Archive for October, 2008
A warm welcome to new readers from this week’s article in Newsweek Japan with a Japanese-language profile of me and Lunch in a Box. It’s a special “Nippon Daisuki” edition with articles about non-Japanese people who like Japan (you know, the “hen-na gaijin tokushu”). There are a couple of minor factual errors in my profile (“Bento Ninki ni Awase Kantan Recipe o Shokai: Blogger Deborah Hamilton”, Oct. 15, 2008, pg. 62), but it’s largely fine. I’ve updated my Press & Awards page to include it, and you can view the full article here.
In other news, this weekend I finished the surprisingly challenging task of switching the site over to a new hosting company, which should hopefully eliminate most of the downtime issues we’ve been experiencing lately. Please e-mail me at lunchinabox (AT} gmail DOT com if you find something on the site not working correctly, and I’ll get it fixed.
Finally, the last installment of my Kitchen Organization Series! As you may recall, this summer I panicked and did a sweeping overhaul of my kitchen for For Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn blog’s photo tour of my bento kitchen. In part one of the series, I showed how I reorganized my scary spice pantry; part two examined the makeover of my messy pantry, and part three overhauled my terrible refrigerator and freezer. Here’s the last bit: the remaining cabinets and garbage containers for the prep area. (Read on for details of the reorganization, with feedback on what’s been working for me over the last few months and what hasn’t.)
Published by Biggie on October 15th, 2008 tagged equipment, organize, tips | 39 Comments »
It’s been a while since my last bento shopping update for San Francisco Bay Area locals, so there’s quite a bit today. I’ll be updating the San Francisco Bay Area bento shopping guide, the online bento shopping guide, and the store entries in the Bento Store Locator with this information for quick reference.
- Kawaii Corner: Selection of cute kids’ character boxes, plus online store with international shipping (SF Richmond Dist.)
- Kamei: Tiger thermal bento kits and Asvel bento boxes (SF Richmond Dist.)
- Ichiban Kan: New branch of Japanese-style discount store to open March 2009 in Tanforan Mall (San Bruno)
- Kukje: Tiger thermal bento kits, Asvel bento boxes, and Lock & Lock boxes (Daly City)
- Katachi: Touristy sword & knife store in Japantown with Hakoya boxes (SF Japantown)
- Nijiya: Some men’s Asvel boxes in stock (SF Japantown)
- Sanko: Depleted bento stock, more due in December (SF Japantown)
- Target: 5-packs of silicone baking cups for US$1 (U.S. nationwide)
(Alert: Due to ongoing issues with my hosting provider, I’m going to be changing web hosts over the next few days to reduce site downtime and speed up loading time. The transition *should* be seamless to readers, but some of the latest reader comments might appear to go temporarily missing in the transition. I’ll do my best to move any stray comments to the new server — rest assured that they’re important to me, and haven’t disappeared into the ether!) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on October 8th, 2008 tagged SF Bay Area local, bento, equipment, shopping | 37 Comments »
(ADDENDUM: Please accept my apologies for the downtime Lunch in a Box has been experiencing lately. My hosting company has had an unprecedented number of issues lately, and I will be switching providers shortly.)
I’ve seen fun little aluminum bento boxes for children in stores from time to time, but have always been puzzled by their lack of watertight lids. Why use metal boxes that leak? I asked the moms at Bug’s Japanese immersion preschool and searched through my Japanese-language bento cookbooks to find some answers.
In Japan, evidently preschools have special ovens to warm up the children’s metal boxes in the winter, but because most of the cute aluminum boxes lack watertight seals, Japanese parents have had to get creative with how they pack lunches in them. Benefits of metal boxes include being able to cook food directly in the box (when using an oven-safe container, also true of tempered glass boxes), the absence of health concerns associated with packing food in plastic, and lighter weight than glass boxes. Drawbacks include not being able to microwave metal containers and potential leaking caused by the loose, non-secure lid.
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Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mini Shepherd’s pie (seasoned ground beef with vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and melted Cheddar cheese; simple web recipe here), and a side dish container with a black Mission fig, Concord grapes, and different colored cherry tomatoes.
Speed Tip: When you’re making dinner, make a little extra that can be saved and eaten for lunch (either as is or as a Leftover Remake). The Shepherd’s pie didn’t take extra time when cooking — I just separated out a little, assembled in lunch-friendly containers, and threw them into the fridge for later.
Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using pre-made Shepherd’s pie from dinner earlier in the week. In the morning I grated some cheese and ran it briefly under the broiler in my convection toaster oven to melt the cheese. I let it cool before putting the plastic lid on top. (Read on for details, tips for using metal bento boxes, sample pages from Japanese bento cookbooks, and additional lunches.)
Published by Biggie on October 6th, 2008 tagged bento, curry, decorative, equipment, for kids, glutenfree, meat, onigiri or sushi, potatoes, rice, tips | 16 Comments »
There were a whopping 926 entries in the Lunch in a Box giveaway of a Zojirushi Mr. Bento thermal lunch jar (described in detail in my comparative review), so I plugged the numbers into the random integer generator over at Random.org. The lucky winner is reader Becca with comment #454. Becca writes that she would pack Indian food in the Mr. Bento: chicken korma or saucy butter chicken in the soup bowl, aloo gobi with a rice lid in the rice bowl, plus naan and fruit salad in the side dish bowls. Sounds delicious! I’ve e-mailed Becca with the news — enjoy!
If you didn’t win this time around, be sure to check out the lunchbox photo contest I wrote about earlier; they’re giving away twenty-four Ms. Bento thermal lunch jars and a fancy IH rice cooker over an eight-week period (ending Nov. 9, 2008). Good luck!
Published by Biggie on October 5th, 2008 tagged admin, giveaway, thermal lunch jar | 13 Comments »
Want to try your hand at winning a super high-end rice cooker or one of twenty-four free Ms. Bento thermal lunch jars? Here’s your chance. Ajinomoto and Zojirushi are putting on a joint promotion through November 9, 2008 that gives away three two-bowl Ms. Bento thermal lunch jars a week for photos of your best packed lunches, and one very fancy 5.5-cup induction heating (IH) rice cooker to the best of the weekly winners. The Ms. Bentos run around US$40 and the induction rice cookers start around US$300, so this is some nice loot to try for. (Read on for the full details.)