sunny sunday

The day in Santa Monica wasn’t actually very sunny at all, but I did my best to inject some sunshiney energy into it with my meals and activities.  I woke up early and rode my bike to a yoga class (helmet and all, yoga mat tugged under the spring-loaded clamp on my basket attachment!).  I can’t stress enough how much starting your day with exercise sets everything in the right direction and nearly ensures a fantastic rest of the day.  The value of consistent exercise in general really can’t be overestimated.  I had fallen off the work-out wagon over the last few weeks and was beginning to think I was slipping into a deep and terrible (and hyperbolic) depression.  But then I got my butt in gear and quickly pulled myself back into happiness.  Trust me on this one.  It’s common sense for a reason- it works.

After my sweaty morning, I brunched on this, inspired by the beautiful yellows and oranges in my CSA box and something I had eaten at Le Grande Orange (now M Street Cafe) on Main Street in Santa Monica.

Sunshine Hash

  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 medium carrot
  • Olive oil
  • Basil and cilantro, minced
  • Eggs

Chop the veggies into 1 inch or smaller pieces.  Toss with olive oil and herbs and roast at 350 for about 20 minutes or until tender.  Top with a sunny-side up egg!

I shared this with my friend Jeff who paid me a spontaneous visit, only adding to the sunshine.

The real cherry on top of the day, though, was the walk to Allan’s Aquarium with Liz to buy these fellas (or ladies, I forgot to ask how to tell for sure):

They need names, which I will take my time in selecting.  I’m pumped to have a pet, something to take care of other than myself and a bright little burst of color to look at every day!

Let the name suggestions begin…

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what do I care?

I’ve spent the last few self-defining years of my life telling myself that I need to indulge in my quirky side. The self-conscious, bandwagoning days of high school and college are over. It’s time to let loose and be unapologetically me, even if I’m weird, gross, and at times moderately unattractive, and this unadulterated confidence will in turn make me irresistible to all around me. Guys like girls that burp, right? The fanny pack is endearing. Speak every controversial thought on your mind, he’ll love it!

But as I rode my shiny new bike home from Whole Foods, I made two realizations. One: The breezy, 5 minute downhill ride to the store means a laborious, grocery-laden uphill trek home. I gave up and walked it part of the way, sorryboutit. Two: It’s entirely possible that my awkward, dorky appearance isn’t at all charming and in fact makes me unappealing to those around me, men in particular.

"You mean you don't find this irresistible?!"

Suddenly I wasn’t so confident. I definitely could have overestimated the appeal of looking like a total idiot. The key, I then decided, is that there has to be a reason for the idiocy, a genuine justification for trotting on the unbeaten path. You have to wear the fanny pack because it’s truly more convenient, not because you have a hipster’s desire to be different. You can’t be loud and outspoken for attention, but if you have something to say, say it! And most importantly, wear your bike helmet because it looks really, really cool. I mean…for safety!

Because while it would be nice to think that by my age, people have stopped doing things just to be cool and different, it isn’t true. Everyone is still looking over their shoulder, caring what the rest of the grocery store thinks about the outfit that they probably put at least a tiny bit of thought into before they left their house. We can’t help it. We’re destined to compare ourselves to our peer group, even in our twenties. I wish I could say I don’t care, but I do. But I think that’s ok.

I’m still going to wear my fanny pack.

easy bok choy and google reader dread

Can I just say that sometimes, my Google Reader stresses me the !@#$ out?  First of all, I can’t stand to see the numbers of new posts rack up.  Sometimes I don’t even read any new ones- I literally scroll through until the number goes down to zero and I can finally relax.  Any time I leave town or have limited computer access for an extended period of time, I dread reopening the Reader and seeing how much amazing stuff has accumulated for me to read.  Why does something that is supposed to be pleasure turn into something that feels like work so quickly?  Then sometimes it’s just the sheer volume of new ideas  consumed at once that overwhelms me.  There just isn’t enough time for everything I want to do.  You know?

I think the real reason for this post was not the above mini-rant, but to tell you about the super easy and surprisingly delicious bok choy I made the other night.  This Chinese cabbage relative showed up in my CSA last week and baffled many of my co-workers that received boxes as well.  It’s common in Asian cuisine, but I guess not something people generally grab at the market to cook with.  After some VegWeb sleuthing, I decided I could throw something together.

The produce participants (please excuse them as they have not yet bathed in this photo):

That would be a Maui sweet onion, fresh GARLIC with the chives still attached (the beauty of the CSA- I didn’t even know garlic looked like this when it came out of the ground), and the bok choy. Here’s the process:

  1. Chop the trio and throw them into a pan or work with one tablespoon each olive oil and rice vinegar. I really just used the bulb of the garlic, but the chives are totally usable too.
  2. Add some grated ginger and push it all around until the bok choy starts to soften.  Ginger is something I never thought I was capable of cooking with, but it’s really not a big deal.  Buy the root in the produce section, chop off a hunk, and use a citrus zester to add however much you want.
  3. Finish with a drizzle of soy sauce (I used VERY little and the flavor went super far) and some toasted sesame seeds.  I bought mine already toasted, but you could also do ’em up in a pan on the stove or in the oven.
  4. Put on top of some brown rice (a microwavable bag from Trader Joe’s makes this step nonexistent) and enjoy!

