Tonight I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It is a beautiful movie about a young boy who feels so alone and is tormented by memories in his past. At the beginning of his freshman year, he doesn’t think he’s noticed, but by the end of the year he has friends that he loves deeply. When he is with his friends, he feels infinite.
In a strange way, this granola make me feel the same way. Not so much infinite but at peace and feeling that I have something to give. I picture a grandmother who bakes love into every batch of cookies. I think of a mother living on a budget who wants her kids to eat wholesome food. I see myself years from now hoping to please my new husband.
This recipe is adapted from true food Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure and cannelle et vanille. It is very easy to make and is so delicious you may want to eat it every day. For the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you can use any combination that you have in your pantry.
- 1/4 cup expeller-pressed canola oil
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup nuts and seeds – I used almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts
- 1 cup dried berries- I used dried blueberries and dried cherries
- 1/2 cup flax and chia seeds
- 1/2 cup organic coconut flakes
- Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oil, agave, maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and black pepper. Mix well. Add the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes. The dried fruit can either be baked with the granola or added after it cools. I like it baked with the granola.
- Spread out the granola mix on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until golden, turning the granola every 2-3 times to bake it evenly. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Stir in the dried fruit and store in an airtight container.
I realized this week that I love to cook. I knew it before, but I realized that cooking is the one activity that I don’t feel pressure over. And somehow it always turns out how I want it to. I’m not saying that I’m a perfect cook, but usually if things don’t turn out as I expected I am still happy. I love food and I love to eat good food, so I am rarely disappointed with what I create.
Do you have an activity that always brings you joy and not pressure? These are quite a blessing, aren’t they?
This pizza has been a lot of fun to come up with. I’ve made it three times now and varied it a little each time. Once I added dates, which was AMAZING. The espresso vinegar adds a malty sweetness, so a little goes a long way. I am not a fan of traditional balsamic vinegar, but I am looking forward to discovering other flavors of balsamic vinegar.
Pizza was my go-to meal in college, though ironically I actually made the pizza dough from scratch. At the time I had a food processor and I discovered that home-made pizza dough was easy with the correct tools.
Ingredients (halve recipe if desired)
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 Tbs organic expeller pressed canoloa oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp cane sugar
- dash of salt
- I use this recipe to understand the basics. Prepare the sliced onions. Heat the oil over medium high heat until it begins to shine and flows freely. Add the onion slices and turn the onions to fully coat with the oil. Continue stirring for about 10 minutes until the onions start to get tender. If the onions begin to burn, reduce the heat to medium. Incorporate the sugar and salt and reduce the heat to low. Cook the onions until the desired tenderness and color is reached. I like my onions to retain some tenderness and bite with the natural sweetness enhanced.
- prepared caramilized onions
- Premade pizza dough, I prefer Whole Foods whole wheat dough
- 1 Portabella mushroom, chopped into 1″ pieces
- 3 Tbs + olive oil
- 3-4 stalks of rainbow swiss card, chopped with stalks set aside
- 2-3 stalks of kale, chopped with stalks set aside
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 shallot
- handful of italian parsely, chopped
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 Tbs espresso balsamic vinegar
- 4 ounces goat cheese
Sauteing is more an art than a science. I’ve created my own technique through careful observation and preference. Find a technique that works for you and be observant; using all your senses. I am watching Master Chef and Gordan Ramsey always asks, “did you taste the food?” I usually start by sauteing the garlic and then add everything else, in layers depending on how long it will take to cook. I add the herbs at the very end so that they add flavor but retain their texture.
- Remove the pizza dough from the oven and bring the dough to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, preheat the stone in the heated oven.
- Mince the garlic and shallot or process in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large metal pan over medium high heat until the oil begins to shine. Add the garlic and shallot and stir into the oil, until you can smell the garlic; this usually takes less than two minutes. Add the portabella mushroom and fold into the oil until all the oil is absorbed. Add more oil as needed to prevent the mushroom from sticking and to equally saute the mushrooms.
- Fold in the swiss chard and kale stalks and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining chopped swiss chard and kale, laying them on top of the mushrooms. Leave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Incorporate the greens and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Moisture will be removed from the greens and help them to cook. Be sure to retain the water while cooking.
