November 06, 2007

1-2-3 Bentos

I've recently started on a new (to me) craze: bento lunches. You can read up about bentos here and all over the web (there are some fantastic blogs). Simply put, bento is a packed lunch.

I'm not trying to create authentic Japanese meals, but I am enjoying breaking out of the sandwich+chips mold. I'm using fresh ingredients and try to give myself something good to look forward to for lunch. Bonus if it's cute!

I was spurred on to start making bentos after sitting in on a Maker Faire talk about bentos and then getting my friend Chris eager about it too. Between the two of us and the interwebs, we found a lot of great information and got even more excited.

A trip around Dallas provided a few tools, but I think the internets will be frequented for more items. You don't need these things we bought, but it sure does make it fun.

My first bento was a basic lunch with an eye for fresh ingredients and small portions. Of course, looking at - there was still a heck of a lotta food!

Leftover wild-rice stuffed chicken breast and roasted root veggies, snap peas, jicama, and alternating cucumbers and carrots, seaweed salad, mini cheese, spinach dip, grapes, and Halloween M&Ms.

My second bento, made using cutting tools and different ingredients, was fantastic! I can't tell you how delicious it all was. Of course, there was still too much food. But I'm getting better.

Left side (top): mini cheeseball, crackers, and tonkatsu sauce, grapes and pomegranate fruit with a cucumber star, cherry tomatoes and cucumber and jicama stars, and more grapes and M&Ms. Right side (bottom): rice with furikake sprinkles and nori stars, left over beef roast, and seaweed salad. And yeah, this is my new, kid's bento box. I'll try to get a better picture.

This second bento took a full hour Monday morning to make. Yikes, that's not gonna happen every day! Some prep work at night and freezing rice should cut down on the time, leaving the packing for the morning.

Bento #3 (todays) took less time, but I'm still not down to under 20 mintues. I defrosted some plain onigiri, wrapped a bit of nori for my finger holds, and placed halved cherry tomatoes in the center. This mimic traditional onigiri, which has a umeboshi (salty pickled plum) and represents the Japanese flag.

L-R: Cucumber, jicama, and carrot 'flowers' with snap pea 'grass', seaweed salad, two onigiris, cherry tomato and feta skewered on a bed of fresh basil, fruit salad (apple, grapes, clemintine, strawberries, and pomegranate), mini cheeseball with a carrot 'flower' & crackers, tonkatsu sauce, and M&Ms (from yesterday - I never ate them). The small container in front is filled with furikake seasonings.

I can't wait until lunch!

Some great links, if you're interested:

  • Instructables - This is the person that gave the talk at the Maker Faire. She's very nice.
  • Cooking Cute - This site hasn't updated in a while, but their links page is full of goodness.
  • Just Bento - A great, fairly-new sister site of Just Hungry; it has a very clean style and is uber informative.

Posted by Nanc at 10:47 AM | Comments (4)

November 05, 2007


Not the pork-based breakfast meal, but a mix of blog fodder.

Today, I've got an odd assortment of pictures and what-not for y'all. A few Maker Faire pix to go along with Matt's post, Halloween pix, and a spooky cheeseball!

First, let me reiterate what Matty reported: Maker Faire was awesome! Getting there early and camping across the way was totally the way to go. Lack of/uber cold shower was a little dicey, but it worked out okay. Hanging out Friday and then having our camper's access on Saturday and Sunday gave us the feel of being more than just visitors to the faire. It was like we were part of the Maker family!

We saw and enjoyed so much, yet there was a lot we missed too. At times, we had to simply find a quiet area and mentally regroup. That's where some of the lectures/demos came in handy.

Both Matt and I came away from this with so many great ideas that we want to do, craft, and build. Maybe you'll see a bit of this over the next couple weeks.

My job allows me to dress up for Halloween, and I came up with my costume while getting ready for work. I knew I had a lab coat to work with (thanks former nano-tech job!), and so with a little nose and whisker makeup I am a lab rat.

I also brought in a cheese skull for the potluck. Yeah, that's right. Cheese SKULL! It Amy Sedaris' recipe for the lil' smokey cheeseball and I can't recommend it enough. Yum!

Posted by Nanc at 03:10 PM | Comments (3)

November 02, 2007

Maker Faire wrapup

We just got back from Maker Faire in Austin (ermm, two weeks ago), and have much to share!

Geek out, with lots of pix inside!

Let's start at the beginning. Make is magazine that embraces all things DIY, gadgets, electronica, etc. It's a cool magazine, and they also have an active blog. I've found the first issue on newstands, and have been a subscriber since issue 2.

So, the creators of the magazine started to put on Maker Faires. Think along the lines of a trade show, but way cooler. Instead of every booth being packed with some company wanting to sell you stuff, most booths were folks who built something cool, and wanted to talk about how or why they did it.

So, when Make announced that the next Maker Faire was going to be in Austin, Nanc and I were all about it. We even arranged to camp on site for the two day event.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and set up, then wandered around. Many of pictures are from this first day, before the general public was let in. Everyone there was just hanging out, or getting set up. It was a lot of fun.

But nothing prepared me for Saturday, when the Faire opened. There were catapults, giant kites, robots, fire displays, music, and more. The Diet Coke and Mentos guys were there to make geysers of Diet Coke. Art cars, and Art bikes. A life-sized Mousetrap game...There were also myriad talks and demonstrations going on at a given time.

It was far too much to see in one day. Good thing that it ran for two days!

It wasn't all geek though. Make's sister publication Craft was also well represented with knitters, embroiderers, sewers and more. Even the booths selling goods were more than happy to tell you how to make it your own darn self.

Hands down, it was the coolest thing I've been to in a long time. The pictures and descriptions really don't do it justice.

Posted by Matty at 02:46 PM | Comments (8)