Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Farro Story

I'm sorry that I haven't had much to say over the past week or so. The reason why is very simple: I haven't had much to eat over the past week or so! I've been eating light, basically in preparation for my upcoming trip to NJ, where I know I will be doing nothing much besides eating giant plates of pasta and drinking cocktails. Remember what happened to me the last time I visited NJ?!?
In case you forgot....
So, I've been eating a diet very high in veggies, and very low in processed foods and alcohol. Good for me, but bad for the purposes of this blog. But I'm still going to continue on... I'm not finished yet, and I haven't lost interest! I already have some things planned for the weekend.

I do have a few things to report. Nothing monumental, but just to prove that I've still been working on this project. The most exciting update is that I ate something I have never eaten before! It was farro, a whole grain which is similar to barley, and seems to be most popular in Italy. I didn't have any reason to think I wouldn't like farro, but before this project, I wouldn't have seen any reason to bother trying it. But this is about embracing new and exciting foods, so I made a Basil and Corn Farro Salad tonight. It was good! Admittedly, farro was a little high maintenance to prepare.... I had to soak it overnight, then boil it for 30 minutes, then I let the salad chill all day... I now understand why the recipe called for "precooked farro"... my farro had a reign that was a good deal longer than average!

It is not often I get to make a bad pun which would simultaneously make all of my Art History Professors *and* my Women's Studies Professors proud of me!*

Let's see..... I drank an entire bottle of mineral water. It's growing on me! Maybe 2 more bottles, and I'll be fine with the stuff. I've been working away on that chipotle flavored chocolate bar. I still haven't lost the sadness I feel from having the taste of chocolate in my mouth turn into an unsettling spicy aftertaste. And I haven't tried another seaweed snack, but I will force myself to eat another one soon. And as I said, I have planned one spectacularly nasty meal for myself this weekend!

* Besides, bringing Hatshepsut into this scenario kept my Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat references to a bare minimum, something for which you should all be thankful!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Ate Another Seaweed Snack!

And while it was friggin' AWFUL, at least I didn't literally gag this time!!!! PROGRESS!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Progress Report #3

It's that time again! Here's where I stand, 3 months in.... this is what I have been considering my halfway mark... in my mind, this project was going to take about 6 months... we'll see....


* Raw Onions
* Tonic Water
* Tabbouleh
* White Wine
* Endive
* Parsnips
* Kohlrabi
* Lamb's Quarters
* Root Beer
* Sauerkraut
* Mustard
* Baba Ghanoush
* Taro Chips
* Daikon
* Radishes
* Earl Grey Tea
* Pickled Ginger
* Broccoli Rabe
* Onion Rings
* Poutine
* "Everything" Pretzel Slims
* Beer, dark
* Grapefruit Juice, when served in a cocktail that includes sweet ingredients
* Radicchio
* Bloody Mary
* Sparkling Water
* Dark 'n Stormy
* Lemongrass
* Reuben Sandwich
* Chai
* Kimchi

Works in Progress...

* Grapefruit
* Seaweed Snacks
* Beer, light
* Mole
* Cranberry Juice
* Champagne
* Turnips
* Mineral Water
* Kombucha Disqualified from the competition for being health food!
* Sea vegetables
* Ginger Beer
* Baklava
* Herbal Tea
* Chocolate with Spicy stuff in it
* Floral Flavored Foods
* Flavored Water

Haven't Gotten Around To.... Yet.

* Green Tea Flavored Treats
* Tiramisu
* Spaghetti Squash
* Brazilian Food
* Raw Foods
* "Jerk" style food
* "Blackened" style food

My goal for the next month is to really concentrate on those "works in progress," especially the ones that have been in progress for almost the whole 3 months. I'm looking at you, Cranberry Juice and Grapefruit....

This is gonna be me eating grapefruit.

And no, I didn't open the seaweed snacks yet. It's a holiday! ;-)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Don't Like It Hot

I love chocolate. I eat at least a little bit of it almost every day. I always feel a bit stunned when people assume that being vegan means I can't eat chocolate, as if dairy were inherently a part of chocolate! And as if I would have ever become vegan in the first place if it meant I could never have chocolate again! I pretty much like chocolate in every form... however, there is at least one thing you can do to chocolate that will ruin it for me.
You put your chocolate in my chipotle! You put your chipotle in my chocolate! Two great tastes that taste bad together.
I've had tastes of various types of chocolate bars that wrongly include some kind of  pepper over the years, and I was never a fan. Obviously, this food issue is cut from the exact same cloth as my issues with mole. I just can't get my head (or my taste buds) around the concept of chocolate being combined with spicy foods. I get chocolate + salty, I get chocolate + fruity, I get chocolate + almost anything on God's Green Earth, aside from insects or hot peppers! And no matter how many times my husband tries to assert that cacao grows in the same climates as jalapenos, hence, this somehow means they belong together, I disagree!

Anyway, my husband had acquired one of those Vosges bars, pictured above. He didn't want to share much of it with me, since it was a gift for him, and he knew I wouldn't appreciate it, but he did let me have a square of it. It was basically a mole flavored chocolate bar. He was right. I couldn't appreciate that!

So, I picked up my own spicy chocolate bar the other day.... one that doesn't cost it's weight in gold, the way the Vosges bars do. I got this one:

I'm not going to say I liked it, because I didn't. But I didn't dislike it as much as the Vosges bar. Frankly, the Vosges is a much higher quality product..... hence, it is more flavorful. So, while taking a bite of that Vosges bar was like a mouthful of mole, the Theo bar didn't have a strong mole flavor at all. It tastes almost normal while you eat it, but then you are left with an unsettlingly spicy after taste.

I'm only about 30% done with my spicy Theo bar. I'm eating a piece of it once a day. We'll see if I manage to adjust. If I feel any improvement, I'll go ahead and buy one of those million dollar Vosges bars for myself, to see if I can deem myself worthy of appreciating the "good" stuff!

Chocolate bars with spicy pepper in them are a drag.

So far, I haven't dare to open the package of those seaweed snacks... maybe tomorrow?

