Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cold Weather Makes Me Tiffin Up

I run through my mental checklist before walking to work in the morning:

--Pull on wool socks and hiking boots? Check.
--Tug a hat (or two) on my head? Check and double check.
--Wrap a scarf snugly around my neck? Check.
--Pull on the fleecy jacket? Check.
--Don my lined gloves? Definite check.

Yep, it's official. November is here, bringing frosty mornings and cold breezes that chill me to the bone. And while I can start the day with a warm breakfast and a big mug of hot coffee (or sometimes tea), it doesn't hide the fact that that cold air stiffens me up and makes my joints and muscles ache on the hike to work.

The cold weather also means it's time to start thinking about hot lunches, so I have to spend extra time on the weekends preparing big pots of soup or stew or other goodies that are easily packed and warmed up during the week.

Happily, that task has gotten a little easier, at least on the travel end. Let me introduce you to my new lunch "box" -- a stainless steel tiffin such as those used in India (legendarily in
Mumbai), China, and doubtless other countries to transport hot meals to office workers during the day.

My tiffin was an unexpected gift from the Innkeeper, who had two and decided I should have one, and it has proven to be an excellent substitute for the array of plastic containers and cloth and paper totes I had used before. With this three-tiered tiffin, I can carry a two- or even three-course lunch and a snack for my morning coffee, then swing it home in the afternoon, wash it up lickety-split, and be ready for the next day's lunch. Supplying my work day with home-cooked (and largely local, hooray!) food got so much easier with just this one little change.

And the bonus? Because it's made entirely of metal, I can set the tiffin on top of the register in my office and, like a slow cooker, it reheats my meal with no additional effort. Hot lunch heaven!

Today's lunch, for example, included the remains of the paneer and potato mixture I had used to fill my buckwheat crepes the other night; a quick saute of Chinese cabbage and garlic with chili powder, cumin, and black sesame seeds; a couple of homemade baked doughnuts for my morning break (not shown); and a trio of buttery thin chai spice shortbread. Aside from having some sort of fruit dish, it's really a pretty well-balanced meal!

The individual tins are rather spacious: as you can see, I've barely covered the bottom of each, if at all. There's no way I can fill them up for lunchtime as I just can't eat that much, but I can easily see using my tiffin to transport contributions to a dinner party somewhere else.

I know that bento boxes are hitting the mainstream lunch circuit, and though I've been tempted to go that route before, I'm very well pleased with my tiffin, and I know I'm not the only one. Perhaps we'll start a trend!

Maybe everyone should tiffin up for the winter!


At 11/08/2007 9:19 PM, Blogger Phoenix said...

How cool! Now I need to find out where to get one...

At 11/11/2007 8:32 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

I found some through Google... try searching "tiffin carrier" and look for the stainless steel ones. They seem to run under $30.

At 11/11/2007 3:37 PM, Anonymous Bonnie said...

I love this! Make a note for the gift guide...if I still had a job to go to, this would be my lunch pail!

At 11/12/2007 6:07 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

How'd you know I was already thinking about that, Bonnie? :-)


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