Archive for the 'glutenfree' Category
Sorry about the blog posting slowdown lately; I’ve been busy with the new forum about bento and packed lunches, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day with a four-year-old! The upside is that the forum is hopping and we’ve got volunteer moderators on board now. Full steam ahead!
Simmered kabocha squash is a favorite of mine — it’s one of the most flavorful squashes around, and is chock full of nutrients like beta carotene (especially when you eat the thin skin). Simmered kabocha is a staple in Japanese bento lunches, evoking strong memories for me of train station bentos and home cooking I ate in Japan. Simple to make, you can also transform any leftovers by mashing the cooked kabocha with a fork and making it into squash croquettes, substituting mashed squash for the mashed potatoes. Try it! Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on January 14th, 2009 tagged glutenfree, lactose free, leftover remake, recipe | 24 Comments »
Teaching kids how to use chopsticks can be tricky. Bug has used a variety of different learning chopsticks that I picked up in local Asian markets, but this weekend I came across a cheap and ingenious workaround that uses regular disposable chopsticks, the paper chopstick wrapper, and a rubber band. A tip of the hat goes to Sushi to Dai For restaurant in San Rafael, CA, where I saw this trick (their omakase sushi special is, indeed, to die for).
To make these, pull apart disposable chopsticks or use regular reusable ones with rectangular ends that will stay securely together. Use a rubber band to tightly bind together the non-eating ends. Take a small strip of paper or half of the wrapper from the disposable chopsticks, and fold it up small. Wedge it in between the chopsticks up near the rubber band, and hand them to your child! Kids can just squeeze the chopsticks together to grab things, and the tips are aligned properly. (Read on for additional tricks for making these, reviews of Edison learning chopsticks and the Fun Chop chopstick learning gadget, and where to see me on TV this morning.)
Published by Biggie on November 24th, 2008 tagged equipment, for kids, glutenfree, parenthacks, review, rice, tips, tutorial or how to | 35 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 »
Polenta (boiled cornmeal) is a natural candidate for a Leftover Remake, as you can have it warm and creamy at dinner when it’s fresh out of the pot, then pan-fry the solidified leftovers for subsequent lunches. Dish up the soft polenta in bowls for dinner, and top with a flavorful braise or stew. To save the excess for pan-frying, pour the fresh polenta onto a wooden cutting board, smooth out the surface with a spatula or spoon, and let it sit for a few hours until it’s solid. Run a piece of unflavored dental floss or cooking twine under the polenta mass to free it up, and store in the refrigerator in plastic wrap for up to four days. Slice and fry in a nonstick frying pan with a little oil until it develops a crusty exterior. Use your imagination with shapes: make polenta fries, polenta croutons, polenta slices, even cut-out shapes using cookie cutters. Fun finger food for the kids!
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Homemade Tuscan-style squid and green peas in tomato sauce, fried polenta slices, and quick tomato and cucumber salad.
Morning prep time: 13 minutes, using leftover Tuscan squid and polenta. In the morning I fried the polenta slices, and cut up the cucumbers and tomatoes while warming the peas and squid in the microwave.
Ingredient: I ran across a new vegetable for me at Alemany Farmers’ Market the other week: tiny cucumbers with bumpy skin, each about two inches long. Initially I wasn’t sure what they were, but the sellers started passing out samples and encouraging us to try them. Mini cucumbers? How could I resist! The skins are hard and bumpy, and they’re filled with tiny seeds. This makes them well suited for pickling or cooking in soups or stir-fries, but they’re edible raw after a wash for food safety. (Read on for details and an additional Japanese fried chicken lunch.)
Published by Biggie on July 16th, 2008 tagged bento, corn tortillas or masa, fish or seafood, food jar, for kids, glutenfree, lactose free, leftover remake, poultry, soup or stew | 14 Comments »
I usually wind up packing my son’s lunch in the morning, but if I really had my act together I’d pack more lunches the night before when we’re cleaning up from dinner. Leftovers feature prominently in our lunches anyway, so evening packing would just be getting a leg up on the next day. But what I CAN manage is partial packing: where I throw one or two elements into a box for the next day, then finish up the rest in the morning.
Some foods do better without an overnight stay in the refrigerator, though. The texture of rice particularly suffers in the refrigerator, and needs reheating before packing to make it soft and warm again. If you have a cool rice cooker with a timer, though, you can set it to have freshly cooked rice ready in the morning.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch & snack: Roast chicken drumstick, baby carrots, cherry, kiwifruit, blueberries, and mild curried mushrooms (khombi tarkari).
Cooking: For dinner this weekend I tried out a mushroom recipe from Moghul Microwave, Julie Sahni’s cookbook of convenient Indian food. I didn’t need to tone down the spiciness for my three-year-old as I used a mild Madras curry powder for flavor. It didn’t thicken sufficiently with the amount of cornstarch called for, though, so I wound up doubling that. I don’t think I actually saved much time by making this in the microwave oven as opposed to the stovetop, but it was a warm afternoon when I was cooking and it was nice not to heat up the kitchen in the summer.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, using leftover rotisserie chicken and curried mushrooms. The night before, I put the drumstick in the box when cleaning up from dinner. In the morning I peeled and cut the kiwi, and plated the mushrooms. To speed up my morning even more I could have assembled the entire lunch the night before and kept it in the fridge overnight — no rice to get hard and unappetizing in the cold. The kiwi is a little nicer when sliced fresh, though. (Read on for packing details and a Singaporean skate wing lunch.)