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.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

No.86 'Sian's Garden' bento

Guess what? I found that missing bunny cutter! My favourite one. Even though I had searched through my cutter jars quite thoroughly, he turned up tonight nestled under all the others. Perhaps he has been on a secret adventure... This bento is dedicated to a friend of mine who has been working extremely hard lately and could do with a tranquil little bento garden to sneak away to for a few hours! I've never thought of dedicating a bento before but it felt very lovely making this one and keeping my friend Sian in mind as I arranged it. It's a very hearty bento too, which should be filling and yummy. In the savoury base there is pasta with green pesto, some wedges of tomato, curly lettuce, some chopped vegetarian hotdog wiener and to top it all off a cheddar cheese flower and rabbit. In the dessert layer is a veritable treasure trove of jelly beans and chocolate coated raisins and I've used the divider for the bento box for the first time in a long time to keep the orange segments separate.

The top image is of my son's bento and the second one, in the strawberry shaped box, is my daughter's. Below is a picture of what they looked like with their section lids and closures. Another day, another bento! A job well done and something to feel proud of when I present these lunches to my children in the morning.

On the vintage front, I thought some of you might be interested in these free printable vintage valentines cards from Vintage Holiday Crafts (now featured in my side bar!). I'm certainly going to be printing some off and adding my own touches to them. I've seen some lovely valentines cards out this year and I often make my own, but these ones are just great! "Darn it! You gotta be my valentine!" Lovely.

Image courtesy of


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