Archive for October, 2008
Bento lunch cookbooks can be challenging to put together. Should they focus more on standalone recipes or an arrangement of full lunches? Decorative food or speed? Bento lunch principles or practice? Japanese-language bento cookbooks are often highly visual, with color photos on each page that both stimulate and inspire the reader while informing them of how-to steps at a glance.
Up to now, I haven’t seen books in English that capture the spirit of a Japanese cookbook for children’s fun bento lunches, making Hawaii’s Bento Box Cookbook: Fun Lunches for Kids the first example to date. (Read on for the full book review.)
Published by Biggie on October 30th, 2008 tagged bento, pasta or noodles, review, tips | 15 Comments »
If you’ve ever spent time making cute food art for bento lunches, you may also be familiar with the sinking feeling of opening the lunch after it’s been swung around in transit, only to find a jumble of food that doesn’t resemble what you created. “But it looked so nice in the kitchen when I packed it!” you say. Short of gingerly carrying the lunch level like old nitroglycerin on the verge of exploding, how can you put together a decorative lunch that will survive a commute?
There’s definitely technique in keeping decorations in place. I’ve come across anchoring tips in Japanese-language bento books, with suggestions that include using different condiments as edible glue. First, though, I decided to ask well-known oekaki (picture) bento food artist Amorette (Sakurako Kitsa) what she uses to keep her beautiful creations intact. Amorette recently ran a series of guest posts on decorative food art here on Lunch in a Box. Here’s some of our IM chat, reposted here with Amorette’s permission. Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on October 29th, 2008 tagged Amorette, bento, decorative, tips | 12 Comments »
I’m not one to spend a lot of time making decorative food art, but I’m not totally averse to giving my four-year-old son fun lunches. My speedy versions use playful accessories and visually interesting food instead of ornate food sculpture. The first lunch below is more of an exercise in accessories and shortcut cooking for dinner, while the second lunch is more interesting-looking food with a review of frozen potato Smiles.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Fast chicken mole enchiladas (loose recipe below) with a squeeze bottle of crema (sour cream), sauteed asparagus, nectarine slices, and cheese cubes.
Morning prep time: 10 minutes, using leftover enchiladas that I’d packed up the night before after dinner. In the morning I filled the condiment bottle with crema, sliced the nectarine and sauteed two stalks of asparagus. (Read on for the enchilada recipe, a review of shaped potato Smiles, lunch details, and an additional Sloppy Joe lunch.)
Published by Biggie on October 27th, 2008 tagged bento, corn tortillas or masa, food jar, for kids, leftover remake, meat, poultry, recipe, review | 50 Comments »
With food prices going up and the economy looking bleak, a lot of us are looking for ways to tighten our belts and save money. Food budgets add up, and there are more creative ways of cutting costs than eating macaroni and cheese all the time.
Packing your own lunch instead of buying lunch in a restaurant or cafeteria is an obvious money-saver, but there’s more that you can do to shop smart, reduce food waste, and conserve resources in the kitchen. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow *all* of the tips below, so just pick and choose the ones that work for your lifestyle. Read on to save money: 1) at the store, 2) at home, and 3) when traveling or dining out.
How do you cut food costs at home? Share your own tips in comments! Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on October 21st, 2008 tagged bento, freezing, organize, parenthacks, tips | 45 Comments »
My son recently turned four, and at his birthday I served dim sum from a local dim sum take-out place. This was the meal that kept on giving, as the leftovers gave us dinner and two speedy bento lunches, below. If your family overeats because they finish everything that’s put out on the table, try holding a little bit back in the kitchen for lunch the next day instead of counting on them to leave leftovers on the table. This has been helping us with portion control lately, and consequently saves a little money.
Contents of bento lunch for preschooler: Pork potsticker dumplings, shrimp har gow dumplings & dipping sauce, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, little carrots & broccoli with ranch dipping sauce, and a strawberry. The dim sum is from Clement BBQ in San Francisco, a cheap take-out dim sum place with very nice baked goods. Try picking up a package of buns from the counter to steam at home; my favorite is their steamed pork buns. (Disclaimer: I have no affiliations with Clement BBQ.) If you have time, try your hand at making your own gyoza, using even leftover stew or curry as the filling.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, using all leftovers from the birthday party (including a tray of assorted vegetables and dip). In the morning I quickly re-steamed the dumplings in the microwave to restore the texture of the wrappers, let them cool a little, and filled the dressing container. (Read on for details, an additional lunch, and cool Ultraman cupcakes.) Read the rest of this entry »