Thursday, 27 May 2010

No.34 'Bunny in the Carrot Patch' bento

Post Script: Because of it's Beatrix Potter-esque associations, I have linked this blog post to Bento Box Blog for it's British Themed Bento page. Making it a tribute both to a British author and British childhood in bygone times.



Hello! I received the package of cute food cutters I won in the contest put up by Lexi of Diary of a Delinquent Housewife today! My children were so excited to see what new designs we can come up with using them. My son carried the package around the whole time I was cooking dinner. I hope they'll be happy with what I've come up with for tomorrow's lunch. One of the cutters is a cute little carrot shape. I knew I wanted to make the base of my bento a boiled egg today, so that quickly turned into a white rabbit in my mind, and with some plain, buttery couscous as a bottom layer with some salad leaves I soon had 'soil' to plant the carrot patch in. The mini tomato is more the size of a pumpkin now, don't you think?

The whole time I was making this little bunny I was thinking of my own childhood fondness of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. Always getting caught stealing carrots and cabbages and spoiling his fine clothes as he went. My favourite was Peter's cousin, Benjamin. I'm not sure why, but looking back I think he seemed more wily and capable than Peter while remaining utterly laid back. The James Dean of Beatrix Potter's rabbits. When I was four, I named my own pet rabbit Benjamin.

I've also used the flower shaped cutter to shape a few pieces of cucumber, which you can see around the rabbit's face. I used a tooth pick and some food colouring to tattoo in the facial features. Below is a picture of Lexi's cutters now that they have arrived in my kitchen. I love it when you can see something at both ends of it's journey like that! Reminds me of how some school classes have a soft toy for the children to photograph on Holiday with them. The cutters aren't exactly sunning themselves at any exotic locations, but they are being well loved in the North of Wales. 

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

No.33 'Dolphin Pod' bento

A nice fresh looking bento for Thursday! Little dolphin shaped marmite sandwiches with sultana eyes, green leaf salad, cucumber wedges, vine ripened mini tomatoes and some sweetcorn. In the fruit layer are a few juicy dried apricots and seedless green grapes. To accompany the box I'll be giving them some cheese nibble biscuits for playtime snack and a vanilla yoghurt for dessert.

Since chatting about positive bento lunch times and dealing with doing things a bit 'out of the norm', I've had two bento boxes returned empty from my son! He said he found the mini burrito wraps a little tricky to fold today, so he asked his teacher for help. She told him "I'm always ready to help and never mind you asking.", which he quoted proudly. Fantastic! The cheese mustaches were very much enjoyed.

My two children were having parties at school today and trying new foods from different cultures. My daughter's class had an Egyptian party and the mother of an Egyptian pupil cooked some amazing goodies for them all to share. They had gibna beyda cheese and very sweet baklava. I was lucky enough to try one of the baklava at home time and as I savoured it I dreamed of being invited to dinner at their house! Unfortunately, my son's class' Chinese party was cancelled until after the half term break because they couldn't get the noodles cooked properly in the staff room. He was quite disappointed because it was the school highlight of his week, but he enjoyed trying the Egyptian food from his sister's class. 

I've decided I'll try making some Chinese sweets at home over the half term break (time allowing), so that if they have the Chinese party when they children go back I'll be able to contribute. 

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

No.32 "Arriba Bandido!" bento

Onwards and upwards in bentoland! Today's bento crosses three cultures. Packed in a Japanese box, made with Mexican style food and cooked by a Welsh man! My husband made burritos tonight and as usual the children and I enjoyed them. He has perfected his chilli recipe so well so that my dislike of Mexican food is overcome and I enjoy every bite. Yum Yum. 

For the children's lunch I've cut out mini seeded wraps from the larger ones. In the top layer of the box is some vegetarian chilli and a portion of tomato salsa. In the second layer is salad leaves, mini vine ripened tomatoes and grated cheddar cheese. 

Finally, the bit that adds some fun to the meal! A life-size bushy bandido mustache cut out of cheese! The children think it's marvelous that they can prop a fake (yet edible) mustache on their top lip before tucking into their lunch. 

