Friday, February 27, 2009

Going (Temporarily) Meatless

I didn't have a bento yesterday because I wanted to eat lunch out (for reasons that will become clear shortly), and I don't have a bento today because I'm going to the gym.  So instead, I'll direct your attention over here, where the recipe for the soy glazed salmon and soba salad that I've been eating has been posted. 

Also included oh-so-casually in that post is the announcement that from February 28th (tomorrow) until April 9th (about 5 weeks from now), I am going meatless. 

I stress here that I am not doing this for Lent.  Lent is February 25th through April 12th.  The time frame is similar but not the same, so please don't tell me that I have gotten the dates wrong.  (Yes, a few people have told me this already and I figured I'd just pre-empt.) 

While this clearly will affect both of my food sites, it will clearly affect this one much more directly and immediately (I post on Feisty Foodie with a week to two week delay).  It will become immediately evident how well (or not) I'm doing at this whole meatless thing.  Plus it'll plump up my 'vegetarian' label nicely, a much neglected tag as you can see the very first result under there, for some strange reason, is a bento that contains one vegetarian tier, sure, but the other tier is all meat!  Hmph! 

Here is the full text of what's over at FF for those too lazy to click over:

"The story here is that, if you haven't already heard, I'm going mostly-meatless for most-of-Lent.  I'm not religious and the two aren't very related at all, just the time frames overlap (Lent is February 25th through April 12th; I'll be going meatless from February 28th [that's tomorrow] through April 9th), so it seems like a lot of people are assuming the two are related.  They really aren't. 

It's just a challenge I'm posing to myself.  As anyone who eats with me or reads my food blog or talks about food with me, I am a huge meat eater.  I eat meat.  It's part of who I am, and I simply don't feel full if I don't have meat in my meal.  I like to have a meat, a veg and a starch in most meals, although I've been able to curb the starch portion sharply in recent years for a number of reasons... but meat has always been there for me.

On the other hand, I did grow up eating a lot of vegetables - I love vegetables cooked properly, or not cooked at all - but have fallen very far from that area in my life.  When I first moved away from my mother, I found I had a lot of trouble keeping fresh vegetables.  When I moved again, I had a bit of better luck (long story involving why I had trouble with that at the other place), but living with a veggie-phobe or veggie-hater really strained my desire to buy and keep fresh vegetables.  And now, living by myself, I'm half and half - it can be hard to eat all of any given vegetable before it goes bad, but I'm trying because I really do love eating fresh veggies, and I think I'm doing alright. 

To encourage the latter and curb the former, I'm going to go completely meatless (NOT to be confused with vegetarian!) for this time period.  I will allow myself to eat fish, but meat - chicken, beef, pork, duck, etc. - is not allowed.  Dishes made with animal products and/or fats are allowable as well, just no bits of animal parts.  It's not vegetarianism by any means.  I expect my restaurant-dining to drop down to near-nil. 

And so, to that end, I'm easing myself into things this week, with a very healthy, delicious and vegetarian side dish, along with a nice piece of fish.  (I've also slacked on eating fish since I moved away from my mother, but am working to fix that, clearly.)"

Wish me luck!  This is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done.  While I can show an enormous amount of self-control, that generally applies to things I fully believe to be for my own betterment.  This will surely teach me a few things about myself... we'll see.

And on that note, I have not eaten chicken at all this week.  Sunday until now, I have been mostly meatless (eating lots of salmon, as you can see), eating only little bits of pork in a big batch of watercress soup I made on Sunday, and yesterday, I had a big burger stuffed with bacon (to go out with a bang you see!), sweetbreads for dinner, and tonight, I will surely eat something monstrously beefy just because I can.  Tomorrow, we begin.

Have a great weekend and happy bento, everyone!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feisty Bento #302: Please, sir, could I have some more?


The last of the salmon!  But not the last of the soba salad.  I overshot and kind of made a LOT, but thankfully it's really quite delicious ;) and I think right now it's mostly vegetables left...

