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Review & Giveaway: The Just Bento Cookbook

Being a bento blogger means it’s almost impossible to not know who Maki Itoh is. The author of the biggest bento blog out there, Just Bento, Maki gives wonderful tips, recipes, and ideas for the everyday person. So imagine my surprise when I read that she started Just Bento in October 2007. In my head, I’d always imagined she was just around, well, forever!

The Just Bento Cookbook

What follows is my review of her book, The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go, which is back in stock on Amazon today. Since my own book, Yum-Yum Bento Box, has also been out of stock, it’s clear that the Christmas holidays totally wiped out Amazon’s bento bookshelves!

Disclosure: The copies of Just Bento were sent to me by the publisher.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

Some time last year, Maki and I had a brief exchange about our books and we were happy to discover that while we were both doing bento cookbooks, we most likely had different audiences and probably wouldn’t impact each other in a big way.

The Just Bento Cookbook features 25 full color photographs of healthy bento lunches and is split up into two sections: Japanese Bentos and Not-so-Japanese Bentos. Upon reading that there were 25 lunches featured, I admit I felt a bit disappointed, as that didn’t seem like very many. However, the book actually features 155 variation recipes for you to try, each of them sounding unique and delicious.

The Japanese section features meals that are traditionally packed into a bento box lunch. You’ll find recipes for things like soba noodles, tamagoyaki, and sushi (none with raw fish). After looking through, I’m definitely going to try the Parmesan Tamagoyaki variation she suggests.

The Not-so-Japanese section is dedicated to global dishes and is a wonderfully diverse part of the book featuring recipes adapted to make cooking them for yourself easy. One thing I will be trying is the Spanish Tortilla, as that looks like a good power food to pack while on Weight Watchers.

Maki has included her popular Just Bento timeline for each of the lunches in the book and although at first I found it a little confusing, it is a handy tool to showing you how to proceed through the preparation of each meal.

There are a couple of downsides to the book, one being that half of the pages are in black and white. All of the lunches are in full color, but the procedure photos for things like cooking tamagoyaki were in black and white, which was a bit confusing for me at first as I thought it was for tamagoyaki using egg whites. Secondly, the instructions are in paragraph form. This is just a personal preference of mine, but I find it much easier to follow a recipe if the steps are numbered. Paragraphs tend to make it easier for me to just lose my place or skip over things.

That being said, the book is chock full of useful tips on speed, safety, portion sizes, and little tidbits. Priced at $11.83 on Amazon, I think this price is well worth it for the amount of recipes and advice provided. If I wasn’t provided with a copy from Kondasha, I would have bought the book myself and been quite happy with my purchase. I wish Maki all the best with her book’s success!

When I was first sent a copy of the book, it took the ultra slow boat getting here, so after nearly a month, I contacted Maki again and she had another one sent out. Both books arrived within a few days of each other. Typical! The good news for you guys is that means I have one up for grabs!

Three Ways to Enter:

  1. Comment here and tell me why you want to win The Just Bento Cookbook.
  2. Become a fan of Adventures in Bentomaking on Facebook and leave a comment on the giveaway post.
  3. Follow @pikko on Twitter and RT the following: “RT @pikko Win a copy of The Just Bento Cookbook from Adventures in Bentomaking!” Comment here with the link to your tweet.

This giveaway will close on January 28, 2011. Maximum of three entries per person. Comments not following instructions will not be counted as valid entries. Winner will be contacted via Facebook or e-mail and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before it is forfeited and another winner chosen.

This giveaway is open to everyone.

Buy The Just Bento Cookbook and other bento books on Amazon: