Sunday, 16 October 2011

No.101 'Happy Olives' bento

Hello all! Here is the bento I have just made for little t for tomorrow. It's wholewheat spaghetti with some delicious, saucy vegan bolognese. In the second layer is some home made (also vegan) garlic ciabatta and a little collection of happy olives! I have drawn the olive faces on with a toothpick and I'm quite pleased with the cute little smiles.

We are all excited about Halloween dress up and activities at the moment. We have quite a nice collection of Halloween decorations that we've made over the past few years so it'll be great to get those out and to make some new ones too. Not to mention the decisions about how to carve our pumpkins this year!

Friday, 14 October 2011

No.100 Vegan Hot Dog Bento and Green Tea Cake

Hello all! I hope that your week has been a good one. Here is one of my son's bento meals from this week. This one reminded me of bonfire night, since we always have tofu wieners and baked potatoes before we go to enjoy fireworks and a bonfire. In the main section little t has a tofu wiener in a hot dog roll with fried onions, ketchup and American mustard. In the other section he has some baked potato wedges, satsuma and juicy jumbo raisins.

As an added extra, here is a picture of the decorated green tea cake I made last Sunday afternoon for our dessert. It is green tea sponge decorated with lemon frosting and marzipan. Delicious.

And these are the vegan crepes I made for one of our breakfasts this past week. They are drizzled with maple syrup.

A Bentovintage post follows after the bunting...

This week I have been admiring, amongst other things, the beautiful acrylic jewellery made by Callooh and Callay. My absolute favourite item in their current collection is Snappy's Sausage Necklace. I'd love to wear it to the seaside with a garish red and white striped Victorian bathing suit. Perhaps even take in the local Punch and Judy show whilst showing it off to jealous fans in the audience!

This may not seem like a 'vintage' post to you, but recently I've been turning my interest in vintage fashion and makeup into something more personal to me. I have quite a few acrylic jewellery pieces that I had put aside when wearing an outfit strongly centered on a vintage look, but my style ideas are changing. I have always admired Amanda Palmer's style and remember quite frequently how she describes herself as a 'theatrical tour de force'. Wouldn't it be great to be a theatrical tour de force? I think so.

As a small homage to quirky-ness and theatre, I have begun to wear my bold acrylic pieces with a very 1930s or 1940s outfit. I'm also hankering after an endless supply of Le Queues de Sardines tights... they are possibly the best hosiery available to mankind.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

No.99 Samosa and Bhaji Bento with Cherry Pie

Hello all! Here is a tasty little Indian food bento that little t had for lunch the day after his birthday. He asked for an Indian banquet as his birthday dinner and we had plenty of leftovers. He has a vegetable samosa, a cauliflower bhaji and an onion bhaji along with some mango dipping sauce. In the fruit layer he has peach slices and fresh mango. As a family we rank Indian food pretty highly on our favourites list so little t's choice of dinner was met with enthusiastic agreement. He was quite pleased to find that the leftovers made their way into his tummy, too. A lot of Indian cuisine uses ghee in the cooking process so as a vegan I choose my meals carefully and enquire about the ingredients. I have discovered that a vegetable bhuna is a safe option from our favourite restaurant and I can have their chapati but not the naan. 

This next picture is of a vegan cherry pie I made for dessert during the last week. I make my pastry with soya spread. The filling is stewed cherries with added sugar. Here you can see it hasn't yet been baked. 

And here it is baked and partly devoured! Yummy. We had soya custard with it.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

No.98 'Dolphins in the veggies' bento

Hello all! Today I'm showing you what little t had for lunch on Friday. Dolphin shaped Vegemite sandwiches, carrot angel fish, peas in their pod and thin strips of yellow pepper. In the fruit layer there are seedless green grapes and wedges of peach. Peach happens to be little t's favourite fruit since he read Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach.

For the photo I have placed the dolphins as if they were leaping out of the box, but to assemble the bento I stacked them one on top of the other at the top of the box and arranged the veggies at the bottom. It still looked like a pretty arrangement.

