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Remember those tin lunchboxes everyone had as a kid? They were sturdy little lunch pails that held everything from your sandwich and juice box to your pudding or fruit cup. Sometimes they even had a Fruit-by-the-foot inside, and everything fit together perfectly--a little bit like a well-played game of Tetris. 

The Tin Lunchbox (that's us!) does the same thing: We provide a variety of shared information from featured artists and literary endeavors to recipe sharing that all fits flawlessly into one place. Granted, we aren't working with physical  lunchboxes, but it is fun to imagine all the same.

Lunchbox Diaries

Bannock!

Shawna Caro

Bannock

In terms of brief history, bannock is the result of the introduction of wheat flour to indigenous peoples and ultimately, their fry breads. As you might expect, Bannock is generally fried, but can also be baked. The word itself is said to have emerged from Scottish and Old English at some point before 1000 CE. The idea of fry bread is almost, if not literally, universal.

Bannock is an easy, savory, quick bread that can be made while camping, or at home. It lends itself well to taking on other ingredients so this is a fun recipe for experimentation.

This recipe makes 1 loaf:

Ingredients

3 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. baking powder

¼ c. butter, melted.

1 ½ c. water

 

Directions

Measure flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir to mix.

Pour melted butter and water over flour mixture. Stir with fork to make a ball.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 times. Pat into a flat circle ¾ to 1 inch thick.

Cook in a greased frying pan over medium heat, allowing for up to 10-15 minutes per side. Use two spatulas for easier turning.

The bread may also be baked on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes.

Some tips:

·         Consider making several smaller loaves and frying them individually.

·         Be prepared to keep adding oil as needed to your fry pan.

·         Whichever method you use, keep a close eye on your bread.



This recipe was contributed by team member Frances Mihulec.

Gorgonzola & Blue Cheese Soup

Shawna Caro

This recipe comes all the way from Australia, from our friends Nigel and Mindelei. Enjoy!


Gorgonzola and Blue Cheese Soup

Soon after arriving in Australia, my wife and I took a day trip into the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. A day of hiking through old growth temperate rainforests and wandering around the picturesque town of Katoomba in the crisp mid-winter air left us both starved. Somehow we found ourselves in the café of the Katoomba City Library where a cauliflower and gorgonzola soup piqued our interest.  Five minutes later a steaming bowl of creamy, savory soup arrived on our table along with a side of thickly cut crusty bread. Almost immediately I regretted ordering the toasted sandwich instead of the soup. My wife, ever gracious, allowed me to steal a taste, and instantly I knew that I had to try to recreate this soup at home.    

·         1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into small florets

·         1 leek (white part only), finely chopped.

·         5 oz of gorgonzola dolce or other creamy mild blue cheese

·         1 quart of chicken stock.

·         2 bay leaves

·         1 medium potato, chopped into ½” cubes

·         1 tablespoon butter

 

·         1 oz of cheddar cheese, grated finely

·         ½ oz of parmesan, grated finely

·         30g of bacon cut into lardons (optional)

·         Sour cream (optional)

·         Salt and pepper to taste

 

1.       Sweat leek in melted butter over low heat in heavy-bottomed pan until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes.

2.       Add the cauliflower, potato, chicken stock, and bay leaves to pan then bring to a low simmer.

3.       Simmer until the cauliflower is tender but not overcooked.

4.       Remove from heat and use a stick blender to blend soup to a smooth texture.

5.       Return pan to heat, add cheese and stir occasionally until the cheese is fully incorporated.

6.       Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

7.       Serve immediately and garnish bowls with bacon lardons and a dollop of sour cream.


Nigel Dawson is a technical officer at Southern Cross GeoScience in the beautiful Northern Rivers region of New South Wales Australia. He is a life-long learner, enthusiastic photographer, and avid cook. He can be reached at ndawson2003@gmail.com. 

Chunky Avocado Salad

Shawna Caro

Tonight I went  to a birthday party for my friend's daughter and son. Yes, it was a co-birthday party, but they don't mind they're only 4 and 1 (respectively). Another party-goer brought this amazing dip she called "Avocado Salad." I asked how she made it, and she gave me the basics. I couldn't resist and I really dove in. Honestly, this Avocado Salad is probably the best avocado-based dip I've had in a long time. Maybe ever! 

Chunky Avocado Salad

2-6 avocados, cut into small chunks

2 tomatoes, diced

1 purple onion, diced

1 1/2-2 cups sweet corn

1 can black beans, drained

garlic powder or garlic salt (to taste) 

cilantro (to taste)

1/2 lime, squeezed (substitute lime juice for smaller amount)

Cut avocados, tomatoes, and onion. Mix together with drained corn and beans. Add cilantro, garlic, and lime until the taste is satisfactory. Note: the measurements listed above are estimates based on the amount I prefer, and can be adjusted based on your desire. 

