Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Phat Bento Contest Entry

Ok here is my entry for the Phat Bento Contest set up by YVO of NYC!
Glad to see some of the New Yorkers out there!!! Man I miss it.
If you want to enter the contest look here!

Sad to say I didn't have the energy to make a new one but this one
is only a few weeks old. It's not the most amazing but it is kinda funny =)

On the Left side is mushroom sautee (recipe below)
with two rice balls wrapped in nori with some cute picks.

On the Right is a healthy fruit collection.
The angry banana is trying to eat the clementines who are quite scared.
There are also figs, cranberries, and pecans for a nice rounded vegan lunch.

The faces were made out of a Wilton Dye gel that was applied with a small paintbrush. This can be found at most craft stores (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Jo Annes, etc)

I had a lot of fun making it and just looking at it inspires me to make more fun bentos.

from: Easy Japanese Pickling in Five Minutes to one day
by: Seiko Ogawa

1pack eringi mushrooms
6 large fresh shiitake
2 packs enoki mushrooms
1 dried chile
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp sake
4 Tbsp cooking oil

1. Chop mushrooms, seed chili, mix soy sauce and vinegar in large bowl
2. Hear oil and chile in pan. When hot, saute the eringi and shitake, then stir in the enoki.
3. Add sake. Pour mushroom mixture into soy sauce mixture. Let cool.

I made up a big batch of this and then froze it into small tupperware portions for my bento. I have to restrain myself from eating it every day as its so tasty.

This book is amazing and so simple.
You can get it at Amazon


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cast is off!!!

Today I woke up to a blizzard in Philadelphia and made my way to NYC to get the cast off. It only took 3 hours (usually takes 2) and we got there with time to spare. The doctor saw me early and we made our way home. 

Sad to say no bento shopping in NYC which I was looking forward to. (Weather was just too bad to be walking around with a bad ankle) But then when we got back to philly I went to a great chinese restaurant that I hadn't been to since I was a kid. Then off to some asian markets (the snow had melted by then) and found a few treasures. 

@ chinese grocery store
-dried arucula mushrooms

@ redding terminal's market
-chinese five spices powder
-lime peel spice
-licorice root
-beau monde spice (don't even know what this is lol but it looked and smelled interesting)

Tomorrow will just be a rest day as I try to walk slowly without crutches. Im gonna try to go down to the italian market to see what I can find kitchen wise. 

Still looking for a 
-stovetop grill (japanese style to make pan fried onigiri)
-ginger grater (in cute shape)
-chopstick rests (cute shapes and colors)
-natural material drawer organizer (for bento supplies)
But im definately open to any other goodies that may cross my path!!

It's so nice to be up on my feet even if its slow. I may get a cane when I get home but I can't wait to get in my kitchen again and start experimenting!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Flicker Photos finally!!!

I figured out a little bit of flicker tonight. So you can see some past bentos before the blog. They don't have any descriptions and that's mainly because I have no idea what I even put in them!!! So next week fresh new bentos with descriptions of what yummie vegan recipies are in them.

Well only a few more days till the cast is off and I get rid of the crutches. My flight is Thur and I get back Sun. So I'm hoping to have a bento for Monday's lunch!!! Meanwhile I've been working on ways to take better photos. It took a little work but I think I found a way to get my digital camera (not a bad one, but not a nice one either) take some good shots. I may ask for a mini fold up photo studio from the hubby for my upcoming birthday. hehe.!!! 

Also did a little bento organizing as well so I think I'm all good to go. Next week Im going to set up a bento inventory photo gallery on flicker so that after showing you the inside of the bento you can see the outside as well.  I'll try to post one a day till they are all up. I counted them the other day and yes there are 50..One of my friends at work said, "You know you could use one a day for a month and still not use them all" Ya I know but what can I say, I am a container junkie and bentos just feed that obsession.

