Friday, June 30, 2006

Farmer’s Market Friday

I’ve decided to make this a regular installment, because I know ya’ll are as infatuated with fresh produce as I am. Kind of my own version of Midweek Munchies only it’s Friday and the only things included will be fruits and vegetables. Today was heavy on the fruit because I feel like I’ve been way under-consuming on the fruit this week. Ideally I try for at least 3 servings a day. So, this week’s picks:

1 lb red cherries
1 cantaloupe
2 heads broccoli
4 tomatoes
2 bell peppers – 1 orange; 1 yellow
2 Haas avocados
3 lb mix bag of peaches, plums, and mish mish (that’s apricots to you non-Hebrew speaking folk) they were all $1/lb, bargain!
Big bag of naval oranges
Grand total: $19

What am I eating at my desk for lunch today? So glad you asked. I’ve got some awesome spicy hummus with carrot and cucumber sticks and tandoori masala naan from Trader Joe’s for dipping. I also have a spinach, walnut and orange slice salad with champagne pear vinaigrette (also from TJ’s).

Kick-ass Spicy Hummus Recipe:
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
¼ c H2O
¼ c lemon juice
½ c tahina paste
1 can (15 oz) chick peas rinsed and drained
½ t paprika
½ t cayenne pepper
1 t salt

Blend it all up in your food processor or mash with a potato masher if you don’t have one. It gets even better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Happy weekend to all. :)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What should I order?

I love eating (big surprise, huh?), and that includes eating out. When you are a vegetarian this can be a little tricky sometimes. Obviously when I’m choosing where to go it’s a veg friendly place, but often I end up going out with co-workers or other circumstances when I don’t choose the place. It usually goes like this: scan menu looking for items that do not involve dead animals, choose one of the 1 to 3 options in that category. When I am at an exclusively veg restaurant it takes me forever to decide what to order because suddenly the whole menu is available to me. It’s a nice feeling. So, Kleo posted today asking about our favorite local veg places to eat out, these are mine:

Real Food Daily
I’ve been to the Santa Monica location a few times. The burger is great, it’s a huge patty of grainy beany goodness, the soups I’ve had were all very good, all their dressings and sauces are amazing. The menu has a nice range of different cuisines from Asian influenced to American style comfort food. It’s a little on the spendy side, and when I requested ice for my iced tea I was told they don’t have ice in the restaurant (?) so that’s weird, but I’ve never had any food there that wasn’t delicious so I recommend it.

Native Foods
Westwood isn’t exactly my neighborhood so I don’t get to Native Foods as often as I’d like, but this place might even be my favorite of all time. They have everything, appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, salads, soups, bowls, pizza, tacos, and it’s all awesome and a darn good value to boot. The Mad Cowboy bowl and the Moby Dick sandwich are a couple of standouts in my mind. If there were one of these anywhere near my office I would be much fatter than I am.

California Vegan
Too bad I’m never there for lunch because the lunch specials are a great bargain at this place. I usually get a curry dish or the cowboy steak. The Vege Chicken Nuggets are not to be missed. I don’t know how they do it, but they are the best fake chicken nuggets I have ever tasted. I suggest BBQ sauce for dipping.

Venus of Venice
I’ve only been there once, and come to think of it I don’t know why I haven’t been back! It’s not far from my place but it’s also not en route to anyplace I go regularly so I guess it kind of slipped my mind. This is a fun and quirky little place. The interior décor is eclectic as it comes, everything looks like it was pulled from grandma’s attic or a thrift shop, plenty of stuff to peruse on the walls while you wait for your food. Our server was southern and sweet as pie. She was also dressed a bit eccentrically with a sequined costume, but in the context of the place it seemed to make sense. The sandwich and salad I had was very tasty, and the mint iced tea was so good and refreshing. Oh, and I remember the sweet potato fries were also great, but really when have you had sweet potato fries that you did not love? I must make a mental note to hit this place up for a weekend lunch sometime soon.

Bharat Bazaar
This is the Indian grocery I go to for spices and naan and the like. They also have a few tables and chairs set up and a little vegetarian food bar. As I mentioned in a previous post on my last visit they were kind enough to let me sample everything on the steam table and I was wowed! The chickpeas, the spinach, soy “meat balls”, everything was so amazing. I will be back there for a full meal in the near future.

