Friday, August 29, 2008

Feisty Bento #214: Packages, Presents, Korean food, and Giant Sized Coffee Cups

I apologize for being so remiss these past few days. 

I had lunch out the other day.

Yesterday, I had a lot of stuff to do and wound up not going into the office, and therefore did not bring a bento.

One of the things I had to do was go to the post office to pick up this package.  You see, I tend to shop online a lot for a myriad of reasons, not least of all my fear of crowds.  (I alternate between panic attacks or screaming at people.  Ok, who am I kidding, I mostly scream at people.)  So I placed an order, and eagerly awaited it.  For some reason, instead of leaving the package at my door (which they've done in the past), the USPS decided to leave me a notice for pick up.  (They have a key to enter the lobby, for mail delivery, so they totally have access to my apartment door.)

See the part I circled?  WTF?  The post office closes at 5.  I work about an hour's commute away from this post office (near home), and I get off work at 5:30.  Most people get off work at 5.  This is an inconvenience and annoyance at best.  Growl.  Seriously?  Can I file a formal complaint with them?  (My neighbors aren't going to steal my mail.  And USPS has left plenty of stuff at my door before!)

Then I went to visit my mom (to do my laundry, cough cough - sorry, it's picky of me but she's close enough I can walk to her place to do the laundry, and I just can't get behind the idea of washing my clothes in machines that strangers also use.  I grew up with a washing machine, you see?) and found this waiting for me:

THANKS MOMMY!!!  You're the bestest!  What a great housewarming gift, I can finally start making good rice again!  (I've been using, sparingly, two crappy rice cookers that do not make rice as well as this machine will.  How do I know?  Because my mom has one, and I used hers for the first 8 months of bento!)

Korean bento!

Left to right: marinated cuttlefish; ground pork "pancakes" (that's what the package said!); Woorijip spicy chicken

Yummy, that was delicious!

And something funny I saw this morning on the bus... which I didn't get a good snapshot, he wouldn't turn around:

The interesting people I see while riding the bus!  Hehe.

HAPPY BENTO and HAPPY LABOR DAY!!!  Enjoy the long weekend, my US based readers!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feisty Bento #213: Badges of Honor

I was looking at my arms yesterday afternoon (this has to be the slowest possible week at work, EVER... maybe), and noticed little spots all over my forearms.  I got a bit of a tan on Saturday at this awful BBQ, and the spots were distinctly lighter in color than my tan or even my normal skin tone.  A bit of peering, poking, and I finally realized what they are.


Not just any scars though.

Burn scars.

I've been cooking since I was about 10.  (With a year off from 10.5 to 11.5, for setting the kitchen on fire.)  Over the past 18 years, I've gotten a fair share of oil splattering on my arms, producing fleeting pain that I guess has been sticking around in the form of tiny little scars that I rarely notice.  I mean, I've noticed one or two here and there over the years, but I always attributed it to "that really bad bug bite I got that time" even though they are way too small to be bug bite scars.  It finally dawned on me yesterday that, yeah, these are battle scars.

Badges of honor... time spent cooking in the kitchen... signs of experience...

Was it worth it? 

Judging by how much people like my cooking, I'd say "Hell yeah."

Top tier:  adaptation of miso chicken; miso mushrooms; Woorijip spicy chicken
Bottom tier: spicy marinated cuttlefish; garlic mashed potatoes

Should have sprinkled some parsley on the mashed potatoes to make them pop a little more, oops!

I've been eyeing that miso chicken recipe since JustBento posted it a week or two ago.  For some reason, my supermarket does not stock boneless/skinless chicken thighs, so I used skin-on, bone-in thighs, and marinated them overnight in miso, mirin, and a bit of honey, since I didn't have brown sugar or sake on hand.  Then I plopped them, skin side down, into a screaming hot pan to get a nice crust on the skin. 

After they were cooking for a few minutes, I flipped them, added in the extra marinade, and then added a box of button mushrooms I'd sliced up, to emulate my miso mushrooms.  Of course, these came out a little bit sweeter, from the honey in the marinade, but still super yummy!

Happy bento everybody!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Feisty Bento #212: Weekend Update

More weekend envy?

Friday's lunch - full write up to come on Feisty Foodie

The yummiest part of Friday night's dinner - full write up to come on Feisty Foodie

Saturday's one plate of food - full write up to come on Feisty Foodie, and the FEISTY is about to rear her bitchy head

Sunday's lunch - no write up, this was the Hebrew National footlong at Shea Stadium... no snap!

