Monthly Archives: April 2010

Cold Snap

It is abnormally chilly today and my plans to babysit fell through, so I have a little time on my hands.   And what do I want to do?  Cook.  Since its chilly and I have two large containers of chicken stock that I made over the weekend, I am going to make soup.  Nothing new, just my usual ground beef stew.  Except I used chicken stock today because I don’t have any homemade beef stock and I prefer to use homemade.  We will see how it goes.  It’s super easy, here is what I do:

Brown 3/4lb of grass-fed beef.  Add it to a large pot full of 3 1/2 c. of beef stock (beef is best but chicken will work too), 2 c. of water, and veggies.  I use 1 medium potato cubed, 2 medium onions, 3 celery stalks, 2 large carrots, 1 c. of green beans, 1 c. of frozen peas, 1 c. of frozen butterbeans (lima beans), 1 can of diced tomatoes (undrained), and corn cut from two corn cobs; but again, whatever veggies sound good to you.  Season with 2 tsp. of dried tarragon, 1 tbsp. fresh, minced parsley, 1 tbsp. of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. of salt, and 1/8 tsp. of pepper.  Bring it all to boil, lower heat, and cover and simmer for 30 mins or until veggies are tender. 

If I am serving this for friends I like to make Paula Dean’s sweet potato cornbread or a traditional sweet cornbread.  It’s especially good if you grease the pan with bacon grease or butter so that it browns and crisps on the edges 🙂

How is everyone feeling?  I have been a little down lately.  Not really sure why.  I hear there is something going on with the planets and that everyone is going through “stuff” right now.  More on that later.  Just curious if anyone else is feeling like they are navigating dark waters?

I am going to King King in Hollywood tonight for a show called “Mortified.”  It’s a live reading and performance of childhood and teenage journals, backed by live music.  At least, this is how I understand it.  I have never seen it, so ill have to get back to you on the exact structure.  Maybe, for the evening, it will help me focus on something besides my own “stuff.”

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Technically…

this would be my first, official, for real, could get paid, audition…Swiffer.  It went well.  I smiled and mopped the way I would never mop in real life…but I trusted that it looked good 🙂  Now I’ll wait and see.  To be honest, I want to book the job, but a call back would be amazing.  Just to be called personally by the casting director, and told I was going to be brought in, meant a lot because it meant that he trusted me to be professional and make him look good.  But for now,  I will visualize the shoot date, just for good measure.

Afterwards, I rewarded myself  for staying positive and believing in myself, with my most favorite cupcakes in all of L.A…

Relax people…i didn’t eat them all. 

 Toodle Loo!!

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Aprons for Beda

My best friend is adopting a baby from Ethiopia!  I’m not sure how much any of you know about adoption, but it can get quite expensive, so Rebekka is making these beautiful aprons for children and adults to raise half of the funds to pay for the adoption.  If you cook, or if you are teaching your children to cook, you gotta have one of these!  They are so beautiful and classic and made from light, fun prints and patterns that you and your kids will just adore.  And if you don’t cook, they are just fun to throw over clothes for anything from at-home art projects to everyday wear. We buy so many things on a daily basis not knowing where our money is going.  Make the next $25 you spend count, and feel comfortable knowing that your hard earned money is going to help put a beautiful child into a loving home.  Thanks for your help!!

http://www.apronsforbeda.bigcartel.com/

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Farewell Feast

My friend Emily is moving.  She isn’t quite sure where yet, but last night, we had a feast.  Emily and I aren’t best friends, actually we are kind of new friends, but our love of food brings us together for a meal every now and then so I thought it only appropriate she leave LA with a fully satisfied belly and palate.  We began by making a sort of “wish list” of restaurants that we’d like to try in LA and, after narrowing it down, we settled on Tavern in Brentwood.  With a sort of French, rustic, farm fresh menu and a stellar atrium-style atmosphere, it was the perfect place to share our last meal in Los Angeles together.  And who can go to dinner without spending some time at the spa first?  Not me 🙂

