Baking not bentoing…

Didn’t have much time last week to make more bentos as I have been more or less baking every other day.  Lots of different reasons to make cake, like delicious British strawberries, meetings at work, visiting colleagues and friends, and of course just because I needed cake!!

Anyway, lots of cakes, so instead of a bento today, just an impression of the cakes made and the process…

The photos are in complete random order, but the cakes I made were:

  • Strawberry cheese cake: chocolate digestives base with a creamcheese/double cream filling topped with fresh strawberries and strawberry jam glaze;
  • A Schwarzwälder inspired Chocolate Sandwich cake, filled with home made cherry jam, smothered in chocolate Ganache and some fresh cherries (the name on top – a colleague- is made with white chocolate but me and the white chocolate icing bag had a bit of a disagreement…hence rather wonky… (the icing bag won by the way…);
  • Chocolate sponge tray bake with feathered/marble icing (as said, the white chocolate icing bag won the battle… so rather messy decorating);
  • Carrot & walnut cupcakes topped with a honey cream cheese frosting – remind me not to make cream cheese frosting when it is 25C and sunny….; and
  • A marmalade tray bake – using home made marmalade, drizzled with orange vanilla icing… This one smelled so gorgeous whilst mixing/baking…I wish I could convey the smell

This week I will be again busy…not with cakes…but a friend is visiting, not sure yet when I will be posting another lunch box…

Meanwhile take care & eat cake :-)

 

Quick bento

imageNothing exciting, just a very quick lunch from left over rice & meatballs. Although I did “make” a “Japanese Flag”… :-)

Am a bit busy with other kitchen activities, might post about that next week.

Until then, keep well & take care!

 

P.s. am trying to catch up on posts via my WP reader..but a) some blog posts don’t show up anymore in my WP reader – ie very annoying and b) I need more time!

As I actually commented recently in reaction to another blogger’s post about whether you can be lonely as a blogger, I had to respond I don’t feel lonely at all.

Before I started to blog, I wasn’t that much into Social Media and not aware at all of all the blogger communities, interaction, groups etc etc that exist. Only once I started blogging I discovered all these other people, and now I have a lot of interaction with bloggers all over the world. These are people I would never have “met”  were it not for “Blogland”

Have to say I have also been lucky as almost all of the bloggers I interact with are friendly, and give great feedback or advice on my blog. In my turn I try to make new contacts with other bloggers by finding new blogs (using the WP tag function) and by liking & commenting on other blog(post)s.

So, my blogging limitation (aside from technical knowledge) is more time related. I wish I had more time to invest in my own blog, as there are so many ideas in my head that I want to create.

But I also wish I had more time to interact more with others as giving and receiving feedback/comments is really motivational. 

Caterpillar Bento & Korean translation help?

caterpillar bentoMade another caterpillar bento (this was my previous one) 

This time the “earth” is made from some precooked marinated beef (soy & garlic), and I also put a little bit of the beef in each onigiri. Added carrots, asparagus, green beans and courgette. Plus some carrot flowers, a radish flower and quail egg flowers.

The quail eggs are coloured with food colouring, but I used a bit too much for the blue one…it is rather vibrant blue isn’t it? I read somewhere that in nature the colour blue signals danger/poison, but in this case the egg flower is edible!

You might also have spotted that I have a new bento box! Couldn’t resist it as it was very cheap, on special in the Korean supermarket…. Plus an useful shape which I don’t have yet.. :-)

Yep…I am just trying to justify another box…. But it really does look like a practical box that I can use often, it has a lid with pop up handle to carry it, and a “thingie” to close the box airtight. It is metal lined inside so should retain heat/cold bit longer than my other boxes, but this also means it will not be microwave proof.

The only problem I have (aside from finding space to store it)  is that that I can’t read the instructions so I don’t know whether it’s dishwasher proof….  – my Korean is limited to deciphering the menu and an occasional hello or thank you…

I have posted below photo’s of the little booklet, and am hoping that any of my lovely readers could help me out on this :-). Looking forward to see some translation help in the comments…

Kimchi fried rice

Kimchi fried riceMy version of Kimchi fried rice….It’s my version because I didn’t actually follow a recipe..and there are lots of versions around … but basically you just need rice and kimchi!

