Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't Let the Pigeon Eat This Bento

Right now Little Z is really into Mo Willems' Pigeon series. We have the first three; "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus," "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late," and "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog."
She likes to "read" them aloud [she has them memorized and recites them.] Her favorite is the hot dog one, because of the little duckling. Since her My Gym camp theme was "Bring Your Favorite Book" I HAD to make her a lunch to match, right?

We went to a library story time recently, and they read The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? which also features the duckling and pigeon, so she is desperate to own that book now as well. Plus all the others she doesn't have. Hint hint, Grandma! Also the Knuffle Bunny series by the same author. Great stories, although the third one chokes me up just thinking about it. *sniffle* Since we just re-borrowed them from the library, I had thought about making a Knuffle Bunny lunch, but the circles for these guys were just waaaaay easier to think about doing!

Don't Let the Pigeon Eat This Lunch!
Bread and cheese (and an olive slice and carrot bits,) uncured turkey dog,
tomato paste-ketchup blend, mustard, carrots, Rainier cherries

Don't Let the Pigeon Eat My Lunch: I used a Tupperware Smidget sauce container to cut the larger circle for the pigeon's head out of whole wheat bread. Then I cut freehand from the cut-out circle (so the edge would already be rounded) to make the neck and part of the chest and tail. From other scraps, I cut the two wings.
I used a largish mini circle cutter to make an eye out of mozzarella, and added a slice of olive for the pupil. I cut the beak out of a scrap from a yellow carrot, and chopped the rest into sticks. Doh! I forgot the white band around his neck. Oh well. Those cheese scraps were pretty tasty...

Guest Starring The Duckling!: I used the same cutter as the pigeon's eye to cut the duckling's head out of Colby Jack cheese (or "spotty cheese," as we call it,) and another circle out of mozzarella. I hand-trimmed around the outside of the mozz one to make it smaller, since I didn't have the perfect cutter. A little snippet of CoJack for the neck, and a smaller circle out of mozzarella again, smudged with natural blue food coloring, and some hand-cut bits of orange carrot coin to make the beak!

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog: I finally found some uncured no-nitrates-added hot dogs - at Trader Joe's! Now I can feel a little better about letting her eat them. This was a turkey one. I still don't like them. I dislike the flavor and feel of hot dogs. And because they have no preservatives, I can't use them up before they expire. So I froze them. I defrosted one on the "meat" setting for 2 minutes, then nuked it on "high" for 30 more seconds (my standard. She prefers them not cooked and not hot, but I prefer killing off any potential risk of listeria. I win. My lunch, my rules.)
After reading on Family Fresh Meals that I could use tomato paste instead of ketchup for a healthier version, I've been meaning to try it. The taste and texture are much richer, so it will take some getting used to. She ate it just fine the first time I subbed it in, but saw me scoop it out of the can the second time and said she didn't like the flavor. I added some salt and sugar to it that time, and she ate it up. This time I blended it in a mini muffin cup with some regular ketchup to smooth it out and help the transition. She's been asking for mustard a lot lately too, and the duckling asks for some at the end of the book, so in it went! The tiny yellow silicone cup is some kind of candy mold from a set I found at a kitchen specialty shop.

All That And a Bag of Bento
Let me tell you, putting this lunch together took very little time. Maybe 5-minutes, tops, to cut and assemble both characters and out the rest of the foods in there. It took longer to find the book in her rat's nest room than it did to make this lunch!
Including the time it took to decide what ingredients to use, find them in my fridge, and find the right cutters, I spent maybe 15-minutes on this lunch. And that's because I'm very unorganized and tend to forget where stuff is and only grab one item per trip, so there's a lot of back-and-forths.
If I had made this for her to take to school on her own, I would have used something like cream cheese, mayo, ketchup, maple syrup, or honey (depending on what would taste best with each item) to "glue" the various pieces to the bottom of the box and each other. Maybe used uncooked spaghetti noodle bits to secure the stacked stuff.

She LOVED it! I don't have many pictures of her with her lunches lately because she either snarls and hides from the camera, or gives me a "scary clown" fake grimace-grin. I had a feeling this one would be something special, so I poised myself facing over the back of the driver's seat, got my camera turned on and ready, and then handed her her lunch! This moment was worth every finger ever sliced. Every dropped or flopped masterpiece. Every nanosecond of time I could have spent watching TV instead of making her a "beautiful lunch." This is why I get up in the mornings!

So naturally, she refused to eat it. But she made sure they each had a chunk of hot dog "because at the end of the story they shared the hot dog!" She did eat some of that, plus her cherries. And half of the duckling's beak because it had wandered off and she didn't know what that random chunk of carrot was supposed to be.

  Japanese Bento Decoration Ham Cheese Cutter Set 9pcs Flower Japanese Bento Decoration Ham Cheese Cutter Set 9pcs Space  


  1. It's only now that I remember you used to draw all the time. So I shouldn't be so surprised that the pigeon turned out looking so good. Well done, this was very fun!

    My 4 year old daughter loves Elephant and Piggie. Do you read those too?

  2. That is the sweetest bento ever! (And that child's face is a VERY close second!)

  3. This rocks! I love those books and your lunch was fantastic! Makes me want to eat a pigeon.. or not..

  4. I love it! you can make my lunches any day.

  5. Kendra, This is your best post ever!!! Love your daughter's smile in that picture.

  6. That birdie makes my heart swell... so cute and so is your little girl!

  7. This is so cute! And Z is so sweet :) We love the Pigeon books!

  8. I really love this! We love the Mo Willems books here. I had never thought of tomato paste as a substitute. We will have to try it.

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  9. Your pigeon is AWESOME! I love his eye - it totally looks like he is looking at me! =-) Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Have a great weekend,
    Beth =-)

  10. Z's beautiful smile is good reward for that amazing lunch! I love how you did the eyeball - looks so cool!

  11. We are totally into Mo Willems in this house, especially the pigeon. Love this! Great work!

  12. Knuffle Bunny was one of my 8 year old's favorite books! I had no idea there was a third! I'll have to hunt that one down! The lunch is soo cute, looks like your little one got a kick out of it too!

  13. I am featuring this post on Read.Explore.Learn. today!

  14. Oh I love love love it! pinned!

  15. Adorable! My kids LOVE Mo's books, too! So much it once spurred my 5 year old to create a story I later blogged about called Don't Let the Skunk Drive the Carriage. Great ideas! I look forward to sharing your blog with my MOPS group.

  16. Love those books! My girls used to "fake eat" the pictures of hot dogs printed on the back pages. Miss those days. Thanks for reminding me of those sweet babies!


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