Soy-glazed salmon over soba salad.  Recipe will be posted on Friday over on The Feisty Foodie.  Mmm baby!  It's a good one. 

I am really sore all over from working out last night and today, so I'm going to go pretend not to cry in the corner, haha.  It will all be worth it come May... it BETTER be!!!

Happy bento!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feisty Bento #301: Salmon & Soba Salad


Today's lunch, packed simply, though I did bring half an orange to round it out.

Salmon (recipe post on Friday on Feisty Foodie, promise!) and soba salad (recipe also coming on Friday)

I'm ready to do a faceplant, so I think I shall go and enjoy my lunch. 

Happy bento~!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feisty Bento #300

Well, it's here.


Nothing as elaborate or fancy as some other bloggers might do... but it will be delicious, and I'm still proud of my creation.

I did a throwback to #100 by using my Mr. Bento again.

And a throwback to #200 by creating "food art" and the number of my bento in the bento.

Combined the two.  Here we go~


Here is my appetizer and dessert.  Watercress soup for the appetizer and half an orange sliced up for dessert.


Main course and side dish: soy-glazed salmon and soba salad (recipes to come this Friday on Feisty Foodie!). 

Close up of the soba salad reveals:


"300" cut out of seaweed!  Well, sort of.  I ran out of seaweed a LONG time ago, so I went and bought some quickly, but I bought the wrong brand.  I mean, I knew it wasn't the brand I normally buy, but I couldn't find the brand I liked and figured this would be placeholder.  Anyway, cutting this Korean brand of seaweed... well let's just say I don't think I'll be cutting seaweed anytime soon.  It's so fiddly!  The 3 is made of three (hah! I just noticed that) separate parts and sticking them down was hard work!  The hearts serving as 0's were done using a cutter of course.  Hahaha.  Simple enough, right? 

I am embarking upon a challenge that will affect my bentos, so stay tuned to find out what it is.  (Here's a hint: it's both terrifying and exciting at the same time for someone like me...) 

Happy bento!!!

PS I leave you with this, a video of my dog with the new toy Daddy bought her.  She does not like sharing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Feisty Bento #299: Oh my, a recipe


That, my dear friends, was last night's dinner.  (No bento yesterday because Wednesdays are gym days; didn't have class so no dinner bento!  Tomorrow is Friday which is another gym day, no bento tomorrow!) 

So, I'm actually going to post the recipe here, because I don't have any more pictures of it beyond that, and it turned out much better than I'd really expected.  I mean, I didn't expect it to turn out yucky, just that I wasn't expecting much for the first time out.  I had a bunch of chicken thighs in the fridge defrosted and needed to use them, and I was bored of everything I've ever made in the past, Google'd up some recipes and decided upon one called "Spanish Style Chicken Stew" and promptly ignored most of the recipe.  (Even though I had all the ingredients on hand, I just didn't feel like a stew, oddly enough.) 

Here's what I did~

A bit of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy bottomed skillet.  Two small onions diced in the bottom of the pan, along with 3 cloves of garlic minced up.  Once that was going for a little bit and softened, not browned, I added one sliced chorizo link (I'm sorry I don't know if it was Mexican or Spanish chorizo, I'm pretty sure it's this kind as I did buy the pack at Murray's Cheese a few months ago and froze what I didn't use last time), taking care not to burn or overcook that, since last time they came out a bit dry for my tastes.

At this point, I added a lot of red pepper flakes because I wanted some heat to my dish, then covered the whole thing in a thick layer of paprika (it smelled sweet after I did this, so that may answer the question as to whether my paprika is sweet, smoked, or what). 

This entire time, I was chopping up 5 boneless/skinless chicken thighs.  After I'd added those to the pan, I added another generous layer of paprika, kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, and then let it start browning.  I stirred it all up in the pot a bit to evenly coat it with the seasonings, mmm smell that?  That's what "delicious" smells like on the stove. 