My version is made with left over rice, a few bits of veggies and of course chopped up kimchi.  All just very quickly pan-fried and topped with some egg strips. Initially I was thinking of going creative with the egg, maybe making a sun or something, but then the yolk broke and well…it got chopped up instead :-)

The other container has some Doenjang soup (Korean style miso soup) and there is some melon as dessert.  The very eagle eyed among you might notice that it is actually Basmati rice and not my usual Koshikari Japonica rice…Japonica rice will always have my preference – see also my post “are you a rice snob” – and I use that 99 out of 100 times, but we do sometimes eat other rice….

If you want a more authentic recipe for Kimchi Fried rice (Kimchi Bokkeum Bap) check out the two websites below: Maangchi and Crazy Korean Cooking.

  • Maangchi: This wonderful lady has been posting videos and recipes since 2007! She has made Korean cooking very accessible for non Korean speakers, and her website offers a lot of information on ingredients, technique and shops.  She also has a lot of interaction with her readers and viewers, or as she says herself:

    everything on this site has been driven by readers/viewers and their suggestions

  • Crazy Korean Cooking: Grace and Stephanie seem to be two Crazy Korean ladies who love cooking! But underneath their often very hilarious video’s, there is a mine of useful information. I love it that their recipes are very organised and quantities are easy to change in metric/us measurements and also into serving size. Lots of additional information on the website, so definitely worth checking out. And do watch one of their video’s, I think my favourite one is the Kimchi making one where they dress up as two Ahjummas!

When I first started to cook Korean food, I would automatically go to these two websites, but since then I have also discovered lots of other bloggers who share their interest and knowledge of the Korean cuisine. I will try to highlight some of those bloggers in future posts, but meanwhile, please have a look at these two websites :-)

 

This blog post is part of my attempt to clean up my Blogs I Follow list

Dosirak

DosirakVery simple dosirak today, as I was in a hurry his morning.

Just packed some rice in one container, with some kim strips on top and the other containers holds veggies.

I also packed some (pre- made/frozen and reheated) gochujangbeef sauce but kept this separately as the little container leaked a bit. Plus it didn’t fit in in the cute bento box I used. The bento box, with the separate sauce container DID fit nicely in my well being bag, together with some extra kim.

Inspired by the Just Bento Cookbook – bento

Just Bento inspired BentoThe Bento blogger who inspired me most is (of course) Just Bento

Following through my intention to (re)visit the Blogs I follow / inspire me (see previous post), I can’t think of a better inspiration than the excellent blog/websites by Makiko Itoh. She is the author Just Bento Practical and fun bento box tips and ideas, healthy bento recipes from Japan and the world – and Just Hungry – authentic Japanese recipes and more! –

Above is my attempt to recreate the Bento which is the cover of her Just Bento Cookbook.

JUST-BENTO_bookcover

This photo is owned by Makiko Itoh, author of the Just Bento Cookbook

I think that for me it sort of emphasizes how wonderful her advice is about packing healthy and simple bento’s. I have not been feeling well this week, but creating this bento for myself today was easy, all because I have been following Maki’s advice from since I started Bento making: freezing rice; preparing a stash of Bento staples for fridge/freezer; streamlining the bento making process; you can find it all, and lots more on Just Bento!

My bento above differs slightly from the bento on the cover of her book, but it still looks the same in general.

  • It took 15 minutes to pack;
  • The rice and chicken dish have both been precooked, portioned up and frozen;
  • I only had to defrost & reheat these to pack;
  • Steaming some broccoli only takes a few minutes:
  • Adding the broccoli and cherry tomatoes (standard staples in my fridge) only another few minutes, and the same for sliced cucumber and radish.
  • I don’t often have salad at home, so I used some bento dividers instead of salad leaves; and
  • because my bento box is larger (but more shallow) than hers, I used some more cucumber to fill up the gaps.

If I can pack the above, whilst feeling ill, just based on everything I learned from the Just Bento website….well, what else can I write to recommend that you follow the link and check it out?

Actually lots :-)

There are so many recipes;  a list of example bentos including time schedules and calorie information; tips on preparing, packing and storing bento and a forum community.

So, if you’re interested in bento making, than this is definitely the no 1 place to go to: Just Bento!

 

This blog post is part of my attempt to clean up my Blogs I Follow list

Onigirazu & Blogs I follow

OnigirazuAnother Onigirazu lunch!