Look who's signing autographs before the game started!  It's Jose Reyes, what a nice guy... he doesn't have to do that, you know!

Obligatory photo of my future hubby at bat.

And another - notice the change in angle?  A friend of mine, whom I rarely see since she gave birth (but yes, part of the Birthday Bunch), had tickets with her husband over by first base, so after a few disappointing innings, I went to sit with her and play with the adorable baby.  Who promptly fell asleep, heh. 

Dinner on Sunday night.  That's not a lemon, it's a mini corn muffin.  BF wasn't too keen on it, took one bite and that was it.  Oh well.  I'm trying to feed the boy, he woefully continues to lose weight from being away from my delicious home cooking. 

Today's bento! 

Top tier: Black mission figs sliced and sandwiched with Serrano ham; peanut butter filled, chocolate covered pretzels
Bottom tier: Woorijip spicy chicken; ground pork pancake with egg; spicy cuttlefish banchan

Yes, the bottom tier is entirely from Woorijip, the place I get all of my gimbap, spicy chicken, etc. that I mention here a lot.  Sometimes.  Hehe :)

This morning, on the bus, I happened to open my eyes and saw this guy standing by the side of the highway.  I didn't get a good picture of him but this is what I did get.  Haha, what a nut.

Happy Bento~!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bento, O-bento, I have loved

I was browsing through my old bento pics, desperately looking for Entry #2 to Not Exactly Bento's Photography contest.  As I scrolled through, though, I came up with so many that I liked, that I decided against a 2nd entry.  The thing is, when someone says "What was your favorite bento EVER?" the picture that springs to mind is the one I already entered.  So I'll leave it at that, even though these are all lovely (and one of these definitely would be my 2nd favorite bento ever, if only - well, you'll see) as well, I just can't choose.

I guess this can be a "Just Over A Year, Just Over 200 Bentos, A Retrospective" haha. 

Feisty Bento #4 - the colors of the Italian flag.  I'm not Italian, but... so bright and pretty!

Feisty Bento #9 - I just love the wide variety here, and all the different offerings I've got going on, including fruit.

Feisty Bento #24 - I thought a sandwich bento would be boring, but I was wrong!  Simple, fast and so yummy!

Feisty Bento #72 is one of my favorite bentos of all time.  Everything "matches" - it's all Japanese cuisine, though the colors are off, it was so delicious to eat.  Sometimes I wonder why I don't do more like this, then I remember how many carbs were in that lunch.  :)

Feisty Bento #85 - I love the bright, popping colors here.  Red white and blue, even though this was dead of winter, so not Fourth of July, I can show a little patriotism, right?  Hehe.

Feisty Bento #100 - This marked a milestone for me.  And a WHOLE lot of food was had!

Feisty Bento #106: Wow, was that a good lunch, again.  And my Lock & Lock, how I loved you so (before I found out you're actually two 475 ml tiers...).

Feisty Bento #152 - I just love variety.  I love mushrooms.  I love steak.  All makes a great bento!

Feisty Bento #163: I just like Asian styled bentos? and if you stick croquettes in there, I'm doubly happy.  Haha.

Feisty Bento #175: Though the colors are dark, the food was extra specially delicious.

Feisty Bento #176: Look at those colors again!  I love it!  And the variety!

Feisty Bento #188: I loved the miso mushrooms so much, I keep making them... and that fried rice... and kalbi... omfg, so good!  Leftovers at their finest, I tell you.

Feisty Bento #208: A more recent bento, but I liked the colors and I love the fun flavors in this box.

Feisty Bento #209: Because... who puts Serrano ham in a bento?  Seriously, WHO BUT ME?!  Haha just kidding.  But it was good and I liked it.  And the miso mushrooms again...

I hope you enjoyed this brief retrospective at some of the bento, oh-bento I've made for myself in the past year and almost two months that I have particularly liked... what are your favorite bentos?  Of yours or of mine, I'm not picky :)

Everyone, happy bento and have a GREAT food weekend!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Feisty Bento #211: Corn muffins and their many uses

Whoa, the colors are way off on this bento... ah well.  Bear with me while I adjust, okay?! 

