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Showing posts from 2007

Holiday Dinner Chinese style

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Happy Holidays! We're going a bit off topic, well mainly because I have no bentos to post for the moment. I figured at least I can do a Christmas post and let you see how our family does a holiday dinner. During the winter it's very traditional (at least from the part of China my father originated from) to have a hotpot dinner. It's a very communal event and unusual to most outsiders. Basically dinner consists of a lot of raw ingredients surrounding a large "hotpot" of broth. (as pictured above) The electric hotpot (a modern convenience) is favored above the traditional coal fired hotpot but works just as well. Once the pot gets boiling everyone has a personal strainer they put ingredients and then put the whole thing in the boiling broth to cook. Other items that can tolerate long periods in the broth are put in to help the flavor initial, this includes fried tofu, fish cakes, and various meatballs.

Part of the presentation for the dinner is arranging all the sli…

Food for the masses

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Ok I exagerate it's a good few people. Sorry for the sparce postings, my work is killing me and life's been a bit hectic.

One of the things I'm learning to deal with is figuring out how to put together all these lunches so that I'm not working all night getting it all ready. It really requires a bit of forethought and factory like mentality. Above you'll see a shipped box. Everything is wrapped nicely compartmentalized so that no sauces spill. I don't always use every compartment. On the weeks that I don't I get to pre-plate for the next day saving me a smidgen of work. In the end, for feeding five people it's not all bad, my initial endevour was to cook only for my new wife. That idea presented it's own challenges towards menu planning, it's hard to buy for a portion of one. How do you re-use your ingredients? Course there are lots of bento blogs that serve as a good resource for that problem. So going down the path to actually cook for more sa…

w00t! new hostname finally installed

I got off my lazy bum and finally installed the URL I had originally purchased for this site. From this day forth you will be redirected to www.eatinginabox.com (still powered by blogger of course). Anyhow, that's it for now.

Tools of the Trade pt 3: Tools of preservation

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As promised, I'm keeping up with the blog with tools and things I've learned. In this section I'll talk a little about preservation, specifically freezing. Many times, my recipes will yield more than required to build all of my bentos (sometimes intentionally). If I don't intend on eating the food myself immediately or it's a component that I'll re-use at a later date, I'll save and freeze the food. The tricky part about freezing is determining what will defrost well later, but in almost every case, if you don't protect the food those pesky ice crystals will form and cause the dreaded Freezer burn.

So what's the best way to protect your food? Well freezer burn results when ice crystals form from the meat or vegetables when exposed to air. The best way to stop this is storing your food in air tight packaging. I use to use a food saver it's a great tool and I still use it for some of my more "heavy duty" storage. My issue around the foo…

Final Box of the year

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With the holiday season upon us, my wife prevailed upon me to take a break and take sometime off bentoing to actually enjoy the holidays. So this is my final box for the year. We've got a italian inspired lunch today. I tried to stay with a lighter theme the only hearty fare today is the stew. I had a pretty big hole since I decided to move the stew into an outside container. Fortuneatly the big plump strawberries were ready to take the spot.

We start with a nice italian lamb stew, I didn't use the crockpot this time, I was actually afraid to make the meat too soft. Lots of great hearty ingredients to keep my eaters warm (it's getting cold down here). Carrots, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers potatoes, and of course lamb put that together with a hearty blend of herbs and you get some pretty tasty stuff.


This side was a bit of a struggle for me. There were plenty of sides, but part of my new mandate was that the menu had to be doable very quickly. All the other sides I origina…

Preparation is king

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Ok I'm sandbagging. I know there's one last bento post for the year. Aesthetically I think it is one of my better composed ones, but you'll have to wait for my grand finale. In the mean time, more insight into the pre-work I must do for the bentos. For each bento I prepare a menu list, recipe list and finally the "note from mom" that I detailed in the earlier post. From concept to execution, a bento from me requires quite a bit of thought. Most bento blogs help with creating meals from what's in the fridge, in my case, I have to carefully plan out a meal within budget and still execute in the space of one evening. Were I to rummage through the fridge I couldn't come up with anything I could stretch for so many people. My hope of course is my freezer with it's left over buliding blocks will help me out on costs (pesto, tomato sauce, chicken stock). In the meantime as you can see I have a small binder I've been adding to. Each bento is carefully co…

Going out with a bang!

