Bargain Bin For the Win!

As you know I’m a Bay Area gal and I live on the Oakland-Berkeley border.  The area is most well known as home to the UC campus and its rather significant population of professional protestors, hippies, and homeless [See Jon Stewart’s clip on Code Pink].  However, in reality, it’s not that bad.  Sure you’ll run into some crazies and be asked for money on most days, but B-town and neighboring Oakland has an awesome amount of culture and variety, which can keep you honest and on your toes as long as you don’t get sucked into a tree sitting vortex.

With all this variety, the food scene here is top notch.  While we have San Francisco just across the bridge the East Bay certainly holds its own in the culinary world (See Alice Waters, The Local Butcher, Alegio Chocolate, etc).  We’re also growing by the day as the city slickers move over to our side since

1) Rent is cheaper

2) Chef’s are figuring out that not all the East Bay folk want to trek out to the city every weekend if they don’t have to (LAZINESS FTW!)

But the real epicurean gem in this here parts is Berkeley Bowl.  I’ve never seen a more impressive and reasonable (whooo!) array of produce, meats, bulk foods, prepared foods, spices, etc. in a single place.  Whole Foods has nice stuff and all, but it’s called “Whole Paycheck” for a reason.  In addition to the stunning array of veggies that Berkeley Bowl has on a daily basis they also have the Bargain Bin.

Now the Bargain Bin is the most magical place ever.  I try my best to live out of the darn thing.  All the produce that is getting to the end of its prime gets bundled up and placed in the bargain bin at sub-dollar prices.  Now the Berkeley Bowl standard for “end of it’s prime” often passes as Safeway’s normal stuff.  Some of it is a tad soft or fuzzy, but with a little elbow grease you can just pick out the nasties and you have just fine produce.

Greatest Place on Earth, although it's been picked through already.

I’ve had several shopping trips where I easily can get 90% of the produce I need for the week in the bargain bin.  Whenever this happens I spam people with images of my grocery cart haul, while they are likely doing important things at work.

Bell Peppers, Broccoli Rabe, Tomatoes, Bananas, Berries, Pears

How is this not winning?

Kale up the wazoo!

Obviously, I don’t always get to pick what I’m getting because it’s where all the randoms end up, but this is great because it forces me to come up with new recipes and it keeps the meals a changing. Variety is the spice of life! The bargain bin is my version of other people’s produce boxes from CSA’s or only eating seasonally, which in California is more or less a foreign concept : )

Great food always comes out of the bargain bin such as

Kale Chips from Smitten Kitchen

Roasted Kabocha Squash

any tomato recipe , random attempts at paleo banana breads, or smoothies.

And that is my story on the Bargain Bin at Berkeley Bowl.  It really is the most magical place on earth.

.

You got nothing on my Bargain Bin

If you’re in the area go check it out, because the Bargain Bin is always filled with winning and really who doesn’t like winning?

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Hallow 2012!

To 2012 I bid you HALLOW! 2011 was a good year indeed, but I think we just might be able to make this year even better as we cross into new territories and see where life takes us. And if how we ended this past year is any prediction of the upcoming one it should be pretty darn swell : )

So just in case you were interested this is how we spent the day.

I took the day off work and the man, myself and friends from the gym started off with a quick 5k in Golden Gate Park.

Always happy prerun

The man ran in the first wave because he wanted to WIN!

Man on a Mission!

I hung back for the second wave because as you know I’m not a huge fan of the running business, but it’s always fun to do things with a group.

It was a tad chilly

Once we started moving all was well though.  I ended up falling behind Mary and the other Ironworks folk, but I had no shame plodding along at my own pace.  Perhaps I should work on that next year.  Resolution perhaps?…. I make no promises ; )

In the end, the man unfortunately did not win as he had planned because he overran the volunteer markers and thus the course. On the bright side, the man being nice finished my leg of the run with me for kicks.

run, run, run

Not completely miserable for once. Amazing!

Finished!

We enjoyed some complimentary mimosas afterwards and then headed up to the Haight to show Jeff’s friends Martin around.  Also much love to Martin for taking our pictures and holding our stuff while we ran. Thanks buddy!

The rest of the day was spent prepping some Spicy Chicken Drumsticks and Peppermint Patties from the Make it Paleo cookbook to bring to some New Years Eve festivities later that night.

