A Bento a Day

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Bento #4: Chicken Ragout November 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — slongcoat @ 1:37 pm

Ragout is a slowly simmered French stew.  The version that I remember is tomato-based, with potatoes, carrots, and peas.  It can be made with beef, chicken, or pork, and is eaten with bread and butter (my favorite) or white rice (how we ate it in Haiti).  I’m taking care of Grandma for the next month, so a mild chicken ragout was the first dish I made to keep her happy this week (potato soup is up next).

Bento #4 features chicken ragout with white rice, a perfectly crisp persimmon, and a smidge of sauteed Chinese greens from Peking Gourmet.  Sounds strange, but everyone was over at Mom and Dad’s tonight, so dinner was a hodgepodge of takeout, what I was making, and lunch leftovers.  Hmmm… my bentos generally have quite a bit of red and orange in them!

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chicken ragout with white rice, sauteed Chinese greens, and a persimmon

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Bento #3: Monochromatic Pot Roast November 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — slongcoat @ 6:16 pm

Today’s lunch features the leftovers of a rainy, cold November night’s dinner: pot roast and a slice of whole wheat bread (ahhhh… carbs…).

We made the pot roast on the fly.  T didn’t get to the store so I was missing the secret ingredients (cream of mushroom soup and French onion soup mix).  That’s why the pot roast is decidedly chocolatey in color.  The flavoring came from an onion, beef bouillon, S/P, and a judicious lump of butter. 

The carrots, however, were perfect and the bread and butter were a nice squishy counterpoint to the rich sauce.  I love autumn…

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pot roast with portobellos and carrots, a slice of whole wheat bread

 

Bento #2: split pea soup and Spam onigiri October 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — slongcoat @ 2:00 am

It’s been really rainy and gray lately, so I made some split pea soup.  I started with smoked pork bones, added half an onion and some water, then the peas and let it simmer away.  Carrot coins joined in at the end, and I’m pretty happy with the results.  It’s amazing how much soup half a bag of peas will make.  I was most excited, however, about my Spam onigiri. 

I don’t have all that much experience with Japanese food other than the typical fare that everyone loves: sushi, sashimi, tempura, wakame salad…  in my bento research, I found onigiri to be a staple of a rounded bento lunch.  For mine, I started with a bowl of precooked sushi rice, which reheats BEAUTIFULLY.  (my mom would freak out if she knew I bought prepared rice, so let’s keep this between us)  Without a mold, I used a sheet of plastic wrap in a small sauce bowl.  I sprinkled it with salt, spooned in some rice, added diced Spam, and gathered up the corners to make a flattened ball onigiri.  I finished with a strip of nori… maybe too much, but I really like the salty ocean taste of it.

The baby carrots and sugar snap peas made an encore performance, but I used some natural almonds as my fillers.   I can’t wait to find a bigger bento; it would be nice to be able to fit some dessert in there somewhere…

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Lunch for 10/29/09: split pea soup, Spam onigiri, almonds, carrots, and sugar snap peas

 

Day 1 of the Bento Initiative October 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — slongcoat @ 5:21 pm

Why bento?  Simply put, I recently lost 22 pounds going low-carb, and am looking for a way to keep it off… and maybe lose more in the process.  Portion control seems the most logical method, since I’m a serious foodie and can’t see limiting myself in the variety department.  I’m originally from Laos, grew up in Haiti, and went to college in the south.  At any minute, I could crave papaya salad, pumpkin soup, or boiled peanuts.  Through the genius that is bento, I can have it all.

I love the way a bento box forces you to think about what you’re going to eat.  I’ve done quite a bit of research on it, and found out that Japanese housewives can spend hours assembling the perfect lunch for their little ones.  Rice balls disguised as video game characters, fruit cut into flowers, hot dog sculptures to rival Rodin–the options are dizzying.  I’m going to concentrate more on my portions.  If it can fit in the box, I can eat it.

My first bento box has a very sweet pink top with pink and brown flowers to match the brown base.  It has 2 levels, and both can be microwaved.  I spent about half an hour at Super H agonizing over the choice, despite the limited stock.  Ideally, I would have gotten the 3-level square dealie with the built-in handle, but none of it could be heated, so I had to pass.  I forsee this one becoming my breakfast bento, as it is on the small side, but we’ll see…

My first lunch consisted of: sugar snap peas, baby carrots, pecans, and most of the contents of a Japanese imported chicken teriyaki bowl.  Surprisingly, it was just enough food to fill me up!  Okay, so I supplemented it with a super-thin slice of pumpkin coffee cake someone brought to work, but it’s a start.

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First Bento