The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Archive for August 2006

Banana Whole Wheat Mini-Muffins

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On the menu Tiffin Thursday: more turkey roll-ups (this time in a more suitable container), some lovely red grapes, carrots, with ranch dressing dip, a couple of whole wheat banana mini-muffins and the last of the Rice Krispie treats. Tiffin Tiniest had promised some to his friends and you can’t go back on a promise.

Here is a description of how I made the banana whole wheat mini-muffins, which are based almost entirely on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated’s Quick Recipe. First, let me say that I’ve never actually substituted whole wheat flour in a recipe that’s designed for all-purpose (i.e., white) flour. But I was emboldened to try this by a great blog which recommends using King Arthur White Whole Wheat because it’s, apparently, less wheaty tasting than regular whole wheat. I love King Arthur flour, both the flours, but also the catalogue and the store, which I visit religiously once a year in Norwich, Vermont, when we go to see my father-in-law, who lives just across the Connecticut River in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Before I picked my son up from school, I did something I’ve been doing a lot lately — I put together a mise en place (which is French for putting together, ahead of time, everything you need for the dish you’re going to cook. Mise en place is certainly shorter). This — minus the three mushy bananas I took out of the freezer and, well, mushed — is what the ingredients for banana whole wheat mini-muffins look like:

Besides the three mushy bananas, you want to measure out these dry ingredients: 5 ounces (1 cup) unbleached all purpose flour and 5 ounces (1 cup) King Arthur white whole wheat flour, 7 ounces (1 cup) sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. (That’s the white stuff in the picture.) Put it all in a large bowl and whisk it together.

The wet ingredients include 1/3 cup buttermilk, 2 large (room temp) eggs, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (ahead of time), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. All of this should be mixed together in a medium sized bowl.

After I picked him up from school yesterday, I dumped the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mixed them gently with a rubber spatula, and only until the flour was incorporated. It’s fine for the batter to be lumpy. In fact, this is what the batter looks like.

You bake these at 375 degrees. I made mini-muffins which took about twenty minutes. Regular muffins take between 20 and 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Tiffin Tiniest came home with a friend and they had the muffins for a snack. It was a lovely ending to a first day of school and there were plenty left over for his brothers, the Tiffin Twins, his father and his lunch the next day (today, Thursday). The rest went into the freezer for another day.

Tomorrow: what to do when there’s not a lot in the fridge: Tiffin Friday: Making Something Out of Nothing.

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Written by bloglily

August 31, 2006 at 7:20 pm

Back to School With the Tiffin Tin

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I have three sons, only one of whom starts school today. Poor thing — he didn’t see this as a matter of getting there first, but as a sign that being the third child will always be a drag. But at least we let him put a Rice Krispie treat in his lunch.

(I’m going to have to work on my picture taking and presentation, I see. Those turkey rollups are looking awfully lonely. It’s just like the first day of school — we’re a bit wobbly in our new school shoes.)


Now, before you condemn me as a mother with no nutritional sense, I’d like to say in my defense, that the occasional Rice Krispie treat is not going to kill your child. In fact, that is Principle Number One of Tiffin Tinning — there will be no nutritional purity on this site. We try for whole grains, fruits and veggies, a de-emphasis on sugar, protein that’s not terribly high in fat and a bit of calcium. But on the first day of school, and on other special days, out come the Rice Krispie Treats.

Now, here’s Principle 2 of Tiffin Tinning. It is a good thing if you involve your child in making lunch. They’re more likely to eat it, for one thing. And after a while, you will have more time to laze around in your bathrobe, drinking tea before rushing off to work and school. And that, to my mind, is an important goal for a parent to have: the children should help. The parent should occasionally demonstrate how adults can relax for a few moments in the morning.

Here’s what the youngest TiffinTin boy (age 7, grade 2) made for his lunch today.

  1. Protein and calcium: We didn’t have any decent whole grain bread in the house for a sandwich (which is what he wanted) and besides, I was trying to balance out the Rice Krispie Treat. So, we made turkey and havarti roll-ups. This is not hard. You lay out one slice of turkey. You use a little round cookie cutter (or a jar top) and cut the Havarti into a circle. You don’t have to do this, but it’s fun and children like to cut things into shapes. It’s easy to roll them up. We made three because that’s how many he wanted.
  2. Fruit: He carefully plucked individual grapes off the bunch of grapes that were in the fridge. They went in a little container he’s had since he was small.  Again, he decided how many he wanted.
  3. Drink: Not shown in the picture. Ice cold water from a pitcher of water in the fridge. The school year is just beginning. It’s time to break the habit of juice in the lunch. He’s been drinking cold water all summer, so I went with it today.  The water goes in a cool thermos that attaches to his lunch box. I had him practice opening the thermos. (Another Tiffin Tin Principle: food should be independently accessible by the child.)
  4. Containers: I try to stay away from stuff he has to throw away. I put a cloth napkin in the bottom of his lunchbox. You can buy an expensive lunchbox container with a lot of little modular containers, which are very cool, or you can go to ebay and buy some tupperware. I love tupperware and I am very fond of ebay. So that’s the way I’ve gone today.  I have other containers I love, especially insulated ones, and I’ll be showing those to you soon.  They tend to be used by the middle school boys, who start school next week.
  5. Cooling system. An ice pack goes in the slot in the lunchbox that’s designed for that sort of thing.  It’s hot here these first few weeks of school.  I don’t want the cheese and grapes to get icky.
  6. Portion sizes: You can see there’s not a ton of food in here. School is just beginning. The best way to gauge how much to pack is by seeing how much comes home with your child. Adjust accordingly.

Time expended on making lunch: About ten minutes. A lot less than writing this post.

Oh, and then, of course, a lunchbox note. Sticker on piece of paper. A loving thought for a day he’s not sure will be happy:

Tomorrow: Another lunch, possibly an easier day.   Beginnings can be hard. And whole wheat banana muffins. Maybe not a rice crispie treat, but good nevertheless.

Written by bloglily

August 30, 2006 at 10:54 am