Back in business bento

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Ahoy bentolings!

We've been living in a chaotic whirlwind the last few weeks due to getting the entire house painted. Needless to say, bento'ing in a crazy house wasn't going to happen. I think even my kitchen was depressed. The lights seemed just a bit dimmer and I swear the stove was boiling water slower.

The job was finally finished on Saturday night. We had to camp out in a blanket/pillow nest in the living room over the weekend. Normally that would seem fun... if you're twelve and don't have back issues. Well, it was fun, even though I felt like Tong Po broke me in half over his knee the next morning.

So the last couple days we've been shifting and cleaning and getting the place out of chaos mode. Feels good! So good in fact, I broke out the bento arsenal and made a quick one to ease myself back into it. It's not fancy and there aren't any faces or anything. Just a simple, delicious lunch. I didn't realize how much I missed making them! Hopefully nothing will cause another hiatus.

I made a really lovely sun dried tomato and basil ravioli dish for dinner tonight. It had a white wine pesto cream sauce with fresh garden peas. I know it sounds bad for you, but there's a trick I use to make it healthy and still taste great. No butter, no milk, no cheese apart from a little bit of Parmesan on top. I put aside a few for the bentos. There is a little diced up chicken, salad o'plenty and the token tiny, so tiny cupcake. YUM!

Of course the kitties weren't pleased about the painting. I had to put them in jail for the majority of the day for two weeks! Yuki meowed pretty much the entire day until her little voice sounded hoarse, followed by her throwing herself at the door in an attempt at escape. The only time she was quiet when in lock up was when she was in one of the bedrooms and could curl up under the covers like a pretzel.

Until next time!
<3

Cap'n bun bun bento

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Ahoy long lost bentolings!

I've finally equipped my bento utility belt and cape. Not really, but I would if I had either of those things. Life has been pretty hectic lately. The TT race is finally over, thank goodness. All the crazy biker folk are starting to make their way back to where ever they come from. I'm fairly certain some come from the moon. Driving isn't nearly as terrifying as it was the last two weeks.

Of course now that that's over, a new trauma will begin. We're getting our house painted starting tomorrow. That means we've been tearing down trinkets and books and generally ripping the whole nest apart. I for one hate situations like this. I like things in their place and clutter organized. This is going to drive me mad. It will be worth it in the end I'm sure. Or, it will be a giant disaster. Never can tell in the whimsy land of DIY. Actually, we're not doing ourselves. It's more like DIWAPP (Do It with a Paid Professional). That's definitely more our style.

I decided I had better get some bento making time in before the kitchen is a war zone. I've missed making them! At lunch time today I stopped in M&S for some bento supplies and a (soggy/ick) sammich. I saw these amazingly cute tiny carrots with the green tops still attached. It inspired me to make a Cap'n Bun Bun™ bento. Those not familiar with the Cap, he's my favorite inanimate object. Here he is dressed as a gangsta.

I had to make him look happy since he found some carrots bigger than him. It's like bunny euphoria I'm sure. I sculpted him out of rice, ham for the pink ears and nose and nori face. The flowers are carrots and spinach centers. Some steamed broccoli and a tomatoberry. I've not tried these before, but they are tomatoes shaped like strawberries! Another lovely find from Marksies. My love for exotic produce is boundless.

On the other side is tiny sandwich cubes with a smaller carved carrot and cheese/spinach flowers. Also a so tiny vanilla cupcake to end the lunch with a slight sugar bang. Only 100 calories for them, so I won't feel too guilty.

<3

Did someone say Chocobo cupcakes?

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Ahoy!

As you can probably tell, I'm vacationing from my bento making this week. I was rather busy this weekend with family fun and this week is another story. There are situations that come about while living on the Isle of Sheep. One of them being the annual TT race. It's the biggest two weeks on the island and if you're a resident here... a total nightmare. Half the island gets shut down because the whole place is the race course. It's crazy motorcycle people in leather pant nightmares every where you turn.

