Yes, yes, I know Easter is still a week away, but I've been looking forward to this lunch box for months, and besides, next week is Spring Break. Anyway, maybe this advance posting will give some of you time to join me in making adorable Musubi Eggs this Easter!
To make these eggless eggs I followed the recipe for Musubi in Vegan Lunch Box. (Also known as onigiri, musubi are Japanese sticky rice balls.) I pressed the sticky rice into a plastic Easter egg sprayed with nonstick spray to start forming the egg, then used my hands to solidify and finish the shaping. I pushed the filling in where an egg yolk would be. These are filled with cashew butter but tart, salty umeboshi plum is traditional.
To decorate the eggs I used mamenori -- thin, vegetable-dyed sheets of edible soybean paper (please note that the pink sheets are colored with cochineal and are therefore not vegan). I cut the sheets with scissors, pinking sheers, and paper punches, then set them in place with a dab of water. The mamenori tended to curl when wet but wouldn't stick without a bit of water, which was a big pain. In the end, though, I was happy with our little eggs and loved the pastel colors.
As you may have noticed if you followed the mamenori link above, these sheets cost a pretty penny, especially if you want to use an assortment of colors. I was lucky enough to work out a trade with Cooking Cute for a few sheets -- thanks, Ngoc! If mamenori is out of your price range, other options include using nori or dyeing the rice itself with natural food coloring. I even think those thin "fruit by the foot" fruit leathers I've seen at the grocery store would work.
I was also inspired recently by the fruit-filled bouquets over at Edible Arrangements, and decided try my hand at making my own tiny arrangement for Easter. I cut out a pineapple flower with a cookie cutter, used an apple corer to remove the center, then wedged a cantaloupe ball in the middle and surrounded the flower with honeydew leaves.
On the side is Sprout Salad with Mandarin Orange Dressing (also from Vegan Lunch Box). The dressing is hiding in a little plastic carrot down below, nestled next to a happy warren of jicama bunnies. A small container of sunflower seeds can be eaten as is or sprinkled on the sprouts.
Verdict: The first thing shmoo said upon seeing this lunch? "Oooh, honeydew!" Yes, melon is exciting when it's out of season! The eggs were a hit, too. Shmoo was tickled that he could actually eat the colored paper. He loves squeezing his dressings out of all these little plastic squeeze bottles, but still doesn't seem too keen on actually eating his salads. 5 stars. Happy Easter!