More thoughts on blogging

I have previously written a post about how I feel about blogging, it remains the most read post on my blog, so clearly it struck a chord with readers. That post was written 2.5 years ago, and this morning, I suddenly felt I needed to write some more thoughts on this subject.

You see, after I take a break from blogging, like I did recently, I tend to do the same things over and over again. I quickly write down a few draft ideas to blog about in the next few weeks. And I go on an extended blog surfing trip. Not only am I catching up on the blogs I already follow, I also try to find new bloggers, follow links leading to other links, hook up at a meet & greet (can I recommend again the one at Harsh Reality), check out WordPress suggestions etc. I usually end up with adding a few more blogs to my Reader and more inspiration for my own blog.

This time however I noticed something. Namely that a lot of new bloggers announce in their first blog post that they have thought a long time about blogging and did a lot of research and/or read blog/books about blogging before their first post. I actually can’t remember doing that. I remember that one day I thought, well, why not start a blog and I just started. After that start, yes, I got dragged into the whole blog atmosphere, making connections, monitoring stats and likes, finding blog parties, but nope, all my research before starting the blog consisted of a 15 min look around which blog platform to use (= which one is free and looks easy to navigate) and another hour or so selecting a format.

Naive? Maybe. But then I never set out to be a professional blogger, to make money from it, or to promote a business. Of course, I would be quite happy to be given kitchen gadgets to review, think that could be quite a fun thing to do 🙂 but that’s not why I started this blog. I am also not a writer (I struggle sometimes to get out a coherent sentence) so there is no aim to turn my blog eventually into a (e-)book or into a cookbook. I just want to blog about what I like to eat  – mainly for lunch – and what I like to bake.  And for the last 3 years I have enjoyed blogging, although I do sometimes take a break because of lack of time, inspiration, life getting in the way, or just because I get distracted by other things.

I am actually slowly embracing other forms of Social Media. I still don’t like Facebook and don’t use it, and although I (think I) am on Bloglovin, I never really have gotten the hang of it, nor of Twitter/Pinterest. I do like Instagram though. Often I have made, eaten or seen something I quite like sharing but don’t want to write a blog post about and I do find Instagram is great for that kind of thing. Here again though I am sort of blundering my way through it, finding out how it works after I already pressed the share button, so again a case of “do first – check out how it works later”. The silly thing is that this is not actually how I am. I am a person who very much likes to be prepared, be organised, so just doing things without a proper research is not me.

And that brings me to another thought that kept coming up in my mind the last few weeks which was how impressed I am by some (new) bloggers out there, whilst at the same time realising that their blog style isn’t suitable for me. For example, two of my friends are bloggers, one of them has blogged a bit longer than I have and the other one has recently  started. Whilst both of them are in different countries, and the subject of their blogs is different, they do have in common that their blogs are both well thought out. Well prepped and set up. Their lay-out looks professional. They are clear in the style and message they want to bring out and both have (I assume affiliated) links to products, or give aways. They were both well prepared before they started blogging. More importantly, they both are very personal bloggers. With personal I mean, they blog under their own name, and share photos of their personal life.

I like the anonymity of blogging. Like? I love it. That’s also the reason why I haven’t promoted these 2 blogs or linked to them. Because I like my anonymity. And a little part of me fears that I can be linked to them through their blog. Of course my family and friends know that I blog, most of them do follow or read my blog. And when I meet new people, it sometimes comes up. But – as far as I know – no one else out there can link this blog to me. I avoid mentioning names of friends/family, avoid detailed locations or photo’s that show me. (Yes, I do check reflections in photos). I don’t share too many details of my life. If you would turn detective, I assume that most readers will have figured out that I live in London (given that I wrote a whole blog post about it), that I am female and have an OH. If you dig deeper you might also find out my OH is Welsh and am sure there are more bits and pieces that can be deduced. But there are not many “concrete facts”, nothing that is hard evidence that links Dosirakbento to who I am in real life. I even screen comments…. any comment that uses my real name gets spammed automatically.

Does that make me paranoid? Or fake? I don’t lie on my blog, what I write and post is still who I am, what I think, what I do, what I eat, everything is real, everything is personal in that way. I think the biggest reason for me not to publish my name is that deep down I am a private person. I also don’t like the idea that everything I have typed and posted out there, will remain for eternity (or whatever counts for eternity in blogging land) out there for anyone, anywhere to see and read. So I hide behind the anonymity that blogging can provide.

The silly thing is, I like reading other people’s personal blogs. I like having a little insight in somebody’s life. I love the thoughts and ideas, the daily, weekly, monthly high lights and low lights in their life. I feel happy for bloggers – who I have never met in real life- when something good happens, or sad when something bad takes place. So I don’t have any issue with them sharing their personal info, just with my own….

