Friday, January 29, 2010

Did I leave the gas on?

In case you don't know this guy, his name is Eddie Izzard. He is the best comedian on the planet. And I am going to see him in LA tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!! AHAHAHAA I am so excited to see him I just can't sit still! He is the funniest, smartest person EVER. Look him up.  Aaron and I are leaving right after work for a whole weekend of LA fun so I probably won't blog again until Sunday or Monday. 

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to share some pictures with you from last week. I have some really cool distant cousins that live in Cardiff by the Sea, which is a little beach town about 5 miles north of where I live. These cousins just came into my life in May (it seems like a lot of cool things happened to me in May.... discovering blogs....learning about vegetarianism, meetings my cousins....lots of vacations....interestingly enough that same month I had a fortune cookie that said "You are about to begin something new and wonderful" Hmmmm.... anyway, I digress.)  So these mystery cousins consist of 4 generations and I have developed a nice friendship with one of them, Rosemary. Rosemary lives with her partner, Raymond, in this little house overlooking the Pacific ocean. They are both artists...Rosemary does giant brush painting (and tai chi, and yoga, and other things....) and Raymond is a photographer. They both love art and are lucky to do it for a living. They both also teach to share their knowledge. Their house is just great! It's full of their art work and such a nice view.  It always seems they have some kind of jazz or classical music playing too.  They have lovely land with tons of fruit trees and flowers, and bonsai. See some of the gorgeous-nous below:

This flower tree is so pretty! I think Raymond told me they are camilias. Initially I felt it was sad the blossoms were dropping to the ground but Raymond quickly corrected me. He told me it was like the flowers were meant to be scattered on the ground...just for him! :)

This is a grapefruit tree and Rosemary gave me a whole bag to use. She said they would be a bit tart but great for some cocktail mixers with lemoncelo or some other sweet liquor. I haven't had time to try them yet, but I will. It sounds delish! The building in the back is Rosemary's studio where she has classes on giant brush painting and where she keeps her art supplies, etc. There is a large wall of windows looking out to the ocean and there is also a large wall filled with books and records...thousands I would assume! What I wouldn't give to spend a day picking through those records and listening to them...It is truly an amazing studio and she is so lucky to have it. She also practices yoga in there. Rosemary's mother, Dorothea, is 90+ and also does yoga...she can do handstands!!!! I can't even do handstands! Dorothea lives across the street and is wonderful, more on her later. 

While I am very happy that Rosemary, Raymond, and the rest of their family have come into my life, it's kind of sad I have these cool cousins living so close and I just met them!  They are so full of creativity and caring and are truly remarkable people. I look forward to continuing to cultivate our relationships and hope I can take some classes from both of them!

Last Sunday I spent some time with Rosemary and we went to the Leucadia Farmer's Market. We had such a nice time.  The sun was out for the first time in a week and we shared a leisurely vegetarian lunch and each others' company.  The Leucadia Farmer's market is great! You can see the ocean from there and they always have musicians playing.  They have great products not available at other farmer's markets in San Diego. It's a little more hippy-ish...just like Leucadia. :)  

That is where I bought the aforementioned guavas, some sweet potatoes, apples, pears, asian pears (Aaron's favorite), oranges and some iris. We get our CSA package every other week and while most of the vegetables keep us occupied through the two weeks, we eat the fruit within one week so I go to a farmer's market to supplement. I also bought some green juice that I took a large swig of each morning. It was $8 but was pretty big (Maybe a liter?) and full of kale and other green stuff... as I understand, juicing is REALLY pricey and this seemed like a good deal for what I imagined was probably 4-5 pounds worth of produce in one bottle. It was very planty tasting, but I really liked it! It gave me tons of energy and I think I get the whole juicing thing. I don't have the money or space for a juicer but will definitely pick up this zesty green juice whenever I can. 

Well, I am off to LA for Eddie, visiting with some old friends, the La Brea Tar Pits, The Getty Museum, Venice Beach, maybe Santa Monica, the LA Original Farmer's Market, Little Tokyo....Yeah! A little vacation with my Honey!