Because it's TT practice week I've been working from home. It's very dangerous to drive as the people that come here with their bikes pretend to be TT racers and almost kill you/themselves on the roads. Since I haven't been going to work and working here, packed lunches aren't really a necessity this week. I take my hour lunch break and whip us something up to eat. No time for pictures and my grilled cheeses are camera shy!

This past weekend I did have some culinary fun that I can share. I wanted to prepare some cupcakes for snow's sister and husband who are visiting the island for a while. It was her birthday Monday (same as my Mom's! Hooray for having to memorize less dates because I suck!) I knew their Mum was going to prepare a special cake so I didn't want to go too crazy. I got a yellow cake recipe off my lovely sis who is a baking genius. She wanted me to do this really complicated icing recipe, but I got spooked by ingredients/steps and went with a traditional buttercream.

Here's the thing, I think one of my most embarrassing moments as a human being was because of cake. I had just arrived on the island and was to attend a celebration dinner at his Mother's house. I was convinced she didn't like me and I was desperate to make a good impression. I decided to bring a cake.

See, in the US bringing a cake is good. Doesn't matter the cake, cake is a sign of peace. I at this point in my life, never made a cake from scratch and was still scared to death of the ovens here cooking in the foreign centigrade. I didn't want to make something gross, so I opted for a box cake. I made them all the time for family events... cake is cake right?

I show up to a lovely dinner and present my cake. It's cut and we all eat it. My future mother-in-law said to me, "Oh this is lovely... you'll have to give me the recipe". I couldn't lie and felt like a complete ass. "It's a box cake and the recipe is on the back because I suck" or something like that I must have muttered back. I failed as a future wife. Total wife fail!

I was determined to never let that happen again. It was the last time I'd made cake from a box. I haven't really prepared cake since then to be honest. We aren't big cake eaters. I never have been which is why I never learned how to make one from scratch. Strawberry shortcakes maybe (which are AWESOME and will share the recipe soon).

I knew I was going to make cakes. Kat deserved from scratch real cakes for being awesome so...armed with my sister's glorious recipe (listed below) I went all in spatulas blazing! They turned out delicious! Really, really tasty and better than any box! I did the icing and decorations to make them look like chocobos. She met her husband playing FFXI too, so it will always have a soft spot for all of us I think.

Here they are! Now, the really CUTE one on the left, snow made special for his sister for her birthday. He made it all by himself and made it look like a real chocobo sitting on a cake. Adorable eh?

Their Mum made a really spectacular cake that was delicious. They ate the cuppies later I think. We had a lovely picnic at the wildlife park and then strolled around looking at animals (mostly ducks). It was a super day and we all had fun. I think Kat liked her presents we (I) got her too. We usually give her silly things or Magical Trevor™ so I wanted her to have something special this year. Graduation and all. She's a smartie, more so than the ones on her cake!

Here's the recipes!

Scrummy Yellow Cake

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 - 8 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2 In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3 Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, (15-20 minutes as cuppies) or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks

I used a recipe from the Joy of Baking site for the icing. I've tried home made icing before and it failed. It's important you add the ingredients in a specific order and follow the directions exactly. It came out amazing following this recipe:

Buttercream Frosting:

2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk or light cream

Assorted food colors (if desired)

In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. Tint the frosting with desired food color (I use the paste food coloring that is available at cake decorating
stores and party stores).

Makes about 12 cupcakes

WOO SUGAR COMA!

Congrats to Kat for her super spectacular A for all her hard work at school. Skewl makes you sooper smaaht! <3

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naku
About me:

Hi, I'm naku...a design/web ninja. I collect comics, action figures, music & computers. Most often seen making bento boxes, wrangling cats or playing my DS. I'm fairly new to the magical world of bento so I'll probably be featuring posts of this nature for a while. At least until snow or jlist decide I've got a problem and should be cut off from purchasing any more onigiri molds. I'm currently living on the Isle of Man with my husband snowchyld, who is also a ninja, two cats Yuki and Athena and three fish, Aquaman, Namorita and Yoshi. Feel free to drop me a line any time with any questions about the bento boxes, or general inquiries... unless it's a math question. I'm really bad at math. n^_^u@naku.org

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