Friday, August 29, 2008

Bento Party registration closed!

Thank you everybody! I am awed by the support and would like to announce to you that the registration and payment for the Bento Party is officially closed.

We have already reached our target number and our preparations are almost finalized.

Bento Party participants please take note:

The Bento party will commence with:

Registrations @ 11.45a.m. and the program will commence sharp at noon -12.00p.m. and end @ 2.30p.m.

Bento boxes, egg moulds, bento accessories and lots of stuff will be available for you to purchase.

There will be two categories of competition:
Bento presentation with accessories.
Participants need to bring their own Kawaii accessories e.g. barans, sauce containers, food picks, etc, etc, to make your Bento more attractive.

Bento presentation without accessories.
This is a beginner category where the participant just require to pack the ready food into the Bento box without any accessories and to present it as aesthetic as possible.

Please click here for directions to the Japanese restaurant.

I will send an e-mail to you by Tuesday just to confirm your participation and if you do not receive the e-mail, please contact me @

Looking forward to meeting all you Bento enthusiasts and bloggers!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

BENTO #126

Fish balls and plump cherry tomatoes! I think #2 can live on these everyday and not get bored! She commented last night after dinner at the "Pork knuckle restaurant" that it's the multi eating sessions and food that's making her put on weight!

"In Korea, there are only 3 main meals and no tea time in between" she says. "We are all so busy practicing the piano that we don't have time to think of eating".

Well sweetheart, this is NOT Korea and mum's around and don't like to see your protruding cheek bones and sunken cheeks! I'll just feed you until you look 'right' again.

Lot's of proteins in today's bento. In the left box there are 2 types of fish balls, one fried and one boiled (notice the different texture and color). Sliced them into half and sandwiched a slice of tomato in between.

In the right bento box is a heart shaped hard boiled egg with a pink flower bottle containing shoyu, some Korean seeded delicacies and some sliced oranges.


3 more days to register and pay up for the Bento Party!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

BENTO #125

This is #2's first Bento since coming back from Korea. She's still sleeping in and will find this waiting for her when she wakes up.

In the left box, a cheese tart from The Loaf. Four rice balls rolled in some Korean seaweed mixed with sesame seeds.

In the right box are some skewered Tamagoyaki, carrots, crabsticks, cucumber and simmered mushrooms (all left over from a meal of sushi) and the ever green Kiwi, for fruit.

An update on the Bento Party

We're 4 days away from the dateline of the Bento Party. We have another 5 more places left. Those of you who intend to come but have not banked in your participating fee, please do so immediately so that we can finalize the numbers with the restaurant and the goodie bags.

Meanwhile, just to let you know, we have lots of Bento gear on the way and will be sold at the Bento Party!

Looking forward to meeting all of you!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some Eye candy and more rambling!

#2 brought back lots of food stuff and souvenirs from Korea. This is a pack of caramelized sugar mixed with delicious grains, nuts and seeds. There was flavored seaweed, rice cakes, candies, Korean noodles, everything except Kim Chee!

#2 said that Miss Mezzaforte (her music teacher) told her not to buy from Seoul because it's more expensive than buying from a Korean outlet in Sri Hartamas. So, no Kim Chee for mummy. Mummy has to buy her own Kim Chee.

She made many friends from the competition and has lots of beautiful memories. This was an amazing exposure for her.

This guy got the Gold award! Awesome!


I copied a post #1 did on #2's competition.

"The sister flew to Korea last week for a piano competition.
Honestly, the family and I weren't expecting much, 'cept for her to gain experience.

Few days into the trip when mom called her, she went on and on ranting about how the 10 and 12 year old Indonesian kids could play well and what not. Mom and I made this bet with dad that she would come back a changed woman. She'd forget her quaintly planned music career and become a scientist of some sort. Yeah. And we bet on it with freaking German pork knuckles (which my hairdresser introduced to us, btw).

Today was the big day. The competition day. It was THE day.

Mom tried calling her the whole day but only managed to get her answering machine.

Mom was like "aiyo. Habis la. Dunno what happened already. Aiyo. She off her phone la. Aiyo how la..." *moans groan boans and every sighing in every language*

Suddenly, there was a message.


Congrats laaaaa..

Omgosh. =_= wasted all the aiyos.

Like she said, all glory goes to God who has blessed her/us so abundantly.

Anyway Sis, I lost the bet. *bah


Oh and if you think we're proud of the sister, think twice.

There's more than just us who're proud of her. There's a whole lot of us. :)

The baby's growing up. :)

Ps: I think the fact that a whole bunch of priests coming over to our house for the annual or semi-annual luncheon brought all the grace and blessings of change. :)"


This picture, I took from my garden. Didn't even realize that the tree was fruiting until I saw jambu all over the path leading to the garage!

