Archive for March, 2009
On Saturday we hosted a hanami, the Japanese tradition of a picnic under cherry trees when they’re in bloom. Sakura cherry trees blossom only during a brief time during the spring and the pink petals soon fall from the trees, so there’s an urgency to enjoying that ephemeral moment when they’re at their peak. In Japan, you’ll find all kinds of people crowding onto blankets under cherry trees even on busy sidewalks, sprawling out with bento meals, and beer or sake. For our California Hanami, we invited friends to our favorite hanami location in San Francisco, a small clearing of cherry trees in Golden Gate Park across from the Buffalo Paddock. The only thing that was missing were drunk Japanese salarymen in suits trying out their English!
Foodbuzz sponsored the food as a part of their monthly 24, 24, 24 food blogging event, so we were able to put together the most elaborate hanami picnic I’ve had to date, instead of store-bought bentos or quickly slapped-together sandwiches. I always used to envy the well organized people at hanami who were able to cook meat or chicken on little portable grills — if you were lucky they might strike up a conversation with you and offer you a bite of their tasty food. I decided that this was the year that we would have the great-smelling grilled feast.
Food: We had a variety of marinated meats to grill: chicken thighs, marinated beef short ribs (kalbi), skewered bulgogi beef, and spicy pork sliced thin and skewered. Vegetables like enoki mushrooms and bell pepper strips went on the grill, while salad vegetables like cucumbers, baby carrots and celery were easy to dip in ranch dressing. Rice balls are good finger food, so I made a variety with different fillings: grilled salmon, umeboshi sour plum, Gohan Desu Yo! seaweed paste, kimchi, and plain furikake. Seasoned noodles, sliced ripe strawberries, tiny tangerines, beer and a big bottle of Onigoroshi sake rounded out our little feast. (Read on for food details and reviews of the different picnic containers.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 30th, 2009 tagged Containers, bento, equipment, for kids, meat, onigiri or sushi, review, rice | 22 Comments »
Like the look of a stylish metal lunch set but don’t want to plunk down the cash? Kids Konserve has kindly offered to give away a lunch kit and metal condiment container that I reviewed in full here. The winner of this international giveaway can choose between their classic green set, or one of the cute butterfly- or caterpillar-themed lunch sets.
Bonus: If you don’t win the giveaway and want to order something on your own, they’ve also given Lunch in a Box readers a special 10% discount off items purchased from their website through September 30, 2009 (coupon code is lunchbox). (Read on for information on how to enter the giveaway, and other March bento community giveaways.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 27th, 2009 tagged equipment, giveaway | 496 Comments »
I know some of you are looking for alternatives to plastic bento boxes because of concerns about the health effects of food packed or heated in plastic, so I’ve been playing around with metal bento containers. Most multi-tier latching tiffin tins are plain-looking and too big for a one-person bento-style lunch, so I was pleased to find a smaller metal alternative with a dash of style, from Kids Konserve.
I tried out their green lunch set, which consists of a cloth napkin/placemat, two 250ml stainless steel bowls with green plastic lids, a drink bottle, a reusable sandwich wrapper, and a cloth carrying bag with handles and a velcro closure (shown below). I was also curious about their smaller, all-metal 80ml condiment containers, pictured above at the bottom/middle. I had a few questions and concerns going in, namely about how watertight the containers were and how well the sandwich wrapper would work. (Read on for the full review and a sample lunch packed inside.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 25th, 2009 tagged bento, equipment, fish or seafood, for kids, meat, phyllo or pancake or other, review | 24 Comments »
The Lunch in a Box reader forum is going gangbusters, with over 3,000 posts a couple of months in. A few recent highlights:
- A step-by-step cheese character tutorial that PikaMama originally wrote for her bento blog, detailing how to make ornate characters out of sliced cheese and food markers (shown above). Thanks for sharing!
- The new “What did you pack your kid today?” thread, where we’re jotting down what we packed for our children’s lunches that day, along with a note of how old the child is. Photos aren’t necessary (but welcome if you have them); it’s more of a place to get quick ideas for kid-friendly lunches.
- We’re also discussing the social impacts of giving your kids bento; have you seen any interesting reactions with your own children?
Bento of the Month Contest: Cost
Congratulations go to Laura Bento, the winner of the second Bento of the Month contest on the Lunch in a Box Forum. Readers voted hers the best representative of the “Valentine” theme, and she will receive the Putifresh bento box set courtesy of Lethargic. Thanks to everyone who took the time to post your speedy bento lunches; it was interesting to read through the entries and see your cute Valentine-themed lunches.
The theme of the Bento of the Month Contest for March is “Cost: How Low Can You Go?”. I’m thinking of Japanese bento cookbooks I have that use sale items, cheap veggies, and staple foods to put together a cheap but balanced and tasty lunch. All containers are welcome (Laptop Lunchbox, Tupperware-type containers, thermal lunch jars, sandwich cases, etc.), not just bento boxes. (Read on for contest and prize details.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 12th, 2009 tagged for kids, giveaway, tutorial or how to | 8 Comments »
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Pasta shells & cheese with sauteed enoki mushrooms, carrots, broccoli and Aidell’s chicken/apple sausages. The side car holds kiwifruit, a plum, and raspberries.
Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using leftover mac & cheese. In the morning I prewarmed the thermal food jar with hot tap water while I cut the kiwi and warmed the pasta in the microwave. I added a little splash of water to the pasta before warming to help revive the texture. (Read on for packing details and an additional lunch of pork stew with fennel, leeks and prunes.) Read the rest of this entry »