The plan was for buffalo wings, but I had a few detours

Patty love

The evening was spent ringing in the new year with old and new friends, food, drinks and a whole lot of this..

and this…..

however, none of us looked even remotely that good except perhaps Amos who actually has rhythm.  The video I have is horrifyingly embarrassing so I shall make an effort to keep the friends I have by not humiliating them.

So that was how we rang in the New Year. It was most memorable and thoroughly delicious.

Happy New Year!

What did you do? Do you have any resolutions or plans for 2012?

Holiday Recap & Blendtec

Holy Moly BATMAN! Christmas is gone and the year is almost over again.  It’s hard to believe that another 365 days has passed so quickly.  I remember when I was a youngin and every year felt like an eternity.  I guess time really does fly as you get older.  I suppose I better make this lifetime worthwhile then huh?

 

On that note I’d say this holiday was a fabulous one!  And that’s not only because I got some pretty awesome gifts, but mostly because I was able to spend quality time with my family.  I spent Christmas Eve with the grandparentals, aunt and uncle.  My grandmother is frequent church goer, despite the rest of us ranging from less than enthusiastic to you can skin me before I attend a religious gathering. However, this year we all went together with her, which was very enjoyable.  I had actually never realized my grandmother goes to a gospel church, so the sermon was primarily a concert and it was fun to see how happy my Big PoPo was to have all of us there.

Christmas Day was spent with Mynchia, where we enjoyed some early morning refreshments…..

Irish Coffee

Egg Nog with Brandy

hung around the tree and decorations,

He was a fat tree

Happy Family!

Happy Family!

and opened presents.

: )

We be matching! Ha

 

We actually were scrambling looking for eggnog in the hours before, but couldn’t find any so I made due with Healthful Pursuit’s recipe, which was so much better than store bought, especially since I added extra spices in the name of clove and ginger.

 

This year I tried my hand at DIY wrapping paper and I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Simple and pretty

I got the idea from The Sweetest Occasion.

 

Running with that theme were the sugar scrubs and bath salts I made.

Ikea has the best jars

 

Adapted from Balanced Bites and Health Green Kitchen.  I ended up adding grapeseed oil to both in order to thin out the scrub and because I lacked almond oil.

They made for great gifts at the White Elephant Party we attended, where I won the best gift ever!

SNUGGIE!! and a reading light!

 

The man was highly disappointed in me when I sent him this picture, especially because I even devised a plan to steal my beloved Snuggie back. It was completely and totally worth it. I have no shame.

 

Lastly, I don’t know if this is compares to my Snuggie ; D , but I also got a Blendtec, which I have to say is one of the best kitchen tools I’ve ever owned.  This thing is a beast! It has preset settings for different types of blender jobs.  When the man and I made a smoothie we were both blown away by the technology of the thing.  First it just churned the bottom chunks before going high speed OMG and making smoothie amazingness.  No lumps, no bumps, just delicious.

happiness

 

It is great for soups, nut butters, and making nut flours.  I’m pretty stoked about it and you should be too, because it means more noms for you cyber world! Wahoo!

So I leave you with a recipe for a Smokey Tomato Soup, which just hits the spot in this chilly winter weather.

I know you want a bowl of this right about now

 

How was your holiday?  Did you do anything special?

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Happy Kwanza! Etc……

 

Hope you’re with loved ones feeling warm and toasty : )

 

Love,

 

Liz, Zack, and the Michi Woman Cats

I know you want to wake up to this ; )

Old picture, but so festive!

Not so festive, but cute!

 

How are you spending the holidays?

Back to My Roots

Hello! Hello! Cyberspace!

Sorry for the delay in posting, but I’ve spent the last 5 days or so existing as a zombie at work or doped up on Nyquil trying to sleep the phlegm away.  A bug was going around the office and unfortunately my immune system gave in to it, although I was sooooo close to weathering the storm.  But alas, I made two poor decisions in which my immune system and I had this conversation:

Wednesday Morning:

System: “Between general flu season, your cold ass apartment, and your sick coworkers we’re working triple overtime right now. DO NOT add to the load”

Me: “But I’m already here at the doctor and apparently I’m due for my 3rd HPV vaccine.  I never come here it’s out of the way. Pleaseeeee”

System: “Fine, but you better get some sleep tonight”

Me: “Deal”

*Btw that 3rd shot hurt like crazy. Worse then Tetanus, ladies be warned!

Thursday Afternoon

Me: “I don’t feel so great, but I want to work out with M. It’s always fun and I learn so much!”

