Thursday, January 22, 2009

January Bento Days (3)

'What? Another Bento?'..... I heard my friends and whoever is shouting out there. Yes.... my interest in Bento just keeps going and as long as I have a family to feed, I will come up with these boxed home made lunch till they ask me to stop.

A friend once asked me on which category I am best at in this cooking life of mine. Frankly speaking, I don't know and cannot pinpoint to any category but I would say making these Character Bentos consume most of my time and attention and if my kids want them everyday, I will not be able to do it. I always feel bad that I cannot do any craft work with my kids as I believe making crafts can increase a young child's imagination and motor skills tenfolds and the reason I sent Missy E to playschool at 3 years old was to let her experience that part of fun through her teacher and class activities. I simply have no patience cutting, coloring and glueing anything and doing anything with kids means extra time of cleaning up and extra mess than normal!

But doing these Bentos.... I have a different mind. While the kids can cut and paste things, but their crafts and arts always get tossed off into the bin in the end. And I figure at least everything I make for the Bentos goes into their tummies and serves a more fulfilling purpose. Afterall, they have to eat lunch and why not make it an exceptional lunch for their enjoyment and also to keep the mum crafty.

I haven't managed to find the smiling expression face punches yet and I had to improvise. Once in a while I will take the kids to the craft stores and get inspired as to what they can make or do and I came across these small craft punches which are used by scrapbooking moms to embellish their craft work. Lucky for me, they were on sale this week for 50 cents each and I bought a dog paw and dragonfly shape. I just used the dog paw shape and punched out the eye shapes and picked up the little pieces to make the nose part of the rice balls faces. Although the punched out shapes were not as exact and perfect, they did served the purpose and that is a reason I like doing these Bentos. Planning makes me think and it is challenging to put an array of colors and think of the nutrition contents of each piece.

I made mini beef burgers with melted cheese on top, served over some sushi rice. The cherry tomatoes were stuffed with ham disks to add color and texture while the carrot and long beans were boiled prior to cutting and filling into the boxes. Sausages are very common in kids Bento boxes and they can be cut into any shapes that fits the imagination. The only problem is that I haven't found a good brand which is not too salty. I normally boil them for some time to get rid of all the saltiness.

It was very funny to see the kids eat them. Missy E simply has no mercy at all when she poked and messed up the girl's face within seconds. While Prince D looked dazed and mumbling to me, presumably questionning on how to eat the boy's face. That really tells me something, both of them grow up very differently and their thinking is so opposite. See.... I do learn something from food crafting too.

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