What about your favorite places to dine out?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

So simple you probably think I’m simple minded

I love me some asparagus. I also love the way it makes your pee smell funny. Usually I just steam it up and maybe throw a sprinkle of salt and a bit of margarine on it. But last night we were having chana masala so I wanted to give it a bit of a lemon garlic kick to complement. This is so easy I wouldn’t even call it a recipe, but the asparagus turned out so well I thought I’d share my asparagus preparation. First I steamed the asparagus (woody stems trimmed off of course) in a pan with a tight fitting lid for 5 minutes. While the asparagus is draining in the sink melt a bit of Earth Balance spread in the pan, throw in one clove of finely chopped garlic and stir that around in the margarine on medium heat for about 2 min. Add the asparagus back to the pan and squeeze the juice of ¼ lemon over it and salt and pepper to taste. Mix up the asparagus till coated. I like my asparagus a bit softer than al dente, so I put the lid back on and turned on the heat for a few seconds till I could see the lid steam up a bit, turned the heat off and let the asparagus sit there for a few minutes to soften a little more. So that’s it, simple, quick and flavorful asparagus. No I didn’t take any pictures, I was too hungry. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More new stuff

Jason got a sexy new laptop. You could watch movies in widescreen on this thing if you wanted to. Ooooh! Tidchadesh honey! Photoshop has yet to be installed, but Costa Rica: Extended Version will be coming sometime in the near future. In the mean time I thought I'd share a few of my favorite pics snapped by my sisters.

This is our view from the hammock lined patio of the condo. Not bad, eh?

This is Shmitty, the rottie pup next door. We had fun hanging in the pool with him.

Stacy and me on the snorkeling boat.


Me trying to be at one with the monkeys.

More to come...

My new haircut

New as in 2 weeks ago. Blogspeed ahead!

I rather like it. Thank you Mr. Fantastic Sam's man. I don't think I'll be letting my mani/pedi people do my haircuts anymore, too much language barrier issues and it never turns out quite right. If I owned a hairdryer my hair could look this good everyday.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Incidents Happen

I had a great weekend. All the shows, the music, the dancing, the merriment. Lovely. I’m really unhappy about it being Monday, just for the record.

Disturbing and strange things have been afoot in the last 24 hours. First of all, on the way to the Greek yesterday afternoon in the middle of traffic on Culver Blvd we saw a guy getting the snot kicked out of him by three other dudes. Not pretty. We tried to give 911 a call to be good citizens, but they put us on hold forever. What if I were in a life threatening situation? Lot of good that would do me. Event that further shook my faith in basic human decency and my own security in this world: Jason’s iPod was stolen from his LOCKED car in our LOCKED underground parking garage overnight. Sometime between midnight and 8 am it was taken, and probably by someone in the building. Strangely the car was still locked in the morning and there was no sign of forced entry. I don’t get it. Third thing to make me very unhappy: dead puppy on Arlington Bl. on my drive to work this morning. Who’s got my ray of sunshine today, ‘cause so far Monday is kind of sucking.

Hope your week is off to a better start.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

At long last

My Costa Rica photos. I’ll post more once I get the photo CDs from everyone else.

Vegetable Korma

The most wonderful thing happened to me at the Indian market last night. I was checking out and the cashier asked me if I’d tried any of their ready made hot food. I said no and she asked if I’d like to try some. I’m no fool, so of course I said yes. She then proceeded to spoon a little taste of about six dishes over some rice. It was all so good, made my mouth happy. Maybe I’ll go for lunch tomorrow.

