Friday, October 29, 2010

Jack O'Persimmon Bento

It's the mad rush to fit in a few more spooky bentos before Halloween is over. I am following the trend of bentoists everywhere and turning more fruits and veggies into Jack O'Something-Or-Others. Today it's a fuyu persimmon.

In this bento: purple rice, a few Aidell's teriyaki chicken meatballs, steamed edamame, champagne grapes from De'Santis Farms, a few french radishes from Ridgeview Farms (it was their last farmers market this past Wednesday, goodbye until spring!), baby carrots, a Jack carved fuyu persimmon from De'Santis Farms, and two little Halloween candybars. Not that I need more chocolate or sugar today. My breakfast so far has been 1 Hersey's Nugget, 1 fun size Babyruth, and a handful of Bottlecaps and Sweetarts, and some coffee. Can you say JItTeRs?!

If you find persimmons at your farmers market, I suggest trying both the fuyu kind (which you eat hard), and the hachiya kind, which must ripen to mushiness before you eat it. Both are yummy, but the hachiya is more often used in baking.

And finally, please take a moment to vote for my entry in the Food Ninja contest! There are a few bentoists who have entered the Food Ninja contest and we would love your vote so we can win some cool kitchen swag. Debra of hapabento and Sheri of Happy Little Bento have also entered. Voting ends on Saturday, October 30th, so please take a moment to vote now, thanks!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Food Ninja Vote

I am so excited that the voting for the Food Ninja contest has begun. Three fantastic food bloggers put out a call to all Food Ninjas (basically anyone who does anything rad in the kitchen or with food), and the voting has begun! I entered a Food Ninja video, showcasing my bento making skills. Here is the video, I hope you like it!

I had so much fun making this video and the resulting bento. My 10-year old stepdaughter did the photography/filming at the farmers market, and I made my hubby do the "unsolicited" testimonial at the end. The Japanese subtitles say silly things like "Don't Try This At Home" and "My Wife Is Crazy!" I filmed each of the video segments while speaking German, just to make sure my overdub wouldn't match my mouth. It took about 3 days to put this together. And serious thanks to Sheri of Happy Little Bento for her inspirational Ninja Egg. Sheri rocks!

You can head to right now and vote for the best Food Ninjas in each category. I would really appreciate a vote for Sonoma Bento in the video category. And you can vote for other bentoists as well! Debra of hapabento entered in the blog category, and Sheri of Happy Little Bento entered her awesome Ninja Egg bento in the picture category. Voting ends on Saturday, October 30th so please head over now to vote.

And just for fun, here is a Froggie Bento I made for my stepdaughter this past summer. I got the inspiration to make it from the Yum Yum Bento Box book by the wonderfully talented Pikko and Luckysundae. It's similar to another Froggy bento I made at the same time, but just slightly different. Have a great weekend, GO GIANTS!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wish You Were Here!

I crack myself up! Today a bunch of bento buddies on Twitter are having a #twitterfoodparty in which we share our creations on Flickr, twitter, Facebook, and on our blogs. Our theme this month is PASTA! And since we are just days away from Halloween, I had to do a scary pasta bento. It's THE SHINING!

I used spaghetti and tossed it with Pasta Etc.'s delicious marinara sauce. On top of this I placed a few alphabet pasta letters to spell out "REDRUM", which little Danny Torrance says in the film. Or rather, his finger says it in the film.

I fashioned Danny out of provolone and fresh mozzarella cheese, with nori eyes, mouth, and hair. I used food color markers to make his baseball t-shirt.

On the other side of the bento is steamed broccoli with slices of white radish on top. This is supposed to represent the snow covered maze at the end of the film. My hubby says it doesn't look like that, but I don't think he was into the spirit of the bento.

I had planned on watching the movie again for reference, but honestly, the movie scared the heebie jeebies out of me when I first saw it, and I really don't want to watch it again. Yikes! And the name of the bento (Wish You Were Here!) is a reference to the last scene of the movie, (SPOILER) where Jack ends up in the photo of the party guests.

You can check out the other Twitter Pasta Party entries by heading to and searching for #twitterpastaparty and #twitterfoodparty. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ghost Quesadilla Bento

This bento goes bump in the night. :) A ghost quesadilla filled with cheese and chicken. I used a cookie cutter to make the ghost shape, then put cheese and chicken inside to make the quesadilla.

Also in this bento: baby carrots, cucumbers (hiding under the ghost), cherry tomatoes, baked tortilla chips (made with leftover scraps from the ghost tortilla), and more chicken.