Monday, August 25, 2008

BENTO #124

School begins today after a week of holidays. #1 is back to college for the beginning of her second semester. She did pretty well for her first semester exams despite missing two weeks of it because of her participation in the WYD celebrations in Australia. Hubs and I are very proud of her!

#2 SMS'ed me from the airport in Seoul, Korea. She's boarding the plane back to KLIA in an hour's time and arrive about midnight. We were a little frenzied last night because the phone and internet lines were cranky and we couldn't communicate for very long before the line kept cutting off.

Finally we got her message that she had won the Silver medal for the Solo category which she competed in. I was elated! I didn't expected her to win anything because the week preceding the trip, #2 had been very sick and had 3 different doctor's consultation in 5 days! I am trilled and really praise God for the wonderful things He has blessed upon my family!

It was #3's first day of school after the holidays and she was grumpy that the holidays ended so fast!! I think that she was the only one who had a 'real holiday' because she slept over at her god-brother's house for 2 nights and on the fourth day had a great time enjoying a picnic near a stream in the Taman Tun Park.

Back home, we had a party on Monday night for some of our Church Youth team and then a "luicha" fellowship for some Priests' and one who was back here to visit family. Had a great time enjoying the company and delicious "lui cha". The visiting Priest was the one who initiated my first "lui cha" experience. He taught me the formula and how to cook it. His comment "Well done! You have maintained the standard well!" Hahaha! That made my day!


My lunch bento today consists of the left over "lui cha". See the black flask on the left? It's got my hot "lui cha" soup in it. The soup is a mixture of basil, mint leaves, peanuts, sesame seeds, pepper corns, tea leaves, salt, some bitter herbs, some 'jambu' leaves and some Thai coriander leaves. It's all blended together into a paste and mixed into hot boiling water to make a wonderful, aromatic herbal soup!

In the left bento box is a bed of vegetables on top of a layer of garlic rice. From top to bottom: Kai Lan, salty Choy Poh (pickled vegetables), Choy Sum, white firm tau foo and long beans.

In the right bento box, from top to bottom: 5 spice tau foo, sweet potato leaves, leek and peanuts. This is an awesome meal. I love the flavor of "lui cha" because of the herbs in the soup and the lovely blend of all flavors from the vegetables and ingredients. Most of the items are fried with garlic and dried prawns so it's very aromatic and sweet.


Friday, August 22, 2008

More Updates on Bento Party

The registration for the upcoming Bento Party is quite encouraging. E-mail was sent out yesterday in regard to the mode of payment and we had an almost immediate response of the first credit to secure a place for the Bento Party from Terri.

SueSue of Cooking Momster has offered to contribute some items to our goodie bag and I'm awaiting for one more confirmation. If any of you readers would like to sponsor some items for the goodie bag or prizes for the two categories of competition, please contact me at: We would be most grateful for any support!

Allow me to let you in to a secret. On top of a brand new Bento box, one other item in the goodie bag will be a wiener cutter (sausage cutter). There is a mixed number of shapes and one goes into each bag so let's hope you get the one you want or just swap around till you are happy! The rest of the items is a surprise, can't be spoiling the fun for you!

You can be sure that you are getting more than your RM50/= worth in terms of food, fun, fellowship and Bento toys! So, make your payment and send me the details before it's too late!

The deadline is 31 August 2008 but if we reach our target number, we will close registration because we want to keep this Bento party as cosy and personal as possible.

Cross your fingers because I'm also trying to arrange for accessories like sauce bottles, cutters, food picks, silicon cups, egg moulds, etc, to be sold at the Bento Party.

These items are not from the 100 Yen shop and are very limited. Sales will be on first come first serve basis.

Emily and I are looking forward to meeting all of you!

For more details, check these links:

Bento enthusiasts/bloggers meet

Bento Party updates

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bento Party updates!

Wow! There is so much planning and follow-up to do for our upcoming Bento party! Emily and I have been checking out some potential restaurants to host this event and finally decided on "Onsen, a Japanese restaurant".

We have this information to update you:

Venue: "Onsen"
Lot: B-G01, Block B Jalan Persiaran Surian, Palm Spring @ Damansara.
Kota Damansara. Tel: 7801 5366.

(Map to Onsen, please click for a bigger picture)

Date: 6th September 2008
Time: 12.00p.m. - 2.30p.m.
Participating Fee: RM50/= inclusive of a complete Japanese lunch, free flow of Ocha (Green Tea), goodie bag of surprises and an afternoon of Bento-licious fun!

The lunch menu includes:
Kani Salada - Crabstick Salad
Mixed Tempura
Mixed Maki
Tori Karaage - Fried chicken
Niniku Chahan - Garlic fried rice
Mixed fruits

What we have in mind is to have a buffet spread of food items that can be packed into a Bento box. After that, each participant can decorate and accessorize her bento box with their own barans, food picks, sauce bottles/boxes, etc, etc.