- When the greens have reached your desired tenderness and absorbed the water, fold in the balsamic vinegar, herbs and saute for about 3o seconds. Set aside.
- Remove the heated pizza stone from the oven and place it on a hot pad. Sprinkle flour or cornmeal over the entire stone. Roll out the pizza dough or stretch it out by hand. The key is not to handle the pizza dough more than necessary. Spread out the sauteed greens over the prepared dough.
- With your fingers, break the goat cheese into chunks and spread throughout. Add the caramelized onions as desired.
- Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, until the sides are browned and the crust is hard to touch.
Enjoy! Do you have any tips on making the best pizza? What are your favorite toppings?
In doesn’t rain often in Los Angeles, but we love rain like children love a snow storm. Where as children go out and play in the snow, we stay in to enjoy the comfort of our homes while the rain pours outside.
My neighbors laid these rain boots out by the sidewalk in case a family was in need of some well loved rain boots or just to dry them out. I am really not sure, but I found them very intriguing and couldn’t help but take a picture. These neighbors are actually friends of mine and I know they would want their used rain boots to go to a good home.
In the coming months I will be expanding my blog to include lifestyle photography. In the days of film photography, I didn’t want to lug my camera with me everywhere and then pay high prices for the processing. Therefore I saved my film for special events like weddings and graduations. In the digital age I am able to see what I’ve captured right away and quickly get an idea if the shot will be meaningful.
I hope you enjoy. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
This week I am celebrating the year anniversary of my blog. What am I doing to celebrate, you ask? I don’t know yet because it felt like I celebrated last November with my Restaurant Night. Unfortunately, I haven’t pursued many things longer than a year outside of friendships and school. Most hobbies felt just like that, an activity that occupies your time when you are free from the normal demands of life. For 21 years school occupied most of my time and dictated my pursuits, and now in my early 30s I am trying to understand what I want out of life.
I am far from knowing the answer, but I am in a place where the ability to choose the life I want is a high value. Part of that is the activities related to this blog and the other part is strengthening connections that are life giving. For the last few months I’ve been shopping for a camera and in the meantime I’ve re-discovered my love for film photography. I don’t know if I’ll ever get fully back into film photography, but I am committed to strengthening my craft so that I have something to offer people and bless their lives.
Last week I purchased a Canon EOS Rebel T4i which included an 18-55 EF-S zoom lens. In a future post I will share my journey and what I’ve learned from camera shopping, because I’ve felt that food photography is a craft or trade that tends to be kept as a secret. I am very thankful for those who have chosen to share the craft in hopes that other people will benefit from it. Plate to Pixel has been very helpful for me to re-learn the basics from my film photography classes.
Another very important pursuit at this moment is healthy eating. I used to call myself a “healthy eater” mostly because I enjoyed preparing my own meals and desserts. I am now beginning to believe that it is not about what you make but about the quality of ingredients that go into it. One example is white rice vs brown rice. We would probably all agree that brown rice is better for you, but what if we choose Bhutanese red rice which has no fat, contains potassium, and trace minerals?
This juice is inspired by my growing love of beets. Once a vegetable that I only saw from a can at Thanksgiving, it is now making it’s way into my pursuit of whole and natural foods. Beets contain potassium and may lower blood pressure (I know there are many more benefits but it is so difficult to find definitive information on the web). Beets are becoming very popular among juice lovers, but from my limited understanding of juices (very limited; mostly from The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing but I trust a book written before the hype of the internet to much of what is published now) beet juice should never be drunk solo and a half a small beet is the most that should be mixed with other juices. I don’t know if this is true, but without getting graphic high levels of beet juice flush my system. Though beneficial, this is not always desirable.
Ingredients (makes about 16 ounces)
- 3 carrots
- 1 apple
- 1/2 – 1 beet with the greens
- 2 large stalks of swiss chard
- Slice up all fruits and vegetables to fit in the juicer and alternate between the carrots and apples and beet and swiss chard
The combination of beets and swiss chard makes a very sweet and delicious juice, but since swiss chard is from the beet family it would probably be beneficial to substitute the swiss chard for another green like kale or lettuce. I don’t always like vegetable juices, but I couldn’t resist drinking both glasses.
