Too cute to eat
Maybe your kid’s a finicky eater who needs inspiration to pick up a fork. Maybe you’re the Martha Stewart of your circle. Maybe you’ve just got extra time on your hands. Or maybe none of the above. No matter. Everyone will get a kick out of thumbing through Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa’s "Yum Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches" (Quirk Books, $16.95, 143 pages, paperback), a collection of bento dishes presented in artsy/crafty splendor.
The book is a how-to for transforming musubi (rice balls) into cutesy elves and caterpillars, scrambled eggs into gingerbread men and flowers. Nori cut into strips or rounds become strands of hair or eyes; carrots fashioned into triangles serve as chicken beaks.
The book jacket claims these lunches are all the rage in Japan, "where mothers create them as expressions of love for their children." That may seem a tall order for parents juggling home and career — whatever happened to a note in a lunch box or a bedtime story with cuddles?
Still, for those who’d like to try their hand at an adorable lunch, here are a couple recipes. This "chicken" bento can be garnished with a few florets of steamed broccoli and diagonally sliced hot dog pieces.
2/3 cup rice for two musubi
Couple pinches salt
1 or 2 lettuce leaves
4 kernels frozen corn
1 slice deli meat
1 uncooked spaghetti noodle
1 piece nori or 1 black olive
To make musubi: Sprinkle salt into rice and mix with a rice paddle, tossing to cool. Scoop rice into some plastic wrap, then wrap rice and shape into triangle, ball, oval or other shape.
Line a bento box with lettuce and arrange musubi so they are framed by lettuce’s ruffled edge. Indent middle of each with chopstick, then press in two pieces of corn to form beaks.
Cut meat for cheeks and combs. Use half-inch pieces of spaghetti noodle to attach combs to musubi.
Use hole punch to make eyes out of nori, or cut circles from olive.
Sauteed Shrimp with Mushrooms
3 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sake, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 mushrooms, such as shimeji
1-1/2 teaspoon ketchup
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced leeks
In small dish, marinate shrimp in 2 tablespoons sake and salt, for 5 minutes. Remove; blot with paper towel then sprinkle with cornstarch.
Warm oil in pan over medium-high. Saute mushrooms until tender, then add shrimp and stir until almost cooked through.
Mix in remaining 1/2 teaspoon sake, ketchup, salt, pepper and leeks.
Let cool, then spoon into bento box.
Family frills on tap at Academy of Arts
Tomorrow’s Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday at the Honolulu Academy of Arts is inspired by the current textile exhibit "Men in Lace." The free "Whitewash" program will offer kids and parents a chance to try their hand at creating simple lace mesh from string with help from Sara Oka, academy textile manager, and Shu-Hwa Lin, University of Hawaii professor of apparel product design and merchandising.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with activities pau at 3 p.m.
Children who come dressed as a famous lace-wearing person in history can enter the Lace Costume Contest at noon. Those lacking lace can visit the exhibit to try on frilly collars and cuffs while baroque music sets the mood.
Continuing on the lace theme, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" will screen at 11:10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The musical education group Do Re Mi Music will entertain, and kid-friendly food can be purchased at the Pavilion Cafe.
Happy trails to you at Waimea Valley
Climb to the top of Kalahee Ridge on a switchback trail through a forest of exotic and native plants and enjoy hula, crafts and keiki games today as Waimea Valley presents "Pulama ‘O Waimea."
The 2-mile family hike starts at 9 a.m. and is for children age 7 and older accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required.
Other activities will take place at various times between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., including a native plant sale; demonstrations of feather work, ukulele making, lauhala weaving and weaponry; and Hawaiian games and arts and crafts.
A garden tour will take place at 12:30 p.m., with a kanikapila at 1 p.m. featuring the Abrigo ‘Ohana, and a history of Waimea Valley tour at 1:30 p.m.
The admission fee for kamaaina and military is $8 for adults, $5 for children and seniors; annual family pass is $60. The location is 59-864 Kamehameha Highway, across from Waimea Bay. For more information, visit www.waimeavalley.net or call 638-7766.