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I'd been thrown a bit off schedule by having to work last Saturday, so it had been a few weeks since we went to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Not to disappoint you, but I didn't have big plans to buy too many weird things there. However, I did buy ingredients for the Mixed Citrus Green Salad I made for dinner tonight. (Side note: The main course was Roasty Soba Bowl with Miso Tahini, which I have to say, was pretty good! Very basic ingredients and super easy to make, but tasty and interesting!) Anyway, one of the mixed citrus that it wanted was grapefruit. Last time I bought a grapefruit at the Farmer's Market, I got it from Lie Lie Lying Farmers, who tricked me with their tales of a sweet grapefruit. So, I went to a different farmer this time, in search of a more perfect grapefruit! After all, not all grapefruits are created equal.
Here I am, inquiring about a grapefruit. This farmer seemed much more honest than the last ones!
My husband noticed a basket of grapefruits at the stand where I usually buy my limes, lemons and oranges. We were told it was "Very sweet, very juicy, but full of seeds." And this was an Honest Man! When I cut into that grapefruit, it sure had a lot of seeds in it! As I was doing my best to pick them out, I took a bite of that naked grapefruit, just to see how truthful that farmer really was. To my shock, it was sweet! Just a teeny tad of a bitter aftertaste, but really, it was fine. My husband also tried a naked piece of it, and declared it, "The Most Edible Grapefruit Ever." For the greens in the salad, I bought a Spicy Mix, and I tell ya, the radicchio (my new friend!) in the salad was the only bitter component. The grapefruit was actually good!

Now, I'm not going to jump the gun and say I am over grapefruit. But I can say, for the first time ever, I ate a grapefruit and actually liked it! Granted, this was a Very Special Grapefruit, but at least this is a step in the right direction!

I have a few other little announcements! Last night, my husband wanted me to make him a cocktail using the Canton Ginger I got him for his birthday. I ended up kinda winging it, and making him a concoction of Canton Ginger, Vodka (*shrug* he likes it), a squeeze of lemon and some Ginger Beer. He reports it was good! However, the whole bottle of Ginger Beer wouldn't fit into his glass. There was enough to fit into one of my generously sized shot glasses, so I took a shot of pure Ginger Beer, neat! Well, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I can tell you it gave me the same experience that most people have upon taking their first shot of whiskey... It was very intense, I made an awful face, and I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a burn in my throat! BUT I DID IT! Soon, I'm gonna try and drink a whole glass of the stuff! Ginger Beer, not Whiskey! I am already capable of drinking a whole glass of whiskey, thank you very much!
Here I am after drinking that shot of Ginger Beer. I later ended up doing a Carmen Miranda impression with a potted plant on my head.
Finally, I have avoided it long enough..... the thing I most fear.... but I must be brave.... I bought another package of seaweed snacks today.... heaven help me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tiny Bubbles

Last night, we went to a 25th Wedding Anniversary Party. Our friends had rented out an entire restaurant, and very generously treated their friends to a celebratory feast. It was at The Gorbals, a restaurant in downtown LA that is probably a pretty hip place, but I had never heard of it. It's not the sort of place that would be on my vegan radar. It's one of those places that REALLY likes cooking up pigs and lambs! I'm not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous about what my evening was going to be like. As a vegan, I pretty much dread any event with some kind of sit down, planned meal. Because no matter what, it's awkward, and even though I swear I'm not obnoxious and demanding, it stresses carnivores out to have a vegan in their midst. I was told in advance that the restaurant had been warned about me (as well as some other vegan in attendance and a couple of vegetarians) and were prepared. I was still skeptical, especially after I saw a copy of their "vegetarian" menu, which proudly featured an item with "anchovy butter." In my book, this means that you have no idea what vegetarian means, let alone, vegan. So, I was prepared to end up sitting there, nibbling on crudite and making everyone around me uncomfortable. ;-)

Well, I have to say The Gorbals knocked it out of the park! The servers were very aware of what I could eat, and always told me whether a dish was vegan or not, without me having to be an Annoying Asker. There were at least 7 or 8 of the various dishes I could eat, and they were all really great! They even brought me a special dipping sauce to use on my potatoes, when everyone else got aioli. Aside from the fact that I had to build a barrier of glasses and bottles to block my view of a troubling plate of prawns, all of which were fully intact, including their little eyes, I think I made it through the evening without having to be That Pansy Vegan.

This meal reminded me of why I am exactly doing this whole process of liking everything vegan. Last night, I actually liked everything that was vegan (there were dishes with broccoli, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers, chickpeas, avocados, etc.). But I watched other people turn their noses up at many of the offerings, both of the meat and of the veggie persuasion. And I was SO GLAD I didn't have to be one of those people! Can you image me sitting there, being offered a vegan selection, and refusing it because "I don't like that"?!?! That would be exhausting for everybody involved! I was glad I could eat everything vegan with pride and gusto. THAT is what this whole adventure is all about!

But that is not what this whole blog entry is about! I ended up having a rather effervescent evening! Since this was an anniversary party, obviously, there was a champagne toast. I drank the whole glass of champagne without any objection! I won't say it tasted good, but it didn't taste bad either. I think I'm on my way to finally winning my champagne battle.

And I had another chance to ingest even more bubbly beverage last night. On the tables, there were bottles of both still and sparking water. I must have drank about 5 glasses of the sparkling water. I'm over it, it's not a problem any more. If I go to Germany again and they insist on giving me their bubbly water, I can now handle it. I'm not quite over mineral water yet, but regular old sparkling water doesn't pose a threat to me any more!
Unfortunately, this was one Bubbles I didn't encounter last night. I guess he was locked in his sister's basement and couldn't make it.
 In closing, I have big news! I'm done! That is, I'm done entering all of the recipes I have collected into my recipe app!* And I have gotten rid of the ones I don't think I will use. The entire shelf that used to house all of my binders and folders full of paper recipes has now been repurposed. OK, so it has been repurposed to hold the cookbooks that used to not be able to fit in the kitchen, but still! Progress, people!

* I still have about 100 paper recipes I want to enter, but they are all from Vegetarian Times, and I've been having some issues using their website. Over the past month, they have added some banner ads that always crash my recipe app.... and for some reason, they have neglected adding ALL of the recipes from their magazine to their web archive. I hope they will resolve these issues soon, so I can finally get these recipes into my nifty app!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back in the USSR

I've been working on a triad of troublesome drinks over the past three days!

1) As you probably guessed from the blog title, I had another Moscow Mule. I admit that when I took my first sip, I made a face that one would make upon French kissing an actual mule. However, I got through this Mule more easily than the first one. I still think that ginger beer tastes pretty bad when combined with stupid vodka, as opposed to when it includes black rum, which makes the Dark and Stormy at least tolerable. I am still afraid to try plain ginger beer, with no alcohol in it to help dilute its icky flavor.
In Russia, Moscow Mule drink YOU! What a country!
2) I am back on the 100% Cranberry Juice. Ah, the refreshing flavor of a UTI! :-/  I guess it's not as horrible as it was at first? Still, it's pretty tough.