Monday, 24 May 2010

No.31 'Proud Bento Eater' bento

Awww, sad bentoing today! My little boy told me that the reason he brings lots of his bento food home is that the other little boys tease him about his 'silly' food. That made me so sad and sorry for him. He's been keeping it to himself so that my feelings wouldn't be hurt. After we talked about it I asked him whether he'd like to just take sandwiches instead and he said "NO!" that he enjoys his bentos and he's going to keep taking them. I'll have a chat with his teacher tomorrow, to see if we can make lunchtime more enjoyable for him. I think the children in his class would respond well to just talking about the bento meals out in the open, so that they are less strange and 'silly' to them. Here's hoping. Luckily, my daughter is having the opposite reaction from her classmates, who are all really interested in her lunch designs and food. 

For today's bento I wanted to make something that would tell Toby that it's alright to just be who he is and enjoy the things he chooses to enjoy. He doesn't have to follow the herd and shouldn't let people get him down. He knows I make his bentos with love. There's a lot of my love in every one of them, even the plainer ones! It's about caring about his nutrition, his enjoyment of food and experience of new things. It's also supposed to be about fun. What a shame that the fun has been forced out of them by thoughtlessness in other little children. Unfortunately, I couldn't possibly convey all of that strong sentiment with a piece of vegetarian sausage and leftover stir fry...

What I've done instead is simply personalise the children's lunches with a love heart and their initial (they share the same initial). On the way to school tomorrow, I'll chat to them about what I meant by putting their initial in there and hopefully we'll get some good feeling back into bento meals for my little boy.

Along with leftover vegetable stirfry and noodles there are slices of vegetarian sausage and some rocket leaf salad with a cheese heart. In the second layer are slices of sweet pancake spread with jam and sprinkled with sultanas. My wonderful daughter made these pancakes all by herself! I'm very proud.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

No.30 'Smiley Pin' bento

Another bento week is here! Today's bento is my entry for the 'Happy and Healthy' contest at Kid's Dream Your Dream 

I try to make all of my bentos happy and healthy, but for this particular contest theme I wanted to keep the colours and proportions really clear and clean. I've added three smiley face 'pins' made out of cheese, and those have a little story behind them. A couple of years back I started wearing a smile pin on my coat, because a smile pin made me smile! I had a few people ask me whether I worked with children because of the pin and I would explain that I am a mother, but not really understand why they thought I worked with children. Anyhow, I gave my children smile pins shortly after I started wearing mine and they have stuck to wearing theirs on their coats too. It has become a sort of family emblem! A nice, happy little thing we share between us. 

The contents of the bento are plain sushi rice, rocket leaves, tuna mixed with coleslaw, cucumber sticks and sliced radishes with mild english cheddar smiles. In the fruit layer I've sliced a bit of big, juicy Jaffa orange and some seedless green grapes.

Friday, 21 May 2010

No.28 'The Bluebird of Happiness' bento

When I'm feeling a little down, I'll often think to myself "I'll look out for the bluebird of happiness". It's something that has always stuck with me after reading the first of the K-PAX books by Gene Brewer. The character Prot, who is institutionalised for his delusional behaviour and claims, becomes an enigma to his psychiatrists and a source of inspiration to his fellow patients. One chronically depressed patient Howie, rarely lifts from his melancholic slump, but Prot tells him to look out of the window until he sees the bluebird of happiness. I later found out that the bluebird of happiness appears in the mythology of early civilizations from all around the globe. 

The bento consists of home-made tuna fritters, paprika stir fried mini corn, sliced radishes, cucumber sticks and humous. The little bluebird and the nearby tree are cut from mild English cheddar and rubbed with food colouring. The bluebird is seated amidst the colours of a garden beyond the cucumber fence. In the fruit layer are strawberries, grapes and kiwi.

I have entered today's bento into the An American In Bento themed bento competition, after leaving the entry until the very last minute before I could think of a theme that meant something to me. 

