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Posted on Jul 23, 2008 in Containers, Equipment, For Kids, SF Bay Area Local | 45 comments

Packing cupcakes and BlogHer ’08

Packing cupcakes and BlogHer ’08

Cup-a-Cake individual cupcake containerThis weekend I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a way to make a write-up of the 2008 BlogHer blogging conference relevant to packed lunches, and it finally came together on the last day. After the food blogger meet-up lunch on Sunday (photos below), I went shopping with Amy of Cooking with Amy at a nearby Sur la Table, where I picked up a Cup-A-Cake cupcake holder for securely packing a single cupcake with your lunch. The Cup-a-Cake container has little plastic teeth inside to hold the cupcake stable and preserve any frosting decorations.

Cup-a-Cake individual cupcake holder (open)I recently recommended this to a mom at Bug’s preschool whose son is allergic to basically everything (eggs, wheat, soy, dairy, peanuts, etc.) as a way to send along a special treat to the kids’ parties, so they don’t feel bad about being the only one not eating birthday cake or cupcakes. I’m sure parents of food-allergic kids already know the trick of making and freezing a batch of unfrosted cupcakes to pull out one at a time for just this sort of thing, but packing a frosted cupcake so that the decorations don’t get stuck to the lid or plastic wrap is a sticky problem. I picked up the Cup-a-Cake for US$3 at Sur la Table, but have also seen them at Williams Sonoma, Amazon, and other stores in different colors. The company’s website has online sales as well as a retail store locator along the lines of my Bento Store Locator. Do you have a clever way of sending along a single cupcake? Let us know in comments! (Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliations with Cup-A-Cake.)

Sesame Street cupcakes at BlogHer '08

Above is a photo of some whimsical Sesame Street cupcakes that were at the Sesame Street sponsor room at the conference. Impressive! I thought about taking one home for Bug, but hadn’t yet bought the Cup-A-Cake holder so I passed. (Read on for my full BlogHer conference round-up with photos.)

Rocco diSpirito lunch at BlogHer '08

I was invited to a lunch with celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, where he managed to charm and engage the audience while flacking for Bertolli pasta sauce. The pasta sauces tasted fine, but weren’t particularly remarkable. I’d doctor them with freshly sauteed vegetables to serve with pasta, or use as a base ingredient when cooking something else to speed things up. People at the lunch were given his new cookbook Rocco’s Real-Life Recipes, about making easy dishes with a judicious mix of fresh and prepared/convenience foods (sounds like my speedy weekday approach). Midway through, I got a phone call from a national newspaper doing an article on bento-style lunches, so I wound up saying, “Oh, I’m at a lunch with Rocco DiSpirito, could I call you back in an hour?” Yes, my one brush with a celebrity chef turned me into a name dropper. Somebody smack me. (Click any photo for a larger view.)

Other personal highlights of the conference included:

  • The food blogger Birds of a Feather session on the first morning, allowing us all to put faces to names right away and then seek each other out over the next few days of the conference. I was surprised that people beyond the bento crowd were familiar with Lunch in a Box. Kudos to Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen for running the session, neatly reining in the PR folks who tried to use the roundtable introduction time to give an extended product and service pitch instead of the 10-word food blog description we were given as “homework.”

  • Bigfoot mecca at Macy's
  • Unrelated to food and blogging, but as a Bigfoot Woman (hence the “Biggie” nickname) I experienced a kind of nirvana at the Macy’s party when the store folks responded to my question about big shoes by ushering me into the back storeroom to the wall of size 11′s and assigning a personal salesperson. Honestly, it’s no fun looking at cute tiny shoes on display when you have to assume nothing’s available in your size. To share the wealth, I went around the party approaching all the tall women and asking if they’d like to join my expedition to the wall of 11′s in the back. Six of us including Rhi, Wifey, and Mocha Momma wound up having our own private party in the storeroom, walking out with eight pairs of cute shoes between us. This was the first time I’d ever been shoe shopping with other Bigfoot Women besides my sister. Yay!

