Peacock Bento

Peacock Bento

Peacock Bento

We had a fantastic day out at “Wildtierpark Poing” in Munich (a wild animal park) on Wednesday! peacockWe were able to stroke some rabbits and guinea pigs, and feed antelope, goats, ponies and donkeys! We also saw some huge bears. There were random peacocks wandering around the picnic area as well as chickens and ducks.

Here is a bento that I made inspired by the beauty of the magnificent bird, the peacock! I also wanted to try out the sealed sandwich idea that Lia from Bentolicious blogged about.

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Chokotto Rice Cooker ~ Compact Cooking
Chokotto Rice Cooker ~ Compact Cooking
Penguin Gummy Candy Maker
Penguin Gummy Candy Maker

I don’t have a bread mold / sandwich shaper (apart from the toastie maker) but after rummaging through my plastics box which is mostly full of old baby bottles and lids, I thought I would try using a large teat ring and a smaller one, that seemed to nest inside each other quite well. I made some chocolate spread sandwiches from brown bread and pressed the larger ring onto it to get my first circle, then I turned it over and used the smaller ring to seal the sandwich. I was pretty impressed because they came out quite neat and tidy considering the improvised tools for the job!

These are the teat rings from the old baby bottles that I used to make the pressed sandwich with sealed edges.

rings for sealed sandwich shaperrings for sealed sandwich

And then I put coloured cheese peacock decorations on and carved the same design into a red apple. You don’t get a zoomed out photo today seeing as this was only a snack experiment bento and there isn’t really much else in it apart from some cucumber slices, but someone has been messing about with my fridge settings and the cucumber was frozen solid so it does not look how it is meant to, and I don’t have any other salad or fruits to do much bentoing with. But I’m a big believer in making do with what you have got, so here it is!

The rest of the bread offcuts went into a bread and butter pudding, which I am told was delicious, but I didn’t try it seeing as I am trying not to have any empty calories. 😀 I have lost 4lbs so far since I started doing my daily exercise and watching my portion sizes, using the weight loss tips on this blog post and I have proudly marked it on my progress chart on my wall! only 22lbs more to go! 😀

I recently placed a couple of orders with Cake Balls UK to have a box of Gluten Free coffee and walnut cake balls and a bag of chocolate and orange cake balls sent to my relatives in the UK as birthday gifts. As agreed the balls were sent out for delivery before the recipient’s birthday and I’m told they are really delicious and came packaged really neatly too. PippaD from A Mother’s Ramblings recommended Cake Balls on her blog and that’s where I got the idea, so thanks Pippa, and thanks Anna from Cake Balls UK for delivering the fantastic birthday gifts! You have my recommendation too!

You can follow Anna from Cake Balls Uk, Pippa from A Mother’s Ramblings and Lia from Bentolicious on Twitter and their Blogs.

I have never placed a bento items order before, I still consider myself a beginner seeing as I only started making bento in January 2010, and I have never bought any “proper” bento tools, preferring to try to make the best use of what I already have such as cookie cutters for shaping rice or cutting cheese or vegetables, craft punches for the nori seaweed and my craft needle pen for cutting the cheese. There are definitely some basic items that I would suggest could be bought as a bento starter bundle if you don’t already have any tools for making your bento. And I am very tempted to order them myself very soon too! The items I think would be the most useful are the nori face punches, the egg moulds, the  onigiri presses, the flower shaped vegetable cutters and the the decorative food picks.

Have fun and happy bento-ing!

How to do cheese colouring (bento tutorial)

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Chokotto Rice Cooker ~ Compact Cooking
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Penguin Gummy Candy Maker
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Sometimes it is difficult to get inspired to make a bento, especially if you have limited ingredients. You don’t have to have many fancy foodstuffs or lots of time to be able to turn a normal boring sandwich into a decorative delight if you have some coloured cheese sheets prepared before hand.

To make the coloured cheese slices:

I recommend Gouda because it is a nice texture and flavour, and seems to absorb the colour well, and is nice and elastic-y and non-stick, without being too soft or too hard.

Cheese and food colouring

Cheese and food colouring

If you will only need a small amount of coloured cheese, you can use one slice and spread the colours on each quarter of the cheese. This is also a good way to get some of the colour to overlap slightly, which can be an interesting effect if you cut the cheese shapes out going over the join. You can experiment and see what colours or shades you can get. Tip: Red + Yellow = Orange, Blue + Yellow = Green, Red + Blue = Purple. I only have the 4 colours of food colouring so I did 4 sections. I have to wear latex free gloves when handling food, NOT because I’m a hygiene freak (even though I am!) but because of an allergic reaction when food comes into contact with my skin. Great hobby for me to pick eh?! LOL

So using a clean finger you spread the food colouring on the cheese, and rub it in. The food colouring I am using is washable and does not stain your fingers or gloves, but I don’t think it comes out of clothes. In the past I have used bits of boiled egg white or another piece of cheese to do the spreading of the colour, just use a chunk of it like a paintbrush. You could probably try a clean paintbrush, I haven’t but I think it would work just as well. You’re more likely to have a finger or cheese scrap to hand.

Spread the colour on and rub in

Spread the colour on and rub in

Then it will look all messy and wet. Don’t worry! Just put the piece of cheese on a flat tray or plate and cover with cling film. Then put it in the fridge to dry off and for the colours to absorb. You can do this at night and it will be ready in the morning. If you are impatient you can blot it dry with some tissue.

The colour is absorbed

The colour is absorbed

When you are ready to use the cheese, it will be a lot more manageable and a lot less messy, and will be a pleasure to cut into whatever shape your heart desires. My best tip is to use a needle or a needle pen that you an get from a craft shop in the “pergamano” section. You turn the cheese over and cut the shapes on the back,so remember cut out the mirror image!

Cut the cheese on the reverse

Cut the cheese on the reverse

If you know you will need a larger amount of coloured cheese, you can of course colour bigger pieces of cheese, and store them in cling film until you need them. I am a big believer in not wasting food, so all the scraps and off cuts get saved and made into “rainbow” cheese toasties!

Larger sheets of coloured cheese

Larger sheets of coloured cheese

Then you can arrange your new shapes onto a sandwich or cold rice (not hot unless you want the cheese to melt LOL!) add some salad andcrunchy snacks and voila! A decorative lunch!

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And a close up

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Snails with Sunglasses bento

snails with sunglasses bento

snails with sunglasses bento

Today’s bento was quite a quick one with no planning really – I just had to make some lunch and found some large pasta snail shells (lumaconi) in my cupboard that I thought would be tasty with tuna and sweetcorn mayonnaise. So I made them into snails with sunglasses on (nori stars) and cucumber bodies. Here they are munching on the carrots, turning them into flowers.  Sorry about the photo, it came out a bit blurry today!

To see step-by-step instructions on how to make this bento, please visit my new “Squidoo page”  Thanks especially to @gotfaeries / @kawaiibentoclub on Twitter for introducing me to Squidoo. Check out the Kawaii Bento Club on Facebook too, it’s brand new!