I didn't collect the children from school myself today, because I had a meeting to go to in the afternoon and early evening. As it turns out, I had a fantastic time meeting new people and volunteering my help with a few things I'll enjoy doing. The children also had a great time being picked up by their Dad and having dinner with him as well as going to buy cakes for dessert. We were all in such a brilliant mood when I came home. We bathed our pet wood pigeon together, read stories and cuddled before bed. Although we have one more day of the working/school week to get through, I feel that ending today on a very warm high note will have a knock on effect on how much we enjoy tomorrow! 

This week, due to my weariness, I have jokingly asked the children in the mornings (as we stand ready to open the front door and go out) "Are we ready for a Monday?" (and on the other days also). These have been good de-stressing and bracing moments where we've been able to say "Yes!" to the days of the week! "Yes, we're ready for you! Bring us some good things to do and see." 

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

No.27 'Little Owl' bento

Hello! The couscous in yesterday's bento was enjoyed very much by the children, so there's a little more for their lunch tomorrow at the base of the boxes under the cucumber slices. I've put a Marmite sandwich in the bottom, because they haven't had many sandwiches lately and love their Marmite. The rest is pieces of spring onion to eat with the couscous and a mild cheddar owl with radish and cucumber detail. I had decided it was going to be a birdie bento today, but I wasn't sure which one. The shape of the little owl is roughly similar to some cast iron ornaments that I have in my kitchen.

Nothing very difficult to make here, except perhaps for carving the little circles on the radishes for eyes. I'll be giving them some yoghurt to eat with their fresh fruit and a dried fruit bar for their break time. All in all, a fairly nutritious meal. 

We had more stick sword fights on the way home from school today. Half way home my daughter found a stick that was longer than she is tall and that was her sword for the rest of the journey. It reminded me of those ten foot long, three foot wide, ten ton heavy swords that are brandished by tiny people in animated roleplay games. Only, you know, the stick equivalent.

Tonight was Karate night for the children (only the second time they have been) and this time I went along to watch them too. I'm very excited about joining in myself in a couple of weeks, it looks like so much fun!

No.26 'Baby Bear' bento

I'm posting this bento very late into the evening because I've been busy re-dying my hair (a rare bit of self maintenance does wonders!), but I'm quite pleased with the result of my bento efforts. I saved a piece of breaded haddock from the children's dinner to add a little protein to their lunch tomorrow.  

I'm not sure if they'll enjoy it cold, but it's good to experiment. The 'baby bear' peeking out at the top is made from half a buttered burger bun, with the piece of fish underneath. They can add it to the bread if they decide to eat it. The ears are thin slices of tofu wiener and the eyes are circles of mild cheddar. I can see now that the cucumber sticks look a bit like baby bear's arms! The rest of the bento is some couscous made with a dash of mushroom ketchup and topped with grated cheese and carrot. In the fruit layer is some melon, a pineapple ring and a few strawberries.

Our school walks today were quite swift affairs, because we left five minutes late in the morning as well as stopping to chat to our good friend walking her dog, and on the way home had to be back by a certain time. Still, the children managed to fit in a half dozen funny accents and impersonations along with a very energetic stick sword fight! So good to watch them playing in the sunshine.

Monday, 17 May 2010

No.25 'I love you' bento

Today I had some pink rice left over in the fridge from the piggy bento, so I wanted to use that up. I split it into two portions and wrapped it in cling film while I thought of what to make out of it. As it turns out, I ended up making two more heart shapes (like the piggy faces). It's a bit late for Valentine's day, but this is a bento of love! A message of love from me to the children and also "I love you bento!" from them to their lunch. I hand cut the letters from nori and surrounded the hearts with mini sticks of carrot, cucumber and cheese. I'm disappointed by the lack of colour in the fruit layer, which has pineapple and cantaloup melon. It should be tasty anyway!

A bit about my day. I can usually recognise and name the bits of nature my children point at and question, but I'm not infallible. In my efforts to improve my knowledge of birds, plants and everything else I have started to teach myself, one bird and plant at a time, from reference books that our good walking friend has kindly donated to us. Over the weekend, I picked up details about Nuthatches and decided to look out for them this week. Our friend will often point out a Nuthatch song as we walk, but I haven't managed to memorize their little tune and have never knowingly seen the bird.