Happy Friday everyone (and don't forget to not leave the gas on....hee...hee)!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Locust Pose and Lotus... Roots?

I am sure some of you know more about yoga than others so for the sake of the newbies, I will do some explaining.

The type of yoga I do is vinyasa yoga. Basically, vinyasa yoga is a flowing form of yoga with lots of breathing and flowing postures. It is much more aggressive and active than more traditional and well known hatha yoga. The studio I go to also heats the room to 105 degrees, and sometimes with so many people in there, the room gets even hotter. Luckily, they clean the floor constantly and the floor is antibacterial. The heat really allows for better flexibility and all that sweating is great for getting your body rid of toxins that you eat, breath, and live in everyday. It is such an incredible workout for your cardio system, your muscles and joints, and for calming your mind after a long day. I LOVE it!

As if heated vinyasa wasn't hard enough, the studio I go to also does sculpt classes where you basically do vinyasa yoga and combine posses with weights! and also do a bunch of other weight work. These are usually the most popular classes and fill up with 30-45 add their body heat to the heated room, and you end up with a hot sweaty mess.

Last night I was taking the hardest sculpt class. I usually just take little child pose breaks when I need to and usually can make it through ok. Last night...not so much. About half way through the class I got super nauseated and after about 40 minutes I literally could not do anything else! I did not feel so badly because I was next to a very buffed guy who couldn't do anymore either! The instructor was nuts!

For the last 5 minutes of class we did some stretching and spine strengtheners. There are many spine strengtheners where you lay on your stomach and lift your chest, legs, etc., to strengthen the spine, particularly after a bunch of crunches. One of those poses is called "locust pose" and last night I couldn't help but giggle at the resemblance of the name to the resemblance of my planned dinner last night!

I tried another super food for the first time....lotus roots! Inspired buy The Kind Diet, I roasted slices of lotus root with garlic infused olive oil and a dash of sea salt for 20 minutes at 375. My slices were pre-sliced and I think it would have been tastier and taken less time if they were thinner. Then I took them out of the oven and I tossed them with a little maple syrup / agave mixture from Trader Joes (maybe 2 tablespoons) and put them back in the oven for about 15 more minutes. They got nice and brown and were really pretty tasty! We also steamed some unpictured bok choy whole and then topped it with flax seed oil and ume vinegar and a dash of black sesame seeds. This was also inspired from The Kind Diet and I have to say, it was amazing! Aaron doesn't even like boy choy, and I hate flax seed oil, but the combination was great! We scarfed it up. For a little substance, I made "asian burritos" again inspired by The Grains of Paradise, with rice paper, baked tofu, lettuce, and these pretty purple and orange baby carrots from a little farm stand in my neighborhood. We dipped those in a soy / sweet chili sauce.

Aaron sat back after dinner and said, "that was a good dinner...actually, that was a great dinner! Thanks, Honey!" See, you can make a meat eater like tofu and...bok choy! Note to self: If you want Aaron to eat his vegetables, just add maple syrup! Ha! It was a filling and healthy dinner and after that crazy yoga class and a few pages of vampire love was off to bed.

Needless to say, I slept like a rock last night and this morning my normally difficult vinyasa flow class felt like an easy dream. A great way to wake up in the morning and stretch my sore muscles from last night. And it was especially great followed by a tropical smoothie with oat milk, frozen bananas, frozen mango, fresh guava, and a little coconut water. I also added some yogurt which is the first dairy product I have had in almost a month! It was a great way to rehydrate and get some protein and potassium too.

Here is one of the guavas from my farmer's market in Leucadia. The man who sold these to me said they are a super food too! (what's with all these super foods lately? I am a super food! Hee...hee....) Anyway, I guess they have something like 8 times the potassium of a banana. They sure smell good, my whole house smells like guavas. They have lots of seeds that you can just eat but they all blended away in the smoothie.
(Sorry for the lack luster pictures on this post and the pictures are hard! I am sure I will master it soon. I will keep adding my pictures of flowers and other scenes to keep you interested. Those are much prettier.)