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Wow, a little publicity and I triple my visits in 15 hours. Welcome all you laptop lunch newsletter readers! Again, a unsolicited plug, I *love* my lunch boxes, they are so versatile and have made it easier for me to pack these lunches for my wife and her coworkers. Back to the business at hand I've decided to go out with a bang on my last couple of bentos. The idea behind this bento was really the dessert, I had to build the entrees and the sides to make the desert fit.

Since I started the concept with desert let's start by posting about it. I was kicking around the idea of making a creme brulee for my eaters. Two obstacles around that idea . First, glycemicly or health friendly? I don't think so. Two is the logistics of packing. I'd have to pack in six ramekins, not a big deal I suppose, but I need to keep transport easy for my wife. So I settled on another idea: Banana Brulee, I just broke out the torch and got to work. Instead of ice cream, I went with vanilla yogur…

March comes early

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Yeah, I could have saved this bento for March and St. Paddies day, but corned beef is good any day of the year. I've been on a kick to try to make it easier in the kitchen to churn out 10 meals in a night. Whereas preparation is definitely key and important, I'll say that the crockpot is the hardware lynch pin in making that happen. Anyhow, It's getting cold and I needed some hearty food to warm up my eaters. I'll confess the menu this time was a bit difficult to come up with. Irish food tends to be on the starchy side so trying to stay with the low glycemic was difficult, but I think I found some good alternatives to being somewhat low carb and glycemic index friendly.

First up, we have the corned beef, this is one of those no brainer dishes. I love cooking up a corned beef brisket in the cooker it gives me something to munch on through the week so it was an easy choice to deliver as bento. I usually punch it up a bit by stewing it beer, but I didn't know how that …

Brunch anyone?

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Sorry for the sparce post folks, the holiday season's been hard on me, and I'm trying to space myself out for the holiday as I already committed to take it easy and resume bentos after the new year. Fear not this doesn't mean I'm not posting! Without further delay here we have the Fritta Bento! The idea of cooking up a brunch had been nagging at me some time. It wasn't until I found a blog entry somewhere on pumpkin blintzes that I had to jump on it.

We start with a simple frittata. Unfortunately it deflated on me as I packed it. Some things are just meant to be served fresh I suppose. Or the great chefs just have better technique. Very simple dish, I just put in some left over veggies that I had from another dish to whip this together.



I made a gazpacho for a side "soup" , I think I made it a bit too strong on the onion side. I meant for it to be more light and refreshing since I have been sending out some heavy bentos lately. Anyhow, definite graded a B o…

Happy T-Day!

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Happy Thanksgiving! It's turkey day I hope all of you are having as great a dinner as I am having. I diverted my bentoing into working on a family thanksgiving potluck. I re-used some bento recipes actually, I served the quinoa and the cauliflower cream. Big hits both, the surprise hit was the cauliflower I expected a flat result, but everyone loved it. I'm glad to help expand some culinary horizons. Anyhow, promise I will post a bento here in the next two days, I've held out on your guys so it's time to put up some goodies.

Tools of the Trade pt 2: The "Box" in eatinginabox

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As promised, I'm doing an entry on the hardware that goes into the bento production. When we first began, I decided I wanted folks to be on a standard box that I could punch out bentos factory style. I stumbled upon this wonderful company that produced the perfect solution. You can find them here (no I don't work for them but they do deserve a plug). They have various color schemes (you're looking at primary color scheme above).

It all starts with the outer box. Simple but effective, the lid snaps into a slot at the front. The only complaint I have is that over time the lid warps a little and that is likely from the dishwasher (too many boxes to try to do them by hand). It's a real smart design, pre-grooved sections inside allow for the inner boxes to be nestled securely, and there's even a place for the fork and spoon.