So stay tuned and I promise you some good vegan bentos!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bento Delay

There's going to have to be a delay in bentos for now. I just had surgey on my ankle and its not really allowing me to move around so much. Thank goodness I cooked a lot before it. I'll just be eating some leftovers or whatever I can manage to put together in the am as I hobble along. I am working on a vegan pantry list that I should have up by end of week so at least that is something.
Till then. Happy bentoing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bento 2

This bento was made in my new faux wood owl bento. It really has a lot of room! Most of the bento is from my kitchen efforts yesterday. On the bottom is the Kale with Walnuts, Sweet potatoes with hijiki and then star fruit. On top is the Chinese cucumbers, Turnips with Umeboshi, Dashi with Green tea and some Brown rice with furikake. The box is microwavable (not the lid) and that was a nice change from my metal two tier bento.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cleaning out the fridge leads to goodies!

I was a madwoman in the kitchen today. The fridge was getting that nasty smell (found out it was mushrooms going bad) and I just got frustrated about always trying to buy veggies and never getting around to making them. I start out with good intentions of making yummie vegan food when I'm at the grocery store but through a long work week it doesn't happen. 

So getting rid of the smell lead to cleaning out the fridge. And cleaning out the fridge lead to finding a bunch of veggies that were only half bad (small patches of not good parts) and some that were just fine. I am also going in for ankle surgery on Thur so I will not be able to get up on my feet all that much so I decided to get chopping and use what I had. By the end of the day I had 6 dishes that would work well for dinners and bentos. 

Here is what was made out of veggie scraps.

1. Daikon Radish and green tea
2. Carrots with dashi stock
3. Sweet potatoes with hijiki
4. Napa cabbage with kombu cha
5. Turnips with umeboshi 
6. Shitake, Portabello, and Enoki Mushroom Saute
7. Sauteed Celery with Lemon
8. Chinese Style Cucumbers

All of these but the Carrots and sweet potatoes came out of an amazing and simple book called "Japanese Pickeling in 5 minutes to 1 day" The Carrots and Sweet Potatoes came out of an older book called "Vegetarian Japanese Cooking 

Most of the recipies are super fast and require no special equipt. I plan on freezing the cooked veggies into smaller portions for easy lunches and I'm hoping the fresh veggies keep till I get back from surgery since they are slightly pickled. I'm also hoping that with pratice it will not take me a full day to make so much. 

Today I will be cleaning up the freezer to make room for all the new goodies. Tomorrow's post will show a bento and hopefully a nice organized fridge. I read that the best way to store things is just zip lock bags as they lay flat. Yesterday I bought a 40 pack of the quart size and about 20 of the gallon size.  Hopefully all goes well!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Beginning of Bento

Hello Everyone,
Since this is my first post I will tell you a bit about myself. I just became a Vegan one year ago as my new years resolution. I was a vegetarian on and off for a few years (when I say on and off I mean I would cheat here and there and eat chicken) but then something in me finally changed and I have not looked back.  It has been one of the best decisions I have made health wise and it truly makes me feel like I am living by my beliefs. 

Some people may think that the switch is hard. Either to vegetarianism, or to veganism. It truly is not. Once you can find your substitutions you never feel like you are missing out on things. And Yes you can give up cheese!!!! I LOVED cheese but not I actually think its kinda gross. (it reminds me of mucus when you are sick ewwww) And I actually enjoy vegan cheese! 

I am also not a person who loves cooking by any means. Spending time in the kitchen is not something I look forward to lol. (well that is actually changing too!) Last year I ate a lot of junk food or the few vegan items I could cook. (Oh did I tell you my husband is not vegan, and is not too fond of veggies lol so dinner is kinda complicated). So my resolution this year was to learn new recipies, find things that I could easily convert over into something my husband would like and not stress out so much in the kitchen. 

I figured that everything gets easier with practice. And then my husband got me a tiffin box for Xmas. In the last month or so I've really gotten into bentos. They are so much fun to make and serve so many purposes for me.
1. Im forced to cook better meals as I want to put something in my bento for the next day's lunch.
2. I'm not eating convenience food at work because I have my healthy food packed in my bento.
3. I'm able to control portions easier
4. I'm actually starting to deveop smarter ways to shop for items at the grocery store (instead of just having rotting veggies in my fridge)
5. Im learning new recipies!
6. I'm getting some of my creative juices flowing as I try to think of new ways to make my bentos look cute.

So I hope this blog will show others that vegans eat good food, and that learning how to cook is not impossible if you just try.

Here is one of my first bentos.