Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lunch on May 26, 2011 - Manamana doot doo doo doo doo

Today's lunch is a little uninspired because I had no time to plan it last night.  At the last minute our friends invited us to a Friends and Family screening of the new Muppets movie that will be released this coming winter.  As a lifelong Muppets fan, this was quite an offer, worth putting off lunch-packing for.  I'm not allowed to say anything about the movie but speaking generally, I hope they use the next few months of editing wisely. . .

Today's lunch is an egg salad sandwich, celery, half an avocado, and watermelon and cantaloupe:

I packed a lunch yesterday but I forgot to photograph it before I put everything in the lunchbox so I took this photo.  The lunch is striking similar to today's lunch.

As the days get warmer I think about keeping my packed lunches cold.  I noticed Pottery Barn Kids is having a sale on cute ice packs that are the perfect size for a child's lunch.  Pottery Barn Kids items are notoriously expensive so a sale isn't always that great of a deal but I have noticed that the lunchbox items we have from them (lunchbag and stainless steel utensils) have been holding up very well.  I saw these in person and picked up a green seashell and blue starfish.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lunch on May 24, 2011 - CCC comes to school

You'll recall my daughter is obsessed with the California Chicken Cafe.  Some days she will still ask to go there after I pick her up from school and she's already had her "first lunch" of the day.

So, today I thought I would let her have a little bit of CCC at school.  I am not sure if this will taste as good cold but here is the school version of the CCC kid's meal:

Lunch is rice with carrots and scallions, chicken, squash, and watermelon with cantaloupe.  Whole wheat pita bread packed in a fabric snack bag is not shown.  I apologize for the poor photography today.  I was in a big rush and didn't realize the photo I snapped wasn't so great.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Everyone else's lunch

Today's lunch is almost identical to yesterday's lunch so I'm not going to repost it.

Instead, I wanted to highlight two things that were sent my way by some of you reading this blog (did I mention that it's really great hearing from you?!).

The first comes from my friend/former supervisor Robin in New York.  I don't think I've seen Robin in about 8 years or so but I absolutely love her Facebook status updates.  She is an incredibly talented observer and writer.  I often want to copy and paste her updates as my own to impress everyone I know but instead I just study her form and hope to create such brilliance myself.

Robin sent me a photo of a breakfast she made for her sons using these cute egg molds.  I think the result is fantastic (I also love her photography). 

Apparently only one son appreciated the breakfast fun (he got the star-shaped egg).  As for the heart shaped one, Robin explained "this valentine is headed to the doggie bowl:"

Too bad.  It looks both adorable and delicious!  Robin has inspired me to get more creative with breakfast.  Today's cereal and yogurt was pretty ordinary.

Another submission I received recently came from my friend Caroline who is also a former co-worker.  Caroline has four boys all under the age of four.  I am surprised she has any time to email, let alone write the best blog about Maternity Fashion you'll ever read.  But she did find the time to send me a photo of three of the 30 lunches (!!!) and snacks she packs a week.  Next fall that number will go up to 35 when her youngest son starts nursery school.  I feel the need to take a nap upon reading that, I can't imagine actually executing it.

Lastly, I wanted to respond to two comments I got asking questions about using snack bags.  Bren asked if any of the snack bags are insulated.  None of mine are but that is a really cool idea (no pun intended) to keep your sammies cold.  I just use a larger ice pack in the lunch to keep it cool.  And Bloom asked if the bags are hard to clean.  I don't find that they are, depending on what you use them for.  I usually turn each one inside out and wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel.  If something particularly messy or wet went in them I will wash them in the washing machine but that's hardly ever necessary.  And if something like crackers went in one, you could probably just turn it inside out, shake out the crumbs and not need to clean it, it's up to you.  I don't find them particularly burdensome to clean but no, they do not match the ease of throwing them in the trash and grabbing a new one for the next time of plastic baggies.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lunch on May 19, 2011 - eating out of fabric

Lunch today is housed in many fabric snack bags, all have been holding up pretty well since I purchased them not too long ago.