3) Last night, I dug into my stash of Decaffeinated Tea For Old People, and I found a bag of "Thirty Herbs" tea. Well, I guess it was ok tasting. However, my herbal tea experience was sullied by my husband, who chose the very moment I was drinking my unsweetened, herbal tea, to sit next to me and eat a pile of nachos with real cheese sauce (part of his birthday present). It smelled SO GOOD, I was filled with longing, and I felt pretty unsatisfied sitting there drinking a mug of warm herbs. :-( However, this did inspire me to find an exciting recipe for vegan nacho cheese sauce, which I will make for myself as soon as I am not "eating light". 
Currently, there aren't many things I would rather eat that this.
 Nothing else to report today! Ciao!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Green Tease

Yesterday, we went to see the solar eclipse at Caltech, where they have a solar telescope. For this reason, we were in Pasadena, a lovely city that we almost never go to. I had read on So Cal Vegan Gal's blog that there is a vegan restaurant there which serves Green Tea Cheesecake. Since "green tea flavored treats" is on my list of things I don't like, I figured I would take advantage of my time in Pasadena to eat something questionable.
Here's my husband, with a strange and unusual plant he found after the solar eclipse. I hope it can handle a vegan diet!
 We went to Green Earth Vegan Cuisine. They have a very eclectic menu, with lots of Asian foods, but also, Mexican, American, Italian and other styles of cuisine. There were a LOT of things on the menu that looked good to me.... so, of course, I decided to order the 1 thing I could find that looked bad to me: The Spicy Lemongrass Tofu. I really want to maximize my meals out! :-)

The Spicy Lemongrass Tofu was fine. There was nothing wrong with the flavor, and I know it's just my personal preference that makes me prefer many other kinds of food over Asian food. But specifically, I didn't have any problem with the lemongrass, like I expected to. It made me examine what exactly was my issue with lemongrass to begin with. And I determined it was never really about the flavor of lemongrass, but more about the fact that lemongrass is, IMO, a horrible pain in the ass to try and cook with! I've tried it before, with fresh lemongrass, and that didn't go well for me. Later, I tried it with dried, and that went even worse. So, it's just my own failures as a chef that made me turn my back on lemongrass and decide I "didn't like it." Shame on me! Hence, if I leave lemongrass to the more capable cooks, I should be able to get along with it just fine. I will no longer put my own insecurities upon the innocent lemongrass!

However, I did regret not getting a burrito or lasagna.
 And as it turns out, I sure am glad that I used dinner to make peace with lemongrass! Because, remember that Green Tea Cheesecake? The only reason why we came to this particular restaurant? Well, they no longer have it! It's still on the menu, but alas, it has been replaced with a delicious sounding Oreo Cheesecake! Which, of course, I didn't order, because I know damn well that I like Oreo Cheesecake! ;-)

Oh, and one more note. I went through the entire meal and I didn't fling the lemon slice out of my water and into my husband's glass! Yes, I think water tastes better without the lemon slice in it, but really, it isn't so awful that I always needed to be so dramatic about it! How many billions of people don't have clean drinking water *at all* and are content to strain water out of a river or a puddle and here I am, being a big baby about a harmless lemon slice. Pathetic!

 So, I consider Lemongrass to be officially conquered! And if anyone ever spies any vegan, green tea treats at any other places around LA, please notify me immediately!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Florally Ambiguous

My husband is fancy. And also, perhaps he is weird. He loves foods and drinks that have floral flavors! I, however, do not like eating foods that taste like Grandma. The closest I get to eating flowers is eating onions and garlic, both members of the lily family! Which is a far cry from eating something that is reminiscent of your prom night corsage! I know you people think vegans just sit around eating twigs and grass clippings all day, but even we can tell the difference between Plants That Belong on a Plate and Plants That Belong in a Vase.
Here I am on prom night. I managed to make it through the whole evening without gnawing at the flowers on my arm!
Anyway, I've had my eye out for opportunities to graze on floral foods. A couple of weeks back, I did buy a bottle of that Cranberry Hibiscus Juice, thinking that was a good place to start. I guess I get points for even being willing to try something with the name of a flower in it, but I really couldn't detect the flavor of any tropical blooms in that juice, so it didn't really count. I drank that pot of chamomile tea, which certainly counted, and I learned that I could politely accept a cup of that from any octogenarian who may offer me a cup of that flower tea. But I wanted to push the flower envelope further, and I had a chance to do that at Native Foods yesterday.

For starters, I spied their Lavender Lemonade. This is not something I ever would have dared to try, before I became The Gal Who Ate Everything Vegan. But I tried it, and I liked it! Granted, it just tasted like normal lemonade to me, so this didn't count as pushing the flower envelope, but I was still proud of my willingness to try.

After I had eaten My Very First Reuben, I had a cupcake-sized gap in my stomach. Now, any of you who know me even a little bit know that I am no stranger to cupcakes! I've baked hundreds upon hundreds of them, and not to brag, but I have lost count of the times that someone has told me, "This is the best cupcake I have ever eaten." I generally stick with good flavors for cupcakes (eg. chocolate, vanilla, lemon, peanut butter) and don't do anything dangerous. But yesterday, I took a chance and got the kind of cupcake I NEVER would have chosen on my own accord.... a Cardamom Rose cupcake.
It even came sprinkled with potpourri.
Well, this was the flower challenge I had been searching for! Now, I ate it without too much effort... I mean, come on, even a bad vegan cupcake is going to be at least a little bit good! Yes, if anyone ever offered me a Cardamom Rose Cupcake again, I could eat it politely and not make a scene. But I really couldn't shake the feeling of You Are Eating Something That is Not Flavored With Food. And even more so, I couldn't shake the feeling of regret that, on this rare occasion that I actually ate dessert, I was stuck with this Weirdo Flower Cupcake, while a counter full of chocolate cupcakes were staring at me, rejected.

I need to build up some more flower power, and I will I'll keep at this until I come up smelling like a rose.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rockin' Reuben

Today was a monumental day for me! I hate something that I have never eaten in my life before. Behold!

Some people may be thunderstruck that I spent those 17 Meat Eating Years of my life in New Jersey, where Reuben sandwiches are almost as plentiful as Pork Rolls, yet I never ate one until I got my hands on a vegan Reuben today. But let me give you a brief itinerary of the contents of a Reuben that I didn't like during those 17 Meat Eating Years. 1) Corned Beef and / or Pastrami 2) Sauerkraut 3) Swiss Cheese 4) Russian and / or Thousand Island Dressing 5) Rye Bread. In other words, I wouldn't have eaten a single ingredient that one would put on a Reuben sandwich! The closest I would have gotten to a Reuben would have been a Bologna and American Cheese Sandwich with Iceberg Lettuce on Wonder Bread! But now that I have conquered sauerkraut to the point that I actually love it, I figured the time had come to experience a very famous American sandwich!

I have been eating at Native Foods for about as long as I've lived in Los Angeles. You pretty much can't go wrong there. I'd consider it to be a Must Eat place for any vegans visiting LA. Now, you're probably wondering, what the heck goes on a vegan Reuben?!? The answer is: Thinly-sliced, deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye.  Topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing.

