Monday, July 18, 2011

Bento #88... A Dinner Plate Comparison

One of the new-to-me things I found at the market the other day is a bag of Vegetable Pancake mix.  Basically, you wisk it with water and then add veggies and seafood.  If you feel like it.  I decided to try the stuff out with cauliflower.  The measurements on the bag were all in ML.  I don't have any measuring cups that cool.  I guessed.

Once I felt I had the ratio right, and the batter looked like I thought it should (although I was likely wrong), I dumped in some finely diced cauliflower and some green onions.  So far, so good.

I also decided this would be a good time to try out the truffle oil I found at Ross a couple of months ago.  So I heated some in my small, sad frying pan.  I say it's sad because the bottom is warped.  It doesn't sit flat anymore.  I'm sure it's my fault, and it involved cold water after a bout of cooking.

My first attempts at the cakes came out thin, flat, and uber crispy.  They were delicious.  As things that are fried generally are.  But they looked nothing like the picture on the bag.  I turned down the heat in the pan.  And tried again.  The second batch came out slightly thicker.  Chewy in the center but still crispy on the edges.  And equally delicious.

It was about that point that I realized how horrible these things are for me.  Especially considering my slowly shrinking waistline.   I would like it to continue in that vein.  So I decided to try baking a few cakes.  I dropped some batter into six silicone muffin cups and tossed them in the oven.  And then I finished frying the batter I had.  Because even if it was bad for me, I didn't want it to go to waste.  I'll make that sacrifice.

The baked cakes turned out chewy all the way around and through.  And then I had a brilliant idea to crisp them up.  I drizzled them with the tiniest bit of oil and then put them under the broiler.  And I had success!  They still looked nothing like the picture on the package.  But they were cooked through, crispy, and not too greasy.  And yummy.  Did I mention yummy?


The big thing I hear when I take my lunches to work is, "That's not very much food.  Does it really fill you up?"

Especially when I started packing bentos, my focus was more about substance than cute.  Because I was also concerned about whether it would fill me up.  It always does.  I'm trying to make that transition to cute now.  I mean... substance is still important.  But a little bit of adorable goes a long way.  To the point where I have to unpack my dinners before my rehearsals or meetings start.  So everyone can gather around and make impressed noises.

I actually packed this bento to eat during staff meeting today.  But then we moved staff meeting up two hours, so I just ate the banana I took for breakfast.  And I got sent home because I'm up to 92 comp hours.  And they don't like that.  So I ate it at home.  And I thought it would be fun to put it on a plate and take a picture.

Here it is IN the box...

Leftover steak from Applebee's, sauteed mushrooms, steamed kale, and cauliflower cakes.

Half a plum, pineapple, canary melon, English cucumber, and carrots.

And here it is on a plate.

That's more food than I got at Applebee's last night!  I've never actually done this comparison before.  I knew I was eating plenty.  But.  I didn't know I was eating that much.  I never fill these plates this full when I'm eating at home.  Although, when I am home I grab random fruit out of the fridge and snack on it.  I guess it evens out.

So there you go!  Next time someone asks why you're starving yourself, dump out your pretty little lunch and show them how big it really is!

Eat bento and be happy!


  1. I always got asked that too. And then annoyingly, someone would evidently make a comment about me being a tiny Asian girl. I'm not tiny, my lunch has zilch to do with being Asian, okay I am a girl though. They would imply that I was thin/small because I ate so little. Very annoying when I have a warped self-image as it is (I'm 5'8, and seriously not tiny, struggling to be OK with that). Anyway, really enjoying the bento-to-plate comparison, and I like how you packed it. Mind if I ask how many ML that box is? It seems larger than I'd pack for myself, and I'm curious if my eye is that good or what.

    Also, I love canary melon. Love the fruit side of your box.

    And one last comment: truffle oil isn't generally meant to be heated, don't waste your money like that please! It's a finishing oil, meant to be sprayed/drizzled on whatever food as you finish cooking it, as an accent flavor. It lasts a lot longer like that (and soooooort of helps justify the cost), and the flavor stays pronounced instead of being heated away. Hope that helps, and if it was unwanted advice/suggestion, just ignore me :)

  2. @Feisty Foodie

    I don't mind you asking. This box is 590 ml. Most of my boxes are between 550 and 650 ml.

    And thank you for the advice with the oil! Most of my cooking is an experiment, and little pointers along the way are a big help. :)