Saturday, June 18, 2011

Leaving Los Angeles

I'm leaving Los Angeles soon to pursue new adventures in Dallas, TX.  If you like what you read please continue to follow my antics at:

Dallas Detour

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe: Crab Rangoon

When I lived in Butte, one of my favorite restaurants was Asia Garden.  Situated off in one of the lesser-used entrances to the mall, Asia Garden was one of a small handful of Chinese restaurants in town, and they had the red wall hangings and big round table with the lazy susan to prove it.  While I frequented the restaurant quite frequently with one of my former boyfriends, and later with friends and family, I never figured out the name of the proprietor.

I don't even quite remember my list of "usual" dishes I'd order there, although I vividly remember my now-ex-boyfriend always ordering the sweet-and-sour chicken.  Maybe I ordered sesame chicken.  Or cashew chicken.  I think they had a good rendition of Moo Goo Gai Pan.  The mu shu pork was decent too.  I remember getting wonton soup there a lot, but eventually crossed over to hot-and-sour territory.  But indelibly marked in my mind was the crab rangoon appetizer.  Little triangle-shaped pillows filled with cream cheese, imitation crab, a touch of ginger and the tiniest hint of chives.  Delicious.

I've made them a few times since, always using real crab.  And they are tasty.  I usually prefer a 2:1 ratio of crab to cream cheese, although you can feel free to fiddle with it.

4 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. crab meat (I usually use canned crab)
1 TB. minced ginger
1 tsp. chopped chives
wonton or egg roll wrappers

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, crab meat, ginger and chives together thoroughly.  Dab a bit of filling in the center of the wrapper, and wrap the wrapper up.  Asia Garden makes these up in triangle forms, where one point of a square-shaped wrapper is brought over to it's opposite point.  But you can make them up in any variety of traditional wonton folds.  Deep fry for a couple minutes, in batches.

Alternatively you can spray a mini-muffin pan with an oil and place a wonton wrap in each cup.  Spoon a spoonful of filling in the center of the wonton wrap, and bake in an 350 degree oven for around 10 minutes.

Backpacking Recipe: Chicken Curry Wrap

Got this from Backpacker Magazine and tried it out this weekend after our trip (it ended up being cold and rainy so we opted to stay in a hotel and have a slightly different adventure around Palm Springs).  It's super-filling and really tasty, so I just know it will work great for when we actually do go backpacking.  It serves two generously.

Before you go, pack in a 1-quart ziploc bag:
1 TB. salted cashews
1 TB. raisins
1/2 TB. curry powder (oooh imagine how awesome this would taste if you made your own curry powder!)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Pack separately:
1 2.5 oz ranch dressing cup (Hidden Valley makes these, you can find them in the regular dressing aisle)
1 foil package of chicken (found near the foil packages of tuna and salmon)
2 tortillas or pitas (we actually filled 3 pitas with this)

When you're ready to eat, add the chicken and ranch dressing to the ziploc bag and mix thoroughly.  Fill the pitas or tortillas with the curry mixture, and eat.

You don't even taste the ranch dressing with this, and there are enough textures and flavors going on that it tastes like "real" food and not reconstituted-in-the-woods food.  I'm almost tempted to see what this would be like heated in camp over rice.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I told this story to my boyfriend last night and he about doubled-up laughing.  So I thought I'd share it with everyone, because it *is* funny, and also because I can definitely say I've gotten something out of dating so many people who were so obviously not right for me.

I used to date this dude who would tell me his earwax smelled sweet.  On occasion he would proffer me a used q-tip, saying, "Smell it!"

No.  I don't want to smell your earwax.  I don't even want to smell mine.  The rabid curiosity of people-with-Y-chromosomes and their bodily fluids/substances never cease to amaze me.

So imagine me getting chased around this guy's apartment by him wielding a earwaxy q-tip.

Yeah.  He was a real winner, that one.

By the way, I have so-called "dry" earwax.  Most Caucasians have "wet" earwax.  Learn more about it here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chicken Marsala

My boyfriend made this for me Valentine's Day weekend.  So delicious!  I tried making it a few weeks later but it didn't come out the same.  We decided that I made the chicken part the best and he made the sauce part the best.  So the next time we make it together I guess that's how we'll divide who does what.

