“My Cool, Grey City of Love”

I had a break in the shooting schedule and decided to come home for a visit.  I talked to Peter everyday when I was away, but Angela was not one to reveal much over the phone.  I needed to come home.  Angela doesn’t believe in vacations.  She would only travel for a “serious purpose” as she puts it — meeting a mentor in New York, going to school in Andover, taking summer courses at Brown, or attending a cousin’s wedding in Los Angeles.  Since she doesn’t have a serious purpose in Budapest, she will not travel there. 

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With Angela in Pompeii when she was nine

I used to lug Angela around the world with me when she was younger, but slowly she stopped wanting to go anywhere.  I found out that the external and physical world has never held as much power for her as the inner and intangible world that exists only in her head.  The vast, fertile and zigzagging interior terrain is where she prefers to explore.

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In an effort to gain insight into her mind and to stay connected when I am not with her, I resort to reading the books that she has read, and carefully considering all the notes scribbled by her on the pages.  Angela often sells the books back to Green Apple Books, a local bookstore, after she’s finished reading them, but the store doesn’t accept the ones with too much doodling.  Those are the ones I inherit my conduit to her world.  I have also begun to follow Angela on Spotify and listen to the songs on her playlists.  In Budapest, I was reading The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz and listening to Troubled Mind by Marina and the Diamonds, imagining what Angela felt about certain metaphors or symbolism.  The longer I didn’t see Angela, the more consumed I became by the incessant wondering about what’s on her mind.  Only coming home and seeing her could relieve me. Nothing is more reassuring than hugging the healthy body of one’s own child.

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It was a glorious day in San Francisco, sunny, warm and with a pleasant sea breeze, not at all our typical foggy cold summer day.  Peter took off from work to spend time with me.  We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for lunch.  Poggio Trattoria was recommended to us by one of Peter’s patients, who lives in Sausalito.  Everything on the menu looked enticing to me.  Peter ordered grilled octopus for appetizer and seafood fregula pasta as main course.  I ordered burrata to start and grilled salmon with fresh summer corn for the main course. We loved all the dishes.  After a month of rich Hungarian food, the lighter Californian-Italian cooking was a much desired change for me.  A perfect and long overdue date with the man of my life.

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Octopus is one of Peter’s very favorite food

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Burrata is one of my very favorite cheeses

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If you ever visit Sausalito, Poggio is definitely worth your while to dine in.

Living La Dolce Vita, Eat a Frittata

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The world is a good place.

I (Angela) took the SAT last Saturday and accidentally left my beloved TI-84 at Gateway High School, where I took the test. I didn’t realize my calculator was missing until several hours after the test ended, and I figured that by then someone had already taken my lovely away. These calculators are pretty darn expensive. I assumed that if anyone found my TI-84, they would probably take it for themselves or sell it.

My TI-84 has been with me since ninth grade and has absorbed so many tears that I’m surprised it still works. Together, we’ve made it through thick and thin. We’ve graphed limaçons in the dead of night. We’ve taken countless tests and done hours of homework. When I thought I had lost the calculator that is, in the vernacular, “bae,” I was devastated. That night, I went to my very first non-classical music concert but the whole time I was just thinking about my calculator. I threw my right-hand rule in the air to the beat of “Anna Sun” and mourned the loss of my beloved, which I was convinced I would never see again.

Out of all of my friends, I am definitely the most cynical. Last week, we watched the documentary Somewhere in Between on transracial adoption in Chinese class. I was positive that the man claiming to be the biological father of one of the adoptees was just trying to exploit money from an American family, but a DNA test revealed that he really was the father. By the end of the film, everyone in the class, boys and girls, had tears flowing freely down their faces – except for me. I was unamused and unshaken, unfazed by the cruelty of the universe that the film had revealed and skeptical of happy endings.

Later that week, however, I received an email saying that my calculator had been found unscathed and was waiting patiently for me. Elated, I returned to Gateway and reunited with bae. I am incredibly grateful that someone went to the trouble of tracking me down and allowing me to reclaim my darling. Our reunion cracked a hole through my jaded worldview. The world is such a wonderful place. Don’t worry. Be happy. Eat a frittata…

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Kale Potato Frittata

Ingredients:

Cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, sliced

1/2 shallot

1/2 yellow or white onion, sliced

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups boiled diced potatoes

4 whole eggs + 4 egg whites, beaten

3 tablespoons water

3 eggs on top of the frittata (optional)

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Note from Chef Chen:   I basically used up what was left in the fridge to make room for my Costco produce purchase.  I think a frittata is perfect for cleaning out the fridge on a weekend.

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Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, sauté onion, leak, garlic and over medium heat, stirring, 5 minutes. Add kale, garlic and a pinch of salt; stir 5 minutes. Add potatoes.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, 3 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir in kale-potato mixture.

In a large cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray, cook egg mixture over medium-low heat 1 minute. Sprinkle thyme, oregano and parmesan on top. 

Transfer skillet to oven; bake until eggs are set and center is slightly runny, about  8 minutes. Broil until top is golden, 1 minute.

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Happy Year of the Ram!

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Peter’s mother gave me two porcelain New Year dolls as part of their wedding gift to us. I thought that they looked silly when I first saw them and have grown to love them over the years.

It is rare that the whole family is free for Chinese New Year celebration.  The girls are off from school for President’s Week, and Peter took time off because originally the whole family was traveling to the East Coast this week.  Peter went to play golf and Angela went out with friends (see her account of her little adventure at the end of the post) when Audrey and I stayed at home and cooked our New Year feast.

