Okonomiyaki!
eighthsaga
I've finally started experimenting with okonomiyaki. The 'kono' bit means 'like, fond of', so 'okonomi' is often translated as 'what you like'. 'Yaki' is a word often used in food names and means 'grilled' or 'cooked'.

Some examples of 'yaki' are yakitori (tori meaning 'bird' or 'chicken') and tamagoyaki (tamago meaning 'egg'). With both of these examples, adding 'yaki' to it doesn't simply mean to cook or grill it, it implies a specific preparation that is different for each thing. For yakitori it means that the chicken is cut into chunks and grilled on skewers, generally served with a sauce. For tamagoyaki, it means that the eggs are cracked into a bowl, stirred up with salt, sugar, and dashi (depending on what recipe you're using) and rolled during the cooking to make a cylindrical-ish hunk of eggy goodness. For okonimiyaki it means that you take stuff you like, mix it with a batter and cabbage, cook it like a pancake, and then dump stuff on it. Go figure.

(some okonomiyaki has the 'liked things' cooked on the griddle first, then the batter with cabbage poured over it and cooked that way, just so you know. But the most prevalent on the internet, and reportedly easiest to make, has the ingredients mixed in)

The okonomiyaki I made are probably gross Americanizations. I've never had authentic okonomiyaki, and probably won't until I go to Japan. So don't count on this being right. This is the product of an American kitchen and American ingredients.

http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/cook/okonomiyaki/okonomiyaki03.html

This is the recipe that I based mine off, basically because it made a small amount and it used ingredients that I have. It's a very, very basic recipe and I pretty much don't trust it for authenticity worth a flip, after reading through several okonomiyaki recipes. But it was a place to start.

I omitted the green onion, beat the egg then discarded some of it (the first time I used the recipe, it tasted too eggy to me), and reduced the baking powder by half. Oh, and increased the water a bit to make up for the egg. The cabbage I used, just to make things easy on me, was store bought shreds intended for coleslaw production. It seemed to work fine

Since I plan on using okonomiyaki for bento, I wanted to make smaller ones. The first time I made okonomiyaki, I found that it was difficult to split it into smaller portions for the griddle once everything was mixed up. So I split the 'batter' (flour, baking powder, salt, egg, and water) into four bowls and added the rest of the ingredients from there.

My 'liked things' this time were bacon bits (which is what I used last time), and cocktail shrimp left over from Easter. I just pulled off the tails and chopped them up.

Here's the batter, shrimp, and bacon bits


I just eye-balled the cabbage. I ended up adding a bit more than what's here, and I found that it was a bit coarser than I wanted, so I snipped at the cabbage with kitchen shears


More cabbage, snipped, and mixed up


Into the frying pan and shapped into a vaguely flat disk.


After the flip


Off the frying pan, into the plate. Spread with a mixture of ketchup and stirfry sauce (couldn't find okonomiyaki sauce at Asian market) and drizzled with Kewpie mayo.


Yummy, yummy. Blurry because of the movement of me ravenously digging in. Don't you just love Photobooth on Mac?

Anime con shopping spree
eighthsaga

I will start taking better pics soon, I swear!
This is my new three-tier bento that I love dearly. I got two bento boxes at MTAC (biggest dealer's room squee to date), and this one's the cheaper of the two, and the other one's nicer, but... THREE TIERS!

Bento II
Top: Heart-shaped strawberry cake sandwiched with Nutella, cantaloupe chunks with kitty pick
Middle: Carrot flowers, mini pitta with hummus, more carrot underneath the pitta, container of Ranch for carrots, sauteed mushrooms
Bottom: Popcorn shrimp, rice with furikake and carrot flower
Lid section (that white thing): Hello panda cookies


Yeah, not perfect or brilliant, but nice. Needs green. I have plans for green! For reals. I'll have it next week.

I plan on experimenting with okonomiyaki sometime in the next few days. Wish me luck! I'll try to post a pic. And get the use of my mum's camera.


But yes, I went to MTAC last weekend, had lots of fun. Sang in MTAC Idol. Yays. Stayed up all night at the rave. Bought this box, a panda box, and some animal food picks, including the pink kitty featured today.

I'll post again tomorrow, probably.

Another contest!
eighthsaga
I'm desperate to win another bento box, can you tell? *sweatdrop*

And this one's for a really great product, a Ms. Bento by Zojirushi! All the quality and convenience of Mr. Bento, in feminine form!

Check out the stainless lunch jars and other products at Zojirushi!
http://www.zojirushi.com/

And the giveaway is being done by Firefly
http://www.firefly-shop.org/2009/03/30/zojirushi-bento-review-and-giveaway/comment-page-1/#comment-1538

Check it out. Ts' good stuff.

Ooh, a contest!
eighthsaga
I just found out about a giveaway for Hello Kitty merch! Yays ^_^

Be sure to check out www.KittyRulez.com! Yay, crazy Sanrio fanaticism!



Functional Bento!
eighthsaga
Isn't it strange how one's perspective changes... When I first got my bento box, I thought it was itsy-bitsy, is that thing really going to fill me up? Now I'm putting the filling food in the small tier. And it definitely filled me up.