Oh and great news: yesterday when I was making my donation to Redwood Empire Food Bank for my 80th bento post, I found out that the Wine Road organization here in Sonoma County is holding some spectacular raffles with all proceeds going to the Redwood Empire Food Bank! So instead of making my $20 donation to the food bank, I purchased 3 raffle tickets for $25. That way Redwood Empire Food Bank gets the money, and I might win a cool Wine Road package. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RIP Sandwich Bento

Another Halloween Themed Bento for lunch today. I made a "tombstone" sandwich with PB&J. On the top of the sandwich is a stencil of a skull and crossbones! I got the stencil from Wilton and also used their brand of edible food spray paint. Wilton Halloween Mini Stencil Set, 8 Piece is the set I picked up with fun witch hats, spiders, skulls, and more. Wilton Black Color Mist is the food spray paint I used.

Also in this bento: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and daikon radish sprouts. I have included this bento in Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog. Be sure to check out the fun lunch ideas posted there!

This bento post also happens to be number 80 for me, which means another donation to the Redwood Empire Food Bank! Yay! Every 20 posts, I make a donation to my local food bank, because I think everyone deserves a healthy lunch. Food banks and other charities are suffering because of our tough economy, but if we can all commit to donating just a little, we can help feed the hungry in our neighborhoods. I am donating one dollar per post, so today marks another $20 donation. Special thanks to Susan Yuen of Hawai'i's Bento Box for her great inspiriation, and shining example.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Food Ninja Bento

Today's bento is my entry into the Food Ninja contest. Three bloggers (La Fuji Mama, Salty Seattle, and bell'alimento) have put together a fun contest in which we get to show off our mad ninja skills. I chose to make a video with a trip to the Farmers Market (naturally), a stop off at Asia Mart, and then a big reveal of my Food Ninja Bento. It's quite silly with Japanese subtitles, ninja poses, and a (forced) cameo by my husband. I'll reveal the video soon. Heather of La Fuji Mama asked me to do a guest post about my Food Ninja Bento, and I was delighted to comply. Check it out here.

In this bento: a star onigiri, a quail egg ninja with radish weapons, slices of boiled lotus root, steamed yellow beans from Orchard Farms, edamame, cherry tomatoes from Middleton Farms, boiled purple potatoes from Orchard Farms, steamed broccoli, teriyaki chicken meatballs from Aidell's, and a few fried padron peppers from Crescent Moon Farms.

A special shout out to the AMAZING Sheri of Happy Little Bento for her ninja egg inspiration. I am sure many bentoists like me admire Sheri's crazy Food Ninja skills. You too can enter the Food Ninja contest! Entry deadline is October 24th at 10pm PST. There's awesome prizes, too!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Creepy Quail Eggs Bento

I used Martha Stewart's special Halloween magazine as inspiration for this creepy quail egg bento. In her magazine Martha (or rather, Martha's minions) illustrates how to make marbled hard boiled eggs. They are fresh, but look like they have been moldering around the bottom of the basement for a while. The effect is quite easy to produce, and is stunning!

In this bento: Pillsbury garlic stick "fingers" with almond slice "fingernails" hold on to creepy hard boiled quail eggs. They rest on a bed of penne pasta with fresh mozzarella pieces and delicious marinara sauce from Sonoma County's Pasta Etc. In the upper compartment: steamed edamame, baby carrots, slices of white/purple radish from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes.

Here's a closeup of the creepy quail egg. It actually had more pronounced crackles on it, but I kept in in the fridge for a day before I used it, so the cracks started to fade.

Recipe for Creepy Quail Eggs
quail eggs
blueberry juice or red and blue food coloring

Fill a small pot with cold water, then add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar. The vinegar will make it easier to peel the shells from the eggs. Add the quail eggs to the pot, then place on the stove. Turn the stove on to high heat and wait for the water to boil. Once the water boils, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the covered pot for 7 minutes. Gently pour out the cooking water and pour cold water into the pan.  Remove quail eggs and tap their shells to create cracks all around the surface of the eggs. Put the eggs back in the pan with the cool water. Add blue berry juice or food coloring to create a purplish brew. Let the eggs sit in the colored water for at least 2 hours to get colored effect. Remove eggs from water and gently peel. Use eggs within 24 hours for best effect.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Think Pink Bento

As some of you may know, my mom is finishing up her battle with breast cancer, and doing really well! When we first found out about her cancer, I made a boobie bento to lighten the mood a bit. It has been tough to deal with, but my mom has done so well, and shown such strong spirit through it all. I love her so much!