Top tier: cucumber salad; chicken cutlet; corn muffin
Bottom tier: chicken cutlet; boxed mac & cheese

Yup, more leftovers from a few nights ago.  I've been in a daze lately and finally figured out that I've worked monster OT so that's why I'm extra tired.  Oh well.  Anyway, the cucumber salad now contains, as I wanted it to, garlic minced fine and onion sliced thin.  It smells so garlicky, I could smell it all during the commute and even though, as it sits in my totebag, I can smell it, haha. 

A word about the corn muffin: a while back, I picked up a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix, thinking I'd translate it to bento as I've seen people do.  Well, last night, I finally bought a mini muffin pan and decided to do it! and they came out well, smelled delicious, but the bad thing was that I put a ton of Pecorino Romano in the mix and the bottom part of the muffin super-browned.  (BTW, the box says 15-20 minutes, but using my nose and my logic - these are smaller than a regular muffin - I did 10 and they were perfectly cooked.)  I also had wanted to add some red pepper flakes to half, but I forgot.

So, next time: I will stick to using cheddars, pepperjacks, that kind of cheese.  I will also be trying adding frozen corn kernels for extra sweetness! and to be a bit thrifty, since that will actually probably double the batter size and make twice as many muffins (always thinking, I am!).  I froze all but two, one I ate and one I put in today's bento.  This was quick, easy, and I foresee this becoming a bento staple.  :)  Yay!

Happy bento!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Feisty Bento #210: Cucumber salad

Dinner last night - chicken cutlet, mac&cheese (boxed, per the BF's request), and salted, thinly sliced cucumbers.

Top tier: chicken cutlet, sliced up; cucumber salad
Bottom tier: miso mushrooms; sauteed spinach

The cucumber salad was tweaked a bit to get here.  I omitted the mayo, for one, but the coolest part for me was cutting the cucumbers paper-thin.  I peeled it like normal, cut off the ends, and then used this to zip through the entire cucumber.  Initially, when I'd purchased that slicer months ago, I'd been disappointed to find that a normal cucumber did not fit easily into the holder, and that it didn't seem to slice too well.  But last night, I removed the holder and just held the cucumber carefully, zipped right through the entire thing, creating paper-thin - I could read through them, if I so chose - slices that salted and gave off their water so easily.  Brilliant.  I'll be adding a bit of garlic and onion, also sliced super thin, tonight, to complete its transformation to "something similar to tzatziki, but not quite".  Yummers! 

As for the chicken cutlet, well, my recipe is so much of a non-recipe that I am not going to share it, despite the delicious factor being so high that BF routinely requests these for dinner (and I routinely deny him, haha). 

Happy bento~!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Feisty Bento #209: Cheeses of the World

Sorry about yesterday, I had a trying Sunday and didn't manage to get the energy up to cook at midnight just for bento purposes.  I went out for dinner last night, too, but on the way home, I stopped by my favoritest Korean Kwik-E-Mart (not really, it's just a great place that's open super late and has all sorts of Korean snacks - like gimbap - you can buy and plop right into bento).  Anywho, so that made bento packing super easy this morning...

Top tier: !!! piave wrapped in jamon serrano; sauteed spinach; miso mushrooms
Bottom tier: gimbap; Woorijip "spicy" chicken

Okay, a quick note about the jamon serrano and piave.  A few years ago, I went to Barcelona with a group of girlfriends.  When we hunted down a sort of Dunkin' Donuts like place (not really; no donuts in place, but a chain coffee shop is what I'm going for), we all ordered what appeared to be a standard breakfast sandwich... except no eggs (and it turns out, eggs aren't really breakfast fare in Barcelona).  It was a medialuna lookin' thing... a croissant, if you will, but smaller and slightly harder, with a few slices of meat on it.  Most of us wound up picking - by pointing - the jamon serrano (Serrano ham) version, which turned out to be whoaaa so good.  Serrano ham thinly sliced with so much ribbons of fat, melts slightly in your mouth as you eat it, creating this rich, meaty, delicious... mmm.  It's basically a Spanish version of prosciutto; the curing processes are similar, though I emphasize that they are different, because prosciutto makes me sick.  We all fell in love with it and plotted ways to take back an entire leg on the plane... which didn't happen.  It turns out that until fairly recently (I just tried to look it up, but can't find the exact when, sorry!) - within my lifetime, anyway - it was illegal to import Serrano ham into the US.  I guess "so good, it should be illegal" applied ;) 

