Last weekend, amid the haze of food-smoking, I got into a discussion about lunch tactics with some friends. (As an aside, I do love seeing what people bring to have cold-smoked when we do these things. Olives! (Okay, I hate olives, but still — an interesting choice!) Fresh mozza! Hot peppers!!)
While waiting for the smoky flavour to soak in, we started talking about lunching at work, the benefits of room-temperature vs warmed lunches, the possible evils of the microwave, etc. I explained that from May onwards, I was giving myself the challenge of (at least) one bento a week: a brought meal designed to be eaten at ambient temperature. This is a challenge for me not so much because I find them difficult to assemble, but more because my workplace usually keeps their offices in the 17-19C range; so chilly that by lunch, I’m in need of something warm to perk me up. I figured that come May, I’ll hopefully be able to eat outside in the sunshine once a week… but given that this is what it looked like outside this morning:
perhaps that is being overly optimistic. Jess was intrigued by the idea of the bento, so I directed her to Makiko’s amazing site… and after they left, I spent a goodly amount of time on there re-reading through the posts I had found most helpful, back when I actually made myself bento semi-regularly. In fact, I re-read so many of them, that I was inspired to start my challenge early! (Did you see that picture of the snow + ice pellets above? That’s what being a keener brings, folks. Don’t do it.)
This week, I went pretty basic, but tried something new for me: the veggie kinpira, in my case using broccoli stems. I still have some cabbage in the fridge, so I’m thinking that next week’s box may well have some cabbage rib kinpira in it as well!
So! What did I make?
As I said, this one’s pretty basic: marinated* chicken bites, delicious, delicious mushrooms, the broccoli kinpira, rice with gomashio, and I was really proud of myself for including some of my carrot-radish pickles as well. Yay for using preserves! (And for the record? The chicken was so much more delicious with the tangy crunch of the occasional pickled veg. So tasty.)
* I use a slightly sassed-up version of my mom’s marinade, which is basically a little oil (“to make the chicken tender”), ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and (in my case) sesame oil and a shake of 5-spice mix.
In my zeal, I also requested a couple bento books from the library (this and this if you’re wondering), and have been informed that one of them is now in! So I’ll have some gorgeous inspiration to flip through — a good way to while away the snowy parts of a weekend, I think, yes?