Which brings me to a question for my readers. What are your thoughts on sharing personal information like your real name and photos of yourself/family/friends? Where is the line between sharing details of someone’s life but not sharing similar details of your own? It’s not like bloggers are friends in real life but at the same time there is this close blogging community and I do know that some bloggers meet in real life at events and do become friends in real life as well.  I guess that each blogger has the prerogative to make that choice, and has to decide what is best for her/him. At the moment I do feel comfortable with what I do share with my readers but I am interested to read your thoughts in the comments.

And because my blog is after all about lunches and cakes, I’m sharing this recently made cake.

It’s definitely cake time here in London!

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Happy Valentine!

Valentine bento

I know! It has been some time since my last post but I thought today would be a great date to restart blogging again.

Today is actually 3 years ago that I started this blog, and a lot has changed. I can remember how totally obsessed I was with making bento during the first months, I bought loads and loads of bento stuff and spent so much time creating them. Since then my focus has shifted, I discovered cake decorating and a lot of my free time was taken up with that instead of making dosirak/bento. So sometimes I blogged about my cakes instead. Or took some time of blogging because I felt uninspired, my lunches were boring or life got in the way.

Anyway, 3 years later, I’m still there and although I don’t want to make any promises about how often I will blog or how active I will be be, but it’s good to be back again. I would also like to thank again all my readers, followers and people who comment. It always surprises me that even when I don’t have anything new to show, my blog is still being seen and liked.

So this Valentine Day inspired dosirakbento today is to show my love for all of of you! 🙂

In the box at the back, there is some pink sushi rice, which I tried to shape in a heart but not totally successful…, with heart shaped vegetables. The box in the front has some Korean meatballs, and more of the pink rice and heart shaped veggies. And I love how the beet slices are bleeding a bit onto the radish, this was not planned, but it does look very pretty!

The Korean meatballs are my own invention, I used some beef mince and mixed that with Gochujang, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil before shaping that into small meatballs and frying. They are great to pack into boxes and freeze well, so I made a batch to use in the coming weeks.

I hope that you have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and here are a few links to some of my previous posts that highlight (my) LOVE (for food)!

A cute boy loves girl bento made from onigiri.

I had my first blog anniversary and remade my Bunnies in Love.

Who says eggs are boring? These lovebirds were created with eggs.

And cake can be turned into love too, as these halloween pumpkin wedding couple prove.

 

Merry Christmas!

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This year’s decorated Christmas Cakes:

 

 

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. December is hosted by Rebecca from The Economic Foodie. Theme: Festive Feeds

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Cake pops

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So what do you do with left over cake?

Turn them into cake pops!

Cake pops are literally that, a cake ball on a lollipop stick. If you google cake pops you will find the most creative designs and versions. Often people will bake a cake to make these and you can even buy a special cake pop maker or molds which will bake cakes in perfectly round balls.

It’s much easier though to use cake left overs, and better as well as you won’t waste anything 🙂

I don’t have a recipe, but normally you crumble up a cake and mix it with some buttercream/frosting. As I had made a dark chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, I used this for my version. The mixture needs to be moist but firm, you don’t want the cake pops falling apart.

First you roll the cake mixture into balls, approximately the size of a walnut/golf ball (I actually weighed them to make sure they were all equal). If you make them too large, they will get too heavy and will fall off the stick. Plus, you can’t really easily pop them into your mouth! After rolling the balls, I placed them in the fridge to harden up, this took about 45 minutes. I meanwhile prepped my drying board, a piece of foam in which I pierced some holes to fit the lollipop sticks.

I also melted a small portion of candy melts, I used these from Wilton which were supposed to be red but turned out pink! Not sure what candy melts are exactly, I suspect sugar with vegetable fats and colouring, but they smell and taste vaguely chocolaty as well. You can melt them in the microwave. Just take care to stir often and heat in short burst to avoid burning the candy melts!

Once the cake pop balls had hardened up, I inserted the sticks by dipping the top part in the candy melt mixture and inserting this halfway into the cake ball. This helps the stick to “stick” to the cake. Popped the tray bake into the fridge for another 30 minutes so that the candy melt “glue” could set.

I then melted some more candy melts for dipping the cake balls. Aside from the colour failure, I also felt that the mixture was quite thick. This was the first time I made these, so I wasn’t sure of the consistency, but I thinned it out with some Trex until smooth and a bit runny.  I had read somewhere that you should not dip an ice cold ball into a hot coating mixture, to avoid cracking. Makes sense, and I took out the pops from the fridge again and waited for another 10 minutes for them to warm up and the mixture to cool down before dipping the ball into the mixture and carefully tapping off any excess. Not really sure how to best describe it, but there are lots of videos on Youtube that show this. You sort of want a thin, smooth coating all around the cake ball.

After dipping, I either dipped the top half again in some hundreds-and-thousands before the glaze had set, or I stuck them immediately into the foam board to dry.  I had one or two accidents, when the ball threatened to slip of the stick, so I dried these upside down and used them for quality control check 😛

Finally, I wrapped them all up individually in little cellophane bags.