On our walk home from school today we were under some low trees when I heard a single bird singing in the upper branches. "Ooo! Might be a Nuthatch!" I thought, and luckily for me I managed to wait long enough for the bird to come into sight. It wasn't a Nuthatch, it was our old friend the Chaffinch (mentioned in earlier blog post as one of our all time favourites). The children and I imitated the song a few times as we carried on our walk, but that wasn't such a good idea. By the time we got to our front door, we had distorted whatever the original bird song had been into a horrible three-voiced bing-bing-doodle-iddle-aggle ump! ump! accompanied by my son's impromptu jazz hands and jigging legs. Ah well.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

No.24 Bento for Asfora "Piggies at the fence"

A fellow bento-er, Asfora, has passed my previous frog and dolphin bentos to her frog and dolphin loving friends. Another of her friends is a piggy lover, so I couldn't let that friend go without a bento of their own! Today's bento is dedicated to Asfora and her piggy loving friend.

I put a drop of pink food colouring into the rice cooking water for the pigs and got a much milder pink colour than I've had before when using a drop of red colour for pink rice. I'm quite pleased with the lighter colour because it's far more naturally 'piggy'. I shaped the pig faces in cling film while the rice was still very slightly warm, then placed them for a couple of minutes in the freezer to take all the heat out of them. I get a nice firm result that way, without making them too soft to decorate or too well squashed and hard to be nice to eat later. The shape is the same one I made for the frog last week, with a round ball, flattened a little and then a thumb impress made at the top to create ears or eye areas. I cut the snouts out of a thin slice of tofu wiener with two dots of soy sauce for nostrils. The eyes are sultanas. The bottom section is leftover macaroni and broccoli cheese and the fence is made from pieces of tofu wiener.

In the fruit section are a few tiny vegan pancakes and a handful of grapes. I don't eat eggs myself so I will often find egg alternatives for my cooking. I also give up milk for long periods when my dairy intolerance flares up too badly. It was in one of those times that I tried making these pancakes, with banana instead of egg and soya or rice milk instead of cow's milk. I don't own a blender, so I mash the banana with a potato masher.

Vegan Banana Pancakes

1 mashed banana
two tablespoons of lemon juice
1 1/2 cup of plain flour
1 cup of soya/rice milk
1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
1/2 cup sultanas

Thursday, 13 May 2010

No.23 "A dolphin ate my lasagna!" bento

One day away from "sweeties after school day"! Hurray! Also, we got a new bento box in the post today (another eBay purchase). This one is burger shaped, with the tiers made to look like a burger bun with lettuce and meat. The children and I have decided it's a tofu burger. Compared to our other boxes, this one is huge, so I have only needed to use two of the three compartments. I haven't got those layers packed as tightly as I'd normally like either, but putting any more food in for one meal for a seven year old would be way too much.

Today's bento is super-nutritious. It has a small piece of leftover home made vegetable lasagna from dinner tonight, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, radishes and mung bean sprouts. The dolphin is made from a emmental cheese slice. In the fruit layer I've put some pineapple slices, grapes and raisins. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

No.22 'Frog Pond' bento

It's Wednesday! A day that is better measured by my children than the Gregorian calendar. To most of us, today is Wednesday May 12th, but to them it is "Two days from sweeties after school day" and "Three days from a long sleep in.". Nice! I prefer the way they look at a day. Again, no woodpecker on the way home today, but when we stopped to look up into the tree we saw it in, a squirrel threw a pine cone down at us and it hit my son solidly on the head. Wild life watchers obviously not appreciated by the dwellers in that tree. 

Today's bento has a froggy in it, since I had green rice left in the fridge. While I was making it I thought of the garden bento I made a month back. That one had a frog pond in it, so I suppose this bento is a close up of the pond! Very poor photography today, sadly.

