Beyond Pots and Pans Masthead

    "Packing Lunch"
August 27, 2009 - Volume 1 - Issue 16
       In This Issue
Julie & Julia
Annual Sidewalk Sale
Anniversary Sale
Building a Better Lunch!
Make It Easy!
Knives 101
Smart Lunch Tips
Q & A's
Cookbook Review
Recipes for Fabulous Sandwiches
Summer Store Hours
Join Our Mailing List!
     Quick Links
Beyond Pots and Pans Website

Beyond Pots and Pans Online Shopping

Beyond Pots and Pans Gift Registry
     Food to Go!
Whether you're off to work or school, preparing for lunch time is a daily dilemma! Time and nutrition seem to be at odds in the process. After all, you barely got breakfast out of the way! But the stars are aligned for renewed energiesClose-up of a Sandwich applied to packing your lunch.  Yes, it's the back to school time of year, but packing a great lunch is not just for kids anymore!  Packing your lunch saves money, shifts nutrition for the better, and, in the end, saves time. A great lunch is the perfect respite in the middle of a busy day and offers that necessary refueling for the afternoon ahead. In this issue, we'll offer a slew of tips for a better lunch and how to make it easy. We complete our Knives 101 discussion with Part 2.  A review and three recipes from Tom Colicchio's new book, 'wichcraft brings fresh inspiration to sandwich-making and, therefore, lunch-making!
     Julie & Julia
Julie & Julia Debuts

Movie CoverJulia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) are featured in writer-director Nora Ephron's adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. Based on two true stories, Julie & Julia intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends...until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.
Written by Columbia Pictures

Watch for Le Creuset throughout the movie!

Bring in your movie ticket stub from Julie and Julia and receive 10% off a Le Creuset purchase of $50 or more!  Not valid on promotional items.
     Annual Sidewalk Sale - Sep 7th!
Sidewalk Sale
     Anniversary Sale - Sep 10, 11, 12
Anniverary Sale
    Build a Better Lunch!
Looking for motivation to upgrade your lunch habits? We have several good reasons to offer that will help overcome some of the common obstacles to packing a good lunch for yourself or for your family.

Lunch Box Full of MoneyStockpile Some Cash - Even a simple lunch out can be $6-10. A packed lunch from home can cost anywhere from $2-4. If you save $4/day for 20 workdays per month, that's $80/month, or $960/year. To paraphrase Will Rogers, this starts "to add up to some real money!"

Improve Your Nutrition - Food is fuel! Lunch should provide no more than one-third of your daily calories. High fat and/or high carbohydrate lunches can easily exceed that one-third rule, and actually slow you down for the afternoon. We're surrounded by high calorie and high fat options everywhere! A Big Mac® contains 540 calories and 29 grams of fat; add a large fry and you're adding another 500 calories and 25 more grams of fat. Even fast food salads with fat-laden dressings can tip into the "too much" range. Lunch is a great chance for making good on that intention to improve your diet. Planning good food ahead of time and packing a lunch will provide better fuel for your body!

Save Time - Fast food really isn't all that fast!  By the time you drive or walk to the restaurant, wait in line, wait for your order and drive back, at least 10-15 minutes have passed. A great lunch can be packed at home in less than 10 minutes!

Use Less Packaging - Packing a lunch in reusable containers avoids fast food packaging and all of the waste that accompanies one quick meal.
Line of Packable Fruit

