Saturday, August 30, 2008


I read an amusing New York Times article the other day about "staycations" and how people are hanging out locally more than traveling out of town for vacations. As I am a personal money management nut (because I have terrible budgeting/spending habits), I have been reading about this phenomenon for a while in various blogs/forums/articles. I am so tickled by the term "staycation" and am looking to incorporate it into daily conversation more, which shouldn't be too difficult as I am staycationing this Labor Day weekend.

So far today, I have:

- Eaten leftovers from El Coyote (where they charged me 50 cents for pickled jalapenos, which they did not inform me about! Really, people? I don't think that's something they should charge for.)

- Made some rotini with butter, parm and pepper. Adam had some very helpful directions, which made for a butter-blunder-free pasta snack.

- Re-watched Volver. I loved it in when I saw it in the theater and a while back, I was able to buy the DVD for super cheap thanks to those persistent Borders Rewards emails and a gift card. I have been meaning to open the DVD for months; it was just as good as I remembered. Thanks, staycation!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Veggie Stirfry

A couple nights ago, I drove to the library, jumped out to drop off a dvd and when I got back into my car, it wouldn't start. I won't go into the details, but long story short: I needed a new battery. That night, I was so wound up, I skipped dinner. Last night, my car was back to tip top shape, but I was drained from all the stress and picked up some pitiful store-bought sushi and ridiculously overpriced quinoa salad (does it make sense that the display case sign is not for a pound, but a half pound? Sounds like shady business ethics to me!).

But, tonight was a different story. I wanted to get back in the kitchen to eat something homemade and not very costly: enter the stirfry. The ingredients: broccoli, button mushrooms, shiitakes, red onion, carrots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. I would have added tofu, but strangely, Trader Joe's didn't have any except the baked, seasoned kind. I find it sort of refreshing to cook vegetarian meals sometimes because I don't have to worry about disinfecting the counter tops and cutting boards with a vengeance.

I've been seeing a lot of eggplant posts on the food blogs lately, so maybe I'll continue with my meat-free cooking by trying my hand at eggplant parmesan. I don't think I've ever had that classic Italian dish come to think of it. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sriracha Pork

I successfully froze, defrosted and then actually used some leftover pork chops. Good intentions carried out to fruition; I felt very triumphant today. I came home and immediately got to work making this simple dinner of spicy pork that was marinated for 15 minutes in sriracha, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

I had planned on using some Korean gochujang (pepper paste) that had been languishing in my fridge for some time, but when I opened it up, it looked dried out. I had to chuck it into the trash and I have to say, I find it very satisfying to clean out the fridge. I should tackle my pantry, which is in a dismal state right now, but that's another story altogether (how is it even possible I have boxes of stale Girl Scout cookies?).

The furikake (also what I refer to as crack-on-rice) was not good, but that's because I've owned it for a length of time I will not disclose (I got rid of the container, but it was not horrible enough that I felt the need to scrape it off the rice). Getting reacquainted with furikake did, however, make me want to scoop up some new ones the next time I'm at an Asian market. I always think i want to venture out past the basic seaweed one, but I had a not-so-stellar experience before with a bonito mix. I'd appreciate any suggestions if there are other furikake fans out there!

Monday, August 18, 2008

BBQ Beef Patties and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Dinner tonight was bbq beef patties (a hodgepodge of lean sirloin, red peppers, a serrano pepper, Worcestshire sauce, BBQ sauce, salt and pepper) and a heirloom tomato salad. The patties were a bit of a miss, but I liked the tomatoes a lot. Inspired by Adam's post, I added the following to a bowl of heirloom tomatoes: red onion, cilantro (which I have more of than needed due to succumbing to seller pressure at the farmers' market), red bell pepper, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Next time, I will buy ground beef with more fat and probably go for Asian flavors. I don't know why I thought I'd like bbq sauce in there; I like bbq as much as the next Southern person, but more in combination with the other good stuff (coleslaw, baked beans, sweet tea) than by its lonesome. But, hey, I made dinner, which is rather unbelievable considering it was a Monday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bagel Sandwich

I usually have to struggle to finish bagel sandwiches for their sheer density, but today was a breeze as I was starving after a jaunt out to the farmers' market again. My favorite bagel shop is The Bagel Broker, which is where I picked up a ham sandwich to go. It's a popular spot on the weekends and with a modest sized parking lot, I had to circle around a couple times before finding a spot on the street.This little shop has held my hand through a housing search, unemployment and lovely Saturdays alone when my only concern was finishing a book.

Their sandwiches come with potato salad, a pickle and (strangely) unpitted olives. Generally, I'll just get a toasted bagel (everything or onion) with chive cream cheese, but I needed something to carry me through an afternoon movie. I've made bagel sandwiches at home before and yes, it's cheaper than forking over $7. But, there are times when you really don't want to go through the very small trouble of cutting up vegetables and toasting your own bagel. And, I never use up all the cream cheese when I buy it for the house. I discovered The Bagel Broker through a film school professor who taught me some things about screenplays, but I've got to believe the biggest gift of all was providing a local's invaluable tip of where to find a decent bagel.

Pairs well with Moonstruck:
New York City in movies usually makes me yearn for bagels, pretzels, and corned beef sandwiches. If you do not have the same reaction, you will probably think of baked goods at least once while watching Nicolas Cage (my 2nd Cage recommendation! I am not the president of his fan club, I swear) and Cher carry on tempestuously as he plays a surly baker with one good hand (especially during their first meeting where he is dealing with a scary oven). Good thing you will have been smart enough to have a bagel sandwich handy before popping in this movie. You may find yourself also plagued by visions of red sauce pasta and strong martinis, so that route might be a sexier alternative to a bagel sandwich.