After the chicken was mostly cooked through, I added a box of frozen chopped broccoli and half a lb. bag of frozen carrot coins.  Mostly to get rid of them and also because the colors were pretty; had I been thinking more clearly, I'd have added some of the fresh celery I have in my crisper.  I wasn't thinking clearly enough though so this is what you get. 

The recipe I found also added a can of tomatoes, a can of beans, and some potatoes, so you can totally do that (it also included an oven step, which I wasn't interested in performing).  Perhaps next time I'll follow the recipe more closely, but I was pleased with the results - it was spiked with heat, a bit of sweetness from the veggies, and very meaty.  But loaded with veggies and packed with flavor!  Love it! 

I chose to serve it above with a toasted, buttered English muffin and an intense dollop of sour cream (with parsley flakes for color) on top to temper the heat.  The heat seems to get worse the more days it is since I made it - I may need to go buy another container of sour cream to finish this off, eeps.  It was absolutely delicious with the sour cream mixed in, a bit of a sour tang, but creamy, coating each piece of chicken... yummm!!!



And today's bento:

Left cup: yu choy (some may say broccoli rabe?), cut up to fit (stems AND leaves are in there, I don't waste)
Right cup: two Ajinomoto pork&chicken gyoza, with gyoza sauce in the little bear cup
Jar: Spanish style chicken "stew"

The gyoza sauce leaked out of the bear.  Ah well, it stayed in the container at least.  Mmm... delicious.

Happy bento!  As tomorrow is another gym day, don't expect a bento from me... which means #300 will be on Monday!  Gasp!  300 already?!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Feisty Bentos #297 & 298: My long weekend

I spent the entirety of my long weekend essentially cooking and cleaning.  Wow, I didn't realize how that sounded until writing that just now.  It wasn't that bad.  I mean, I can't say I love cleaning, but I'm getting used to the concept that to achieve the super pleased feeling I receive when my tub is sparkling white and clean - x100 when my entire apartment is clean (which has never happene, to be completely honest) - well, to achieve that, I have two options: hire a cleaning lady (not going to happen; it's not that it's too expensive, but rather I don't like the idea of a stranger in my home touching my stuff) or actually clean.  Obviously... the latter will have to suffice.  Hahahaha. 


This was my dinner Sunday night.  Some leftover veggies serving as my "noodles" underneath a beautiful piece of salmon teriyaki.  After a cholesterol test, I was told I need to consume more Omega-3s to raise my good cholesterol - overall, my cholesterol is fine, but my good cholesterol is low, blah blah blah, which I don't see the need to raise them in that case.  Both my total number and my ratio is within healthy range -- if I raise my good cholesterol, won't that also just raise my overall cholesterol?  Seriously?  Whatever, I like salmon anyway and have been eating too much meat lately. 

To that end... I was at the doctor and he told me I gained a lot of weight in the past year, and need to lose it.  And fast.  I'm not getting younger and any excess weight is just not good at this critical point in my life, yadda yadda.  Freakin' a.  I'm a fatty once again.  How did this happen!?


Probably because of my cooking... and experimenting... and all that... in the past year.  Fark.  Anyway, here's yesterday's lunch.  SkippyMom was talking about sandwiches and I got a craving, so here is roast beef and mozzarella with roasted red peppers, a dab of mayo, on garlic & olive oil ciabatta from Trader Joe's.  (Just the bread is from TJ's!... oh, and the roasted red peppers.)  Along with a side of Caesar salad to help fill me up and keep me full.  Yum.


Today's lunch bento:
Top tier: Spanish chorizo chicken stew, sort of (recipe to come on Feisty Foodie); another piece of salmon teriyaki
Bottom tier: Not sure the English name, but on my receipt it said "yu choy" - steamed quickly and dab of "oyster sauce"


Tonight's dinner bento - a cut up Harry & David Royal Riviera pear and an old orange peeled quickly.  I think the orange might prevent the pear from browning too much, but I don't really care if it does or doesn't, as long as it tastes good :)  See?  Fresh fruit!  (And I'm going to eat another piece of salmon teriyaki when I get home, for protein, to restore my muscles after tonight's work out.)


