Archive for the ‘Lunchbox’ Category

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 11 & 12

April 4, 2007

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Prologue
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 1 & 2
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 3, 4 & 5
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 6 & 7
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Midway Meditation
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 8, 9 & 10

Monday 4/2

Total Spent: $0

LUNCH–> $0

Fumiko and Kayoko Lunch Club. Fumiko brought leftovers from her Malaysian dinner in Chinatown on Sunday night. I’ve been to this place with her and Jorge before– seriously the best Malaysian food (i don’t have such an extensive knowledge of Malaysian food, but this place was THE spot). it is hidden in this little alleyway between Elizabeth and Bowery. it’s a great little secret– i don’t even know what it’s called!

DINNER–> $0

i’m feeling like hell, so i went home early and went straight to bed (wait, i blogged too, apparently…). just had a congee-like dish of white rice and egg. warms the soul when you are sick.

***

Tuesday 4/3
Total Spent: $1

BREAKFAST
–> $1

two bananas and an orange from my Fruit Stand Man.

LUNCH–> $0

my fridge is literally empty at the moment, so what did i do? i went through my freezer when i woke up this morning. this is what i found:

thank goodness for Trader Joe’s. i bought this stuff probably about a month ago– always so smart to have Trader Joe’s frozen foods stashed away for emergency meals. ALWAYS. this Thai green bean dish is a relatively new item i think, at TJ’s– at least i had never seen it before.

Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian rice dish– i had always been curious about this but never bought it because i always ended up with the Biriyani instead (the BEST). i finally got this i remember, because they were out of the Biriyani (the TJ’s in Union Square is the most poorly stocked place EVER! sometimes i walk out with literally, nothing. it’s maddening).

so literally, all you need to do with both these dishes is put them in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. that’s IT. no water, no spices, no nothing. you open the bag, discard beans and rice over the pan, et voila!, you have both dishes finished in 10 minutes. it’s miraculous- something you can do even at 8 in the morning, i promise.


and just as i thought, these dishes went very well together. the snowpeas, carrots and mushrooms in the Nasi Goreng tasted fresh considering they had been frozen; and the green beans were crispy. the sauce for the green beans wasn’t too salty, a light soy flavor, with some bite to it.

this lunch was assembled under 10 minutes, cost under $5, is vegetarian, and there was enough for about 3 meals. Trader Joe’s, i salute you.

DINNER–> $0

had to go to a lecture at Columbia. the second i walked onto the campus, i was transported back to my college days– the frenzy of learning, the uncompromised idealism, the palpable academic synergy. i was nostalgic for a hot second, and then the rush ended– i am no longer a part of that world.

but god, remember college? being broke and hungry all the time and then blowing your money on really outlandish activities and everything when you actually had it? wait… not much has changed, has it? pretty depressing if you think about it. i may be totally financially independent now, but i still spend my money in ridiculous ways like i used to in my college days. sigh…

ok, so anyways, the lecture: disappointing. however, there was a SUSHI reception afterwards. man, oh man, what a delightful surprise– so happy i somehow stayed strong and made it through the bore-a-thon lecture.

there is nothing less attractive than watching the hungry masses descend upon free food, so here are a few pointers to make it look like you are NOT there just for the food:

– observe, and wait until the initial crowd dies down and (finally) leaves the food table– although this may take a while, you DON’T want to be a part of that ugly scene

– hang back and have a few drinks: usually, people are so preoccupied with getting their grubby hands on the food, that the bar is totally deserted. take advantage– free alcohol is just as exciting as free food

– work the crowd: take your drink and talk to people you recognize (better to get the talking/ schmoozing out of the way BEFORE you start eating)

– NEVER follow the servers with the passed hors d’oeuvres around. BIG NO NO!!!

buon appetito!!! there’s nothing like a free sushi dinner when you are living on $100 for 2 weeks!