We will then each get to vote for the 'fanciest or best decorated' bento box. There will be a prize for the winner.

There will be a second category for beginners which will not include accessories. We have a prize for this too!

There is a participating fee of RM50 which will include a goodie bag. One of the items included in the goodie bag is a brand new Bento box! We have other surprise items in the goodie bag for you. Your new Bento box will be used for packing the food in the competition.

To be fair, all the participants will use the Bento boxes from their goodie bag (we'll have them all washed before hand). Bento boxes provided will be similar but in different colors.

The accessories (baran, food picks etc, etc) will have to be the participant's own.

I'm pleased to inform you that the 100 Yen store management has upon consultation with me, ordered new Bento boxes and related Bento gear from Japan and China.

All the pictures of Bento boxes posted in this post (except for the cup) will be available for sale at the Bento Party. The colors may vary a little depending on the stock available. So, if you are interested, please bring enough cash. There are lots of other Bento gear that will be sold at the Bento Party so don't miss out on this!

Different types of Onigiri and Gyoza moulds, Bento straps, cutlery and chopstick sets, new Bento boxes (some as in the pictures), insulated bags, fruit boxes and side boxes will be sold at the Bento Party! There is limited stock, so sales will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Thank you to those of you who have already e-mail me your details. I will send you details of how to make payment for this event. Please understand that we will need you to credit the RM50 participating fee before we can confirm a place for you.

The cut off date for registration (via e-mail to: and payment will be 31st August 2008.

p/s This is an all adult event - so that all us mum's can have a few hours off to enjoy this event!

For more details, check these links:

Bento enthusiasts/bloggers meet

More updates on Bento Party

*Pictures taken off Ichiban Kan site. The pictures provided by 100 Yen store is too small and cannot be posted.*

BENTO #123

I'm back! Camp was awesome! I was exhausted but I needed to follow up with Emily and the people involved in the Bento Party. We've almost finalized all the details and now awaiting for one final confirmation before we can make the announcement of details!

It's going to be a fun Bento experience!!

Keep your date with us on 6th September 2008 for lunch between 12.00p.m. - 2.30p.m, for the Bento Party!!

#2 is already in Korea. She had 3 doctor's consultation in the five days preceding her departure to Korea and I'm glad to say that she's recovered. We're constantly communicating via SMS and I think on first two days, she missed us and was a little low in spirits.

Since she arrived, she's attended some concerts, master classes and even gone shopping! This morning, she was quite chirpy even though she's still having problems adjusting to the "awful food". (she doesn't like spicy food).

Before she left for Korea, I took her for Korean lunches for her to taste the variety of what she would be eating. We've tried Korean food before but because Hubs is not a great fan, we stuck to Japanese. I took to the lunches like a fish in water, absolutely loved every Korean dish I tried - it was even quite addictive! #2's reaction wasn't as positive but she could still eat. Apparently the local Korean food isn't as exciting.

Some of them had lunch with Professor Chang Hew Won and Professor Panovska Snezona, the organisers of the Piano camp and are now site seeing and shopping in a nearby town.

Two months ago, Benjamin Loh from Singapore was in Malaysia, and #2 had gone under his tutelage for a two hour masterclass. She was looking forward to be able to meet this amazing teacher again.

On this end, it's LONELY!! #1 is quite independent with her college and activities except when she joins the family for meals and Church activities. She's now on semester break and being a homebody, she's either in front of the TV or in her room or furiously icing cakes or cuppie cakes!

Today, she's out for a movie and because we woke up at different times, we didn't see each other. #2 is in Korea and #3 arranged to stay over at her God-brother's house for 3 days! She arranged and shifted all her tuition and piano classes to avail her a gap of 3 days for her hiatus!

This 9 year old is just too independent! After she planned and arranged everything, she informed me and what was I to say? I was too surprised and shocked to stop her! Last night when Hubs came back, he asked me where was #3 and I reported to him the status and he said "let her enjoy herself", well, that's what I felt too!

But, I'm alone in the house with the maid and 5 dogs. I'm cooking 'tongue' again because hubs asked for it several times already. It's not too bad now, quite a simple process.

Meanwhile, I made myself a delicious bento today. I looked in the fridge to scavenge for some food. Initially, when I opened the can of Norwegian Salmon fillets in herb sauce, I didn't know what to do with it because there was so much sauce. I laid a bed of alfalfa sprouts (you can't see it under all the sauce and salmon) at the bottom of the left box. Poured the fillets and sauce on it and cut some lovely white button mushrooms and tomatoes for vegetables.

