Thursday, June 24, 2010


So, here is Max from Where the Wild Things Are. This was a frustrating bento to make. First of all, it has been oppressively hot in my neck of the woods, and my AC couldn't keep up. My veggies wilted before I could snap the picture. Second, I made Max too small, so his face was really hard to cut out, especially considering the way the heat and humidity effected the nori. In the book, Max is a line drawing with heavy outline and shadow. To try to mimic this, I created a nori sheet shaped like him (but a bit bigger, and with a tail) to act as a background.

Max's costume is cheese and nori, while his face is tofurkey lunch meat and nori. He is resting on half a sandwich, surrounded by veggies. In the side dish area, I put some potato salad which was totally delish, but looks nasty in this picture.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Twilight Bento featuring Edward Cullen

A while back I made a Twilight Bella Swan bento. Bella came out o.k., but I didn't put much effort into the rest of the bento, and I was much less experienced in creating charaben bento lunches. Despite this, it is still my most popular blog post, probably because Twilight is so popular. Anyway, I decided to do a new Twilight bento to make up for it. This time I chose Edward.

Like last time, I used the illustrations from the Japanese translation of Twilight for inspiration. These three books comprise the first Twilight book. I used the picture of Edward on the cover of the second book (part 2 of Twilight) for this bento.

Edward is made of white and yellow cheese, vegetarian turkey, and nori. The rest of the lunch is a PB and J sandwich and some fresh veggies. You can check out my Bella blog post for detailed instructions on how I made these Twilight characters. This time, I like the bento overall, but Edward didn't come out as well as I had hoped. Oh well. 

This Edward bento is also featured on my squidoo post: How to Photograph Your Bento Boxes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tamago Branding and Two Lunches

I'm pretty excited. A while ago I was looking at sushi and bento box photos on flickr and found one with a tamago that had an image burned into it. Naturally, I have been wanting to do this myself ever since. I looked into mini stainless steel steak branding irons but they are expensive and I'm not a fan of the designs. I looked into making one, but I certainly don't have the equipment or knowledge to do so. I found an interesting version made from a wire hanger on the blog "A Radiused Corner." This site links to a great YouTube video showing tamago being made and branded (skip to 1:20). Great idea, I just don't trust a wire hanger to be food safe.

So, last night, after I made my bento lunch for today, I had a brainstorm. I have a ton of stainless steel cookie cutters in cute shapes! So, I cooked up a tamago and gave it a try.

I used pliers to hold the cookie cutter (the dull end) near the flame of my gas burner. I didn't get it hot enough on my first attempt, then I got it too hot on my second, causing it to stick to the egg. Finally I found a happy medium.

Here is a close-up of the final product. Isn't it cute? I'm not recommending that you try this at home. Unless you have extra long handled pliers, you have to get pretty close to the flame. If you don't mind spending some money, you can have a branding iron made, or purchase one for about $20. Just make sure you choose a small one.

So, I threw together a small bear bento to put my branded tamago in, but like I said before, I had already made my lunch.

This is a pretty simple lunch. Two PB&J pocket sandwiches, some veggies and dressing for dipping. I wrapped the bottom half of the sandwiches in decorative foil for something to hold on to, and packed them all in a sanwich bento box. I lined the box with a paper napkin to prevent crumbs from falling out all over my lunch bag. The pocket sandwich maker I use is from Pampered Chef. It works o.k. if you have really soft bread, but I'm not entirely happy with it.

So hopefully I will be hungry enough to eat two lunches today.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oscar the Grouch Bento Lunch

Today's lunch is Oscar the Grouch surrounded by fresh veggies and two Morningstar Farms "Buffalo Wings." You may have noticed that I rarely use rice in my bentos. I'm not a big fan of rice, and when I do make it, I end up throwing half away because I can't make a small enough portion in my rice cooker. Today is an exception because I was making sushi for dinner.

Oscar is made of sushi rice dyed with green food coloring. His mouth is nori and tomato, his eyes are nori and cheese, and his eyebrows are baked potato skin.

Oscar didn't really come out as well as I had hoped and planned. I don't have a lot of practice molding rice.

Check out my "Sesame Street Themed Bento Boxes" page on squidoo which features this Oscar lunch.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grateful Dead Dancing Bear Bento

This is my entry for the "Rock My Bento" contest over at the Kawaii Bento club on Squidoo. I decided to do a Grateful Dead themed bento because they have such great images associated with the band. I had lofty ambitions, and am a bit disappointed with the final product. Not that I don't like my cute little dancing bear, or the mix of multi-colored tomatoes (because I think of bright colors and tie-dye when I think of the Grateful Dead), it's just that I cut out an intricate "Steal Your Face" skull that I didn't end up using because it was just way too big.

Steal Your Face! 
Steal Your Face

I imagined tie-dye and roses and skulls and bears all rolled into one fantastic bento lunch. Oh well, I guess next time I should think before I start cutting out my nori.

If you want to enter the Kawaii Bento Club's Rock My Bento Contest, head over to the contest page for all the details:


     The Very Best of the Grateful Dead     American Beauty 
A Couple of Good Grateful Dead Albums

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Doctor Who Dalek Bento & Nori Cutting Tips

Last week I wanted to make a Doctor Who bento. I immediately thought of either the TARDIS or a Dalek. Since I figured the Dalek would be seriously detailed, I went with the TARDIS (see my  Doctor Who TARDIS Bento). Today I was feeling more ambitious.

First, I chose an image online and printed it. I then manually reduced it to black and white with a pen (this can be done with photo-editing programs, or simply by choosing a black and white image to start with). Luckily I was able to find a mostly monochrome Dalek image.  I then traced it onto tracing paper (wax paper can be used as well).

My tools are an X-Acto knife, a pair of tweezers, and a pair of small scissors, all dedicated to food. Remember, clean and thoroughly dry these tools after using them to prevent rusting.

Next, I put the image over a sheet of nori and used the knife to cut out all the internal white areas. Remember to save the internal black areas that you remove during this part.

This may take some practice. Nori rips easily and can be brittle. I suggest starting with less detailed images. Next, I cut along the outside and immediately place the image on my food surface (in this case, a piece of rice-cheese).

You will notice that there are some areas where the nori ripped during the cutting. I also don't like how the bottom right came out. So, using small pieces which I cut out with scissors, I use the tweezers to fill in the mistakes. It is much easier than redoing the whole thing.

So, here is the final product again. After cutting out the rest of those tiny dots (so hard!) I cut the excess cheese from around the outside and placed the whole thing on top of a vegetarian BLT sandwich. The lunch also includes a small salad with half a hard-boiled egg, some vegetarian "beef tips," asparagus, and broccoli sauteed in a garlic sauce, and two cherries for dessert. The cat pick is a nod to the New Earth cat-people, since I didn't really have any Doctor Who related food picks.

So, this was definitely challenging to cut out, and I'm reasonably satisfied with the result.

Check out a few more details at the Kawaii Bento Club.