Today I am serving carrots, edamame, watermelon, and a pressed sandwich of egg salad.  Warning: if today's lunch bores you, you might not want to read what I pack tomorrow.  It will probably be much of the same!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lunch on May 17, 2011 - She never met a starch she didn't like

Today's lunch is full of carbohydrates because as my dad likes to say, Juju never met a starch she didn't like.

Lunch is penne pasta with chicken in balsamic vinegar (inspired by a lunch my friend Amy made for me a few weeks ago - more on that below), corn on the cob (it is everywhere now and so delicious!) and dried seaweed (in a sushi themed fabric snack bag).

The pasta salad is completely inspired by (and merely a halfway decent copy of) a lunch my friend Amy made.  I need to ask her for the real recipe; I just went off what I remembered she told me was in hers.  She started with "balsamic chicken" from Trader Joe's which is, I assume, chicken marinated in balsamic vinegar and other spices.  It was delicious.  She added it to some rotini with chopped onion, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, and more balsamic vinegar.  She added a sprig of rosemary for color (you know how I love presentation!) and served it with some crusty bread.  Yum!  (I, like Julian, never met a carbohydrate I didn't like).

I didn't have all those yummy ingredients but I still wanted to copy Amy for lunch so I improvised with what I had at home.  I took plain (already cooked) chicken breasts, (if you are a vegetarian I am sure you could substitute this for Gardein or some other veggie protein that takes the place of chicken), chopped them up and marinated the pieces in some balsamic vinegar overnight.  Be careful when marinating in vinegar - a little goes a long way.  Then, I cooked the only pasta I had, penne.  Penne is not a great pasta for this dish; it's hard to pick up and doesn't absorb much of the sauce/marinade but it's what I had.  I took the pasta off the heat and let it cool.  Next I chopped several cherry tomatoes in half and I minced a medium sized shallot (again, this is what I had in my fridge, feel free to experiment with what you have in yours).  I then tossed the chicken, pasta, tomatoes, and shallots in some more balsamic vinegar (just a little), a small amount of olive oil and salt and pepper.  And, voila: a pretty pasta salad with lots of leftovers for everyone else in the house!  My chicken wasn't quite as tasty as Amy's, nor did the entire dish compare to what she served (the penne really killed it) but it was still a very yummy result with very little effort and no need to run to the store for any special ingredients.

For those curious, the seaweed snack is from Trader Joe's.  A kid on the playground turned us on to the idea of snacking on seaweed about 18 months ago and Juju is still hooked.  In fact, at one point last year Trader Joe's ran out of their convenient seaweed snack packs (too many kids in LA got wind of this snack idea) and there was nearly a seaweed riot as lunatic moms (like me) went to all kinds of organic and Korean marts to find a suitable substitute.  Fortunately Trader Joe's came to their senses and got control of their inventory of seaweed in the fall.  When it first reappeared on shelves, in a move my husband still can't believe, I went out and bought a case of the stuff for fear I'd never see it again.  Many months later, Juju is finally on the last bag from the case!  For the record, I'm totally grossed out by dried seaweed (I tolerate it in sushi but that's about it) but I'm told it's got some great health benefits so I hold my nose and continue to serve it.

Lunch on Friday, May 13 - Pressed for ideas, I made a sandwich

Friday's lunch included a sandwich.  You may remember that I don't do sandwiches largely because Juju still can't figure out what to do when one is handed to her. 

Then, I had the idea to make her a sandwich "pocket," kind of like those disgusting (though oddly appealing) Smucker's Crustable things.  I found a really cool contraption at the Japanese Tokyo Outlet to help me and I am really excited about it.  Well, as excited as one can be about a lunch accessory.  By the way, I know it sounds like I spend my days shopping and lunching at the Japanese Village Plaza downtown but sadly I don't.  One of my vendors for my business is right there so whenever I am in the area for a meeting I take a quick walk over to see what's new.  I don't think I've ever spent more than $2.49 on an item there so it's a great place to go for cheap lunch inspiration.  

 If only I read Japanese I could tell you the name of this sandwich press or where to get it (other than in downtown LA) but I am sure they exist anywhere.  In the case of this one, you place a piece of bread on the press, add your "filling" (in this case I used hummus), place another piece of bread on top, and press down.  You are left with a sealed rounded square sandwich with no crust and no place for your "filling" to spill out.  (See photo below for the resulting sandwich).