We began our day at 3 o’clock at Olympic Spa, a Korean Spa on, you guessed it, Olympic.  Korean Spas are all over LA and they are great because they are relatively cheap.  We only paid $15 to soak and steam to our little hearts’ content.  They have a few hot tubs at various temperatures and this one hot pool that contains mugwort, (I think I’m spelling that correctly) it’s a herb that promotes great circulation, regulates menstrual cycles, improves the look of skin, and has countless other health benefits.  Each time we sat in one of the pools and got really hot, then we would go sit in the cold pool.  This also contributes to better circulation.  Though tough at first, it actually felt amazing.  One of my favorite things.  So I bet you are thinking, “$15 bucks?  Geez!  Whats the catch?”  Well the catch is…everyone is naked.  Not kinda naked, not half-naked, but stark freakin naked!  I thought it would be awkward, but it really wasn’t.  There were women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities and as Emily pointed out, it actually makes you sort of appreciate what you have and realize that everyone’s body looks the same in the end.  I even got a scrub and yes, that too, was done naked.  Totally exhilarating if you ask me.  After all this we sipped delicious tea and took a little nap on the heated, jade tile floor.  By 5:30 we were back at Emily’s place getting ready for dinner.

When we arrived at Tavern we were promptly seated in the coveted “corner table.”  The dining room is this beautiful, atrium-style room lined with leather booths and fancy cloth chairs.  It was still light outside so it was really like sitting out doors.

 

 We both ordered cocktails, I ordered a vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit concoction and Emily got a refreshing blend of vodka (I think) cilantro and jalapeno.  It reminded me of a less sweet mojito.  We also ordered the special appetizer they had for the night and now I will make a sad attempt to explain to you how amazing it was.  Creamy polenta, topped with grilled asparagus and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.  On the very top there was an egg.  This egg might have been my favorite egg I’ve ever eaten.  Somehow the managed to cook the egg in the style of a hard-boiled egg, but with a gloriously, runny center.  The waitress said that they roll it in parmesan and bread crumbs and then flash fry it, but I still cannot wrap my head around how the white was cooked without cooking the center.  When you cut into it and all the yolk ran over the asparagus and polenta, the flavors were rich and downright magical. 

For the entrees, I ordered the pork confit, which was the most tender pork shoulder I have ever eaten, submerged in duck fat and slow cooked for hours.  This was served atop red cabbage that had a pickled, slightly sweet flavor, and topped with caramelized apples.  On the side were potatoes, but not just any potatoes.  These golden lovelies were pan-fried in none other than…you guessed it, duck fat!  They were so crispy on the outside with a perfectly soft center that I thought I was going to die right there.  They seriously might have been my favorite part of the entree. 

Emily ordered Boeuf Bourguignon with bacon served with wild mushrooms atop mashed potatoes.  It was cooked “old school” as the waitress described.  The meat was tender, but lacked a lot of flavor.  The mushrooms were definitely the star of this dish. 

After dinner we ordered the Meyer Lemon pie.  I have a habit of deliberately ordering the weirdest dessert on the menu.  I do this for two reasons.  One, when you put two flavors that do not seem to go together in the same dish, and top sed dish with some kind of fresh creme, it is almost always delicious.  Two, chocolate is boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate.  But for some reason I think super great restaurants get lazy with chocolate and think it will always be great.  It generally disappoints me so I just stopped ordering it. (The exception to this rule would be the chocolate creme brulee at Barbrix, it definitely did not disappoint.  Oh and order it with a port and you’ll really be cookin’)  Back to this lemon pie.  It was more like a pastry than a pie, or maybe a mini, crust on all sides sort of pie.  They served this with a creme fraiche ice cream and blue berries.  The perfect end to a meal on a rather warm, almost summer evening. 

All in all, I would definitely recommend Tavern to you, but skip the Boeuf Bourguignon.   Great idea in theory, but not in practice.  It will be a while before I can afford to go out like this again so until then, I will live on the memory of that asparagus appetizer and those duck fat fried potatoes.  Mmmm Mmmm!