Bento bloggers are being organized by a French bento blogger to send in pink bentos to raise awareness of breast cancer, and ultimately to raise funds. The posts are shared on Twitter and tagged with #ThinkPink and #ProjectPink. Here is my entry:

Pink rice with marinated lotus root and daikon shoots, baby carrots, a teriyaki chicken meatball, steamed broccoli, two tiny cherry tomatoes from Middleton Farms, and a hard boiled quail egg.

Save The Boobies! :)

Recipe for Simply Marinated Lotus Root
a few slices of raw lotus root
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Combine the vinegar, sugar, and ginger in a small bowl. Stir, then add the lotus root. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes or up to 3 hours.

Friday, October 8, 2010

10,000 Hits Winner and Black Eyed Peas

Congrats to.... PATRIZZIA! Out of the 50 entries (I went through the comments to make sure everyone got their correct number of entries), Patrizzia of iCreate was selected as the winner of my 10,000 Hits Giveaway. I hope you enjoy your bento goodies, and that you get them in time to make some fun Halloween themed bento creations. Thanks to everyone who entered and to all of my followers for your great comments and your interest in Sonoma Bento. It really means a lot to me! And I loved your Halloween stories. :)

Patrizzia is getting a blue bento box, a handmade Jack O'Bento bento box strap (made by yours truly, Sonoma Bento!), a pumpkin ice cube tray, sauce and furikake seasoning containers, and a starburst shaped craft punch.

And the hits keep on coming! I am so happy that bento blogs are popping up everywhere and people are really getting into this healthy, fun way to have lunch. There are so many reasons to love bento: they're economical, environmentally friendly, good for watching calories, nutritionally dense, and KAWAII!

Today's bento features some delicious local items from my favorite farmers. I cooked fresh black eyed peas from Jill at Crescent Moon Farms, and included some chopped Black Pig Meat Co Bacon from Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu and Bovolo Restaurants. They only took about 20 minutes to cook and no soaking! Jill has a variety of fresh shelling beans each year. Be sure to search her out at the markets. I also have a Crescent Moon Farms hard boiled egg. There are tiny cherry tomatoes from Nancy at Middleton Farms, and a few baby carrots and cucumber slices.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Brussel Sprouts Bento

Eeeek! Scary Brussel Sprouts! Kidding, although I am sure there are those who shudder at the thought of brussel sprouts. If you boil the heck out of them, yes they will taste awful. But roasting is a great way to get some caramelized flavors into brussel sprouts and avoid that sulfury stink that they can get. Also, buy FRESH, small sprouts that are tightly closed. Besides, smaller is better for bento. I did not get these at the farmers market, I picked them up at G&G Supermarket, a great Sonoma County grocery store.

In this bento: BBQ Pulled Pork from BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastopol (SOOO good!), rice with black sesame seeds, roasted brussel sprouts, a few baby carrots, and a few tiny cherry tomatoes from Middleton Farms.

I made my own food picks with craft paper, tape, stamps, and toothpicks. There's a little girl zombie (instead of brains, she is hungry for brussel sprouts), and a boy with a voo doo doll.

You may have noticed the teeeny tiny cherry tomatoes in my recent bento box lunches. I picked them up at the Sebastopol Farmers Market from one of the best farmers in Sonoma County, Nancy at Middleton Farms. The quality of her produce is exquisite.

I included this bento in Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog. There are lots of great bento ideas there, so be sure to check it out and add your own bento.

You still have time to enter my 10,000 Hits Giveaway! Deadline for entry is this Friday, October 8th at noon.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jack O'Sandwich Bento

I'm crazy about Halloween, my very favorite holiday of the year. If I could get away with it, I would probably make Halloween themed stuff year round. So get ready for lots of spooky bentos!

This Jack O'Sandwich bento was very easy to make. I roasted the brussel sprouts in the oven while I assembled the rest of the bento. In this bento: a ham and cheddar sandwich with a cheddar Jack O'Lantern on top. The pumpkin is decorated with nori (toasted seaweed) face, and a cucumber peel leaf. Tucked into the corner are a few baby carrots and two little cherry tomatoes from Middleton Farms. Also in the bento: two raspberries, a few slices of cucumber (you can see where I took the peel off of the cuke), more cherry tomatoes, and a few roasted brussel sprouts.

Remember to enter my 10,000 Hits Bento Giveaway! I love reading about the fun costume ideas you have. Deadline to enter is this Friday, October 8th at noon.

Recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts
1 pound small brussel sprouts, trimmed & any brown leaves removed
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut and X mark in the top of each brussel sprout. Put brussel sprouts in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for about 15 to 17 minutes, stirring the sprouts a few times during roasting time, until sprouts appear browned in areas and are fragrant.

