Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Girls day out" @ Daiso!

I met Emily at Daiso this morning. We were there for about 45 minutes browsing through all their bento stuff with a fine tooth comb! We were like 'inspectors' looking for new stuff. I bought some soup ladles which I needed and a some non-bento related stuff.

I was telling Emily that the bento accessories get snapped up very fast. I was there in the morning last Monday to get some stuff and in the evening, my daughter wanted to get something and convinced me to go there for a second time. When I went to Daiso that same evening, some of the new stuff like the corner silicon cups, the new onigiri moulds and shaped moulds were ALL GONE!

Look at what I found today! Craft punchers which you can use for cutting nori to decorate your bento. They are hanging near the middle aisle of the stationery section.

I also got this pretty bag to contain all my stuff bought from Daiso.

Look what Emily got me! *Sequels with happiness* Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Emily reminds me that new stock is expected to arrive at the 100 Yen store in Taman Desa early March. Look out for updates in Emily's blog.

Note: I do not have any commercial affiliations with Daiso or 100 Yen stores.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bento 183

I had a meeting last night which ended with supper in a friend's house till after midnight. There was no time to do any 'homework'. Before I went to bed, I made a quick mental check on what I
had in the fridge.

I had boiled "loh han kao" and added some eggs in, so I could use that. I also had some left over simmered mushrooms and kombu from making sushi two days ago. #2 had raved about the yam and "nien kao", so that was going into the box too. All I had to do was to steam the rice and cut the carrots, kyuri and fry the "nien kao". It was all done in 15 minutes.

#1 is out for lunch with friends today because exams are over.

I made this bento for myself. Last night for dinner, I steamed some egg, tofu and salted eggs.
I put some in the foil containers and steamed them separately for this morning. Topped the steamed egg concoction with garlic oil, pepper and shoyu.

I asked #2 to help me put the eyes on my rice ball and saw that she put butterflies for 'eyes'.

There was sliced carrot flowers, delicious Natto, fried yam and 'nien kao' and cherry tomatoes to fill some gaps.

# 2 loved the eggs but quipped "Mum, after you hard boil the eggs, drop them in cold water, then the black ring will not appear".

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bento 182

It was Ash Wednesday yesterday, a day of fast and abstinence for the Catholic church. There was no bento. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent which lasts for 40 days. It is a period of self sacrifice and personal journey to change from within.

This morning's bento was put together in 20 minutes, a lot longer than usual because there was a lot of cooking involved.

I prepared the chopped salad and corn niblets last night, just topped with Thousand Island dressing this morning. The shrimps were also ready and de-veined last night. I deep fried it this morning.

The yam (taro) and 'nien kao' was prepared and fried this morning and though very delicious, it took a while to cool down before I could pack. Imagine the fan at full speed and there I was manually fanning it desperately with a magazine to cool it down faster *sigh, the things I do*.

There was spaghetti from my frozen stash and that was topped with sesame seed dressing. I cut the carrot flowers last night and had them blanched in salt water this morning.

Even though I prepared so many things last night, it still took a full 20 minutes and by my standards it's way too long!

Note to self - too much cooking in the morning! Thus, requiring more time to cool!

This box is already a common sight but don't you just love the bento strap? Butterfly - #2's favorite!

#1 had the same thing packed in her 3 tier box. Same food, except for the fried stuff.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bento straps galore?

Most school days, I need to use three bento straps. Two for #2 and #3 bento boxes for school and one for #1's bento box (she eats at home).

I don't know if you face the same issues which I do, but after a while, the bento straps come back really messy and dirty. I blogged about it here before.

Thing is, the bento straps looses it's elasticity after a while and looks like these...

These were worth their weight in GOLD when bento straps were scarce.

In the early days before 100 Yen began re-stocking their bento items, it was almost impossible to find any here in Malaysia. Now we are spoiled for choice by the attention 100 Yen and Daiso is giving to these indispensable bento accessories.

Some of these bento straps are recent acquisitions...

The last one on the right hand side is not a bento strap but a correction tape.

Click here to see more.

These below are some recently replenished bento straps which I am currently using for daily bento boxes.

The one on the right side is a multi-size and multi-color bento strap.

Want to share your bento strap loot? Drop me a comment or link so that I can view your used/over used bento straps and your pride.

Bento 181

There's no college today and tomorrow because it's exam week, so, I didn't pack a bento for #1 this morning.

It's almost noon already and I'm hungry. I'm actually waiting for #1 to wake up so that we can have lunch together. Looks like it's going to be a long wait.

