April 2020 Challenge - Inside the Box

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So things are pretty unusual all around the planet as this covid-19 pandemic has its way with fragile humans. Many places have travel restrictions of various severity in place, lots of businesses closed or running shortened hours. For a guy like me who works from 10 pm to 6 am, places open 24 hours are getting hard to find.

Many are being asked to 'stay safe, stay home' and confine themselves to living inside their house, safely stuck in a box, so to speak. Which is why I thought of this topic.

Cook something from a box. You know, like mac & cheese, hamburger helper, stove top stuffing. It doesn't need to be an actual cardboard box, it could be a pouch, a bag, a can, it just needs to be some sort of prepackaged food like product. And do your best with whatever is left on the shelves at the market to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

So, as usual, here are the traditional rules:
  • The challenge begins on the 1st of every month. The last entry must be made by the last day of the month.
  • You may post multiple entries.
  • All entries must be cooked during the month of the challenge.
  • If you use a documented recipe, please cite your source.
  • Entries should include the name of your dish and a picture of the final product. Sharing personal recipes and pictures of the process are not mandatory but extremely helpful.
  • The winner is chosen by the person who posted the challenge, and is announced after the last day of submissions. The decision is final and falls entirely at the discretion of the challenger.
  • Submitting an entry makes you eligible to win. If you do not wish to be considered for the win you may still participate in the challenge, but make your wishes known to the challenger.
  • The winner’s bounty includes praise, virtual high-fives, and the responsibility of posting the next month’s challenge. That entails choosing a theme, posting a Challenge thread that includes the guidelines, checking in on the submissions regularly during the month, and promptly choosing a winner at the end of the challenge.

So make the most of the situation, and get cookin'

mjb.
 

phatch

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I've thought for a while that a challenge involving canned goods would be a good one.
 
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Interesting idea and so many possibilities. But sadly I've decided to retire from the challenge game.
 
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Gosh, sad to see you go. But it just isn't the same as it used to be, as the lack of entries for your mashup clearly shows. Obviously a few of us still enjoy it. Maybe it is time to declare that if this challenge doesn't have X number on entries by the end, we'll agree to end the series, let it die in peace.

On the other hand, the thread about tomato and pineapple got me wondering. Does Chef Boy-Ar-Dee still sell their pizza kit in a box? Add a can of Spam, a can of pineapple ...

mjb.
 
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We don't get many things at all in boxes in the UK, but of course we do get canned foods. That was a theme I've been thinking about too. Good challenge teamfat teamfat
 
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Interesting idea and so many possibilities. But sadly I've decided to retire from the challenge game.
I'm really sorry to hear this. I was remiss in not entering the last challenge as I got busy elsewhere. I'm going to make an effort to support this one.
 

phatch

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My BOX is a can of SPAM.

I present The Breakfast of the Locked Down and Socially Isolated.

IMG_20200402_084635.jpg

The over-easy egg struggled a bit by sticking to the spam residue in the pan, but I managed to preserve the yolk.

I guess I'm locked down and socially isolated a few times per year as I probably eat this once per quarter or so.
 
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This could be a fun idea. If you think about it, just about everything except fresh vegetables come in some form of packaging, including meat, poultry and fish. So, the possibilities are actually endless. :)

In terms of the number of Monthly Challenge entries, the numbers have definitely declined. With the exception of the new members to the forum, just about all of who've been around for a while have won the challenge at some point. Perhaps the "prestige" having a "Monthly Challenge Winner" ribbon on our avatar isn't what it once was? For my part, I've been in this business longer than most and have won my share of blue ribbons and other awards (back when I wore a younger man's clothes) and I was rather happy when I won my monthly challenge ribbon not too long ago.

With all this said, the questions that are brought into glaring relief is whether or not this website's change a few months ago has caused or contributed to the decline in the number of Monthly Challenge entries? There also appears to be an overall drop in participation on Chef Talk in general since the change. Are these just coincidences or did the change in format chase a number of users away?