In the right box, I sliced the corners of a muesli grain bread to dip and eat with the Norwegian Salmon fillet in herb sauce. My mum baked an awesome chicken pie on Monday, which I added to the bento.

Initially, I thought that it wouldn't be enough for my lunch but it turned out very filling and absolutely delicious! I'm surprised at how all the flavors blended and was so very satisfying. The Salmon fillet was really, really good. I bought this at a Norwegian cafe in Ikano .

Delicious! Delicious!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

BENTO #122

Occasionally, I visit SaladTalk.Com for ideas on low calorie meals. I liked this recipe "Warm Chicken Salad with Mango on Baby Arugula", it looked easy enough. I didn't have Tandoori chicken as recommended by SaladTalk.Com so I used some left over roasted duck which we had for dinner yesterday. I also dropped the cashew nuts because I didn't have time to roast my raw stock.

So with a little improvisation, I present to you "Duck
Salad with Mango on Baby Arugula". It turned out pretty good, in fact there was a delicious fragrant mango taste in the strong pepperish flavor of the Arugula a.k.a. Rocket.

#2 is 'drowning' in her sinus attack and didn't go to school today. I shared this bento with her. The Kiwi slices and Persimmon was for her and the Duck salad was mine! *smacks lips*

This will be the last bento for the week. Tomorrow I'll be off to a camp and there won't be any posts till Monday. Will be busy as a bee! Take care and I hope you view "Smilebox" recipes and try them out!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bento enthusiasts/bloggers meet?

Emily and I have been coining this idea of a Bento blogger's (non-bloggers too) party. Before we do that, we need to know how many 'local bento enthusiasts' are interested to participate.

We're planning for first week of September 2008. It's likely to be held in or around PJ/KL, depending on where the crowd comes from.

Emily and I are working out the details. It's going to be a great melting pot of passionate Bento enthusiasts!

Meanwhile if you have suggestions, please drop some comments.

If you are interested to be part of this event, please e-mail:
For more details, check these links:

Bento Party updates

BENTO #121

Again, #2 has asked to skip her break time bento @ school and have one after school. "I'll come back to eat my bento" she says!

I made something more substantial because she would have 'starved' herself over break time.

In the left box is some left over "Sake no Nanbantsuke" (marinated salmon) from last night's dinner and some blanched cauliflowers. The green container contains the vinegared sauce from the "Sake no Nanbantsuke". #2 doesn't like liquids in her Bento because sometimes it spills out onto her school bag and I've learnt to keep her food quite dry.

In the right box there are skewered water chestnuts again. She loved this yesterday and asked for more of it because it's so surprisingly sweet! Initially I tried using the 'cutesy' skewers from Daiso but the water chestnuts split into half because it was too thick. Finally I found these 'dolphin' ones with really fine skewers and it managed to go through very nicely.

Finally, more proteins! Skewered more crabsticks and some nori meat patties.

I ate the balance of the marinated Salmon. Mmmmm...really yummy!

Smilebox recipe will be uploaded soon (I hope!). Been so busy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

BENTO #120

Bento box for school has been scarce lately. #2 is going out for lunch with her friends and asked to pass her break time bento.

She did, however add that she'd like to have a light bento for after her music class.

This is a two tier box which is like a 'tiffin carrier'. In the left box, is marinated tofu slabs fried in minimal oil. There are some seedless grapes and 3 pieces of water chestnuts.

In the right box, there is alfalfa sprouts and tuna mayo and a silicon cup full of some lightly fried straw mushrooms, carrot bits and angle beans.

The good news is, #2 now fits better into her sister's cream colored dress and quite pleased with the progress of her 'diet'. *Phew! Wipes sweat away*

Saturday, August 9, 2008


This is another slide show on my favorite Japanese rolled omelet called Tamagoyaki.

I hope you don't feel intimidated by this recipe because it is very easy. Remember no pain no gain!

The recipe:

90ml Dashi
4 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sake
1 tsp mirin
pinch of salt

Gently mix all the eggs and the above ingredients together. Do not whisk.
Soak a small piece of cloth or kitchen towel with oil and wipe the tamagoyaki rectangle pan.
Set fire on medium and scoop enough of the egg mixture to have a thin layer of egg cover the pan.
For the rest of the method, please view the slide show. It will show you more than I can explain in words.


Click to play Tamagoyaki
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Other smilebox slides:

All purpose Dashi

Soy sauce pork

Salted fish and vegetables curry


The Bento Pet's Bento competition

has emerged a WINNER in Kel @ Kel's place!!

Wow! I'm awed because in the last couple of days, Kel led the race and quite clearly was going for first place!

Personally, I loved all the shortlisted Bento's, that including Kel's cold soba bento she made for her daughter. It looked simple but I'm sure it was delicious!