That is a shot of the inside of my right elbow.  I have never had this happen to me before but I'm told it's quite common when people have their blood drawn.  It actually hurts, too.  And I look like a crackhead -- it doesn't help that I have eczema and tend to be an itchy kind of girl, and my left elbow has been on and off rashes - speckly rashes that have caused more than one friend to jokingly speculate that I've been shooting up, grrr - although thankfully it is currently off rash, and fine.  Oh well.  That bruise was twice as dark yesterday.  It's about 4" long and 1" wide.  Sick, right? 

Happy bento!!!  How was yourweekend?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Feisty Bento #296: Repetition

Wow, I'm getting closer and closer to 300... what should I do for 300?  Any ideas, suggestions, recommendations?  :)


Top: sauteed Shanghai baby bok choi; bean sprouts; sesame maple glazed chicken & carrots
Bottom: sliced up Harry & David Royal Riviera pear

Yum, yum!  So... thoughts on #300???

Happy bento!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feisty Bentos #294 & 295: Egg foo young... I think?

Ooh, another doozy of a post!

First, I totally missed National Carrot Day!  Thankfully, someone (from the Carrot Commission?) emailed me to let me know and also sent along this little video to celebrate.  Check it out, it's really cute!

There's also a $2 coupon if you go to Yes to Carrots!  You do have to install that coupon printer thing that a lot of websites (including Hershey's... yes, I know this from experience, haha) use now, unfortunately I only have a printer at work and I can't install that... boo :( 

Oh, and how is this related to bento?  Um, duh?  Who has NEVER used carrots in their bento?!  :)  It's such a common bento food!  We should all praise the carrot!  Hahahahaha.  (I did not get paid for this post, I just find this really funny and cute!)

Moving right along, we've got some interesting things today! 


So, if anyone's been reading my bento blog lately, you'll have noticed I've been eating a lot of bean sprouts.  That's cuz they're cheap (59c a lb.) and super easy to prepare - I make a big container of it and then take from it throughout the week.  This is probably Week 3 of such a preparation making it into bento.

Unfortunately, because I haven't been eating dinner at home, I haven't been eating bean sprouts at night, so they've been going bad and I've been kind of getting bored of them.  This will probably be the last I eat of them (maybe?) for a while.  So I was trying to come up with variations or ways to use them to make them something different, something I won't mind eating or rather that doesn't taste like the same gently sauteed bean sprouts! 

Therefore, I came up with this... and later realized it might be similar to egg foo young (a dish I've never eaten but I think is like this?).  Basically, I put some bean sprouts in the bottom of a small skillet and when they were nice and hot, I poured 2 beaten eggs over the top.  I covered it and when it was mostly set, I flipped it once to fully cook the top and voila!  What you see above, with some hoisin sauce squirted on top.  Quite tasty if you ask me ;)

... and perfect for bento.


You might remember today is my "running instead of eating a big lunch" day... well, I get really hungry after I run.  The top is slices of a Harry & David Royal Riviera pear (I bought 10 lbs. at $2.79/lb, whee! - gave a bunch to my mom & sister), to be eaten before hitting the gym.  The bottom is one dumpling and another egg-foo-young-ish thing, cut into quarters and stacked, with a bit of hoisin sauce over the top, to be eaten after the gym.  Yum! 


And here's dinner, to be eaten before class tonight!  Top left cup is more slices of a Harry & David Royal Riviera pear (these are sooo good), the right cup is three dumplings (yes I smushed them in!), and the jar part holds udon mixed with Japanese curry.  From my freezer stash... mmm, I am excited.  It looks so delicious... I bet it will be!!!  Ahhhhhhh! 

Happy bento~!!!  (The weather here is gorgeous and it is working its magic to cheer me up...)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feisty Bento #293: Num Yummy


It's the same as yesterday's dinner.  And it was delicious.  I'm feeling a bit under the weather emotionally, so I'll leave it at that.  (Put it this way: yesterday I cried tears of joy; today I simply cried.) 

