Sunday, September 11, 2011

Almost Potato Week

I'm a huge Vampire Diaries fan. And the season 3 premiere is coming up this week. I had some grand plans, only one of which has made it to reality thus far. This bento is MINE.
I created the ribbon and blood drop out of blanched red pepper. And I added baked some Sophie's Kitchen vegan breaded shrimp (frighteningly realistic actually).
It was almost too cool to eat! TVD bento: pineapple, orange cherry tomato "vampire" (with the closest thing I had to Ian Somerhalder's signature hat), blanched spinach, steamed broccoli, edamame, vegan breaded shrimp, rice.
Ryan & AJ's lunches: brown rice w/veggies; vegan breaded shrimp; edamame; steamed broccoli; pineapple; lemon cookie; potato leek kale soup (w/side of smoked salt).

lots of

day, Alton Brown potato salad today.
Ryan & AJ's lunches: potato salad; Gardein crisp tenders; green beans.

But potato week didn't quite go as planned. I pulled out these yummy spinach tofu quiches from the oven and popped in a baking sheet full of sweet potatoes wedges. Half way through, the oven promptly turned off and displayed an error code. Now, I love my new oven to bits, but according to the GE website, all error codes are proceeded by the letter "F", and all mine as showing was a red "5". Go figure. So I abandoned the sweet potato fries (yuck, half-cooked sweet potatoes? Hopefully the squirrels enjoyed them from the compost). Luckily I still had some rice in the rice cooker from the night before...
Ryan & AJ's lunches: garlic broccoli stir-fry; spinach tofu quiche w/cheddar Daiya cheese; rice.

By the next morning we'd solved the oven turning off the circuit breaker for the entire house (yes, we tried the individual ones for the kitchen first, but it was unsuccessful).

Ryan & AJ's lunches: mashed purple potatoes; blanched spinach w/peanut sauce; simmered shiitake mushrooms; edamame.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Adieu Irene

Hurricane Irene was
only a tropical storm
by the time it arrived
in Massachusetts last
week, but it was enough
to knock out power to
most of the state. We
were without electricity
for about 48 hours,
which was fine, except
for the refrigerator
situation! I was crossing
my fingers that we would have power back by tuesday for the first day of school so I could pack decent bentos of course! And luckily, the night before, shortly after 6pm, we were up and running again...just in time for my husband to arrive home from Seattle with no real idea of what we'd all endured over the past few days.

I managed to salvage quite a lot of the food. Since it's all vegan, and largely produce, most of it was fine without refrigeration. The hardest part was breaking the kids' habit of randomly opening the fridge to look for snacks throughout the day!

Ryan & AJ's 1st day of school lunches: pinwheel tofu salad sandwiches w/cucumber letters; cantaloupe balls; green beans.

Here are Ryan & AJ off to third and second grades, and Nate ready to head off to his first day of kindergarten! His teacher has asked that I leave a selection of non-perishable snack items in his classroom, so no bentos for him until next year! Sigh.

For the second day of school, Ryan requested he help to make strawberry cream cheese. He chopped up some berries and mixed it with Tofutti cream cheese for bagels.
Ryan & AJ's lunches: cucumber slices; fresh pineapple; roasted chick peas; steamed broccoli; mini bagels with strawberry cream cheese.

Time for some sushi! Ryan and I recently went to the new Wasabi sushi train at the local mall. It was very impressive and had him in a sushi sort of mood.
Ryan & AJ's lunches: sesame tofu & vegetable maki sushi w/side of soy sauce; tiny square of Lake Champlain dark chocolate w/almonds; apple slices; carrots; steamed broccoli; a strawberry; edamame.

I was in the mood for smoked tempeh, so I sauteed some Lightlife Fakin' Bacon. I don't buy it often because Whole Foods has increased the price to just shy of ludicrous, but sometimes I just have to treat myself.
Ryan & AJ's lunches: tempeh, lettuce & tomatoes sandwiches on toasted french bread; mini zucchini muffin; dried apricots; pickles; Tofurky & soy cheese clover garnish; carrots; cucumber slices.

Now, for the reason I
REALLY bought the
smoked tempeh strips!
I dreamed this, and I
just HAD to try it:
smoked tempeh &
artichoke heart maki.
Yes, really.

I sauteed the artichoke hearts in Earth Balance and garlic powder until lightly browned. It was
delicious. But...

...I had to fulfill the dream meal and tempura batter and fry more of them, topped with Sriracha laced Vegenaise. O.M.G. Worth every friggin' calorie. These would have made wonderful additions to a bento, but I could barely bring myself to share them at all, and they disappeared quicker than Harry under his invisibility cloak.

For a quicker look at daily bentos, vegan goodies, and environmental news, follow "veganf" on Twitter.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Elm Bank

From time to time we've ventured down to Wellesley to Elm Bank, a 36 acre garden and grounds of the Massachusetts Horticultural Center. It really is a beautiful place when everything is in bloom, and this time it was host to the Massachusetts Marketplace Festival.

Teeming with enough vendors to empty your wallet and tempt every sweettooth, the festival celebrated New England's farmers, specialty food producers & artisans. Our personal favourite was Vision's Sown, bakers of delicious cookies made with minimally processed and ancient grains; I hope they make their way to our local farmer's market or Whole Foods soon!

I was a little disappointed after cheerfully shelling out admission for myself and four kids, that I then had to pay for separate tickets for almost every activity the kids wanted to do--I must have missed this somehow in their online advertising. I understand there was fundraising to be done, but I don't normally carry a lot of cash, even for bouncy houses and face painting.

But really, we couldn't pass up the expertise of the face painter...

Other activities included glitter tattoos, hayride, & butterfly crafts (which were free, yay!). There were ample shaded picnic tables available for our picnic lunch...

Butterflies seemed to be the theme of our day, with Maia choosing a butterfly design for her face, and all of the kids colouring a butterfly puppet. Right behind the butterfly table was a purple butterfly bush--and as if on cue, a beautiful one descended to the flowers for the occasion...

The kids were enthralled, and played along with their puppets...

Much of our time at Elm Bank was spent in Weezie's Children's Garden. We have come here before to meet up with friends--it's a wonderful creatively landscaped children's play area.

If you're in the area, Elm Bank is worth a visit, festival or no!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Family Food

This summer the kids don't have any activities where they are away from home during mealtimes. There have been very few bento-making opportunities. So I thought I'd share a bit of our lunch & dinner fare...When I'm not going to be home for a meal with the kids, or if I'm not eating with them for some other reason, sometimes I just put a big plate of food on the table (or picnic table, or floor, whatever!) and they choose what they want.

Other times I'll put out a muffin tin meal. Having a meal of all finger foods is fun for the kids (you know, I bet it would be fun for adults too!).

Summer is full of local veggies from Stearns Farm, so they are the centerpiece of most meals. Often it's easiest to just roast a variety in the oven.

Sit down lunches & dinners at the table are usually family-style now that everyone is old enough. It takes a lot of food to feed everyone nowadays!

Camping can be challenging. I need to bring along more reuasables and fewer disposables. We create a bag of recycling every day, but I need to learn how to create less waste when outdoors for multiple days.

One of my favourite
camping foods is Tasty
meals. Most of
them are vegan, and
I love a spicy meal
when outdoors. The
packaging is actually
pretty minimal compared
to most other shelf-stable
food items. When I'm
alone I eat them right
out the package.

A quick food for camping
or at home is cous cous.
This tiny pasta is effort-
less to prepare, and it
goes with just about

Oh, and let's not
forget...Maia turned
3! Happy birthday!