You are Number One!! I'm sure your little girl will enjoy her Bento's more with the winner's prize haul! There's even a pack of Japanese candies in it!

Someone commented that the winner's prize haul was more for a girl than a boy and so it is and probably meant to be for your little girl!!!

This is on the way to you (once I get your details, so please e-mail me your address).

I think the winner Bento proves one thing. There are lots of mum's out there who are packing Bento's for their kids! It's a kid's bento that won number one! Trailing behind very close was Christene @ allthingspurple, another kid bento packer.

I'm just glad that everyone was very sporting about entering and enjoyed meeting new Bento packers on cyberspace.

Let's all continue to support each other by dropping a line or two in our quest to continue packing regular bento's for regular people!!

Thank you very much for making this competition exciting and fun for all!!

(Edit) Read Kelly's response here!

My new Bento box

I read Emily's post on her new purchase, I was trilled! I rushed off to Jusco @ 1U and hunted high and low to no avail. Boo hoo hoo! It just wasn't meant to be.

I couldn't do without it. It's a Bento blogger's addiction to MUST have it!! When I got home, I e-mailed Emily and asked if she would help me buy it. She responded immediately and in no time she got this for me!

The wonderful thing about this bento is that it came with an insulated bag.

Isn't it just lovely. I love the baby blue color and surprisingly, I don't own one with this color.

It has two containers. The metal container has a divider and is 350ml in size. The smaller plastic container is 200ml in size and both has it's own plastic cover. The plastic container sits on top of the metal container and is Microwaveable without the plastic lid.

This is how it looks completely covered with a bento strap.

Top view!

I was so tempted to buy some other bento's which I saw in 1U and I'm just too happy that I didn't because I simply love this new bento box! Thank you very much Emily!!! I owe you one!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Busy, Busy!

#2 had a an English presentation to complete at school this morning. The topic is on 'Homeless people". Feedback from the teacher was very encouraging. It was a group effort and each had separate responsibilities to make it a successful presentation. Kudos!

I had to fetch her from school during break time to settle some personal matters and then we went for Japanese lunch at Sushi Zanmai, in One Utama.

There was a Shojikiya outlet there and we browsed around and picked up some stock. For those of you who don't know about Shojikiya, it's like a Japanese sundry shop selling all Japanese imported food stuff.

You can find Miso, dried soba, candies, divine chocolates, frozen food stuff, seaweeds, the whole works! They also have outlets in Hartamas Shopping Centre, Sunway Pyramid, The Gardens and of course One Utama. Some items may cost a little more than that sold in Jusco but they do have promotion on one item per month (not very exciting).

Anyway, theirs is an exclusively Japanese import store and I was quite trilled to find these cute furikake bottles.

Aren't they cute? The one on the left is my favorite, the egg furikake. The one on the right is made of beef. I have never tried that and when I do, I'll blog about it.

I've seen this in some of the Japanese Bento sites and I thought that it was an oshibori container. Now I know it's not! LOL!

We then moved on to Watson's to buy some stuff that #2 needs for Korea. We normally shop at Guardian Pharmacy but we were pressed for time so we opted for Watson's.

Most of the items were on sale which was good for us and when we went to pay at the cash counter the cashier just keyed in the price without knocking off the discount. I asked her (let's call her "A") and she said that the item was not on discount. I replied that the whole range was on discount and she took the item and walked towards the aisle which stocked the item. It WAS on discount. She went back to the cash counter and keyed in the discount.

For all the other items (almost RM200 worth) she did the same thing, walk to and fro the aisle to check if the items were on sale. I asked what was wrong and she replied that the system had a problem and couldn't detect the discount. Okay, fine! I'm cool about that even though I was rushing, I stayed very patient, after all what can you do if the machine decides to act up, right?

All the while there was another cashier ("B") next to her ("A") who was also keying something into her calculator. When the cashier finished walking up and down checking and keying in the items the bill came up to RM196/=. She looks at the other cashier next to her who said RM6/= and she knocked off RM6/= from the total which made it RM190/=.
I asked if the discount was only RM6/= and I was told that all the other items were already discounted and the RM6 was not taken into the cash machine.

Okay, so I paid the RM190/=, walked to the next cash counter which was closed and checked through my bill. It actually looked fine until #2 exclaimed that the lip balm that she picked up was RM9+ and not RM12+ as stated in the bill.

I'm quite proud of her because she finally has shown to me what I have been always instilling to them, i.e. not to buy things without looking at the price tag!

Anyway, I went back to tell "B" (because "A" was attending to another customer) that there was a discrepancy in the bill and without responding or looking at me, pulled a long face and roughly took the bill and item from my hand and passed it to "A".

I responded by asking her why she had to be so rude and she just walked away. Wow! The cheek of an employee!