Anyway, it was great! I believe that my life has improved by my new found ability to eat Reuben sandwiches. I know there are a few other places around town that offer them. And I'd be happy to sample each and every one of them! I sure have come a long way from  a Bologna and American Cheese Sandwich with Iceberg Lettuce on Wonder Bread! :-)
However, too many trips to Native Foods will make one feel a bit Rubenesque.
I ate something else crazy at Native Foods, but you're going to have to wait and wonder what it was, until tomorrow.... let's just say that Everything Was Coming Up Roses.....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Die With a T

I've stated, ad nauseum, that I strive to drink like Don Draper.... ok, not in quantity, but in quality! I also like to enjoy vegan versions of retro foods, when I can get my hands on them (and after craving Deviled Eggs for over a decade, and racking my brain own how the heck I could make a vegan Deviled Egg, just the other day, I accidently stumbled upon a recipe for them! Excited!!!). However, I did not covet the tragic diet breakfast that Betty Francis had on a recent episode of Mad Men. Yet, I found myself eating that exact breakfast this morning: Toast, cheese and a grapefruit half. Then, I went to the fridge and squirted half a can of Redi-Whip into my mouth. Oooooonly joking!
Here I am a few years ago, vacationing in Italy, before the days I had to eat grapefruit for breakfast.
 Something amazing happened during breakfast, aside from the sheer comedy of accidently eating a 1960's Weight Watchers breakfast. The grapefruit..... wasn't bad. It was a pink grapefruit, and perhaps this particular grapefruit was an extraordinarily mild one. Still, I was ok with eating it! Of course, I need to eat a few more before I can claim that I have conquered grapefruit. But maybe I am on my way?!? Shocking!!

I'm still trudging along with some of my old foes. I finished that entire bottle of Triple Berry juice. It was relatively painless. I think it is time for me to move up to 100% Cranberry juice again. I finished up a bottle of mineral water. That one still caused me some issues! In fact, I had the "genius" idea that maybe I could kill 2 mock birds with 1 stone, by combining some mineral water with some Triple Berry juice. It didn't help matters at all. 

In other water news, I drank a bottle of flavored water. It was Trader Joe's brand, Tropical flavor. And I'm not sure why I was under the impression that I didn't like flavored water? It was totally fine! I mean, I don't really see the point of it. I'd much rather quench my thirst with regular water, instead of water with sugar and flavor in it. And if I want a sweet drink, depending on the situation, I'd always turn to a ginger ale or a Manhattan. Still, there was nothing wrong with the taste of it! Maybe I'll try another flavor, just to be sure. And maybe one day, I'll be brave and drink my water in a restaurant and leave the slice of lemon in it, instead of immediately flinging the lemon into my husband's glass. That would be a major accomplishment!
Did I mention that Don Draper would never drink Flavored Water?
 I have big plans for lunch tomorrow.... I'm going to eat something I have never eaten in my life, because historically, I hated ALL of the components of it! But I am actually pretty sure I will love it now! Stay tuned! ;-)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


These days, there are two things that make me exceptionally happy. 1) Taking advantage of an opportunity to eat or drink something I hate. 2) Realizing that I have dealt with myself effectively enough that I can safely say I no longer have true hatred for a food I once loathed. Today, I get to claim another victory, over a food that has plagued me for my entire life. But now, joining the ranks of sauerkraut and root beer is my latest accomplishment, radicchio!

As I mentioned last week, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was almost over radicchio, when I ate a meal that included it and it didn't bother me at all. But just to make sure, tonight I made something that really showcased radicchio. It was a very strange salad, but I have to say, I enjoyed it! It was Brussels Sprouts with Walnut Vinaigrette. Now, I have always liked Brussels Sprouts, (especially roasted ones!) but I have certainly never eaten them prepared like this before! You removed the individual leaves of the sprouts, blanche them, then serve them as if they were salad greens, tossed with some walnuts, a vinaigrette dressing and some sliced radicchio. It sounded so weird, but it was pretty good! And the radicchio didn't bother me at all!
Here is a much more fabulous way to Blanche Brussels Sprouts!
 Now, I'm not gonna sit here and say I love radicchio like I love butter lettuce or mache. Nor would I want to eat a salad that was only radicchio. But I can safely say I can eat it with no problem in any of the common ways I may encounter it in the future. Namely, in moderation and tossed with other ingredients that have some sort of sweetness to them. No longer will I need to leave a tragic magenta and white pile on the side of my plate!
Also, I have a public service announcement for you! Ataulfo mangoes are now in season! I had my first one yesterday. I like all mangoes, but I wouldn't just slice up a regular mango and eat it as a snack. But I promise you, the is almost nothing better than ataulfo mango, peeled and cut into chunks, and served with a squeeze of lime. If you have never had one, the time is now!
Finally, I randomly just looked at my Klout score. I never use it and I signed up on a whim several months ago. But it had apparently been tracking my Tweets all along, and has declared me to be influential on the topics of Restaurants.... Dieting..... and Beer. Never thought I'd see THAT day!!! :-)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cranberry Fields Forever :-/

Just a short update today, on a couple of issues I haven't mentioned in a while.

I'm back on the Cranberry Juice Wagon. Remember, I started off with 100%, unsweetened Cranberry Juice. That didn't go well. I then followed a suggestion to go with a blend, so I tried a Cranberry Hibiscus juice, but I disqualified that option after I realized it was mostly apple and pear juice, which explained why it tasted so good. So, let's see if my third try is a charm! I have been drinking from a bottle of Triple Berry Blend. It's a combo of unsweetened Cranberry, Pomegranate and Blueberry juices. I love blueberries and I'm ok with pomegranates. Due to their contributions, I guess this blend is a tad more tolerable than the straight up Cranberry juice. I'm not exactly lovin' it, but at least I can drink it without making a face or any audible reactions of disgust. Progress? ;-)
I am currently so high in antioxidants that there isn't a free radical within a mile of me.
 I'm sure you're all just dying of curiosity about the status of my recipe collection, right?!? I'm still chugging away at entering stuff into that amazing recipe app, but at this point, I've definitely entered all of the essentials into it. Essentials, meaning I have put about 2000 recipes into the thing! I have also gone through ALL of my binders of cut out recipes.... and cleaned them ALL out! This is HUGE! I got rid of a lot of the recipes in them, either because they were redundant, or I got real with myself that I was honestly never going to make them, so I *gasp* threw about 1500 into the recycle bin! I have about 300 recipes that I want to keep left to enter into the app. And the very instant I get a new Cooking Light or Eating Well, I put the new recipes I want to make into the app immediately, so I don't start a new pile up of paper recipes. Organizing those 5000 recipes I had collected is probably one of the greatest accomplishments of my entire life. :-D Even better than being able to take the Advanced Cardio Barre class! Of course, I suddenly realize that it's because of those 5000 recipes that I have to take Cardio Barre at all. Hmmmm.
One thing did lead to another, but I've been trying hard to fixx my problems!
Finally, I have no idea why, but I had a large increase in page views this weekend. I have no idea who you people are, but thanks for coming and reading my terrible puns. Hopefully, they didn't scare you all away!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Let's Have a Drink From Bermuda!