I decided to pack a bento for myself and see what to do when she wakes up. Maybe she can lunch with #3 when we pick her up.

Literally everything in this bento is leftovers. The left box contains cinnamon banana, 3 Korean strawberries and a small corner of chocolate cake - both using my new corner silicon cups.

The right box has some 'Arab bread' which I bought from 1U during their local food producers festival over the last weekend. It's really nice with curry, ham, tuna and just about anything!

The two pieces of Arab bread was filled with tuna mayo. There were slices of spicy 'bak kua' and some mixed salad in lemon juice.

You never saw the 'bak kua' in #2's box because it's spicy and this is what she publicly declares "I'm from the 'Western' side of Malaysia so I can't take spicy food!" LOL!!!!

It's quite obvious I cannot cover the bento box because it's packed 3D and the food stuff is all sticking out and up. It was packed that way because I'm eating it now. Let me tell you how it tasted.

The Arab bread and tuna was delicious and so was the 'bak kua'. The salad was refreshing. I didn't like the Strawberries. #2 always rave about how sweet they are but I don't like the taste. I prefer our Cameron Highlands version - a little sweet and sour. It's the first time I'm trying them after 3 days in the fridge. The chocolate cake tasted as good as it did yesterday, but the cinnamon bananas were my favorite! Absolutely heavenly!!!

*smacks lips*

Bento 180

A casual friend (MT) passed on yesterday. It came as a shock because I saw him at Sunday Mass in Church and had exchanged pleasantries. In the night, hubs and I were having drinks with another couple and our conversation had led to this same man - of and about his characteristic as a fair and righteous person.

In the morning after that, I received news that he had a heart attack, a little over 50 and gone forever, I was a little dazed. Not that he was a good friend, no, he was only a casual friend. It was always "Hello and Bye" and down to serious stuff if we ever did have any conversation. Yet, I feel a loss, because he was a good man.

My only consolation is that when I remember him, I remember that my encounters with him were pleasant. If one didn't know him, he came across as a stern and 'no nonsense' kind of a person but I found him to be a good and righteous man.


Back to bento, I made some kappamaki filled with kyuri, crabstick, carrot, simmered mushroom and kewpie mayo. In a silicon cup next to it is some mixed salad with sesame dressing.

The gyoza was left over from last night's dinner. I have a frozen stash and need to finish it off. Some sliced Kiwi and viola, a complete bento for the day.

This is how the bento looks, packed and ready to go. Notice, I am using new bento straps. I've taken out a number of new ones to use and it's a breath of fresh air to see them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bento 179

Weekends are busiest for my family. Everyone has something going on, on Saturdays, either a replacement class, an exam, an outing, something or other happening.

Last Saturday was fun because everyone was available except for #1 who had exams in the morning so we scheduled to have lunch in Kuchai Lama. Hahaha! It was intentional because I wanted to visit the 100 Yen store there.

We had a delicious lunch and managed to pick up some necessities from 100 Yen plus have their yummy mango snow ice for dessert.

Anyway, this morning, we had "Chinese Lup Cheong" sandwiches and some very sweet Korean Strawberries.

The other box contained 2 pieces of chocolate cake and some shredded 'bangkuang' aka Jicama, carrots, apples and raisins all tossed in lemon juice and a little honey.

The box below belongs to #1, it's packed with the same food stuff except for the strawberries.

There are some advantages and disadvantages packing in this 3 tier box.

All the food can be separated distinctively without having to use separators or silicon cups but presentation wise, it looks so plain. A couple of picks on the chocolate cake would have brightened up the picture but packing is a pain so I refused to use them.

I would have to force the picks or forks down and the chocolate cake would probably break apart in the process and look all squished when #1 opens the box.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Bento stash!

I am really contented and happy now. I've been bento-ing for more than a year and I've had to source for bento boxes and it's accessories from all over the world from as far as Japan, USA, Singapore and Philippines because there was NOTHING available in Malaysia then.

I've had to ask favors from friends to purchase these bento stuff for me. Most people are very accommodating, some humor me and some look at my list wide eyed but are still willing to do it because with the list, I've printed details and pictures of the bento stuff I want, of which of course, my friend/s have no inkling what they are buying.

There has been times where over zealous (bless them) friends go on a buying rampage only to buy the wrong stuff and stuff which I already own by the dozen. I just grit my teeth, smile and thank them profusely. Mind you, not the hypocritical way but the very "Malaysian manner".

