Monday, October 31, 2011

Excellent Rice Ball Workflow

I think I've done an especially good job on my lunch today.  I'm using up leftovers efficiently, packing a variety of things, and making sure everything tastes fresh at lunch time.  Here's what is in there:
  1. Miso soup -- the last ladlefuls of the miso soup I made for lunch yesterday got packed into our lunches for today.
  2. Seth's green beans with miso and cucumber salad/pickle -- I'm getting very near the end of those party leftovers.  That's good because I can't imagine they will stay good forever, but also bad because they are perfect lunch side dishes.
  3. Rice balls!  I had been waffling about the best way to put rice balls in a lunch, since the rice quickly loses its awesome texture if refrigerated.  My solution is to make the fillings in advance, run the rice cooker while I'm in the shower, and make the rice balls fresh the morning I pack them.  They didn't take long at all, especially since all the other lunch components were done in advance (no apple or carrot slicing).  I marked the rice balls to make sure that we each got one of each flavor: ume-shiso (1), negi-miso (2), and seaweed (3).
  4. Roasted nori squares -- I like to wrap rice balls in nori, but I was concerned that it might get soggy if I wrapped them right away.  This way, the nori will be crispy and fresh and can be eaten on the side.
  5. Lemon cookies -- the last three!  I really enjoy clearing things out of the pantry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Excellent Bento

Our friend S.'s birthday was this weekend, so F. and I threw a party at our house.  S. likes Hayao Miyazaki's movies, so we showed a couple of them and made some Japanese-style food: rice balls, various vegetable sides, and taiyaki.  Today I've got an assortment of the party leftovers in my lunch.
This lunchbox has shiso tofu, green beans in miso-based dressing, gobo (burdock root) in sesame dressing, spinach, cucumber salad, broiled shiitake mushrooms, and rice (under the mushrooms).  I also packed an apple but it's not in the picture.
I have to admit that I didn't help with a lot of this cooking.  I'd just been at jiujitsu practice, so I took a shower and a nap, and when I woke up F. and S. had done everything already.  I did make a lot of rice balls (ume-shiso, miso eggplant, seaweed, and avocado), but those were all eaten at the party so I've got none to pack in bloggable lunches.  I should report, however, that rice balls were quite good when filled with this miso-roasted eggplant.  I think the eggplant would also be nice on its own, or over rice in non-ball form.
I've been thinking that I like rice balls quite a lot, but they're not really the same after they've been refrigerated.  Instead, I might consider keeping appropriate rice ball fillings on hand, starting some rice in the rice cooker while I'm in the shower, and packing fresh rice balls in the morning instead of the night before.  They're about as quick to make as a sandwich, and so much tastier.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lunch This Week: Sweet Potato Mole Chili

I spoke with my brother today about what to have for Thanksgiving dinner, and he brought up a sweet potato chili I made a few years ago. I have no idea what recipe I used to make that one, but the discussion put me in the mood for chili again. I wound up adapting this Epicurious recipe to use sweet potatoes and cauliflower instead of zucchini and sqaush. I estimate that I must have made a double batch, because I wanted there to be enough for us to eat the rest of the week. The bottom shelf of the fridge is now 100% full of small tupperware dishes full of chili.

Good thing it was delicious, because we're stuck with it for a while.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Here's what happens when I run out of pre-made leftovers

Today, I hadn't brought any pav bhaji up from the downstairs freezer, I had forgotten to make rotli last night, and there was only about half a serving of leftover soup.  Sometimes this happens.  I just made a lunch out of all the standby side dishes, instead of only packing one or two. 

F. and I each get arugula salad with fresh mozzarella, apples & peanut butter, and carrots & hummus. If I'd been thinking, I'd have thrown some chocolate in there too, but I forgot. It's a light lunch, but we had pizza and drinks for dinner yesterday so I'm not going to be starving.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Lunch Brainteaser

F. has decided that he would like to eat tacos next week.  And he wants the crunchy shells.  How on earth are we going to pack those for lunch?  I have some ideas but none of them are particularly promising.
  • Pack the shells & fillings separately.  Downsides: requires assembly at lunchtime, shells might get broken on the way to work, unless I put them in a tupperware, which would not be very space-efficient because taco shells are mostly empty space until you fill them with stuff.
  • Pre-fill the tacos.  Downside: shells will get un-crunchy, similar freshness drawbacks to a sandwich.
  • Make taco salad.  Downside: not strictly tacos.
  • Eat tacos for dinner and pack something else for lunch (soup, more frozen Gujarati leftovers).  Downside: we are not home very often for dinner and might not eat all the taco fixins that way, getting tired of rotli and shaak, rotli and shaak are not tacos.
My lunch today is pav bhaji (frozen pre-leftovers), a 1-qt tupperware full of arugula with a little bottle of sesame-ginger dressing, and apples & peanut butter.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Excellent Salad

I mentioned a while ago that I like to pack non-leafy salads so that I can be sure that they don't wilt, but these days I've come up with another way of doing it.  I actually do pack a lettuce-based salad, but then I use these cute little sauce-storage piggies to hold the dressing so the lettuce doesn't wilt.

It turns out that buying one of those big plastic boxes of pre-washed baby lettuce mix once a week is much faster than chopping a bunch of jicama.  I will probably still pack "chunky salads" pretty frequently but it's nice to have a workable option for lettuce-based salads.  Honestly, if you have a tasty salad dressing, two big handfuls of lettuce in a tupperware with a couple of those sauce piggies is all it takes.  It's not like the salad really needs any toppings, since it's not the only thing in the lunchbox.  Leaves can be delicious on their own.  With dressing, of course.  I'm not crazy.