16 February 2009

Tuesday bento

Carnevale :: カーニバル!! II

as in the previous video, the Saurus by Close Act

Carnevale :: カーニバル!!

Something really special is taking place in Saint Mark's Square, this Carnival
Three silver prehistoric creatures hypnotize both adults and children with their graceful movements and weeping voices. Gigantic, they walk across the most beautiful square in the world and people follow them, completly captured by the magic of this beautiful performance. Behind them, in the video, the façade of San Marco Basilica.

...and on!

going on with my new お弁当生活!


15 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 5 - my report

This week was a bit like assembling together the pieces of a puzzle that in past weeks were all scattered (and hidden) around! Before the challenge, I was not new to the bento universe but I had not yet tried to make it my own. I used to look at bento related websites with great admiration but felt they were too daunting a task for me to make.
The challenge was the perfect opportunity to learn while making new friends, and I think I became a real 'beginner'! At first I was a bit confused by the new things to do, but even more I was overwhelmed by the many things you need to think about when trying to organize better. After having 'survived' for 4 weeks, on the 5th I tried to take it easier and I focused on what I realized to be my most important aim/goal/challenge: having my meals arranged in a bento-style way at lunch and dinner, with all that comes with the bento-making process. I mean, I want to continue bringing my bento every day at work, but during this week 5 I arranged food in a bento-style also for dinner (exercise!), on one single plate, and I realized it is a good way to pay attention to what and how much I eat.
During week 5, I got more into my own specific needs and tried to focus on them

:: together with my bentos, had healthier snacks (dried apricots/sunflower seeds/whole grains&honey home made biscuits/and my usual apples)

:: kept on using leftovers and previously frozen things, making a habit of writing down on a notebook how much I spend on food and trying to save more money

:: focused as before on season's food and local products (and this also helped on the money saving!)

:: tried to put my lunch in a smaller bentobox and saw that it was ok! Lunch was still satisfying and I did not feel sleepy or too 'heavy' in the afternoon, I had my usual snack and I was in a better mood so ate more 'consciously' also at dinner (!!!).

:: froze some leftovers that I would have wasted otherwise (I usually tell myself 'ok, I will eat this tomorrow' and then 'tomorrow' I end up cooking something new and forget about leftovers, but this bad habis is changing!)

:: got things reorganized in a couple of cupboards (and more to follow) and in one of my freezer drawers

:: thought and searched in books/internet and magazines about correct food combinations and exchanged on it with a challenge friend who made me wish to search more!!

:: and today, after dinner, got my bento ready for week 6!!
mean, for me this is only the beginning and I'm still exited!!!

13 February 2009

my favourite bento

Bento Challenge week 5 - my bento n.5

proud of today's bento
I tried this new recipe of Korean 'chijimi' and they are delicious!!

For this bento, I made chijimi for the first time. I saw them in one of Maki's bento and she made a gluten free version so I really wanted to taste some!!! I found one version at cookpad.com (but I'm waiting for Maki's recipe :-) and tried them using rice flour. They were very quick to prepare and cook and tasted so good also today!
I took the recipe here and changed it a little bit using local products and things I had at home: I mixed one grated potato with some rice flour (2-3 Tablespoons) one egg and two pinches of salt, then added thinly sliced leeks and chopped chives (to taste) and poured the soft mix in an oiled pan with a spoon and cooked until brown. I made four chijimi.


:: ポッロねぎ (細長いねぎ..西洋葱というかしら)
:: ニラ
:: 卵 一個
:: じゃが芋 一個
:: 米粉 おおさじ 3ー4
:: 塩
:: 菊科の油

すりおろした長いもと米粉、卵を混ぜて、 それからネギと韮を入れる

12 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 5 - my bento n.4

a very poor attempt to dye rice with violet cabbage! it was fun, anyway
:: gohan
:: steamed Brussel sprouts
:: chopped violet cabbage
:: smoked mackerel

note on the container: I packed today's lunch in a 450 ml container instead of the usual 670 ml one

11 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 5 - my bento n.3

Today's bento
:: tomato sauce tagliatelle pasta with meatballs (leftover meatballs) and some pecorino cheese
:: steamed broccoli

Food combination

I found this very interesting food combination chart here. It is very similar to the one within my vegetarian recipes cookbook 'Il cucchiaio verde' (The Green Tablespoon) that that is my bible for healthy cooking and good food combination and realized how much I've changed my eating habits since the bento challenge had begun. One of my 'rules' was never to eat pasta and meat/fish/eggs within the same meal and althought having in my bentobox several mini portions of different things is quite appealing and really delicious and tasty, I'm considering going back to my former habits and try to put in every meal either proteins or carbohidrates (not both of them) and many different vegetables. Let's see what will happen!