A few weeks ago I succumbed to the cold that has been going around, along with many others in my office. I went two years without being sick. Two years! The change in the weather from cold to hot and some sleepless nights did me in.
I actually wanted to get sick, at least I wanted the opportunity to stay home from work. The irony is after two years, I only stayed home for two hours during this cold.
While most of us buy canned soup or beg a friend to make soup for us, a friend of mine recommended that I make my own chicken noodle soup. The first week I couldn’t even imagine expending the energy to cook, but the following weekend I found it in me to make homemade chicken noodle soup for the first time. (I forgot the noodles and made them separately to add).
My roommate has the 2009 Food & Wine annual cookbook where I found a great recipe for Classic Chicken Noodle Soup (slightly adapted here)
- One 3-5 pound chicken, neck reserved
- Water to cover the chicken
- 2-3 carrots- coarsely chopped
- 2-3 celery ribs- coarsely chopped
- 1 unpeeled yellow onion, quartered
- 1 large unpeeled garlic clove, smashed
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns or crushed pepper
- 3-4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- handful of Italian parsley, torn into pieces
- In a large pot, combine the chicken and neck, water to cover the chicken (as much as the pan allows), chopped carrots, celery, onion, garlic, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, turning the bird once if needed.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the skin and pull the meat off the bones, tearing into 1/2 inch pieces and refrigerate.
- Return the bones to the pot and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove the bones and the onion/garlic peels and discard. Remove the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic clove and set aside. Strain the broth into a bowl.
- Return the broth to the pot and boil until reduced to 8 cups, 30 minutes. Season with salt.
- Add the chicken, vegetables, and parsley to the pot and bring to a simmer.
What to you eat when you’re sick?
I went to my favorite coffee shop Berlin today in the East Village Arts District. My favorite aspect is this long solid wood table situated along a folding glass wall. I went for good coffee and for a comfortable reading spot, but I also found community among the baristas and fellow customers.
I had nearly finished my cappuccino when the barista put another in front of me. He said he wasn’t happy with the foam of the first soy cappuccino and wanted to make me another but the line picked up.
I not only was blessed with more caffeine but also got to admire the beautiful foam and snow peaks that formed.
The extra coffee sustained me for another hour and gave me the opportunity to connect with the barista. It was a beautiful morning!
Today I had some extra time in between going to LA for work and meeting up with friends, so I stopped in at Lord Windsor Roasters located in a residential neighborhood close to my house. This coffee shop and roaster opened up months ago on 3rd street in Long Beach which contains only a handful of commercial spaces east of downtown. The other one being The Starling Diner. The neighborhood is mixed, but many young professionals and hipsters live within a few blocks.
I am a coffee connoisseur, but when it comes down to it I am a very picky coffee drinker. I don’t know if I have a refined palate, but I know what I want. I expect every local coffee shop to have a great cup of coffee and a good environment, but I know that I’m not in Seattle or Europe. I am searching for the perfect cappuccino such that when you drink it you are transported to Italy, the Balkans, or some small coffee shop you visited on vacation.
My favorite coffee shop is in Ventura on the main strip; a great place to stop on your way to Santa Barbara. The seating is very comfortable with a gift shop in the back. Lots of natural light pours in through the front windows. I realize that most of my favorite coffee shops are located in a place that I’ve only visited once on vacation, but they left such a mark that I long to return.
I don’t drink milk very often, so to me the perfect soy cappuccino is light, airy but not bubbly, with a nice body. The foam should give you a “milk mustache” and be as satisfying as roasted marshmallows or homemade ice cream; where in their natural state the ingredients are pleasant but when transformed completely engage your senses.
I am not an expert in steaming milk (I worked for Starbucks for two years which doesn’t give me street cred), but I think for soy the brand of milk is a huge factor. The better coffee shops I visit seem to use Pacific Natural Foods Barista Series Soy Blenders. The website says that it is “Specially formulated to withstand high temperatures and foam so beautifully, you’ll think you’re using dairy milk.”
I am not advocating a particular brand, just to say that the quality of soy milk seems to be a huge factor in the end result. I love the atmosphere of Lord Windsor, but my cappuccino was heavy. The foam did not mix evenly with the espresso and was a little cakie. However, I do look forward to returning to read a book and try their fresh brewed coffee.