Archive for May, 2008
A couple of years ago, my friend Camille sent me an e-mail with a Chinese-language slideshow describing the detrimental effect that disposable chopsticks were having on the environment in China, and encouraging everyone to carry their own reusable chopsticks.
As background, China produces around 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks a year, amounting to about 25 million trees. Japan consumes about 25 billion pairs a year, or 200 sets per person, the majority of which come from China. In April 2006, China imposed a 5% tax on exported chopsticks, increasing the cost of disposable waribashi chopsticks and bringing widespread attention to the issue.
Fast forward a couple of years and there’s now a full-fledged “My Hashi” movement across Asia, spawning entire lines of travel chopsticks and cases designed to be tucked into a purse or briefcase and taken to restaurants and work. And what would a Japanese trend be without some wacky invention of dubious use? Check out the My Hashi chopstick bra, which looks like the least comfortable bra EVER. (Read on for the full post.)
Published by Biggie on May 20th, 2008 tagged equipment, shopping | 46 Comments »
In a follow-up to my earlier post asking for help locating my mentally disabled, epileptic relative, I wanted to let everyone know that he was located on Monday morning in a San Francisco hospital and should be fine.
His brother Jim Lamascus stated, “Bobby Joe Lamascus is safe in the hospital, in serious but stable condition. He’s been in the hospital since Friday afternoon, when he was brought in following an epileptic seizure in a fast food restaurant. One of the hospital workers recognized Bobby Joe after seeing his picture in the news and alerted the authorities. On behalf of the whole family, we’d like to thank the media and the public for all of their help in our search. We’re truly touched by the outpouring of concern and support from the community during this difficult time.”
I spent the day with the reunited family in the hospital; his mother Barbara was tremendously relieved. Hopefully her next Mother’s Day will be a lot less stressful!
Published by Biggie on May 13th, 2008 tagged Uncategorized | 33 Comments »
UPDATE: Bobby Joe has been found in a hospital in San Francisco; thank you all so much for your kind wishes and help in locating him! See my follow-up post, and the SF Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News both have updated articles.
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Sorry to interrupt the normal lunch focus of this blog, but I have a plea for San Francisco locals. I just heard that a mentally disabled relative went missing after he went to the bathroom during a group home field trip to San Francisco’s Japantown on Thursday May 8, 2008 at 1:30pm (last seen at Scott & Geary). If anyone thinks they might have seen the man in the photo below, please contact the San Bruno Police Department at 650-616-7100. He has severe epilepsy and needs medication to control his seizures.
Bobby Joe Lamascus is 50 years old, 6 feet tall, 150 pounds with green eyes. He has no upper teeth, and his mother believes he was wearing a brown jacket and Levi’s blue jeans. His group home is in San Bruno, so he might be trying to get back there on his own (but has likely had a seizure). Further details are at this article in the SF Chronicle or this article in the San Jose Mercury News. The police have an APB out for him and family members are canvassing the area with flyers — that’s what I’ll be doing too.
If you are able to forward this to your friends in the area, local online forums or mailing lists, I’d certainly appreciate it. If you’d like a copy of the Missing Person poster to put up, e-mail me at lunchinabox AT gmail DOT com and I’ll send it to you privately. We’re crossing our fingers that Bobby Joe gets home quickly and safely. Thank you for spreading the word.
Published by Biggie on May 11th, 2008 tagged Uncategorized | 26 Comments »
Not all dishes fare well cool or at room temperature. Just imagine Sloppy Joe filling eaten cold — congealed and nasty. Because there are no microwave ovens at my son’s preschool or at the park, I like to have a thermal food jar or thermal lunch jar on hand to expand lunch options to include warm food.
Amazon carries thermal bento sets with a thermal food jar and an insulated carrying case for packing cool side dishes. You can achieve the same the effect on the cheap by using a regular thermal food jar that you can find at stores like Target or Walmart, plus a small side dish container for the room temperature or cool foods. (Read more about hot vs. cold lunch packing considerations.) When I use this set for my own lunches, I also like to pack fresh rice in the thermal lunch jar, keeping it warm and soft until I’m ready to eat. (Note to San Francisco locals: Kamei has the two Zojirushi-brand sets behind the counter for $33. Store info at the SF local shopping guide.)
Later this week I’ll be traveling out to Philadelphia to visit my ailing grandmother, so I won’t be as responsive as usual on the comment front. I’ll still be updating the blog from the road, but just a quick heads up. It’ll be interesting to see how my husband fares packing our three-year-old’s lunches on his own for two days; I promised to help by planning out simple menus that require only quick assembly. Maybe he should read my Mommy’s Lunch Manifesto — Need for Speed… I hear that works for dads too.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Homemade ma po tofu (with tofu, ground pork, enoki mushrooms and salted black beans), rice, edamame and apple bunnies made with miniature Red Delicious apples that Bug and I found at Safeway (see the apple rabbit tutorial). I thought apple bunnies were out of the picture because Bug doesn’t like apple skin anymore, but something about these tiny apples made him ask for apple bunnies.
Morning prep time: 10 minutes, using leftover mapo tofu. In the morning I made the apple rabbits first and got them soaking in acidulated ice water to curl the ears and prevent the fruit from browning, then moved on to warming the frozen rice and ma po tofu in the microwave and pre-warming the thermal food jar with hot tap water while the apples soaked. (Read on for packing details, Sloppy Joe lunch and recipe, and review of Bush’s Grillin’ Beans.)
Published by Biggie on May 11th, 2008 tagged beans, bento, food jar, for kids, glutenfree, lactose free, meat, recipe, review, rice | 25 Comments »
Don’t be alarmed! I’m not changing the focus of this site to time-consuming food art! But May 5 was Cinco de Mayo as well as Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi, historically a boy’s day holiday celebrated in Japan), one of the few occasions I’ll actually go all out to make a themed lunch for my three-year-old son. Do you get the theme? The sandwich is decorated to look like a carp streamer, which is traditionally flown on Children’s Day. A big fish streamer on top represents the father, and smaller ones underneath stand for the mother and either the boys or all children in the household, depending on who you talk to. I’ve translated the classic Japanese Children’s Day song at the end of the post and linked to a song video if you’re interested in learning more.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread (scales: sliced ham, eye: sliced cheese and nori seaweed, fins: cucumber peel, all affixed to the bread with cream cheese to keep the design intact in transit). The side dish container holds a cherry tomato, steamed broccoli and yellow bell pepper strips flavored with Korean barbecue sauce, and a cheese cube.
Morning prep time: 30+ minutes, WAY too long for a speed bento, but fine for the occasional decorative lunch (see my page on Decorative Food). Food art lunches benefit from advanced planning, so I looked through some of my Japanese children’s bento cookbooks to find ideas the day before. I settled on a simple sandwich (instead of an elaborate fish-shaped sushi roll), and went to the store to pick up what I was missing (ham and cucumber). (Read on for equipment notes, decoration technique, and the Koinobori Song…)