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June 9th, 2008

03:44 pm - Today's and Saturday's bentos

No pictures of Saturday's bento. These last two bentos weren't terribly note worthy, really. On Saturday I hadn't thought to make anything, but Zeus asked if I had a lunch for him on his way out, so I tossed together a 30-second bento.

Grabbed the last piece of cheese that was right in front of me and two slices of ham, and put them on bread in the "tupperware" sandwich-box. He can get condiments at his work, so no worry there. I had made some shaped eggs the night before with extra-large eggs, which make the best shapes, and used the cheese wrapper to separate a couple of eggs, which were car and fish shaped. >^_^<

This morning I made another quick one by putting two hot dogs on a piece of tinfoil in the "tupperware" sandwich-box, and then I put in half an apple, a bunny shaped egg on some more tinfoil, and filled the extra space with grapes. Not too bad. I folded the tinfoil in over the hotdogs and egg, and put two slices of bread on top for wrapping the hotdogs. Simple, not too bad. >^_^<

Picture of Today's BentoCollapse )

These are the first two bentos I have put together now that I know I can no longer use the 125-pack of Cooking Concepts paper baking cups I found at the Dollar Tree. Turns out they were leaking dye on all the food! Yuck! Guess I'll have to use my silicone cups and hope they make it back into the house in a somewhat reasonable time-frame. :P

Current Mood: okayeh

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June 6th, 2008

11:09 am - This Morning's Bento for Zeus

Another bento this morning. Same basic theme as of late. Half an apple (spritzed with lemon juice to stay fresh), a bunny-shaped hard boiled egg, a couple sticks of celery with some creamy peanut butter (it was thick and sticky enough that I think it'll transport fine just in the paper baking cup), and some pieces of chicken we cooked last night with some Italian bread crumbs from a jar, which were modified with a paprika-based spice mix that is very tasty. I think they came out very well. >^_^<

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June 3rd, 2008

02:58 pm - Another simple quick one

Here's one I made last night for Zeus to take to work today. As expected, the previous box didn't make it back into the house on time, so I grabbed the next box on the stack. >^_^<

I'm thinking I should pick up one more three-pack of these boxes, especially since I discovered that the sandwich-size ones make excellent containers for shaped eggs. I don't have to stack eggs in this one, so they don't press together and flatten edges or wipe out each other's designs.

So, this one has half an apple (spritzed with lemon juice), some raisins, a bear shaped hard boiled egg, a heart skewer of leftover chicken pieces, and a couple sticks of celery with a side cup of peanut butter.

It feels odd to be making bentos for my bento blog without any fancy, pretty boxes to make them look really good.. I kinda miss making the pretty box bentos for myself, but I just don't have much reason to do that right now. Maybe eventually my boyfriend will have a box or two of his own that look nice. >^_^< .

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June 2nd, 2008

11:00 am - Simple Bento, and More New Stuff

This is a simple, fairly uninteresting bento I made for Zeus today. He said his other bentos were too big, even though I wasn't using the whole space of the 5 cup (1183 ml) tupperware box I picked up for him, so I grabbed this 3-pack of sandwich size boxes last time I was at the Dollar Tree. Also, having 3 of them might help, since he isn't all that great about bringing his lunch stuff back into the house..

The box size is 3 cups, or 709 ml. Not too bad for a bento. The shape limits how to pack it and what can be packed (I really liked the shape of the 5 cup box, but couldn't find a similar one with less depth), but the total ml space is much better, and it's still just big enough for the shaped silicone bake trays I got. I compared these to the sandwich-box piece of the Lock & Lock Back to School set, and noticed that they had about the same dimensions but are a little taller. I think the Lock & Lock one could stand to be this tall, it would allow for some non-flat sandwiches to go in there (like ones with lots of lettuce, you know?)

The lunch today was the last two hotdogs in the ziploc baggie, so I just tossed those in, a little container of mustard, half an apple and some raisins. A couple slices of bread on top to wrap the hotdogs in.

