Adorable Lunch

I blame Chris Pitzer.

Ready To Go!At the start of the month I was looking at the latest group of photos he’d uploaded onto his Flickr account, and among them were some pictures of his lunch. Or, rather, the bento box lunches his wife made for him. For those unfamiliar with bentos, they’re packaged lunches in Japan that most often involve an amount of artistry in putting the food into the small, compact space of a lunch box. (Some bentos have lots of little containers, others are larger spaces where you have to use your creativity in putting the food inside.)

I mentioned my love of the bentos (as well as Lisa Pitzer’s work in creating Western-style bentos) to Karon, who replied with the news that she’d just recently bought a bento box off of eBay. (Turns out there are a lot of military wives stationed in Japan who decided to make a little money on the side. Makes perfect sense to me. And even without them, well, what isn’t on eBay these days?) So I started browsing, and before I knew it I’d bought two bento boxes for myself.

Bento Lunch -- 2007-09-19This morning was my trial run. Last night I’d baked two chicken breasts in a chipotle lime marinade, and saved the second one for today’s lunch. I added it to some leftover rotini from the fridge, and drizzled a little extra marinade over the two this morning when I packed it all up. In the other half of the container, I chopped up an asian pear that I’d bought at a local farmer’s market on Friday, and then cut a granola bar in half and added it to the box (inside a cupcake wrapper as to keep it from getting soaked). Voila!

The end result? Well, first and foremost, the food was very delicious and transported well to work. (I picked containers that are microwave-safe, so they just sat in the fridge until then.) One thing I did learn, though, was that the containers are a little more shallow than I’d have thought. So packing your food in one is a challenge in just how to get enough in there without having to bring a second bento. (I suspect this will ultimately make me eat smaller lunches. That’s not a bad thing, really.) I’m also very relieved the elastic band comes with it, because even after eating a couple of chunks of pear this morning, I could barely get the thing closed. That space fills up fast.

I think I’m going try making another bento for lunch on Friday, but a lot will depend on how much free time I have between now and going to bed on Thursday night. It is fun, though, and it’s making me think about lunch in different ways. That’s ultimately a good thing.

(Click on the images to get larger-and-better views of the bento goodness!)

New and Old Reading Material

Over the past couple of years, with the embarrasment of books already in my home, I’ve tried to get a lot better about getting books from the library. (Especially with book club, since if I’d actually bought copies of John Varley’s Red Thunder or Greg Egan’s Teranesia I’d be pretty angry. I’m still a little scarred by briefly owning David Gerrold’s Blood and Fire, for that matter, but this is all fodder for an entirely different entry about hits and misses from the book club.) I’m regularly taking older books to the library for donation, in fact, trying to thin things out, re-evaluating what needs to stick around.

As it is, I’ve still got a bunch of amazing books just waiting to be read (some ones I chose, other ones that friends wisely picked out for me), and so I’m trying to minimize the inflow to ones that are really important/interesting to me, ones that I feel are worthy of making the cut. I have actually bought a couple of books recently; these are ones that “made the cut” and were considered (not yet read at the time of purchase) good enough to not just be a library borrowing. So, let’s see:

Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs. To be honest, none of his books have really captured my attention in the way that Dry (his story of alcohol addiction and recovery) grabbed me and was devoured over the course of 48 hours. They’re good travel books, though, especially since his last two have been collections of short essays/stories.  Fun, but with diminishing returns. Having just finished this one, I think any future books by Burroughs will be via the library for me.

The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan. I first heard of Ryan through her also-talented husband Steve Lieber; her first novel Empress of the World was the sort of book I wish I’d read when I was a teen, and her first comic (with Lieber) “Me and Edith Head” was sheer elegance. I had a gift certificate burning in my pocket from Lambda Rising, and I’d just decided that in addition to Possible Side Effects I’d finally buy one of the Love and Rockets re-issues that I’ve been eyeing for ages. Then I saw they had The Rules for Hearts in and you’d have thought L&R was on fire I’d dropped it so fast. Oh, and Ryan’s got other great comics out as well. If you haven’t already, go check out her short story “Click” (drawn by Dylan Meconis) and see what you’ve been missing. I’m about halfway through the book now and am absolutely loving it.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. I’ve enjoyed Carey’s comics in the past (Lucifer and Crossing Midnight in particular) and Karon had said good things about his prose novel debut. Since he was in town a couple of months ago for a signing tour connected to it, I decided it was a good a time as any to buy a copy, say hello to him again (we’d met a couple years ago), and give it a whirl. Hopefully I’ll be starting it soon.

The Selected Stories of O. Henry by O. Henry. Ok, I have to admit I haven’t actually bought this yet, but only because the last time I was at the store the line was so long I decided to go back. But it’s part of Barnes & Noble’s “Classics Series” which are bargain-priced; in this case a nice 432-page trade paperback for $5.95. What little I’ve read of his short stories I’ve enjoyed in the past, so I figure this is as good a way as any to give it a whirl.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners by James Joyce. And last but not least, also from the “Classic Series” we have another inexpensive trade paperback. I read Portrait when I was in high school and I loathed it, pure and simple. But I am a bit wiser now and I want to give it another shot. More importantly, though, the only story from Dubliners I’ve ever read is “The Dead” and I think it’s a truly amazing piece of writing, one of the best out there. So that is what really attracted me to this book; the chance to read the rest of Dubliners and to have a more easily-accessible copy of “The Dead” for my Christmas Eve tradition of reading said story. (Normally I have to dig out my college textbooks and figure out which one contained it.) This will be an interesting journey to see just what else of Joyce’s I actually like.

365pictures: Days 271-300

300. 300!

(I am trying to resist all sorts of jokes about said movie right about now.)

Anyway, I know I keep saying that the end is in sight, and I feel like I should drop in a note now that explains that on the whole, I have very much enjoyed this project. I plan on continuing to carry my camera around with me once it’s done, if nothing else. But there is certainly a lot of pressure/commitment to try and get a picture in every day, and I am looking forward to having that done with and not having to worry about shooting a sub-standard photograph in order to fulfill the daily quota.

So. In short, I do like the project and I am very glad that I chose to tackle it, but I will love the freedom I will have once it is over. And, as always, a link to the full set is available here.

Enjoy!

Mothership LandingAll May Park, All Must Pay18-Miler Reward: Part 1Hideous DiscardsNigiri Sake Sushi
WeightKeep FrozenAll The Pretty Deck Chairs In A RowOn The Edge Of ForeverWeathervane
Not MushroomsEight Buddhas In A RowWillow Entrance4-7-3-4G&T
Ferris WheelIwo Jima by NightImpulse BuyUnsureCanopy
With TeethUnsure Of Their FateSalt and PepperThe GrantComfort Food
My Lunch Scares MeNew PantsIn FlightCeiling StarEye on the Ball