We anticipated coming out of the finical pit this year, so I got myself two new bento boxes. I went extreme on both ends of the useful–cute scale. Because I love my daily cupcake of yogurt, I seldom use the bunny box. It is about a sixteenth of an inch too short to put a silicone cupcake into and still close the lid. The ECO box is HUGE and it takes a little thought to fill it up without putting too much food into it.
Bunny bento on soup day… I just squished in the yogurt.
I went vegetarian on this day. The upper box held yogurt with blueberries and bananas in a cupcake. I took the picture before I smooshed on the lid. It also has ground cherries (those yellow balls), concord-thompson cross grapes, watermelon hearts and sugar pear (seckel) slices. Raw almonds fill in the spaces and add some crunch. The bottom layer holds a hard-cooked egg with broccoli, plum tomato slices, lemon cucumber, cooked squash, and beets, all from the Toy Box. The soup is lentil with extra Toy Box Vegetables tossed in.
The ECOlunch box is easier to fill. It is also easier to over fill. It comes with a fun little inner pod. I usually put my protein snack into a separate container but with my ECO box I use the inner pod. The lid just sets on instead of snapping on (no problem keeping it closed, but just in case…) The protein snack this day was a hard cooked egg, raw almonds and (blush) pumpkin-snickerdoodles. The yellow around the egg is broccoli blossoms (edible flowers are one of the perks of growing most of my own food.) I must have been craving sweets on this day. Usually I top my yogurt with berries but on this day I have Trader Joe’s chocolate covered sunflower seeds. There is Toy Box broccoli and more of Ray’s cookies to fill out the top box. I’m sure that is TJ’s baslamic dressing in the “To Go” container. The bottom box has left over steak slices, Toy Box broccoli, Juan Flame (orange) tomato slices, lemon cucumbers and unhusked ground cherries. The watermelon for the stars, and the black berries came from TJ’s.
Slow cooked smokey salmon was too good to not center it in a Bento! I’ve actually had people suggest that I write a bento cook book. That is so kind, so flattering. You would be wasting your money on me if you bought my book. What I know about bento I learned from hepabento (I think I have the name wrong because I cannot find a link to give you) She makes it so simple. Start with a starch (carb). This one has smooshed garlic potatoes. Add a protein. This one has smokey salmon that my son made. Next you add the five colors. Red, yellow,green, black and white. That’s what makes a pretty bento that peeps either want the recipe for or they want to hire you to make their lunch. It helps if you live on a suburban farm so that you have plenty of unusual items. But if all you have are boxed berries and a package with carrots, broccoli and cauliflower bits you will be fine! I always add a little bit of plain greek yogurt. Chopped bananas go on the bottom, then the greek yogurt (plain yogurt is too runny and sour for me) topped with berries. This one has tiny frozen blue berries (because in November they are less expensive, taste better and last longer then so called “fresh” blue berries from South America). This one also has a few pomegranate seeds. By the way, I eat these with chopsticks. At first it was to slow me down, but as I got good with chopsticks, I realized that I like eating bento with them better then I like using a fork or spoon. Chopsticks are another reason I prefer greek yogurt.
On a side note; living on an urban farm was how we lived for the last four years on less then 20,000 without government assistance. I work as a private contractor at a small Christian School making 800 a month before taxes…. and boy-oh-boy do we ever pay the taxes! My husband took early retirement from the company he used to work for, that added 1000 a month. We live under the poverty level but pay taxes through the nose because no matter how little you make as a private contractor you still owe the government 18.75%, we still paid a tithe, we still had to pay tax and insurance on our house. We didn’t go anywhere, we stopped eating out, made coffee at home, saved seed and supplemented the chicken food with clippings and leaves that we grew specifically for them. We bought beans, baking items and hamburger in bulk Our son is a bachelor and pays a third of the mortgage, buys all the dog food, hunting and fishing licences and treats like Sabbath roast or the occasional pizza or bag of chips. We were never hungry and we ate VERY well because of living on an urban farm. It is really nice that my husband is now old enough for social security after 4 years of not finding work. It is like being able to take a deep breath again. Even so, we will continue to urban farm (and make bento) for as long as we are able.