System: “You have a sore throat. Don’t do it”

Me: “Meh it’s the holidays gotta work off all the treats” Leaves for gym

System: ” Well then F**** You! We quit! Enjoy the cough, headache, aches and wheezing. Happy Holidays Stupid”

Nyquil and I begin a wonderful relationship together for the next 72 hours……….

So I’m still sick, but I’m conscious now so I figure I should share some of my eats with you.

Sometime last week I was craving Chinese, which is not something I make all that often beyond some version of Asian Cauliflower Fried “Rice” because I’m always a little scared to delve into that cuisine since I’ve grown up eating the good stuff from my family.  I realize that seems counter intuitive because you generally learn from your family, but somehow I expanded most of my cooking knowledge from hours of watching Food Network in high school.  And as we know the Food Network did not have much programming dedicated to real Asian food.  So instead I became much more comfortable with American and Italian inspired cuisines and left the traditional stuff to my grandparents and Mother Tao.

However, despite all the Food Network I watched it never changed that the first dish I learned how to make was a Shanghai style veggie rice also known as “Tse ve”.  Traditionally it is made with bok choy, chinese style sausage “lap chong”, and rice.  The first time I made it for another person was on a night that I had dinner with my Dad during my late elementary school days.  I remember feeling incredibly satisfied that I had made dinner all by myself and was able to share it with someone.  And as my pompous young mind recalled, “It was the BEST dinner ever! Even my Dad thought so! Although he was probably trying not to crush his small child’s heart by telling her it was terrible…hah!

Anyhow, when I was passing the meat counter at Berkeley Bowl and I saw the lap chong I knew I wanted to make me some Tse Ve, but primalized!  So I picked up some bok choy, cauliflower, ginger, and then the lap chong.  Admittedly “lap chong” is not all that primal since it does list sugar and soy sauce as an ingredient amongst other questionable things, but it was so crucial to my moment of nostalgia I grabbed it anyways.  Using good quality cured ham would work just as nicely as a paleo friendly ingredient.

I figured I needed another dish to go with my “rice” and since I always have eggs in the fridge a Chinese Steamed Egg dish seemed like a good idea.  That and I love using rehydrated shitake mushrooms, which Berkeley Bowl had a nice price on.

Score!

After picking up the goods I needed along with whatever else looked tasty at the bowl I took my haul home and let the mushrooms rehydrate, while I was at work during the day.

Once I got home first priority was getting the Steamed Egg on the stove as it takes about 30 minutes to steam, but once that was on I could easily prep and cook the Shanghai Style Cauliflower Rice in the meantime.  Yay for time management!

Nostalgic Noms

Tastes good on top of "rice"

Also as a note, I did use soy sauce in some of these recipes which is not primal, but you can easily sub it out for coconut aminos.  I could’ve pretended I just used coconut aminos, but I don’t want to lie to you.  I simply still have soy sauce in my pantry and I’m not going to throw it away just because it’s not paleo.  I’m still young and poor so I’d rather use up what I have before buying new stuff.  So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Hope you had a good weekend!

What did you eat?

Oh. My. God. Sweet Potato Casserole!

First off, I’d like to say thanks to you internet people for checking out my blog and making comments here and there.  It seems this thing hasn’t been a complete failure, which is awesome since I find this blogging thing fairly entertaining myself : )

Thus in effort to make things a little better, specifically my crappy iphone pictures, I have commandeered the man’s fancy Nikon camera. (In reality I think it was painful for him and the father to look at my shitty pictures since they are both photographer buffs)  So from now on I will make an attempt to use more palatable pictures for you to look at.  However, I’m not making any promises in phenomenal photo composition. Sorry.

Second, as promised here are some recipes for food not featuring turkey.  Using the fancy camera I started with my simple Roasted Tomato Sauce.  This here sauce is incredibly simple and almost 80% of the work is just chopping and laying it out on a cookie sheet.

Your effort is 80% complete at this point

To find out the remaining 20% of effort check out the Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe page.

Now onto the main subject of our scheduled programming for this post.

Almost everyday I browse the recipes on foodgawker, chowstalker, and my google reader.  I usually keep the interesting posts marked as unread, favorited or in an open tab on my browser until I decide if I want to use them or not.

Sometime ago Jan’s Sushi Bar had a recipe for Squash and Ricotta Casserole.   It looked pretty damn tasty so I saved it for later. Also, I’m not a huge fan of plain squash so it seemed like a cool way to make use of all the winter squash in stores right now.

