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Gift Series Part 2: Gifts for cooks and cook apprentices

Gifts!

Photo credit: Stephanie Kilgast

As promised, here’s part 2 of the gift series. This time, we will be focusing on the little things that your friends or family who are cooks (or even just cook apprentices) will appreciate receiving. Again, I will be focusing on “affordable” gifts, costing Php500 (~$11.41) and less.

Pots

Photo credit: Japan Home

Small sauce pans – Many home cooks have a set of pots and pans sized for an entire family. However, sometimes they will need smaller-sized pans for cooking sauces and glazes or even meals for only one or two people. From experience, you can really never have too many sauce pans! Saizen and Japan Home both offer their signature-priced pans, although they are not really very sturdy. Department stores offer better quality pans for around three times the price.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, home and garden section of various department stores

A set of small glass bowls – These are the very small clear glass bowls that we usually see in cooking shows, those that hold only a tablespoon or three of liquid or powder. These little bowls can serve a variety of purposes: they can hold cooking ingredients, serve as dipping containers, and if you buy the right-sized bowls, they can even measure ingredients for you. These usually cost Php15-40 per bowl.

Places to buy: home and garden section of various department stores

Spices

Photo credit: Abhijit Tembhekar

Spices – Spices are always a welcome gift for any cook. Having a complete stock of spices is very difficult because they aren’t really all that cheap. Try to avoid the common herbs like thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Instead, focus on the different ones like allspice, cumin, paprika, and turmeric. Better yet, try to find the rarer spice mixes that come with its own grinder.

Places to buy: supermarkets, Gourdo’s, warehouse stores (S&R, Price Smart, etc)

Containers with screwtop lids – Ah, containers. These are my personal favorites. It is preferable to gift glass containers, since that is the least reactive of container material. Screwtop lids will prevent more dropped-container accidents than “vacuum” seals. Big containers offer good storage space for things like flour, pasta, and cereal. Smaller ones will hold sugar, coffee, and other table condiments. A matching set will make a great gift.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, home and garden section of various department stores

I was thinking of going on to a third part, but seeing as Christmas is already next week and the stores will be packed it might be too late. I hope you enjoyed my very short series! 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Gift Series Part 1: Gifts for the bento enthusiast

Christmas gifts!

Photo by Stephanie Kilgast

The Christmas season is undeniably here, even though the weather is still uncooperative. And of course, Christmas means presents! I’m going to combine two of my favorite activities, shopping and cooking, to present you with a series of posts dedicated to gifts. Part 1 will address the most specific: the bento enthusiast. Note that I will be focusing on “affordable” gifts, costing Php500 (~$11.41) and less.

Bento box for girls – What bento enthusiast will say no to a bento box? Even if it will be her tenth, or even fiftieth, there’s a good chance that she will not have that specific box yet. Just choose an unusual design or shape, and you’re good to go. For beginners, this will also be the perfect entry point and will definitely inspire them to further their skills.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, Clipper, children’s accessories section of Landmark Trinoma, home and garden sections of various department stores

Furoshiki – The nice thing about furoshiki is it could be of any cloth material. It doesn’t have to specifically say that it is a furoshiki. Normal items such as square scarves, large handkerchiefs, and bandanas can serve as furoshiki. Just find any square piece of cloth, preferrably of soft fabric and interesting design. Make sure that it is hemmed on all sides to prevent unraveling. You can even use it as the gift wrapping material itself!

Places to buy: Saizen, various fabric stores, various department stores (for scarves, handkerchiefs, and bandanas)

Sushi set – mat, paddle, and mold (optional) – Many a bento meal will feature sushi. A sushi set will always be a welcome gift. You’ll need a good bamboo mat and a wooden or plastic rice paddle to start out the set, and if your friend is ready to venture further, the addition of cute bento molds will be a happy surprise.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home, asian section of supermarkets (for mat and paddle only)

Bento box for men – Sometimes your bento enthusiast will want to prepare meals for their significant others, sons, fathers, etc., and they will NOT appreciate being served meals in cutesy boxes. A perfect manly box is this black single-tier one from Saizen. Don’t worry about size, as they come in man-appetite-appropriate sizes as well.

Places to buy: Saizen, Japan Home

Accessory set – cutters, sauce containers, and silicone cups – To round out the list, I suggest gifting food cutters, sauce or condiment containers, silicone cups, or any combination of the above. Food cutters are the easiest way to style vegetables or sandwiches. Sauce containers are usually small colored containers to hold soy sauce, ketchup, or even furikake. Silicone cups are the best to use for separating food inside a bento box.

Places to buy: Saizen, Gourdo, home and garden section of various department stores

Part 2 will address the home cooks and cook apprentices. Watch out for it!

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Saizen Wipe Out Sale: 15 Days to Go!

Several blogs have mentioned the Wipe Out Sale that Saizen is having for this month of August. I decided to go out and take advantage of this sale. Here are the things I’ve purchased for myself, for Php 58 (~$1.29) each:

I’ve been waffling whether to get these bowls since the start of the sale. I thought, hey why not? I could always use more bowls. And if I go through with my plan of actually using the oven, these are perfect for baked pasta and rice dishes. I bought 3: the blue one for The Man, and pink ones for me and the little princess.

Who doesn’t like high socks?

I found these cute felt bento bands on sale and decided to get both the bunny and the panda. I didn’t get the third one (chicken) because it didn’t really look much like a chicken.

This red bento band was not grouped with the rest, so I didn’t see this until the last moment.