Bento I

Bento I

Entree tier: glass noodles with some chicken salvaged from a whole roast chicken, tossed in stirfry sauce and kewpie mayo

Desert tier (the bigger one...*sweatdrop*): Grapes, strawberries, strawberry cream filled wafer, lychee jelly, egg pudding jelly

Plus: a bottle of water (not shown)

It was all eaten with a pair of disposable chopsticks I nicked from the university cafeteria for just such a purpose.

~~~

Waa, I think this is the most functional bento I've ever made. The glass noodles were obtained from an asian market. They were really cheap and pre-portioned into single-serving bundles. Perfect!

This has been my first experience with kewpie mayo. I just got some yesterday and didn't quite know what to do with it. So I googled (yay). From all the descriptions and tips I read, I thought this would probably be a good, or at least decent, application. I haven't tried this without it, so I can't tell exactly what was the stirfry sauce and what was the mayo. I liked the thick texture, I've always liked thick sauces on pasta and noodles. It was just fine cold, and fit quite neatly in the top tier of my only bento box.

Luckily for me, we still had some grapes and strawberries. ^_^ I actually had no idea when I woke up what I was going to put in it. Well, that's a lie, I'd gotten the wafers and jellies specifically for bento, I just didn't know what else.

I made this bento for my exercise class that I have on Thursdays. The class isn't until ten-thirty, so I had plenty of time to make bento and sleep in and ride my bike to the class on time. The prep basically went like this:

Set water to boil
Pull chicken out of fridge and start pulling bits off
Add noodles to boiling water for five minutes
Continue pulling bits off chicken while noodles cook
Drain noodles and snip them into more manageable lengths with scissors
Microwave chicken for a few seconds so's it wouldn't be cold
Dump noodles over chicken, drain as much water as possible, drizzle with stirfry sauce and mayo, and toss
Smooth the noodles into top tier, assemble bottom tier, and stack it all up
Stash dishes used in the dishwasher and grab a bottle of water on my way out

So, my time management was kinda horrific. But this gave me a really good feel for how bento can work and what bento things are workable, more so than any other bento I've made. So, here are my notes:

1) This was needlessly dull. Some carrot stars/flowers/etc. on top of the noodles would have made a big difference. (need to go get carrots)
2) The noodles were packed just a smidge too tightly. So nibbling/tasting during packing/prep would be welcome, and a good way to get a bit of brekkist. Especially since as soon as I get them, I want to add sauteed mushrooms and carrot stars.
3) More vegetable would make it more healthy and lovelier. I should do that...

~~~

On a non-bento note, my band did indeed record vocals on Tuesday. The preview of the songs we recorded is on our myspace
http://www.myspace.com/velvettransit
Back on a bento note, yes, I did make a bento for the recording, but I took the pic with my sister's nice camera and she hasn't bothered to get it off onto a computer. So that'll officially be Bento II. Or perhaps III, depending on how lazy/busy my sister is.

Dollar Store Shopping!
eighthsaga
I just had some great luck at the local dollar store! Taking a tip from some posters at Bento Lunches, I went to the Dollar Tree to check for possible sauce containers; something I've reeally been wanting.

Lo and behold! In the craft section, tiny little containers that would fit well in my bento box! And in the food storage section, somewhat larger containers that could be used for something a bit more substancial than sauce! (but still, just barely, fit in the bento box) Yay! These will be perfect for ranch to have with carrot sticks or hummus or, in the bigger one, meat sauce to put over pasta right before I eat it... I'm thrilled! And I did a bit of testing and, much to my surprise, they're fairly water-proof! No water dripped out when I shook them, not any of them!

Which is to say that the particular ones I tested were water proof, it's likely that some of the others in the pack are not so much. These are dollar store things, after all.

Bento making tomorrow!
I'm not usually on campus on Tuesdays, but my band is recording tomorrow. Our EP is mostly recorded, except we only have vocals on one song. (to hear the unmixed version of that song, please visit www.myspace.com/velvettransit ) The others need vocals. Recording vocals is so stressful... And recording in generall is surprisingly draining. You record for two or three hours and wonder why you're so exhausted since you just sat/stood there. And you get surprisingly hungry. Thus, bento.

First post!
eighthsaga
Well, I've finally decided to get serious about blogging and bento and stuff. I want to be in the bento community! Ever after the tag along, clinging to the heels of the greater powers in the community. Yays. ^_^

I'll start posting bentos fairly soon, probably. One week from now, however, I'll be off to MTAC (mtac.net), an anime con in Nashville.

So far (as far as bento goes), mostly I've done experimentation an such. Recipes, how to store things, what things I can pursuade to freeze and, more importantly, thaw correctly, that sort of thing. I look forward to getting a good system for bento, because I'm on a college campus three days a week, and my mother is fine with paying for food from the caffeteria, but everything is huge and greasy! I've started going to exercise classes twice a week and I want what I eat to reflect my desire to be healthy. College food won't help me there. Plus, I love the cute ^_^

Also, I'll probably periodically link to songs that me or my band have recorded.

I'm entering a contest for a bento give-away to commemorate Maisie's 100th bento. Visit her blog here and witness the cuteness and inhuman dedication!
http://maisieeatsbento.blogspot.com/


Thanks for reading!
~Emily

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