One last note on food... everyone seems to like soy milk as an alternative milk. I think people are not educated as to how many milks there are!!! I just try to limit my soy milk intake because I would rather have soy in tofu or soybeans, or ice cream, etc. I really like almond milk, rice milk, and Trader Joe's has this mixed grain milk which is really good. Hemp milk is also surprisingly good. (Don't worry, it's not green.) But my favorite is Oat Milk. It has a really good flavor and has about 4 grams of protein per cup. It tastes incredible with oat meal! All this talk of food is making me hungry. Off to eat some lunch!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recent Eatings...

While I certainly have not mastered the photography of food, I think I should share some of my recent "eats" with you. As I mentioned, I started cooking vegetarian (much to the dismay of my meat loving boyfriend) as much as possible around May of 2009. I have received tons of inspiration from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks and Supernatural Cooking as well as The Grains of Paradise Blog. I have tried a number of ingredients I had no previous experience with like tempeh, nutritional yeast, and Kabocha Squash. I have also been using lots of dried beans, lentils, and whole grains. I have really tried some delish dishes! Some have not been so good, but cooking with new ingredients is an adventure and I enjoy the ride. I started out the year with a few weeks on the Fat Flush Plan, which is supposed to be a two week diet to detox the body and organs. It is a book and I have done the diet a few times in the past. It is loose weight, get great sleep, your hair, nails and skin's really great for you. But it is not really fun for a fats, salts, sugars, basically, if it has flavor, you can't have it! A few days into it I decided to stay away from meat which was a real challenge because the Fat Flush does not allow carbs or dairy either...I had to sneak in some beans and whole grains to get enough protein. I realized it might just be better to try out a health vegan / vegetarian diet for a few weeks and see what happens.

I made an incredible orange roasted tempeh dish from 101 cookbooks website. This was AMAZING. I highly recommend it. Heidi Swanson is my hero.

Also, I tried my hand at vegan mac and cheese. I added roasted cauliflower and garbanzo beans. There are many recipes for Vegan Mac and Cheese. I used a combination of Nutritional yeast, garlic, oat milk, salt and pepper, mustard, and tamari. I blended everything in the blender and heated it in the microwave. Nutritional Yeast has lots of protein and is very low in fat and has all kinds of nutritional amazing-ness. I haven't perfected this recipe yet, but will post it when I do. My BF even liked this was really tasty!

Also, I made us a really pretty breakfast of sliced grapefruits, oranges, and minolas. On top I added some agave, sliced almonds, and flax seeds. It was so good and pretty!

Well, I am off to make a healthy dinner for myself: wild rice with chard, kabocha squash, chickpeas, pinenuts and some dried currants. I think it sounds delish!

Aaron has had a rough day, so I am making him a little frozen pizza.

I am also going to cook a tomato gratin that Barefoot Contessa showed on her show on the Food Network for lunches for us for the next day or so.

Have a good evening!

Feelings on France

As you will all too soon come to find out... I love everything French! I love the French Language, French Food, French Culture, Design, Music....the supposed "French Attitude"....I truly adore the things that make the French so very... French. Although I have high hopes of calling France my home at some point, I am happy to say that I have been able to travel to France a fair amount of times.

I traveled to France for the first time immediately following my graduation from SDSU in 2001. I spent 30 days in Europe mostly by myself and had a Eurorail pass and freedom to go where ever I wanted! Not surprisingly, I spent 10 of those 30 days in Paris. I also went to Nice and Marseilles and Lilles on that trip. I immediately fell in love with the romantics ways of the French....they pay so much attention to all of the details, don't they? I just love how they wrap their food and deserts in such pretty packages.... and how they put so much care and presentation into their store displays, and gardens, and scarves...I could go on and on. I loved the lights in Paris, the cafes, and the people! I speak enough French to get by and people were much more apt to talk to me. I met many lovely French people...some even welcomed me into their homes! Unfortunately I did not have a digital camera in 2001, so I won't be able to share pictures from that trip. It was a wild time...being a 22 year old free in Europe! I might share more about that adventure later...or not. :)

My next trip to France was exclusively to mother lived in Paris for about 3 months in 2006...what a life, huh? Well, I went to visit her for a week and stayed in her luscious little 1 bedroom apartment in the 13th arrondisment.

