Friday, September 11, 2009

Around the World: Japan

Here it is, the final photograph from my new book! This was the Big Bento Box Photo Shoot, an epic day of cooking, set-up, and photography. I wanted to show every bento box menu I made for the Japan section of Around the World;I've been so inspired by Japanese bento culture, I couldn't leave anything out, and I also included lots of tips on how to make your own bento-style vegan lunch boxes.

Okay, let's start with the red Laptop Lunch Box: Zaru Soba (cold noodles with dipping broth) with Carrot and Daikon Salad, edamame, and persimmon.

In the pink bento box: Tofu Tamagoyaki with Potato Salad Balls, Octo-Celery (instead of the ubiquitous octodog, because vegan hot dogs won't curl, and celery is healthier anyway), Cucumber Sushi Rolls, cherry tomatoes, a Botan Rice Candy, and kiwi and watermelon stars.

In the small red bento with red apple side dish: Onigiri (rice formed into shapes by hand or with a mold), vegan chicken nuggets, Stir-Fried Arame with Carrots and Ginger (this is one of my favorite dishes from the entire book, btw - sooo good!!), Radish Rosettes, and Apple Bunnies.

Finally, in the two-tier kitty bento: Tofu Tiger on a bed of rice, Carrot-Cucumber Tulips, Broccoli Salad with Daikon Flowers, and some strawberries.

Except for the Laptop Lunch Box and the apple all these bento boxes were from I Love Obento!

Link: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Around the World: Hawaii

Here's another picture that didn't make it into the book, but I'll show it to you here! This is my Hawaiian Luau Lunch Box: (starting far left) Tropical Fruit Salad (mixed tropical fruit with coconut cream), Maui Onion Dip with sugar snap peas, Huli-Huli Tofu (grilled tofu with a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce, and Aloha Sweet Potatoes (roasted sweet potato and yam topped with yummy toasted coconut).

Okay, so maybe the fabric is a bit busy, but I still had a lot of fun making and setting up this lunch box! You can have fun when you make it, too, by including a paper umbrella to garnish the fruit salad or wrapping your lunch box in a plastic lei.

Speaking of lunch boxes, this is another Lunchsense, size medium. The website says that this is the most popular size for grade school kids, and if you get it in this bright construction-worker orange, I'm sure your kids will never lose it!

Link: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Around the World: Indonesia

Indonesia -- land of tempeh! For those of you not familiar, tempeh is made by cooking and fermenting whole soybeans until they form a solid cake that can be sliced and steamed or fried; it has a nutty, mushroomy flavor and a firm texture. Nutritionally, tempeh has more bioavailable protein than tofu or plain cooked soybeans, and the fermentation process makes it easier to digest. So thank you, Indonesia, for inventing my favorite soy food and a vegan protein powerhouse!

Lunch inspired by Indonesia: (clockwise from top right) Golden Indonesian Tempeh, made with a sweet soy sauce - brown sugar caramelizing glaze and a touch of spicy chile, Indonesian Vegetable Pickles, tangerine and star fruit, and Yellow Coconut Rice. The rice is garnished with a Chile Blossom (Have I mentioned that the new book includes an entire chapter on lunch box garnishes? Indeed it does!)

The vegetable pickles include lots of shallots, a member of the onion family which might not be familiar to all of us here in the West but is used extensively in Indonesia.

Link: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Around the World: Morocco

Oh, I can't look at this picture without wanting to make and eat this all again! This is the menu for Morocco: Moroccan Tagine, Orange Couscous, tangerines (named after the city of Tangier, in Morocco!), and Cinnamon-Sugar Almonds.

Tagine is a thick Moroccan stew made with chickpeas, vegetables (tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, and peppers), raisins and spices, served on a fluffy bed of couscous. Couscous looks like a grain but is actually a tiny semolina pasta; it is a staple food in the cultural area of North Africa known as the Maghreb (west), which includes Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia. So there you go -- your geography lesson for the day!

The toasty, sugared almonds are actually even better using whole blanched almonds (almonds without their skins), but I wasn't able to locate any locally for the photo shoot.

Link: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.