But..for today's bento it was a little too late! The tagliatelle with tomato sauce and meatballs (pasta+meat) that I will eat for lunch seem to be the worst combination for health.
I'll try to be more careful (exept when I eat onigiri filled with salmon!)
An interesting sheet here (in Italian)

10 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 5 - my bento n.2

I like the colors of today obento
:: gohan
:: steamed broccoli
:: violet cabbage
:: two small hamburgers

09 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 5 - my bento n.1

:: white Japanese rice topped with salmon flakes and chopped chives (leftover from Sunday's lunch)
:: daikon radish ans carrots simmered in katsuobushi stock&tamari (as above!)
:: chopped violet cabbage

it lacks a touch of green, maybe I should have put some steamed broccoli near the daikon&carrots that look so sad!

Bento Challenge week 5 - my focus

I read at Maki's that this week focus will be on: Putting it all together, and moving forward.

quoting from justbento.com:
Make a list of the reasons you want to continue making bentos.
Take a look back at your Challenge weeks, and see what areas are or were giving you trouble, and how you could deal with them.
Consider scaling back or changing your bento-oriented goals if necessary.
Optional: Choose the 1 or 2 main reasons you want to make bentos a part of your life. Print them out in a large font, and stick it up where you will see it daily - on your refrigerator for example.

going deeper
Make 2 or 3 favorites that you can stash in the freezer.
Get into the habit of making more of something you need at a time, for dinner or for a bento, and storing the rest in the refrigerator to use later in the week.
Frozen vegetables are great staples to stock.
Don’t forget your pantry. Stock up on things like canned and dried beans, canned tuna and other fish, canned meats (Spam!), instant soups, herbs and so on, as well as Japanese things like furikake, nori seaweed, etc. Of course, such staples are not just limited to bento use!

Putting it all together, and moving forward: it is exaclty what I had in mind for my week 6 and 7 and 8, that is to say for the weeks and months that will follow the challenge!
Pre-planning and having everyday a nice bento for lunch is not always that easy or natural, but in these past 4 weeks I learned a lot on how to get organized and I tried to see the 'fun side' of cooking and making the bentos, and while doing so I realized how much I can save (money and time) and became more conscious of general wastes in my life that I'm currently trying to 'fix'.
I know that once the challenge comes to an end, I will have to put extra efforts on bento-making (I'm really feeling part of a group now, even though I cannot post in the forum as much as I would like to, and hope to keep this feeling alive) but I'm really motivated to go on with bento-making and adjust it to my habits.
With this week and following weeks I will
:: continue making bento every day, with a 'one-dish obento' once a week (also for weeks to come) like pasta or rice with fish/meet & vegetables
:: try to eat better at breakfast (home made biscuits, dried fruits & green tea) and have healthier snacks
:: focus on the money saving aspect of bento, also by filling it with less meat/fish and more dried beans (cheap & healthy)
:: work on the pre-planning and continue to work on organization of staples and freezer/refrigerator
:: use a smaller bentobox at least three times a week
:: prepare 'dried beans bentos' for my father (who should pay attention to glycaemia and eat helthier)
:: try to be more involved in the forum!!!
my reasons for making bentos
:: to save money (I did not realize how much food I wasted until I got into the challenge) and use all leftovers!
:: to eat healthier
:: to get to practice more Japanese style recipes

still have problems in
:: having the kitchen/cupboards/refrigerator well organized
:: arranging food in the bento and making it look nicebut

:: exercising on organization and pre-planning, and love to take notes on bento making and recipes in my notebook!!

Bento Challenge week 4 - my report

I was quite anxious about week 4 focus, ‘making bento for others’ but a collegue of mine who is also a dear friend to me and has been following my bento improvements (well, let’s say my bento-making efforts!) with curiosity and support, was happy when I asked her to ‘help’ me for the week focus and share the bento experience with me! She loves Japanese rice so much that choosing to make onigiri was quite natural to me. It was not a regular obento, though, made with leftovers and paying attention to food balance, but rather a ‘special-onigiri-lunch-with-friend’ so I think it stands apart…But then I had another opportunity to make bento for others, that was for my boyfriend on Friday. We had a bento-style lunch at home (real bento, this time) and He enjoyed it very much!

My main efforts for the week were devoted to

:: continue to prepare my bento everyday (which I did)
:: the saving money issue, that meant to use food I had at home and shop only for very necessary things + choosing only seasonal vegetables and fruits (which I did, exept for a cucumber I bought after seeing Mosaica’s bento with sunomono that made me crave for cucumber fresh taste!!)
:: extra efforts were made to prepare home-made afternoon snacks because althought the bento is very filling, I always end up eating something in the afternoon so I cooked some L size whole flour cookies with honey and no butter to have an healthy snack.

Here the bentos!

05 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 4 - my bento (and his) n. 5

a Japanese friend of mine came for dinner (we had tons of amatriciana!) so I prepared these two bentos quite late, before going to bed. The one on the right, with the chopped chives onigiri is mine (slighlty smaller container) and the one on the left is for my boyfriend (who does not like chives!): luckily we are going to have lunch at home on Friday so this week challenge focus, preparing bentos for family and friends, turned out to be perfect!!