The veg korma turned out to be a complete success! As always, make sure you have your helpers ready before you start cooking. These are my helpers:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The following is a modified version of this recipe.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/3 cup mixed nuts (I used cashews and almonds)
1 medium onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 in fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I used yellow)
1/2 cup chopped fresh green beans
1/2 cup green peas (I used frozen)
1 cup chopped potatoes – parboiled for about 5 min
½ lb soft tofu cubed
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup coconut milk
salt to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place mixed nuts in the skillet, cook and stir until golden brown, and set aside. Stir onion into the skillet, and cook until tender. Mix in garlic and ginger, and cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce, cayenne pepper (note: if you like it pretty spicy you can go with the full 1 t cayenne, otherwise use your own judgment), turmeric, coriander, and garam masala. Pour in water, and mix in nuts, carrots, green bell pepper, beans, peas, and your partially cooked potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
2. Heat remaining oil in a separate skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the tofu on all sides, until golden brown. Gently stir into the skillet with the vegetables.
3. Stir soymilk and coconut milk into the skillet. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste, I found ½ t to be enough salt.

We served this up with some rice and naan. It’s so delicious, Indian food is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. Do yourself a favor and try this.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I got rhythm…

…I got music, and lots of it this weekend! Saturday night we will be at the Wiltern for Béla Fleck and the Flecktone’s Acoustic Planet Tour with Yonder Mountain String Band and Keller Williams. As if that weren’t enough to make a girl die of happy, on Sunday we’ll be following that up with a SCI show at the beautiful Greek Theatre with RatDog (Bob Weir’s band) closing. I am so psyched I could explode!

Jason’s ‘puter is sicker than previously known, and needs yet another repair so it may be a while before I can post anymore pictures. :~(

I went to the WeHo Stitch ‘n’ Bitch last night and did some macramé with the knitting ladies. I’m a lot better at tying knots than I am at knitting. It was a certain someone’s birthday so there were cakes (yes, multiple cakes!) and cookies and lots of fun all around. It was wig night and many of the ladies had very lovely headpieces on, some creatively handmade.

Since I got out of the office a bit early yesterday I was able to hit up the gym before SnB and tried out the Abs and More class with Mike. More like Abs and Kick Your Ass! It was a pretty intense half hour and I’m feeling a bit wobbly on the legs today. Squats hate me, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

I got my farmer’s market freak on as usual today since it’s Friday. This week’s catch:

1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch asparagus
2 big cucumbers
2 gigantic yellow summer squash (really, like a foot long and fat!)
3 bell peppers – 2 yellow; 1 orange
5 ripe tomatoes on the vine
5 large lemons
3 avocados – 2 Haas; 1 Fuerte
Total: $14

I heart summer and the farmer’s market. I have plans to make vegetable korma tonight. I love trying new recipes, especially when they turn out yummy. Hope ya’ll have a great weekend and are enjoying the summer. Belated Happy Solstice to all!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

La di da

Jason’s laptop is sick and in repair for a few days so I won’t be getting those vacation pics into an online album quite as soon as I hoped. However my sisters just sent out a CD with their pictures so maybe by the time I get around to it I’ll have a bigger better album. Stay tuned.

I had a really nice weekend, almost felt like I was getting back into my vacation mojo but that was all cruelly dashed by Monday.

Friday night we hosted Shabbat and used the new table set Jason got in China. Eating with chopsticks is fun, I’m getting much better at it. I am also happy to report that China seems to have cured Jason of his hatred of cucumbers. Really, what’s to hate? He even made a cucumber dish of his own accord, I was so proud.

On Saturday we went to Venice Beach where we met up with a couple of friends. Man, that place was packed! Lots of good people watching as usual. Becca and I went rollerblading for a bit, it was the first time I’d taken my blades out for a spin on the beach and it was really nice. I still don’t move too fast and I need to work on my braking but it didn’t go too badly, it was actually pretty relaxing. I took my boogie board out in the waves for the first time this season. It was a good time but I wish the water wasn’t so crowded, or cold. Too many speed bumps out there, I think they’re called “children”?

For father’s day we drove up to see Jason’s dad for a lovely late brunch and hit Runyon Canyon for a bit of a hike with the dog. Another lovely day to be outside.

I saw Dog Day Afternoon, a good flick and based on a true story. It’s got everything; a bank robbery, young Al Pacino, a transgendered man, and an actress that looks eerily like Ricki Lake. Netflix it up.