Green rice frog with cucumber lilly pads, radish lilies and a carrot stick pond border. Lettuce underneath. In the fruit layer today, I've put pineapple, strawberries and grapes. 

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

No.21 'Dragons in the dandelions' bentos

No woodpeckers in the trees on our walks today, but plenty of other birds to watch as they gather nesting materials. Lots of apple blossom strewn on the ground and falling from overhead along our route to school and back. All the cherry blossoms are looking gorgeous in full bloom and the many well tended gardens filled with bright colours.

I started my bento making for today with a dendelion bento for myself. It will be submitted to Hapa Bento 's B.O.M.B (Bento of the month) which has a flower theme this time. It's a dandelion 'clock'. Here it is:

The base is sushi rice cooked in green food colouring, the stalk is spring onion and the hairs from the dandelion clock are emmental cheese. A bit of cress at the base and some lettuce underneath. For my own bentos I like things fairly simple but stylish. Our walks home for the past two days have involved lots of dandelion clocks being picked by the children and the 'puff' of hairs on them being blown about all around us. Beautiful.

This morning I discovered that our cats had eaten the sweetcorn I left out last night to defrost for the pigeon's breakfast. I know they like an old corn cob to chew on, but routing out the corn from amongst the peas in the pot and throwing the peas all over the floor was a bit much! The pigeon had to make do with dry bird seed for breakfast. He was not impressed. Another miss-hap of the morning was Batman's unfortunate jam incident. While I was picking up peas my son called out, in a most distressed tone of voice "BATMAN IS IN THE JAM!". I went through to find that his little Lego Batman was face down in the jam on a slice of toast. It looked as if he had given up on Tuesday all together, or perhaps he's just very fond of jam?

The children enjoyed their 'Rainy Day, Sunny day' bentos today, particularly the element of surprise in which one they might have when they opened their boxes at lunch. For tomorrow I have decided to go with a surprise again, but this time the same bento for both of them. Dragons! Well, hopefully they look like dragons... with big, fierce radish eyes that GLARE (and are yummy).

What's in it? Sushi rice cooked with one drop of green food colouring (amazing colour from just one drop, really) forms the dragons, which I shaped using cling film. They have carved radish eyes, as mentioned. Little cucumber skin arrows to make a scaly nose and emmental cheese for teeth and nostrils. The few greens added to the box with the dragons are cress, spring onion and the cucumber centres.

Monday, 10 May 2010

No.20 'Weather Forecast' bento

Today was a promising start to the week for us. A pleasant morning walk to school, a productive day in the house for me, a good day at school for the children and a very rare, close up sighting of a Great Spotted woodpecker on the way home! We were almost at the house when wood shavings started falling on my head from the trees above, accompanied by a sharp tapping noise. I looked up, but couldn't see the little guy from where I was. I was ready to carry on our walk when my daughter called out excitedly "WOODPECKER!", startling me, her brother and the bird. It wasn't too put off by the loud little human girl under the tree though and actually carried on it's chore of chipping the wood for a few minutes. This meant that we got a very close up view of it's beautiful plumage. Fantastic.

For today's bento I have been inspired by the weather, which has been temperamental since the middle of last week. We've had rain, blustery winds and gorgeously warm sunshine, overlapping at times. While I was making the bento I remembered the little bit of text on my son's bento box lid and had another look at it. "There is a fine day and there is a rainy day." it says. Quite true and wise.

For tomorrow, one child will have the rainy day lunch and the other will have the sunshine. They won't know which until they open them, something they enjoyed from when I previously made the 'Sisters' bento.

'Rainy Day'

'Sunny Day'

Just like yesterday, the protein in this meal comes from some sliced vegetarian sausage. I don't think I've mentioned it before on the blog, but my husband and I are both vegetarian (he is lacto ovo vegetarian and I am an often dairy sensitive lacto only vegetarian). We have raised our children to have some meat and fish in their diet, but not in large quantities. This means that most days they eat vegetarian food, like today. There aren't a lot of meats that they like. They like spicy sausages like chorizo and pepperoni and sometimes bacon. I like to give them some oily fish now and again, which my daughter enjoys but my son is not too keen on. I'm interested to see whether they will switch to complete vegetarianism with time, but the choice is theirs. 