 

 

They look pretty, and are nice – if a bit sweetly- to eat, but also quite a faff to make, so not sure if I would make them very often. I guess I have to find some more ideas for using left over cake… any suggestions?

 

Quail Bunny – and thoughts on cute or not cute food

 

Quail rabbit

A dosirakbento with rice, cucumber, kongjaban, carrot, cherry tomatoes, some smoked salmon (this was frozen when packed, so stayed cold until ready to eat) and three bunnies made from quail eggs.

Toy Box Suburban Farm commented on my previous bento that she liked that it was a bento without faces, ie an adult one. She makes herself an adult bento every day, and although she occasionally likes cute, the main aim is to have good food.

When I started blogging about my packed lunches (wow that is already 2 years ago), I also explored a lot of other bento blogs and websites for inspiration and did notice that the majority – but not all – were aimed at making food attractive to eat for children. Apparently not only can you creative fantastic and cute (kawaii) looking creations (charaben = character bento), but by presenting (healthy) food in this way, it can help make it more attractive for children to eat. By also involving children in this process (like coming up with ideas or helping to pack it), parents could also use it as tool to teach about healthy eating.

A lot of packed children lunches that I see around on the internet are either of the charaben variety, or of the healthy variety (with often emphasis on vegan/lactose free/sugar free etc etc). The flip side of the kawaii/charaben bento is – aside from the time required –  that some schools in Japan have forbidden mums to prepare these for their kids as there was lots of unhealthy school competition of who made the cutest one….

Of course, not all bento/lunch box bloggers (and makers) feel the need to make their lunch cute, for themselves of for their children. There are a lot of adult bento/lunch box makers. After all, it is the taste that counts, or the preference to bring home made food instead of going out to buy lunch, and saving costs. Or as Toy Box Suburban Farm says, it is about good food.

What about me? Well, I am an adult and I love cute and non cute food!

That does sound a bit like Bento anynomous…my name is DB, I am an adult and I love cute bento 🙂

My lunches are a mixture of cute and non cute ones. Cutting up my food in bite size portions or using bento cutters and making onigiri, not only makes it look cuter, it is often also easier to eat – especially with chopsticks.  But, although I love playing with food, I do lack the time, inspiration and motivation to do this every day. The lunches that tend to end up on this blog, tend to be the ones that look cute, as I feel that other ones are too boring for people to look at. That is also why sometimes I take a break from blogging as I don’t have any lunches to show.

Now that I am slowly restarting my blog, I have to find that balance again that I also wrote about previously (a basic DB and thoughts on blogging).
With this specific lunch, I could have added the quail eggs as they were and/or omitted the carrot flowers, but I had the time, I like bunnies and basically I could, so why not?

The question remains of course: Did my lunch taste better because it’s cute?

…..

(probably the same)

 

P.s. I just noticed that Google doodle has some bunnies today as well, leaping ones because of leap year.

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and lots of love & laughter for 2016!

I have not made any dosirak/bento in the last few months, but today I finally decorated my Christmas Cake and I thought this would be nice way to send my best wishes to all my readers and followers. I still aim to get back to blogging, just don’t know yet when…..

Take care & enjoy the holidays (and watch out for snowballing penguins)

Love Dosirakbento

Minion Bento

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“Wave”, I’m back 🙂

Very busy in the last few weeks, didn’t make any packed lunches at all, but really wanted to make this Minions Bento because of the movie.

I don’t always have time to make kawaii (cute) bento, as they are quite time consuming. But I am always full of admiration of two few bento bloggers I follow who both make kawaii bentos:

  • Little Miss Bento: Shirley Wong has been making bento’s since 2011 and is also a certified instructor in Kazarimakisushi = sushi roll art. Her bentos always look amazingly pretty and cute. She has published a Kawaii bento book and will soon be publishing another book focused on making sushi roll art. I only ever attempted to make Kazarimakisushi myself (see here), but would love to learn more about this so will put her book on my wishlist…
  • Bento Monsters. Ming is a mother to 2 boys and started making bentos in 2008, focusing on character bentos in 2011. I love how her bentos are always so creative and how she manages to make all these amazing looking characters from rice, potato or bread.  She also has some great tutorials, for example the one I followed to make these Hello Kitty steamed buns.

My Minion Bento above is my attempt to recreate this Minion Food Art that Bento Monsters posted a few weeks ago. She actually made several Minions, but I thought these were the easiest to recreate with the ingredients I had at home.

The rice is coloured with cooked egg yolk (I wasn’t quite sure how many eggs I would need as I had never used this mixture before, these are 2 yolks for about 1.5 cup cooked rice), and the details are made with courgette, nori, egg white, radish and parsley.  I don’t have a lot of patience, hence the lumpy legs/arms but still…definitely Minions 🙂

Side dishes are courgette strips, strawberries and some dumplings.

 

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

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.