Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Photos from my Nanaimo Bar Quest

Not a "bento post" but if you are interested in viewing some snaps from my recent Nanaimo Bar Quest. You can see them here.

Back to Bento

Maple Wine Smoked Salmon Bento

Wow, it seems like forever since I packed Saba Man's bento lunch boxes. His first day back to work today so I provided lot's of healthy Omega 3. Salmon and mackerel are accompanying him to the office so if any of his co-workers are reading this; you've had fair warning. Actually, his hours are a little off of "normal" so there's usually no one there to complain about any food smells. He can he eat in solitude... it's his quiet time.

Along with fish, the bento boxes contain brown rice for extra energy. I know, I know... previous posts have said that we are cutting back on carbs; however the open bags of rice won't keep much longer and I don't want to waste. "That's my story and I'm sticking to it".

Broiled Saba Bento Box

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bento Box Shopping Shout Out! UPDATED

I've been checking out the bento box supplies in my neighborhood and noticed that the Asian markets are starting to carry more than just Lock & Lock boxes. I found this exact bento box style at H-Mart in Lynnwood, WA. They had some other cute boxes too and again, I had to control myself to not bring home any more boxes.

What kind of boxes have you discovered and where? Bento lunches are quickly catching on and if your stores are carrying bento boxes and supplies, add it on to the comments. Update: I've added this post to "Top Topics" on the left side of the page. Let's keep adding on to the comments as you encounter local bento box resources.
Teriyaki Garden Burgers

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Bento Box Contest Winner is Gamene

Congratulations Gamene, you are the winner of the 1st hapa bento contest! Thanks to everyone, all your bento entries were inspiring and I had fun leaving hints and clues here and there across the internet. I will definately hold another contest again.

Here's a link to one of the many entries that Gamene submitted.

Bento Box Contest Entries

The bento box contest is over and the entries have been collected. Again, I'm so glad that the winner is being selected randomly because there is no way I or any judge could decide the best one. They were all so wonderful and as I was reading and collecting all the emails I couldn't help but get excited for the next contest... but I digress! The winner has been selected and will be announced soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nanaimo Bar Quest is Over- UPDATED

First Taste
It's with great happiness and sorrow that my Nanaimo Bar quest has come to it's end. The happy part is obvious... the sorrow? That part is harder to describe. Am I sad because finding my Nanaimo Bar meant I was near the conclusion of my holiday? Maybe. Is it some sort of "post dessert disorder"? Most likely. I am proud to say that I kept to only one Nanaimo Bar but must confess that I ate some serious desserts and will post the photo evidence after announcing the bento box contest winner tomorrow. Until then, I present to you my first Nanaimo Bar.
Updated to add that this photo was accepted on Foodgawker. And Tastestopping.

Seattle's Pike Place Market

I visited this iconic farmer's market in downtown Seattle, Washington before boarding the ship. Here's one of many photos which will be posted after the announcement of the bento box contest winner.

Seattle-Pike Place Market

Friday, September 25, 2009

Final Bento Box Contest Hint

Here you go! The final hint for guessing where is hapa bento? Or I should now say, "where WAS hapa bento"?

Enter your bento here.

Good luck everyone!

Bento Box Contest Ends 9/26

Hello-Just updating a quick post to let you know there is about 1 day left to enter the contest. Thanks for playing and keep those entries coming. I will be posting another hint shortly, so if you are still not sure of my destination check back here for the next clue. The contest will end at 11:59 PDT, 9/26.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bento Box Contest Updates

Quick post say thanks for all the contest entries. Keep them coming, I love seeing them and so do eveyone else as they are all so creative. Please post your bento entry in the contest post here and email me with your guess "Where is hapabento?" Some of you have come close, but are just missing by a little bit.

My hunt for the Nanaimo Bar has come to an end as I ate my very first one today. Photos will be provided later. Gotta run... there's sushi being served up on the Lido Deck! See you later.

PS Saba Man say's he's eaten a Nanaimo Bar before and couldn't believe I never got one from our neighborhood bakery! Did I come all the way for nothing?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Magic Round Bento Box

I thought I would post another past photo of the MRB , since it' coming with me on the high seas. My plan to keep blogging may be thwarted by those same high seas, but we shall see, keep your fingers crossed that all anti motion sickness meds workfor me.
Keep those Bento Box contest entries coming. I'll answer as soon as i can.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

I found a recipe for Nanaimo Bars that seems to be the REAL thing.