Here we have the innards of the box (there's more than this) they have various sized boxes some with lids that you can apply towards various food…

artistic renderings of lunch

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I'm trying to do more posts on the background on all the things that have to happen in order for me to plan and push out a final bento box. Besides, I'm hitting the holiday season and the bentos will be going into sabbatical until the new year. (only two more left to make) So expect more yammering posts and more tools posts.

For each bento I carefully try to think about the composition of color, shape and size so I can get it to look good for their photo debut and be appetizing to my eaters. I'm not a fancy artist so it looks like a 4 year old drew it but it's useful to draw a rough sketch on how I'll plate the bentos and see which can be done early, which need to be wrapped. I usually label colors on each food so I can re-compose the dishes if I have too many similar colors together. Call it a bit OCD, but I'm a planner I can't help it. :)

The above are the frittata bento, and the irish bento that I have yet to post. Come back and see how sketch gets transl…

Welcome Obentec folks

The folks over at laptoplunches are the fine sellers of the "lunch boxes" that I've been using. They've had a call for photos and I sent them a link to the blog, hopefully they'll use one of my bentos. Welcome to the folks that visit from there, we love your product! I'm actually going to post a detail "tools of the trade" entry specifically on the box sometime soon.

Quinoa what? New food experiment!

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Sorry a dull looking lunch, I promise it was remarked as tasty. I was going for a higher healthy factor this time. My friend explaining the health benefits of Quinoa, I of course had to go and do some research on this grain and promptly incorporate it into a bento. I ran out of room on this box I took over the utensils slot and put in the asparagus. Now that I'm looking at it composition wise I think There's a little too much brown and orange.

Tried to save some time and effort with this box. I bought a pre-roasted chicken from the store and defrosted some pesto from a previous box and put together some fresh mozzarella and tomato into a sandwich, the bread is a low cal low carb bread. Note to self to make 5 sandwiches you don't need a whole chicken. Half a chicken would do fine.



Next came the Quinoa, I pulled a recipe for a shitake quinoa pilaf. I had some fears on using such an unknown ingredient but the recipe turned out quite nicely, I had to increase the liquid it call…

Omega3 goodness

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Some of the more recent bento savings have allowed me to splurge a bit and go for a menu that's a little nicer. So today I present a Miso Glazed Salmon Bento, I also splashed in some sides and dessert that are on the lighter healthier side of things.
We start with the Miso Glazed Salmon a yummy, a healthy 6 oz portion. It's actually quite an easy dish to produce, it took longer to put the glaze together than to actually broil the fish. I decided to garnish with the hearts of the Baby bok choi I used for the sides.

For the "main" side, I put together a nice soba noodle salad. It's chock full of fresh veggies (carrots, bell pepper and broccoli). The flavor should have developed quite nicely over night as the vegetables pickup the flavor of the dressing.


I put together some extra shitakes from one of the dishes tomorrow and sauteed up some baby bok choi. I had intended to top it with a touch of soy paste for some sweetness but had just plain forgotten because of the hu…

DIY falafel kit

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Went with another create your own sandwich box. I got the idea from another blog in my many research travels for this one way long ago when I first kicked the idea of building bentos for folks (Sorry, whoever it was I'd love to give you credit.) Very basic box where all of the compoents could really be used in the two pita shells I provided.

Start with the Pita shells and toss in a bit of the hummus maybe even a few carrot sticks. Use the Tzaziki later to drizzel on top.







Then put in the lettuce and falafel paddies. I used the Rice molds from my japanese box to mold the paddies (hard to see in the picture) I had stars, hearts and a teddy bear face. It came out ok, I think the star was most recognizable the paddies tended to lose their shape in the frying process.



Lastly we have a buttery herb couscous, I suppose the adventurous could even add that.


Box Contents
Falafel with lettuceButtery Herb CouscousTzazikiHummus with carrot sticks