Three years ago, I actually did take a boat to Bermuda. It was on a cruise with my parents, so it was the exact opposite of "getting away from it all." ;-) This cruise came shortly after I started living my life guided by one of my Golden Rules: If Don Draper wouldn't drink it, then I won't drink it. This is how I became the first woman in history to go on a tropical cruise and drink nothing that was decorated with an umbrella. I hope I at least amused the bartenders with my insistence on drinking nothing but Martinis and Old Fashioneds!

We didn't spend a ton of time in Bermuda proper, but we had a couple of days to check it out. My husband was eager to get his hands on The National Drink of Bermuda, the Dark 'N Stormy. I was not eager to get my hands on one, because it contains one of my least favorite beverages, Ginger Beer. Several years ago, you couldn't find a Dark 'N Stormy outside of Bermuda, but now, you can find them several places around Los Angeles. Still, I obviously never had one..... until yesterday, when the Dark 'N Stormy became my Phase 2 in trying to conquer Ginger Beer.
Here's my husband in Bermuda, embracing the local fashion sense.
 Phase 1 was a few weeks ago, when I tried one of my World Famous Moscow Mules. That didn't go so well. The Dark 'N Stormy is basically the same drink as the Moscow Mule, but with one crucial difference: The Dark 'N Stormy mixes black rum with the Ginger Beer and lime, whereas the Moscow Mule uses vodka.

I was filled with trepidation about the Dark 'N Stormy, but you know what? It was pretty good! Sure, there was a little tinge of Ginger Beer Unpleasantness, but it wasn't overwhelming... not like it was with the Moscow Mule. Which makes me need to express something I have said many times: Vodka is Stupid.  While the Black Rum added a lovely flavor to the Dark 'N Stormy, and cut down on the overwhelming Ginger Beer Flavor, the vodka adds nothing to a Moscow Mule but alcohol. Vodka doesn't contribute to the flavor profile of a cocktail. It's only purpose is to intoxicate you. As my father-in-law says, "Vodka is a drink for drunks." And if you people take nothing else away from this blog, please walk away with the consideration that vodka is a boring drink and drinking it more regularly than you drink other kinds of spirits may mean you are a bit of a dullard.
Ah, the pleasure of Dark 'n Stormy.

So, I suppose I like a Dark 'N Stormy enough that, if I find myself in Bermuda again, I would be happy to drink one. When in Hamilton, after all! :-) I'd like to think that even Don Draper would be happy to enjoy a Dark 'N Stormy were he to vacation in Bermuda. And why wouldn't he have vacationed in Bermuda?!?!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baklava: This Vegan's Dilemma

I'm no stranger to Baklava. While I hail from an area that is predominantly Irish, Italian and Jewish, there was also a hearty Greek presence. Baklava appeared frequently as our dessert in many local restaurants. I recall that, when I was very tiny, I used to eat it. By the time I was an adolescent, my taste buds had obviously changed, and I decided that Baklava was too sweet, too sticky and I wanted nothing to do with it. Last night, I tried to end my 30 year Baklava Boycott, but I kind of failed.

Most of the foods I am trying to eat during this project are easy enough to come by. Most are inherently vegan. The ones that aren't, I am veganizing and making them at home. Some things, I am making a point to leave it to the professionals and finding them at restaurants. But Baklava gave me a bit of a dilemma.... Baklava is not inherently vegan.... I am too terrified of working with phyllo to try and make it at home.... and vegan Baklava is not something you'll encounter in most vegan restaurants. To the best of my knowledge (and please, someone correct me if I'm wrong!), the only restaurant one can find vegan Baklava is at Rahel Ethiopian.
I said Rahel, I said wot, I said Rahel, I said wot!
 It's not a sacrifice for me to eat dinner at Rahel. I like Ethiopian food! I enjoyed my enormous vegan combo platter! But that wasn't my true purpose. I couldn't wait for them to bring on the Baklava! And when it arrived, I felt a bit let down!

First, the good news! I liked what they gave me. I ate it all up! But.... but.... but.... it's wasn't the kind of Baklava I remember hating! This treat was made of phyllo, yes, and had some nuts in it, but it wasn't extremely sweet and sticky, the way I remembered it being! And then, my husband stated the obvious, which had somehow escaped me. Well, of course it was dry and barely sweet.... it's vegan Baklava... so, they didn't use honey! Excessive honey, which is probably the one crucial component that made me turn away from Baklava in my youth! And here I was, trying to conquer my fears, but eating a dry piece of phyllo that got me no closer to my goal. :-/

So now, I face a real dilemma. I have come to terms with the fact that Baklava, the way I remember it, does not exist in the form in which I would eat it (meaning, without butter, but including honey, or in the very least, agave!). Which leaves me in a pickle. Do I give it up, since there is no reason to conquer something that I will actually never again have occasion to eat? Or do I stick with the very principle of this whole experiment, which is to see if it is really possible to push my palate to its very limits, and seriously learn to appreciate all of the foods which stand out as being things that I think I hate? And if I decide to stick with Baklava, this means something frightening... *I* will need to be the one to make it! And I'm not scared of much in the kitchen, but I find the thought of dealing with phyllo to be rather daunting! What ever shall I do?!?

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Get No Kick From Champagne

Sometimes, you just get inspired to throw a little celebration into everyday life. I admit that I'm not always the best at doing this. My husband and I decided early on that we were going to use our fancy, crystal glasses that we got when we got married on a regular basis, and not just save them "for a special occasion"... because that would mean we would hardly ever get to use them. But aside from that, I'm normally guilty of saving the "nice" things until we have an exciting reason to use them. You know, if I'm just going to have a glass of wine while sitting in my comfy pants and watching "Boardwalk Empire", I'm obviously going to open the $4 bottle of Trader Joe's Merlot and not anything nice. But yesterday, I decided to declare it a day for celebration!