Fight Boredom with Creativity and Variety - Lunch can be so much more than a peanut butter sandwich and a side of carrot and celery sticks! 
  • Incorporate more fruits and veggies in your lunch with grape tomatoes, cucumber sticks, berries, grapes, broccoli "trees," or whatever's in season.
  • Avoid packing processed foods - they're generally more expensive, have questionable ingredients, are packaging intense, and often nutritionally suspect with high sodium and preservatives.
  • Have a quick Plan B for those hurried mornings! A Plan B might include freezing several sandwiches ahead of time, or individual portions of previous suppers.
  • Apportion tomorrow's lunch before serving tonight's supper. You'll avert the risk of there being no leftovers available after the meal.
  • WrapEnjoy packing a good sliced bread sandwich, but don't forget about wraps, pita bread, bagels, rice cakes, crackers, English muffins, or croissants as sandwich foundations.
  • Make that apple more enticing - slices (drizzled with a little lemon juice to prevent browning) might be easier to handle at lunchtime. Include vanilla yogurt for a quick dip, or a nut butter for smearing on the fruit.
  • What to drink? Skip sugary drinks. Pack a lime or lemon slice to dress up tap water. Perhaps some herbal tea - hot or cold. You could even rediscover milk at lunch - we're told we all need more calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Watching your calories? Packing your own lunch is a great start. Bring an open-faced sandwich and you've sliced the bread calories in half. Or, use a lettuce leaf for a sandwich wrapper.
  • Explore bean spreads (hummus, refried beans), tapenades, guacamole, or cream cheese spreads with your own diced vegetable and fruit "mix-ins."
  • A layer of wilted greens sautéed in garlic is an easy solution for injecting leafy green vegetables into your sandwich.
  • Make lunch kebabs of meat and cheese, veggies and fruits. You could even make some antipasto on a stick!
  • Make your own trail mix - GORP - 'Good Ole' Raisins and Peanuts' - or any combination of dried fruits, nuts, crunch, and sparkle (M & M's?).Good Ole' Raisins and Peanuts
  • Investigate some hearty salads - bean salads, meat salads, pasta salads, veggies with pesto.
  • Change the types of bread used in sandwiches - rye, pumpernickel, oatmeal, baguette, sesame - there are scores of bread choices. Similarly, vary your choice of cheeses and meats.
  • Dress up leftover rice or pasta with nuts, herbs and a simple dressing of olive oil and a flavored vinegar. Add a few leftover vegetables, and it's a complete meal.
  • Review the calorie count and nutritional profile of your packed lunch - too little, too much, or just right?
     Make It Easy!
You're much more likely to establish a habit of packing lunch if you have a plan and the right set-up for food on the go! Set yourself up with appropriate lunch tools!Thermos with Soup

Thermoses - To keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold, use a thermos. This isn't just a matter of having a pleasant food experience, it promotes food safety by keeping foods out of the temperature range that promotes bacterial growth. Beverage thermoses are typically tall and narrow, and often double as drinking mugs. Many styles with stainless steel, double-walled construction are available. Previously, thermoses relied on glass inserts which had the nasty habit of breaking.

Wide-Mouthed Thermoses - Shaped differently, constructed similarly to other thermoses, these units are perfect for soups, stews, or your favorite chili.

The New Brown Bag - How do you carry your lunch? The brown paper sacks of our youth are largely gone. Today, it's about insulation! Small coolers, insulated nylon bags, reusable canvas bags are all perfect for toting lunch, and keep food appealing and safe.

Packed LunchIce Packs - If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, keeping food from getting too warm before lunch time is important. Use small gel packs designed specifically for use with food, or create your own with frozen water in zippered plastic bags. Freezing your sandwich or your lunch's drink provides an additional source of coolness for your lunch pack.

Food Containers - Lunch can be one of the most intensive meals for generating waste. In the fast food world, Styrofoam® clamshells, cardboard packaging, drink containers and individual packaging of all types easily generates a mountain of trash. A modest investment iPacked Lunch in Blue Boxn great food containers not only saves on trash, but creates a pleasant meal experience. Throw in a cloth napkin and create some thrifty elegance! Containers from other cultures are interesting and practical. Seek out Indian tiffin tins or Japanese Bento boxes.

Silverware - Pack the real stuff! It's environ-friendly and so much nicer to dine with than flimsy plastic versions that break when spearing a cherry tomato. If you're cramped for space in your lunch pack, a "spork" might be your answer!

