They smile at me, then I eat them.

Snowman Bento #5 Plus a Giveaway! January 8, 2012

Filed under: cute,onigiri,Vegetable — applerabbit @ 11:18 am
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So normally I don’t consider myself a charaben maker.  They’re adorable but I’d feel a little silly opening one up at work.  My daughter wasn’t really looking forward to going back to school after break, so I thought now would be the time to break out the “cute” skills and try my hand at a bento that might cheer her upon her first day back.

If you like charaben and haven’t checked out Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches I’d recommend it.  It’s a great way to get started in learning how to form characters and it includes step-by-step instructions to make all the bentos pictured in the book.  My only complaint with it is the lack of a recipe index.  There’s a short recipe section in the back but doesn’t include all the recipes in the book.  For example,  if you want the miso chicken recipe you have to flip through the whole book to find the bento that included it instead of having some way to look up what page it’s on.  Other than that minor problem though, I love this book and use many of the recipes for sides in my daily bentomaking.

There’s a supercute snowman bento in the book and it seemed like a good choice for a chilly winter day.  My daughter detests nori so I dad to try to come up with something else to make the snowman’s features out of, so I went with some sesame seeds.  The scarf is made from fruit leather, and the little bells are made of cheese with sesame seed eyes.  I snuck nori mouths onto them to see how it would go over, and I didn’t get any complaints so I think I may try more nori bits in her bentos for decoration in the future.

The bento box came back completely empty and V told me how happy Frosty made her, so I may have to make charaben a more frequent choice for her lunch.

I’m having my first giveaway!  Recently I had a chance to sample Madhava’s Organic Coconut Sugar through the Mom’s Meet program and really enjoyed it. We were concerned it would make everything we put it in taste like coconut, but it just tasted and had a texture similar to turbinado cane sugar.  It was great in coffee and for baking; the only application it didn’t seem suited to was mixing up powdered drink mix, it gave it an odd flavor.  So my readers can try it too, I’m giving away a 5.5 oz. shaker to two readers.  All you need to do is comment on this post and let me know what you’d like to see in the future, and include your email address.  One entry per person please!  If the winner happens to also be a twitter follower I’ll include a little something extra as a thank you gift.  I’ll accept entries until Noon on Sunday, January 15th.  Good Luck!


Spicy Crab Bento #4 November 29, 2011

Filed under: Fish — applerabbit @ 10:12 am
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Contents: Spicy crab mix, honeyed carrots, cucumber and wakame pickles.

Pardon the mess surrounding this bento, I took this photo once I got to work.  My job is helping to set up and maintain the undergraduate physics demonstrations for the college I attend.  I absolutely love my job and the people I work for, but our shared workspace tends to be a bit on the messy side of things.  Also, there had been a few rice balls in with the honeyed carrots and pickles, but someone, er, um…. okay, I was hungry and couldn’t help myself!  I make the spicy crab mix myself to replicate the goodness that normally gets stuffed into a spicy crab roll, but don’t believe for  second that there’s any actual crab in this.  The crab (and this is the same most likely for the crab in your local sushi restaurant’s roll) is actually surimi, which is a cooked fish paste that’s been colored and shaped to look like crab.  Nothing wrong with it though, it has a long history in Japan and while I would never compare it to real crab it’s darn tasty stuff.  I prefer to buy the kind labeled shredded for my mix, but you could use flake or lump depending on the texture you’re looking for.  You can even buy “leg” style, slice it into thirds, and brake it up to make your own shredded surimi.

Spicy Crab Mix

  • 1 80z package shredded imitation crab
  • 1/2C mayonnaise (Kewpie if you have it on hand)
  • 1/4t rice vinegar (white vinegar is alright, just use a tad less as the taste is stronger)
  • drizzle of sriracha chili sauce OR a liberal sprinkle of nanami togarashi

This is dead easy, just mix everything but the chili sauce together and then add the spicy stuff slowly until the mix has the heat you like.

Also if you’d like to be (super) lazy you can usually buy a little cup of spicy mayo in the sushi case at your grocery store if they have one.  One average size cup is enough for an 8oz package of surimi, but you forgo the ability to control the spicyness of the mix.


Sabi already? November 15, 2011

Filed under: scooter — applerabbit @ 11:04 am

So my main form of transportation to and from school this year is a scooter.  It’s not a fancy brand, but its 150cc’s gets me around at up to 45mph.  Oh, and it’s cute as a button.  Even in the chilly rain I love riding it to and from school.

There was a time though that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to ride it.  In an effort to find a lower cost scooter I turned to the internet and found the prices reasonable at, and I  immediately fell in love with the Biella.  Once ordered it took almost two weeks to arrive, and then after working for an hour to get it out of the metal crate I discovered several problems.  First and most importantly the paperwork needed to obtain my title was nowhere to be found.  After giving up the search for the needed paperwork, I noticed that the back tire was totally off the rim, and the pale pink paint I loved was covered in some sort of resin on the front panel, making it look yellower than the paint on the rest of my scooter.

So I try calling Green Earth (and learning the real company name is peace powersports).  No answer.  I call, and call, and call.  Once someone answers, leaves me on hold for a half-hour, then hangs up on me.  Finally after days of doggedly calling someone finally answers and then rudely tells me the paint on the scooter is fine (ha!) and the paperwork will arrive separately.  So I wait. Wait. Wait.  3 weeks later the paperwork arrives and I spend the day at the BMV getting my title and tags.  I would have spent an hour at the BMV, but the paperwork wasn’t correct (of course) and I had to call Peace Powersports/Green Earth for a better part of a day to get what I needed to get my title.