I was concerned that my whole grain sandwich bread would be too stiff for the press but it worked fine.   You can see what remains behind after removing the sandwich from the press in the photo at left.  I am not quite sure why there is a heart on the top of the sandwich press since it does not make any indentation on the sandwich.  I can only surmise it's there because the Japanese needed to find some way to make even something like this look cute.

Yes I am aware that the press is plastic and we don't tend to like a lot of plastic around here.  All I can say is that the food is in the press for less than 30 seconds and I hand wash it.

Along with the hummus sandwich today's lunch included cottage cheese and cantaloupe with grapes.

Unfortunately, despite my efforts, much of this lunch went uneaten due to far more exciting things than a sandwich, I'm sure.  She has however eaten other pressed sandwiches since then and the result has been great and mess-free!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lunch on May 12, 2011 - Leftovers for lunch

I had a great culinary experience tonight, sampling from various LA foodtrucks that I drove about 20 miles in rush hour traffic to eat from.  Yes, I know the LA Times has declared that food trucks are so over but after dinner I went shopping and tried on a top with shoulder pads so clearly I am reluctant to give up on things I actually like for the sake of being trendy.  Well, I am not sure I like all shoulder pads (or food trucks for that matter) but the ones I saw tonight worked.

Despite the fact that I ate well tonight (or perhaps because of it) Juju will be dining on leftovers tomorrow.

Lunch includes chicken and brown rice, cantaloupe and grapes, and roasted carrots with onion and shallots.  The dinner this lunch came from was really easy to make.  I am a big fan of Trader Joe's marinades.  Although some are loaded with sugar, there are a few that are really light and tasty and go very well with beef, chicken, fish, etc.  I like to have a bottle or two in the pantry for when I get lazy about dinner.  I can't remember which marinade this was, but it definitely had a lot of soy sauce in it with a hint of honey, or something sweet.  I marinated the chicken in it overnight and then just threw  the chicken pieces and marinade into the oven.  

I made the brown rice in a rice cooker and added some garlic and shallots to the rice and water (the shallots were left over from the mustard roasted fish I made on Monday).  The shallots totally disintegrated when the rice was finished cooking which I wasn't expecting.  The sauce from the chicken poured over the rice was out of this world.   

And just as I was throwing dinner together, The King of All Media noticed we had some leftover carrots in the fridge from when Juju visited a farm last week.  Some horse is pretty sad that she left without feeding these to him.  But I'm glad they were around because we have a little theory in our house and these carrots helped us test it.  We believe that if you throw some kosher salt, pepper, olive oil (and sometimes garlic and/or onion) on any vegetable and roast it at 425 degrees, it will taste fantastic no matter what it is (this is very similar to the theory that anything fried is good).  So, since these sad carrots had nowhere to go but up, we peeled them, chopped them, and threw them together with some onions, shallots, salt, pepper, and oil.  The result: delicious!  The onions got all brown and caramelized and you could really taste the sweetness of the carrots.  I don't know how the dish will taste in a cold school lunch but I figured I would send them and see what happens.

For Friday's lunch I'm going to make a sandwich.  But it's not what you think. . . 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting to the heart of it

This blog is really bad for me.  I have more than 700 emails in my inbox that I must delete, file, or respond to (my personal record pre-blog was only 500) and a bunch of other things calling me but this is just way more fun.

A few of you commented about the artichokes I've written about and asked how I make them so as promised, here is your post.

A warning, I am not a chef or even a proper cook.  I am a foodie by taste, not by training.  I learned to cook by watching my mom and an inordinate amount of Food Network in my early 20s.  This is mostly due to the fact that I could not afford cable and watched the only five channels that came in clearly when I plugged in my TV.  Food Network was one of them (New York 1 was another -- oh how I miss you Pat Kiernan and Roma Torre and the rest of the gang. . .).  I can only imagine what kind of training I would have picked up had the Discovery Channel or the Syfy Network been among the broadcasts that slipped through the cracks of Time Warner Cable's grip on my neighborhood.  All of this is to say that perhaps you should double-check anything you read here with an actual food or cooking blog. . .