With the new and endless supply of bento boxes and bento accessories made available via the 100 Yen stores and Daiso @ The Curve, it's a dream come true for any bento packer.

I used to stare at all the stuff on e-bay and wish I could own them but was terribly deterred by the freight charges. It always worked out more than the cost of the items themselves which I thought was ridiculous!

Over the last week or so I've acquired a large variety of accessories. If you've followed this blog closely, you'd realize that I've stopped buying bento boxes. I own one too many already.

Daiso has re-stocked again and I got some fruit forks and then instead of using paper to line my sandwich box I've been recommended to use a hankie, so I got one.

These are one of the most popular items that bento packers scourge for, all made available by Daiso.

Bunny mold and juice extractors.

Banana keeper and some onigiri molds.

Finally, I was at Kuchai Lama, 100 Yen today and managed to get these containers.

I feel like in heaven today......*yelps in joy*

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bento 178 & some life lesssons

I had another late night last night and woke up with a splitting headache. I quickly put together this unplanned bento.

There was bread and butter pudding which #2 baked last night, some left over spaghetti and a box of mixed vegetables consisting of chopped salad, cauliflower and chopped tomatoes topped with sliced shrimps. Drizzled some salad cream on top.

On the request of my daughter, I have removed the rest of this post. I respect her request to give her some privacy to rant in her own blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

100 Yen & Daiso haul

I'm guilty of lurking and coveting bento accessories. It's a terrible feeling. Emily, our local "Bento Ranger" (one who reports and updates latest bento stock at our local dollar store) has been regularly posting pictures of new bento accessories at the 100 Yen store.

Last Sunday, I sweet talked hubs to take me to the 100 Yen store at Kuchai Lama. It's a good 40 minutes drive from where we live. Guess what? It was CLOSED! I almost burst into tears. I was totally upset. I spoke to Emily today and she told me that they had a power failure and so they closed early (see, she even knew why they closed).

I cajoled hubs to detour to the 100 Yen in Taman Desa, it took another 20 minutes or so through the highways. It's impossible for me to get there by myself. I was delighted to be able to pick up some stuff from there.

I was at the 100 Yen store at SS2 today and there was NOTHING to buy because the shop is 25% empty, waiting for new stock to arrive in March. Disappointed, I went to Daiso to see if I could get anything new.

Below you can see Sunday and todays haul from 100 Yen and Daiso.

Onigiri plastic wrappers from Daiso.

Food covers from Daiso and mayo disposables from 100 Yen.

I opened the food cover, it looks like shower caps. It's a convenient kitchen helper.

I love this triangle silicon cups which I managed to pick up from Daiso. There are only 4 more packs. Things in Daiso finish very, very fast.

I blogged about the bento straps here and they are all GONE!

I like these forks in their cases from Daiso, convenient and doesn't take much space.

I picked up some silicon cups, furikake containers, mayo containers, etc from 100 Yen @ Taman Desa. The timer and anti-bacterial sheets were from Daiso.

They also have this (or similar), which I didn't buy. I know lots of people covet this too. They have about 10-15 on their shelves. I was shocked to see how LARGE they were. I'm quite sure my daughter would refuse to bring it with her to school. One could put at least 2 - 3 bananas in there!

I'm exhausted from chasing for bento accessories. It's a tiring addiction.

Bento 176 & 177

Had a late night last night but surprisingly, I woke up sprightly this morning! I imagined that I would miss my morning walk and whine of being tired but it was completely opposite. Hahaha! Assumptions all went wrong, which is good for me though, I like my morning.

I made 3 bentos and breakfast for 2 this morning. As usual, #3's bento is just a butter and Marmite sandwich with some apples - not yet bento worthy to post up.

This bento for #2 consist of some skewered kyuri and cherry tomatoes. Next to them is a chicken katsu sandwich.

I baked Ciabatta yesterday, it needed more time to proof, in fact 3 times before going into the oven but it was worth it because it turned out delicious! I thought that I would have to freeze 1 loaf (the recipe yielded 2 large loaves) but it's all gone this morning.

In the smaller top box, are some bunny apples, some vinegared root vegetables, kyuri and salad fillers. After taking the photo, I packed the bento box to go but only managed to squeeze two skewers into the box. I ate the 3rd.

Often I see an amazing amount of food in 3D being posted on bento blogs and wonder how it all can squeeze into the little space of a bento box? The bento boxes that I pack are often all to go. Even if it's going to be eaten in the house, it's still packed and belted because I pack them all at once in the morning.