Friday turned out to be a particularly busy day for me and with unexpected (but lovely) visitors in the evening we ate dinner very late and I entered a comatose sleeping state as soon as everyone had gone (before everyone had gone if I'm completely honest!). One lovely memory from Friday was when we were caught in a refreshing shower of rain walking home from school and we managed to find a quick shelter under a tree. Little t took a large leaf he had been carrying around with him and attached it to a stick as an umbrella. He was a little Totoro! I have a picture of him with the leaf umbrella and it's such a sweet image.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Vegan MoFo 2 - Power Star Cake, Recipe, Vegan Makeup Review

Hello all! Here, as promised, is a picture of my daughter's 12th birthday cake. It's a vegan lemon sponge cake with lemon marmalade filling and lemon flavoured icing. It was really moist and tasty. The shape is a Super Mario Power Star, which was nice and easy to make (unlike Triceratops cakes). I made one rectangular sponge and after cutting out roughly, a smallish circular section from one half of the cake, the other leftover parts easily made the points.

The lemon sponge is easily my second favourite cake flavour, with a strong strawberry flavoured cake ranking first place (also my son's favourite). I was a little lax with my last post about the Triceratops cake by not posting a nice, simple vegan cake recipe for you. So here goes. The following ingredients make up a single large square sponge that can be cut into 'brownies' or made into a decorated cake. Alternatively, the same amount of mixture will make two smaller round layers for a rich, moist tea time cake with a bit of frosting on the top.

Miloko's Vegan Cake Recipe

1kg of self raising flour of your choice (gluten free flour may require extra fluid to mix)
500g of sugar (I actually use any type I fancy, sometimes brown sugar is good for chocolate or coffee cake).
500g of vegan spread (such as Pure spread)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
Rice/soya/oat milk in enough quantity to make the mix as sloppy as soft peanut butter.

Mix it all very well, until your peanut butter consistency is achieved, then flavour it with anything you like. I suggest:

Strawberry oil/essence and pink vegetable based colouring
Lemon oil/essence
orange blossom oil
cocoa powder
almond oil

Bake it at 170 degrees for between 15-25 minutes, until a knife inserted into it comes out clean. Try to catch it just as the centre is baked, to retain as much moisture as possible.

And that's all there is to it. This cake recipe is one I've come up with myself after realising that all of those hard to come by or often untasty vegan substitutes for eggs just aren't necessary for a delicious cake. The texture will be very much like a moist brownie or muffin, which is how I like my cake, but isn't to everyone's liking. I hope that this ultra simple recipe reaches a few people that love it as much as I do.

Below the Bentovintage banner is a Vegan makeup review for you as an added extra to the appreciation of food. So you can have your cake and look fabulous eating it. Enjoy!

I don't own a lot of makeup because I prefer quite simple makeup routines for daily wear and I find that a few classic colours and makeup items can be mixed and matched to good effect for any occasion. I do however absolutely LOVE a particular makeup blog called Funny Face's Place. I love Lillian's vibrant sense of style and find her to be one of the prettiest makeup bloggers I've encountered, with an absolutely adorable personality that shines through in her posts and video tutorials. Take a look at her blog and find out for yourself.

As part of my love of all things vintage 1920-1940 I've been wearing a bright red lipstick every day for the past few months. It's a great, classic lip colour, and it fits in nicely with the bright hair flowers and generally 1940s air I've been cultivating through the Summer months. Now that Autumn has hit though, I've been falling in love with the more muted shades of autumnal leaves and the high street fashion colours that go hand in hand with them. With that in mind I needed to find myself a new lip shade that would fit well with my few new Autumn wardrobe items in plum, pumpkin, navy, cream, rusts and browns. 

Here it is. My new vegan friendly lip duo of Barry M's lip liner in No.6 and New York Color's lipstick in Plum Rum. 

Here's a look at how it works. My routine is to line the lip in my preferred shape for the day (this is a natural lip but I love a heart shape or a full cupid's bow, too), then fill in the whole lip with the liner. Next I apply a first coat of lipstick and dab it gently. Then a second coat of lipstick and another gentle dab. I put the lipstick on in this way at 6am this morning and it lasted with only a slight wear to the colour, through breakfast, lunch and a cup of coffee, only needing to be touched up by about 2pm. A very good quality product!

