Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An Everyday Pleasure #5: Green (Pasta) Card

What makes flat ribbons of al dente fettucine worth a spot on my lunchtime radar screen?

A hearty jade-colored infusion of spinach of course!

Greener than spring foliage at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, spinach pasta is the best way to incorporate your five daily servings of vegetables (or fruit) with your necessary servings of grains and carbohydrates. Abundant in iron, cartenoids, and vitamins A and K, the healthy attributes of spinach are captured in spinach pasta, but presented in a much more kid-friendly package. Your kids will say, "Eww, green noodles! . . . Can I have some?"

There are "illusory" benefits for us adults too. Since spinach pasta is green, it can technically be categorized a vegetable. . . Right? Thus, even if you are on a low-carb diet, eating spinach pasta is a win-win situation!

Monday, February 26, 2007

An Everyday Pleasure #4: For the Walmart in All of Us

My dream car as a child was a 4X4 monster truck with "fertilizer spreader" tires.

I find Jeff Foxworthy heehaw-larious.

It feels best when I drink my beer (Keystone) in a plastic 7-Eleven cup.

I used listen to hardcore country music.

I've lived in a trailer.

And . . . I consider Fritos and a six-pack of soda to be the breakfast equivalent of cereal and milk.

However, living in the Bay Area has had a significant impact on my preferences, behavior, and appetite.

My ideal car now is a hybrid and my fridge is stocked with lanky glass bottles of artisan brewed pale ales and speciality sodas--courtesy of my roommate. However, the most drastic change in my life, is that my Fritos have been replaced with an exotic potpourri of organic and trans fat-free vegetable chips, including dried slices of parsnip, batata yam, taro, and yucca root.

At times, I miss the combo of carbonated sugar water and the monosodium glutamate saturated cumin corn curls, but I've learned to appreciate the subtleties of vegetable chips. Instead of throwing away the irregular chip with the screwy and burnt looking brown marks, I've learned that "that" is actually taro and it is one of the tastier ones. Admittedly, I originally thought these chips tasted like chalky pieces of broken plaster, but now, my tastebuds have acclimated to this gourmet snack food, which is immensely popular up here in the Bay Area.

But don't tell my roommate, I secretly make late night runs for my Fritos fix.

I hope the revelations in this post haven't destroyed my food blogger cred' in your eyes. Y'all please come back now, y'hear?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Oscar for Best Looking Hummus Goes to . . .

This Saturday, I stopped by Costco to pick up basic food supplies for this weekend. Although I wouldn't be watching the televised Oscar ceremony this Sunday, I would be helping to cook for church on Sunday evening, and I knew that that we had to spruce up the church meal to make it Oscar-caliber. Into my cart, I threw a few refrigerated logs of goat cheese, an aged wedge of parmesan cheese, and a plastic mesh bag filled with purple onion bulbs. Those ingredients would later come together as a "baked chevre and onion tart," with golden-brown puff pastry strips laid over the top as a lattice crust.

But imagine my pleasant surprise when I stopped by the refrigerated foods aisle and saw a gigantic tub of creamy hummus. This was no ordinary hummus. The presentation was outstanding. Underneath the transparent plastic lid, the exposed surface of the hummus was generously bespeckled with a burgundy-colored paprika and topped with a tight cluster of pine nuts, strategically placed in the center.

I don't need to open an envelope to discover that Costco has won the award for best presentation and costume design of commercially-made hummus.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

An Everyday Pleasure #3: Dry-Roasted Pea Snacks

Princess, imagine one of these under your mattress.

These dry-roasted pea pebbles are encompassed with buttery jackets of crunchy cracker coating, and often spiced up with a piquant bite of wasabi.

After being introduced to this healthy snack invention a year ago, I've been an addict ever since. And I am constantly thinking of ways to incorporate these simple, yet fulfilling Japanese munchies into my life.

Rather than reaching into a crumpled foil bag half-full with broken and translucent potato chips, I now make a beeline for dehydrated peas. No more popcorn at the movies! No more pretzels during the Monday night football game! Rather, I electrify my palate by substituting wasabi peas for monotonous and lackluster snacks instead.