This bento box below is for #1. There are some skewered kyuri. 1 skewer of apple in the bottom, the other one couldn't fit so I ate that too. There is a hard boiled 'star' egg which didn't quite turn out to look like a star and some mini figs.

#1's also got a Ciabatta bread, chicken katsu sandwich. I sneaked in some sliced cherry tomatoes. I wonder if she'll eat them.

I packed #1's food into this pretty sandwich box.

After my 2 1/2 km walk, hubs and I had Ciabatta and sardines for breakfast. Had some chopped shallots and chili padi for an added zing! Coffee was perfect.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bento 175

"How now brown cow" That should be the title of my bento today!
I was up all night trying to upload and rearrange my bento pictures on Flicker. As usual, yours truly is a little of a computer dinosaur so still at it trying to get them pictures sorted out.

I didn't do my homework last night but this morning was good in the sense that everything was put together very quickly. I had baked Foccacia bread yesterday, cooked a batch of spaghetti and had a comb of bananas. So it was all in sight and all I had to do was skin the last batch of very sweet water chestnuts and add a KitKat for color! LOL!!!

Take a break! Have a KitKat! - my favorite tag line.

Yup! I walked the 2 1/2 km!

Breakfast is half boiled eggs and toast, and of course coffee too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In support of a Crisis Shelter for women

I received this e-mail from a friend. Please support a worthy cause. I'll be looking out for their handicraft stuff.

"Rose Virginie Good Shepherd Centre, Ipoh (a crisis shelter for women in pregnancy crisis and women and children experiencing domestic violence) will be setting up a booth at One Utama Shopping Centre from 19 (thursday) to 22 (Sunday) Feb09.

We invite you to support RVGSC in its efforts to promote the Centre so that more women who are in need may be assisted.

RVGSC will be selling its famous London Almond Cookies, Mixed Nuts and Melting Moments. Besides these, there will also be handicraft made by our women in Sabah.

Look out for Homemade Salt Fish Pickle and Homemade Ikan Bilis Sambal.

Pass the word to all your friends... come and support a worthy cause and make a positive difference in the lives of women and children in need.

See you at One Utama! Come and spend the day RVGSC's booth!"

Bento 174

Good news first! I went for my morning walk today after being lazy over the weekend. #1 asked me yesterday if I had gone for my morning walk and I said that I was too tired to do so. She rebuttal me and asked what happened to the "I feel good"?

It is true, I really feel a lot more energetic and so I was determined to walk my 2 1/2 km this morning. It was a brisk sweaty walk. I am looking forward to walking 2 rounds which will make up 5 km. My target is beginning of March.

Back to reality, I packed this for #2 this morning. Blanched French beans and carrots sticks. Home made bread sandwich loaded with lemon and herb roast chicken. It's got lettuce and mayo too.

Kiwi has been missing the scene and has since returned with some splashes of red tomatoes.

#1 has the same except that her sandwich is spread with butter, has wasabi mayo and she goes without the tomatoes.

Hubs and I had coffee and the same sandwich for breakfast, that was the last of the bread. I have a recipe of Focaccia bread proofing in the kitchen now.

You'll probably see Focaccia tomorrow in the bento! LOL!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Real-life bentos

I've been packing bentos for a year and a half and to-date have posted 173 bento posts and over 400 posts in my blog. I am a big time silent lurker of bento blogs. Sometimes, I also browse for bento pictures posted in Flicker.

I have, since my initiation to bento been enthralled by kyaraben and awed by these kyaraben maestros who seem to be able to turn any picture or vision into a piece of edible art.

Lately, whilst browsing through the local Malaysian bento scene, I've noticed lots of kyaraben bentos. Some very ammature, some improving gradually and some very, very talented.

Back in the home ground, I can only look in awe and salute these mummies. To be honest, I've been tempted to jump on the band wagon to be part of this exciting and enticing company.

But....I have to be practical. I have very little time, a limited budget, a limited selection of food that my children will eat and huge commitment to dish out 2-3 bentos each morning whether I feel like it or not.

When I read this, I felt comforted that there were still people like me who packed "real food" simple and practical with a dash of 'cutesy' where time and flavor allows. *sighs a great relief*

Call me old fashioned, I love the flavors that a bento can offer and I think that a great tasting bento is what I like to settle for.

Welcome to my world!

Vinegared Root vegetables

I made this last night and included some into Bento 173. Simple pickled dish!