I am particularly pleased to discover as a vegan makeup shopper, that the vegan brands I can find on my high street (NYC and Barry M in particular) are super-affordable in comparison to non-vegan makeup brands, and as proven by this week's thorough field test, fantastic quality for that low price, too. Good stuff. 

This particular colour is making me feel like an early 1930's starlet.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Vegan MoFo 1 - 'Terry' the Triceratops Cake

Hello all! My first post for the Vegan Month of Food is to show you Terry the Triceratops cake. He was made recently for my son's 9th birthday and based on a cuddly toy he loves.

The cake is a rich vegan chocolate sponge with strawberry jam filling and he has been decorated with icing coloured with vegetable based food colourings. There's a whole lot of cake going on here, he's almost as heavy as a real Triceratops!

Coming up later in the week will be the vegan cake I baked for my daughter's 12th birthday and some posts about the yummy vegan lunches my friend makes for me every time I visit her.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

No.97 Caterpillar Bento

Here are Monday's bento and Tuesday's bento together. The caterpillar is made from mini doughnuts, a large strawberry and some fondant icing. In the savoury layer is some leftover spicy vegetable goulash and little squares of seeded bread stacked together. The caterpillar is inspired by a little creature of the same type that we encountered on our walk home from school today.

Below is the 'rose garden' bento I made for Monday. It has squares of banana bread with soya spread, decorated with fondant icing in the form of red and white rose vines. When I was decorating them I explained to little t that its the Red Queen's rose garden. There are also some par-boiled carrot wedges and celery sticks, some banana chips and custard cream biscuits.

Friday, 9 September 2011

No.96 'Little Pink Rabbit' bento

Ooo, this is a good lunch. I'd be delighted to have this one myself. For today, little t had garlic and herb crackers smothered in vegan olive pate, dried figs and cherries, carrot sticks and humous. On top of the crackers I put a little rabbit cut from the food I am now raving about: Fry's vegan polony! Haha! It's going to be in a lot of food I make at the moment. Yum.

So there we are, the first week back at school is over now and my tired children are ready for a longer sleep tonight. Me too!

One of the highlights of the week has been the morning we found large frogs hopping in the road and we rescued them to be put safely into the damp grass of a garden. We have also found and carefully moved to safe places, many escargot, some of which had very interesting colours and patterns. The conkers are falling again! Each morning after Big T has gone on her way to senior school, little t and I have been collecting the best of them in our pockets on the walk to junior school.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

No.95 Happy Face Salad bento

Tomorrow's salad bento for little t has baby spinach, grated carrot, lettuce, tomato and celery. The happy little round face is made from a slice of fried Fry's vegan polony! Yes, that sentence was exciting enough to deserve an exclamation mark. Or at least it was to me. The eyes are pumpkin seeds, the smile tomato skin and the hair is celery.

Fry's vegetarian polony is such an exciting discovery for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's one of a very few 'meat substitutes' that I find appetising. It tastes like a mild, sausage/bacon alternative but far more delicious than other things I have tried in the past (keeping in mind that I never liked the taste of meat in my childhood meat eating days, either). The second exciting thing about it is that I realised it has the texture and colour of tinned Spam! (Another well deserved exclamation). Spam has been my main barrier to creating a few forties wartime recipes I discovered. Now I have a genuinely tasty Spam alternative I can vegan-ize those recipes and give them a go. Happy times!

Monday, 5 September 2011

No.94 Leftover pizza bento

This is one of those meals that proves a bento can be made in under two minutes! No decoration today, since the children had this one small slice of pizza leftover that I just cut into slivers for tomorrow's lunch for little t. I use leftovers for bento as often as possible. It saves any waste and also a lot of money. In the second layer little t has a beautifully ripe sliced plum and carob coated raisins. I'll send a pot of fruit layered yoghurt also.

Well, tomorrow will be Big T's first day of big school. New horizons. I think I'm possibly more apprehensive and excited than she is. So much so that my intensity of new school excitement is making her nervous! I really hope that her first day goes as swimmingly as possible so that it eases her into a new routine and social life.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

No.93 'Tomato hearts' bento

I had a really nice day today. Little t had a wonderful first day at school, coming home with happy tales of the new teacher and new class organisation. Meanwhile, Big T and I had our Mummy and daughter day! We now have lovely new hairstyles and a few bits and bobs from around the shops. It was a great opportunity for the two of us to have a long talk and relax in one another's company. One of the highlights of the day: we wrote a poem together while we sat with our fruit smoothies. 