***
COMBINED TOTAL:
$1 + $83.25 (Day 1-10 total) = $84.25

LEFT FOR 2 DAYS:
$100 – $84.25= $15.75

*k*

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 8, 9 & 10

April 3, 2007

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Prologue
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 1 & 2
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 3, 4 & 5
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 6 & 7
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Midway Meditation

Friday 3/30
Total Spent: $0

LUNCH–> $0

i boiled some penne in the morning and married it with some of the puttanesca that i had left over from last Sunday’s batch. seriously, it doesn’t get any easier than dumping a handful of dry pasta into a pot of boiling water, even at 8 in the morning. desperate times call for desperate measures! and the sauce flavors were a lot deeper after letting it sit for a few days. shave some parmigiano on top, and you have yourself an easy peasy lunch.

DINNER–> $0

we had plans to travel to Jersey City to visit this historic Loew’s theater, where they were showing Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity on their gigantic screen (excellent film, Raymond Chandler is such a GREAT writer). it really is a magical, gorgeous theater, very gaudy and ornate, but it was abandoned for a long time so it has this brooding, dilapidating, Death in Venice morbidness to it. love it– totally worth the trip out there. we got a tour backstage and boy, what a labyrinth! the place is HUGE! it’s been around since the 20’s, and the community banded together in the 80s and stopped the city from tearing it down– volunteers basically run the place and are continuously restoring the theater as we speak. incredible!

so anyway, i think i sorta found the trick to how to stay out late without starving. it’s all about food conservation. i ate about half of the pasta for lunch, and saved the other half of it and ate it at around 5pm right before leaving for the night. that’s it! i didn’t get hungry for the rest of the night! brilliant!

it was sad though, when i had to say no to a meal in Koreatown back in Manhattan with my friends. i HATE saying no! especially to Koreatown!!!

***

Saturday 3/31
Total Spent: $0

i wish i could be more exciting, but i randomly came down with a bad fever on Saturday so i ended up really not eating anything or going out the entire day. i even missed Dawn’s birthday party. so sorry Dawn! happy birthday!!!!

***

Sunday 4/1
Total Spent: $10

Lunch–> $0

still feeling pretty groggy, i just had some instant miso soup.

GROCERIES–> $10
Key Foods
Washington Ave., Prospect Heights

grocery shopping in my neighborhood is not something i really look forward to. i basically have to walk about 15 minutes for the nearest DECENT store, which saddens me because there are few things that i find true pleasure in then grocery shopping (i know, it’s weird).

whenever i walk in, there is always this slight medicinal smell. it’s so not ok. but really, i can’t complain, their produce isn’t all that bad (i’ve definitely seen worse), and they carry good yogurts, which is all i can really ask for.

so i came out with a quart of Brown Cow maple yogurt (at $4.50, pricey as hell, but i’m sick so i splurge– Brown Cow is creamy and rich and so so good), broccoli, organic eggs (on sale, otherwise, i don’t generally care if my eggs are organic or not, although i do like them brown), scallions and bottled marinara sauce (on sale for $2.50).

DINNER–> $0

i was planning on just chilling out Sunday night, maybe go to see a movie, maybe just stay in, when i got a phone call from Troy, my old landlord (not to be confused with Troy Division). i talk about them a lot, him and his partner, Kumiko– they are basically my surrogate family out here in NY. i found my first apartment off of Craigslist in Sunset Park, and since i moved here without knowing anyone, Troy and Kumiko, who own the building, welcomed me into the neighborhood and into their home. they truly are wonderful people, and some of my dearest friends here in NY– they really take care of me and look out for me. it’s nice to have that in such a lonesome city, and i truly think that if i didn’t have them here, i would have left NY long ago. even though i’ve moved away, i still try to see them a few times a month.

ok, so back to my dinner. Troy knew i was sick and told me that Kumiko was making nabe, which is a traditional japanese stew, perfect for cold winter nights. this is EXACTLY what sickly Kayoko needed. and on top of this wonderful dinner invitation, Troy said he would pick me up. LUCKY ME!!!!