The best thing about these pea snacks, is that your hands won't be filthy with residual neon-orange cheese powder afterwards. And, after snacktime, you can raise your spotless hands in the air and proclaim, "No oleaginousness here!"

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Clockwork Orange

This past weekend, I was able to enjoy the agricultural bounty of Southern California, as I was invited by my mother to help her pick ripened navel oranges from her backyard citrus tree.

Armed with a used brown paper grocery bag, I went to work.

Perched upon a metal ladder, I peered over the leafy curtain of branches and craned my elbows and fingers to snap the gleaming oranges off of the citrus tree. I worked assidiously and methodically: picking, grabbing, pulling, twisting, and piling.

The oranges were voluptuous and rotund. As I worked, I marveled at their curled and narled navels and laughed amusingly at their unsightly blemishes, pock marks, and dimpled rinds.

After a few hours of work, I sat down on lowest rung of the ladder to rest. My hands were shorn of my working gloves, and with an orange in my left hand, I slipped my pointed finger through the rind and was greeted an almost-effervescent mist of citrus vapor spraying into the air.

One bite of a succulent citrus segment, and sugary juices burst forth into my eager mouth. I could feel the delicate, thin-membraned, caviar-like citrus beads on my discerning tongue.

As I enjoyed my light refreshment, I came to a simple, yet satisfying epiphany: "Yum."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happy Burger-Day, Mr. President.

This is the way to celebrate every three-day President's Day weekend.

With a classic, all-American burger.

But there are several rules in the President's Day Burger Bill of Rights.

Burgers should not be allowed on President's Day if they don't have parallel charbroiled grill marks seared into the surface of the juicy ground beef patty. And make "patty" plural. There must be two of inside each and every burger served on President's Day. Our country might protect freedom of speech and religion, but there is no Constitutional protection for having less than one hamburger patty per burger.

Other necessary ingredients for a President's Day burger include: crisp, concentric rings sliced from a yellow onion bulb; an obligatory leaf of iceberg lettuce (preferably not from the yellowed and bitter lettuce heart, but it doesn't have to be green); and a slice of fire-engine-red vine-ripened tomato. And a President's Day burger is simply not a burger if it doesn't include three full strips of bacon. We need to support the pork farmers beyond the contributions they get from pork barrel politics.

Mustard and ketchup are to be avoided like a Senator embroiled in a bad scandal. Those paltry condiments are better reserved for wieners. Literally. A hulking President's Day burger needs a generous slathering of the "man's man" condiment: thousand island dressing. I'm sure any American President would wage war on a thousand islands just to find that perfect WMD
(Wickedly and Mighty Delicious) sauce combination of sweet pickle relish, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

Well, maybe just President Bush.

The burger "must" be overflowing with ingredients to the point a President couldn't even grab it tightly in his outstretched and open palms, but also "smashable," so that it can be compacted enough to fit in his open mouth.

In other words, the burger still can be more than five inches high.

Please take precautions when consuming such President's Day burgers though, for they may contribute to rapid inflation (of the waistline) and they may also cause some significant greenhouse gas emissions (especially if there is cheese in the burger and you are lactose intolerant).

Happy President's Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Everyday Pleasure #2: Instant Udon

My name is Passionate Eater, and I am a closet fan of instant noodles.

I admit, my mouth waters at the sight of a dried block of tightly crimped and scrunched ramen noodles, but I especially enjoy the thick, doughy, and firm-to-the-bite udon noodle tendrils, also found in the "instant noodle" section of any Asian supermarket.

Add boiling water and the foil packet of dehydrated green onions and powdered beef bouillion, and lunch is complete!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

An Everyday Pleasure #1: Steamed Daikon Buns

I love fluffy, vegetarian steamed buns. The pillowy packages are stuffed with healthy and abundantly flavorful ingredients, including scallions, shredded daikon and carrots, and minced mushrooms.

What makes these buns my "everyday pleasure," is that the affordable buns can be purchased from the frozen food section in almost any Asian supermarket, and later microwaved whenever you have a hankering for them.

