My friend, J, alerted me to a blog set up by her friend from junior college (senior high school). She sent me pictures taken from the blog site and I was amazed and immensely impressed. The site is called 5AM Bento. This lady, previously a Chinese language teacher at a junior college, quit her job after her two daughters entered primary (elementary) school. Since then, she has been getting up at 5am on school days to prepare bento (lunch boxes) for the kids. Hence the blog title “5AM Bento”.
I am really impressed by her talents and how beautifully-made the bento sets are, and also the fact that she’s up at 5am to prepare them with such love. What’s also amazing about the friend is that she didn’t have any culinary training and she learned making bento from recipe books, and over time, improvised and created her own.
It’s too bad that most of her posts are in mandarin and only those who understand the language would enjoy reading them. She did put down the ingredient lists in English for some of the sets though. To be honest her Mandarin is much better than her English skill. Still, in Singapore where most Chinese can’t speak very decent mandarin, least alone write well in the language , she’s a flower in the Mandarin desert, notwithstanding she was a Chinese language teacher. I really like her writing style which is very personable and her excellent Mandarin skill, not to mention the awesome artistic talent in creating these bento. I’ve given much of the Chinese language back to school, and my written Mandarin is atrocious; thank God my reading skill is relatively intact for me to enjoy her posts.
Take a look at this cute piggy. It looks too good to be eaten!
This piggy on a bed of soba (buckwheat noodle) looks just as adorable!
I also love the expressions on this piglet trio. The fine details are simply amazing.
If you’re wondering, the eyes and mouth are made from nori (Japanese seaweed), the noses and feet from sausages, whereas in the first and second bento sets above, they are made from chicken ham.
Her creativity extends beyond the piggy. When her younger daughter, out of the blue, asked to bring bento to school one day, she was pleasantly surprised and created something special for the little girl. These two cuddly bears will melt your heart!
Then there are themed bento sets, like this one for the mid-autumn festival, which featured Chang’er, the character in the festival’s legend.
She also created one for the Japanese cartoon rabbit, Shappo.
I’m not a fan of cats, but this bento is an exception. In one of the rare moments in her blog, the friend listed down the ingredients in English.
(cats: plain toast with cream cheese and peanut butter,
details using nori and spaghetti;
Guess where the inspiration for this came from? FYI, the chicken wings on top are from 4Fingers which have pretty addictive wings.
She was inspired by this Teddy bear in a band uniform to create the bento below. According to her post, she was in the brass band and orchestra in school and seeing the Teddy bear got her nostalgic.
None of these bento sets are made for sale; instead the friend prepares them solely for her daughters. She wrote in her blog that she was a bad mother because of her bad temper, and perpetually In an angry mood. But I beg to differ; the fact that she gets up really early in the morning to make such bento shows how much she loves her kids. Sure, in the process she develops a passion for making the bento, still, it doesn’t make it easy because on Sunday evenings, she will rack her brain for ideas for the week. My advice to her is to reduce as much of the processed food as possible, and use more vegetables and fruits. But I understand it’s not easy to feed kids.
I’m inspired after checking out the blog. No, I’m not going into bento making, but to produce better quality pictures for my blog. She doesn’t use a professional camera but a camera phone and photo-editing apps. So I’ll be checking out the apps available out there.