Aside from these, I also bought the following at regular price (Php 85) each:

Yes, more bento bands! Why not? This one is a little less wacky and more “professional” looking.

I had been wanting to get these onigiri molds since the branch in Trinoma opened. Good thing I got it, since it was the last piece.

I bought this jar for the sole purpose of holding a stock of soba sauce. Here you see I already brewed up a batch.

I also bought this new 2-tier bento, which is very small. This will go well with the bento bands I bought.

The thing here is, I didn’t realize that Saizen will be holding a special event on August 20-22 at the Robinson’s Galleria Atrium until I read this. Maybe I could have held out before buying those last 3 items at full price. At present the sale features mostly plastic containers, some crockery and other food receptacles, some beauty items, and other household products.

What have you bought so far?

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Kyaraben # 7: The Maiden and the Hydra and Bento # 2: Sandwich and Tamagoyaki

I got a new baby in the kitchen: a dedicated tamagoyaki pan, again bought from my favorite 100-yen store Saizen.

I tried it out last week with the 4-egg tamagoyaki recipe. I was expecting to end up with a massive tamagoyaki roll, but after using about half the egg mixture the pan refused to accept any more and spewed out the roll. I think it has something to do with the height of the pan. Anyway I ended up with two really nice and neat tamagoyaki rolls which looks a LOT better than the rolls I used to make that went into my sushi. I used up one roll to make a sandwich-and-tamagoyaki bento, which also includes a couple of fish cake skewers and some norimaki rice crackers.

The shape and the height of the roll inspired me to make a kyaraben which was perfect for Bento Summer School Homework # 7. The body of the maiden is the entire uncut tamagoyaki roll, which I placed on top of a thin bed of rice mixed with commercial furikake. I used more white rice for the head, shaped using the top of an onigiri mold. I still have no nori face-cutters so I had to cut out the eyes and mouth by hand. The maiden’s arms and the hydra’s tentacles are all made from halved vienna sausage. The maiden’s hair is made from julienned squash which I steamed and sprinkled with salt.

I shared this bento with two of my officemates last Saturday. In short notice, both the maiden and the hydra have been vanquished!

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Saizen is in Trinoma!

:happy dance:

Yes, that’s right. My favorite 100-yen store is now in my favorite mall! Saizen sells all items at Php 85 (~$1.84) regardless of size. The most important thing is that Saizen sells a lot of bento and cooking equipment not found in the other 100-yen stores. I already have bought some items from Saizen before.

Here’s my loot:

Okay, this is not exactly bento equipment. This is a plate specifically for holding and serving cold soba noodles. The wooden mat serves to both absorb the excess moisture as well as lets water drip onto the plate underneath. This also comes in a pure black theme, but I got the red-and-black since most of my plateware is also red-and-black. I’m thinking of getting a second (and maybe a third) soba plate, just in case I need it.

Yes! I finally got myself a nori cutter. I haven’t tried it out yet and see how this actually performs, but I have high hopes. The interesting thing about this cutter is it actually comes in a set of eight cutters (separately bought, of course). I chose cutter number 5, the bunny cutter. I plan to get cutters 1-4 and 6 as well, and skip the last two. The last two are a ship and a car respectively, which is not useful because my daughter isn’t into vehicles at this stage. Too bad Saizen does not have any kao (face) cutters, so my bentos will go faceless for now.

Lastly, I also bought a set of sauce containers. These are basically small plastic containers with lids and comes in different colors and designs. I have so far been reluctant to take pictures of my bentos with sauces because I’ve been using ugly sauce containers. Now, I will no longer be ashamed! Freedom! :3

Here’s a picture of those three items unwrapped. There are several other items that I am planning to buy: bento boxes to add to my collection; additional picks; the other cutters as I mentioned; onigiri molds; and cookie cutters.

Since I’m already in the process of sharing pictures of my loot, let me show you two new bento boxes I bought from two other merchants.

This is a two-tier bento I bought from Japan Home (another 100-yen store). It is quite small, and it comes with its own bento band and chopsticks. I’m planning to use this little bit a lot, to help me control my portions better. My other boxes are much much larger than this one. I bought this one for Php 88 (~$1.90).

Is it hard to imagine who this bento is for? The moment I saw this bento I knew I had to get it for my little T. The only problem I have with it is that it’s HUGE. It might not fit in her lunch bag, but we’ll see. I bought this one at Clipper in Trinoma for Php 99 (~$2.14).

Disclaimer: These items are bought with my own money and all opinions are my own. I have not been paid in any way to advertise by these merchants.

Originally posted: Jul 21, ’10 5:50 AM

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Old posts

 

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More equipment!

I was able to go for a bit of shopping yesterday for some bento equipment. All of these were bought from Saizen, a 100-yen shop at Robinson’s Galleria, where everything is sold at Php85.00. I like Saizen because of the sheer variety of items that they offer.

This is a popsicle mold for four. Since Tesla loves ice cream, I figured I could make her some using this mold. It’s also rather nostalgic, since the kids from my era are used to making homemade ice drops by freezing fruit juice.

This is a nigiri-sushi mold. I am told that my maki were good, so I’m planning to make more. This mold will help me make differently shaped sushi.

I also bought these bento picks. Admittedly this is on the decorative side of making bento, I am hoping also that this will encourage Tesla to eat her packed lunches. This is a set of 50 vegetable-themed picks (actually they are more fork than pick).

Here I displayed the picks along with the opened sushi mold. As far as I can tell, there are five different designs of the picks. Aren’t they adorable?

Originally posted: Jun 14, ’10 2:24 AM

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Old posts

 

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