I've been taking Cardio Barre classes, once or twice a week, since October. I'm not gonna lie.... I hate them. That said, I always feel great for the rest of the day after I take one, and they really are great exercise, so I keep it up. I've stuck with the Beginner Level classes (except for the one time, on my second visit to Cardio Barre, when I accidently took the advanced class, and I almost lost my very life), which are hard enough, but I had a goal for myself that I wanted to willingly take the Advanced Class again, and live to tell the tale. Yesterday, I took the Advanced Class, and I think I did pretty well! I left feeling very proud of myself, and as soon as I got home, I put a bottle of Champagne in the fridge. I mean, my chunky, middle aged body kept up with all of those skinny, sinewy, 22 year olds in the Advanced Class, which I think is cause for celebration!
I agreed to let them photograph my legs, for use in their future advertisements.
I happened to have 2 bottles of Champagne on hand.... because, I have been saving them for a special occasion ;-).... but also because, as you know, I don't particularly care for Champagne (or any sort of sparkling wine. I know it's only really Champagne if it hails from Champagne). I guess I'm at the point where I can tolerate it, and if called upon to take part in a champagne toast, I can do that, but I want to be at the point where I actually *like* the taste of Champagne! I consider myself to be a lady of exquisite taste, and I consider it to be a real embarrassment not to actually enjoy the stuff!

Hubby had a great day himself, so he had reason to be joyous too! And of course he was proud of me "leveling up" in Cardio Barre.... he knows, all too well, how challenging this whole Cardio Barre thing has been for me. After dinner, we had a Champagne Toast. At first sip, we both kind of made faces. That first sip of Champagne is a doozy! Remember, I still have some residual issues with both white wine and carbonated beverages, which explain my Champagne issues.
Just a normal Thursday night at home.
 Over the course of watching a 3 hour long movie, we managed to drink the bulk of the bottle of Champagne. After the first sip, it does get easier. I suppose once it gets a little bit flat, it becomes more palatable for me. By the end of the evening, I can't say that I legitimately liked the taste of the Champagne, but I definitely showed I could tolerate drinking it! Aside from a few experiences with Champagne Cocktails, I've never drank more than 1 tiny flute of Champagne at a time, until last night. :-) Now, I need to find another excuse to celebrate, so I can open up the other bottle of Champagne I have.... that one is the NICE bottle, which, of course, I have been saving for a REALLY special occasion!

One more thing of note: I made a Broccoli, Ham and Pasta Salad for dinner. It had half a head of radicchio in it. The radicchio didn't bother me at all! I think I'm on the verge of being able to claim that I have conquered radicchio!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Once, Twice, Three Times a Mole

Coming from me, this isn't saying much.... but I just ate the best mole I have ever eaten! In fact, I loved it! But I am not about to declare that I have conquered mole once and for all, for a very important reason that I will get to in a moment.

To review, my first mole was a fucked up conglomeration of bullshit that I used on some vegan enchiladas. My mole loving husband loved that one. I found it rather repulsive. My second mole was an eggplant lentil mole chili. I liked that one ok, but Mole Man didn't even recognize it as mole until I told him it was supposed to be mole. :-/ So, that one wasn't mole enough. Was there to be no mole we could agree on?
Alas, I'm just looking for a mole.
 Tonight, I made a Smokey Turkey Almond Mole.... a "normal" mole recipe which I veganized. It definitely contained many of the usual weird suspects you'd expect to find in mole.... ground up nuts, tomatoes, onions, chilis, a couple of chopped up corn tortillas.... but when I planned to use this recipe, I somehow didn't notice what it DIDN'T contain. It wasn't until I was almost done with the recipe, when I became confused and went, "Wait. When do I add the chocolate?!?!" I re-read the ingredient list about 5 times, not believing my very eyes. But it was true! No chocolate in this mole! Suddenly, I became more optimistic about my dinner!

So, yes. My husband and I both loved this mole... and he insisted that there are many varieties of mole out there in this crazy world, and that this one counted as a true mole, even without the chocolate... but it just didn't seem like The Real Thing. Next time, I shall make sure the mole I attempt contains the dreaded chocolate. And "dreaded chocolate" is not a combination of those 2 words that I have ever used before! Chocolate is honestly one of my favorite flavors around. How can something so lovely be so terrible when used in a spicy sauce?

Before I go, I want to speak of another lovely thing. To go with the mole, I made this Cucumber and Avocado Salad. It was dee-licious! It involves letting the cucumbers macerate. And I'm not gonna lie, I have never involved maceration in my dinner preparation! But this was so good, I'm going to dream about it tonight!
Sweet Dreams are made of this!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kim Kimeree, Kim Kimeree, Kimchi Cheree

If left to my own devices, I would probably only eat any sort of Asian food maybe four times a year. Three of those would be Japanese, and once would be Chinese, leaving no room for the cuisine of any other Asian nation. Sure, I've dined at Vietnamese, Thai and Cambodian restaurants (although I confess I had a major melt down last year, regarding southeast Asian restaurants and their fondness for putting filthy fish sauce in EVERYTHING, including "vegetarian" food, so I declared a lifelong ban on any of those restaurants, unless they are 100% vegan places), and I guess I liked the food ok. But it's not something that I ever crave eating. I never even bothered to try a Korean restaurant, until a vegetarian-friendly one opened up in LA 2 years ago. I'm just more drawn to Soul Food than Seoul Food! So, in light of this all, I think you can understand how I went this long and I never ate Kimchi.... until last night.
That's what my husband looks like at the prospect of eating Asian food. I more closely resemble the fellow on the right.
I decided to try out Kimchi in solidarity with my good friend, Jeffrey "The Man Who Ate Everything" Steingarten. He was the one who inspired me to do this whole experiment, after all! And I do believe that Kimchi was the only thing on his list of Food Phobias that I was also in need of coming to terms with.... everything else he needed to conquer was either not vegan, or I already liked it!

Making Kimchi is a process that takes several days to complete. No big deal, I've made things before that took a couple of days to be ready. But what I have never done before is make a recipe that calls for 1/2 cup of salt! In fact, I'm quite sure that I've never before made any recipe that called for more than 1 1/2 tsp of salt! But no kidding, you have to soak a chopped head of napa cabbage in a mixture of water and 1/2 cup salt for several hours. Then you dump the salt water, and add the other ingredients (DAIKON, green onions, garlic, ginger, hot peppers, ginger, rice vinegar) and let the whole mess sit around and fester for a few days.

As of last night, the Kimchi had had a suitable amount of time to sit back and deal with itself, so I served it with dinner. I made my husband go first, since he's had Kimchi before, and I'm not gonna lie... I was a bit nervous about my first attempt. His first response was that it was REALLY spicy. The man loves spicy food, but I'm not kidding, his face turned red! It was at that moment I began to question my method for spicing my Kimchi. See, the recipe called for 9 Thai Bird Chilis. I was under the impression that those were very spicy. And I personally didn't want to have an atomic Kimchi. So, instead, I used 2 serrano chilis.... I know they are spicy, but I thought using 2 instead of the *9* the recipe called for would take it down a notch. Well, while the Kimchi was definitely spicy, it mostly wasn't as bad at that first bite he took, in which my husband must have accidently eaten a whole slice of seedy serrano.
My Kimchi didn't turn red. Only my husband's face did.

