Archive for the 'Food' Category

Japanese bento: an excuse to play with your food

I recently came across Japanese bento photography on Flickr and became intrigued with the intricacies of this cultural tradition. First, what is bento? In a nutshell it’s a combination of food items tucked into a container. The bento can be fairly simple or it can be an elaborate work of art. Wikipedia describes it in more detail:

A single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋, bentō-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves producing a carefully prepared lunch box.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from Flickr:

Geese bento, photo by kitsa_sakurako via Flickr

Cute animals, photo by soulstruck via Flickr

Halloween bento

Halloween, photo by pkoceres via Flickr

Sandwich bento

Sandwich man, photo by kitsa_sakurako via Flickr

Preschooler bento

Sesame street, photo by cuteobento via Flickr

Preschooler bento

Elmo and friends, photo by lovebones via Flickr

Heinz unveils new ketchup packet

Old Heinz ketchup packet vs. new Heinz ketchup packet

Old Heinz ketchup packet vs. new Heinz ketchup packet

Meet the new Heinz® ketchup easy-dip packet. Heinz® ketchup has undergone a redesign of the ever-so-convenient ketchup packet that has been a classic staple of fast-food eats for over 35 years. However, there have been many complaints about the product’s messiness. With this in mind, the H.J. Heinz Co. unveiled a new solution on Thursday, Feb. 4th, 2010. The product’s new packaging allows for easier dipping or squeezing, depending on the consumer’s preference. With more flexibility, it appears that the Heinz® company hopes that this will appeal more to a broader range of customers. According to an ABC news article,

Designers found that what worked at a table didn’t work where many people use ketchup packets: in the car. So two years ago, Heinz bought a used minivan for the design team members so they could give their ideas a real road test.

The team studied what each passenger needed. The driver wanted something that could sit on the armrest. Passengers wanted the choice of squeezing or dunking. Moms everywhere wanted a packet that held enough ketchup for the meal and didn’t squirt onto clothes so easily.

The original packets will still be available for traditional consumers. However, for those of you anxious to check out the new design, you can anticipate the new packets to hit the market at select fast-food locations throughout the nation in Fall of 2010.  To find out more information, read the press release, “Heinz® Ketchup ‘Uncaps’ New Decade with Revolutionary Product and Packaging Innovations” on the Heinz corporate website.

Thanks to Jacob Cass, @justcreative. for the lead.

Fun & Creative Superbowl Snacks

Looking to get in touch with your creative side for this year’s Superbowl food line-up? Check out some of these fun recipes:

Ritz Cheesy Football

Recipe from Food Network

Ritz Cheesy Football

Ritz Cheesy Football from Food Network

Salad on a Stick

Recipe from Food Network

Salad on a Stick from Food Network

Perky Olive Penguins

Recipe from RecipeZaar

Perky Olive Penguins from RecipeZaar

Super Bowl

Recipe from Food Network

Super Bowl from Food Network

And the best for last… albeit a little over the top:

The Greatest Snack Food Stadium Ever Built

Recipe from Holy Taco

The Greatest Snack Food Stadium Ever Built by Holy Taco

Domino’s New Pizza

Today we figured we’d give the new Domino’s pizza a try. Reluctantly. We certainly weren’t the biggest fan of Domino’s. In fact, we had always hated it. Despite the negativity toward Domino’s, we thought we’d give them a second chance. To our surprise, it was a very pleasant experience. However, we couldn’t resist a laugh when we saw how they computed the price, but the online tracker really made up for it. See picture for reference (click to zoom in):

Domino's New Pizza Tracker

Our pizza arrived quickly and was presented to us by a very kind delivery man. So far, so good. On to the true test, what did the pizza look like?

New dominos pizza. Pizza on the right is thin-crust with green peppers and pepperoni. On the left: original crust with jalapenos and pineapple.

A big improvement from the old pizza. The flavors were a lot more sophisticated. Certainly not your top-notch pizza, but much better. I would say that the thin crust tasted a lot more gourmet than the regular crust. The regular crust pizza resembled a mash-up of Domino’s and Papa John’s pizza, so I’d probably stray away from that next time, just my preference. Down to the real question: would we order it again? Yes.

Oreo Cookie Cake Pan

Picture 1

Oreo cookie lovers, rejoice! You can imitate the look (and taste, if you wish) of an oreo cookie with this cake pan. Available at Williams-Sonoma for $29.95.

