Skin deep: the box wrapped in its furoshiki, with my polka-dot chopsticks!
My second bento. I devoured my first one without thinking about pictures.
This clear box is the larger of the two I have, and I use it on Wednesdays.
My fourth bento, first use of the smaller box
Bento #5, the first non-Japanese bento I've put together.
It kept fine, but the contents did get shuffled a bit.
The photos can also be found at my Flickr, where the components are pointed out in notes.
Since the last update here at the food blog I've gone headlong into bento creation. No, I haven't yet approached the über-kawaii realm of karabento -- there are just some things I don't want to make time for -- but I have been putting all of the wisdom I've accumulated from bento-blog-stalking to very good use.
There are plenty of trials presented in bento craft, but all of them make for the moment of consumption to be pure satisfaction. That's what I love about cooking in general; I love exercising skills and reaping the rewards afterward.
Of all the challenges presented in bento, the most prevalent one is engineering your meal to minimize spoilage. I have to consider the foods' sensitivity to moisture and temperature, which usually means nothing greasy or milky goes in. To reduce condensation as much as possible without rendering my foods brittle and inedible, I usually make my lunch the night before. All the food is cooled (not chilled) thoroughly before assembly, and after it's done I usually just lay a paper towel over it, stick the lid on over that, and put it in the fridge. First thing in the morning, the food gets removed from the fridge and is allowed to sit on the counter to get back to room temperature. The less temperature change in transit, the better. And since I don't feel like seeking access to a microwave at lunch, everything I put in a bento has to be at least palatable at room temperature.
My bentos have been able to sit in the front seat of my car, in the parking lot, under a magazine or something, for nearly five hours without even a hint of spoilage. Twice I've seen absolutely no condensation in the clear box. Bento is SO tek. I admit to playing it super-safe, though, with the food choices. My next bento goals will be successfully incorporating other culinary styles so that I don't do overkill on the Japanese food. I currently can't find any reason NOT to eat Japanese food every day, but I don't want to reach the point of boredom.
For a girl who, like many Americans, believes that convenience is a serious consideration one must make about her food choice, it's been an exciting task keeping up the bento habit. I have to carve time out for it, seeing as it's not exactly slapping a sandwich together and throwing it in a bag with an apple. Semesters prior, I couldn't even be bothered to brown-bag it; now twice to three times a week I spend the time and effort necessary to have healthy, interesting, and cute lunches. It's a sign of the times, me having discipline. Any day now the Four Horsemen will come.
FYI, my favorite bento blog resources:
JustBento, bento from a more health-conscious perspective
Lunch in a Box, chock full of efficiency tips & tricks
AnnaTheRed's Bento Factory, the undisputed Western master of karabento