These are questions that only Niko can answer. For my part, I enjoy this forum and talking to like minded people from all over the world. I have learned quite a bit by coming here and hopefully, I've been able to help others along the way.

As long as Chef Talk is up and running, I will continue to come here and see what you all are up to and all your wonderful ideas, dishes and perspectives.

Stay safe. Stay well. I think I'm gonna make some mac-n-cheese and mix it with packaged Ramen and relive some memories from my college days. lol!

Cheers!
 
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I've made some pretty exotic meals from packaged and canned ingredients. What is available these days is outstanding.
 
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With all this said, the questions that are brought into glaring relief is whether or not this website's change a few months ago has caused or contributed to the decline in the number of Monthly Challenge entries? There also appears to be an overall drop in participation on Chef Talk in general since the change. A
I participate in four internet forums all dedicated to different subjects. My shortest tenured one, I joined in 2009. The longest one, I joined in 2004. My experience with internet forums tends to lead me to the painful (for me) fact that they are yesterday's news. No longer the hot ticket.

It is not the change in format. It is not anything that ChefTalk has done or not done. It is not anything that Nicko has done or not done. Good, bad, or indifferent, fact is that it is a reflection of our culture today and what people want or don't want.

There is nothing wrong with Chicken Marengo, but I would not open a restaurant today that was based on it. Ghost town, if I do.
 
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I participate in four internet forums all dedicated to different subjects. My shortest tenured one, I joined in 2009. The longest one, I joined in 2004. My experience with internet forums tends to lead me to the painful (for me) fact that they are yesterday's news. No longer the hot ticket.

It is not the change in format. It is not anything that ChefTalk has done or not done. It is not anything that Nicko has done or not done. Good, bad, or indifferent, fact is that it is a reflection of our culture today and what people want or don't want.

There is nothing wrong with Chicken Marengo, but I would not open a restaurant today that was based on it. Ghost town, if I do.
I think what you have outlined is part of the reason for the decline and to a certain extent, I agree. However, we cannot dismiss out of hand the fact that before the changeover, this forum was rather active despite the overall decline in popularity in internet forums. In fact, I think the decline in participation in this forum was the topic of another thread posted by regular member shortly after the changeover.

Im not saying the changeover was bad. In fact, I rather like the new format. But, the fact still remains that before the change, this site was active and almost immediately after the change, activity on this site declined quite sharply.

Either way, I enjoy this forum and the people who come here. I will continue to come to this forum for as long as its up and running and there are active members.

Cheers. :)
 
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I'm still here and really enjoy the challenges and this forum in general.
Just a bit quiet as I am in an area without power and no solar system yet. And to make it worse, internet reception is pretty poor here.
Give me a couple months and I'll be back in full swing, I hope.
And I should be able to post something for this chsllenge as I got some canned food lying around.
mike9 mike9 : please stay and contribute! I like your posts
 
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I'm not leaving the forum I'm just not participating in the challenges anymore. The last two I've hosted were not received well. You wouldn't think it, but it takes a toll I'm no longer willing to pay.
 
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Mike, I'm afraid you just had bad luck on the last one - with things going off the rails last month, a lot of people may just not have had the time / energy to think of a dish, much less make one. I know I didn't. I tried to a couple of times, but it just was more than I had in me. Not your or your challenge's fault - just unhappy timing.
 

phatch

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IMG_20200405_170608915.jpg

Instructions are non existent on the package. Last time I made this I went with 2 parts rice to 1 part seasoning. It had good aroma but not much impact. Today 1 to 1.

My daughter was head chef tonight. She made leek and spinach fritters with a lemon yogurt sauce, a za'atar souvlaki, haloum and I made the rice.

IMG_20200405_174316.jpg

1 to 1 with the rice is pretty good. I might back it off a bit next time
 
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I'm new to the challenge game and have a question. Do all the ingredients have to come from a "box" or just the backbone of the dish?
 
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The backbone should be from a package, other ingredients can be fresh. Like putting chicken livers in a box of Rice-a-Roni, or using canned crab meat on top of fresh greens for a salad.

mjb.
 

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