I was quite annoyed and went to look for the Manager. When I related the incident to the Manager, he immediately said that he would reprimand "B".
I told him that he should find fault with the management and not with "B" because "B" was probably not provided any training to be behaving the way she did and if the management had provided proper training and being manager he couldn't identify a problematic employee then he should be responsible!

He looked shocked that I should find him and the management responsible. Isn't it their responsibility to employ 'qualified' staff and provide training if they are not properly qualified for the job?

Personally, I think in any incident like this, the management of the company should not point fingers at their staff to shift blame but do the responsible thing, respond, act on the problem and improve.

Well, I've done my part to voice out my grouse and the rest I leave to the manager to deal with. I don't wish to know what they do because if their attitude is to sweep problems under the carpet and pretend it didn't happen, in the long term their financial profits will be affected, especially in this economy slowdown.

As for me, I will probably not return to Watson's because I still have to pay where ever I go and I might as well go some where I don't have to deal with some cash machine with an issue with the system which in turn cause delay and irritate the people who have to punch in the figures and manually work out discounts and have to walk about to check if items are on discount!!! *slaps head in despair!*

Okay! With that irritating issue out of my way, I rushed off to fetch #2 from school and rushed her to her favorite cafe for lunch. While there, I organized her birthday party with the owner. I like this cafe because they have lots of board games, IQ and EQ games. It'll be an interesting change, I hope.

When I got home, I saw two paper bags of clothes packed to be sent to the dry cleaners. Hence, off to the dry cleaners I went. Half of the clothes were the used winter clothes from Hubs trip to Australia (yeah, I've been putting it off) and the other half were #2's clothes for Korea.

It's been a terribly busy day. This post is already too wordy and long. Check out my new bento box in my next post!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Last Day to vote for your favorite Bento!!

Dear Bento packers, friends and visitors,

You have approximately 24 hours more to vote for your favorite Bento! Please cast your vote if you have not done so. Your opinion is important!

We have a very close competition between three Bento packers on the poll and your vote may be the one that will emerge the winner!

All you need to do is vote for your favorite Bento out of the thirteen listed here!

Please do not procrastinate because there is no time left!

May the best Bento win!!

All purpose Dashi

Dashi is the most basic ingredient necessary for many Japanese recipes. I make dashi at least two or three times a week depending on how often I cook. There are various qualities of dashi and it can get more gourmet by adding Shiitake mushrooms and anchovies, etc, etc.

I've made a slide show on how to make an all purpose dashi. Personally, I never use packaged dashi because nothing beats fresh dashi. Once you know how to make it, it becomes very easy and becomes an asset in the kitchen because you can use it to cook in so many ways.

The ingredients are:

2 litres of cold water
2 inch kombu - wipe with a wet cloth, do not wash
One and a half cup of katsuobushi

  • Soak kombu in cold water for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes, the kombu will double up in size.
  • Bring water and soaked kombu to an almost boil (about 7 minutes).
  • Do not boil kombu in the water because it will give a bitter or awkward taste.
  • Once the water has almost come to a boil, remove the kombu.
  • Pour the one and a half cup of dashi into the hot water.
  • Bring to boil and switch off the fire immediately.
  • Skim of scum if any.
  • After 15 minutes, sieve dashi into another pot.
  • Use as required or keep in a Tupperware in the fridge. Can keep up to one week.

Click to play All purpose Dashi
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BENTO #119

Was busy the whole day. Didn't really have much time to post this bento.

I julienned some raw carrots, cucumber and turnip ("Bangkuang" - read in Malay). For added flavor, I fried a slab of Salmon and mashed it up, mixed them all up with the raw vegetables and stuffed them all into some Abura-age. I wanted to give #2 some chili sauce but she declined.

Below, you can see the julienned vegetables and mashed Salmon.

Here is the stuffed Abura-age close up.

I fried some Tamagoyaki and added some wakame and bits of pickled Chinese turnip ("Choy Poh" - read in Cantonese or "Chai Por" - in Hokkien). See the close up in this picture below.

The complete Bento box contains of 2 pieces of stuffed Abura-age with mashed Salmon and veggies, some blanched baby French beans, Tamagoyaki fried with pickled Chinese turnip and wakame, an orange and some Hijiki simmered with carrots (frozen stock).

A bland variety of flavors with an orange to save the day!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BENTO #118

I think the trick to 'diet bentos' is to use lots of vegetables! I used most of the same as you can see in the picture.

In the left bento box are rolled ham slices with some slivered carrots and lots of alfalfa sprouts.

In the silicon cup is some vegetables I kept back last night from cooking the "
Yasai Itame" for this morning. I blanched the vegetables together in salted boiling water, mixed them with a dash of shoyu, pepper and sesame seed oil. I bought some Jackfruit yesterday so I skewered some with my new picks!

