Every now and then, I manage to have a rather productive, or Attention Deficit Hyper Creativity Day. Yesterday was one of those days. After browsing bento ideas and pics (bento porn!) for a couple of days, I finally lurched into action. It started with jello in tiny silicone cups (mini muffin cups and bento cups.)
I made it Knox-blox style (extra firm,) so then I had to make regular for MuNKi and Fish. Then it was time for the real adventure: mochi. That's right, I finally got the courage to make my own mochi! I think I first meant to try this over a year ago, but it took me this long to get my courage up. Silly me. It turns out that Mochi aren't hard to make at all! I used this recipe. There are others out there that give the measurements in cups, etc. but the one I found first called for baking, which is not the traditional way. This recipe looked authentic, so I set my scale to gm, and all was well.
OK, almost. I then saw that I needed to measure the coconut milk in ml. Break out the chemistry set!
So that worked. By the way, light coconut milk from Trader Joe's works fine. I can't believe how simple this was. Rice flour, sugar and coconut milk, mixed and steamed. I don't even have a proper steamer setup, so I did this:
Yep, totally unprofessional, but it worked great.
Since the dough gets steamed for 30 mins or so, I decided to multi task, because I wanted to make this AWESOME bento box bag for Prawnie.
At some point I made even MORE jello so I could put the extra coconut milk in it (it turned out great, btw) and eventually, the dough was done:
The bag of bean paste is one of the apparently many different fillings/filling ingredients I bought and forgot about during my year of loin-girding in preparation for this. Next time I'll remember to spray the glass before steaming, but forgetting wasn't the end of the world.
The nice thing about mochi (OK, ONE of the nice things) is that it's very forgiving, and you don't have to have perfect little circles to start with:
You can just pinch off a chunk of dough, smoosh and stretch it enough to get the filling in, then pinch it into a taco shape:
Once the dough is closed over the filling, you can turn it sideways and pinch the taco into more of a ball:
And, finally, you get to give it a roll in your palms and then squash it into the potato starch:
After you eat the "accidents" (Oops! It fell into my mouth!) you'll have a plate full of soft, plump, pleasantly squeaky little mochi bodies:
Heady with this phenomenal success, I decided that I should launch on making a yummy lasagne recipe my mom had told me about. Well, it's kind of lasagne. Actually, instead of noodles, you use strips of roasted zucchini and yellow squash. (And eggplant, but I forgot about that. Also, I had a HUGE zucchini to use.)
So I set the oven to 400ºF, sliced the zucchini, sprayed the pans and slices with olive oil, and tossed on some kosher salt. I had 2 cookie trays full. Next time I'll make 3.
That had to roast for a while, but I wasn't sure how long, wasn't sure where I'd put the recipe, and all the computers were in use. I just went in 10 or 15 minute increments and worked on this:
As you can see, Emmett decided that he absolutely HAD to be on the ironing board. I took him off to my room, but he left so fast that I think he actually passed us on our way there. I tried a bunch of things to distract him, but in the end, he won.
Of course I couldn't leave the pattern alone. I never seem to be able to do that. I decided I wanted a different colour on the bottom, so made the kokeshi girls 5 1/4" x 12 1/2" and the dark blue 4 1/4" x 12 1/2". (The extra 1/4 inches were for the seam allowance when I joined the 2 colours.)
Somewhere during this process, I realised that the dark blue could have been just one piece. Duh.
The same happened for this part:
I don't know why she chose to make it as 2 pieces. But since I did a quick read through and went step-by-step instead of visualising the whole thing first, I didn't figure these things out until it was too late. No biggie, though. Oh, also, when you get the the corners and it says "cut" it means "sew" the first time. The second time "cut" does mean "cut." Again, had I not been being ADHCD, I'd have caught that. As it was I lost 1/4" at both of the box corners, but it worked out OK. And her "recipe" (OK, pattern) is truly spectacular, so I don't begrudge things I should have caught had I been paying more attention.
At some point here, the zucchini was done. It was AMAZING by itself. Note to self - just make this to snack on sometime. I layered the zucchini slices with crushed tomatoes, whizzed up ricotta-cottage cheese-an egg-and-spices, and shredded cheddar. Also mushrooms on half for myself and the Littles. The whizzed up stuff is something I used from our stuffed shells recipe, because I can rarely leave a recipe untweaked. Next time I will add fresh basil and feta, too. It went into a 350ºF oven for about 15 or 20 mins whilst I kept working on the bag:
See the brown shadow from the iron? Yeah, that's not a shadow. That's what happens when you have an ADHCD day, My Dear. It was at this stage that I told Prawn that her "new swimsuit top" was ready. She was appropriately shocked. ^_^
We were so hungry and devoured the "lasagne" before I thought to take a picture, so you'll have to imagine that for yourself. Just picture a molten festival of cheese and veggies. Yum!! Suffice it to say that I'll be making it again.
Eventually, fueled by said festival, tea and mochi, I ended up with this:
I added the tabs to the ribbon ends, because, again, I apparently have a tweaking disorder.
I think this came out closer to my initial imaginings than anything I've ever made. Pink Penguin, you rock!