Food blogger lunch at BlogHer '08 weekend

Left to right, here’s Gudrun of Kitchen Gadget Girl, Kristin of Offbeat Eating, and Kalyn (benevolent matriarch of the food blogger community). I think some people at the conference mistook Gudrun and me for one another — I got some comments referencing conversations I’d never had. Hey, another tall Gadget Girl!

Food blogger lunch at BlogHer '08 weekend

The local SF blogger contingent included Amy of Cooking with Amy, Sam of Becks & Posh, Jen of Life Begins at 30, (see her interesting post on whether eating locally is possible with ethnic food) and Sean of Hedonia. I wound up at a lot of the same conference sessions as Amy, who provided amusing commentary throughout. ;-)

Food blogger lunch at BlogHer '08 weekend

Last but not least are Lynda of Taste Food, Ed of Is it EDible?, Susan of Food Blogga, Chuck of Sunday Nite Dinner and Food Gawker, and a fabulously anonymous couple behind Bunrab.

Other food blog write-ups of BlogHer ’08

Further reading on Lunch in a Box: 

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  1. What fun! And SCORE on the shoes!

    Good thing Bug can’t read your blog, or he’d be mad you didn’t bring him the whole table of cupcakes.

    Thanks for the links. Some blogs there I’m not familiar with. (Like I need more.)

  2. Thanks for the great run-down, Biggie! You just introduced me to a great handful of food blogs that would have taken me ages to stumble across on my own.

  3. I’m inspired to cook something other than mac ‘n’ cheese for the kids today. Good roundup.

  4. Oh I love those!!
    I also love these items made by Thermos, like Snak Jar. There are products that are more adult oriented without kiddie themes.
    http://www.thermos.com/
    Search for snack jar. (no affiliation with thermos). smart packaging, transport jars always has me bying whether I actually need to or not. Really unessenary but well I have a jar for every and I mean every occassion. From sandwhich and muffin packaging to cake packing to soup packing ;)

  5. Looks like you had so much fun at BlogHer!! I wish I could have gone.

  6. It was really great meeting you at last, and I agree, hanging out with the food bloggers is just so much fun!

  7. my one priority in SF was trying to find bento boxes and i failed, failed, failed (i guess i didn’t realize that i’d be at the conference all day, everyday – even most of sunday).

    being from kansas, i used to bento retail finder thingy (so technical, i know) and the closest one is in indianapolis (300-some miles away, oy).

    kick-kick-kicking myself for not seeing the city more and not going to the sunday meet-up.

  8. Great round up! The shoe shopping was a blast. It’s always great bonding with other “big-feet” women! I’ll be looking forward to next year’s escapade.

    Oh, and love the Cup-A-Cake holders! Smiles!

  9. Sounds like you had a blast! I am 5’11″ slender build and a size 10 in shoes…thank you very much. While pregnant with DD my foot went to a size 11, thank goodness my pre-pregnancy size 9 foot decided to come back down to and meet me half way at a 10.
    My individual cupcake take-a-long trick: I use a storage container similar in size to the cupcake, turn it upside down and use the top as the bottom and the container as the top.

  10. I haven’t yet tried the single cupcake holder. Think it’s time maybe I did. Also, thanks for the tips about stores in Japantown. I’ll probably make a quick trip over there this weekend for some fun shopping.

  11. If I eat a cupcake for breakfast, it is your fault. The end.

  12. Hey Biggie, Looks like you had a blast…. Good times… I wanted to let you know they sell Cup-A-Cakes at Sprinkes Cupcake locations too, And we are getting a Sprinkles Cupcakes at Stanford Mall in Palo Alto, NEXT MONTH! WOOHOO!

