Lunch Boxes and what goes in them

I almost always bring my own lunch to work. Even though I’m blessed with a plethora of cheap and tasty food trucks near my office, I know that I eat better, and use up my leftover far more quickly, if I bring them for lunch. Leftovers are boring, you say? Well, yes, they can be. But you can always shake them up. I like to change them slightly, like I did in the lunch above (adding a side of pickled radishes and a boiled egg to my raw kale salad)by adding new components, or cooking in a new way (frying leftover risotto into cakes).

I love my new Black + Blum lunchbox, pictured above, for so many reasons. It’s BPA-free and easy to clean, has a divider box and even a mini dressing box, reminds me that the largest portion in my lunch should be vegetables, and even has a little soy sauce indentation and fork holder on the lid.

How do you like to pack your lunch? What kind of lunchbox do you use?


KimChi Soup

Y’all, it is nasty outside in Philadelphia. It was cold all weekend, and then icy, and now it’s raining and grey and almost everyone is in not the best of moods. Maybe you, too, need a spicy Korean soup to cheer you up?

I made this kimchi soup based on a recipe from Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” Kimche and tofu soup. A few changes – I used firm tofu that I had previously frozen instead of soft tofu, and I added a raw egg to the boiling soup after I put it in the bowl. Just make sure the soup is boiling when it goes in, and dunk that egg down into the broth, or spoon the broth over the egg so that it’s not RAW raw when the soup cools down enough for you to eat it. I also added a little leftover brown rice instead of cooking rice in the broth, and upped the kimchi since I didn’t have any spinach in the house. . Simple, spicy, delicious.

Jong Ka Jib Soft Tofu Restaurant

After hearing whispers about Jong Ka Jib for weeks, I finally made a trip out to this amazing soft tofu restaurant on the edge of Philadelphia. While the Septa search engine suggested a suburban train or the Broad St. subway + a bus, we decided to hoof it from the subway stop and enjoy exploring a new part of the city. About a mile later, we excited walked into the side door where an older woman in tennis shoes (the whole staff wears trainers!) unsmilingly ushered us to a table.
-friendly items before settling on the mushroom soft tofu.

The accompaniments arrived first, and we enjoyed snacking on sweet beans, many types of pickles, and sesame sprouts.

In true hot pot style, our dishes arrive bubbling and we quickly cracked the provided raw eggs into the broth to cook away. Reader, I ate every bite, even though I became terribly full half-way through. The spicy, sour, umami dish was just what I wanted, and I couldn’t stop! For $8, it’s a steal. Don’t expect anything other than curt service (we asked for water multiple times, but enjoyed using the “service” button in the table) and you’ll leave full and happy!

Tofu and King Oyster Mushrooms

I made a giant trip to H-Mart to stock-up on huge bottles (soy sauce, sweet soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil, canola oil, chili) and of course came home with bags of vegetables. Oh H-Mart – you are so cheap, and you have such a selection, you lure me in every time. Trying to make the best use of the firm tofu in the fridge (I bought a 5 lb. container), bok choi and king oyster mushrooms that were blessedly on sale, I adapted this recipe into the meal above. I’m never adverse to adapting recipes – keeping what I like, tossing what I don’t, and always adding more garlic, ginger and spice. But it also makes plenty of sense to exchange vegetables you already have in the fridge (like my bok choi) for others (the carrots and broccoli called for in the recipe).

Tofu marinated in lemongrass and chili, pre-fried, and added at the last minute to fried king mushrooms, bok choi and a light coconut and chili oil broth. Served over left-over brown rice, with plenty of just blanched green onions. Delicious

Venturi’s Pizza, Goshen, IN

Downtown Goshen, my hometown, has done an amazing job revitalizing it’s downtown in the last few years. I love all the reburbished facades and new restaurants, including a new Neopolitan-style pizza place started by a college friend. Venturi’s features wood-fired pizza, certified authentic (Yes, Neopolitan’s take their pizza that seriously). In a lovely renovated storefront with it’s original stamped tin ceilings and a full liquor license, I split a few of these thin, chewy-edged pies.

The above pie is (I admit I forget the name) a delicious concoction of mozzarella, roasted red pepper, garlic, capers and basil. Yum! And the below pizza is the Bianca with house-made Fior di Latte, garlic, and fresh basil. A delicious dinner (I actually ended up back there later that week!), and a great local business.