Piave - a type of hard Italian cheese.  I have been exploring my neighborhood far more than I did while growing up here - which you may notice from the recent spate of posts on Feisty Foodie all focused on Forest Hills - and discovere a store called "Cheeses of the World".  I walked in and was greeted with the most deliciously pungent cheese smells, and they were selling all the accoutrements that pair well with cheese - olives, cured meats, honeys, jams, breads... yum, I think I could make an entire picnic basket from this place!  Anyway, when we went in, I was immediately drawn to the Serrano ham of course (which I'd previously only been able to purchase via FreshDirect)... but then BF and I were looking at the cheeses, and the cheesemonger came over to ask us if we had questions, so we talked a little bit and he suggested the piave and gave us each a piece to try.  Slightly grainy, but with a delicious sharpness to it yet similar enough to parmagiano-reggiano or pecorino-romano (BF's favorite hard Italian cheeses) that we weren't completely put off, we immediately bought a half pound. 

I'll be doing a full write-up of the place on Feisty Foodie eventually, after I go back, sample some more stuff, buy some more stuff, take more pictures and just get a feel for the place better. 

I think I've gone on and on enough here, so ciao for now!

Happy bento!!! can't wait to eat my lunch today... hehehe

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not Exactly Bento Photo Contest Entry!

For entry into Not Exactly Bento's bento photography contest!

I first posted this bento over a year ago, but the colors draw me back, over and over and over again.  I don't even like orange as a color normally (I don't wear orange, that's for sure), but I love cantaloupe and this was just a really good bento.


Left box, clockwise: shelled edamame; cantaloupe; gyoza with sauce in a pig shaped bottle; Asian style potato salad
Right box: three onigiri (two with salmon+wasabi+mayo, rolled in masago); inari sushi with masago topping; three slices of takuan (pickled radish)

Ahhh, those were the days, my first bento set everrr, and a box that looked so tiny but really, that adds up to 720ml!  I eat 500ml now!  That was the start of my bento journey, to losing close to 20lbs... sniff, sniff, sorry, I'll stop being nostalgic now!  A big hearty thanks to Not Exactly Bento for a GREAT contest!!!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Feisty Bento #208: Redux

Top tier: Sauteed enocchi mushrooms; sauteed spinach; miso mushrooms
Bottom tier: Sausage and peppers remix; chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels

I kind of remixed the sausage and peppers; last night, I had some for dinner and thought it needed something extra, a little heat.  So I added some red pepper flakes, a couple of dashes of my personal favorite hot sauce (Red Devil, which I like for its vinegary bite, as opposed to an outright heat), heated it through, and spooned it onto some ciabatta for a sandwich.  I like this recipe because there isn't so much sauce that a sandwich was impossibly messy, but enough to keep the sandwich juicy and yummy.  With the added slight lift of heat, it was perfect, and I was one happy girl.  Here is the remainder of the sausage and peppers (although there's still plenty of spinach and miso mushrooms, yay!). 

HAPPY bento everyone and I hope you have GREAT FOOD weekends!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feisty Bento #207: Super 'lish

Oh ho ho ho.... how I can't wait to eat you!

Top tiermiso mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and enocchi mushrooms
Bottom tiersweet Italian sausage and peppers; leftover rice

The veggies aren't actually healthy for me, they're mostly sauteed in just butter.  Haha super healthy veggies!

The sausage and peppers were made much the same way I did last time, though I roasted the peppers in a dry pan first to blister the skin, making them super sweet, then added the sausage, some yellow onion chopped up, and at the end, a can of crushed tomatoes and a dash of sugar.  I bet this would be delicious in a sandwich... I didn't actually eat this for dinner last night (I cooked this just for bento), so I have tons of leftovers, and you know, adding the tomatoes really filled this dish up?  It like, expanded, and now I have a giant container in the fridge!  Hehe, I smell a sandwich for dinner tonight ;)

Yum yum yum!  Off to lunch,


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bento (Links) I Have Loved

So, I have no bento today as I have very fun and exciting lunch plans (that you'll hear about later on The Feisty Foodie, I promise). So instead, I'm going to share with you a few bento-related links that I have seen lately that I adore!

At the risk of sounding like a total fan-girl, there may or may not be multiple links from the same sites. I don't read that many bento sites because I don't know of THAT many (so please, feel free to share if you know of any that I'm missing!), and sometimes, the same person just posts so many good things in a short time span, I just want to share the love.