  13. Oh, now I want a cupcake holder-maybe I’ll head to the container store later on.

    You only went to the tall women?! I would have been happy to join your big feet women group, but I’m only 4’11″. Yes, that amounts to clown size feet on a tiny body! Thankfully no one notices and am in disbelief until I show them the double digit number on my sole.

  14. When I pack cupcakes, I kind of cutout a top off the cupcake (kind of hollowing it out a bit) and place some frosting in, and place the top of the cupcake back on (:

  15. Hi There

    I just stumbled across this from another page – and i just wanted to say I LOVE IT

    I bring my lunches to work every day, and you have some amazingly quick awesome recipes and ideas –

    THANKS!!

  16. I use an Avent breastmilk cup (upside down) to transport cupcakes for my little guy with food allergies.

    I had them already, so I didn’t have to worry about buying more stuff!

  17. Instead of bringing a single cupcake for my four year old with multiple allergies, I try to coordinate with the birthday kid’s mom and bring cupcakes that match the party’s theme to share with everyone. At first I thought it would be a little awkward offering to bring food to someone else’s party, but I’ve been surprised at how happy they’ve all been to let me do some of the baking.

  18. Great write up, sounds like a blast! I’m a size 9/10 (depending on the brand and shoe style) and find it impossible to find shoes as well. The most aggravating thing to me is seeing a shoe on display that looks so adorable and well, lovely, then finding it in my size (woo!) only to discover it does not look good in a larger size. Boo. Congrats on finding shoe nirvana, though!!!

  19. I have two of the cupcake containers. I make regular size cupcakes, but they do not fit well in the container. The plastic teeth sink into the cupcake very far and ruin the presentation…but if the look of the cupcake doesn’t matter they work fine…

  20. I’m glad you had fun at the Macy’s party. I thought it was the mos bizzare party ever, I wrote an account of it on my blog if you want to relive the moment! hehehe

  21. @1 from Kitt: The cupcakes were pretty adorable, but I was full and had no way of preserving one for Bug. As you say, good thing he can’t read my blog yet!

  22. @2 from Lydia (The Perfect Pantry): Lovely meeting you as well, Lydia! Great fun hanging out with you at the conference — I wish I’d remembered the nearby Sesame Street room for good coffees instead of waiting in line at the Roomba coffee stand. You’re such a smart cookie… :-)

  23. @3 from dawn: It was definitely an education for me as well — now I have WAY too many interesting food blogs in my reader… Hope I find time to post! ;-)

  24. @5 from Jessika: I certainly hear you on the container addiction — I plead guilty!

    BTW, are you talking about this kind of Snak Jar?

    Looks interesting, but how does it hold up in terms of heat retention?

  25. I saw the write up “the kitchn” did on you. I must say gratz! I feel vindicated that you use Goya as well. lol. I wish I had shelves in my freezer though. Did you have to put them in?

  26. @27 from Mimi: Thanks, Mimi! I don’t have a problem with Goya — I think that’s alcaparrado peeking through a pantry basket in the photo they showed. Handy pantry staple for yellow rice, etc.

    Our refrigerator actually came with built-in freezer shelves; the whole bottom part is a pull-out tray too. Pretty customizable for different storage needs — I have no complaints about it!

  27. @26, Biggie, I’m sorry I should have said that snak jars are for cold items only which the company clearly specifies. I use them to bring yoghurt dessert with me or a perilous salad. The minus with the container is that it holds quite quite alot, 8 oz. But I packed a cold rice dish de other day and it was perfect for tossing in the cold sallad and a babybel cheese too. (Forget appearance please ;)
    But it is a convenient thing, holds cold well. Not storing ice-cream in it cold but well.

    For medical reasons I’ve been advices to stay away from gluten for some weeks and I’m having a blast (note sarcasm). I had vitamine b12 definiecy from hell, getting treatment for the. Learning what not to eat and what to eat is a whole science. The treatment is working however. the actual medical treatment to get the b12 up.