Product Review: Shatto Milk

Shawna Caro

This review originally appeared in Lunchbox Diaries on June 20, 2016.


Sometimes on my way to work in the morning, I'll stop at Daylight Donuts, for, well, donuts. I usually get two donuts and a bottle of milk. Until recently, the milk I purchased was a plastic bottle, probably from Hiland or a similar company, and was quite suitable. I always get chocolate, because I'm a kid at heart and an adult on the outside. And as an adult, I do what I want. 

One day recently I entered the donut shop and found that the milk selection was different: there were squat glass bottles in the cooler instead of the tall plastic ones. The bottle read, "Shatto Milk Company." So I asked the clerk if this would be a permanent change to their milk stock. 

He explained to me that yes, it was, and described how the process works. If you wish to purchase a bottle of Shatto Milk, first there is a "down payment" on the bottle (about $2) in case you do not return it. Then, you pay about the same amount for the milk itself. The initial investment is about $4, and when you bring the bottle back, you can either get the $2, or you can switch the empty bottle for a new one. If you get a new one, you would only pay $2, rather than $4 each time. They can be switched at any location that sells the product. 

But this is by far the least interesting bit about Shatto Milk. I was impressed immediately with the company's encouragement of recycling bottles. As in, they wash and reuse the bottles for the next batch of milk. No breaking or melting down required. No filling up landfills. No hurting wildlife. How exciting! I am always looking for new ways to be green. 

And yet, I wasn't sure if I'd like the milk itself. But I do LOVE chocolate milk, so I took a gamble. I bought my first bottle of Shatto Milk. With the milk and two donuts in hand, I left the store and got in my car. The first thing I did was open up that milk. I drank. 

Oh. 

My stars, that was good milk! It was the perfect amount of chocolatey and wasn't overpowering. It didn't leave that weird film feeling in my mouth that other products tend to do. I didn't feel like I needed to drink water afterwards in order to get it to not gum up my throat. Oh, it is so smooth, and creamy, without being too thick, and at the same time it is obviously NOT watered down. I cannot say enough just how good it really is. MMM. 

I know I only get this when I get donuts in the morning, and that isn't every day. But just as soon as I find where I can buy a whole gallon at a time, you can bet that will be the only milk I'll ever drink again. 

There's only one downside, which isn't really a downside: They're local to the KC area. So, the downside is, if you don't live near enough to get Shatto Milk, that's terrible. I feel very sorry for you. Go get Shatto Milk! Close your eyes as you take that first sip, and you'll never be the same again! 

Be sure to check out their website, www.shattomilk.com for more awesome information about their cows, their history, and their milk. 

P.S. I am writing this review of my own volition because I was so mooved by the product that I felt it necessary to share with everyone who might listen, or in this case, read. 

Pumpkin Upside Down Cake

Shawna Caro

I love pumpkin everything. I love to grow them, carve them, bake them, smash them up and put them in a pie, mix with flour and sugar to make a sweet bread...

But Pumpkin Upside Down Cake is another story entirely. 

Ever since I can remember, we've had some form of this recipe at every fall/winter holiday. It was much more prevalent when I was younger, but when I found the recipe again, I took it home. I make it at least three times a year. It makes a whole 13x9 pan full, so it is not necessarily easy on the stomach. But it is so, so easy on the tastebuds. 

Here it is: 

This recipe ain't no joke. What recipes do you cherish? Tell us about them! 

Cindy's Banana Bread, Altered

Shawna Caro

My mom makes the best banana bread. No joke! 

As an adult, I've made her banana bread many times, but I've come to make some alterations. That isn't to say that I changed my mind about my mom's banana bread skills, just that I didn't always check that I had all the ingredients before I started mixing. 

Cindy's Banana Bread: 

My mom's recipe in our family cookbook.

My mom's recipe in our family cookbook.

Whenever I make banana bread, I use this recipe, except I made a few small changes. First, instead of 3 bananas, I use 2 1/2. Whenever I cut the bananas like this, I add applesauce. That's right! So about 1/2 cup of applesauce replaces 1/2 banana. I typically use one of the pre-packaged individual applesauce cups. I very rarely put nuts in my banana bread, mostly because my husband is allergic (boo!) but I do sometimes put in the chocolate chips. 

Four loaves of homemade banana bread, fresh from the oven.

Four loaves of homemade banana bread, fresh from the oven.

Right before I put my banana bread in the oven, I add a little something special to the top. I pour the batter into the pan, which had been greased with cooking spray prior. I grab some melted butter and I pour it over the top. Then I sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of the melted butter. I add quite a bit of cinnamon sugar, not gonna lie. When the bread bakes, the butter soaks down into the top of the bread and the sugar mixture gives a bit of added sweetness and crispness to the top. It is glorious. 

This is one of my favorite recipes to make, and I'm sure that after you've tasted it, it will be one of your favorites too! Let me know how you like it in the comments below!