Thursday, June 30, 2011

For all Bento Cuties!

So, I guess most of you #bentocuteness tweeps, and anyone else who may have landed here, are probably more well versed than I am in the world of  kawaii(I mean, that would be most of the food blogging population!).  But I was really inspired-- and only slightly weirded out-- when I found this siteAllThingsForSale, which sells about a zillion uber cute bento making items.  They are running a giveaway.  Click the link and maybe you will win some bento supplies, and then you won't end up like me. . .trying to kick my amazon dot problem.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Come Together, right now. . .

Are you singing that Beatles' song?  Well, sing something. . .or grab your (air)guitar and join me on my Bento journey.  Watch it come together.

The first thing I did was line my bento box with some pretty pale green cabbage.
Then I layered in black quinoa, small cooked red bliss potatoes, some baby spinach leaves and a large area of quinoa.

A hard-boiled egg became the skull shape, with purple cabbage letters and a red pepper guitar body.
I added some color and some crunch with sliced green beans--two small pieces became the pick-ups--and a row of carrot circles. I tucked in two raspberries for color and piped on a row of tarragon-dill egg salad. I needed at LEAST a gesture of cuteness/kawaii, I mean after all this IS #bentocuteness, right? So to add a little bit of whimsy I trimmed some carrots into the shape of musical notes.

My little rock stars were suitably impressed, but they did suggest one change. . .putting the STAR in my rock star bento!
In the smaller top compartment I packed a small squeeze bottle of lemon-flax vinaigrette and a small fork. In the bottom compartment I included a simple but VERY well received desert: raspberries threaded on "pirate swords" and a dip made of drained whole-milk plain yogurt swirled with caramel sauce.
And that is how I attempted to ROCK the bento challenge.

***note!****I could never have made this, or any deco cute food item, without my favorite little scissors.  These are a little gem I snagged from my "real" toolbag which I use in my "real" job as a floral designer.  The blades are titanium, stay-sharp and absolutely non-stick, with a short and ultra-control friendly run.  I spoke to Rick Constantine, the wonderful guy who runs the Clauss brand, and he told me that they are tested with gorilla glue, Krazy Glue, and residues from many kinds of tape and have been proven to be truly, 100% non-stick, which is handy for food styling as well as floral design.  Once the world of food stylists discovers these babies, they WILL become the new "it" tool. Learn what the florists know, and get a pair.  They are less than 10 dollars and worth their weight in gold. 
ARIGATO GOZAIMAS to all for checking out my attempt at #BENTOCUTENESS!   Can't wait to see all the rest!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the beginning there was the concept. . .

I knew I was going to attempt a Rock and Roll themed, a few images came to mind. Skulls, lightning bolts, guitars. . .I looked at a few of our guitars for shape inspiration and wavered between the Explorer and the Flying V--settling on the V as being the most iconic. Here is my original goofy sketch:
For the ingredients--the building blocks really--I decided to de-construct a confetti quinoa salad that I had made recently which combined black quinoa, red and yellow peppers, and shredded purple cabbage with a simple flax-oil and lemon juice vinaigrette.  To round out the package nutritionally, I would include an egg salad made with tarragon and dill and some baby red potatoes.  The plan was now in place--could my skillz do it justice?  Stay tuned!

Who? What? and. . .Where's the cute?

Hello Friends--if you landed here searching for one of those great, professional quality blogs full of adorable and nutritious bento lunches for adorable smiling children. . .ummmm, sorry. I am a bento newbie who, until the other day that is, used my cute stacking bento containers for standard--albeit occasionally pretty awesome--lunches to bring to work.  You know, fruit slices in the bottom, maybe some leftover chickpeas w/red curry, plus baby spinach or kale in the top. Just some fuel for a hard working chick who tends to eat while standing at the workbench. . .nutritious? Yes.  Delicious? Certainly! Attractive? Frequently.  But we're not talking about little piggy faces on the cocktail weenies here--I never thought to take it that far! Until I read a tweet, and later a blog post, by the wonderful and inspirational Chef Pandita, my twitter friend and fellow #baketogether baker.

Chef Pandita challenges the Twitterverse to submit a bento box, no pressure, just to have fun with kawaii food.  In her blog post she even mentioned that we could just use tupperware! Well, that took the pressure off for me for sure.  I began to play with some ideas, and as some of you undoubtedly know, I love any excuse to play with all of my sharp tools.

I tried some little bunny sandwiches.  Cute!  I experimented with ladybugs in a garden complete with Oreo "dirt". Adorable!  I made pancakes into piggies with tiny choco chips for eyes.  Precious!

Every time I(with increasing pride, of course) brought my prototypes to my testing panel(also known as my 3 kids), I got reactions which were, shall we say, LESS THAN ENTHUSIASTIC!  Why? I had to know.  Why don't you guys like Mommy's cute lunches?!!  It was the middle child who put it very succinctly.  Mom, he sighed patiently,  we're boys.  We like BOY THINGS, like video games and superheroes. And Rock and Roll.

Adios Bento Cuteness. Bienvenido a Bento Bad Ass.
My mission: create a bento lunch that fits these three criteria:
1 .Fits(however loosely) the traditional bento perameters--fits in a box, represents balanced nutrition and is pleasing to the eye
2 .Contains items that my family will ACTUALLY EAT, i.e. no nori or grains dyed funky colors
3. Features BOY THINGS as a nod to my true audience.  Think Goodbye Kitty, Hello Ramones.

It's On.