     Knives 101 - Part Two of Two
Last issue we discussed the basic parts of every knife. In this issue we uncover the reasons for the many shapes of knives and how to choose the right knife for the task at hand. If you've perused our knife display cases, the different shapes of knives and their blades can be confusing. Each knife has been designed with specific tasks in mind with the shape of the blade directly related to the knife's function. For our discussion we'll categorize knives into four types:

Slicing Knives  - As the name implies, these knives are for slicing and cutting a variety of foods. They may have one of four edges:
  • Straight edges are for normal slicing. The blade should be no more than 1/8-inch thick and no taller than 1-1/2-inches high.
  • Serrated edges should be used for softer foods such as, bakery items and some fruits and vegetables. Slicing Knife
  • Scalloped edges (the reverse of a serrated edge) is also used for softer foods and occasionally semi-frozen meats being sliced thinly as in the case of stir-fry preparation.
  • Hollow edges, sometimes termed a Granton® edge, are for slicing thick cuts of meat or other foods where the face of the cut surface might tend to crumble or stick to the knife as with cheese and many processed meats.
Chef or Cook's Knives - This is the basic kitchen knife and is sometimes categorized as a "chopper." These knives are tapered from point to handle. They should be at least 2 inches high with 6 to 12 inches of Chef's Knifeblade length. The 8-inch blade size is the most popular length, though the 10-inch blade is the preference of most professionals. This knife is used for chopping and slicing vegetables and fruits, and for mincing and dicing tasks. A chef's knife is one of the most important knives you can own.

Fine-work Knives - This group of knives includes paring knives of all types. These knives are used for peeling, cutting out gristle from Paring Knifemeats, or removing bad spots from foods. Choose a blade length that you are most comfortable with in your hand and for the task. Boning knives and fillet knives fall into this category and usually sport a narrow, flexible blade that is quite handy when deboning meat, fowl, or fish.

Special Use Knives - Santuko KnifeThis grouping of knives includes cleavers, Asian chef's knives such as Santokus, garnishing knives, and other very, task-specific knives.

A basic cutlery set-up should start with a Chef's knife (8 or 10-inch), a Paring knife (2 ½  - 3 ½ -inch), a Serrated Slicer or Bread Knife, and a Slicing Knife (8 to 10-inch blade). Buy the best knives you can afford adding to your collection when you can. Take care of your knives and they will reward you with years and years of service!

     Smart Lunch Tips
Tip #1:   Freeze a loaf of sliced bread, then assemble several nut butter sandwiches at once. The nut butter spreads easily on the frozen slices. PBJSmear the nut butter on both slices of bread placing any jelly in the middle to prevent any late morning sogginess. Package and refreeze extra sandwiches for quick retrieval on a hurried morning.

Tip #2:  Breakfast is often on the go as much as lunch is! The same hints for lunch success apply to breakfast as well. One batch of homemade muffins thrown in the freezer trumps any number of fast food breakfast choices.

Tip #3: Salads are a great lunch solution. Assemble the salad, but do not apply the salad dressing - it will wilt the greens and cause some vegetables to lose their crispness. Transport the salad dressing in a separate container with a great seal to prevent leaking. Small glass jars (baby food jars, caper jars) with screw-on lids work well while also repurposing an existing container.

JamsTip #4:  Condiments transform plain into delicious. There are some great mustards that will shift the taste of your sandwich in some delightful ways. Experiment with different sauces, spreads, confits, and relishes.

Four CondimentsTip #5: Reconsider your yogurt choices. Read the label on the yogurt - many have a high caloric and high sugar value. While foil lids have greatly reduced yogurt packaging waste, individual portions are still packaging intensive. Better yet, buy larger containers and pack a daily portion for your lunch with fresh fruit mixed in. Cube blocks of cheese instead of high-priced, individually-wrapped cheesesticks.

Tip #7: Mornings are hectic - pack lunch the night before. Freeze individual portions of previous meals ahead of time and have them ready to pull from the freezer.

     Q & A's
Q & A
 Q:   How does a thermos work?
A:   Hot foods or cold foods all move toward room temperature. A thermos provides insulation around the food in the form of a vacuum or foam insulation neither of which transfer heat in or out very well; the hot or cold temperature of the food is retained. To maximize the insulating thermos' capabilities, prime the thermos with very hot water, or ice water; let set for 5 minutes to allow the temperature to Bread Knife and Loaf of Breadpermeate the inside of the thermos. Then fill with the very hot or very cold foods. A good thermos properly prepared will keep foods safe for several hours.