The bento for little t's lunch tomorrow is a variation on the one he ate today. The celery and carrot sticks with Mayola are included again (he enjoyed those), along with the carob coated raisins and banana chips. In the main layer for tomorrow he has some thinly sliced baby new potatoes with green peso stirred in. I've decorated the meal with 'tomato hearts' which all in all are a bit of a failure...

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

No.92 Vegan 'Back to School' Bento

This is my little son's back to school bento for tomorrow. It was really lovely getting my bento cutters and boxes out this evening to make him a special meal. I feel refreshed after the holiday and ready to get greater enjoyment out of bento again. Not that I've ever found making bento a chore, far from it, it's a pleasure, just that I had lost inspiration for 'art' bento by the end of last school year. My bento had become more functional than artistic. 

In tomorrow's bento, little t has lemon and coriander cous cous decorated with daisies made from flat bread, spring onion and carrot. In his second layer he has celery and carrot sticks and a small pot of Mayola (vegan mayonnaise). In his snack box, to the left, he has carob coated raisins and banana chips. He'll have those for his break. I'll be including a pot of fruit puree for his dessert, also. It only took me ten minutes to put this together and the only tool I used was a small flower cutter. I like the simplicity of it. Simple, clean food designs can be the prettiest in most cases I think.

My daughter, Big T, is now moving on to secondary school, so she has decided to give up bento and start having hot school meals. I'm comfortable with that because we've discussed her responsibility for keeping her meals and portion sizes healthy. We'll see how it goes. I'm so excited for both of my children starting new school year chapters. Because little t is going back to school earlier than Big T this year, Big T and I are going to have a Mummy and daughter day tomorrow! Happy times! We're going to go for fancy fruit smoothies at a cafe in the morning, then we're getting our hair cut and styled, followed by a trip to buy our favourite magazines and meeting Daddy for lunch. Could there be a better plan? I don't think so!

Monday, 18 July 2011

No.91 'Dijon Potato Salad' bento

Hello all! The children and I are on Summer break at the moment, so hot lunches at home are what we're having most days. Packing bento won't be something we do regularly until it's time to return to school. However, I did recently make bento boxes for the children and their friend to have for lunch during our visit to the zoo. They had a base of my dijon potato salad (vegan), which is made from tiny new potatoes, a dollop of dijon mustard, and a handful of dried, crispy fried onions. Along with the potato salad they had an assortment of carrot animals and a dessert layer of watermelon cubes on butterfly skewers. In short, they were quite attractive lunches! And I made the terrible mistake of not photographing them before I packed them for the zoo. It's a real shame. Instead, here is a picture of a lunch I made for the last week of school, featuring the dijon potato salad and some garlic bread wedges. 

Below is a custom made cake I created for a friend's child's birthday party in June. The little boy is a huge football fan. The cake centre is vegan chocolate with a fudge frosting. Six layers of it to be precise. This thing weighed a tonne!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

No.90 Eight Vegan Bento Ideas

Hello! As I have mentioned before, I am vegan and my husband and children are vegetarian. I will sometimes make vegetarian bento for my children, but because my bento are frequently constructed from family meal leftovers and I cook vegan meals, they have plenty of vegan bento.

I have so many bento photographs I haven't blogged yet, I decided I'd use a small collection of them to put together this vegan bento meal idea post. Enjoy! 

Thai curry and basmati rice

Thai style curry base made from orange peppers, onions, coriander, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime, coconut milk, potato and pak choi. The curry has been blended with some basmati rice and served with a fruit salad of red plums and kiwi.

Samosas and vegan coleslaw

Three mini samosas with a fine coleslaw made with shredded white cabbage, onion, carrot and Mayola mayonnaise substitute. Tomato wedges and cucumber slices on the side and a fruit layer of yellow plums, kiwi and satsuma.