Now, onto artichokes.  Until recently, I was doing a whole lot of work to prep my artichokes before cooking them.  This resulted in an artichoke that was very easy to eat and looked pretty when served to guests.  I got my technique from the Joy of Cooking (thank you Marc and Kathryn for what continues to be one of the most useful wedding gifts we got!).  I will explain it more in detail later.

But first, if you want to eat an artichoke and you're not worried about presentation, do it the easy way.  Boil a big pot of water and drop your artichoke/s in when you reach a roaring boil.  Cook for 45 minutes, remove, drain, eat.  You can pull the leaves off individually savoring the small doses of the delicious center.  When you get to the thinner, flimsier leaves in the middle, you are near the heart.  Since your artichoke is cooked, it is very easy to remove the choke that protects the center of the vegetable (its cupola as Pablo Neruda put it).  Pull whatever leaves out of the center you can, and then grab a knife to cut out the actual choke (the small fibers that look like hair). Take care not to cut out the actual heart when you are removing the "hairs," you don't want to lose any deliciousness to the trash can.  Once the extraneous parts are removed, sink your teeth into the soft, flavorful center.  It's like the dessert of the artichoke meal.  This way of eating the artichoke is messy but totally worth it.

Now if you're having dinner guests, you are going to want to go another route to spare everyone the embarrassment of trying to politely remove the heart in public (it simply can't be done).  In this case, you need your artichokes, a cutting board, a knife (I find a bread knife works best) and a lemon cut in half.

Place the artichoke on the cutting board and remove the stem (I am assuming you are buying conventional artichokes in which case the stem is not particulary tasty.  Artichokes sold with an extremely long stem are meant to be cooked with the stem intact and the stem should be eaten whole).  Once you lob off the stem, brush a piece of the lemon over it.  The lemon juice will help protect the bright green color of the artichoke (important if you care about presentation, not at all important if not).  You can also pull off the shorter leaves right around the stem, they generally don't have any tasty "meat" on them and the whole thing will look prettier if they are gone.

Next, lay the artichoke on it's side and cut off the top, about 1-1.5 inches down from the top, depending on the size of your choke.  Remember, all you actually eat in the artichoke is the heart and the small pieces from the heart that extend to the bottom of each leaf.  So, it's not a big deal to chop off half of the "head;" it's garbage whether you cook it or not.  I mentioned above that I like to use a bread knife for this task.  It works much better than the Santoku knife I use for everything else.  If you don't have a bread knife, use another serrated knife.

At this point, if your artichokes are fresh, like from the farmer's market, be on the lookout for one or two bugs that can crawl out at this stage in the process.  They live in the leaves and totally gross me out.  I love fresh food but I absolutely detest bugs.  Go figure.  Make sure to get rid of them lest they climb into anything else in your house.  Swipe the lemon over the top of the leaves that were just cut (again, to preserve their color).

Now comes the hard part.  You are going to have to cut and scoop out the choke.  This is much harder to do before the artichoke is cooked because it's very firm.  I cut a deep circle out of the center and then use a spoon to scoop out the "hairs."  Again, make sure not to cut too deep or scoop too far or you will be cutting away the precious heart.  If I had a grapefruit spoon, I think it would work great here to help scoop and scrape at the same time but alas I do not have one.  When you're done, squirt some of the lemon juice inside.

At this point you can throw the artichokes into boiling water immediately or, if you prefer, steam them.  I prefer steaming to boiling with most things and for the sake of presentation, I like to steam artichokes.  I think they stay together a bit better when steamed and they have a better chance of preserving their color.  To steam, place the artichokes in a steamer basket (I put them face down but I don't think it matters) over boiling water, cover, and let cook over medium to high heat for 45 minutes.  When they're done you'll be able to eat them and get to the heart without any major surgery.  Serve plain or with clarified butter or, if you like that sort of stuff, mayonnaise.

A few more notes about artichokes: when buying, try to buy the artichoke with the tightest leaves; that's how you know they are fresh.  Also, they bloom twice a year so if you fall in love with them now, you get to enjoy again in the fall!