Banh Mi and other Vietnamese Yummies

We stopped at Seattle Deli to grab a bite while running errands today. (I need a few more items to take on my trip. Note to self: do not forget to pack the "MRB". ) The deli was full, packed from the counter to the door of people purchasing hot meals, spring rolls, breads and bahn mi. And it's obvious to why Seattle Deli always has a line... their banh mi is just super wonderful. Fresh baguettes with lightly pickled cucumbers, carrots and lemon grass along with whatever protein you like. Saba Man loves the BBQ Pork, I of course being vegetarian opted for grilled tofu. Mmm mmm mmm!!!
This is a strictly "to go" eatery and when you pull into the parking lot you'll see customers enjoying their meal in their cars! Today's sandwiches were for immediate consumption no "bento boxing" (thanks Judy).
In the past, I've specifically bought sandwiches for packing a bento box lunch. As you can see in the photo Saba Man's banh mi is packed in my favorite pink, polka dot, basket type bento box.

Bento Box Contest Prizes

Just a quick post for another bento contest hint and an update.

I've recieved some nice emails about the contest prizes. Yes, the bento boxes and bento accessories are brand new, never been used and I will send them to you at no charge.

I was up late reading emails and Twitter. So much that I feel like a Celebrity.

Keep your guesses coming and don't forget to link your bento photos. We want to see them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Breakfast Bento Box

So I'm still preparing for my trip. Any ideas on where I'm going? Don't forget to submit your guess and bento photo. You could win new bento boxes and cool bento stuff.

As mentioned in previous posts I pack bento boxes for both Saba Man and myself, typically 3 or four of them per day. One of those boxes is usually my breakfast and since I'm currently packing suitcases and not bento boxes, I went to the bento box vault and pulled out a photo that typifies what I eat to start off my day. I love this cute little box, it's the perfect, child size, lunch bento box and when I spied it at Daiso I had to add it to my bento box collection. Someday I'll post a photo of the very overflowing cupboard of bento items. Anyhow, my usual breakfast consists of steelcut oatmeal, yogurt with honey and some fruit. On this particular morning the fruit available were bananas, blueberries, mango and dried cranberries. Oh and a couple leftover maraschino cherries for color. (not leftover from cocktails, but from baking, just sayin')
This box is an example of the bento that should be kept cold because of the yogurt so I do pack a little ice pack in the bag with it. If you don't want to go to that trouble try filling your breakfast bento box with
dried fruit, granola, toasted bread or muffins. Delish! Start you day off right with a healthy bento box alternative.
As for your guess...poke around past posts as there are some major hints to my destination. Have fun and good luck!

Bento Contest Hint

The location is on an island. Don't forget to link your bento photo in the comments to enter the contest AND email me your guess.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vegetarian Ketchup Fried Rice

Since I'm not currently packing bento boxes I thought I would dust off an old family recipe for "Ketchup Fried Rice". Ketchup!!! Really? Yes, it's an island thing. And before I switched to soy I used to fry this baby up with...SPAM!

I no longer eat meat (hold the "SPAM is not meat" jokes) I substitute with other protein options or just eat it with egg. In fact, you can use this recipe as the filler for "Omurisu"

1 cup of chopped protein: TSP, Tempeh, or wheat meat

2 C Ketchup (more or less to taste)
3-4 C day-old Cooked cold rice
Sesame oil
Cooking oil
Tabasco, optional

1 medium Round onion chopped
4 Eggs
Chopped green onions for garnish

Cooking Instructions:
Chop the Spam into 1/2 inch pieces, fry with a little cooking oil on medium/high heat. Use a large frying pan or wok. Add the chopped round onion, cook until the onions are tender. Add the sesame oil. This is for flavor and to keep the rice from burning and sticking. Immediately add the cold rice. Keep stirring and tossing to heat up the rice, when the rice starts to get hot and loosen up, slowly add the ketchup. Keep stirring until the rice is covered with the ketchup and until the desired taste is achieved. When done, set aside. Grab another frying pan and fry the eggs. When the eggs are done, scoop some of the rice in a bowl, top with an egg and garnish with the chopped green onion. Serve with Tabasco. Adjust the amount of sesame oil to your taste. Use cooking oil instead if the rice is sticking and you don't want to add too much sesame. This recipe will not work with freshly cooked rice.

I recently featured this recipe in Saba Man's bento box. He ate it with gusto and didn't miss his beloved SPAM.

1st Ever hapa bento Contest!

I hope this isn't too corny of an idea. I'll be gone and without bento boxes to post we need to somehow continue our entertainment. Right? So without further delay here it is.

