Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Resolution #1: Better Brown Bagging

Get to (or stay at) a healthy weight. Enjoy variety. Save money. Control what goes into your body. Feel more organized.

These are just a few of the many tasty benefits wrapped up in the resolution to pack more delicious lunches to take to work.

Truth is, I've known all the terrific reasons to pack lunch for quite some time, but I've never quite been able to put the plan in action. Day after day, I end up ordering takeout from the same three or four places near work.

But this year, I believe I've discovered the lunchbox grail: that essential key to making good lunches happen. It's planning ahead.

That's not quantum mechanics, I realize, but I'm pretty sure this one simple flaw is why I've largely failed at lunch packing for years. Boffo brown-baggging just doesn't happen in that pre-coffee morning zombie mode.

So watch out... This, dear friends, is the year I'm going to start packing.

I've broken the process down into five easy steps to make it achievable for me, and maybe for you, too.

Step One is identification of tasty, packable lunchtime candidates.

The successful lunch-maker needs a small arsenal of go-to lunch recipes with a few variations to keep it interesting. Here's a few of my favorite options for ease, flavor and portability:
  • Desktop Panini
  • Basic French Lentil Salad
  • Bahn Mi Sandwiches
  • Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles
  • Any Bean Salad

  • Real Simple also has a list of four takes on the Tuna Sandwich and Martha Stewart features a handful of fast, healthy soups.

    Step Two is gathering up the equipment.

    I've had too many lunch plans quashed by a lack of appropriate containers.

    While it's not necessary to have a designer lunchbox, I think you'll be more proud of your efforts (and make your coworkers more jealous) if your pack is cool.

    You'll also broaden your lunchtime options if you keep a couple of cold packs and an insulated thermos on hand.

    I've got some ideas in my gear shop if you need inspiration.

    Step Three is gathering up the ingredients.

    Keep lunch in mind while doing the weekly shopping. Whether that's extra celery for celery sticks, enough beans to double the soup recipe, a few necessary condiments or a pack of string cheese for snacking, lunch isn't going to happen if you don't plan the details.

    Step Four is putting it into the schedule.

    Packing lunch needs to be a priority. Wash salad greens and cut carrot and celery sticks on Sunday. Make a bean dip or a simple soup while you're waiting for dinner to cook. Pack up the containers the night before so everything's ready to go in the morning.

    Step Five is not leaving lunch on the counter (or in the fridge) when walking out the door to go to work.

    Kind of self-explanatory, but it's happened to me more often than I'd like to remember.

    Additional tips:

    There's 1001 ways to make a sandwich, so don't burn out on the same 'ol thing every day. Switch from sliced bread to a roll, baguette or a wrap, add a savory spread, a different pickle or a new kind of cheese to make the difference between something you look forward to eating and something that sits sadly at the bottom of the sack.

    Plan for leftovers. Cooking up a bigger batch of something on the weekend (soups, stews, roasts, curries, casseroles) is a classic way to make both lunches and dinners happen.

    Think about what travels well. Roasted vegetable, pasta, meat/fish and bean salads make particularly good choices for lunch packing... Since they're already dressed, there's less risk of spilling vinaigrette on your pants (or across the inside of your bag).

    So that's the jist of it: Plot, Equip, Gather, Schedule and Follow Through. Five steps to better brown bagging.

    Look for more resolutions in the days to come...

    To our health!
    Miss Ginsu

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    FoodLink Roundup: 11.17.08

    Cupcake's Link Roundup
    Last week, Cupcake was handily spotted in the grand hall of Grand Central Station. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

    Spam Spikes
    Apparently, in hard times (like now) Spam production (the meat kind) goes into overdrive.

    Talking chocolate with Damian Allsop
    Man breaks back and morphs into modern Willy Wonka. Culinary magic ensues.

    What the World Leaders Ate
    Planet Money posts the White House menu for G-20 world leaders. Mmm... Lamb, Quinoa and Huckleberries.

    The Math on the Starbucks Gold Card
    Bottom line: you have to be an addict to make it pay.

    Scientists turn tequila into diamonds
    My high school chem class definitely didn't feature this experiment.

    McDonald's sales rise 8.2 percent
    "McDonald's is likely benefiting from diners who might ordinarily go to pricier sit-down restaurants but are gravitating to fast food to save money — a phenomenon called 'trading down.'"

