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Monday, June 14, 2010

Bento Tools #1

I plan on writing about bento tools now and again so this is the first one. I don't know how many there will be yet, as I am just starting, but here it goes anyway.

Today I tried again to use the crab hot dog shaper for my daughter's bento. I have tried using it with tofu dogs, kosher dogs and this time regular hot dogs. It doesn't work as you will see in the picture. The impression isn't deep enough to be noticed and quite a bit of the hot dog gets stuck in the mold. I have attempted to grease it and used Pam liberally. None of these things work. Because of this I will not be buying the tulip one either. I would suggest that you skip over this accessory if  you are just starting out, as it will probably not end well. Out that one goes!

There are a couple of hot dog "sculptures" that you can do to make a bento a little more interesting. In today's bento I made an octopus. Just cut the hot dog in half width wise and slice the bottom 2/3rds or so into four sections. Then slice each section in half, there is your eight tentacled octopus. Because my hot dog today was prefry, I just heated it up a little to make the legs spread out easily. You can also boil it. Since mine had char marks from frying I didn't bother with a face, but if you choose to make one either with black sesame seeds or bits of nori, you may want to stick them on with a dab of honey using a toothpick.

The other hot dog shape you can make are flowers. Just snip about an inch down, four sections, just like the octopus but shallower. Boil it for a bit and it will open up. Then you can put something in the center and there you have a flower. There are many ways to dress it up, just use your imagination or take a look on the internet.

If I decide to post more complicated things I will attempt to have one of the kids tape it so you can see how it works. I am NOT a master with this sort of thing. I can chop stuff up until the cows come home, but I haven't yet honed my decorative knife skills yet.

Today I used some rice that I had frozen in portion sized blocks wrapped in plastic wrap. I don't recommend doing it that way. The rice microwaved up really dry. From now on I am sticking to plastic containers. One rule is to always pack it hot to keep the moisture in so it will still be sticky when reheated for the bento. A good use for dry rice is a stir-fry, which is why that is often prominent in my bentos. So, on the left is the badly frozen and reheated rice with the "crab" hot dog. See what I mean about it not really working? On the right is an octopus hot dog on top of alfalfa and radish sprouts. The other cup is silicon and washable and filled with thin slices of English cucumber with the rest filled out with blueberries (three for one at my grocery!) and grape tomatoes. She probably won't eat the tomatoes, but they are pretty and there is always a chance that she will eat it.

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