Archive for January, 2010

A New Japanese Grocery Store

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Some of you out there may remember my sadness over the closing of Kotobukiya in Porter Square. No really, the loss of that store really did change the look of my bentos and though I know there is another shop in Union Square…well, things haven’t been the same.

Then today, my sister sent me a link to Ebisuya. Rumor has it this store is owned by some past employees of Kotobukiya! Could this mean that I will be able to find my usual products with no problems? And what is this about free parking? Be still my little heart. There is hope for my poor lonely bento boxes yet.

I hope to get to the store myself within the next few weeks, but if anyone has been there yet, please feel free to write a comment below to let us know how things are looking.

Brined and Cured

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

You know you have a pretty intense obsession with food when you spend your day home sick reading a book about charcuterie. However, when you’re not feeling so good, slow cooking is definitely something you want to think about. Throw something in a slow cooker or oven, and don’t think about it for a bit while you take a nap. Or better yet, defrost something in the freezer and fry it up quick in a pan.

P1201908

Both of the cooked elements in this bento were cured and brined by me. The bacon is something my readers are familiar with thanks to my “bacon odyssey.” And the chicken breast was brined by me as well. I tried brining recently because I wanted a way to keep my chicken breasts moist without adding fat. Also, i am such a fan of brined turkey at Thanksgiving, I thought I would give it a try. So after 2 hours in a lemon and garlic brine, I cut the breasts into strips and pan fried them with some Pam. Easy, easy, and something I will definitely do again…hopefully with some pork chops!

A Need for Mead

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

About two years ago, my friends and I got together to make blueberry mead. We combined several pounds of honey, bags of blueberries that we picked ourselves, water, and yeast. Once the fermentation process had begun, we pretty much left it in a carboy in my friends’ basement and forgot about it.

Not many people are all that familiar with mead. And a lot of people who have had mead before usually think of a sticky sweet honey alcohol that you get every year at your local Renaissance Faire. The truth is that mead is a lot more than that. While it can be quite sweet, it can also be dry, fizzy like champagne, and everything in between. It’s also known as “honey wine” which is a good way to think of it because it can be just as complicated as any other wine. The mead we made this time around is a melomel. A melomel is a mead made with honey and any kind of fruit.

We chose to make a blueberry mead because we had access to an amazing crop of blueberries grown by a neighbor in New Hampshire. We wanted a fruit that would add color and flavor. The end result was better then we hoped:

Blueberry Mead 2

As for the flavor, it begins with a slight fruity taste followed by a drier honey taste that has really nice floral notes. I’m not the best at describing tastes, but it’s the kind of drink that you could lightly sip all day and appreciate how good it tastes with every sip. In fact, I had just recently bought a honey wine that I ended up throwing away out of disappointment. It was terrible. This mead, we are hoping to bottle this weekend and have already been discussing how we are going to be able to ration it out until we are able to make some more.

Colors

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

A Quickie...

Here is another early bento. This time I want to point out the lack of bento box. I’ve been noticing lately that I have been leaning more towards using my regular tupperware over the bento boxes I have. I think this is because most bentos are not dishwasher safe and they often require a bit more care than other containers do. Also, I must admit that some of my boxes are looking a little worse for the wear.

If I remember correctly, this bento was a rush job. I was more focused on using up leftovers but also trying to add as many different colors as I could. I’ve read that more colors and variety speak to the palette and make the meal appetizing.

For more details about what is in the bento, just click on the pic.

Repost: Early Bento

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Happy!

This is a very early bento I made. I had a lot of work to do when it came to filling up blank spaces. But you gotta admit, it sure does look happy.

Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The purpose of posting this rather bland bento is to illustrate a concept that I keep coming across in my readings about Japanese food and bentos: bite-sized pieces.  While I have yet to find a definitive answer as to why this is, many people think that this is because slicing large pieces of food isn’t really all that possible when you are using chopsticks.  In his book “A Taste of Japan,”  Donald Ritchie argues that Japanese food is served cut-up because Japanese chef’s focus more on presentation than other cultures do.  This would most certainly apply to bentos as you often need to cut food down in order to make it fit attractively in box. In many cases too, it’s the least you can do to make sure you are fitting enough food into that box as well.

I especially like this bite-sized food idea when it comes to portion control and using bentos as a way to eat better. Taking smaller bites but having more of them can often make you feel like you are eating more. Also, it can help you to slow down your eating so you can allow your body to feel full. Basically, it just another way to make you slow down and actually enjoy the meal.

The Boy will be eating this today:

Bits and Pieces

Contents:

Cucumber and babybel cheese
chicken and apple sausage
roasted sweet potatoes (again!)
japanese candy

No knife required!

I Heart Octopuses

Monday, January 4th, 2010

With the new year comes all those resolutions that most of us are bound to break. Seriously, I always start the year with the best intentions and then by the year’s end, I find myself exactly where I was 365 days earlier. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to try right? Especially when my sister is getting married in October and she has promised me that I can wear whatever kind of dress I want to her wedding. Right now I am leaning towards Jackie O, or maybe Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas. It’s still early though and I have some weight I want to drop before doing any serious shopping.

I know I’ve mentioned a ton of times that bentos are a great way to both eat healthier foods and manage portion control. Traditional Japanese bentos call for a 4:2:1 ratio. This means 4 parts rice, 2 parts protein, and 1 part other ingredients. Due to the advice of a nutritionist, I focus on having more veggies. I was told that at least half of my meal should be veggies, so that leaves the rest to be a mixture of protein and other other ingredients. I’m not always the best about this, especially when I’ve been snowed in all weekend, but it gives me a goal to work towards in the New Year.

So here it is, first bento of 2010:

I heart octopuses

Contents:
Hot Dog octopuses (made with 97% fat free hot dogs)
roasted sweet potatoes
light babybel cheese
Heinz 57 sauce

PS – I am now on Twitter @The_Smalerie.