Forget the barbequed meat, when you can have an equally delicious vegetarian alternative in just a couple of microwave minutes!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Killing Two Memes with One Post

Things have been awfully silent at in Passionate Eater land lately. I've been busy, busy, busy, but am going to take a brief break to complete two memes and share more about the gory, nitty-gritty, and uninteresting deets (details) about my life.

Meme #1: "Save Our Faves" meme, by Chubby Panda

I have so many favorite Mom and Pop places in San Francisco, because almost every restaurant I frequent can be categorized as "Mom and Pop." San Francisco has notoriously stringent municipal ordinances that prevent large chain restaurants and corporations from even thinking about laying roots down in San Francisco. (Ironically, there are an average three Starbucks coffee shops within each and every city block in the Financial District. But hey, we San Franciscans amped up on a caffeine-high need to make exceptions.)

Living in San Francisco, I've gotten so used to the anti-corporate mentality, that one time, when I was down in Los Angeles, I couldn't believe it when I saw a voting booth setup where volunteers were soliciting signatures regarding a future Wal-Mart development project. Why couldn't I believe it? Because the volunteers were trying to solicit signatures "for bringing another Wal-Mart into the city," and not making Wal-Mart get the hell-outta-town! We green-loving, crazed, mottled hair Bay Area people like to drive stores like Wal-Mart out of our cities! You stylish and fashionable Los Angelenos are unbelievable!

Well, getting back to the purpose of the meme, I would like to feature a secret Mom and Pop restaurant that I always order take-out from: Sushi Zen in the Sunset District of San Francisco. The food is typical (and enjoyable) faire, but the Mom (server) and Pop (sushi chef) are abso-freakin'-lutely adorable. They fight and banter with each other when business picks up, and always rush around in a frenzy trying to serve everyone. When the "Mom" walks by, you just want to spontaneously give her a hug.

Yea. It really is that intimate.

If you haven't guessed already, in this post are some pictures of take-out from Sushi Zen. There are pictures of sushi, tempura, and chicken teriyaki, to whet your appetite.

And for this meme, I'd like to tag Short Exact! And he's already put up an amazing response on one of his favorite restaurants!

Meme #2: "Five Things Most People Don't Know About You" meme, tagged by Christine and also by Jaden from the Steamy Kitchen!

Although I sorta already did a meme like this way back in the day, I will go ahead and give you five new facts.

1. I used to own a Razor scooter. I also rode it. But I swear to you, that is when they were "in!"

. . . Oh freak. Who am I kidding? They were never "in."

2. I have been watching Days of Our Lives since I was less than six-years-old.

I learned about the "birds and the bees" from that show. It was like a third parent to me.

3. I hate wearing high-heels because I am a "loud walker." When I walk with high-heels, it sounds like a jackhammer going off near your eardrum.

4. I have double-jointed fingers.

Yea, it looks creepy, but if yoga moves for the hand ever became popular, you would be envying me then!

5. I have only visited a dentist twice in my life, and I've never had a cavity! Well, at least I didn't have one the last time I saw the dentist. . . Which was about fifteen years ago.

Monday, February 05, 2007

New York Food Bloggers Revealed!

Today, my friend handed me the "Sunday Styles" section of the New York Times, and I was flabbergasted at the vivid, newspaper-inked photo on the wrinkled paper surface.

Whoa! A whole bunch of New York food bloggers revealed their visages for the entire New York society to see! Check out the New York Times article (and the food bloggers' faces) here, it is a fantastic read!

Also, I feel the need to add some gratuitious pictures to this lonely post. These pictures of Korean dumpling soup date back to "my pre-forty days fast" from food blogging and have been floating around aimlessly on my hard drive. The pictures are of mandu gook, a clear broth filled with supple, smooth-skinned dumplings, which are sealed with soft and uniform pleats. The steaming soup is also interspersed with delicate wisps and tendrils of poached egg and floating blankets of absorbant nori. (If you slurp up the soup quickly, you can still snag a few crisp patches of nori.) Simplicity prevails with this warming soup! Enjoy the article and the pictures!

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