If you do boil the chokes, you will find that when you empty your pot while cleaning up, the water turns a beautiful bright green.  I don't know anything about making vegetable dye but my guess is that it starts with something like this.  Maybe I'll look into what to do with leftover artichoke water. . .

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lunch on May 10, 2011 - All American (and a little bit Japanese)

Ok, I'll admit it.  I am officially bored with packing lunches and now find them a chore.  I can't decide if my commitment to chronicle the lunches I pack motivates me to make them better or if it just guilts me into packing something that is halfway photogenic.

When I run out of ideas of what to pack, I go to my old standby: sushi.  It's always a pleaser and is very easy to procure from the market down the street.  I was going there anyway to pick up some fish for dinner (more on that in a minute) and I couldn't resist. 

So, I started with the sushi and built around it.  Though Juju enjoys it, I've never actually sent raw fish to school.  This is California roll made with imitation crab (cooked), avocado, and cucumber.  I am sure Juju will one day turn into a normal toddler and decide that raw fish and seaweed are an absolutely disgusting combination but for now, I am getting as much mileage out of it as I can.

Joining the sushi is half an ear of corn.  We had corn for dinner.  Juju LOVED it and insisted on more.  I told her I had none left even though this piece remained.  I think she will enjoy the surprise in her lunch tomorrow.  I also included some cantaloupe and grapes.

Back to the fish we had for dinner.  It was a really easy recipe and since some of you have told me you have tried other recipes I have posted, here goes.  Sorry there are no pictures.

Tonight we had mustard roasted fish using red snapper.  When I saw that red snapper was on sale at the fish counter I immediately remembered an Ina Garten recipe I've made before for an unusual and delicious meal using only a few ingredients, many of which I already have at home.  I had a really busy day (forgive the cross-promoting/shameless plug here but Milkstars has a new pajama set out called The Nancy, it's been a lot of work but is really exciting!) so I was glad that all I needed to pick up was some creme fraiche (Trader Joe's has a nice brand at a great price) and some shallots.

The recipe is below.  A warning, the red snapper had a lot of bones in it which I wasn't expecting.  I don't know much about fish so I am not sure if that is normal.  If you are making this for a toddler (or anyone else who doesn't like bones) ask your fish monger, (or in my friend Annie's case your husband!), to make sure there are no bones.  Otherwise give yourself some time to pull them out before cooking.  Enjoy!

Mustard-Roasted Fish


  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lunch on May 6, 2011 - devoid of color but not of flavor

Today's lunch isn't very pretty.  Even though it lacks color there is definitely some flavor in all this bland.

I am serving brown rice and chicken (with some soy sauce glaze), watermelon, and the heart of a large and DELICIOUS artichoke.  I simply can't get enough artichokes these days, they keep getting better and better.  Strawberries however have been consistently bad no matter where I get them.  What gives?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The King of All Media Contributes

I often call my husband the "King of All Media."  It's not because he reminds me of Howard Stern (thank goodness) but it's because he consumes an INSANE amount of print media.  Sometimes I think he is single-handedly keeping the magazine publishing industry alive.  He reads everything from the Wall Street Journal to the New Yorker to Wired to US Magazine*, to about 7 or 8 other daily or weekly publications. 

The King of All Media takes the subway to work, (no, you did not misread that, we live in LA and he takes the subway to work).  That, combined with a short bus ride and waiting time between both, gives him a considerable advantage over driving commuters or work-at-homers struggling to stay hip to what's going on in the world.

This is all to say that since I started this blog he is constantly bombarding me with articles of interest around packing a lunch for work or school.  I keep meaning to post them all here but I keep losing them and my scanner has been broken for months.  Alas the very thing that is killing print media, the Internet, allowed me to find two of the pieces he pulled for me.  One is a Wall Street Journal article about executives bringing their lunches to work in style: "The New Power Lunch: Strategies for Brown-Bagging at Your Desk, With Executive Image Intact."

The other was in the "Best Bets New Stuff" section of New York Magazine last week.  It's a cute little Bento Box available at Dean and DeLuca.

Stay turned for more contributions from the KOAM.

***I hope he is not mad that I outed him as an US reader - it's simply because I have a fashion business and we need to make sure we keep up with trends and also need to see if any celebrities are wearing our stuff ;)

What's for school lunch?