Small print first:

1. Friends, Family and Coworkers can participate but cannot win. You'll read why in a bit.
2. Multiple entries are fine. The more you enter the better the chance of winning.
3. Let's keep it fun.

Contest Description:

1. Post a link to your bento photo in the comments below. This must be a bento that YOU created recently. No grabbing cute bento pics from the World Wide Web.

2. There are no rules for the type of bento. The winner will be selected randomly.

3. Here's the fun part. Along with your photo link, you must email me with the name of the place I'm headed for my vacation. (hence, no family, friends, etc. you guys know where I'm going)

4. The contest ends at Midnight PDT, Sept. 26, 2009.

5. At that time I will round up all the correct answers and corresponding photos then randomly select by "robotic arm" the winning entry. The winner will be notified by email and posted here.

6. Here's the prize, which I will mail to the winner anywhere in the world.
  • 1 single tier bento box with 4 colored lift out sections.
  • 1 bitter and milk, Yamanaka 2 tiered box with band and bag.
  • picks,star shaped cutters, furikake containers, squeeze bottles, cups and partitions

I've left many clues to my destination on this blog, twitter, Foodbuzz, my facebook page and I will be posting more hints later.

The contest starts now. Ask any questions (except where I'm going ) in the comments below.

Thanks and have fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bento Break? I Think Not!

Saba Man and I are now on a well deserved vacation. No alarm clocks, no commuter traffic, no bento boxes. What? No bento boxes? That's correct, for a couple of days anyway while we prepare to get out of town for a little while.

It's really strange that I did not make any lunch boxes for tomorrow. The evening felt kind of empty, like something was "missing". I'm watching Jay Leno without pausing to stir or scoop. There's no whirring of the microwave; like background music during the evening news.

Tonight, I'm not packing bento boxes for lunch. I'm packing them away! All except the round box. The round bento box is coming with me. So with that, I have a surprise. More of an announcement, a bento contest announcement!

I have a couple of nice bento boxes to give away, not filled of course, they're new and it's up to the winner to fill. The prize will include all sorts of bento box tools and goodies which I will photograph and post later tomorrow. The rules of the contest will be posted then too.

In the meantime, here's a bento box that I packed a while ago. It's the round bento box, also known as the "Magic Round Box" or "MRB". The photo shows a packed, ready to be eaten, in-flight meal. For this upcoming trip, I'm not flying, but will need this box. (That's a hint for the contest)

Salmon Patty Bento Box

Tonight, I remembered the salmon patties for the bento box. Also packed some ogo salad, which I made. Recipe? Nope. I just added to the seaweed: sesame oil, sliced onion, sliced cucumber,carrot, dash of soy sauce and sesame sead. There's some mango tucked in the corner with blackberries. These are not your ordinary blackberries, super spendy, but super sweet.
The snack bento box has my fave salad from PCC Natural Markets, Turkish Apricot Garbanzo. I love it and so does Saba Man. Why does he get 2 boxes you ask? He works long hours and eats his large bento box for lunch and the smaller snack box before he starts his commute home.

Sidebar: I saw a Nanaimo Bar in one of the coffeshops today. But I was in a rush and didn't get it. So it appears that my quest is far from over. I'm working remotely for the remainder of the week so there's little chance of tasting my first Nanaimo Bar until after the weekend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today's Bento Boxes

Saba Man cooked salmon for dinner and I asked him if he wanted the leftovers packed in a bento box lunch for work. "Sure", he says. So I promptly packed his 2 bento boxes. Only thing is... I completely forgot to use the salmon! Is this a sign that I need a "vaycay"? I think so.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nanaimo Bar Quest and a Bento Box

I'll get to the bento box shortly but first a quick mention about my search for a Nanaimo Bar.

Saba Man and I've been spending some time up north in Canada and discovered that Nanaimo Bars were from well, Nanaimo! Years ago when I moved from the islands to the Pacific Northwest, I discovered some strange sounding yet delicious foods like Geoducks, Aplets and Cotlets, lattes. I've tried most of these tasty treats except the Nanaimo Bar; it's eluded me and for far too long. It is time. Time for a quest, a Nanaimo Bar quest. And not just any Nanaimo Bar. Stay tuned.

Ok, back to our scheduled programming.

Today's bento box is vegan! Stirfried "wheat meat", Singapore noodles with tofu, sauteed gai lan, blueberries, mango with yokan. Frequent readers will recognize the bento box as Saba Man's main box which I pack on most days. It's a quick and easy box to fill. The 4 equal sized compartments eliminates the need for seperators.