Ciao, happy bento~!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Feisty Bentos #291 & 292: Goodness me

I have cried tears of laughter today.


This is the love of my life kissing our (new) puppy.  The puppy came to live with us on January 11.  Proud Daddy adores this puppy and I swear to you, shows him more affection than I get (not to say he isn't loving to me, not at all, just that he really lays it on with this puppy).  Happy family (although my older dog - who turns 7 in April, though no one believes me when I say that - does not like Sammy quite yet). 

However, last night, apparently after I'd left them to their devices, my darling boyfriend decided to lay down on the couch with Sammy and a movie popped into the DVD player, snuggled into a blanket.

***WARNING*** this is not for the squeamish nor those who came here strictly for food.  If you don't want to know, skip down to the text past the next photo.  ***WARNING***

At some point, my boyfriend got up to use the bathroom or some such thing, and left Sammy on the couch with his blanket.  Sammy is still pretty uncertain of himself, so he was unlikely to jump down off the couch or anything. 

My boyfriend returned to the blanket and Sammy, and snuggled into the blanket, wrapping it around himself, the last step being tucking his hands into the blanket.  Throughout this process, Sammy farted a few times inaudibly, but the smell was very evident and my boyfriend thought, "What the heck did he eat?!" because... it was gross.

As he tucked his hands into the blanket, his hand slipped right into a big warm pile of... you know what.  He jumped up and realized it was all down his leg as well; poor Sammy had apparently felt sick, crawled into the folds of the blanket, and just... let go. 

My poor boyfriend related this story to me earlier today while I was eating lunch.  I laughed so loud that people were looking at me funny; big, fat tears of hysteria rolled down my cheeks.

If it had happened to me, he'd have falled over and laughed the same, so I don't feel too bad about it.  :)


Do you know who this is?  That's Garth Ennis, writer of some really, really great comics.  Specifically the one I'm currently obsessing over "The Boys" which I highly recommend to anyone who likes scathingly sarcastic jokes and does not like superheroes that much.  <3 that.


I normally refuse to take photographs of people dressed up at Comic Con (it's a long story why; it also ties into why I won't dress up, not because I don't want to, but because if someone asked to take my photograph, I would have to say NO), but I thought this guy was part of the Con and promoting the panel I was about to attend with the creators of Robot Chicken.  He (she?) was not.  Yes, someone put together that costume themselves for the sole purpose of attending this panel and having Seth Green tell him that his costume was really cool.  (It was a really cool costume, but... still.)


I did manage to take a couple of photographs of the panel, but they were all slightly blurry.  This photo of the projector screen upon which the panel was also being broadcast (the panel was sitting directly to the right of the screen) came out much better.  That's Seth Green on the end, and Breckin Meyer next to him.  They were really, truly hysterical.  It made me wish I paid more attention to TV showtimes so I could actually watch Robot Chicken with some regularity.  (Oops, it was on last night, wasn't it?  Doh!)


And today's lunch bento! 

Top tier: sauteed Shanghai bok choi; sauteed bean sprouts (I made a huge new container of this, don't worry)
Bottom tier: a stray stuffed grape leaf that I just wanted to use up; corn niblets; sesame maple glazed chicken with carrot coins (recipe to come on Feisty Foodie)


Dinner is more of the same, but compacted for ease of travel.

Sauteed Shanghai bok choi; sauteed bean sprouts; sesame maple glazed chicken with carrot coins

As always, happy bento~!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Trying to Find a Balance

Nope, no bento today. 

I'm trying to find a balance here, between work, school and packing myself food.  It's been a little wonky because:

  1. I don't always need two bentos on days I go to school.  In fact, only on Mondays do I need two (lunch & dinner).
  2. This is because on Tuesdays, I have phys ed class (it's part of the curriculum; please stop laughing!), so yesterday I ate some banana chips and some nuts.  That's probably what I'll be doing from now on in lieu of dinner on Tuesday nights, so no dinner bento.
  3. On Wednesdays, I take a late lunch hour and go to the gym to run.  Today I ate an orange, banana chips, and nuts (and feel super full... ugh)... no lunch bento on these days. 