Kumiko is an excellent cook– she just puts stuff together and creates the most inventive, tasty dishes. this night, she said she threw in whatever she had in the fridge and freezer: fresh shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, scallions, carrots, crabmeat, shrimp, chicken breast, tofu and ground pork balls that she had used to stuff cabbage the night before. amazing. this was all simmering in a soymilk based broth that really brought out all the flavors of the ingredients in the pot. mmmmm… so hearty and soulful!

and in the japanese tradition, once you eat to your heart’s content, you add rice or noodles at the end to finish it off. we had ours with udon. slurp!

Tweezy, their bratty yet darling french bulldog, was one happy lad after our fabulous nabe feast– he eats everything!

***
COMBINED TOTAL:
$10 + $73.25 (Day 1-7 total) = $83.25

LEFT FOR 4 DAYS:
$100 – $83.25= $16.75

i’m gonna make it!!!

*k*

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 6 & 7

March 30, 2007

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Prologue
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 1 & 2
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 3, 4 &5

Wednesday 3/28
Total Spent: $5

LUNCH–> $0

Fumiko and I had our usual lunch date. I had leftover pasta alla puttanesca, she had made this absolutely delicious spaghetti bathed in cream sauce with artichokes. She says this is very easy, so i will need to try making this myself. Something about having 2 kinds of pasta in one sitting–one with red sauce, the other with white sauce– that is very satisfying and indulgent.

DINNER–> $5

Matt and I had tickets to see Do Say Make Think at Southpaw in Park Slope, Brooklyn (great venue). But before we met up, I had a gallery opening at work that I was helping out with– all strategically planned out because I knew I could munch on hors d’oeuvres and drink to my hearts content, essentially just eat dinner there without having to spend a dime. Genius.

However, the sushi they served was pretty horrifying– big fat rolls with too much sweetened rice and not enough insides. and just really poorly rolled too, I could have easily done a better job– they were just damn ugly. It was pretty uncharacteristic too, cause the food served at my work’s receptions aren’t usually so bad. But I sucked it up and ate as much as I could– you really can’t be picky when you are on a tight budget. I think I’m finally starting to understand that.

Ok, so I head out after two glasses of bad chardonnay and a stomach full of the worst California rolls I’ve ever had in my life. Meet Matt at Union Hall, he offers me a beer, and recalling my ground rules, I accept on the grounds that I can treat him to a slice of pizza. Fair trade, no?

Wait a sec, back up– Kayoko, didn’t you just have your dinner? You are supposed to be fulfilled by the 10 or so pieces of sushi you JUST consumed. Folks, here’s another thing about me and my eating habits: I cannot tolerate having an unsatisfying dinner. God, that’s horrible and sounds snobby and self-entitled. Ugh. But it’s true– yes, I did have dinner, technically, and I wasn’t really hungry anymore– but I just couldn’t let that be my dinner. It was out of the question.

So I’ve had this weird obsession with pizza lately, and I’m always craving a slice. We headed to this random pizza place that is right off of Union and 5th Ave. It was sorta creepy, I wish I had taken pictures of it. Yellowing wallpaper and really bizarre garage sale chachke displayed everywhere. And the price chart hanging overhead was one of those really old school ones where you have to put up each letter one by one, like a theater marquee. You know what I’m talking about? This one had a 7Up logo on it– remember when 7Up was huge? This place had probably been around since at least the 70s. Do the Right Thing, baby!

I got a slice with sausage piled on top, it was very satisfying– totally worth the $, just so I could go to bed knowing that my dinner weren’t those nasty california rolls.

Sidenote: Do Say Make Think were excellent live. I guess some of the musicians play with Broken Social Scene (both outta Toronto). They create a wondrous cacophony of noise that, along with the light show, made me think of what it would sound like if a spaceship landed in Brooklyn.

***

Thursday 3/29
Total Spent: $21.25

BREAKFAST–> $1.25

Feeling groggy and heavy (it’s the bad wine), so I got a croissant on my way in.