  28. I must say, just as a general commentary, that I am finding this (…) I have no affiliation with (…)
    I totally understand the need for it, but still. I have no affilition with milk company x, cocoa company y. The list can become endless. I applaud your efforts Biggie, I relly do, You’ve been sooooo totally open with you private gear and what is sent for you to try out etc., even listing all your cook books that are your private possessions, with additions of many items that do belong to your separate household as private items. That it is nesessary in the first place, that is what I find kinda you know, uncool yet necessary. Not reply is required.

  29. @8 from laura: Well, there was so much going on at the conference that it would have been hard to break away for long unless you’d scheduled time before or after the whole thing. Totally understandable! I’m local and it still felt like a LOT.

  30. @10 from Gigi: Interesting trick for packing cupcakes; thanks! My sister’s like you too. She’s a slender 6-footer with size 11 feet pre-pregnancy, but they grew to size 12 after she had kids. My gain — she gave me her old shoes! :-)

  31. @12 from Rhi: So did you have a cupcake for breakfast? Inquiring minds want to know… ;-)

  32. @13 from Summers Love: Thanks for the heads up about Sprinkles Cupcakes — I didn’t know about the Stanford Mall one!

  33. @14 from Monica: Man, if only we had a secret code or something to recognize the other big-footed women! I guess going around staring at each other’s feet will have to do for the time being… Sorry I missed you; you would have been welcome if I had known!

  34. @15 from Raine: Hollowing out a cupcake to make room for the frosting would definitely keep you from losing the frosting on the surface of your container! Good solution for folks just looking for the flavor of a frosted cupcake but don’t care about decorations.

  35. @17 from Cass: Nice DIY improvisation on making a cupcake holder from breastmilk containers! Very clever; thanks for sharing.

  36. @18 from Libby: I could see that making you very popular with the other moms, actually! Hey, want to come to Bug’s birthday party? Then I wouldn’t have to provide cake! :-)

  37. @19 from Yvo: I solve the big/small shoe cuteness issue by not looking at anything smaller than an 11. It’s just too aggravating to look at the tiny cute ones and set myself up for disappointment. Nordstrom Rack is my friend…

  38. @21 from Tiggs: Thanks so much for the feedback on the Cup-A-Cake holder teeth biting into the cupcake. The teeth don’t go into the frosting on your cupcakes, though, do they?

  39. @22 from damaris: It was a strange party, wasn’t it? At the beginning I was thinking — hmm, they made the furniture department the last stop, after everyone’s been drinking booze and eating finger food? I guess that’s why floor model furniture is cheaper…

  40. @29/30 from Jessika: Wow, good luck with your GF diet — it really is challenging to vet all of your household products (not just food, but medicines and skincare products as well). I hope you get everything straightened out. (fingers crossed)

    On the disclaimers, I see blogs out there where the line between paid promotion and impartial review is seriously blurred. It’s made me want to be transparent where that sort of thing is concerned on Lunch in a Box; sorry that it can be jarring at times. I do think readers should be aware of the issue, though, so that they can put on their Cynic Hats when reading breathless reviews anywhere (even in some magazines).

  41. @44 from Gudrun: So tell me, Kitchen Gadget Girl, what’s your favorite multiple-cupcake carrier? I’ve seen a number of them and figure I’ll need one eventually, but haven’t yet done the research.

  42. @45 from Jessika: For gluten-free bread, I had good luck making the breads in The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Bread cookbook. It’s still not like regular bread, but some pretty good substitutes once you toast them. This is when our heavy KitchenAid stand mixer really paid off for us, as GF breads are basically no-knead quick breads that can burn out the motors on weaker mixers. Good luck to you; I hope your health improves, Jessika.

  43. Mmmmmm cupcakes!

    Just a note in case anyone’s looking for the Cup-A-Cake holders: I saw a bunch at my local (DC Metro) Linens N’ Things for $1.49 each – a considerable discount already, but even more so if you use one of their ever-present 20% off coupons!

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