Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Owl Face Bento

Last night my daughter mentioned to me that she loved the funny face bento I made her. That comment inspired me to do another. This healthy bento box she named the Owl Face Bento. It includes:
Grape Tomatoes
Yellow Bell Pepper
Turkey, Roast Beef, and Cheddar Wraps

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bento Collection

This is a collage featuring some of the Bento I made for my twins. You can find most of them on this blog. Check the Bento Boxes tag for these and more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Taking Stock

In our modern world of convenience, certain culinary standbys have gone by the wayside. One such staple often found in yesterday's kitchens is Chicken Stock or Broth. With the ease of bullion cubes, boxed stock, and canned soup, one might never even think to make homemade stock. With the economy the way it is, more and more people are realizing that there might be more to that chicken long after the breast or the drumsticks are gone. "Waste not, want not" is a popular notion these days. My Brother wrote a terrific post about some more advanced things to do with stock called "Too Good to Throw Away," but how does one get the stock in the first place?

When I make my broth, I like to start with two things, the recipe laid down in Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen and the leftover carcass of a chicken from the grocery store.
I will paraphrase my own version of this recipe to follow along with my pictures, but I highly recommend you get your own copy of this brilliant book. The country biscuit recipe alone is worth the cost, plus I just noticed that on Amazon, there are used copies for under a dollar.

Put these next items into a large pot.
An onion into quarters,
A clove or two of garlic, cut into a few pieces
A rib of celery sliced up
A carrot or any leftover veggies to add flavor

Add the Chicken to the pot and cover with cold water.

Bring pot to a boil.
Then cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 4 - 8 hours adding a little water every so often if the soup gets too low. You are going for a quart of stock at the end.

After the soup has cooked, strain it to get just the broth. The way I do this is to put a large bowl under a colander and spill the soup into that. If I am making soup, I reserve the matter in the colander so I can add some meat and veggies back into the soup. If I am storing the stock for later use, I put the broth into freezable containers and toss the rest.

This latest batch of stock I turned into Matzo Ball Soup and to celebrate the Jewish new year, I will share that preparation with you.
After the good pieces of meat were added back into the stock, I seasoned the soup with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Then I followed the recipe for Matzo Balls found on the can of Matzo Meal. Manischewitz won't mind, if I share it with you, right? After all it sells more matzo meal....

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 Cup Matzo Meal
1 tsp Salt (if desired)
2 Tbsp Soup Stock or Water
Blend vegetable oil, eggs, matzo meal, and salt together.
Add soup stock or water and mix until uniform (delete this step if you prefer harder matzo balls.)
Cover and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Bring soup to a brisk boil. (The original recipe says to boil in water, but the stock makes the balls better)
Reduce flame and drop balls approximately 1 inch in diameter formed from refrigerated mixture.
Cover pot and cook 30-40 minutes.

Enjoy a lovely bowl of homemade matzo ball soup!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Day of Dolphin-hood

It was the first day of the new school year and the Twin Girls are now Dolphins!
Commemoration seemed necessary, so to the bento I went. Having gotten back from a ten day trip the evening before their first day, I had to rush these and make do with the small stock I had in my kitchen.

Here's what I used to make these boxes:
Almond Butter and Jelly Sandwiches for the Dolphins
Roasted Seaweed Paper for the facial features and the background
Provolone for the waves
Goldfish Crackers for the underwater fish.

Mandarin Oranges were included on the side.

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