I'm pretty happy with this bento box. Better balance in the composition, good variety of foods. I'm getting the hang of this, but they need to take less time, that's for sure. Because of my work hours this is a dinner bento, so it has more food than yesterday's.
My standard simple fried rice starts with making a thin one egg omelet to cut into strips. Then in the same (now empty) pan saute a minced onion with finely minced garlic. Grate some ginger onto the onion and add either red pepper flakes or minced hot pepper. Add some previously cooked rice (I try to have some in the fridge all the time), a little sesame oil and soy sauce, black pepper. Add the strips of cooked egg and at the last minute some frozen petite peas, which only need to thaw. Scallions as well if you have them, which I didn't this time - except for the little scallion leaves for the flower stems. Try to do this in a fairly hot pan for the best flavor.
My duck sauce on the side is Bonne Maman's apricot preserves and cider vinegar to taste for tartness. I thinned it with a little pineapple juice, but that's optional.
This bento: fried rice, broccoli, pineapple, cucumber sticks, mushrooms, concord grapes, 3 blueberries, sun gold tomatoes. with duck sauce and soy sauce.
Local foods: onion, tomatoes, and lettuce,scallion leaves and red pepper from my garden. cucumber.
It's quite clear to me that I'm not going to manage a daily bento box until I build up a stash of foods ready to tuck into corners and add variety. So I'm looking to things I can make and freeze - even leftover entrees frozen in muffin tins - and gathering a list of stuff I have on hand that fit the bill that I can prepare ahead, or that need minimal preparation in the morning when I'm making my bento box.
Besides condiments I have homemade pickles - a few fermented dills, and Alton Brown's "kinda sorta sours" and bread and butter pickles (both incredibly crisp refrigerator pickles), as well as purchased pickled beets.
For fresh raw veggies I routinely have celery and carrots on hand, still have peppers from my garden for another week or two, and cukes purchased mostly for pickling but available for cucumber sticks and salads too. I have two small zucchini that are the very last from the garden and maybe a cherry tomato. I've got my eye out for cheaper cauliflower than I can get now.
For cooked vegggies I've blanched a head of broccoli and cubes of rutabaga (oh underappreciated vegetable how I love you), and sauted mushrooms to golden brown delicious. I've got an acorn squash and a volunteer winter squash of some sort from the garden ready to bake. May roast a pan of onions and peppers ready to eat as sweet caramelized treats and to go in other things too, and will add the one tiny fairy tale eggplant I found on a forlorn plant last week. Have potatoes for salad and to saute.
For fresh fruits I have apples, blueberries, and concord grapes. I've baked some apples and made a crisp topping separately so I can package it to stay crisp. Later in the season I hope I get around to drying apples. Also have canned pineapple in the cupboard. Walnuts.
The bacon ends I bought from Dakin Farms will last me for weeks. As is usual there are some chunks of solid smoked meat that I'll make something from, and may freeze a few pieces of bacon. Bought some ground turkey and eggroll wrappers to make potstickers. They're exactly the sort of bite-sized goodie I want in my bento box. Have a Hillshire Farms turkey kielbasa to cook with apples, onions, potatoes, sauerkraut and cheese. That will be supper, but I'll have left-overs. Then there are cheeses to cube as well. So I guess I ought to be set.
BLT for lunch! But since it's in a bento box it's only a half sandwich, and I've cut the toast and bacon in pieces. To keep the toast and bacon from getting soggy I've put the tomatoes and mayo in silicone mini-muffin cups, and separated the toast from the cukes with parchment paper.
The bacon is cob smoked from Dakin Farms, my favorite bacon. I bought ends and pieces at the store, and as you can see some of it is nearly solid meat. There is also a maple crunch chocolate from Green Mountain chocolates. Cooked cortland apples. The little green mustard spoon is ancient; I think French's mustard used to come with these, but at any rate they've been in the silverware drawer for decades
This morning's bento is in a smaller box (739ml vs 925ml). Maki at Justbento.com says that a full bento box has about the number of calories as it has ml (a cup is about 240ml). (That would be true with something like rice or pasta, certainly true with meats and cheese, but then veggies and fruits would be much less.) I will seldom fill my bento box to the gills, at least until/unless I get a real bento box, which usually is shallower than these ziploc containers. This box still has more than enough space for what I want for lunch, and the good thing about that is that it will encourage me to fill it up with veggies.
This bento: BLT with toast, bacon, tomato and mayo. cucumber sticks, broccoli, rutabaga, apples, and a maple crunch chocolate.
local foods: tomato from my garden. cucmber, apples, bacon, bread, chocolate
First light is what astronomers call the inaugural observation by a new telescope, and this is first bento - my inaugural lunch box after the manner of the little Japanese lunch boxes filled with lots of colorful bite-sized goodies, called bento boxes.
I decided to pay homage to beloved Totoro in my first bento (sorry Totoro, you deserved better, and I forgot your whiskers!). Many bento boxes are called "cute bento," because of the cute little characters, or shaped fruits, vegetables, eggs and rice balls that grace some lucky person's bento box.
I'm not likely to make a lot of cute bentos, and I don't even have a "real" bento box yet, but I like the idea of having a little of this and that. Sort of a New England pot luck lunch. I'll do something local in every box - either something from my garden or something from the great bounty of Vermont foods.
This bento: Rice with terriyaki vegetables. Cherry tomatoes, melon, kiwi, grapes.
Local foods: Onions, sweet red peppers, corn, sweet basil, and the last of the sun gold tomatoes, from my garden.