Anyways, after making my Turkey Eggplant Lasagna, I had a bit of ricotta leftover and I had a bunch of sorry looking sweet potatoes sitting on my counter.  It seemed like a decent enough time to try out that casserole because as far as I’m concerned roasted potatoes and squash have similar enough consistencies that I could make this fly.  That, and as you know I’m lazy and I was not about to make a trip to get some squash if I didn’t have to.

Sad Potato has many pockmarks : (

So sweet potatoes for squash was my first substitution and my second was coconut oil for butter because I had more coconut oil then I did butter.  And now let me tell you this was my most winningest decision in lazy substitutions I’ve ever had.  The coconut oil just brought it to a whole other level I wasn’t quite expecting.  If you’ve ever had chinese steamed desserts that don’t feature that nasty red bean this is what it was like. It tasted good, which is not something I liberally associate with my ancestors sweet confections.  It almost tasted like taro, which is another thing you should go try because it is delicious.

As a testament to how good this was the man, who gets home cooking almost every night of the week, often has nothing to say about the plate of food in front of him.  It’s usually good, never bad, typically satisfying.  And, I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but the food I make is pretty decent. It’s always fresh and not from a can.  I mean I wouldn’t make a blog about it if it was complete crap.  That would just be embarrassing.

Right, so I’ve made my point: the man eats pretty damn well and occasionally is even bordering on the snobby side when we go out for food. After he had his first bite there was silence, he sat back, and all he said was “Oh. My. God.”

I was thinking, “Shit, I must’ve really messed this up.” So I asked, “What?” hoping for constructive criticism.

“Nothing, this is really, really good!”

So I tried my first bite and hot damn! That was Deeelicious!

It took a lot of self control not to finish the whole serving that night.

We almost killed this entire 10 inch ramekin in one sitting

Find out how to make this tasty dish here and try it for yourself.

Happy nomming and hope you had a great weekend!

Primal Turkey Eggplant Lasagna

Now that I have beautified my kitchen cabinets so they aren’t so depressing it’s time to get back to the food!

Whenever I shop at Berkeley Bowl I generally roam the produce aisles to see what looks good. More so than anything else though I live out of their bargain bins. I’ll tell you a little more about the magic that is the bargain bin in a later post.

Recently, the man has been sad over missing real cookies, real pasta, etc.  Ever since adopting a more grain/gluten free diet I don’t make those huge pasta dishes and batches of cookies, which I used to do in our college days because I was cooking for him and 2 other very sizable dudes. Think heavyweight boxer and athletic runner who just keeps eating.  (Just as a side note I was cooking for them mostly because I like cooking. There was no “Men hungry! Woman make food!”.  That would not have gone so smoothly)   So on my latest trip to the bowl I hauled back some eggplant and lots of tomatoes amongst other things with hearty italian on the mind.

Replacing the noodles with eggplant is a pretty old trick in the book, but I hadn’t tried it yet as I usually rely on spaghetti squash or zucchini stripped into noodles with my handy dandy julienne peeler.  In my opinion, lasagna has a much more robust and thick feel to it compared to a bowl of spaghetti or linguini.  With those thoughts in mind I set about making eggplant lasagna.  I had ground turkey in the freezer so it became a turkey eggplant lasagna, however, I’m sure any other ground meat would be delicious.  I also realize this is my 4th or 5th turkey post, but that’s just what I had on hand so bear with me.  I promise you some other type of protein in the near future.

Due to scheduling I ended up preparing my lasagna ahead of time and leaving directions for it to be popped in the oven by the man later on that evening so I wouldn’t have to wait much longer after my work shift.  The whole thing turned out quite tasty and I’d say a worthwhile repeat.  Making an almond meal parmesan mixture to sprinkle on top would’ve probably made it even better.  Perhaps next time.

Here’s the finished product!

noms : )

Happy eating!

My Cabinets Are Hideous

Like most twenty somethings I live in a rental apartment.  And most unfortunately it does not look like a West Elm or Restoration Hardware catalog…

Le sigh..........

One day I will have an epic farm table like this, but with benches.

Instead I live in a basic apartment; white walls, wall to wall brown carpet, and a tiny kitchen.  Granted I do live in an awesome location and have a pretty decent amount of natural light so I can’t complain too much.  I do also realize I’m just out of college working to move on to veterinary school and the next chapter in my life, so I don’t expect to live in a home that is picture perfect and straight out of a magazine. (But I wish I did sooooo badly..haha)

However, there is nothing stopping me from trying to achieve my dream in a smaller and more frugal way. Hence I present to you my cabinets.  (Everything was taken with my iphone and at night so I do apologize for the crappy pictures)

Hideous. White. Blah.