The Bagel Broker
7825 Beverly Blvd # 5
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 931-1258

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Takeout from Nakkara

I had a bit of a day, thus tonight's dinner was drunken noodles with chicken from Nakkara with a cold Stella Artois. This is my third visit to Nakkara (only one of them has been a dine-in experience) and I've liked the food everytime (I don't know if the first one counts for much as I only got tom kha gai soup, but it was some good soup). I may stick to takeout for now, though; when we ate there, it took us a long time to get our entrees. Granted, there was a large party of 6 or so, but that doesn't serve as much of an excuse when you've only got a handful of other tables.

Still, the food seems good across the board; for example, Charles has been hard-pressed to find good vegetable curry at local Thai places, but he found a very tasty version here. The menu is a bit strange as it offers an array of Asian dishes not just limited to Thai (Korean beef short ribs are definitely not something one would expect alongside panang curry).

I love takeout in general in all its packaged up glory, especially when I've got a 95% full DVR list to make my way through. I know I'm not the only one, so please share with me your favorite takeout places/options in your neck of the woods!

7669 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-3100

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Greek is king

Greek yogurt is creamy, slightly tart, thick goodness. I tried it for the first time a couple years ago and have been hooked ever since. Regular yogurt now seems runny and weak and I am very uninterested in its fruit-on-the-bottom offerings; I must state for the record, though, that in the case where Greek style is not available, I still pick up Yoplait for nostalgia's sake. I'm not sure how nutritious it is (especially considering their flavors like Key Lime Pie), but I used to eat a ton of Cherry Orchard and Strawberry Banana growing up, so it takes me back a bit.

Anyway, back to the above. This bowl of fruit and yogurt was a pristine way to start my day compared to last night's spicy dinner (of which no pictures because while it tasted great, its monochromatic look did not photograph well). I was inspired by Heather's Squid, Chickpea and Chorizo Salad post, but leaving the red peppers and parsley out was a mistake. Also, mine was less a salad as a quick stew of sorts on top of which I added Tabasco hot sauce. I'm sure I'll make it again and hopefully put up a photo then.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Farmers Market Saturday

I finally made it to a farmers' market for some fabulous summer produce. Today was only my second visit in life; the one time before was in Century City last summer. I've been procrastinating for too long and it's particularly shameful since LA has so many different market locations. The closest one to me is Hollywood, but I didn't want to wait until Sunday. So, I drove up to Burbank where the heat was punishing, but the crowds were not bad.

All this for $15! Corn, nectarines, avocados, blueberries, jalapeno peppers, a serrano pepper, cherry and grape tomatoes, figs and limes.

I am predicting I will not cook much with these except the peppers and possibly, the avocados (I don't know, is making guacamole really considered cooking?). The figs will go over some Greek yogurt, the tomatoes are in a bowl on the counter from which I keep snacking, and the blueberries and nectarines will possibly not even last the night.

I highly recommend finding the nearest farmers' market (making a stop at the ATM) and getting yourself there in a hurry. I found the prices overall reasonable and in step with my usual grocery costs since I try to buy mostly organic fruit and vegetables. I'm guessing my visit today will trigger a weekly habit, which is an addiction I am happy to pick up!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Al Fresco #1

Over the weekend, I had my very first visit to the Hollywood Bowl, a lovely amphitheater that is a summer must-do for many LA locals. I was looking forward in particular to the Bowl's "bring your own" food and (alcoholic) drink policy; they've got plenty of refreshment options there, but the hefty prices and long lines can be disheartening to say the least. Although I did not have a gingham lined picnic basket to glide along with (this time!), I did pick up a new cooler, which bodes well for future trips to the beach.

I was very excited to make chocolate covered pretzels, a recipe I had seen on PBS's Everyday Food. The process had looked charmingly easy and I had made a mental note to try it sometime. Well, the steps are so simple and the pay-off is spectacular. I must recommend you try them for your next festive occasion. They'll be gone in mere seconds.

I also wanted to take a substantial protein of some sort. Chicken drumsticks sounded easy to handle both for the cooking and the eating. When I stumbled upon this recipe on the Everyday Food site, it was case closed. But, I did choose to use a bottled honey bbq sauce instead of making it from scratch. These little darlings (Jamie Oliver's vernacular has effectively seeped into my brain) turned out wonderfully.

Not homemade, but still part of our feast were: French bread, Havarti cheese, salami, Italian giardiniera (pickled vegetables), grapes, popcorn with Mrs. Dash seasoning (a habit I picked up a year ago from my best friend, Mary) and two 24-oz. Tecates.

I have lots of ideas for next time. Like, so many. So, stay tuned for my next al fresco experience!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My food mania is affecting loved ones


Charles: Aren't you going to take a picture?
Me: No. Why... should I?
Charles: I don't know, I thought you might want to blog about eggs.
Me: Oh. Okay, you're right. Let me grab my camera.

Well, I'm not really blogging specifically about eggs, but just wanted to put up a picture of today's simple breakfast. I am proud of this at-home meal because we opted to forgo the bagel shop, which is a weekend habit of ours. Charles's plate had some fresh apricots (from the same batch from my previous post), but they turned out to be unimpressive.