Is it really only Tuesday?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Veg'n out

Why I love the Friday Koreatown farmer’s market:

1 lb of green beans
1 bunch of asparagus
3 HUGE sweet maui onions
4 big ripe tomatoes on the vine
3 perfect Haas avocados
2 bell peppers – 1 gigantic red and 1 large orange
1 big perfectly ripe cantaloupe
Total: $13.50

I bitch and moan a lot about the neighborhood I have to commute to every day, but the Friday market almost makes up for that. Almost. It's tiny compared to most LA area makets but the variety is good, the crowd is as colorful as the produce, it's cheap, and I get to pretend I can speak Spanish with many of the vendors. Now I just need to pick up some Korean. Plus the lady there that plays the saxophone and a casio keyboard with her toes simultaneously is awesome.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Your iPod astrologer…

I found this little meme over on Vanessa’s blog and it looked like a good way to unwind a bit after playing catch-up in the office all day (yet another reason coming home from vacation sucks).

The way it works:
1. Put your iPod on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each question.
3. Use the song title as the answer to the question.

How am I feeling today?
Do You Remember by Jack Johnson (no, I don't)

Will I get far in life?
Lady Freedom by Eddie From Ohio

How do my friends see me?
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan

When will I get married?
Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen

What is my best friend's theme song?
That’ll be the Day by Buddy Holly

What is the story of my life?
I Shall be Released by Bob Dylan (ooh, I like that one)

What was high school like?
Belle by Jack Johnson (um, HS was anything but beautiful, let me tell you that)

How am I going to get ahead in life?
Cocaine by Eric Clapton (AAAH HAHAHAHAHA! Better start networking with a different kind of business associate…kidding!)

What is the best thing about me?
And Your bird Can Sing by The Beatles (I do like to think I’m a good singer, thank you.)

How is today going to be?
Better Together by Jack Johnson (It would be better if I could spend today with Jason, we didn’t see each other for about 2 ½ weeks and we only got one day before it’s back to the grind :/ )

What is in store for this weekend?
Bend Down Low by Bob Marley and the Wailers (as long as I get to bend down by the beach it sounds good to me)

What song describes my parents?
Kodachrome by Paul Simon (I guess they could be described as “colorful”.)

What song describes your grandparents?
Blues Power by Eric Clapton (Yes, Midwesterners of German and Scandinavian background are well known for their love of the blues.)

How is my life going?
Space Oddity by David Bowie (here am I sitting in a tin can, oh wait it’s just my fluorescent lit gray cube…)

What song will they play at my funeral?
I Guess that’s why they Call it the Blues by Elton John

How does the world see me?
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon (I will have you know that I am in a very happy committed relationship. The world got me wrong on this I’m no love ‘em and leave ‘em type.)

Will I have a happy life?
Tambourine by moe.

What do my friends really think of me?
Dogs by Keller Williams (Randy Jackson is my dog.)

Do people secretly lust after me?
All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix (I have a club of admirers at a supermax?)

How can I make myself happy?
Alone by Eddie From Ohio (I do like to be alone sometimes, but generally not.)

What should I do with my life?
The Wanderer by O.A.R. (Sounds like a plan to me.)

Will I ever have children?
Uncle John’s Band by the Grateful Dead (come on with me or go alone, he’s come to take his children home…)

What is some good advice for me?
We Are the Champions by Queen

What is my signature dancing song?
Loitering in the Lobby by Eddie From Ohio (that’s a terrible song for dancing)

What do I think my current theme song is?
Wrong Way by Sublime (ummmm…I’m no street whore, sorry.)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones (a song about a porn star? I’m starting to think my iPod is not so good at fortune telling.)

What type of men/women do you like?
Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

What kind of kisser are you?
Another one Bites the Dust by Queen (should I be offended?)

What's your style?
Kinky Reggae by Bob Marley and the Wailers (it sure is!)

What kind of lover are you?
Friend of the Devil by the Grateful Dead (I’m just pure evil, aren’t I?)

What would be playing on a first date?
Breakdown by Jack Johnson

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
It Must Have Been the Roses by the Grateful Dead

Ok, so many of those were lame or not even answers to a question, but kind of fun anyway. Try it out for shits and giggles.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pura Vida!