Because brussel sprouts are a great fall food, I am including this in hapa bento's fun B.O.M.B. contest. Enter your fall food bentos now! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

10,000 Hits Bento

It looks like sometime last week the Sonoma Bento blog reached a milestone. 10,000 hits since I started the blog in April. Woohoo! Thanks to everyone for following my blog, or even just stopping by occasionally to see what fun things I am putting into my bento boxes. I really appreciate your comments and your interest in bento.

To celebrate, I am doing a fun GIVEAWAY! Are you interested in bento, but don't know where to start? Are you a bento blogger who needs more bento supplies? Do you just like to win stuff? Anyone and everyone (even outside of the U.S.) who would like to enter this giveaway is welcome to enter. Here's what one of you will win:

A blue double tiered bento box. It has a lower tier, and an upper tier with a fitted lid, and finally a top that goes over the two tiers. It will hold about 500ml. The word "pastel" is on the wrapper, not actually printed on the box.

A pumpkin ice cube tray! This is fun for making polenta pumpkins (see below) or ice cubes, or jello molds, or whatever you want to turn into a pumpkin shape!

Cute apple containers for sauce and a furikake seasoning container, plus a starburst shaped craft punch, perfect for cutting nori (toasted seaweed) into fun shapes.

And finally, this cute handmade bento box strap. I call him Jack O'Bento! This felt bento box strap will fit most two tiered bento boxes. Look for more fun felt bento box straps (made by yours truly) in my Sonoma Bento Etsy Store. I just added a kawaii Skull felt bento box strap!

To enter the contest, follow these steps:
1. You MUST be a follower of my blog. To follow my blog, click on the Follow with Google Friend Connect button on the right side of the page. Let me know in a comment that you are a follower and what your Google ID is.

Additional Ways to Enter:
2. Leave a comment telling me about your best Halloween costume. I LOVE Halloween! Update: I realized that not everyone celebrates Halloween, so you can also post about any Carnival or other costumes you wear for your own holidays.
3. Blog or tweet about this giveaway and post the link here in the comments section.

That's it, please leave a seperate comment for each entry. Good luck! The winner will be selected randomly from all entries on Friday, October 8th, 2010 at noon, Pacific Time.

Here's the bento I made today, the first of many Halloween themed bentos I am sure. I used my own pumpkin ice cube tray (not the one you might win) to make polenta pumpkins!

The polenta pumpkins are resting in a pool of tomato sauce. I made this quick sauce this morning with two early girl tomatoes from The Patch. I used nori to make a Jack O Lantern face on one pumpkin and added a few basil leaves from Middleton Farms. In the upper compartment: baby carrots, red bell pepper slices, cucumber slices, tiny cherry tomatoes from Middleton Farms, raspberries, and green grapes.

Beverage Pairing Suggestion: I added a tiny splash of Syrah to the tomato sauce as I was cooking it this morning. The Syrah I used would be a great fit with this bento box. Acorn 2007 Axiom Syrah picked up a Gold Medal at the 2010 Harvest Fair this year. It's spicy and fruity, and big enough to work well with the garlic tomato sauce and creamy polenta.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Willi's Wine Bar Bento

Dang, I love my job. Working in radio means cool people come in to talk about cool stuff all of the time. And sometimes they bring GOODIES. Yesterday, Mark and Terri Stark of Willi's Wine Bar came in to talk about their amazing flagship restaurant. Mark and Terri also own 3 other restaurants in Sonoma County: Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar, Monti's Rotisserie and Bar, and Stark's Steakhouse. Their food and service are both phenomenally good at each and every location, but not so expensive that you can't afford to go there a few times a year. I used to go about once a month to one of their places, but I've got to be more budget conscious these days. And so you can imagine how excited I was to see them at the station with goodies to share! They brought Moroccan Lamp Chops (which my coworker refused to share, and I don't blame him) and crab tacos. There was enough leftover crab mixture to use it in my bento today. Yesss!

I topped the crab filling with a bit of Chimayo Mild Chile Powder from The Savory Spice Shop in Santa Rosa. Also in this compartment: cold soba noodles tossed with olive oil and toasted sesame oil as well as a little splash of seasoned rice vinegar. I topped the cold soba noodles with green onion, julienned carrots, and julienned cucumber. For decoration, I added black and white sesame seeds.

In the lower compartment: steamed edamame, cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms, watermelon 'flowers' from Ridgeview Farms, a slice of lime (for the watermelon) and a fish container of soy sauce for the cold soba noodles.

As you can see, I had to decorate one of the orange cherry tomatoes with a little face. He looks kind of like a Jack O'lantern! A Jack O'tomater.

So yummy, thanks Mark and Terri for your awesome restaurants. Feel free to bring goodies by whenever you want! :-)