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Bentos (2009-)


Peter the eater
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I have a milk allergic daughter, so maybe I can help.

My daughter likes things like little sausages, chicken wings (split into drumette sizes), Sunflower Seed Butter and Jelly sandwiches, chicken legs, cheeseless pizza, musubi/nigiri, chicken nuggets/tenders or fried rice.

Thanks for the ideas Cheryl.

Best Wishes,

Chee Fai.

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Recent lunches:

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Here I made a very poor attempt at maki sushi. I had high hopes because I was cutting with my new Shun knife, but I still mangled it all. The avocado, from Florida, had little flavor. There was a lot of excess avocado (all this from a quarter of an avocado), so I also packed that with a little rice.

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Yesterday's lunch was absurdly large. I don't know why.

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As usual, no lunch on Friday.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yesterday's lunch was absurdly large. I don't know why.

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You're compensating for not being able to eat yourself (see the Iodine Diet Thread). Feed the kid, if you can't feed yourself..... :wink:

Edited by heidih
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--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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  • 3 weeks later...

We just went a couple of weeks without the need to make lunches. Two weeks ago PJ had his tonsils out and missed school for a week. Well, he missed school on Monday and Tuesday on account of the tonsil thing. Wednesday was a snow day. Thursday he went to school but Ellen brought him frozen yogurt at lunch time. Friday no lunch.

The following week was February break.

So, for this Monday and Tuesday:

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We're right in the middle of the season for learning which ongoing schools our son has been accepted to. The application process was grueling and involved many visits to schools -- open houses, tours, panel discussions, play visits, parent interviews -- and an incredible quantity of paperwork and stress. Tonight we had a more positive experience, which was that we attended an event for newly accepted prospective families at one of PJ's top three choices.

So the Q&A period rolls around and I ask about lunch. Of the top three choices, two of them provide hot lunch in their cafeterias. This one tonight is the only one where kids bring their lunches. That's appealing to me: I'm going to miss making PJ's lunches if he goes to a school with a cafeteria. Not that we'd make a school decision on that basis, but still it's an area of great interest for me.

I ask "What are the rules and regulations regarding lunch?" and the director of the school looks at me like I'm completely nuts. One of the teachers says, "What do you mean?" So I ask does it have to be kosher? (It's a Jewish school.) Dairy, meat, what? Are the lunches refrigerated? What's the allergy policy? Nobody could believe this was what I wanted to know about the school.

Anyway, this school doesn't refrigerate the lunches and has a much less aggressive allergy policy than our current school. No meat, but that still leaves a lot of options. The school provides milk and water at lunchtime.

The director starts talking about how he's amazed by what some of the kids bring in, like soup in a thermos. I think it's safe to say, if we go there, he ain't seen nothin' yet. I haven't been terribly proactive this year about getting interesting containers and whatever, because I thought I'd only be doing this for a year. But if he goes to this school it's going to be for nine years. That represents a lot of opportunity.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Today's lunch. Things are really getting repetitive, but that's what kids seem to go for.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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One of the great perks of teaching at the International Culinary Center (of which the French Culinary Institute is part) is the bread. Whenever I go in, I come out with amazing loaves baked by the students under the watchful eye of Johnson Yu, Bread Genius. The other day I was in to judge a culinary final exam and I took home these two beauties (I had to break the baguette in half in order to fit it in the microwave, which we use as a bread box when needed):

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The next morning I asked PJ which bread he wanted in his lunch and he said both. So I made him a cheese sandwich on the big one and I buttered four little slices of the baguette. Also carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting, and a hard-cooked egg.

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The rest of the bread went into bags for freezing.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The class pets are three hermit crabs. PJ is very attached to them. He wanted to name one of them Stripey but was outvoted by his classmates who wanted to call it Rainbow. PJ has doggedly insisted on calling it Stripey, so much so that other kids and the teachers have started doing the same. At this point nobody can keep the thing's name straight.

In any event, we were at a Japanese restaurant the other night and all the plates were garnished with kale. The hermit crabs, we learned when PJ was given the honor of keeping the class pets over February break, thoroughly enjoy a good piece of kale. So PJ suggested we keep the kale and pack it for the hermit crabs for lunch the next day.

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Other recent lunches:

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By the way I think we have chosen an educational path that means I will be making PJ's lunches for the next several years.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Is that cheese sliced up in the above bento? What kind is it? It looks like a thoroughly satisfying lunch.

