Monday, August 30, 2010

Humble beginnings

Inspired by photos of healthy, delicious, & cute homemade bento box lunches on Flickr, I made my own first bento on 21 August 2010. This is what it looked like:

My first ever bento
Looking back, I see that I used all simple ingredients, nothing is cooked (except for maybe the toast). The kiwifruit, grapes, tomato, carrot & avocado are all fresh and raw, the apricots & baby corn were canned, then there's smoked salmon on crackers and little star cut-outs of cheese and toast. It's natural, healthy and colourful with 11 different ingredients! Not bad for a very first bento, but being completely new to bento making I knew I had a LOTTT to learn.

My second ever bento looked like this:

Second bento I've done
I'd decided some cooked food belongs in a bento! I'd steamed a few broccoli spears, and made an omelet roll with seasoned nori. I tried to be a little more creative with my presentation, with a Japanese style lunch box (not a bento box per se), bamboo mat and some new chopsticks for my bento.

So far, I've eaten all my bento's at home, as I don't need to be anywhere for work. My third bento looked like this:
Bento at home

Since carbs had more or less been missing from my bento's so far (save for the toast), I found something in the cupboards I only had to heat up: canned spagehetti - not very Japanese I know. Speed is key, as every time I make bento's my baby also wants my attention. But hey, I was already hooked and my bento's could only get better.

Next day I made 2 bento's! - one for lunch and one for dinner.

Lunch time bento
By now I realised you don't need a large number of ingredients to make a bento, as long as it's colourful. I'd made some falafel with coriander and used my rice moulds for the first time - it's just plain rice, and probably the wrong kind (long grain) but it's all I had in the cupboard at the time.

Dinner time bento

In the evening I made another bento. It didn't take long to chop up some pumpkin and cook it while assembling my bento, adding maple syrup and cinnamon for some extra flavour. The little egg/nori rolls make their appearance again.

The next bento turned out to be a simple vegan one. Again I see that I didn't include carbs! I steamed some carrots with the broccoli and put a few cashew nuts in my bento which I LOVE - but this is the only time they appeared in my bento's as I found them irresistable and ate the rest straight from the packet. :P
Vegan bento

For my next bento I cooked some carbs especially. It's a recipe featuring orzo (pasta shaped like big grains of rice), with some fried tofu cubes, onions, tomatoes, and lemon juice. I also added some surimi. Falafel feature again, and I tried cutting carrots to look like little flowers.
I know the bright pink box is a bit much (clashes with the food), but hey. :) The broccoli was starting to look a bit sad (note to self: don't buy TWO more heads of broccoli when you still have one at home as well). After this bento, the rest of the broccoli was made into a (still very nice) soup.

So this sums up my first week of bento making. All trial and error and a lot to learn. Hopefully in the future I can look at my first week of bento's and see that I have come a long way from these humble beginnings.