LUNCH–> $0

Aya’s incredible Nappa-wrapped pork. what a treat!!!

DINNER–> $20

Here is where things get a little tricky for $100/2 weeks/NYC. We had made plans to go to a movie at Film Forum with work-related people a while back, so I couldn’t really back out of this, even though I fully knew what this meant: eating and drinking with them. CRAP. Finding a wallet-friendly meal is hard enough, but tagging alcohol onto the bill is guaranteed to drive the bill up. So I did my best to suggest a place that would be “affordable”, i.e. under $20 (even that was pushing it).

I always have a really difficult time finding a place to eat around Film Forum. I had heard from various message boards that Rockmeisha in the West Village served good ramen, so we met there at 8pm.

We ran into Aya and TMonkey there– I’ll let TMonkey really talk about the ramen cause he’s doing this taste test of different ramen joints in the city and will be reporting on it. But just let me say that Rockmeisha’s ramen is just another disappointment in the consistently depressing ramen scene in NYC.

Minca– bad
Momofuku– badder
Rai Rai Ken– baddest

The only place i’ll go to that is DECENT is Menkuitei in midtown (NOT the one in Cooper Square- same shop, but the ramen is not as good).

But the roasted pork at Rockmeisha was good- flavorful, just the right amount of fat, and thinly sliced- I’ll give them that. the noodles, too soft. the soup, not enough depth, despite the heaviness.

Someone, i beg you, open up a ramen shop that is at least CLOSE to the ramen in japan. PLEASE!!!

And the thing is, ramen is NOT CHEAP. this little bowl of tonkotsu ramen that I slurped in under 10 bites? $9.95!!! Dude, I could go to Great NY Noodle Town in Chinatown and get 2.5 BOWLS of their shrimp dumpling noodle soup that trumps this stuff ANY DAY. makes me mad just thinking about it.

3 beers, a starter of hiyayakko (cold tofu) and edamame, and 4 bowls of ramens later, the bill came to be exactly $20 each. I was proud that I didn’t go over that, but not proud that I now officially have less than $30 left and I have only reached the halfway point of $100/2Weeks. WAAAAAAAA!!!!!

***
COMBINED TOTAL:
$5 + $21.25 = $26.25 + $47 (Day 1-5 total) = $73.25

LEFT FOR 7 DAYS:
$100 – $73.25 = $26.75

this is suicide.

*k*

ps- i am sorry i didn’t take enough pictures in the last 2 days!

Napa-Wrapped Pork

March 30, 2007

I am so lucky I get to see Kayoko everyday, so I can laugh at her for already blowing half her budget for the $100/2weeks. For lunch I brought leftovers from last night’s dinner and shared them with her — since she is starving this week and all. It’s a fun and easy recipe, and I highly recommend it. You can see it as either a variation on stuffed cabbage or, as Irwin aptly put it, an Atkins’ version of dumplings.


What you need:
1.) Fresh Ground Pork (I suppose you can do this with beef or turkey, too. For veggie recipe, I’d make a firm crumbled tofu – sliced shiitake – cellophane noodle – carrot mix)
2.) Chopped scallions
3.) Freshly grated ginger
4.) An egg (* optional rich coagulant — def necessary for the veggie recipe)
5.) Sesame oil
6.) Napa Cabbage (aka 白菜)

– First, stick the pork in a bowl, throw in the scallions, ginger, egg and a little bit of sesame oil and mash it up with your hands until everything’s all mixed up. You could use a spatula too, I suppose, but using your hands gives you the satisfying feeling that you’re manipulating the food, and plus it achieves an even texture.

– Salt and ground pepper as you wish. Then, take the washed napa leaves and cut them into 2 inch sections, and make little sandwiches of the pork mixture between them.

– Third, stick all the sandwiches vertically in a pot with a lid, and put over medium flame. No water necessary — the water from the napa steam/cooks the pork. Cook for about I dunno, 20 minutes?