Click to play Vinegared Root vegetable
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Bento 173

I did my homework last night and so this morning's bento was a breeze! I boiled a packet of dry Udon and set aside what I needed into the fridge and put the rest into the freezer. The vegetables were also cut last night and I just blanched them in salted hot water this morning.

All I did was assemble everything together and it took me less than 10 minutes to get 2 bentos ready.

#2's bento consisted of some cherry tomatoes, Udon in garlic oil and shoyu and some vinegared root vegetables and abura-age.

In the other box is some blanched cauliflower and broccoli topped with sesame seed dressing and a small box of dried cranberries.

My bento consisted of mostly the same items except that I added some Kimchi. #2 cannot take spicy food and so I didn't pack this for her.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bento 172

#2 and I are fans of Avocado. But....there are only so many ways one can eat avocado. I'm always on a look out for recipes which includes Avocado.

Whilst browsing some blogs yesterday, I came across this and was immediately tempted. I was at my friendly neighbourhood grocer and noticed over-ripe Avocados! They were selling at RM4.99 per piece. I've often haggled with her over the price of Avocados and this time she let me have 2 for RM5.oo which I thought was a good deal.

I bought two really soft and squishy Avocados. Got home and immediately logged on to look for the recipe. I quote the author of the blog "it's absolutely delish stuff and a real no-brainer to whip up".

Who could resist a challenge like that? I had just baked two fresh loaves of bread which were waiting to be eaten and what more ideal than with this tempting mixture of Avocado and Tuna?

Bummer is, it was a DIY recipe so DIY I did! I mashed two squishy avocados with a can of Tuna in Olive oil (drain the oil), added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (to keep the color of the avocado), pepper and salt to taste. I dropped the chopped shallots because #2 doesn't like them. It came out delicious, just as what was claimed by it's originator.

I filled part of a croissant with this avocado and tuna paste for today's bento and in the silicon cup, I shredded some very sweet water chestnuts, kyuri, carrots and chopped tomatoes and gave them a good mix around. This deliciously sweet and refreshing mix didn't even need any dressing to go with it! What a healthy discovery!

There was another home made mochi and some more cut jackfruit.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bento 171

Had a late night last night. Didn't have a chance to do my 'homework' so I had no clue what to prepare for today's bento!

Woke up half dazed and was extremely grateful for left overs. Put together everything in less that 10 minutes.

There was a jack fruit cut into four pieces, some sliced cherry tomatoes and kyuri and three quarters of a apple strudel.

This box has shredded "salted chicken" (bought from Ipoh) and spaghetti topped with some sliced cherry tomatoes for color, otherwise, visually everything looks a shade of cream!

Exhausted, going back to sleep. Exercise can wait for tomorrow! *sigh*

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Daiso - just so you know!

I was at Daiso today to get a replacement for the "magician item" which was 'missing' from it's box when I bought it. They were expecting me and immediately replaced it without questions. If only service from Daiso is so pleasant all the time! Anyway, I'm completely satisfied this time.

They have some new bento boxes, but not many. There are some new accessories such as the not so popular fish sauce bottles, new shapes for onigiri molds, heart and star egg molds, more cookie/veggie cutters, some other non-bento related stuff.

I managed to get some very pretty bento straps. This purchase itself made my trip to Daiso absolutely worth it! Only this morning I was miserably looking at my collection of worn, beaten and soiled bento straps. I was going to rummage my store for the bento straps which I bought from 100 Yen to replace them, but now I can use some of the prettier ones!

Picture below are some of my soiled bento straps, some have even lost it's elasticity!

The new bento strap which I acquired (on the left side of picture) against part of my collection (on right side of picture).

Close up on some bento straps!


Bento 170

A quick lunch bento for #2, sent to school. A colorful mixed salad drenched in her favorite dressing.

A croissant filled with herb Salmon and two pieces of juicy dates from Royal Dates.

There was also a side box (not shown) of chocolate chip cookies just in case this bento wasn't enough to last her for the rest of the afternoon.

I had the same for lunch and it was delicious.

Bento 169

I'm sending lunch to #2 so this morning's bento is light and easy.

In the left box is a nest of Cha Soba and a tupperware of frozen dipping sauce from the freezer. In the right box is a piece of homemade daifuku mochi made last night and some peas. Some carrot flowers for color.

Doesn't the two boxes look like mirror images?

I completed my 2 1/2 km walk this morning. It was a brisk walk and I sweated and felt more energetic after that. "I feel good".


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