Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #30

I thought I would be eating this snack, packed in the two small Lunchopolis containers, with hot tea, so I packed a very teatime-like snack, but the office was out of anything that wasn't caffeinated (I don't do caffeine). I had hot cocoa instead. Hot cocoa doesn't really go with cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches, but it goes reasonably well with mini chocolate almond biscotti. (Yes, I know cocoa has trace amounts of caffeine; it is not the same thing, according to my doctor, who thankfully does allow me to have chocolate. I can live without caffeine; chocolate I am not so sure of.)

Another reason was that the grocery store was out of the bread I would usually buy, and I ended up with a small loaf of extremely thin-sliced white instead. It was practically begging to be turned into cucumber sandwiches.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Laptop Lunches #250

Mini chicken biscuits, grapes, multicolored bell pepper strips, snow peas, baby carrots, edamame hummus, and mixed heirloom tomatoes.

I don't often eat anything like mini chicken biscuits, especially not in the frozen north, but they were a nice thing to have today.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Laptop Lunches #249

An experimental shrimp and pasta salad, cucumber spears, baby carrots, fruit salad (pummelo, cantaloupe, and grapes), yogurt ranch dressing, and mixed grape tomatoes.

There is a grocery store here with a salad bar selling the most amazing pasta salad with tiny shrimp. This particular experiment resulted in not quite the right flavor, so I won't give you the recipe yet--but I will say that tiny shrimp in a can is a revelation! There will be more of that in my life! The main problem, I think, is that I used light mayo, and from what I can tell this stuff is calling out for the real, full fat version. At home, I tried adding parmesan cheese; although definitely not the grocer's version it did taste good. Ah, well, we press on.

I bought the cantaloupe because it was on sale, but egads if I am not getting tired of cantaloupe! Single people cannot eat melons. It's like some sort of rule. One can only buy the little cup of cut melon that costs three times as much as a whole melon, so one does not eat melon.

Question for other lunch bloggers out there, based on some reactions to this lunch: Does your packed lunch provoke other people to say judgmental things to you about how you choose to use your time or what you choose to eat? How do you respond?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Laptop Lunches #248

Homemade Cuban black beans with rice, cantaloupe chunks, and grapes.

When this blog was hiatus due to a broken camera, there was a season of poverty for me. You might have sensed this given my lack of funding to buy a camera, but ... I was really the starving grad student there for a while. For a time, I basically ate whatever happened to be on clearance at Target, alongside some very, very cheap things. I found this recipe on the back of a bag of store brand rice, and tried it mostly because it seemed extremely cheap. It was also easy, and seemed reasonably nutritious. It just so happens that it is also vegan, and astoundingly comforting. I didn't keep much in terms of poverty ration-type food, but I did keep this. As recipes go, it covers a lot of ground: cheap, fast, easy, good-tasting and good-for-you, gluten free, vegan. I've modified the recipe slightly, so I'll share it with you here, as Starving Student Cuban Black Beans & Rice.

Starving Student Cuban Black Beans & Rice

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
2 15-oz. cans black beans (not drained)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
long grain rice (amount depends on preferences--see below)
salt
pepper

1. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in cumin and bay leaves; cook 1 minute. Stir in beans and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, cook rice.
4. Remove bay leaves from beans. Stir in olive oil and vinegar.

To serve:

Lay down a bed of cooked long grain rice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with desired amount of beans, and a bit more salt and pepper. I personally would most often eat this with a glass of milk, but that of course makes it not vegan. My preferred ratio of beans and rice was about equal parts rice and beans, but the base recipe suggested much more beans than rice. When I was feeling especially poor, I ate it with about 2/3 rice to 1/3 beans. Feel free to experiment.

The leftovers of this dish are as good or better than the first bite. For lunch, I just dumped the rice on top of the beans and stirred.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #13

This was a snow day, sort of. We had a delayed opening, but they called me at about 5:00 AM to let me know I need not report until 10:00. So considerate of them. Thus, I was awake and had extra time. What does one do with extra time? One makes sushi, of course!

The top tier has avocado and cucumber sushi, with a little apple-head bottle of soy sauce. The middle tier has cantaloupe chunks. The bottom tier has smoked salmon and avocado sushi, with a little duckie bottle of soy sauce.

All in all, quite good! I finally learned to season sushi rice properly. This was too light to eat on a day when I had breakfast at the usual time, but since I had a pretty late breakfast (the ends of sushi and whatnot), it worked out. I still haven't learned how to get just the right amount of rice, or how to get the fillings really in the middle, but I'm still proud of this.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #12

Grapes, avocado with grape tomato slices, and salmon/cream cheese/tortilla pinwheels.

I'm not sure what inspired this combination, but it was nice; you do need really dense food in a box so small, but this worked out well for me.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #29

Tomato hummus topped with salami and served alongside leftover naan in my medium Lunchopolis container.

Okay, so we've got many nations represented here, but they play along nicely.