In the right bento box, I filled one and a half mini croissants with more alfalfa sprouts, some slivered carrots rolled in thin slice of ham with a dash of mustard. More cherry tomatoes to accompany the sandwich.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yasai Itame

I saw this in Nobu's site. I just happened to buy "Taugeh" a.k.a. bean sprouts yesterday. Normally, I would fry with salted fish but I tried frying it "Japanese style".

I used Nobu's 'recipe' and managed to fry a deliciously fresh and sweet vegetable dish. I dropped the meat because we were having soy sauce pork as another dish for dinner.
  • carrot
  • sliced snow peas
  • onion
  • cabbage
  • soy bean sprout
  • yellow pepper
  • straw mushrooms
  • soy sauce
  • salt
  • pepper
  • salad oil

Soy Sauce Pork

I love Smilebox! It's given me endless opportunity to experiment and convert my pictures into a slide show.

In a previous post, I mentioned about my mum cooking without proper measurements. I realized that one of the reasons I never picked up on cooking Chinese is because she always estimated her ingredients and that put me off.

I am one who had to have my weighing machine, my liquid measuring jugs and measuring spoons (both Japanese and US standards) and recipe available before I get cooking.

I found that by taking detailed pictures of her cooking, I could easily follow and re-make her recipes! What a Gem I found in Smilebox!!! Yipeee!!!

I showed mum the first slide show I made on her Salted fish bones and vegetables curry and she was tickled! She cooked Soy Sauce Pork for dinner and I asked to post the recipe again. She was a little trilled, I think! Both of us are having fun!!

This is it, the recipe:

Approximately 600 grams of pork belly and lean pork marinated in 2 Tbsp of dark soy sauce.
Season for 15 minutes.

A handful of garlic
3 cloves
half a Star Anise
1 inch of cinnamon
1 tsp of crushed white pepper
1 piece of rock sugar (to caramelize the pork to give it a glossy look)

Half ladle of cooking oil


  • Heat up half a ladle of cooking oil
  • Fry cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves and then add garlic
  • Add crushed pepper corns
  • Add marinated pork
  • Saute and toss pork and add the rock sugar
  • Add half a soup bowl of water
  • Bring to boil and cook on medium/low fire for 15 minutes
  • Add 3 Tbsp of soy sauce (Mum used the dinner spoon - she says it's the same!@#?!!)
  • Add a ceramic soup spoon into the pork (this is to tenderize the pork)
  • Add 1 Tbsp of dark soy sauce for darker color
  • Continue to cook for another 15 minutes on medium/low fire (leave the ceramic soup spoon in the pot!)
  • Taste and add soy sauce to taste if not sufficient
Mum's Soy Sauce Pork is different from others I have eaten because she adds spices like cinnamon and cloves into it. It adds a nice flavor to the soy sauce pork dish.

Click to play Spiced Soy Sauce Pork
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Note: I have no affiliations with Smilebox

BENTO #117

I've been surfing the Weight Watchers site for low calorie recipes with no luck! Most recipes would require me to cook the night before to be ready for packing into my Bento a la minute in the morning! Can't work for bento!

I decided to come up with my own 'diet' menu today!

I made some guacamole from this recipe. Added some bread (baked dry) and corn in the left box.

I rolled up carrot strips, thinly sliced ham with peas and baby corn for a light meal of protein and more veggies!
Skewered some papaya and pineapple for fruits.

Hopefully, this is low calorie enough because #2 is stubbornly sticking to her 'diet' decision.
When I went to buy the ham, I asked the man behind the counter to slice the ham as thin as possible. He looked at me and asked again "thinner?" madam! "Yeah! thinner!" He looked confused because I'm the same person who used to tell him to slice the ham thicker!

Oh well! Desperate situations require desperate solutions!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Recipe for Salted fish bones and vegetables curry

My mum is 80 years old this year. She's an amazing cook who can whip up any dish without referring to it's recipe! I been craving this dish of "Salted fish bones and vegetables curry" for a while and over the weekend she cooked it. I told her that I wanted to blog about it and take some pictures. She was quite accommodating was even a little excited. We had some great "bonding" time laughing and talking about how to cook this dish. She says "SO EASY!" and I on the other hand is "Curry challenged" (can't cook curry if my life depended on it).

However, after this session with mum, I found that it's not that difficult and that I could possibly do it myself! Hehehe! The curry was absolutely delicious! If you are like me "curry challenged" please try it because it is actually quite simple!

But....before I give you the recipe, I need to tell you this, Mum is from the 'old school', she doesn't have a recipe! It's all by "agak-agak" (estimation of proportions), that's why I took quite detailed pictures so that you can see what and how much was used. The amount in the pictures was exactly what she used.