My awesome friend Maggie sent me a link to this which is really just a compilation of photos from the blog, What's For School Lunch.  It's photos of school lunches from around the world and I am loving comparing what kids are eating for lunch around the world.

I want to go to school in Chile, Brazil, France, Italy and Japan just for the lunches.  Totally worth checking out.

Lunch in Brazil:

Lunch in Japan:

Lunch in France:

Lunch on May 5, 2011 - Mushroom "sandwiches"

The theme of this week is sandwiches.  As I mentioned yesterday, today's lunch included a sandwich but as I expected, Juju didn't know what to do with it and as she pulled it apart, all the turkey fell on the ground.  Oy.  Some of it was able to be salvaged but the whole fiasco was a reminder that this kid just isn't ready for conventional sandwiches.  But, that doesn't stop me from sending another kind of sandwich tomorrow.

This evening we had some portabella mushroom ravioli for dinner (I went a little crazy in the fresh pasta section of Trader Joe's since the squash ravioli was so good and I am still trying to make up for all the carbs we couldn't eat during Passover).  I didn't think Juju would be into the ravioli (you'll recall she didn't go for the triangles I packed last week) but as it turns out, all we needed to do was cut the ravioli in half to show her the goodness inside and she was intrigued.  When we explained that the goodness inside was mushrooms, she was immediately hooked and asked for seconds and thirds.  At one point during the meal she picked up her ravioli and pronounced, "it looks like a sandwich!"  You can imagine the "ah ha" moment I had when I realized this is exactly the kind of sandwich I should be packing: self-contained, small, and brimming with mushrooms.

Naturally tomorrow's lunch is leftovers from tonight featuring "mushroom sandwiches!"

The "sandwiches" are sprinkled with some Parmesan cheese and are joined by a green salad (romaine lettuce, farmstand cabbage, crushed up whole grain pita chips and a light covering of Green Goddess salad dressing), farmstand strawberries, and farmstand watermelon (not shown).  The watermelon has black "nuts" as Juju calls them (seeds).  She likes to eat them.  Am I supposed to tell her that eating them will cause a watermelon to grow in her stomach or do I just let her enjoy the extra fiber?  Please let this be the hardest parenting dilemma I struggle with. . .

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lunch on May 4, 2011 - I made a sandwich!!

I get teased by a few of you who chide me for never making anything basic for Juju's lunch.  While I do enjoy that her lunches are sui generis when compared to what most people pack, I have avoided sandwiches thus far only because Juju doesn't really know what to do with them.  She doesn't really get how to hold both pieces of bread plus the middle and take a bite out of everything at once.  So, she usually picks the sandwich apart, eats what she wants, and leaves a considerable mess.

Still, I realize that sandwiches are practical, convienent, and arguably as tasty as anything I've packed so far.  One of the ReSnackIt bags I ordered was sandwich size so here goes:

Lunch tomorrow includes a turkey sandwich on La Brea bakery whole grain bread, carrots and hummus, a container of cucumber stars, pomegranate seeds and crimini mushrooms all chopped together, and a bowl of trail mix made of peanuts, almonds, dried raspberries and semi sweet chocolate chips.  I wish someone would make me a lunch like this everyday. 

I think this is the first time I am sending meat in a lunch.  I am not opposed to Juju eating meat, I just don't always like the idea of meat served cold (plus Juju's lunches are only cooled by ice packs and I wouldn't want a luke-warm meat dish on a hot day either).  But a turkey sandwich seems ok.  Also, when I was younger I went to a Jewish day school for three years and we could only bring dairy lunches so I think I am conditioned to think of sack lunches are vegetarian (well, pescetarian really).  Perhaps I should broaden my horizons.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Containerization - stoneware edition

There are so many more food containers, plates, and flatware I want to blog about.  In this post I will focus on some non-plastic, non-glass, non-stainless steel options.  What's left you ask?  Basically wood and ceramic or porcelain stoneware.

I don't use a lot of wood or bamboo around here.  When Juju was small I had a few forks and spoons made from bamboo but now that she is older, she finds them dissatisfying.  They are mostly handcarved and are pretty to look at but don't work so well to stab a strawberry or hold a reasonable amount of yogurt.