This lunch is using two of the slightly-wide-bottomed baking cups I picked up at the Dollar Tree (125 pack), and I noticed that the color was not as intense when they were pulled apart- which is a good thing, the intense looking color is what drove me away from the blue and red ones. They also felt decently wetness-resistant, somewhat like wax paper, although they are very thin. All in all, a good find for bento, I think. And knowing that the color softens when they are away from the stack, I might want some blue ones too.

*EDIT*: I later learned that these baking cups were leaking dye all over the food! Zeus' eggs and apples all got dyed yellow from using these, so I have since had to quit using them. Bummer. Good thing I hadn't picked up any more yet..

Also at the Dollar Tree that day, I found a nifty rubber summer ice-cube tray with fun shapes. I was tempted to buy two, because they only have one of each shape in them, but I decided I'd just better be extra prepared for whatever I decide to shape in them so I can make a bunch before whatever bento requires them. >^_^< They came in green and blue.

Current Mood: okayokay

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May 31st, 2008

03:57 pm - Bento Finds in Jo-Ann Fabrics craft store dollar bins --- Plastics & Food Safety

Here's some stuff for bento that I found in the dollar bins at Jo-Ann Fabrics. >^_^< Yay dollar bins!

The first thing I noticed was the Snap & Seal Box in the bins near the front of the store. They looked so cute and perfect for bento! The first picture I took was in the store, so I could show it to people with interests in bento, as I was trying to resist buying it myself. Although, I kept thinking that a couple of these would be just perfect to make bento lunches for the toddlers, if only they could handle taking care of stuff properly.. I hope that's not too much longer off.. Either way, they looked like perfect little snack boxes! Excellently sized, and even resembling actual bento boxes. >^_^<
These boxes are about 10 cm x 10 cm (12 cm counting to the edges of the lid) x 5 cm, and hold about 443 ml.

So, I just had to get one to try and use for a snack bento. I picked one up, and unwrapped it to see how well the latches worked. They were disappointingly loose-feeling. Kept the lid on, but didn't feel secure. I figured out that rotating the lid around could help, aligning the latches to more fitting sides, but still not great that way.. When I got home, I put some water inside and snapped the lid on to test how well it might hold leaky food. It was a dismal failure. I tipped it up and water leaked out right away. Bummer.

So, I definitely wouldn't use it for food that has juices to leak. But it might do fine for a snack that is mainly dry. Even some ham & cheese rolls would be fine, I think. I ended up picking up a second one just to see if I had gotten a bad one (wasn't too worried about buying another, since it was a dollar). It fit only a tiny bit more snugly, and still leaked water very easily. Oh well, dry snacks it is, I suppose.

The next stuff I noticed were these two sets of three small "tupperware" containers each, in the dollar bins near the back of the store. They have colorful lids, and the set of larger containers comes with a half-moon shaped container that looked like it had some potential for bento design. >^_^< That set is fairly tall, but I could fit them in the 5 cup (1183 ml) box I've been putting Zeus' lunches in, or just use them as side containers.

Now, a lot of people wonder if containers from a craft store are food safe. Are plastics meant for organizing objects safe to hold food? Well, I suppose it depends on the container. Actually, both sets of three small containers have the international symbol for "safe for contact with food"- a wine glass and fork- on the bottoms of them.

The Snap & Seal boxes I'm not so sure about, they did not have a food safe symbol on them, however, the small labels on the back of them read "TAKE LID OFF WHEN USING IN MICROWAVE", as the labels on the three-packs also read. So, I'm willing to go with the guess that these containers won't make my food harmful. >^_^<

For anyone interested in plastic identification for food safety, etc, I started working on this chart of common US Plastic Safety Symbols. Plastic safety can also be determined when the plastic is numbered.
A guide to what the numbered plastics 1-7 are can be found here at the National Geographic sponsored Green Guide.
Safest plastics for food are 5, 4, and 2.
Potentially unsafe plastics are 7, 6, and 3.

US plastic safety symbols

P.S.: I would love to add more symbols to this chart, including international symbols, to make it much more useful to the bento consumer. I couldn't find much online though, so if you know of any identifiable symbols on Japanese or other plastics that could help people in purchasing, please send them to me! Thanks!