Here's the Ingredients:

The ground ingredients:
6 stems of Serai (lemon grass)
2 inches of Lengkuas/Galangal
1 inch of Kunyit/Tumeric
12 pieces of dried chilli
1 soup bowl of blended onions

Long Beans
Salted fish bones
One Coconut
Salt to taste
Squids (optional)
Pandan leaves

Click to play Delicious Curry
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Friday, August 1, 2008

Vote for your favorite Bento!

I finally got the poll done! Please vote for your favorite Bento.

When I did the shortlisting I thought I calculated 14 in the short list but when I was working on the poll, I realised that it was only 13. I went back to the folders to check if I had missed anyone out by mistake but NO, I didn't! Thank goodness!

So anyway, Bento Packers, friends and guests, please cast your vote and we will have our winner in one week's time! May the best Bento win!


More confusion!

My daughter #2 is a little of a computer whizz kid. Every time I have a problem I will go to her for advice. Sometimes, when she's in the mood she'll update me with some cyber news. I'm a total dud when it comes to IT.

She introduced me to blogging and registered me for this blog. She's made some minor upgrades for me since then. #2 also registered me for Facebook, honestly, up to now I can't understand how to use it!

I seldom go to Facebook because I get spammed with all types of games that my young youth contacts send to me. Aghhhhh.....! Apparently Facebook is quite hot in cyber space but I'm really cool about it because I'm blurr.

I now manage 3 e-mail address for various very valid reasons. I also author and moderate in two other blogs. I surf a lot of bento sites and sometimes to leave a comment, you're required to sign up or something and I kinda signed up for a Xanga account (Goodness knows what it's all about because I don't!). I only know that now I also operate a 'private' and dormant Xanga account for comments purposes.

I know that #2 has had probably about half a dozen blogs which she keeps changing and I heard that she's about to change again. I can't understand the logic behind this either.

Aiyoh! And as if all these are not stressful enough, my daughter #2 signed me up for Nuffnang! She says that they have some cool parties (as if mum would be going).

She got home today and was talking to #1 about the day's activities in school and the fun time she had there.

Then she was sharing about how a friend's picture got taken from his Facebook and landed in a banner or poster in Vietnam! Mind you, without his knowledge.

Hahaha! Mum being mum, I chipped in "Ah! He got international popularity for free lah! Okay what!"
"You know, his picture with Kenny Sia at the Nuffnang pajama party was plastered everywhere too! In so many blogs also" #2 added.
"Wah so grand ah? Picture with Kenny Sia become public property mah!" mum said.

Hmmmm....! she replied. "I also have Nuffnang says #2. I respond.

"Aiyah! Mum! I get paid for putting Nuffnang in my blog lah, understand?"
"Ohhh.....yeah kah? So?" "How much do you get?"
"Well a couple of ringgit and they only pay you if you reach RM50/="
"Hahaha!!! You got a couple of ringgit?"
And the conversation went on......and she persuaded me to sign up for Nuffnang or rather she signed me up!
"Don't worry, don't have to do anything, just put the Nuffnang advertisement on your blog will do" she says.
"So? Will I get RM50 after this?" I asked.
She stares at me in disbelief. Rolls her eyes and asks me "IC number?".

*BIG sigh* I hope that giving in to her persuasion doesn't end up with me being drowned in some weird cyber journey! Already I have to make a list of all these other accounts and passwords that I have to have at hand to access the accounts and it can get so confusing!

BENTO #116

"I need to loose some weight" #2 tells me! "You give me too much food", "I have to loose weight to get into 'che che's' (elder sister) dress" she looks at me accusingly.

"Okay, okay, we'll see what to do the next two weeks" I reply.

#2 has to bring along with her, 3 gowns for her piano competition in Korea and 2 national costumes for a cultural night exchange. She has 2 black gowns which she uses for performances and the third she's borrowing a lovely cream colored gown from #1.

Both are tall (above 5'5") and have often been mistaken for twins. I don't know how they are mistaken because to me they look totally different but time and again strangers ask if they are twins. Their reaction is similar - looks at each other, grin, rolls eyes a little then breaks into a wide smile and shakes their head and deny profusely.

The cream colored gown is an off shoulder, corset style body hugging dress. If fits her like a glove but she says she needs to loose a couple of pounds so that it doesn't fit so snugly. I guess when you are standing upright it feels comfortable but when you sit and have to play the piano at the same time, a fitting corset can get quite stressful.

Perhaps I should suggest another gown. IS lovely and would be such a waste....oh well....we'll see.

Today's meal is light and easy. In the left box are corn, cherry tomatoes and some Kiwi slices.

In the right box, frozen dipping sauce, Cha Soba and a spoonful of sesame seeds.

In the triangular box is some blueberry cereals for snacking.

I think I should browse through "weight watchers" for some low calorie recipes.


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