Wood bowls and plates are really expensive and annoying to clean as I don't know if they are all dishwasher safe.  We have a few wooden bowls from salad sets but since I only bring those out on special occasions with adults, I never think to use them on a daily basis with Juju.

Instead, we have been using a great dishware set I got at Ikea.  I think it's technically a "play" dish set but it's food safe and is the perfect size for Juju so why not?  I got the idea from a friend after Juju ate off of the plates at her house.  The set is called Duktig and includes 4 plates, 4 mini plates, and 4 bowls in pink, blue, yellow, and green for $9.99.  Here is a special dessert Juju had in one of the green dishes (it's moosetracks ice cream with chocolate covered sunflower seeds topping for those interested).

I started serving Juju on the Duktig plates at around 20 months when she was more responsible with her tableware and was no longer throwing things on the floor.  Well, she was probably still throwing some food on the floor but she was not bothering the dishes by that point.  I love how pretty the dishes are; they really dress up her table and make the food look appealing.  I also like that they bring some refinement to otherwise very unrefined meals.  The size of the plates are perfect for toddler-sized portions.   I am hoping using stoneware now will help with the transition to adult plates at some point.  The photo below is of the whole set but it doesn't really do them justice, the plates are pretty adorable.  You can see one of the larger blue plates in the breakfast I made here.  They are also dishwasher safe which is a huge plus (I try not to put plastic plates or bowls in the dishwasher but it's just too tempting. . .).

When Juju was older, I started serving her beverages in very small Ikea glass cups.  I can't find the exact set we have but here is another set of 6 for $2.99 (I actually think ours were 6 for $1.99 if you can believe it).  It's hard to trust a young toddler with glass so make sure yours is really ready before trying it out.  We also use the play flatware set (also called Duktig) which gives you 16 pieces of stainless steel flatware for $6.99 and comes with it's own drawer organizer (yes, I realize the organizer is plastic).  The pieces in the set are 4 forks, 4 knives, 4 large spoons and 4 tea spoons.  We only really use the spoons but they are worth buying the whole set for.  The larger spoons fit perfectly with creamy things served in the Duktig bowls and I like that they don't overwhelm Juju.  When she gets a little bigger, she can use her old dishes and flatware for her dolls.

While we're on the subject of porcelain, I should mention that our friends Dave and Michelle got us the cutest 3-piece Peter Rabbit Wedgwood dishware set when Juju was born.  We used it at Thanksgiving this year along with fancy china for everyone else and it was an adorable complement.  I am afraid to use the set regularly (it's not as easy to replace as the Ikea Duktig set) but I suppose it's not as much fun sitting on a shelf.  Wouldn't you like your morning Cheerios and coffee served in these?


I kept meaning to post this when it appeared in the New York Times last week but forgot.  Since today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, I guess it's fitting.

My grandparents were both Holocaust survivors.  My Grandmother survived Auschwitz and one of her recipes (for chocolate chip cake) and a short story of her life is included in the book Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival.  All of the proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Museum of Jewish Heritage a Living Memorial to the Holocaust.  Since this is a food blog I figured it made sense to mention this here.

Lunch on May 3 - Panda power

Tomorrow's lunch reminds me a lot of lunch on March 31 which was the photo that launched this blog.  It will also be eaten on my sister's birthday so, happy birthday Jolie!

Today I am serving California rolls with imitation crab (not homemade, these came from Gelson's), cucumber stars with pomegranate seeds, chopped up cremini mushrooms, and mango.  There is also a ReSnackIt filled with edamame pods that is not shown.

I used the piece of fake grass that came with the sushi to separate the mushrooms and mango and added a cute Panda-pic to the sushi for some fun.

One of you asked how I do the cucumber stars.  It's very easy.  I peel a cucumber, then cut both ends so I can stand the whole cucumber up on one end on a cutting board.  Then, I place a small star shaped cookie cutter on the top of the cucumber and press down to the bottom.  Then I chop up the cucumber into pieces and voila, stars.  You are left with five strands of cucumber (the white space from the star shape) which I either chop up and throw in or just eat myself.