Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Make the Perfect Bento

Hi. You don't actually expect me to teach you how to make the perfect bento, right? I mean, surely you've been reading long enough to know that the only thing I feel qualified to teach you is that life is hard (but fun) and we are all a little imperfect.

That said, I DO make a lot of bentos, so I thought I'd offer a photo essay.

At the start of any given week, I am usually much more ambitious. This often leads to the creation of wiener animals.

This is a stock image. My wiener animals never look that good.
Wiener animals separate the good moms from the bad ones when it comes to Japanese o-bento. The possibilities are endless, and there are an infinite number of guides to help you perfect the art of making them.

The "Decorative Wiener Cutting Classroom" guide to making wiener animals and fish. This is all starting to make me wonder whether we should initiate a diplomatic action to properly explain the colloquial use of the word wiener in the English language....Nah.

The last time we were in Japan, I tried to improve my skills by buying a handy wiener cutting tool. Alas, it turns out that not all wieners are created equal. American wieners are larger than Japanese wieners. No matter how hard I try, I can't get my wieners to fit. This greatly hampers my wiener cutting ambitions.

One size does NOT fit all.
As a result, my wiener bentos look more like this:

Wiener octopus, chrysanthemum, and squid; broccoli, carrots, apple, and rice with furikake.

My favorite bento-making days are the morning after nights when Ren made dinner. Those days, I send the kids with some serious swag. And, the best part is that I don't have to do much work.

GF homemade meatballs in teriyaki sauce and tomato sauce, broccoli, lettuce, rice, grape tomatos, and grapes.

Money shot.

GF pork cutlets on rice, lettuce, carrots, and apples.


By the end of the week, Ren and I are spent, and I resort to more desperate measures to make sure the kids have something to eat come lunch time. I'm usually scraping the bottom of the fridge at this point, particularly if we forgot to go to the grocery store over the weekend.

Hummus, carrots, cucumber, corn chips, and grapes.

Celery and carrots, Snapea Crisps, blueberry pancakes with jelly, and fruit snacks.

Making bentos every morning is a lot of work. But, thanks to the kids' allergies and to the fact that they just feel and act better when we limit their processed food intake, there doesn't seem to be a better option.

The payoff, I guess, is that the kids instinctively eat pretty well (and, also, I get to make wiener jokes on my blog). Another bonus is that because we tend to only have things on hand that they are able to eat, when they cook for themselves, it's pretty healthy. Sky made this for dinner one Sunday a couple of weeks ago when Ren and I were both sick.

Rice with furikake, corn chips, carrots, hummus, green beans, mini-pepperoni, and clementine.
Ironically, as is true with many things when your kid is on the autism spectrum, all this healthy eating can be a major problem. Sky has been known to lecture his classmates on the perils of junk food, and when the new boy in his class (who happens to be from Japan) came down with the stomach flu, before walking his sick classmate down to the nurse's office, Sky proclaimed, "He'd be a lot better off if his mom made bentos instead of letting him eat hot lunch!"  It turns out that, while I seem to have figured out how to deal with the grind of the daily bento, I still haven't managed to turn Sky into a flexible thinker.

Ah, well, you win some. You lose some.

1 comment:

Summer said...

I love your wiener shapes!