Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bento Lunch

Every weekend, I try to cook enough vegetables to take my lunch to work every day. Most often, I just do two big batches and have the same two things every day. That might bother some people, but I don't tend to get bored with food I like. I once ate the exact same thing every night in a row for about two months. So a week of the same lunch is nothing.
Besides the vegetables, I always take some of that yummy Japanese brown rice and an individually-packed block of silken tofu (something else that just ain't the same in America). I feel bad about all the unnecessary waste of individual packaging, but some things are just too convenient to be virtuously eschewed, especially since my bento boxes aren't quite big enough to fit a protein along with vegetables in that bottom compartment. 
I usually do my two veggie dishes in different cooking methods, one boiled and one roasted. The carrots here are cooked in a tiny amount of salt water on medium-low until the water was all gone and the bottoms got a bit caramelized, and I tossed in two slivered hot dried red peppers (for four carrots) a couple of minutes before the end. They are crazy spicy carrots and I'm addicted - I've made them the past three or four weeks now. The cauliflower and green peppers were tossed in olive oil and salt and roasted in my convection oven, the cauliflower for 30 minutes and the peppers tossed in 10 minutes before the end. Last week I roasted green beans, and before that it was Japanese eggplants (the tiny kind) with red sweet peppers roasted with miso. This week I didn't have enough cauliflower to last more than three meals, so for the other two days I just took leftovers from another night's dinner - cucumbers cooked in soy sauce with orange and green peppers, okra, and more of those spicy little hot dried peppers. Mild, wet tofu becomes an indispensable party to a lunch of that and my carrots.

Is any meal complete without dessert? This is Amadei's 66% chocolate, the last of the stash I had to pay overweight baggage fees to transport home from Italy (it wasn't ALL chocolate, though, I promise!). I have a handful of almonds and walnuts, then a couple of squares of this. Some time I'm going to do a whole post about chocolate, because I've been a little obsessive about sampling as many as possible and trying to become a chocolate snob. Amadei gets my all-time second best rating. It's complex-flavored and the bite is perfect - good resistance to the teeth, and a clean snap when it finally yields. But my heart didn't flip-flop with the first taste, and that's why I give Domori the edge. But more on that later ...

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