Friday's bentos are filled with

:: tamari glazed chicken
:: tamagoyaki
:: big onigiri filled with smoked salmon
:: carrots with parsley
:: French beans

I had only the onigiri from Wednesday evening and carrots leftovers so I had to prepare the other things but I like crunchy vegetables and cooked the beans for less than ten minutes, the bite-size chicken cooks very fast and I did not bother to roll the tamagoyaki so it was quite fast, after all!

It is an ordinary bento but I resisted the temptation of failing the task and having a traditional meal at home because I wanted to enjoy the bento with my boyfriend. I hope He likes it!

04 February 2009

Bento Challenge week 4 - my bento n.4

onigiri bento!! one for me, one for Mara

note 5 february after lunch (it's 1.30pm here)

today it was the onigiri day! This week focus of the Bento Challenge being 'preparing bento for friends or family', I brought to work two onigiri bento, one for me and one for my friend Mara who visited japan last year and loves the onigiri at least as much as I do! We had our bentos about half an hour ago laughting and talking about next time fillings!

biscottoni integrali al miele

volevo qualcosa di super-integrale per la colazione (e la merenda) che fosse però anche velocissimo da preparare, e così ho provato questa ricetta da 'L'enciclopedia della cucina italiana' (i volumi usciti con Repubblica), che, per inciso, secondo me su certe cose andrebbe rivista e 'aggiustata' (ad esempio, in questa ricetta mancava il classico pizzico di sale che va sempre nei dolci!!).

Questi biscotti con qualche modifica credo diventeranno tra i miei preferiti.

La ricetta da manuale prevedeva (tra parentesi i miei aggiustamenti!)
:: 200 gr di farina integrale (io ho usato quella della Wertz miglio, riso, grano saraceno e mais)
:: 3 cucchiai di miele
:: una bustina di vanillina (secondo me stonata e così sostituita da qualche goccia di aroma arancio)
:: un uovo
:: 8 cucchiai di olio extravergine di oliva (sostituiti da 4 cucchiai di olio di girasole bio)
:: 1 cucchiaino di lievito in polvere (sostituito da poco bicarbonato)
:: (un pizzico di sale!!)

Lavorate in una terrina l'uovo ed il miele e aggiungete la farina e il bicarbonato setacciati insieme, ed un pizzico di sale. Versate poi l'olio e amalgamare per bene il composto, ricoprite una teglia di carta da forno e formatevi dei biscotti versando l'impasto a cucchiaiate, oppure (meglio, io l'ho fatto solo alla fine e me ne sono pentita) mettete il composto in una siringa da pasticceria e formate dei biscotti. Infornate a 200° (troppi secondo me) per 15 minuti (bastano 10) e poi mettete a raffreddare su una graticola.

Senza burro e zucchero, e diminuendo la quantità d'olio che prevede la ricetta originale, questi biscotti risultano davvero leggeri.

Bento Challenge Week 4 - my bento n. 3

today's bento made with leftovers

02 February 2009


Bento Challenge week 4 - my bento n.1

from left to right
:: steamed broccoli
:: matured pecorino cheese
:: carrots sticks
:: brown rice and lentils fried with two spoons of turmeric-savoured sunflower oil and sprinkled with parsley

Bento Challenge week 4 - my focus

This week focus of Maki's bento challenge is: making bento for others

Not very easy for me! I will try to prepare at least one Japanese style bento for my father and his lady (a big one easy to be carried that they can share at home), and maybe one onigiri bento for my collegue/friend M. who loves onigiri at least as much as I do!!!

As for the other goals, here they are
:: try to prepare my bento everyday (started with 4 on week one, and then 5 anf 5 for weeks 2 and 3)
:: variety of food is important, but saving money and be conscious about the environment are more important things to me, so I will focus 90% of my energy in filling my bento with seasonal and local products because they are less expensive and do not take energy to be carried far away. the money saving issue means also to keep using staples and dried food (beans etc) I already have at home (still have plenty of them!). carrots are enought to add a touch of color, this far.
:: as for the exercise, I've been walking as usual (at least 20 minutes a day with a max. of 50 minutes walks when going to shop for food etc) and I would like to do more, but this week's weather seems to be awful...we will see!

01 February 2009

Today's kitchen


Bento Challenge week 3 - my report

here the pictures I took of past week (week 3) bentos

Five bentos out of five days, and almost no shopping for food!
Having my bento for lunch is becoming almost natural: not that the pre-planning and organization issues are that smooth, but I think I will not go back to my habit of having only one main dish for lunch, like a huge amount of pasta or rice and nothing else. I really enjoy having my bentobox filled with different foods and colors and I'm willing to keep up with this new habit!

I'm really satisfied with this third week focus, that was on making bento to save money. I mean, I had only a glimpse on how much I can save with the 'bento-method'!!! I almost did not shop for food and I realized that I'm getting to remember much more easily what food, vegetables and staples I have at home so I do not end up buying things that I do not need. I understood that the pre-planning part starts before going out to shop at the supermarket, with a quick glimpse into the cupboards and the refrigerator, and I really want to focus on this also for future bentos and general food (and everything) shopping!

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