I made this tonight with a leftover chicken breast that I sliced up.
Adapted from the Cooking for Engineers recipe.
  • 2 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Salt, Pepper, whatever else you like to season your chicken with
  • 1 TB Crushed Garlic
  • 1/4 c. Shallot or Onion, finely chopped
  • 8 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 1 c. sweet Marsala wine
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • Some starch (fettuccine, mashed potatoes) to serve with the chicken marsala.
Season and saute the chicken breasts as you normally would.  Set aside.  In the same pan add the shallots and garlic.  If you need a little more oil you can add it as well.  Saute for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms.  Saute the mushrooms until they're ready.  They'll turn dark brown and shrink.  You'll know.  If you have to ask they're not ready yet.

Add the wine, and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.  Stir in the cream and add the chicken back.  Coat the chicken with the sauce, then serve over your starch.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Make Your Own Oatmeal Packets

I lament I don't have photos for this.  Maybe I'll go home and take some photos of the packets I made, then I can post them to show you.

I like oatmeal for breakfast on occasion.  Not the instant Quaker Oats kind of oatmeal, but the rich, steel-cut kind.  The stuff that tastes like anything but wallpaper paste.  Add some dried fruit, a dash of cinnamon and a spoonful of heavy cream, and it's a filling breakfast.  Perfect for cold mornings.

Anyway, I don't know of anyone who makes 'instant steel-cut oatmeal' packets, so I guess I'm stuck in making my own.  There's something really convenient about not having to measure stuff out in the morning.  Eyeball some hot water, add packet, mix and microwave.  Really easy.

There's a fellow who did the cost breakdown using regular oatmeal, which is helpful.  I think the steel-cut stuff is slightly pricier.  I don't remember how much a canister of instant steel-cut oatmeal cost at Trader Joe's, but it couldn't have been more than $5.00.  I bought a packet of their mixed fruit, which included golden raisins, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and dried cherries ($3.99).  I already had cinnamon and cardamom at home, and I bought snack-size Ziploc baggies beforehand (not sure how much that cost, but I plan on reusing them, so. . . . ).

I think a canister of steel-cut oats from Trader Joe's is supposed to be like 17 or 18 servings, which ends up being about $0.53 a packet when it's all said and done.  Not bad for a tasty breakfast, and way cheaper (not to mention healthier) than anything I could buy for myself!  I guess I'm also not counting the cream or milk, but technically you don't have to add that.

Instant Steel-Cut Oatmeal Packets
  • 1 canister of steel-cut oats from Trader Joe's (McCann's is also good, and I think Quaker also makes steel-cut oats)
  • 1 8-10 oz bag of dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, whatever)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar (optional, I didn't add this but a lot of people like their oatmeal sweet)
  • Cardamom (optional)
  • Snack-size ziploc-style baggies
Put 2 TB (1/4 cup) of oatmeal in each baggie, until there is no more oatmeal left to dole out.  I think this turns out to be close to 20 baggies for the Trader Joe's oats.  The "number of servings per box" is probably a good number to start with.
Add 1 TB of dried fruit to each baggie.  If you have a little left over you can distribute the remaining fruit among all the baggies.  If you have a lot left over it's probably best to save for another time or use.
Add a big dash of cinnamon to each packet, and a little dash of cardamom.  If you like sugar you can add a tsp of sugar to each packet.
Seal up all the baggies, and you can store them in the canister they came in.

When you're ready to have oatmeal for breakfast, you can mix one packet with 3/4-1 cup of water (the recipe on the box says 3/4 cup, but you also need a little extra to rehydrate the fruit) in a deep bowl.  Microwave for two minutes, stir, and then microwave for 3 extra minutes.  You might have to recalibrate the recipe if you're using a different brand of steel-cut oat.  Let stand for one minute, then add cream or milk before serving.

I'm getting into backpacking, and the idea of packing my own delicious breakfast-away-from-home is really exciting to me.  I can just grab a couple packets, throw those in my bag, and go!

Monday, January 31, 2011

On "Still Having It"

My boyfriend recently went on holiday for a few weeks, leaving me somewhat stranded in L.A.  I attempted to entertain myself, with and without friends, with some success.  Actually, I did a lot and did a good job of entertaining myself in L.A. over the two weeks, even though emotionally I was somewhat of a basketcase.