Here is a picture of flowers at a Parisian Flower Market.... see what I mean about the attention to detail?

I obviously love French Flowers too!

On this particular trip one of the biggest joys was having access to a full kitchen where we could cook real French food from their glorious farmer's markets, grocery stores, fish markets, and boulangeries. It was absolute heaven! The apartment had a very modern kitchen that was fully stocked with the essentials like olive oil, etc, for cooking. I don't remember everything we cooked but I do remember wonderful homemade pizzas, and a horrible attempt at fresh sardines. I have had sardines before that were fresh and just wonderful...mine were not so lucky. They were full of bones and inedible. C'est la vie. It was fun cooking anyway and eating on the little outdoor patio in such an amazing city.

I also recall a great traditional fondue dinner at a little hole in the wall on my mom's street... "Rue des Cinq Diamonts". Fondue as most American's know it with swiss cheese is actually swiss! The French take their fondue as hot oil and it is served with raw vegetables and meats. You actually cook the meats and veggies in the hot oil. It was wonderful (this was before I was afraid of meat). We also were served cheese fondue with amazing fresh baked French Bread. The little restaurant had no more than 5 tables and was run by this robust French woman and her husband. Neither one of them spoke a word of English, so needless to say it was interesting. But I managed and had a great fondue dinner.

Isn't it amazing how dinner like this can really stand out in your mind?

My last trip to France was much more recent, and I would like to post a lot more pictures about it. I will do that at a later date. I really need to figure out the formatting of the pictures on this blog! Any suggestions are much appreciated! Is there a book about Blogging for Dummies?

For me... my feelings on France are always feelings of longing...longing to be there, getting a nice hot baguette, buying a lovely bottle of wine to share with a new or old friend, taking a long walk along the Seine, visiting all the gorgeous restaurants and museums and shops. Trying my best to speak French....sunbathing in Luxemburg gardens with a good book, riding the trains, taking photos of all the beauty the country has to offer.

J'adore France!

A First for Everything....

I have been talking about creating a blog for MONTHS now, so here it goes. I have been afraid to start...not knowing where to start or what to say or what pictures to include. Well, this is my blog and I am going to include whatever I want! :) Pictures, musings, recipes, links...everything I find fun and interesting that might interest you too. Like this pretty picture of Torrey Pines of my favorite places to hike in San Diego.

I was introduced to the blog world by Amanda of The Grains of Paradise Blog. Amanda and I went to high school together in the Bay Area and I found her blog via Facebook one day last May. I had never looked at a blog before! I know... I was living under a blog rock. I was immediately intrigued by her gorgeous pictures of Maui and her beautiful vegetarian based diet. I began seeking out other blogs, books and resources highlighting the vegetarian / healthy lifestyle and realized there are tons of healthy foodies out there (Not to mention INCREDIBLE photographers). It really has been fun and enlightening to read about all these fantastic women who record everything they do and eat via their blogs. I have been encouraged to eat better, exercise more often, and really have started to more fully develop my creative side. I have always loved to cook and have expanded that skill, but have also started focusing more on my photography, have been reading much more, and also have begun to have the desire to focus more on writing, philosophy, and other forms of art (painting, ikebana, bonsai, drawing, poetry, etc.). I am hoping this blog will help to push me into more creative forms of expression and thinking and also keep me on track with healthy eating and habits. I am also hoping to share some of my photos, cooking ideas, and crazy adventures with all of you! While on the outside I may seem to have lived a fairly ordinary life, I have been told more than once to write a book about my life... I have encountered lots of characters, wild adventures, and I think I am somewhat a character in my own right.

I hope you all enjoy reading more about my life...and I am sure I will enjoy learning more about the people that begin to follow my blog as well.

As Julia Child's would say: Bon appetit!