    New food links — and another postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

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    FoodLink Roundup: 11.03.08

    Cupcake's Link Roundup
    Last week, a cold, cruel beast spotted Cupcake watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade near Times Square. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

    Forget Caviar
    Canceling the Christmas party: ...it’s bad form to do anything too opulent

    Bringing Home the Venison
    Trading the mushroom basket for larger-scale foraging in the Upper Midwest.

    Celebrating Day of the Dead's delicious side
    A holiday for the dead, but a feast for the living.

    Environment, economy weigh on bottled water sector
    Bottled water retailers look for new buyers in the global marketplace: "We have minerals and vitamins that are unique to the local community and we want to sell that."

    Idolator's Guide To Condiment Pop
    You want fries with that?

    Calories Do Count
    Chain eateries begin to see the results of item calorie count postings.

    New food links — and another postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

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    FoodLink Roundup: 10.20.08

    Cupcake's Link Roundup
    Last week, Cupcake was reviewing flats of sweets in Istanbul, Turkey. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

    River Cottage Bramley lemon curd
    A lovely photo series composed of lemon curd made with apples. Mmm...

    i voted!
    As if voting wasn't already its own reward... Now, there's ice cream.

    Rancher’s Goat Meat Grabs Attention of Chefs
    Niman dumps the cows, goes for the goat.

    On recession gardens
    The retro Victory Garden returns in new, credit-crunched clothing.

    Credit Crunch Cooking
    Cheap meats, thoughts of eating the pets and a return to MFK Fisher.

    New food links — and another postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

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    Food Quote Friday: Palme Vidar

    My Bluefish

    On Iceland:

    "'This is a small country,' he says. 'We have always swung, between feast and famine. There have been terrible times before, too, when the sheep bubble burst and the herring fleet failed. We always hang on. And you know, we were not going in a good direction. When I was a boy, if you went to the harbour to fish and you got wet, you could not fish again until the next day, because you had only one pair of trousers. Today people have too many trousers.'"

    — Palme Vidar in The Guardian

    More briny food quotes can be found within the food quote archive.

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    Food Quote Friday: The Guardian

    Curry Salad

    "Anticipating the long and tense night ahead for him and his team, Darling had taken matters in hand at 8.30pm, personally ringing one of his favourite restaurants, Gandhi's in Kennington, south London, to order £245 worth of rice, karahi lamb, tandoori chicken, vegetable curry and aloo gobi."

    — Patrick Wintour, Jill Treanor & David Teather for The Guardian
    in "How an era in banking was brought to an end — over a curry"

    A feast of spicy food quotes can be found in the Food Quote Archive.

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    Beer Respect: May Edition

    I'm trying to stick to domestic beers. I really am.

    As I continue my "new beer each week" resolution, the price of import brews (and just about everything else, it seems) also marches onward and upward.

    Beer Pour

    Meanwhile, I know there's plenty of high-quality U.S. beers to sample... I just keep getting sucked in by exotic things like the Innis & Gunn English Pale Ale which is a rich, smooth brew aged in oak barrels. But really, can you blame me? How exciting is that?

    So three out of four beer reviews this month cover domestics. The Goose Island and I will definitely meet again. Hair of the Dog scores one yes and one Amy Winehouse-style no, no, no. The last is that crazy oaky Englander... a bit dear at $4.99/bottle. (The cashier at my local grocery store seemed to think I'd separated it from a four-pack or six-pack and was being charged the entire pack price for a single bottle. Sadly, I had to fess up to being the dumb schmuck that willingly pays $5 (plus bottle deposit) for 11.2 ounces of beer at Key Food.)

    Goose Island
    Belgian Strong Pale Ale
    Grade: A / 4.35
    I love the farmhouse Belgians, and you could pour me a pint of one of these and I'd be absolutely delighted and fooled into thinking it was an import. Goose Island just keeps doing me right.

    Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
    American Barleywine
    Grade: B+ / 4
    It's thick-bodied with a sweet, rich molasses flavor, but it remains entirely drinkable, thanks to some bright balance from the hops.

    Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
    American Pale Ale (APA)
    Grade: C+ / 3.15
    Despite a sweet, fruity scent this beer is quite dry with a sour-bitter hoppyness. Frankly, I'm not crazy about it. I feel like it's off-kilter.

    Innis And Gunn Oak Aged Beer
    Innis & Gunn
    English Pale Ale
    Grade: A / 4.45
    A really fascinating flavor! It's a bit smoky and savory... almost vegetal. There's a lot of aroma in the nose.

    Cheers, ya'll!

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