The night before he was to return, I decided to go see 127 Hours by myself.  I dressed up, treated myself to sushi, then headed over to the theater, like I used to in my single days.  My big "Single Girl Night Out" involved going to the same Japanese restaurant and downing plum champagne and spider rolls before heading over to the adjacent movie theater to see a film where I could pick my own seat.  The theater has changed somewhat, so now the seating is a free-for-all.  I guess you can't expect things to stay the same.  Everything always changes.

I got to the theater early, so I sat on one of those long cushy benches to wait for people to filter out.  There were some screens set up so you could watch upcoming movie trailers.

"You could almost skip buying a ticket and come here to watch the trailers."  This guy was sitting on the other end of the cushy bench.  Blue jeans, button down shirt.  He was the only other person hanging around, so I guess he was talking to me.

"Yeah, some of them look pretty good."

He gets up, then walks over to me.  "Hi, I'm John."  We shake hands and he sits down next to me.  John is an architect and lives in Playa.  We chat for a few minutes while he waits for his friend to show up.  He introduces me to his friend, who I honestly don't remember.  They turn to go into the theater, and then John turns back to me.

"Hey, I never do this, but you're kinda cute.  Can I have your number?"

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Marathon Doping

I'm not plugged into the running news like Don is with cycling, but I read this today and thought it would be good to share.

The Confessions of Eddy Hellebuyck

It's a very well-written editorial; I'm so used to Runners' World publishing new diet and training fads.  I was pretty sad when The Penguin left Runners' World and it felt like the quality of writing there declined dramatically.  So this piece was very refreshing to me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dinner Tonight - Greek Chicken & Pasta

I just found a recipe that will save my evening.

I wanted to make something that involved penne pasta and chicken, with minimal cleaning and tasty.  Of course that pretty much leaves me with heavy alfredo and tomato sauces, but I found something that I think will be just as tasty and healthier:

Penne with Greens, Olives and Feta

Yes!  He loves olives, so I think this will be a hit.  Coupled with chicken breasts marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano, ala Braised Greek Chicken and Artichokes, I think that would be tasty.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Year Later

Just a year ago I ran my first marathon, not knowing what it was going to be like after mile 20 or how hard or painful it would be to just keep going, one step in front of the other.  There are some official race photos where it's obvious I'm walking and in pain.  Quads and feet aren't supposed to burn like that.  I remember around mile 18 my feet swelled up in my shoes and I honestly didn't know if I was going to physically be able to keep going.  By mile 20 my feet weren't bothering me anymore, but it was certainly a scare for me.  I had made the cosmic bet that I was going to finish that day, and I had gone all-in with everything I had.

 I accomplished my goal, which I admit at this point seems fuzzy and perhaps contradictory.  To be honest when I crossed that finish line I was just happy to not be pushing myself forward anymore.  I didn't feel changed, or like I had restored whatever honor or face I thought I'd lost.  It was anti-climactic and somewhat disappointing.  I remember my friends had opened a bottle of champagne with dinner that night and all I really wanted to do was lie down and hope my legs would stop hurting.  The realization I might have actually accomplished something came months later, when I was thinking about going out for a run and thinking, "Damn!  26 miles is far!"  It came when I would tell people I was training for a half or another full, and they would give me those funny looks that said "You're crazy!"

Where do you go from there?  When you've spent so much energy consumed by one goal, what happens after?  I guess in my case I go out and do it again.  I really enjoy running half marathons, and I feel I'm a strong-enough runner where I can start to strategize my approach to running half marathons pretty well.  Full marathons are another story.  I still feel I'm just surviving that distance.

I'm stronger and faster today than I was a year ago.  I'd like to think I'm healthier mentally and emotionally as well.  I probably still push myself much too hard in races and not hard enough in training, but it's something I can work on.

I'm running marathon #2 this weekend - MCM again - it's a nice course and the logistics/support are most excellent.  Plus my dad can get off my case about the colors they use on the ribbon (I'm pretty sure it's going to be scarlet and gold this year - 35 years of MCM!).  I bought a bike recently and I'm going to incorporate some triathlons into my racing season next year.

I haven't peaked yet - I'm not sure I'll run MCM next year, as it's an expensive trip for me, but I'm certainly going to keep running!