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May 25th, 2008

12:55 pm - Do-It-Yourself Travel Chopsticks

Here's a simple little project I did, and you can probably tell from the photos just how simple it is. >^_^<

I picked up this pink toothbrush holder for $1.00 at Jo-Ann Fabrics. It was the nice, slender style, for easy compact carrying/storage. The chopsticks are the cheap standard 26 cm long semi-disposable bamboo chopsticks you get in a 10-set pack from a grocery store.

These bamboo chopsticks always come with the standard set of kanji printed on them, which I do not know what it says. (The print usually washes off after some use anyway.) After cutting the chopsticks down to size though, I kind of wonder what's left of what they said. If anyone knows what they say, please let me know. >^_^<

So, you might think that a hack saw is a little over-kill for some bamboo chopsticks- I did-, but after failed attempts with kitchen shears and Zeus' pair of tin snips, I figured that that was what I needed. So, I grabbed the hack saw and cut the chopsticks down to just about 20.2 cm long.

It didn't take long to get through them. A serrated knife would probably do just fine if a hack saw is not on hand.

Then, I just grabbed some fine grain sandpaper to round off the tops. And that was it! Travel chopsticks, ready to go. >^_^<

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

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May 24th, 2008

02:51 pm - Bento-Worthy Find from the seasonal isle at Hannaford

I spotted this Cereal On The Go container at the Hannaford grocery store in the seasonal isle of summer stuff. It was cute, small enough to carry around, and perfect for fitting in a car cup-holder. I thought about it for a while, and ended up buying one on a later trip.

It's got a 355 ml cereal dish, and a 170 ml milk cup with sides full of freezer gel for keeping the milk cold. It says you should freeze the cold cup only for no more than 4 hours before use, and if the milk freezes you're supposed to close up the cup and run it under warm water for a bit.

Looks nice. It includes a fold-up spoon, even. >^_^<
These came in pink, orange, and neon green as well- even the color of the freezer gel itself, to match.

Click Here for Close-Ups Showing the Back Label with Care Instructions and oz/ml capacity, and Instruction Card from InsideCollapse )

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May 17th, 2008

02:18 pm - Apple Blossom Bento

Trying to get a little more creative with the new stuff, I gave my new apple corer a try. I used the star shape to make a flower blossom out of apple slices, with raisins for the center. The rest is my home-made pork fried rice again, and I added some ham and cheese flowers to try and pretty it up a little more. Do you think it worked ok?

See my Pork Fried Rice recipe post here.

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

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May 15th, 2008

01:05 pm - First Try for the Boyfriend with New Stuff!

I picked up some new stuff for bento making at the Dollar Tree- a new tupperware box and a collection of shaped silicone bakeware. >^_^<

I wanted to get a box I could use to pack lunches for Zeus, and this 5 cup (1183 ml) box was the only thing I could find in the shape I wanted. Of course, its capacity is much too large, so I don't fill it all the way up. I wonder how well this stuff travels..

Today's bento is pork fried rice, and half an apple in the star, with raisins and a piece of low-sugar papaya. He forgot to take it with him, but he ate it when he got home. :P

See my Pork Fried Rice recipe post here.

This is all the silicone bakeware I picked up at the Dollar Tree, it's pretty nice. I found a bunch of different shapes, and grabbed two each of my favorites, and one each of a couple others. I like the stars the best. Each of these takes up the space of about a 5.5 inch square, varying a little for each design type. They also had some blue ones shaped like teddy bears, but they were based on detail inside the shape, and I didn't like them much.

I had seen these before, but dismissed them because my bento boxes are standard, two-tier boxes, and these are much too large for those. However, it occurred to me that they might work great for a single-tier bento, which I've been wanting, or the tupperware I use for Zeus' lunches. >^_^<

I have no idea what to do with this interesting pink mold, but I thought there might be some use for it in a bento, some day, so I grabbed one. >^_^<

The silicone bakeware all came in packages that look like this:

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

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May 12th, 2008

01:10 pm - Another Bento for Zeus

Another hotdog bento. Just one box: two hotdogs cut in half, two buns cut in half, a cup of mustard for the hotdogs, a paper cup with a fig, a piece of low-sugar papaya, and some raisins, and a couple of cheese flowers on picks to add to it. Not as pretty or interesting as was hoped. I've been told it kind of looks like an alien.. hm..

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

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