Koreanese Bento #27: Ohayo!

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Had a wonderful day in Napa yesterday, culminating in a picnic at V Sattui Winery in St. Helena. This morning I was inspired to bento with some of the leftovers. It’s been ages, and I’d almost forgotten how fun packing a lunch could really be. πŸ™‚

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Leftover rotisserie chicken, kale salad with a sesame vinaigrette, baby carrots, roasted rosemary almonds and a happy tangerine.

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Koreanese Bento #23: Mushroom rice and mozzarella men

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Mixed mushroom rice, salad with mozzarella, a hardboiled egg and berries.

While making my lunch, I realized that my fresh mozzarella balls had little nubs that would make perfect “noses.” So I used black sesame seeds and tiny slivers of red bell pepper to finish out their faces. One face is happy and the other a bit on the cranky side. Menβ€”mozzarella and otherwiseβ€”can be so moody! πŸ˜‰

Koreanese bento #20: Making do

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Chicken and apple mini sausages and cucumbers over white rice with peas; cilantro tamagoyaki (omelette roll), steamed cauliflower, grape tomatoes and veggie flowers on a bed of baby spinach leaves.

After an action-packed weekend of friends and family, academics and a capella, my fridge is looking pretty bare. So between my last few eggs, some cilantro on the verge, leftover rice and an old bag of frozen mini-sausages, I cobbled together this bento. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself, though I’m looking forward to going to the grocery store tonight.

Koreanese bento #19: Bento redux

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Steamed pork and shrimp balls on sticks with plain onigiri, blanched orange cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and spring lettuce; assorted fruit includes apple bunnies, blackberries and a tangerine

In a nod to my busy day, yesterday’s pork and shrimp balls have resurfaced in another bento today. This time, I paired them with finger foods and items you could eat by stabbing them with my cute little wooden picks!

Koreanese bento #18: If I could only bento all day

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Steamed shrimp and pork meatballs with steamed asparagus, baby tomatoes, radish flowers and a fruit cup; a bed of multigrain rice sits below.

It’s been a crazy few weeks with lots of travel and some new deadlines. I’m trying to limit my extracurricular activities until this project is done! But I can’t stop bento-ing, or exercising for that matter. So here’s one I made because the meatballs could be done in the microwave without sacrificing taste! Props to Makiko Itoh for the awesome recipe. You can find it in The Just Bento Cookbook, which is kind of like a newbie bento-maker’s bible!

Koreanese bento #17: There’s no place like home

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Fried tofu and edamame nuggets with baby lettuce, radishes, cucumbers and multigrain rice; bell pepper kinpira and a berry-citrus fruit salad for dessert.

Ft. Lauderdale! The Everglades! The Keys! Napa Valley! A bevy of beautiful places and faces in a whirlwind week and a half.

I could never get enough of dolphins, anhingas, stingrays and miniature deer. Sleeping in a suite is all the better for having slept under the stars. And I love drinking beer at the No Name Pub on Big Pine Key, Fla., as much as I do sampling the wine pairings Ad Hoc in Yountville, Calif.

But have to say, I am so happy to be back home and making bento on this most beautiful of San Francisco days.

Koreanese bento #14: Bento brunch

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Fried egg, ham and fruit salad; mini waffles with strawberries, pecans and maple syrup. (Extra layer of waffles hidden below.)

Got a Nordic Ware silver-dollar waffle pan at a thrift store on Fillmore Street a few weeks ago. Woke up this morning and decided it was time to give it a try. One batch of batter from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” app goes a long way with mini waffles! So I packed a few of the extras into a bento. I will be eating waffles for days and days …

This bento is a bit busier than I would like. Think I got carried away since it’s Saturday, and time was less of an issue than during the week. I used a flower-shaped cookie cutter for the egg and rolled the ham into a “rose,” My baby spinach leaves, however, kind of got lost in the mix.

Dressed up the waffles with cheese and ham flowers and tossed in a “bottle” of real maple syrup. Plan to sprinkle the pecans and fruit on top. It was silly but amusing to cut my strawberry into a strawberry shape with a cookie cutter. Very meta, no?

Most excited about the pint of kumquats I picked up this week. They remind me of Florida, of sunshine and of being a kid. All things I miss right now …

Koreanese bento #13: @KoreanHapa(imitation) / @justbento = flattery

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Chicken kara-age, tomato and shallot salad with sesame vinaigrette and rice with carrots and peas

So I’ve been getting bento inspiration from all over … But I must give credit where it is due. I first fell in love with the idea of bento this January, when I spotted “The Just Bento Cookbook” at a bookstore in Santa Cruz.

I was making my annual New Year’s pilgrimage to the coast and contemplating ways to bring new joys into 2011. And there it was, this book that I just couldn’t put down.

Since then, co-workers have gifted me books on bento, and I’ve found so many amazing bento-makers on the Web. It has been a pleasure cooking, learning and eating my way down this road.

So thank you,Β Makiko Itoh, for the inspiration.Β This bento’s for you!

Koreanese bento #12: In/out of shape

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Sliced teriyaki beef, asparagus spears with roasted sesame dressing, hardly heart-shaped hard-boiled eggs over multi-grain rice with strawberries and strawberry-shaped kiwis

Just came back from a long weekend in Utah. I had made a few molded hard-boiled eggs before I left. My hearts, however, didn’t turn out quite as nicely as my star. One heart, with a yolk so off-center that it poked out the side, was so unattractive that I had to eat in on the spot! The other one wasn’t quite so bad, but it still didn’t look much like a heart … Still, why waste food?

So I rolled the misshapen sucker around in some soy sauce, sugar and ginger until it was nicely coated, cut it in half and then popped some asymmetrical nori hearts on top before tossing it in the bowl. If you’re going to be misshapen, might as well be proud.

The kiwis I bought at the Ferry Building after my run today took to their strawberry cookie-cutter shapes much more nicely. (Though you can’t really tell from this picture.)

And speaking of being shape … I had thought, after a three days skiing downhill and one day cross country, that I must be in pretty descent condition. But then I stepped on the scale this morning and found myself four pounds heavier than when I left. (And I wasn’t happy with my weight then either.)

Guess, like my bento, I am both in and out of shape.