Archive for the 'freezing' Category
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 »
I’ve written previously about freezing chopped green onions in plastic water bottles to reduce spoilage and speed up prep time, but this technique isn’t limited to green onions alone. Clean, dry water bottles are also handy for storing small frozen vegetables like corn or green peas — a technique I’ve run across before in my Japanese-language freezing books (also in the full list of food books in my kitchen). (Read on for full freezer storage details.)
Published by Biggie on June 26th, 2008 tagged freezing, organize, tips | 43 Comments »
A couple of highlights today. Inarizushi is basically sushi rice stuffed into seasoned abura-age fried tofu wrappers. If you have a Japanese or Korean market nearby, you can often find preseasoned wrappers in the refrigerated section (shaped like rectangles or triangles). Just gently open them up and fill with seasoned sushi rice (cooking tips below). A fun variation on normal inarizushi is to fold down the top edge, stuff with seasoned rice, and top with anything you like. Toppings can be really creative: I’ve seen shrimp, cucumber, ornate food art that makes little characters sitting in the inari “boats”, soboro (fried and seasoned ground meat — think dry Sloppy Joe filling), etc. Think outside the box with this kid favorite!
You can speed up morning sushi or rice ball prep by freezing cooked rice; below I review a couple of Japanese food containers specially designed for freezing and reheating rice in the microwave oven.
Contents of preschooler lunch: Inarizushi stuffed sushi topped with pink sakura denbu and sauteed ground pork and barbecue sauce. Steamed broccoli with vinaigrette, plum tomatoes and grapes round out the meal. Sakura denbu is a sweet powder of ground codfish that’s often used in chirashizushi and children’s bento lunches. Adds a nice shot of pink when you’re packing by color.
Morning prep time: 13 minutes, using frozen rice, pre-packaged abura-age seasoned tofu wrappers, an individual-sized portion of frozen ground pork, and premade barbecue sauce. In the morning I microwaved a small portion of frozen rice, flavored it with seasoned rice vinegar, and made a couple of inarizushi with the lip turned down to leave the rice exposed at the top. (Read on for packing details, cooking tips, a review of rice containers for freezing, and an additional pizza bento lunch.)
Published by Biggie on June 20th, 2008 tagged bento, equipment, for kids, freezing, lactose free, meat, onigiri or sushi, review | 23 Comments »
If you’ve forgotten to take something out of the freezer and want to get cooking in a hurry, there are a few methods of thawing food that are faster than putting it in the refrigerator. Of course there’s the microwave oven (Defrost setting), but this can create hot spots that start cooking the food unevenly. Another way is to put the food in a freezer bag, squeeze out excess air, and immerse in a bowl of cool water under a tiny trickle of water to create convection currents that speed up defrosting (discussed in my popular tip for freezing ground food in usable quantities). I found a third technique in my Japanese freezing books, though. (Read on for details of the frying pan defrosting trick.)
Published by Biggie on June 16th, 2008 tagged freezing, tips | 39 Comments »
Because I don’t sit down and plan the week’s bento lunches in advance, every morning involves some poking around inside of the refrigerator and freezer to see what looks good to pack for lunch that day. I realize that my life would be easier if I kept a written inventory other than just my freezer magnets, but it’s just not going to happen as I don’t have the staying power to keep things updated.
One thing that Japanese bento cookbooks recommend if you pack lunch in the morning is to think of one dish the night before that you’d like to pack the next day, and just start visualizing the lunch. This takes some of the pressure off when you step into the kitchen as you’ve already got a starting point.
One problem with my approach is that I tend to stand in front of the refrigerator or freezer with the door wide open while I look around for something that inspires me. Unlike looking in the pantry, though, this actually wastes energy and I often overlook buried food that would be perfect for bento lunches. Enter plastic organizer baskets and trays. (Read on for details and variations.)