And what did I think of 'Lil Kimchi? I suppose I liked it enough, but mostly, I found it to be outrageously salty! I think it was a lot more salty than it was spicy! And I'm not one of those pansy vegans who is afraid of salt! My husband assured me that all Korean food is extremely salty. I'll take his word on that!

Finally, I hadn't eaten daikon for months, but I would like you to know it tasted great in the Kimchi, so I really think I'm completely over any daikon fears I used to have. Hmmmm... maybe if I soak seaweed in a jar of rice vinegar and serrano chilis for a few days, it'll make it taste good too? :-)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Once Bitten, Twice Chai

Over the course of this project, I have made so many things I never imagined I would EVER try to create in my kitchen. Mole. Pickled Red Onions. A Michelada. And now, I have made another undesirable recipe from scratch. I made Chai.

I rather enjoyed the Chai I made from the tragic, lonely Chai teabag I uncovered in my tin of Herbal Tea For Old People. All I had to do was free myself from the notion that I was drinking Ruined Tea, and convince myself I was drinking Something Else Entirely. After I liked that cup of Chai, I looked forward to making some good Chai, from scratch! I'm sure I could find at least 4 places that offer up Vegan Chai within a 2 block radius of my house, but you know me. I'm a cooker, not a buyer!

So, I boiled up that mixture of cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns and ginger, simmered it, then added the soymilk and honey. I shared a cup with my husband. While we both really liked it, we both found it too sweet. I was sceptical about the fact the recipe told me to put 1/4 of honey in a recipe for 2 cups of Chai, but who I am to have an opinion on a Chai recipe? But turns out, I was right. 2 tbsp would have been perfect. Oh well, next time. And yes, there WILL be a next time, because I can safely say I LIKE CHAI now!
Hubby and I sat down with our Chai and watched some Downton Abbey
 I also want to update you on the BEER situation. I have slowed down a bit on it, but I'm still trying, don't worry! The other day, Hubby and I split a bottle of Fat Weasel Ale. Hoo boy, do I still have a long way to go!!! It was bitter and not good! My husband really didn't care for it, and he has decided that he likes beer now. Wheat beer, that is. And I was stunned when he told me what he did a week or so ago. He was out and got one of his beloved hard ciders, but it was a tad too sweet, so he wanted to wash the sweet taste out of his mouth... which he did with a *Guiness*! I was shocked! So, he has decided that he knows what kinds of beer he can drink, and that is good enough, because no one has to like ALL kinds of beer! However, I am not satisfied to just sit back and say, "I can drink lager now and not barf.... good enough!" I plan to keep on trying the beers that I DON'T like. That is the point of this whole thing!
I can promise you my husband won't be chasing this weasel around any mulberry bushes!
Finally, I've been drinking that Cranberry Hibiscus Blend. It definitely doesn't count as cranberry. It's way too good! :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Seacret To My Success

Every so often, both my husband and I start to feel a little chunky. Neither of us are outside of the "normal" weights for our heights, but we both try and pay attention to what is going on with our bodies. As we sprint towards Middle Age, neither of us wants to wake up one day and realize we have gained 50 pounds! So, we try to nip it in the bud. Every so often, we'll just spend a week or 2 eating a bit lighter than usual, and then, everything is fine. But last night, I discovered the true secret to keeping your weight in check: Make something for dinner that you can scarcely manage to eat! This is one sure way to ensure proper portion control!!!

I decided to marry my quest to eat light this week with my quest to get better adjusted to seaweed / sea vegetables. I made a Rice Noodle and Edamame Salad. This ended up being a bit of an adventure, due to one pesky ingredient: 1 cup arame or dulse seaweed. But I was sure I could get away with this! Sure, those dried seaweed snacks never did stop making me gag, but I have no problem putting down kappa maki like there is no tomorrow! I figured there should be no problem putting some seaweed in a rice noodle salad, considering it wasn't going to be dry and crispy like tissue paper, which is what I was assuming was making me have such a problem with those atrocious seaweed snacks.

You probably won't be surprised to know that Whole Foods had a rather large selection of "sea vegetables." And you will also not be surprised to hear they mostly ranged from expensive, to ridiculously expensive! Most cost between $8 and $22 for a package! I couldn't do that, so I decided on the cheapest one I could find, which was a small pouch of Wakame for $3.

Now, the wakame needed to be reconstituted before using it, which you do by just soaking it for several minutes. I poured the entire package into a 4 cup measuring cup, and realized it only contained 3/4 cup, which was less than the recipe asked for. But I figured it would be ok to go light on the sea vegetable. So, I covered it with water, and then, went about my business. And boy, was I in for the shock of my night!
This is what the wakame looked like when I put it into the measuring cup.
Next time I looked at it, it looked like this!
Guys, I knew it was going to expand with water, and I was prepared for it to double in size, hence giving me about a cup and a half of the stuff. I'm not kidding, when I looked back at the wakame 4 minutes later, it was literally overflowing the 4 cup measuring cup! I was stunned! Needless to say, I had more then enough wakame to go around!!! I ended up using about a cup of the reconstituted stuff in my Rice Salad!

Well, I have now confirmed for sure that my issues with seaweed run deep. YUCK! I could barely manage to eat half of my salad. I had to just try and shovel it in without thinking about it, because if I stopped to contemplate what I was eating, it made me feel queasy and nauseated! Seaweed is very troubling! At least in every other context besides wrapped around some sushi rice and sliced avocado!
Doesn't it look pretty? And yet, it tasted so ugly!
So, yes. I achieved great success when it came to eating a light dinner. But as for being able to tolerate a hefty dose of a sea vegetable? A complete and total failure! :-/

I did a little research on Greek Mythology. Here is Echidna, sea monster associated with slime, sea-rot, fetid salt-marshes, and I'm assuming, sea weed. No wonder it tastes so ugly!
Anyway, I guess I need to try more seaweed in the near future, but the thought fills me with dread! I think I'd rather deal with Echidna herself than with another plate of wakame!!!

Finally, THANK YOU to all of you who have brought my view count to 1000!!! That was very exciting to me!!! And, as promised, I am no longer upset about those losers who were going around calling me a bad wife!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bloody Mary, Full of Grace

Before I get into my latest food adventure, I have something stuck in my craw that I need to vent about. Over the past week, I have been under a bit of public attack. In a nutshell, I gave an honest answer to what I thought was a sincere question, which was "Is it hard for a meat eater to be married to a vegan?" I gave a nice, informative response and told the truth about my own situation, assuming that this would help to dispel some of the prevailing opinions that it would be a fucking nightmare for a meat eater to marry a vegan. Well, obviously, this blew up in my face, and I've been called everything from "a pain in the ass" to "delusional" to "selfish," mainly in response to the fact that my husband and I have a meat-free home... something he happily agreed to, long before we got married.