Q:  How is a bread knife sharpened?
A:  Bread knives, like other knives, have a serrated edge. This dimpled edge, which is so useful for grabbing the food when cutting, is beyond the capabilities of the average sharpener. Each indentation must be sharpened individually with the proper tool by professionals trained on serrated edges. Sports BottleThe good news is that, used properly for the right task, your bread knife will rarely require sharpening.

Q:  What food safety rules apply to packed lunches?
A:  Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold! It's recommended that food not sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the temperature is 90°F or more, then only 1 hour. Pack foods in insulated containers or bags that retain the hot or cold temperatures of the food. Leave your lunch in the refrigerator overnight or until you're ready to leave the house. Take care during lunch preparation not to introduce bacteria to your food with any cross-contamination. Lunch meat, once the package is opened, should be eaten within 3-4 days.

Q:  What is the recent controversy over unsafe plastic bottles?
A:  Some plastics used in water and juice bottles degrade when reused over and over again potentially producing bisphenol A - (BPA). Opt for plastic water bottles that are BPA-free or units constructed of stainless steel for your reusable water bottle.
     Cookbook Review
'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortúzar. Text by Rhona Silverbush, Photographs by Bill Bettencourt. Copyright 2009. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, NY.Cookbook

The clever name and the sumptuous photographs had us falling in love with this cookbook immediately! Tom Colicchio, of Bravo's "Top Chef" show and his business partner, Sisha Ortuz, started a 'wichcraft restaurant in New York with the idea that a great sandwich would be appreciated and sought after. They were right, twice - through the restaurant and through this recently released book. The cookbook goes a long way in solving the conundrum of creating interesting sandwiches, yet ones that are accessible in the home kitchen.  The book is organized around breakfast sandwiches, cool sandwiches, warm sandwiches, and sweet sandwiches. Between each category, useful tips on building a great pantry, bread basics, party fare and many more topics are presented. The be'wiching thing about this book is the exquisitely devised recipes where the ingredients perfectly complement each other. With innovation and creativity applied to the humble sandwich, Colicchio and Ortúzar have broken new ground on our behalf and to our great satisfaction.

     Recipes for Fabulous Sandwiches
Reprinted with permission from 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortúzar, Text by Rhona Silverbush, Photographs by Bill Bettencourt. Copyright 2009. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, NY. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Gruyère with Caramelized Onions
Gruyere and Onion Sandwich
You'll never think of a "grilled cheese sandwich" in the same way again! The piquant cheese choice of Gruyère paired with the sweetness of the slowly cooked onions fashioned a sandwich where every bite was savored. The extra sandwich we made at suppertime, reheated nicely for lunch the next day doubling our enjoyment.

Click here to view the full recipe.

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.
Roasted Shrimp Salad with Tomatoes and OlivesRoasted Shrimp Sandwich

The authors described this shrimp salad (no mayo here!) as a shrimp scampi sandwich. We couldn't agree more. The fresh vegetables and herbs accentuated the garlicky shrimp. Heaped on toast that had been gently rubbed with garlic, there was almost a panzanella aspect to this recipe. The open-faced sandwich assembled easily for a better-than-average lunch.

Click here to view the full recipe.

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Roasted Pork Loin with Prunes, Dandelion Greens, and Mustard

Pork SandwichThis sandwich proved to be a hearty supper meal with a perfect blend of great complex tastes that were easy to recreate. The seared pork tenderloin was complemented with the mustardy sweetness of the plums. We substituted spinach for the dandelion greens and enjoyed the garlic and vinegar flavorings of the greens with each bite of the sandwich. The extra fixings made a great lunch the following day.

Click here to view the full recipe.

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Here's to better eating through better lunches!
Lorraine, Katie, and all of the Staff at Beyond Pots and Pans