Back to the ingredients! Yesterday I put in a large portion of curried mushroom risotto, today that has been replaced with leftovers from dinner, which was some deliciously garlic-y noodles with some stirfried vegetables. The sun and rain characters are cut from emmental cheese slices and coloured with food colouring. I put in a little cress. For some reason both my children get extremely excited about eating cress! It could be because we've been growing it in egg cups since they were both just babies. They'll eat it with bread and butter as if it were mana from the gods. The bentos have a fruit layer, with some dried Sweet William pears, raisins and Jaffa orange segments. Mmmm.

Today's Lego showcase has been made by my daughter and she describes it as "A swimming pool that constantly cycles it's water like one of those big fountains in grand houses, so that the water pours out of the giant lions head and makes a water fall. There is a separate swimming pool for the Lego frog, in case he gets hurt." Which I think is pretty fantastic! and says it all. 

My last picture is of a Great Spotted woodpecker, in honor of our pride in meeting one today. I wonder what we'll see tomorrow?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

No.19 'Robin sings at sunset' bento

First bento of the week! I had originally intended to make the little birdie in this meal a Chaffinch, since the children and I had a very enjoyable close encounter with one on the way back from school on friday. It's quite often that we meet birds that are as curious about us as we are about them and the little Chaffinch on friday was a  great example of that. We stopped a good five minutes to look at him hopping between twigs in a garden bush and he was studying us as much as we were him. Chaffinches just happen to be the first birds that we looked out for on our earlier nature trails before and after school. There was a time last summer when we seemed to run into a friendly Chaffinch wherever we went! Good times.

Unfortunately, that particular bird is not so easy to craft out of a cheese slice and some primary coloured food colouring. That's what I've learned today. I compromised with creating another garden favourite: the robin. The robins' call can be heard in the trees near our home all through the day, but especially at sunset.

The contents of the bento: The setting-sun sky is a portion of curried mushroom risotto, with a little cress and a broccoli floret for greenery. The lower half is sliced vegetarian sausage. I used a slice of emmental cheese for the robin, with the eye socket formed from a natural hole in the cheese! A dab of red food colouring for the chest and a little black for the legs.

The last picture is of my son's latest Lego creation. We sat down together and photoshopped the speech bubbles (to his specification). The minifigs have been competing in some tough acrobatic competitions lately and as you can see here, even the pirates and Darth Vader himself have got in on the action!

My children have been enjoying Pikko's 'Bento Hoodlems' antics from Adventures in Bentomaking so much, that they wanted to get involved and show their toys getting up to mischief and having fun. Since we have more Lego in our house than is entirely sensible, it had to be the minifigs! These little judges don't seem too impressed with the minifig pyramid...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

No.18 'Berrylicious' bento

This morning I got this great new two-tier bento box from eBay. The quality of the plastic is superb and the layers are quite roomy! It came with a deep spoon which will be ideal for using with leftover goulash, when that makes it back into the bentos. I love the shape and colour of the box and so do the children. We've agreed to share it, with my eldest getting the first use of it for school lunch tomorrow.

I didn't have a theme for today's bento, which is a little disappointing, but the excitement of a new box to fill made up for it. I made pasta for dinner this evening, along with smoked tofu and baby corn in tempura batter. Putting aside some of the pasta, I made a separate sauce for the bento portion with tomato and paprika. I put it into a paper cup in the box and topped it with some  hand cut cheese flowers with cucumber centres. Some sliced cucumber and carrot sticks on a bed of shredded lettuce accompany several pieces of the smoked tofu and baby corn in tempura batter. A very filling bento. For the dessert layer I have a foil cup of chocolate fudge sauce with strawberries, grapes and melon to dip into it. I was a bit hard pressed to come up with title for this one, but my daughter came up with one. She wanted to call it 'Very delicious bento', so I have compromised with 'Berrylicious bento'. Just because.