Admittedly, the people who have been insulting me and my marriage (although they have given my husband the backhanded complement of labeling him "a saint," for his willingness to treat his allegedly impossible wife with such kindness) are not enlightened people. They are mainstream in their ways of thinking and of going through life. The thought of not being able to go and eat complete garbage at chain fast food restaurants is completely unfathomable to them. And, more often than not, these people have had horrible marriages to mainstream women. Women that, sure, could go to any Applebee's or TGIFridays with them.... but women who are bad wives. Wives who have NEVER cooked dinner for their husbands. Wives who belittle their men. Wives who nag and nag, day in and day out. And it's stunning to me that I would be instantly written off as a "pain in the ass" and told to "hit the bricks" based on my meat-free house, whereas horrible harpies are not told to "hit the bricks" based on their ability to eat at Golden Corral.

Anyway..... just the latest attack in the life of a vegan. I'm sure the nice people who know me are shocked to hear about me being insulted in this way! And I'm also sure that all vegans have numerous tales about being insulted by close-minded, ignorant buffoons. Vegan friends, don't let the bastards grind you down!!


You may recall that, several weeks ago, I drank a vegan Bloody Mary. And, to my surprise, I rather liked it! However, this was a fancy cocktail from a trendy restaurant, and I couldn't help but wonder how I would like a traditional Bloody Mary. That is, a traditional Bloody Mary made vegan! ;-) Now, where would I go to get an Old School cocktail, made the way it would have been made in 1940?!? And where do they know me well enough that they would let me get away with me pulling a BYOVWS (Bring Your Own Vegan Worcestershire Sauce). Give you one guess!
As far as I'm concerned, THIS is the Happiest Place on Earth!
Musso and Frank is obviously the least trendy place in all of Los Angeles! I was invited to attend a little surprise party for one of their bartenders last night, so I took advantage of this occasion to bring along my little bottle of Worcestershire sauce and partake of a traditional Bloody Mary, expertly made by a man who was making Bloody Marys long before my parents even met!

I admit I was a little nervous, but I shouldn't have been! The Old School Bloody Mary Done Vegan was just fine! Dare I say, even better than the Trendy Vegan Bloody Mary?!? It was spicier than I was expecting it to be, but I was totally fine with that. I'm not saying I want to give up Manhattans and drink nothing but Bloody Marys from now on, but I do hope I have occasion to have one again, preferably at the proper time of day... the brunch hours. That seems like it would be a good idea!
Along came Mary!
 Yes, I have officially learned to Hail Bloody Mary. Mary is now mine! Only took 4 Bloody Marys over the course of 10 years to get here. ;-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cranberry Conundrum

This will be a quickie. I cut my finger preparing dinner last night (stupid celery), and while it's not a bad cut, it hurts to type.

So, all I want to say is this. Remember when I was drinking that 100% cranberry juice, and it was awful? I followed someone's advice to start off with a cranberry blend instead, to slowly get myself used to the stuff. I got a bottle of Trader Joe's "Hibiscus Cranberry Blend." I figured, not only would this help me with cranberry juice, but it would help with my Flower Flavor issue as well!

I had the juice straight. And it was really good! Then, I had some with a squeeze of lime and a shot of rum, and that was pretty delicious. I was feeling proud of myself! Then, I looked at the ingredients.... seriously, there was so little actual cranberry in it, I don't think it even counts! It is apparently mostly apple and pear juices. :-/ I liked it and I'll keep drinking it, but I just think the cranberry is too diluted to really be able to further my cranberry cause. I'll probably have to go back to 100% cranberry, and then, just make my own blends at home, gradually making them more and more cranberrylicious.

One day, this is how I will feel about these badberries.
And I suppose there is a joke to be made about Cranberries and having a cut upon my finger, and how I hope it doesn't linger, but I'm not going to make a joke like that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

If At First you Don't Succeed, Chai and Chai Again

I started drinking hot cups of black tea when I was still a child. Hence, began a lifelong love affair with tea. And hence began the cycle of me being rather particular about tea. And now that I have learned to accept Earl Grey, it was time to move on to other undesirable tea options. 
Here is an early photo of me. I promise the tea was black and caffeinated.
Now, I do drink peppermint tea when I get a tummy ache, and I partake of Throat Coat when I have a sore throat, but aside from that, I never drink herbal tea. Most importantly, what's the point of drinking tea without caffeine?!? But secondly, who likes to drink a warm meadow?!? I suppose I like Rooibus ok, but as for any other variety of herbal teas, I say a big No Thank You.

I have a small stash of herbal tea at home.... all of it given to me as a gifts.... that I keep around for the times that we have Old People or various other No Caffeine At Night tea drinkers visiting us. I discovered a never used tin of chamomile tea, and decided to brew up a pot for my husband and I the other night. And when I loaded up the teapot with those tiny flowers and little leaves I had a major DUH moment! I hadn't thought of the connection before, but obviously, my aversion to herbal tea is just an offshoot of another of my Food Issues that I need to tackle during this project: I don't like any food or drink that tastes flowery! 
Hubby and I enjoy another wild night on the Sunset Strip!
I suppose I've drank worse things lately than the cup of chamomile tea.... Ginger beer immediately comes to mind! But it wasn't so bad that I required any sympathy with my tea. So, if some well-meaning old lady ever gives me a cup of chamomile tea, I will be able to drink it without making a face, and I will just wish inside that I were drinking black tea instead!

And speaking of black tea, I also investigated another way in which black tea has been ruined. In my kitchen cabinet search for herbal tea, I came across one lonely bag of Chai tea. I've had Chai once or twice, and I was not a fan. For one thing, milk or cream simply do not belong in tea! And in the case of Chai, sure I like all of the spices that go into it (cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, peppercorns, etc.)...... it's just that none of them belong in tea! My husband pointed out that a billion people in India disagree with me!

I have to say, the Chai was actually ok.... once I was able to trick myself into thinking, "You are not drinking tea sullied with soymilk and wrong spices.... You are drinking Something Else...." When I stopped thinking of Chai as ruined tea, but as a whole different thing, I managed to even like it a little bit!
How do I get through the day? Oh, you know, tai chi, chai tea.
 I already found a real recipe for Chai so I can make some from scratch next time, instead of just using a tragic old tea bag. And we'll see how that treats me! And I will try other kinds of herbal tea from my Old People Tea stash, until I can finally shake the feeling of drinking a flower garden. And I will work on my flower aversion in other ways too, just you wait and see!