They are quite blah and as you can see get dirty easily by the random piece of food streak.  As you know I cook a lot so I do spend most of my time in my kitchen looking at these depressing cabinets, which just makes me sad and hence my food sad.  : (   And sad food never tastes good.  So this weekend I finally got off my sad butt and remedied the problem.

Now as you know this is a rental so paint is out of the question, but that is why we LOVE Contact paper.  : D  Yay!! A while back I purchased chalkboard contact paper off of Amazon.  I figured with this I could always take it down and  I could change my designs whenever I felt inspired.

After covering the face of my cabinets I started to draw with the chalk which was okay, but I wanted it to stand out more.  Thus I opted to use stencils and metallic paint pens to write phrases that hopefully will keep me motivated and prevent me from procrastinating so much (Lol that is a tall order even for me ha!).  This is how it turned out.

*once again I apologize for the bad quality.  Kitchen lighting is harsh at night and I decided I should document some stuff post starting everything.

Always use pencil first

Life mantras?

 

Pillars of Life!

It was a fun Sunday project and I think it made my gross cabinets look a lot better.

What did you do this weekend?

Oh and Happy Monday!

So Many Leftovers Oh My!

After a week we have finally gotten to the end of our leftovers from Thanksgiving.  And by leftovers, I only mean turkey, because the man and I demolished our 5 bags of sides within 36 hours.  We eat A LOT. Nothing goes to waste in this here household except the occasional bargain bin bag which is already half rotting upon purchase.

We eat large animal amounts

Anyways moving on.  We have been working our way through the leftover turkey in the form of stock, soups, cauliflower fried “rice”, scrambles, and just plain old dipped in cranberry sauce.  Even after a week of that we still had all of this leftover.

This is a good 9 cup sized tupperware

We definitely made a dent, but the rest of it had to go and it had to go now!  So I looked in the fridge to see what type of things I had that I could use to concoct something edible and use up the rest of the turkey, which also would not take too long because I’m lazy and was hungry.  We had some curry at my grandpa’s house the other night and I was still hankering for that taste so I decided to make a Thai Yellow Turkey Curry! (Try and say that five times fast. I certainly cannot. Many accolades to you if you can though)

Omnomnom!

It ended up appeasing my curry craving, however, it is definitely not an authentic Thai dish by any means.  I mostly called it a Thai curry because it had coconut milk, ginger, lime and basil in it.  As with most of my concoctions none of them are authentic and usually come about from perusing my fridge and pantry to see what I can make without having to go to the store.  I’m generally a go big or go home type of shopper when it comes to the grocery store so I rarely make more than one or two trips a week.  This is also probably because I’m a bit lazy so I’ve chosen to perfect my art of substituting with what I have : )  No one has suffered terribly yet….  Let’s hope I can maintain that track record.

And just because it’s always good to take a cat break

Who sleeps like this?

She's pretty much game for most abuse

I know not many features on Zack have appeared, but that’s because he’s always outside hustlin’ and taking care of his territory.  He is far more intelligent then the feline above and much more aware of what’s going on.  I was having a tough day Wednesday and Zack, who normally is taking care of his cat business outside stayed in to sleep next to me all night.  So to you cat haters out there and nonbelievers cats are loyal to their owners and can sense pain just as much as their doggy friends.

Much love

A Little Follow Up on Burning Off the Turkey Fest

First things first,  I am not an expert on fitness or training.  I just like working out, feeling strong, and creating my own delusion that I look pretty decent.

Yesterday I posted about the workout I did and also ever so briefly mentioned my hatred of running and preferred method of circuit training with minimal breaks.  Until today I did not realize the actual proper name for this type of exercise regime because as I said I ain’t no expert! : )  Anyways the pros in the field call it Metabolic Resistance Training/Metabolic Conditioning Training.

So after reading a bit more and watching videos on the interwebz I felt I should clear up my vague explanation of how I workout especially if I’m going to post about it here and there.  Additionally, giving my wordy description a more formal term will make it more Google friendly and who doesn’t like that?

Anyways I liked this video since it describes why Metabolic Resistance and Conditioning Training does make a bigger physical impact on your body without putting it under the same amount of stress as pounding the pavement for miles.

Enjoy!

P.S. I realize not everyone is interested in these things. So if you are great! If not you can peruse the site for more Food Noms and Cat Mishaps instead.