We've had a short week due to the holiday on Monday, but here I am on Thursday evening feeling as if the working week has been twice as long as usual. I don't think a single weekend is going to be enough to recover!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

No.17 Doctor Who bento #3 "Good dog, K-9"

Not completely a Doctor Who bento actually, because K-9's latest residence is with Sarah Jane in the Sarah Jane Adventures series. Until recently, K-9 had the task of preventing the end of the world by sealing an artificially created black hole as he floated in space. A lonely job, but Sarah Jane checked in on him via a window in her safe quite often. Giving little K-9 encouragement. "Good dog, K-9!", she would say. "AFFIRMATIVE!" he would call back. I was looking through Doctor Who images today, when my children chose K-9 as a subject for tomorrow's bento. 

Because I do everything double for bento (two children), here is a picture of both K-9s. Although there is a base of vinegared cucumber sushi rice, this bento is essentially a simple salad and sandwich lunch. K-9 is a marmite sandwich with some smoked tofu, chorizo and radish for detail (and flavour I hope!). The K-9 is hand cut from nori. In the second box I have made a finely chopped salad with grated cheese, cucumber, lettuce, carrot and egg noodles. Because the salad box has been made to become K-9's black hole/nebula, I added some planetary bodies in the form of carved radishes rubbed in a little food colouring. And finally, a close up of the little guy.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

No.16 "Escargot?, Escargone" bento

As promised, I made little falafel patties for today's bento from leftovers. There's something hugely satisfying about creatively using leftovers, I feel. Despite lots of bento ideas piling up in my diary, I ended up doing something that wasn't on my list! As you'll hopefully be able to see, the main dish is in the shape of a snail.

This is what it's made from: Underneath, for the body, is the falafel patty, which I cooked into a sausage shape. The shell is a ball of sushi rice made the way my children love it best. It's cooked and then stirred through with diced cucumber and a little rice vinegar. Yummy. A swirl of tomato adds a snail-shell detail. The antennae are carrot sticks dipped in cream cheese with a bit of detail from a dot of food colouring. The whole creature sits on a bed of shredded lettuce, with a couple of carved radish 'mushrooms', some more tomato and some sliced baby corn. In the dessert layer are some strawberries and grapes with a paper cup of chocolate filled koala bear biscuits.

There is a little history to this one. For all the years that my children and I have walked to and from school we have 'rescued' snails from the footpaths in damp weather. We don't move them very far from their intended trail, but we ensure they aren't underfoot for the next passers by on the walk. Sometimes, if we're on one of our earlier school walks which let us do some nature spotting, we'll even chat to them! Since the children are learning French, we've started referring to them as 'escargot'. Which leads me to explaining the title of this post. On occasion we find just empty shells when we inspect our snail friends. That has led me to question "escargot?" as I pick them up and to conclude "escargone" if there is no-one home. Here is a picture of both the childrens' bentos together. I'm sure they'll get a few smiles!

Monday, 3 May 2010

No.15 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' bento

For today's bento I had a piece of smoked tofu that I wanted to use and the children had requested more noodles. I noticed that the inside of the tofu block was a much paler colour to the outside and that gave me the idea for Goldilocks' face and the brown of the bears. The egg noodles made a nice tangle of curls for our Goldilocks. There are a few carrot flowers and a tomato ribbon for her hair. A bed of chopped greens and some lettuce will add crunch to the noodles.

The second layer has some diced melon, slices of kiwi and a few chopped grapes. For dessert the children will take a yummy chocolate fudge muffin from the huge batch I baked today. They want to take one for their teachers too! We gave a box full to a friend today as well. A huge batch will turn into 'just enough' in no time.

We took a long walk around the coast today with our bird spotting friend and her little dog. Beautiful clear skies and crisp wind. Lots of territorial singing from the birdies and plenty of nests in sight. It definitely put a few more nature related bento ideas in my mind.

I made some fried falafel patties for dinner with roast potatoes and vegetables. With some of the falafel mix left over, I may make some miniature patties for the next bento. Yummy!


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