– Check up on it now and then. (I don’t have measurements, nor precise times, just feel it out, it’s impossible to go wrong, even if it all falls apart.) Remaining soup after cooking should be saved for use in other soups/stews/broths.

Serve to your loved ones with rice — and ponzu sauce, ideally — and have a happy day.

` ‘ /\ /\
\ (^o * )/ aya

Broccoli and Tuna Yumminess in 5 Minutes

March 11, 2007

here’s something i make that is VERY quick, healthy, tasty and also makes for a good lunch.

steam broccoli for about 3-5 minutes, more or less. keep poking at it to get it cooked to your desire– oversteamed broccoli is the worst.

drain broccoli and run it under cold water.

open up a can of tuna (for me, it’s gotta be packed in olive oil. this Genova brand one is only $0.99 at Trader Joe’s and is a decent substitute for the canned tuna of Italy and Spain – the BEST, but the imported cans here are too expensive).

tuna goes on top of broccoli. grind fresh pepper on top, and sprinkle with fleur de sel (my friend Fumiko brought this stuff above back from France for me. it’s better than MSG, i swear). buon apetito! *k*

Ode to Meatloaf

March 7, 2007

there’s something about meatloaf that is so so wonderful in the wintertime– it’s the ultimate comfort food. and i didn’t grow up with it, as i had a relatively all-asian food upbringing, but discovering it has really changed my life. i mean, it’s just a pile of ground meat, in a… loaf form. it’s probably one of the best culinary inventions ever, alongside natto and butter.

so this past weekend i made meatloaf for the very first time. whenever i crave meatloaf, i usually always ask my old landlord, Troy, to make his delicious rendition– but i missed the batch he made last weekend, and since my craving had to be satiated, i decided to give it a shot myself. of course the meat section at Fairway inspired me- a pre-packaged meatloaf ‘trio’, ground pork, beef and veal, was only $3.50. can’t say no to that.

after shopping around a bit on the net, i ended up following Emeril’s recipe (after MUCH deliberation and hesitation) since it sounded the closest to what i was craving. out of habit of watching my mom cook, i never follow recipes word for word, but rather just skim for ideas. here’s some alterations i made to the recipe (mostly because i had to use whatever i happened to have in the fridge):
– i added half and half instead of cream
– i used japanese bread crumbs, panko- don’t know if it made a difference
– a LOT of onions and garlic (fresh)
– no green peppers
– a little bit of red wine
– i had the ground veal, so instead of pouring veal stock over the loaf, i poured chicken stock cause that’s all i had. but i imagine beef stock would have been better.

i heard that ketchup and Worcestershire sauce is good to add, but i didn’t have any, so i put in about a tablespoon of japanese sauce (sosu) which is basically a mixture of the two, more or less. this is KEY! if you make this, please DO NOT FORGET TO ADD THIS (whether it is sauce, or ketchup and worcestershire).

i cut up red potatoes and added them into the pan with the loaf right before it went into the oven, so it would soak in all the meat fatty goodness. it was done in a hour, and after taking the loaf out of the pan, i added steamed asparagus with the potatoes and stirfried that over the stove for a few minutes so the asparagus could get some of that lovin’ flavor.

and lots of lovin’ flavor it was- for my first meatloaf, it was FRIGGIN DAMN GOOD. and i know that my picture isn’t so pretty, but you will just need to trust me. it’s a terrific recipe. i may not know how to take good pictures, but i DO know how to cook. it’s in the blood.

ok, so here’s my quick lunch tip (although hardly a tip, since it’s leftover meatloaf, which is a no-brainer), but i packed the two pieces of meatloaf and potatoes in a tupperware, along with my favorite mayonnaise, kewpie (a pain, but i put some in another small tupperware since it’s the only mayo i consume). pick up your favorite roll or baguette on your way to work, assemble the sandwich in the staff kitchen (ketchup and mayo is all you need) and voila!, you’ve got a first-class meal for lunch!

buon apetito! *k*