Writersflock

The Hulk

Posted in Food, Living by mcarmen5 on 01/20/2011

I don’t know when exactly or how it happened, but something sparked the idea that green juice might be fun to try and the next thing I knew, I was obsessed.  I’ve been juicing and drinking a glass of green juice every morning since my first glass last week.   That glass was also the first time I ever had fresh green juice and I was so pleasantly surprised.  I scoured health blogs and magazines for “the perfect” recipe (searching for “perfection” = story of my life!) and came up with something that appealed to my palate.  I recommend using organic ingredients whenever you can and I’ll list the ones you most want to use organic below before the recipe.  Also, the recipe is meant to give an idea of a green juice — experiment to find your favorite combination.

Try your best for organic (I especially recommend sourcing organic leafy greens because you’re juicing and consuming the delicate leaves, which likely have the most pesticides on them.  Celery is also another important vegetable to purchase organic for juicing):

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Carrot

Green Juice — I lovingly call it “The Hulk” because it’s so green and powerful :)

  • 2-3 leaves of Kale (leaves removed from stem)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (sometimes I add more when I feel like it)
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1-2 small apple(s) (usually organic and either green Granny Smiths or Gala apples)
  • small piece of ginger (maybe the size of a thumbnail? depends on how much kick you want)
  • a small handful of parsley (measure to preference)

To make weekday morning juicing easier, I usually wash and prepare the ingredients and divide them into separate ziplock bags.  Each bag is labeled “Green Juice” 1, 2, 3, …etc.   Try to avoid dicing the cucumber, carrots or apples too long before juicing as the veggies tend to dry out and the apple will oxidize.

For me, it’s easier to have a morning green juice when I feel like it.  It wakes me up and I feel energized, light and refreshed.  Otherwise, I think it’s perfect as a post-workout tonic or as a snack.  I don’t really recommend using it to replace a meal, though it certainly has enough veggies to count as a salad.  My first juice was before dinner and I really didn’t know what to expect.  I was amused by the super dark green color  — it was interesting and kind of cool, and the taste was so fresh and phenomenal.  Shortly after drinking it, I walked to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner, and on that short walk I started feeling the effects.  I felt “brighter” and lighter and the bonus was that as I incorporated green juice into my days, I found myself making smarter nutritional choices.  Even better: I don’t crave coffee or soda anymore :) Give it a try!

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Love & Cioppino

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 12/21/2010

Cioppino, or “Fisherman’s Stew” has easily become one of my favorite meals, and after weeks of serious craving, I decided it was time to learn how to make it myself.  I was surprised by how simple it is to make — even though it’s full of deliciousness and seems much more complex.  My Dad is visiting for the holidays and I thought it would be great to treat him and my stepmom and brother to a warm, hearty meal.   This winter has been unusually frosty in San Francisco and a hot bowl of fresh seafood stew seemed like the perfect tonic in the perfect seaside setting.  One of my favorite things about living in San Francisco is the bounty of fresh seafood and foodie inspiration.  I combined several recipes to create something that worked for my palate, and despite a couple of worried side-glances from my Dad as he watched me cook this for the first time, it was a hit with the family.  Dad ended up enjoying it so much he went back for thirds.

{fresh Dungeness crab}

{scrubbed black mussels and clams}

{Italian parsley & fragrant onions}

{the fixin’s}

What I used:

-small black mussels (about 2 lbs for 6 people)

-long-neck clams (~3 lbs)

-wild cod fillet (~2 lbs)

-large scallops (2 per person)

-large shrimp (~ 1/2 lb)

-Dungeness crab (two 2 lb crabs)

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Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/17/2010

After several days of unusually hot weather during a mysterious second wave of Indian summer, the weather suddenly turned bitterly cold.  It was almost as if we went from summer to winter overnight!  Of course, leave it to fickle San Francisco weather to be confused.  I figured oatmeal cookies would be the trick to cozying up the home and I couldn’t wait to try this yummy adaptation of the classic oatmeal chocolate chip.  It also didn’t hurt that I was just gifted this amazing cookie scoop (Thanks, Loretta! :), which made the process a lot faster and much neater.  These cookies were SO delicious that I couldn’t help sneaking several off the cooling rack and all 60 of them were quickly devoured the next day by family and friends.  The best part?  Having the whole house smell like fresh, warm cookies the whole night through.  Mission accomplished.

Smoked Salmon with Herb Butter

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/14/2010

{Photo: GOOP}

I’m a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog GOOP, and an even BIGGER fan of smoked salmon-anything, so imagine my delight when I opened this week’s newsletter and found SF’s very own Tartine bread featured in this get-up.  Um, I’m making these now.  I don’t care if I just ate enough dinner to feed two marathon runners!

Here’s the recipe that was featured in her newsletter, adapted from Chad Robertson and his book Tartine Bread.   I’m fairly certain this is something I’ll be making again and again.

 

Smoked Salmon with Herb Butter:

Makes 1 sandwich

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped chervil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • thinly sliced smoked salmon (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1 tsp chopped chives

Make the compound butter: in a small bowl, mix the butter, tarragon, thyme, chervil, and salt.

Spread on the bread, top with salmon, sprinkle the chives over the salmon, and top with second slice of bread. Grind white pepper to taste.