JustBento is freaking awesome. She's been doing a chicken-for-bento-purposes series lately, and I love it; I like chicken thighs a lot but sometimes you get bored of making it the same way all the time, even if it IS super 'lish. Here's a bunch of her recent recipes:

Speaking of NotExactlyBento, another awesome bento site. Her photographs turn me green with envy, and she is super friendly and helpful to a dumbarse like myself who has loads of questions on web-junk. AND SHE DOESN'T SEEM TO MIND! my dumb questions or my long, rambling comments... :)

  • Not Exactly Bento Photo Contest That's right, she's holding an awesome contest! Deadline is August 22, so head on over and enter! Wait, don't enter! I want to win one of the sweet bento sets she's giving away! Oops!
  • Blog tips Okay, so this isn't strictly bento-related (not exactly bento, right? heh heh... heh?), but it's an awesome page Jenn's just started on that I know I will be coming back to again and again. She's been posting tips and hints on how to get started with your own webpage, and blogging tips in general, just awesome.

Pretty much if you're in the bento blogging world, you've heard of Lunch in a Box. Biggie is like, the Momma of all Bento Bloggers, or I think so anyway. I'm a TOTAL fangirl for her. She's awesome, friendly, nice, and just, well, her blog rocks. I'm sure anyone reading my bento blog (who bento's and isn't just reading because we're friends) has heard of her, so this might be redundant, but here are some recent posts I've especially loved.

  • Organization Series I am pretty sure this link will take you to a capture of all of her latest endeavors getting that darned pesky bento overflow problem under control. Nearly everyone I know who bentos tends to um, go a little nuts with the bento purchases initially and Biggie has a good idea of how to tame that wicked stack of boxes you've got.
  • Bento FAQ Bento newcomers, never fear, here is a comprehensive list of links to the answers to pretty much all of your questions (What IS bento? I don't want to make cute food, can I still bento? How big a container should I use? and more!). AWESOME.
  • Bento Store Locator Self explanatory, and for someone not living in an area highly populated with Japanese people or at least the stores, this is wonderful. I actually have printed out lists before and done "bento scavenger hunts" in NYC. Not as much fun as you'd think, since I usually come up empty-handed from high prices or low stock or both. This helps with that problem.

Ok, I've probably blathered long enough now, you're all bored. This post actually took me longer to whip up than a normal bento post, haha! Tomorrow: back to your regularly scheduled program.

Happy bento!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Feisty Bento #206: Mmm, repeat

Top tier: leftover veggies and mashed potatoes from Friday night's dinner
Bottom tier: wedge of lime; lemon chicken nuggets


Monday, August 11, 2008

Feisty Bento #205: New Item

To make you envy my weekend :)

Friday night's baked clams

Friday night's dessert platter

Saturday's lunchtime fried zucchini

Saturday afternoon's treat, post-movie (not for me: I'm allergic to raspberries)

MY post movie treat, chocolate-chocolate chunk cookie.  Hehe :) (well I only ate a piece of it, I didn't eat the whole thing in one sitting)

Sunday's baseball game.  You can see the ball as it's approaching DW! 

The awesome promotional item they were giving away.  There's Billy Wagner in bobblehead form, sitting on top of my CPU.  I fully intend to get a DW poster (of him winding up at bat, tongue sticking out, of course) for that corner... it'll be my Mets corner!  Unfortunately, next month's Santana bobblehead is only for kids :( anyone want to lend me their child for a game?  Hahaha... I actually detest Billy Wagner for his blown saves in the past month or two.  Jerkface.

Sunday night's dinner.  I was surprised by this dish.  But a full review is to come, so that's all I'll say.

Sunday night's dessert at another place.  This is disgusting.  Who puts sake in ice cream?  IDIOTS that's who.  Gross.

And today's crooked bento. 

Top tier: leftover veggies and mashed potatoes from Friday's dinner
Bottom tier: lemon chicken nuggets; lime wedge for chicken; small piece of corn on the cob

After seeing this recipe on JustBento, I had to make it.  Before I did, I pressured NotExactlyBento to make them- which she did!!!- and said they were yummy, so enough from me, and I made them.

Being me, I had to make a few changes, since I wanted them super lemony... they still are just a slight lemon pucker at the end, which is great, but my major change was adding a bit of lime juice (and a lime wedge) to the marinade instead of just lemon, oh and at the end?  Instead of juicing a new lemon/lime, I used what the chicken had marinated in and poured that into the whole pan, letting it cook off and create a caramelized crust itself.  Waste not, want not, right?  :)  So yummy... I am so happy I still have some for tomorrow's bento!

As always, HAPPY BENTO!!!