Onigiri or Onigirazu are a great way to use up leftovers. My filling this time was some left over cooked salmon and green beans from dinner + some smoked salmon that needed finishing. I added some radishes, cherries and an apricot towards my five-a-day :-)

You can find a tutorial on how to make Onigirazu in the post here

So re the title bit that says: Blogs I Follow: I know that some of my readers will see only a limited part of my blog, ie only the blog post itself, but as others will know, I do have some other pages on my blog like Where to buy bento products, Packing and decorating tips and also a page about Blogs I Follow. I don’t update these pages very often, only when I think about it (and when I have time), but I thought it would be a good moment to revisit some of the Blogs I Follow. Not only to see if they still exist… but also to see again why they are inspirational to me.

When I started blogging in Feb 2014, I was quite new to the world of lunch boxes, and I googled a lot to find other blogs about lunches/lunchboxes/bento and consequently followed a lot of bloggers (on WP alone about 300 apparently..) The majority of my bento ideas were & are often shamelessly nicked  ehh inspired by other very talented bento bloggers.  And although I always will try to link back to these blogs, sometimes I forget, or quite often I also can’t remember where I got my idea from, whose blog or lunch inspired me, or whose photo had me grabbing my bento tools to get started!

I also used to be part of a few bento linkup parties, but unfortunately some of these have stopped completely or others are continuing in another format where I feel my blog doesn’t really belong anymore (mainly aimed at children’s food/snacks – whilst my lunches are aimed for me…an adult who occasionally likes cute bunnies in her lunch box.. :-)

However they are a great way to meet other bloggers and get inspiration, and I will still try to see if there are other (food related) link-up parties I can join, but maybe some that are less bento specific (for example, like Our Growing Edge).

I have been wondering if there was a way for me to “link up” with the blogs that I find inspirational, but my technical blogging skills are limited and I won’t have the time to host a link up party.  But quite recently I dedicated a blog to another bento blogger (Einfach Bento, see this post), so I was thinking, hmmm I could do this, promote inspirational blogs on my blog by writing about them! Also, it would be a great way to revisit and clean up my Blogs I Follow list :-)

The only problems I can foresee are that it will take me ages (lots of inspirational bloggers on my list!), I don’t want to write a separate post for it – I’d rather include it in an blog post that I am already writing, and I don’t want to commit myself to a “weekly” revisit blog post. But those are minor issues, and the only way to know is to get started!

So, long story, but in short:

  • I will slowly revisit in random order my Blogs I Follow list
  • I will “clean up” the list and add comments to each blog
  • I will sometimes “highlight/promote” a revisited blog in a blog post

to be continued….

Lovebirds bento

Lovebirds-egg-bentoWe went to a wedding last weekend, which inspired me to make this Lovebirds Bento ♥

Initially, I was thinking of shaping a bride and groom from onigiri, but not sure if I would have enough time in the morning, so instead I created the lovebirds with an hard boiled egg. With the help of some pre-frozen rice and salmon, and boiling the egg the evening before, it still took me 25 minutes to pack. The most time was spent at adding the smaller details, like the eyes and red flowers.

The lovebirds are made from an boiled egg, halved, with a carrot beak, and they are perched on some asparagus branches. The baby corn wings are attached with a small bit of cocktail stick. Eyes punched out from nori. One bird, the male, is offering the female bird some red flowers >*<.

The other container is filled with some salmon, baby corn, radishes, asparagus, carrot hearts, heart shaped strawberries and of course I added a heart shaped food stick. Lots of love happening!

The tiny container in front has some cookies, to add more sweetness to this love story :-), and I choose to pack this bento in my flower cloud box to sort of extra symbolise the happy “cloud” the married couple are experiencing….

Hosomaki – thin sushi roll bento

hosomakiRolling sushi is not my best culinary skill, especially in the morning, but I was so happy that I finally had a perfectly ripe avocado, that I couldn’t resist making some quick hosomaki for my bento today.

Hosomaki are thin sushi rolls, with only 1 ingredient. I made avocado and crabstick hosomaki, with some wasabi added for the crabstick ones – hence the greenish rice. I didn’t have much time left over to pack my bento, so just added some cherry tomatoes, little soy sauce bottles and a small container with gari (pickled ginger).

This bento box comes with it’s own chopsticks and chopstick rest, cleverly hidden under it’s top lid.

And maybe I am being very silly….but I wish they were able to produce square – and always perfectly ripe -avocado’s! Can you imagine how much easier it would be to cut  for your sushi filling… :-)