Yesterday, I decided I didn't want to eat a lunch made of what was in the fridge (a rarity, but it happens), so I planned on trying this new restaurant near my office, which I did.  That translates to no bentos for yesterday.  Also yesterday, I decided that before class tonight, I want to eat at this restaurant near my school, which translates to no bentos for today. 

Yes, a little odd.

Tomorrow and Friday I won't be at work; tomorrow simply because I can, and Friday because I will be attending NY ComiCon all weekend.  So no bentos for the rest of the week!  I didn't mean to abandon you guys, I just kind of shifted things around this week.  Sorry!!!  I'm still here and I'm alive, struggling to juggle everything in my life right now... it's a bit difficult, but it'll happen, I just need to breathe and let time run its course.  Things'll sort themselves out, right?  Right! 


Here's another photo of my basil and random green onion patch.  Basil's doing pretty well but you should see the basil I accidentally gave my mother - two small plants that are now about 8-10" tall each and have leaves that are 3-4" long.  None of mine grow that large!  Craziness!  The green onions just keep sprouting; they die after I cut off the new growth but still!  I've extended the life of my green onions so much!  :)


I saw this when I was on the bus last night; it's hard to read but it says "S & M PHARMACY" and underneath "WE FLAVOR KID'S MEDICINE" which really disturbs me.  Am I sick or is the sign just wrong?!  Gross! 

I will be back on Monday with two bentos!  Until then, happy eating and reading!  (The Feisty Foodie will continue to be updated, so pop on over there for some good eats!)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Feisty Bentos #289 & 290: Yumms Secrets

So, if you're on my Facebook (which some of you are! but not all, so add me!), you know that Friday night, I was looking forward to a steak for dinner, and wasn't sure what to make to go with it. 


Scott Gold (The Shameless Carnivore) suggested a Caesar salad, and I was like, oh, that is perfect.  I'll explain why it was perfect in a minute, but the above is my Caesar - dressing from scratch, homemade garlic English muffin croutons (to use up the English muffins, k!), Pecorino Romano cheese grated on top, and this hit the spot.  Delicious - my Caesar dressing tends to be lemony so this was bright and not heavy at all.  Yum, leading the way for my main course...


my medium rare rib eye.  Delicious.  Perfectly cooked, even though I didn't have my cast iron skillet (lent to my brother, but retrieved on Sunday).  Ahhh, I love me just a little too much sometimes, yes?  (The side is a random can of "Mexicorn" I found hanging out in my cabinet.  Whatever.  Tasty but nothing amazing.  I was hungry and didn't want to wait any longer to eat.)


So, this is why Caesar salad was perfect.  I already had all the ingredients for such in my fridge because... I'd planned on making a big batch of Caesar salad to bring to a SuperBowl party on Sunday!  ("Something healthy, maybe a salad" was the request.  I heard "salad" and went with it.  Healthy vegetables are kind of an oxymoron in my household.)  Pretty good, I think it was a hit, people were eating it anyway.  The wings were from Bon Chon, which... well, let's just say this was my first time eating them and probably my last time, especially after hearing how horribly they treated my friend and her phone-in order.  Whatever. 


Lunch today!  We have four pieces (stacked) of vegetarian duck (it says in that post I wasn't sure if I'd like it; I love the stuff now!), the rest of the carrot kinpira, sauteed bean sprouts, and some more country pork ribs.  Saucy!  I'm hungry.


And here's dinner.  Half an orange that I took from my mom's yesterday, sauteed beansprouts and more vegetarian duck (a package is quite large, so this is good that I'm eating it quickly), and in the jar... "it's a secret" meaning the recipe will be posted on Feisty Foodie soon enough but for right now, I don't want to tell you what it is lest I get harassed for the recipe, plus I just don't feel like it.  Suffice it to say it's delicious and I'm looking forward to eating it tonight before class ;)

Alright ppls it's Monday and we're trying to keep our heads up!  Happy bento~!!!