 

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Pasta with Brie, Mushroom, and Arugula

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/05/2010

I’ve had the idea to make a pasta with brie and arugula for the longest time but never actually got around to doing it.  When I realized that it was getting late and dinner was on me, this quick recipe immediately came to mind.  It’s creamy, flavorful and absolutely easy to make!  I love Brie and arugula, so this is pretty much the perfect dish for me.  Instead of white wine, I subbed in chicken broth and a dash of apple cider vinegar and it tasted great!  I also tossed in bits of turkey bacon, but I think pancetta would be awesome next time.  Make sure to time it so that you’re ready to toss the pasta and sliced brie immediately — you want it to be piping hot for easier melting.  I’ve included more tips and some optional ideas below.  Buon appetito!

Tips:
– Make sure the pasta is piping hot when you toss it with the brie
– Slice brie 1/2″ instead of the 1″ described in the recipe
– White wine substitutes include chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar and even vermouth!

More ideas:
– Include meat options for the carnivorous or if you want some protein: pancetta and turkey bacon or just plain bacon cut into small pieces
– Sliced portabella make for a smokier, meatier option if you don’t want meat or if you’d like more flavor
– Cooked peas add color and texture

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French Apple Tart

Posted in Food, Living by mcarmen5 on 10/04/2010

Just as I was about to mope about the seasonal end of some of my favorite summer fruits, I was quickly reminded that fall is also ripe with plenty of other favorites.  Thinking about fall’s culinary choices got me very excited!  To me, the arrival of fall also means the delectable arrival of crisp apples, buttery squash, smokey mushrooms and hardy and hearty greens.  I decided to welcome the new season by making a rustic French apple tart — my very first!  The tart only required four Granny Smith apples and the tartness was balanced by a ginger-infused raspberry preserve glaze.  This little tart was devoured in minutes, but it actually took a lot of work to make!

Trust me, while I love food and love to eat, I’m not a superbly skilled cook by any means.  I’ve never made pastry dough from scratch all by myself — I’m usually the sous-chef and “executive” taster for my more talented friends — so the fact that I didn’t screw up the dough made me happy, and when the pastry crust came out buttery and perfectly flaky, I was through the roof!  Yep, safe to say I’m pretty pleased with myself right now ;)

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Okra and Tomatoes

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/03/2010
{Photo}

Grandma mentioned the other day that she’s always wanted to try okra, but her inexperience with cooking it was her biggest hesitation.  When I heard this I immediately grabbed a bag.  No hesitation — we were going for it!  Seeing as this was her first time having it and my very first time preparing it, I wanted to be sure that it was done right.  I love Paula Deen and opted for her recipe, adopted from her restaurant, The Lady and Sons in Savannah, Georgia.  Happily, gram loved it and is now determined to incorporate okra in her cooking.   Okra is so nutritious and delicious and surprisingly easy to prepare.   I absolutely can’t wait to make it again.  October is the last month of its natural season, so be sure to give it a try while it’s still fresh!

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Sweetest Goodbye

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/02/2010


Though we were already deep into September, San Francisco was blessed with a week of gorgeous, warm weather when our annual Indian summer rolled in like clockwork.  I tried to catch the last of the remaining summer bounty to celebrate summer one last time.  Inspired by the quarter of sweet watermelon left in the fridge, I planned a dinner menu around it and with what was already on hand (I felt so proud of myself!).  And though I only needed to grab a few more things from the farmer’s market down the hill, the beautiful weather made the venture all the more enjoyable.  I lingered and savored the summer “send-off” meal — easy, relaxed and of course, delicious!  I love you, Summer.

{watermelon salad with feta and chopped vegetables}

{homemade pizza with heirloom tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, etc}

{white wine sangria}

Read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Posted in Food, Living by mcarmen5 on 05/19/2010

{The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 2007, Michael Pollan}

For someone who is a foodie, I admit that I knew embarrassingly little about the food I ate — like, where it came from and what’s in it.

Outside of media bites and familiarity with buzz words like “free range” and “organic,” I realize now how little I understood about our agricultural system.  I literally had no real conception of the process from farm to table.

Michael Pollan’s The Ominvore’s Dilemma was my first exposure on the food subject outside of cliche or trite media bites and brief program segments on the subject.   I read it a few years ago and have been recommending it wholeheartedly since.  It has seriously changed the way I approach food in all its forms — growing, procuring, eating and preparing; it has changed the way I see food.

I highly recommend it.  One fun thing from the book that has stuck with me is the layout of the standard grocery store — the whole or “good” foods tend to be on the periphery and we are usually directed through aisles of processed foods to get from one end to the other.  The most important change I’ve noticed however, is in how I read ingredient labels — something that I feel is so enlightening that I could tell everyone about why it matters.

If you’ve ever wondered where our food comes from, what’s in it and why it matters, or even just what we should have for a meal and the evolution of what makes a “meal,” then I definitely recommend you give this book a read.

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Strawberry Swing

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 05/15/2010

image

{fresh strawberries & vanilla-honey yogurt}

May is perhaps one of my favorite months of the year.  The flowers are blooming, the weather is lovely, and ripe summer fruit is just right around the corner.

I love fruit, and hardly ever go a day without at least a piece of it.  Summer fruit, in particular, are always highly anticipated because they remind me of childhood summers.  My Mom and I would go fruit-picking and the car rides home were always delicious.  I really enjoyed those road trips out of the city and into the peaceful farmlands of the California Valley,  and I can think of few things better than a perfect peach, ruby red raspberries or sweet, juicy watermelon.

Though it’s still a bit early in the season, these cute strawberries were too irresistible to pass up at the market today.  They are petite but they pack a punch in flavor — unlike some of the giant, tasteless steroidal strawberries we so often see today (mostly seen out of season).  This is how a strawberry is supposed to look, people!

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a sweet snack when the craving hits.  It’s simple, healthful and delicious.  Now, off to watch Sherlock Holmes on DVD — love Robert Downey Jr.!

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