Showing posts from December, 2007

Holiday Dinner Chinese style

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

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 (still powered by blogger of course). Anyhow, that's it for now.

Tools of the Trade pt 3: Tools of preservation

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 fo

Final Box of the year

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 origin

Preparation is king

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!

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