Monday Bento Boxes

Here's 2 boxes for Saba Man's Monday. Short post as I am running late...again. Not much to say except we've been busy and looking forward to a vacation soon. But not to worry, there will be bento boxes to be made. Details soon. In the meantime, bento boxes filled with insalata caprese.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back to School Bento Box "Flashback"

I feel a little bit left out of the whole "back to school" , lunch packing debate. Afterall, I only pack bento box lunches for Saba Man and he hasn't been seen on campus for many years! So in honor of all the student's "who are" or "who are not" taking their bento box lunches to school this year, here's mini lunchbox, packed "bento style".

Are There Anymore Bento Boxes Left?

Not that I could see, unless you wanted a cute Hello Kitty bento box. Saba Man and I went out to check the resources at the Mall and it appears that people are paying attention to this recent trend of packing your kid's lunches. Daiso needed to restock and so did the Disney store which had some super cute boxes. It took all my willpower not to buy the last Mickey bento box. Heck, it was a perfect size for a Saba Man snack bento. This bento box had all the basic requirements ; cute design, locking lid, removable dividers and Mickey Mouse!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bento Box with Moonlight Cafe Leftovers

I went to dinner at a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant that also serves vegan dishes. In fact they have 2 seperate menus which they provide to each patron. Superb. We decided to eat here based on word of mouth and Yelp. The "Moonlight Cafe" is the place to go for Asian vegan. My friends ordered some beef and chicken (the real stuff) and gave me what they couldn't finish for Saba Man. Of course I promptly made his bento boxes as soon as I got home. Love those leftovers. Also in the boxes are various fruits, mozzarella pearls, OSP, and pasta salad. Yes, there is rice in there too. I know I stated yesterday that we were trying to stay away from the white stuff, but I couldn't bring myself to toss it out.

The vegan leftovers were packed right there at the table in... you guessed it; my new favorite L & L box. You can view the vegan entrees here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Rose by any Other Name is a Tomato

Saba Man likes both so it's okay.
So ...someone asked me why I don't have any rice in my bento boxes. Good question and there's no delicate way to say it other than we need to cut back on the calories so no rice for awhile. However, I found a small corner of rice pasta in a baggie. Should I toss it, cook it or shove it back into the pantry. Well, you can see I chose the most bento-like option ,boiled those puppies up and made a salad. But first I had to poke around the bento stash to see if there were any other past bento remnants. Hey, purple peppers from the farmer's market last week. Check. Handful of frozen edamame stuffed in a tiny plastic tub. Check. Cherry tomatoes for color. Check. Oh,oh,oh, I bought some of those cute mozzarella pearls too. Okay, go ahead and crank up the pot. (So much for cutting back) Along with the salad there's golden enoki mushrooms which I lightly sauteed in olive oil, garlic, S &P. Sliced mango, necatarines and the "go-to" bento color enhancer Okinawan Sweet Potato.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bento Box Lunch for 09/09/09

I wanted to do something extra for this special day. No, not because of the triple 9; it's the day that the NY Times article featuring one of my bento boxes is published. Here it is. The full article is here. Very exciting, so exciting that my bento boxes for tomorow are in super technicolor.

3 Bento Box Lunches (updated)

Short post because it's so late. I made some Insalata Caprese (shock) with those yummy heirloom tomatoes I bought yesterday. I used buffalo mozzarella instead of the usual, normal cow cheese. OMG, so delish. Is the buffalo kind healthier? I. Don't. Care. It's remarkably good. In short, 3 bento boxes for tomorrow; 2 for Saba Man and the new little square box for me.

This bento box is my new favorite; it's super cute. (read: portion control) It's my first Lock & Lock box and I'm hooked and if you see an obsessed ,middle aged woman staring at the display of these boxes at Central Market this weekend; giggling is okay but laughing and pointing is not.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bento Box Item: Green Tea Jellies

Do you ever purchase those frozen, ready made shumai? I do on occasion and whenever I open the package I stare at the plastic holder/divider thing that seperates each shumai. I know it sounds obsessive, but it's a really nifty piece of plastic and I just can't throw it into the recycle bin without somehow repurposing it. So I stashed one of them in my official box of potential essential bento tools (EBT) which, of course is next to the "pile of many Daiso gadgets". Until today!!! While mixing up a batch of green tea jellies, I decided to set them in molds instead of pouring into a shallow pan for future cubing. The former shumai plastic tray is now a jelly mold and rehomed to the official drawer of EBT.

