Archives for the month of: July, 2011

So a couple friends of mine inspired me to write this post – specifically one friend who straight up asked, “Can you write a post about what to bring for lunch everyday at work?”

In all honesty, I find making a lunch for work (either the night before – usually the case – or the morning of) a tedious and annoying task in a day filled with tedious and annoying tasks.  However, at my current job I rarely get lunch breaks.  Therefore I don’t have an hour to wait in line at the overpriced world fusion food truck or pop by a local favorite shop to grab some yummy goodness.  Even when I do have a lunch break I find the freedom of being able to go out for lunch overwhelming and pressure inducing thereby causing much undue stress onto my person.   So I continue to make a lunch everyday, going through different phases of what I make, the amount of prep time I allow, fresh produce versus lazy man’s (and very cheap) frozen broccoli, and so forth.   

With that said, what do I bring to lunch?  I guess it is easier for me to start with what I DON’T bring to lunch. 

–          Sandwiches

  • I can honestly eat sandwiches all day every day.  If I could just eat a big bread and bbq chicken sandwich everyday I probably would.  Or maybe an eggplant Parmesan grinder (Connecticut for a sub).  Anyways, if I had my way and ate a ridiculously delicious sandwich everyday I would eventually turn into that girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that turns in an enormously rotund blueberry.
  • If you are a lucky son-of-a-b and don’t have that whole “turning into a large round figure that Oompa Loopas can roll around by eating a sandwich everyday” dilemma then eat those sandwiches.  East them good and hard for me.

    Eggplant Parmesan - a never-ending battle.

–           Cookies, Candy, and Any Other Sugary Happiness

  • See prior reason.

Just an example.

–          Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • So my lunches are typically eaten at my desk while simultaneously catching up on my inbox. In addition my desk is in the front of the office, so anyone who enters immediately sees my charming self.  The idea of having a meal that will inevitably be all over the place – this includes, but is not limited to, my desk, my keyboard, my clothes, my stapler, my nose, my hair – is simply unappealing for my work lunch, despite how delicious they are.

Right before total destruction.

–          Booze

  • This is common sense – sort of.

    Sweet sweet nectar

–  Wheat berries, Yellow Beets, Truffle Linguine, Avocados, Manchego Cheese with Mutli-Grain Crisps, Chanterelle Mushrooms, etc.

  • One day these items will be my lunch.  The same day I own an Olympic-size swimming pool at my huge Sonoma County vineyard married to Spike Mendelsohn. 

    My future lunch table.

Well that about wraps up what I DON’T bring to eat for lunch at my place of work.  Until next time!



I would not say that I enjoyed anything about last week’s heat wave, other than my stock in Gold Bond Extra-Strength Medicated Body Powder tripled and split. The face-melting weather did, however, coincide neatly with my new ongoing experiment with booze-included popsicles. The New York Times ran an article on July 14th which included ideas for various ice pops, but given my proximity to college and a need to attract more of my friends to my cooking experiments, I was attracted to the alcoholic options.

The vodka will be back. I promise.

Not pictured: mangoes. They were camera-shy and couldn't agree on a flattering angle.

I started with two ideas: whiskey sour, made with bourbon, and mango lime, made with rum. One of them was successful, one was less so.  The vodka will make an appearance in future posts. My popsicle mold does 10 2.5 ounce pops, so I aimed for about 3 cups (24 ounces) of total volume for my batches of ingredients. I extrapolated from the Times article and various internet recipes that 4 ounces of alcohol (1/2 a cup) and 2 – 3 ounces of sugar (1/4 a cup to 1/3 of a cup) were enough to provide sweetness and booze while still allowing the rest of the mix to freeze properly. I did not, however, stick to these guidelines, and my first batch of popsicles suffered because of my folly.

Whiskey Sours: 1/2 cup bourbon + 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water + 1 cup each freshly-squeezed lemon and lime juice

It's like a "they died for my sins" sort of metaphor

Citrus massacre.