Orange Peeler Art

Orange Peeler

This modern stainless steel appliance is the perfect excuse to play with your food. You can carve designs into orange rinds as well as other citrus fruits. It’s shallow enough that it won’t puncture into the actual orange fruit itself, so carve away! Available at Alessi for $27.00.

Introducing the Digital Measuring Cup

smartmeasure

smartmeasure2

No more bending down to measure your ingredients! This measuring cup gives you precise measurements while cooking in your kitchen. Check out the SmartMeasure Cup at YankoDesign soon to be sold in stores this Fall, thanks to Taylor Kitchenware for picking it up. Hm, I wouldn’t mind having this on my wedding registry!

Tumblr: A Place to Dump My Wedding Ideas

Apple Votive Candles

Apple Votive Candles

I’m always coming across things I love and gotta have, but most of all don’t want to forget! Thanks to a trusty coworker, she turned me on to Tumblr. Tumblr is a place that I’m using to dump all the photos, links, and blogs that I come across for wedding inspiration. Most of it is fall-inspired wedding ideas. Go on, have a look at my ‘tumblelog.’ Have any fun wedding or party ideas you want to share? I’m all ears!

What type of wedding venue is right for you?

Picture 2

For the past several weekends, my fiance and I ventured around my hometown in Delaware in search of the perfect place to have our wedding reception.

If anything, I’ve come out of this experience with one strong bit of advice for brides-to-be around the globe: it’s important to choose a place that represents the couple — not a place that the parents insist upon booking because they like it.

As it turns out, the place my well-meaning mother thought was me, was my definition of “a nursing home with motel 6 paintings.” Pretty strong words I know (When that happened, I coined myself “Bridezilla” — oh the horror!), but I honestly couldn’t picture us getting married there. In total, we visited four very different venues, which may seem like too few, but it was all we truly needed to make a decision. Without further ado, here’s the breakdown of each type of venue:

The Club House
“Old Elegance”

This place was the very first place we visited. I initially thought I had no real preference of a wedding venue, but when I saw this place, I quickly learned that this was not the one for us. This particular venue helped me to realize that I wanted a large open space where guests could walk around and mingle, not a series of small rooms that would force guests in a confined area with no where to move. Appearance-wise, it was an old and rustic building nestled in a quaint part of town, which sounds nice, but after surveying the age of the building, we realized that there were no elevators, proving to be an accessible nightmare to our older guests in attendance. In addition, the carpets, drapery, and furniture were very dated and simply not what a modern couple would like. As mentioned, it is “old elegance.” Right for someone else, but for us, we knew we had to move on.

The Ritzy Hotel
“Upscale Fabulousity”

This was the second place we visited, and was the opposite of the first place in every way imaginable. With gold-embossed high-vaulted ceilings and crystal chandeliers, this venue was definitely as classy as they come. With every “ooh” and “ahh” we encountered, it simply just didn’t feel like us. We are not showy, over-the-top type people, so having a wedding reception here would have made us feel out of our element. Not to mention, our guests probably would have “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” more over the decor of the actual place than the event itself. Not worth competing with, especially since we plan to have a wedding that incorporates small and personalized details that represent us or those close to us.

The Country Club
“Full of Character”

After striking out with the first two, we really didn’t know what to expect, except that this next place had to fall somewhere between the two extremes. And you know what? It sure did. When we walked into the country club, we just felt something click. The main room was a large and spacious ballroom with a balcony along one wall, appropriate for throwing a bridal bouquet. The opposite wall was lined with french doors that opened into a fully glass enclosed atrium with hanging crystal chandeliers. The curtains were very modern and overall, it was absolutely exquisite. We truly thought this was it, but …no.

The Golf Course
“The One”

We ended up choosing the last place we had visited, which was my father’s pick all along. We had initally scratched it off the list after we heard that it had a $26,000 minimum. But, with golf course views, a water fountain, floor-to-ceiling windows, and one of the state’s best chefs, this was truly the one for us. What really got us, was that we were able to get it for a fraction of the price because we chose a Sunday. Sunday of Columbus Day weekend to be exact. That way most of our guests still have Monday off and out-of-town guests won’t have to take Friday off for the rehearsal dinner. Most of all, this was the one where we saw ourselves and our guests enjoying their evening the most.

Fall Wedding Mood Board

Since I’m in the beginning stages of planning a wedding, I’ve started to visualize what might be nice for our special day. Here’s what I call a wedding mood board. I’m open to any bits of advice you may have for fall weddings.

Wedding Mood Board, originally uploaded by  Refined Designer.



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