I also used some of tops of onigiri molds and egg shapers for the jellies which worked out quite dandy. The jellies are made with kanten (agar agar) Just follow the directions on the packaging and substitute the water for whatever flavor you want. And because these jellies stay firm at room temperature, they're super for packing in you bento lunch box. What flaver do you or your kids like? The recipe is limit-less really. Have fun with making your own jellies and post your results in the comments. I would love to see your photos, recipes and share ideas.

Today's Bento Boxes are still in "Create" status

I have a few bento boxes to pack for tomorrow and will post photos later tonight. Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Here... it's back to school time. Now all my kids are grown and gone but that doesn't stop me from a bento lunch box addiction.

The Hunt for Red Tomatoes

The rain continued yesterday which put a damper, pun intended, on my trip to purchase tomatoes at the farmer's market. Not only did it rain, but it was so windy it pummeled my owl kite, which I hang on my deck to scare away the squirrels. No matter... the squirrels were undaunted and brave, the cat was not and is probably very relieved.

Okay, back to the tomato quest। I ended up at the grocery store, Central Market to be exact; they have pretty much all my usual bento ingredients and they keep a well stocked, self serve, bakery case. In fact they have so many yummy things I almost forgot the main reason why I decided to leave the comfort of my computer to drive in the pouring, windy rain. TOMATOES!!! And wow, did they have them. Heaps of organic, beautiful tomatoes. Now some of you know that I have a habit of packing Insalata Caprese in my bento boxes. Well, with all these beauties my addiction to this Italian summer salad will surely continue way beyond Labor Day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bento Flashback

I didn't make any bento boxes today, so here's a past favorite. Saba Man usually takes 2 bento boxes to work each day. A lunch/dinner bento and a snack box. This was his snack. It's filled with kamaboku, quail egg, blueberries, cherries, carrots, radish and green beans. I used my Ed Hardy background to continue the fish theme. I used to love all the Ed Hardy gear, but now it appears that the infamous reality tv people love it too. Yuck. It a shame because I really enjoyed all the bright colors.

Today at the Summer Market

It rained. It rained hard. My plans were teetering on "weather" or not to get wet walking over to the market or staying in, cranking up the PC (now fixed) and watching the sneak peak of "Dexter" Season 4, episode 1. When the rain stopped, I still wasn't convinced that I needed to leave the house until I spied my empty pantry. My eyes went from my computer and back to my large market bag. market I go with Saba Man in tow. Now today's farmer's market is usually a hub of fresh vegetables and baked goods, but most of the vendor's today brought their flowers. Not that I don't like flowers, I love them and so do my cats. But I needed bento items. Yes, I did find some purple carrots, berries and squash, but why was there only one booth with cherry tomatoes? Did the rain keep the usual farmers at bay? Not likely. Perhaps everyone is out of town for the long holiday weekend. Could be. I'll get another chance tomorrow to restock when I visit our neighboring farmer's market. Keeping fingers crossed that the farmers decide to forgo their holiday and sell me some tomatoes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Yellow Insalata Caprese Bento

I hate it when I run out of my favorite bento stuffers. Okinawan Sweet Potato, I believe is the best for providing high voltage color to a bento box. The. Best. Purple. Ever. See yesterday's post for reference. I'm out of stock and will need to pay a visit to my nearest Asian grocery store. Central Market carries OSP, so does H-Mart, 'cept they call it KSP. My substitute purple is provided by purple "bell" peppers. Crisp and cool.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another "Hurry Up" Post

Worked late, traffic sucked, almost out of gas, long lines at the store, can't find needed items...then I rev up the PC and it's JACKED! or whatever you techie PC guru folks call it. So now I'm on I.E. freaking 6!!!!!

Managed to assemble 2 bento boxes. No packed snack bentos for Saba Man... I guess we are back to basics. We'll have to grab whole fruit *gasp*as snacks to accompany the lunch boxes. Maybe some carrot sticks in a baggie. (not that there's anything wrong with that) =^)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hurry Up and Post the Bento!

Yikes, I spent my evening catching up with Season 2 of True Blood and didn't start assembling tomorrow's bento boxes until after episode 11. Don't worry, no spoilers, but.... what the!!!!???? Gotta wait a couple of weeks to see how they end this thing.

Ok, back to the bento. It's really green cuz I had bought this huge
head o' lettuce so I need to use it up. The salmon patties are obscured by the intentional layers of lettuce. Trust me, they're in there; Saba Man loves his Omega 3. Shiritake namasu, veggie mandoo and the usual tomato/olive fillers.