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I Must Say Something

Alright so I saw an ad today for Smart Balance Fat Free Milk that made me a little angry and I’d hate for people to have wrong information because a company wants to sell its product, so I am going to clear up the untrue facts, or should we say “misleading” facts that were given.  In the commercial the Smart Balance company claims that 2% milk is an “imposter.”  “It’s disguising itself as low in saturated fat, but really it contains more saturated fat than a small order of french fries.”  As an alternative, it suggests that you drink its Non Fat milk that is “creamy like %2, and contains added calcium and omega-3’s.”  Lets decipher this claim shall we?  Milk is %87 percent water; the rest is protein, fat, and lactose.  An eight-ounce (250 ml) glass of whole milk (typically %3.5 fat) contains about 9 grams of fat, most of it saturated–about 66.  A small order of french fries, lets use McDonald’s because it’s the most universal fast food chain in America, contains 11g of fat, 1.5g of that being saturated fat.  So in this order you are getting 43% of your calories from fat, 50.4% from carbs, and 5.2% from protein.  So yes, the french fries have less saturated fat…on the surface.  Here’s the thing.  Saturated fat in milk is good for you.  It is the pasteurization that makes it bad for you because it damages these energy burning fats and also increases the polyunsaturated fats which raise LDL.  So in a way, they are right, pasteurized 2% milk is not the best thing you should be drinking.  But, fat-free milk is not the answer.  Industrial (or pasteurized) fat-free or skim milk, and 2% milk  must, by law, be fortified with synthetic vitamin A and synthetic vitamin D3.  There is evidence that both of these synthetic vitamins are toxic in excess.  Also when you pasteurize milk, you kill the white blood cells, which in turn become puss.  This sludge sinks to the bottom and to make it all creamy, even, and pretty they homogenize it (or shake it all up so that it never separates again).  Disgusting. 

On the contrary, Whole milk contains butterfat.  Butterfat helps the body digest the protein in milk, and bones require saturated fats to lay down calcium.  The cream contains the vital fat-soluble vitamins A and D.  Without vitamin D, less than 10% of dietary calcium is absorbed.  Whole milk contains glycosphingolipids, fats that protect against gastrointestinal infection.  Other good things in whole milk…

  • complete protein to build and repair tissues and bones
  • vitamin A for heathy skin, eyes, bones, and teeth
  • Thiamine to help turn carbs into energy and aid in appetite and growth
  • Riboflavin for healthy skin, eyes and nerves
  • Niacin for growth and development, healthy nerves, and digestion
  • Vitamin B6 to build body tissues, produce antibodies, and prevent heart disease
  • Vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells, nerves, and digestion (also to prevent heart disease)
  • Pantothenic acid to turn carbohydrates and fat into energy
  • Folic Acid to promote the formation of red blood cells, and prevent birth defects and heart disease
  • Calcium to make strong bones and teeth, also aids heart beat, muscle, and nerve function
  • Magnesium for strong bones and teeth. 

Here is the catch.  All of these benefits, plus countless others, exist in RAW milk.  Industrial pasteurized milk is an inferior thing.  I won’t go so far as to say that you shouldn’t drink it, because it’s a better choice than a soda, or say a small french fry, and in many states you cannot buy raw milk.  But, this is why you should investigate the facts on milk.  If you want your health to be better, or at least have the choice to better it with raw milk, then go here and fight for it in your community.  All of this information was borrowed from Nina Planck’s fantastic book Real Food: What to Eat and Why.  I went for years not eating meat, then only eating skinless chicken and everything fat-free and i had no idea how much damage i was doing to my health.  This book opened my eyes to real food and what it can do for me and my body.  If you care about your health or simply your right to real food, check it out and then take a stand.  Do not listen to these ridiculous claims by companies trying to push their food “products” on you.  Drinking a glass of milk is NOT the same thing as eating an order of french fries simply because you compare one line of the nutrition facts.  There is so much more to this issue and I encourage everyone to eat, and fight for, real food!

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Week in Review

Started this and it’s seriously kicking my ass. 

Going here and here on Tuesday to mourn the loss of Foodie Dinners with my friend Emily who is leaving the City of Angels for greener pastures…or a lot of cheap beer and spicy noodles in random Asian countries.  I will miss her.  I will also be looking for a replacement to go on various gastronomic adventures throughout L.A. with.  Will you be my other?

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