Just a little taste of Costa Rica...
kind of tastes like coffee and coconuts.

First a group shot:
*click images for big*

That’s Sharon in the upper left. She was our host, we were lucky to have someone so generous and caring looking after us. Her daughter is one of my sister’s bridesmaids but she had to be in DC during the time of the trip. No problem, Sharon took us in and treated us like her own :)
Going clockwise from Sharon is my sister Alissa, maid of honor Magda, my cousin Lanae, me, my sister and bride-to-be Stacy, and visiting member of the groomsmen party (groomswoman?) Steph. These girls are crazy, I love them.

That’s my innocent baby sister smokin’ a cigar! Awesome I tell you.

Beautiful wildlife...


Back to work tomorrow. Vacation is always so fleeting. More pics and stuff to follow.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More food pics…

…now new and improved, with recipes!

Because maybe all I do anymore is cook things featured on VeganCore. Maybe.

I give you, a big ugly pot of Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili:

Because I can’t leave well enough alone I also seasoned the chili with black pepper, cayenne pepper, fresh cilantro and the juice of half a lime. Needs more than “light” salting in my opinion. It’s definitely one of those taste and season along the way recipes, I would have found it quite bland without the extra spices. I thought it was too thick at by end of simmering time so that’s when I added the lime juice and some vegetable broth to thin it out a bit. Overall a tasty and hardy stew, not as good as chana masala, but then again what is?

I love this banana bread. This and the following pizza dough recipe are from 1001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

4 T softened margarine (Earth Balance works great)
¼ c applesauce (I prefer unsweetened)
2 eggs or equivalent to veganize it. (Some ground flax seed and water works well.)
2 T soy or nut milk or milk or H2O
¾ c packed brown sugar (you can easily substitute in part or in whole with other sweetener like Perfect Sweet Xylitol, a lot of people like molasses, sometimes I put a little maple syrup in there for fun. Whatever floats your boat. The brown sugar does give a nice caramel flavor.)
1 c mashed banana (the more ripe the better. Mine are usually fresh from the freezer.)
1 ¾ c flour (I usually use some combination of all purpose white and whole wheat pastry flour. I used all whole wheat this time and it was quite good.)
2 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
¼ c walnuts
and/or chocolate chips, raisins, etc... whatever else you might like
Other tasty optionals: vanilla extract, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg

Beat margarine, applesauce, egg/egg equivalent, milk, and sugar until smooth, then add banana and beat 1 – 2 min more on high speed.

Combine dry ingredients and mix gradually into batter. Stir in your walnuts and whatnots.

Bake at 350 degrees, 55 – 60 min if you make one larger loaf, about 40 – 45 if you make 2 shallower loaves as pictured here (one has walnuts, the other chocolate chips), and maybe 20 - 25 for muffins.

Basic Pizza Dough

1 ¼ c flour (I usually use ¾ c whole wheat and ½ c white, combine before you begin)
1 packet yeast
½ t sugar
¼ t salt
½ c very hot H2O
(recipe says 120 degrees, I just use really hot tap water)

Combine ¾ c flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add hot H2O and stir till smooth. Work in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Dump out onto floured surface, knead for about 5 min. Spray bowl with non-stick cooking spray or sprinkle with flour, cover. If you keep your covered bowl on top of a preheating oven that will help with the rising. Let dough rest for at least 15 min.

Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray, spread your dough out on a pan. It helps if your dough is in a nice round ball, then you can plop it in the middle and work the dough outwards. If you use a rectangular cookie sheet it will be a quite thin crust, a 12 in round pizza pan is ideal for crust thickness to my liking. Everyone is individual when it comes to toppings as you know, so I’ll leave that to you. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 - 20 min or until the edges are nicely browned.

As ya’ll know, I don’t know when to say stop when in comes to toppings.

There’s an Amy’s burrito under that salad. Honest, there is.

Oooh, shiny. Easily amused by pretty fruit.

I went to TJ’s to get some munchie foods for my trip and some AirBorne and I am ready to rock and roll. The next pictures you see from me will be of monkeys, tree canopies, beaches, and margaritas as big as your cabeza. See you on the flip side.