I was blown away by how easy this was and how authentic it tasted.  Success.

I’m off to read the unread posts on my Google Reader left for me after my week away. 277 bits of info on topics that interest me from writers that I love…ugh.

give ’em the juice!

We all know we should be eating tons of fruits and veggies, or at least that’s what we’re told and sometimes abide by.  But why extract just the liquid of said fruits and vegetables, leaving behind a goopy pulp, and drink it?  Well, for one, it’s delicious.  Also, maybe your sister and her husband got you a juicer for your birthday and you really wanted to try it out.  And, because you may have suspected you were getting a juicer for your birthday and mentioned it to your thoughtful friend, you also got The Juicing Bible for your birthday, in which you read the following real reasons for juicing:

  1. Enzymes, phytochemicals, and vitamins A, C, and E are trapped in the indigestible fiber in some fruits and vegetables.  Once “liberated” in the juicing process, your body can absorb these nutrient goodies way faster and more efficiently.
  2. Raw juice supplies water to replenish lost fluid in the cells of your body, while also supplying essential nutrients (whereas plain ol’ water would just do the fluid part).
  3. Because the fiber is removed during extraction, raw juice has a laxative effect (Hey-oh! Careful with this one.) which helps rid the body of toxins.

The book also details everything you can do with the pulp left behind, but that info will have to be for another post at another time.  The pulp left behind in my first juicing attempts got fed to my new disposal (courtesy of Fred, my new landlord, who is way too comfortable stopping by and hanging out but who did replace the sink that I damaged in a failed experiment with paint remover, so who am I to complain?).  Some day, I will compost.  That is all.

Here’s the book and the victims about to be pulverized, much of which came courtesy of my Tanaka Farms bi-weekly bounty:

The first batch was one orange, several carrots, and a hunk of ginger.  It’s incredible how little juice comes out of all that produce.  But don’t despair! That little glass of juice is nutrient PACKED.  And delicious.

Next, I tried an apple, more carrots, and some kale.  The kale gave it an earthy flavor and turned the whole thing green.  It tasted great and looked cool too! Who doesn’t want to drink green juice?! Come on, guys!

I added some ice cubes because the produce was room temp, so the juice of course was too.  Do you think I could make a pitcher of juice all at once and keep it in the fridge?

Stay tuned for more juiceventures!

the quarter-life birthday

It wouldn’t seem right to have a quarter-life blog and not mention that this past weekend was my real quarter-life birthday! (Symbolically, at least. Living to 100 is probably a generous estimate.) 25 years young, man-oh-man.  I celebrated in style, realizing a true dream of fronting a Journey cover band.  It doesn’t get much better than this:

It was probably one of the most fun things I’ve done, ever, and I was blown away by the love and support I got from all of the glorious people in my life who came out to the show!

Besides rocking hard, birthday weekend activities also included cooking dinner with vegetables from my CSA box! My school has successfully partnered with Tanaka Farms in Irvine, making our campus a drop-off location for bi-weekly produce boxes.  So far, 11 faculty and community members have signed up for boxes, and we hope to continue expanding.  Bonus: 10% of the proceeds from box sales is given back to the school.  Win-win-win.

Last week’s bounty included strawberries, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, rainbow chard, apples, carrots, and cabbage.  The cabbage made me nervous because, as Liz and I discussed, cabbage is really only popular in three forms: soup, slaw, and fish taco toppings.  It’s too hot for soup and I didn’t have any fish, so slaw it was.  I started looking up recipes, but quickly realized that most of what I was reading was super simple and super adaptable.  So I made up my own:

Slaw

  • 1/4 head of cabbage
  • 1 medium or 2 small carrots
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or maybe half a clove, minced
  • lemon juice
  • warm water to thin

I cut the cabbage and carrots into small pieces and then ran them through the food processor until they were shredded.  The dressing ingredient amounts are approximations of what I actually did, and the lemon juice is a flat-out lie; I didn’t think to add it but Liz reminded me later that it would have been a great idea.  Toss it all and enjoy! I can’t wait to have this with other summer barbeque food.

I went after the cauliflower next, as it was the second most intimidating vegetable in my box.  I have to credit Liz again, as she calmed my fears and told me that a simple garlic/olive oil toss and a good roasting would yield fabulous results.  As usual, she was right:

I cooked some black quinoa in vegetable broth, added the cauliflower and some feta, and could hardly put the fork down.  Bonus: black quinoa sticks in your teeth real bad and gives you a Billy Bob smile until your next flossing.  Fun!

Thank you Tanaka Farms for growing me the beautiful produce to create these meals, and thank you friends, family, bandmates, and bartenders for giving me the best birthday I’ve had in, oh, 25 years.

Upcoming: Juice mania, via the juicer generously birthday-gifted to me by my sister and brother-in-law!