 Spicy vegetable cous cous

Spicy vegetable cous cous with radish and cucumber slices. The cous cous has been cooked with carrot, onion and courgette and flavoured with masala curry powder and white pepper.

Pasta with chilli tomato sauce

Egg-free pasta with a tomato based sauce with bird's eye chilli, black pepper, onion and basil. Radishes and cucumber in the salad layer.

Quinoa tabbouleh 

Quinoa tabbouleh made with cucumber, tomato, chives, white pepper and lemon juice. Green grapes and strawberries in the fruit layer.

Vegan bolognese

Home made vegan bolognese made with vegan mince substitute, onions, chopped tomatoes, bird's eye chillis, basil and white pepper. Served with egg-free pasta and a fruit salad of satsuma and green grapes.

Simple salad cous cous

A simple salad of lemon juice seasoned cous cous topped with tomato, spring onion and radish slices.

Vegan lasagne

Vegan lasagne made with layers of the bolognese recipe mentioned above, egg free lasagne strips and a bechamel sauce made with rice milk, soya butter and plain flour and well seasoned with white pepper. A well seasoned white sauce shouldn't need any cheese substitute to be tasty!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

No.89 'Little Flower Fruit Kebab' bento

Hello! Apologies for not blogging about my bento recently. It doesn't mean I've taken a break from bento, because I've still been producing them regularly, it was jut the blogging bit that wasn't getting done. I've been making a lot of simple but nutritious 'leftovers' bentos, so my next post may feature a whole lot of these bentos together as another of my 'numerous vegetarian bento ideas' posts.

I've just realised that the photo for tonight's bento is very dark. I hope that isn't too awful. Here I've used some of my home-made spicy vegetable cous cous. The vegetable and spice combination in it is finely diced and olive oil fried courgette, white onion, chive, carrot, turmeric and white pepper. Along with the cous cous is a little bunch of sharp tasting baby salad leaves and a cherry tomato. In the other side I've put a small portion of coleslaw and some chopped green grapes and strawberries. Some of which I've skewered on a crepe paper flower toothpick decoration.

Now here's where I have a top tip for you. Don't just look out for food skewers and cookie cutters on your travels for use with bento, also look out for jazzy cocktail decorations like this one. It came in a large pack of crepe paper flower and fruit decorated toothpicks and they are going to be super-lovely for Spring/Summer bento and picnics. They cost me only 49 pence in a shop called Home Bargains. Can you believe that? 49 pence. I really wish I'd bought more.

If you'd like, take a look at the two new cake creations I'm going to be adding shortly to my 'Cake' page on here. That's it for now! Good night readers.

Monday, 28 February 2011

No.88 'St. David's Day' bento

Happy St.David's day! Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant. St.David is the patron Saint of Wales and tomorrow, March 1st, people all over Wales will be sporting either a daffodil or a leek on their lapel to remember it. My children have little felt leeks on their school blazers and they will also have this...

My St.David's day bento! Here in the top layer are some vegetable hash browns cut into petal shapes and topped with cheddar cheese to make a daffodil. Underneath is some lettuce and coleslaw, with some chives for grass and a little spring onion chopped into a leek shape!

In the second layer is a slice of mature cheddar and caramelised onion quiche along with a yellow plum and some strawberries featuring one of my new butterfly decorative food picks. There is also a third box with some crackers to eat along with the cheese daffodil petals.

The one above is the flower in my daughter's bento lunch for tomorrow. What a busy half term holiday week I had! On the Thursday I gave a talk to members of a multicultural society about how I make my bentos and how to create healthy, attractive lunches for children. I got a very good reception and apart from some initial nerves I got stuck in and enjoyed being the presenter! I'll have to do it again some time.

Below is a picture of my bento making table that I set up at the talk last week. I was quite pleased to see everything so colourful and I topped it all off by turning up in a 1950s styled rockabilly dress with the full vintage look going on. In the last picture, taken by my daughter so a bit blurry, you can see the 'little chick' Easter themed bento, which is one of the three that I created for the presentation.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

No.87 'Domo Stole My Heart' bento

Hello all! A late Valentine bento here from me. I've been too busy to post any bento pictures before now this week unfortunately, but this is one of two nice ones I've made. This one features a small portion of the meal I cooked for my family on Valentine's day. Swirly whirly pasta with a home made pasta sauce consisting of tomatoes. leeks, carrots, onion, garlic, basil and sliced green olives. Domo is stealing the heart shaped mini garlic bread (also home made - and vegan!). In the fruit layer there are strawberries, apricots and a plum.

