients. I should be able to start posting sketches this week. :)
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Under the sea


The Sanrio store here in Tampa didn’t have any bento supplies which was really disappointing. I’m still waiting on all of my bento supplies from jbox and I wanted to make a bento lunch really bad, so I made on without any bento supplies.

We were having hotdogs for dinner so I decided to try my hand at making a hotdog octopus and squid. The octopus is made out of half of a hotdog.
I cut the blunt end into eight strips and cut v shaped slits for the eyes. For the squid I used a whole
hotdog and cut the strips in the same way but the top is different. Instead of cutting v’s for the eyes I cut out wedges from both sides so that he looked like a squid.

Before you cook them they don’t look like much but as they cook the outside gets tight so the legs curl up a bit. The browning on the edges and the curling of the legs really give these guys a lot of character.

I couldn’t bear to eat them by themselves so I mad some rice and put a drop of blue food coloring in the water before cooking. I also seasoned it up a bit with some low sodium chicken bouillon. I put the rice in the bottom of a tupperware container and decorated it with carrot sticks and
cucumber peel as seaweed and sesame seeds for sand.

It looks really cute. Looks like this is my first bento :) I don’t have my sauce containers in yet so I haven’t figured out how to carry ketchup with me tomorrow. I can’t wait to eat this for lunch tomorrow. :)
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Onigiri #1


My first sushi trial actually turned out pretty good so I couldn’t wait to try making some onogiri. I actually cooked and formed them last night but waited until this morning to decorate them with nori. I’m still waiting on my bento boxes to come in but that doesn’t mean I can’t eat good bento food :)

I cooked 1/2 cup of medium grain rice in my cooker, spread it out on a tray to cool a little, and salted it pretty good. Don’t forget to wet your hands with salt water when handling and forming the rice. I found that 1/2 cup of dry rice made 2 pretty big onogiri.

I picked up about half of the rice and pressed it together, completely expecting for it to fall apart but it didn’t, it stuck together like clay would. I really thought there was going to be some trick to get it to stick together but there wasn’t. So, I made two square shaped discs, wrapped them really tight in plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge to sit until morning.

I went to decorate the onogiri this morning and they were still moist and sticky, just like the night before. For food safety, I wouldn’t make them any farther in advance then the night before unless you are going to freeze them.


Now for the fun part, making them super kawaii!! I have not bought any nori punches because I have so many paper punches from scrapbooking. I used a heart punch and a heart themed decorative edge punch. Don’t forget about using up the negatives after you punch out a shape.

Once decorated I re-wrapped the onogiri in plastic wrap to make them easy to transport. One of the biggest things I learned is to not squeeze the rice too much when you make your shapes. I played around with one of them a little too much and the outside got mushy because the rice started to break down.



I’m going to a mall today that has a Sanrio store and I’m hoping they have some kawaii bento supplies. See you tomorrow!

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Sushi practice


I went to the grocery store and picked up some nori, krab, and vegees determined that I was going to make my first sushi roll. The nori and krab were available at my local Publix next to the sushi counter. They also have pickled ginger and wasabi.

I have seen sushi being prepared before so I took a bamboo placemat to use as a rolling tool, wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap so it wouldn’t get nasty, and cooked half of a cup of medium grain rice in my rice cooker. After letting the rice cool a little so I could handle it, I started putting it on the nori.

I only covered about half of the nori with rice then layered krab, carrots, and cucumber on top in the center of the rice. I pushed down on the fillings and rolled the mat up and over, trying to roll tightly and squeeze it a little. Once it was rolled up I cut off the extra nori with scissors and saved it.

I noticed that the roll cut a lot better when my knife was wet. You should also wet your hands when handling the rice, otherwise it will stick really bad. Using salt water is best because it adds flavor.


I was really surprised at how my rolls turned out! They were really tasty. You can make a sushi style roll out of pretty much anything, the sky is the limit. The only issue I have right now is that the rice layer was a little thick, I can work on that though.

I always thought that sushi would be really hard to make but it isn’t. The worst part is the prep, like cutting all of your vegetables and laying out a good workspace. The actual rolling part was surprisingly easy, the rice holds everything together like glue.

Next project,
onogiri! :)

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Just getting started

I actually discovered bento a few years ago but didn’t get motivated to try to learn and experiment until a few days ago. I don’t even remember how I re-discovered it but as soon as I did, I was hooked! I haven’t thought about much other than bento for the last week.

Of course I started scouring the web and I found two really awesome bento sites
www.lunchinabox.net and www.justbento.com and got totally inspired. I have been really lazy about bringing my lunch to work because it is soooo boring, until now!

I made up my mind that I wanted to start creating bento lunches for me and my fiancee (we are getting married next month! Yay!). I found us matching bento boxes from
www.jbox.com (that is their underage site, if you are over 18 you can go to www.jlist.com) along with a few other supplies to get me started. As soon as it all comes in I will post photos and reviews :).

I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for my boxes to come in. Unfortunately, the cheap shipping takes 2 to 4 weeks because they are coming from Japan.

In the meantime I’m going to start practicing my onigiri and sushi skills. I’ve never made sushi before so wish me luck!
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