My baby, before “the tow.”

At this point my scooter is legal to ride on the road and I’ve done the proper maintenance to make it ride-able, but the tire is still off the rim and it’s not going on.  I call a local scooter store (Oh Zoot Scoots, how I love thee!) and they say they can get the tire on for me and give the scooter a onceover to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I call a tow truck and get my baby up on the back and watch it start to make the journey.

Ten minutes later I get a phone call from Zoot Scoots.  The tow truck driver said he had a “little problem” with the scooter on the way.  This “little problem” involved not properly securing my scooter, resulting in it falling (!) several times (!!!) and cracking the body in several places:

New cupholder?
Right side 😦
That used to hold something onto something.

How many miles did the scooter have on it at this stage?

yup, that’s less than a mile.  0.4, so juuuuuust the mileage required for them to walk it into the crate at the factory and for me to walk it to a parking space to work on it and then onto the tow truck.  grrrrrrrrr.  I repeat, grrrrrrrrrr.

The tow company claims they’re going to pay for the repairs.  We’ll see.  Ken at Zoot Scoots (who was so sweet and I may have a little crush on) got the tire on for me and patched everything else up enough so I can ride it until the tow company either fixes my scooter or replaces it.  I ride my baby around in her “sabi” state and actually it makes me a little less hesitant to ride.   I mean, I wasn’t going to do anything worse than what had already happened, right?


Frittata and Gyoza – Bento #3 October 24, 2011

Filed under: Egg,Vegetable — applerabbit @ 3:30 pm
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I love eggs. Such a versatile and tasty protein, they’re beloved in our household for every meal.  An often used bento recipe for me is an old standby from, Biggie’s Stovetop Mini Frittata is a great use for veggie scraps or when you’re at a loss for a protein.  Instead of cooking them in a frypan I typically toss them in the toaster oven at 325° for about 5  minutes or so until they’re set.  These had some leftover broccoli tossed in, but really they’ll hold  just about any veggie or meat just dandy.  Toss in a couple of gyoza and carrot sticks and this is a lickety-split bento for my little hedgehog kidlet.


Bell Pepper Truce – Bento #2 June 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,Vegetable — applerabbit @ 7:37 pm
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Contents of bento:  Crispy shrimp and cherry tomatoes on a bed of shredded cabbage, orange segment, edamame, and orange-chili sauteed bell peppers.

So if you had asked me yesterday what my least favorite vegetable was, I would have told you bell peppers.  It’s not like I haven’t tried to like them.  They’re bright and crunchy, and if you like their flavor they’re the perfect way to lend texture and color to your recipe.  There’s just something about their taste that’s too strong for me, and if they’re mixed or cooked into a dish it seems to be all I can taste.  It always grossed me out watching the host on Iron Chef take a huge bite out of a bell pepper in the opening sequence, in fact if I were to be on one of those reality shows where you have to eat something disgusting for money I’d much rather eat a worm than have to chomp down on a raw green pepper.

I was perfectly happy with my distaste for them until yesterday.  My daughter and I were in the grocery store and in an effort to get her out of her limited vegetable eating, I let her select a few types of produce to take home and cook with. Her selections were cucumber (yay),  cherry tomatoes (picking those up if she hadn’t), and yellow and red peppers (*gasp*).  I held back my horror as she proudly placed the peppers in the cart, and immediately panicked because I had no idea what to cook them in.  I know maaaaaany recipes call for them, but anything I make on a regular basis I’ve long ago found a replacement for either the color or texture of bell pepper in the dish. I hunted around on the internet when I got home and found a few tips about preparation like making sure all the white of the ribs are removed when taking out the seeds, roasting them sweetens them, etc., but that didn’t solve my problem of only being able to taste the peppers when they’re mixed with other foods.  So then I thought, “Why mix them in?  Why not just cook the bell peppers as a side dish on their own?”

Orange-chili Sauteed Bell Peppers

2 Bell Peppers (any color), thinly sliced vertically

¼ tsp Salt

1 Clove Garlic, minced

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Orange Juice

Sriracha Sauce to taste

In a sauté pan, heat oil and garlic over low heat.  Add bell peppers and cook 15 minutes  until peppers soften and become sweet.  Add orange juice and chili sauce and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Now, I’m not saying bell peppers will become a daily part of my veggie intake, but at least cooked like this they’re sweet and lose the bitterness I dislike so much.  My daughter?  She said it was too spicy, so I’ll try again but tone down or leave out the chili sauce.


Steelhead Trout Bento #1 June 2, 2010

Filed under: Fish — applerabbit @ 2:42 am
Tags: , , , ,

Steelhead Trout Bento I was lucky enough to see this steelhead trout on sale while picking up some other items for dinner.  I wish I could have fish at every meal, but in a landlocked state it’s really not a viable option.  Still, if I see a deal I try to make room in the budget ^_^ I really should have cut it in order to arrange it more neatly in the bento box, but the fish itself was so lovely I couldn’t bare to slice it!  I just tucked in a few snow peas for color and added a container of soy sauce for the rice underneath.  If you’ve never had steelhead trout, it’s very similar to salmon, and in fact if you see it raw it’s hard to distinguish between the two.  I could eat my own hand if it’s teriyaki-glazed, so naturally it was my first choice for sprucing up this tasty fish.

Steelhead Trout Teriyaki

2 steelhead trout fillets
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp grated ginger
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp mirin
3 Tbsp sake
2 tsp white sugar

Combine all ingredients except trout.  Marinate trout in this mixture for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Remove trout and reserve marinade.  Pan fry in small non-stick skillet on medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side, basting with reserved marinade several times during cooking.