I have had a particularly busy week and aside from work I've managed to cram in some good times! On Monday a makeup artist friend of mine gave me a 1920s inspired makeover which was lots of fun and made me feel really pampered. On Tuesday I went to a particularly energetic exercise class with two other friends and that ended up being a hilarious experience as well as being good for us. Wednesday was all work but today I have spent some quality hours with yet another of my friends (my my, haven't I been social this week?). We made ourselves a lunch of roasted garlic bulbs smooshed onto gorgeously crusty rye and spelt bread with vine ripened tomatoes, black pepper and olive oil. Divine. We've planned the same meal again for our next get together in two weeks' time.

In fact it has been a particularly big eating day for me come to think of it. For dinner today I made a large salad with a balsamic dressing and humous then for dessert we had warm vegan chocolate brownies. I just can't stop making those brownies! They're so delicious. Got to cut down though...

My daughter took these photos of Domo continuing his adventures in the kitchen after stealing the garlic bread heart. As you can see, he discovered a tin of baked beans, which happen to be his all time favourite food at our house. He looks so pleased with himself.

I'm sure our green Domo friend will come back to the kitchen another day and have similar culinary adventures. He does seem to get about the house a great deal. He's even going in to school tomorrow as a prop for the talk my daughter is giving about cute bento lunches. She's a bentoer of the future!

For this instalment of Bentovintage I have a few food reviews for you. I've been looking out for food items and brands that are about today which have been going strong since the forties and fifties and even earlier. Here are three such items that myself and my family have taste tested and approved for consumption! There's something particularly appealing to me about these products and that is their easily recognisable ingredients! Sure, there is salt and sugar, which can be considered 'bad' but there is no more salt and sugar in these items than there is in  modern food stuffs. The best bit for me is that they don't have any of those scary additives with the long names  or extra colours and chemical preservatives.

Here we have a bottle of Camp coffee which is a Scottish foodstuff first produced in 1876. It's a blend of coffee, chicory, sugar and water. I tried it mixed in with a glass of cold rice milk to make a quick and easy iced coffee. The taste is quite bitter, but only in the same way a strong good coffee is a bitter. I think I could get a taste for it. The label states that it can also be used to make hot coffee when mixed with hot milk/water and it's good for baking. I can state that the baking suggestion is certainly true. I used a dash of it to make some coffee flavoured vegan muffins and they were delicious.

This next picture is of the box of Force cereal I bought last week. It was first produced by the Force Food Company in 1901. That dandy character on the box is 'Sunny Jim', a cartoon character produced to advertise the cereal. I didn't actually get a bowl of this, since it was gobbled up by my children and husband in no time. What you get in the box is natural coloured, small, fine wheat flakes. My children inform me that it isn't very sweet (not a bad thing) and that when mixed with milk forms a loose, soft flakey breakfast similar in flavour to Weetabix. They loved it!

Last but not least is Vogel's bread, which has been produced since the 1950s. Vogel's declare themselves on the packaging to be 'Experts in seeds and grains'. The children and I laughed about this because we decided that our pet pigeon is without a doubt an expert in seeds and grains. What can I say, I'm REALLY glad I bought this bread to review it as a vintage food product because it has become a firm favourite with us. We're on our third loaf of it now and we're still not tired of it. My children adore it as much as I do and it makes great toast, sandwiches and forms a delicious base for my home made vegan garlic bread (a piece of which is featured in the bento post above where Domo is stealing it away). The slices are small, but the bread is so dense that it's incredibly filling in small quantities. It has a nutty, seedy taste but doesn't have any of those irritating large seeds that get wedged in your teeth and tend to put my children off regular seeded bread for that reason. Check out the Vogel's website if you're interested in the back story for this bread's production. There's a lot of thought been put into these loaves.


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