A bunch of us started talking Bento towards the middle of May, and we decided that we'd all put together a cute bento box lunch and post about it at the end of June. And now, here it is: the end of June. And it's time for Bento Cuteness!
What I like about this group of Bento Cuties is that we are all on different levels when it comes to bento. I knew nothing; some of us had Dabbled, and some were Bento Experts. How fun that everyone is participating together and hopefully learning from each other.
Back in May, I immediately went into Obsessive mode, scouring Japanese shopping sites for the Cutest Bento Box Ever. I was drawn to the pretty shiny ones, the ones that were kinda Bakelite Retro, ones with rabbits (for the Year of the Rabbit)--I wanted them all. Right, then. All I needed to do was sell a kidney and use my Earnings to buy all the bento boxes I wanted. And then I decided that a)I Like both of my kidneys and would be unable to choose which one to let go. I felt like Sophie. And b)Yuri, from Chef Pandita said that it really didn't matter what the box looked like, just that the food inside be Cute.
I pouted for a moment, because I was in love with This Bento Box, but then I pulled it together and realized that she was right. I ended up buying a clear plastic container with three small, removable compartments. The lid locks down on all four sides, making a Very Tight Seal. It's made by a Korean company, but I'm just too lazy to climb down 16 steps to find out. Sorry.
Once I was lovingly slapped out of my glazed obsession over the boxes themselves, I turned my attention to what was supposed to go Into a bento box. And then I realized that a)I am not from Japan and b)I don't want to have to learn an entire new way of cooking all my foods, complete with seasonings, sauces, etc. I Vowed to stay pretty true to our American way of eating while making sure there was a variety of healthy smackerels for The Beloved to Chow Down upon. I have been packing bento-style meals for The Beloved pretty much since my box showed up, so for about a month. He is really loving the variety as well as all the fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are pictures of three of the "regular" bento-style lunches that I have packed, and then Prepare Yourselves for the Pizza Resistance, the #bentocuteness Challenge bento!
This bento featured some leftover cauliflower/potato curry, some Tuscan bread, mixed olives, red grapes and a cucumber salad that I quickly made by julienning cucumber, salting/draining and dressing with soy sauce&vinegar. Took about 15 min to assemble (I started the cucumbers first and then came back to them after everything else was put together.
This guy has some salmon salad and mesclun mix in half a multi-grain flat bread round, red grapes, celery with some peanut butter, cucumber slices dressed with rice wine vinegar and a wee triangle of cheddar to take up some space. Something I have learned about myself through making bento-style lunches: Cutting cheese into shapes other than slices or cubes makes me Ever So Happy. Again, about 15 minutes to put together.
And this one is a Lunch for Dipping: homemade hummus with cucumber rounds, some triangles of flat bread, and celery for dipping. Also, a quick fruit salad made with pineapple, grapes, honey, salt and mint. And a triangle of cheese. I just can't help myself. This one took about 10 minutes to assemble, since I had everything ready to go. By accident; not by design.
And now, here it is. The Pizza Resistance. But first, here were my rules (that I made up this morning because I never plan ahead).
1)I will do some actual cooking to make this happen. A fruit tray Will Not cut it.
2)I won't get up early to do this. (Obviously--I loves my sleeps)!
3)I will use only what is lying around the kitchen--no special shopping. (Again, obviously. I am Not a planner).
So, I can assure you that, while a little bit a futzing about did happen, I put this meal together in about 30 minutes. Not bad for three cooked items, chopping, arranging, and photographing!
Underneath the whole Composed Portion of this guy are three Romaine lettuce leaves. (I used the rest of the head of Romaine in our smoothie this morning). Then, from left to right, we have potato chunks cooked in water, soy sauce and vinegar, olives, sardine fillets (he Loves them), green beans blanched in salted water and shocked, hummus (on top of which are hard boiled egg slices from our girls) and a couple of pieces of celery. For closure. And, as a nod to the Very Cute bentos that many, many smart bento folks make because they Love Their Children, I made an emoticon smiley out of smoked paprika.
The whole thing acts as a composed salad, and I drizzled everything with a Very Lit Bit of both extra virgin olive oil and rice wine vinegar. The Beloved can just eat everything with a knife and fork.
Here are some more pictures of the Bento Madness from this morning.
I couldn't bring myself to do a Ton of Cutesiness, although it always makes me say "Awwwww..." when I see one made that way (you seriously need to click on that link. You won't be able to look away), because The Beloved a)is growed up, and b)works as a consultant. Not sure what his clients would think if their Highly Competent and Handsome consultant were eating duckies and bunnies for lunch.
I am hoping some of the other Bento Cuties broke out some Serious Cute, because I need a fix, even if I didn't go that route for The Beloved's bento.
This challenge actually came up at the perfect time--it's a great transition to the New, Healthier and More Balanced Pastry Chef Online.
Thanks for stopping by; I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
Have a lovely day.