I continue to make myself and my husband's packed lunch every day, much to the bemusement of our co-workers, who usually eat in the school cafeteria or at the local noodle shops around our campus. We usually end up having to work through our lunch, however, so I always make something we can eat at our desks while marking. Mostly these days I've been making soup, but this week I had tried out some new recipes from a Harumi Kurihara book I'd picked up in Hong Kong over the term holiday. The leftovers suited a bento perfectly, along with some leftover pork loin I'd made.

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Pork loin with pumpkin in sesame sauce; rice with dashi, carrot, and pepper. I forgot how satisfying a well-made benot is for lunch, although I wish I'd had something green on hand for contrast.

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That's mozzarella cheese. Also a hard-cooked egg in a bunny mold, pita chips, slices of red and orange bell pepper, and a slice of my wife's carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The last few:

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PJ and I have been on our own for the past week or so, because Ellen is in Asia at a conference. One of our activities has been baking bread. One day last week, he insisted on bread and butter for lunch...

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On account of a trip, here the assignment was to pack a totally disposable lunch -- in other words no containers that have to come home...

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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FG, is that rice inside of egg pockets in the last picture? Looks interesting. Did you make it? Could you explain how?

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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Correct, it's tamago sushi. The place in the neighborhood where I get cheap sushi makes it that way instead of the normal way where a rectangle of tamago is belted to the neta with a piece of nori. I've never seen it done that way anywhere else. Either I've been living a sheltered sushi life, or the Vietnamese sushi chef at Chinatown East restaurant has come up with something new and different.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Sorry, you have led a pretty sheltered sushi life, I think you may need to come to Japan! It is a pretty popular presentation for kid's sushi plates.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I think there's a traditional, formal definition of "bento" and a more modern, casual one. Traditionally it was a specific boxed lunch with rice and other stuff, and now it's basically Japanese for lunch packed to go. At least that's my take on it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The biggest difference is presentation, careful thought is given to bento presentation as well as utilizing all the different color schemes and different cooking techniques. A bento should be considered as a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Wikipedia's page on bento

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I think a bento always has to feature starchy foods prominently, and be designed to be eaten cold. I think that bread and pasta are stretching it a bit, actually, because both are already salted, so the kind of side dishes that work with them are quite different from the mostly heavily flavored items that go well with cold Japanese rice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What a great idea! I've been using little reusable silicon muffin cups instead of disposable foil or paper cups for a while now, but the colourful cups seem a bit out of place in a regular adult bento. These nori cups are a perfect solution.

It seems like each cup in a stack comes separated by a paper lining, so they're not completely waste-free, but still. How cool.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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  • 2 months later...

I fell behind a couple of months on posting lunch photos, but I never stopped taking them. You can see there's a point at which the countertop switches to white. That's when we moved into our current, temporary dwelling. With any luck we won't be here forever and by the fall we'll have a new countertop color. So anyway, school ended last week and here are all (I think) the lunch photos for the past couple of months. Not much to add to the information content of the photos, except that there are four in a row where the sandwich pictured is grilled cheese. Grilled cheese? Yes, PJ wanted cold grilled cheese for lunch every day that week. He got tired of it after that week and never asked for it again. One day, as a test, I made one for myself and ate it at lunchtime and it was pretty awful.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, this is my inaugural post on eG, and since bento is what I've been doing lately, I suppose this is the most appropriate place to make my entrance. :) I've been quietly lurking on eG for the last two years or so.. just reading intently and looking at photos in awe, doing my best to soak up information here and there. Now that I've decided to go into the Culinary Arts, I figured it was finally the appropriate time to join this place of impressive Japanese cuisine discussion. So, hello everyone!

Here is the bento I made today, actually.

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Contents of lunch..

Kinoko no takikomi-gohan (haiga rice, buna-shimeji mushroom, aburaage, carrot)

Breaded tofu cutlet with katsu sauce

Sweet simmered kabocha

Boiled asparagus

Spinach ohitashi

Julienne bell pepper

Half soft boiled egg

Cherry tomato and daikon sprouts

Edited by Katzu Niku (log)
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That is a spectacularly good bento, Mr or Ms Cats' Meat, and welcome to eGullet! I was surprised to see taki-komi gohan in summer, and you have so many side-dishes as well.

The daikon sprouts are such a good idea, I'm going to steal it immediately...much more robust in summer than shiso.

Heck, I've made a bento every morning this week and struggle to remember what was in even one of them. A photo record is a real resource.

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