This formula will yield a fresh and tangy sour mix. At the time, I found it to be too sour for my liking. Because of this, I added an additional 1/4 cup of sugar, which did not seem to affect the final popsicles. However, after taking them out of the molds and giving them a second night in the freezer, the result was this: 

Upside = instant mixer for beverages.

Delicious? Yes. Popsicles? You're doing it wrong.

Syrupy, and unwilling to stay frozen. Failure was not an option, so my friends and I mixed the whiskey slush with more whiskey and some 7-Up. The result was good, but not a popsicle. Next time, I’ll use more water and less citrus juice.

Mango Lime: 1/2 cup white rum (optional: steep lime zest in rum for 24 to 48 hours) +  1/4 cup sugar+ 3 large mangoes, peeled, diced, and puréed (yields about 2.5 cups) + juice of 1 lime

Sticking closely to the alcohol / sugar ratio and switching out the citrus for fresh mangoes, popsicle round two was much more successful. The fibrousness of the mangoes worked well in the final pops, giving them both some nice texture and essentially holding the whole frozen block together.

Fruit-based = drunk-faced

Note the actual popsicle shape and that they are not melted and sitting in a glass.

My future experiments (read: vodka) will definitely fruit-based, as the mango lime pops were delicious and refreshing, especially in my friend’s fifth-floor walk up on a sweltering Friday evening.

Remember the formula! 1/2 alcohol of choice + 1/4 cup sugar + 2 to 2.5 cups remaining ingredients is the way to go. And if you don’t have a popsicle mold (go figure), just use small paper cups like we all learned about from Mr. Wizard! Just let your mixture set up for about an hour or two before inserting popsicle sticks.

– Max.

So you’ve made a big, fat batch of hummus. Delicious and healthful to be sure. “But Max!” you shout, “I want MORE!” Potential adult film plotlines aside, throwing together a spread of complementary dishes is not hard at all and can be executed (with a minute of planning and a modicum of talent) all at the same time. Here, in abbreviated form, is what I made to go with my chickpeas:

Salad á la Streetmeat Cart (but mo betta)

Slice some red cabbage (I used radicchio) into strips so you have about 2 cups. Take about half of a red onion and slice as thin as possible. Dice a tomato and chop up a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice from two lemons, kosher salt, and some fresh black pepper. Let this sit in the refrigerator (with the hummus, which should be cooling down as well if you just made some) while you prepare the remaining dishes.

Now you don't have to wonder what they stuff your falafel sandwich with.

Note the bright colors. Those are the vitamins. Vitamins taste good.

Toasted Pita Chips

Start with regular packaged pitas. They should be cheap and the ingredient list should be short. Cut each pita into quarters and split the two halves to make 8 large quarters for each pita. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toast in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with kosher salt. You will never fork over $3.99 for a 6oz bag of Stacy’s again.

flat bread = big taste

It's almost as easy as buying a bag of chips. And a quarter of the price. I'm serious. Just make them.

 Kabob Chicken, reconstructed (or not kabobbed)

Go out back and slaughter the fuck out of a chicken. Too old country? Nevermind. Start with either boneless and skinless breasts, or, if you want real flavor, boneless thighs (I only had breasts on hand at the time, so I went with those). Toss with (everyone say it with me) olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh black pepper. Next, sprinkle both sides with ground cumin and just a bit of dried oregano. You’ll be amazed how one spice and one herb can change the flavor profile of simple grilled chicken so dramatically. Cook over medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes per side.

Those are some nice looking breasts. Taste great, too!

Note: brown means flavor.

All three of these dishes can, if you’re not completely kitchen-incompetent, be prepared in about half an hour. That means if you make the salad first, by the time the chicken is cooked through and has had a minute to rest, you get to enjoy an entire meal.

It's like the Eastern Mediterranean in my mouth.

Almost as good as when you get it off of a cart. But much better for you.

 – Max.

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