The first must-eat food for Lunar New Year is dumplings.  Audrey and I had fun making our own 100% whole wheat dumpling wrap today.  This way we don’t feel as guilty pigging out.

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Handmade Dumpling Wraps Ingredients:

4 cups of 100% whole wheat flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

water

Preparation:

Pour 3 1/3 cups of flour and eggs in a large mixing bowl and leave it in the sink.  Turn on tap to have a steady drip while using your hand to mix – swirl in one direction – until the dough is firm but can be kneaded.  Turn off tap.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.

In batches, roll the dough into cylinders and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Use the remaining dry flour to prevent pieces from sticking together.  Make little dough balls and then use a rolling pin to make the wraps.  The key is to turn the dough with one hand and roll as you turn.

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If this sounds all too labor intensive, there are always the store-bought wraps!

Check out “Chinese New Year Potstickers” for the rest of the dumpling recipe.

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The second must-eat food for Lunar New Year is fish.  Fish sounds the same with the word “abundance” in Chinese.  Usually people buy a live rock cod to steam with ginger and scallion, but I suppose every Chinese family wanted one today and they were all sold out.  I bought a beautiful piece of Chilean Sea Bass and used my favorite marinade.

I also made braised pork for nostalgic reasons.  This was a dish that I looked forward to having at every New Year’s Eve when I was growing up in Shanghai.

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Braised Pork with Fresh Bamboo Shoots and Shiitake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cooking wine

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dark soy sauce (or you can use all light soy sauce)

3/4 – 1 cup water (you may not use all of it)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork shank

4 boiled eggs

5 large dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked soft, drained and quartered)

2 winter bamboo shoots (peeled and tough part removed)

1 pack stringed tofu (from Chinese market, see photo)

1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

8 cloves garlic, crushed

2 inch cube peeled ginger, crushed or sliced

2 star anise

1 tbsp. brown sugar or molasses

1 tbsp. canola oil

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Preparation:

Heat the oil in a wok on high.

Put in peppercorns, garlic, ginger, star anise, sauté until aromatic.

Add cut pork shank to be seared at all sides.

Add bamboo, shiitake and boiled eggs.

Pour in soy sauce, wine, water and sugar and turn the fire to low.

Cover and stew for 2 hours.

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For the two vegetarians in the house, I made a seared tofu with brown rice medley.

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Seared Tofu with Brown Rice Medley

Brown Rice Medley Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

A pinch of salt

2 1/2 water

1/2 teaspoon dark rice vinegar

4 teaspoons canola or peanut oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced

1 cup snap peas

1/2 red pepper (thinly sliced)

1/3 cup sliced scallions, divided

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Preparation:

Soak the dry shiitake mushroom in a bowl in warm water for 1 hour.  Save 1/4 cup of the water but discard the sediment at the bottom of the bowl. 

Cook the brown rice with 2 1/2 cups water, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.

In a sauce pan heat 2 teaspoons cooking oil on medium high, sauté half of the ginger until aromatic, add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and give it a few good stir.  Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and 1/4 cup reserved mushroom water.  Bring it to boil and lower the heat to let simmer.  The mushrooms are done when sauce is reduced and thickened but not burned.

In the meantime, in a wok or frying pan heat up 2 teaspoons oil on medium high and sauté the remaining ginger until aromatic.  Add snap peas and red pepper and stir for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Pour shiitake mushroom sauce and 1/3 cup of scallion in the pan and stir for 1/2 minutes. 

Mix in the cooked brown rice and turn off the stove.

Miso Tofu Ingredients:

12 oz. firm tofu, sliced

1 tablespoon miso paste

1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

2 tsp canola or peanut oil

Tofu Preparation:

Spread miso paste on the tofu using fingers.  Heat the oil in a nonstick pan and pan sear the tofu on medium high for about 3 minutes on either side or until tofu slices are slightly browned.

Serve tofu on a bed of rice medley.

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Here is Angela’s little adventure:

To celebrate the eve of the Lunar New Year, my friends and I went out for lunch. We normally spend our free time in the Marina. Some may complain about all the yuppies in the area but I see nothing wrong with their presence, especially since I love the restaurants and stores that are targeted toward yuppies. They may be strange and overpriced, but they’re fun for window shopping.

Today we decided to go to the Castro and the Mission, where I normally do not venture. We went to a restaurant called Starbelly and then spent a few hours at Dolores Park, where I witnessed several people ingesting illegal substances and one woman emptying her bladder at the top of a hill. I have lived a rather sheltered childhood, so I was mildly disturbed by what I saw. I suppose it’s always important to be exposed to a diverse range of experiences. I am a very rule-abiding person so it was difficult to watch people violate open container laws and vandalize public transport vehicles without reporting them. At least Starbelly was good. I had a dried pea and quinoa patty and a gingered butternut squash soup with pepitas.

After returning from my little adventure, I came home to find a nice Lunar New Year dinner and some shipments of clothes that I’ll be reviewing in the next few days. Gung hay fat choy!

我今天跟同学们庆祝春节,我们去了卡斯特罗区吃饭。食品很好吃,但是我看到很多人在触犯法律,不好!新年快乐,恭喜发财,年年有余。我朋友姓余。去年,我得考中文AP考试,所以我得背春节传统,比方说喝腊八粥和吃橘子。对不起,我的中文不好。如果你有孩子,你应该让他考中文AP因为连我都考得好,而且AP很好玩儿,有写故事的部分,那是我最喜欢的部分。我为汤姆和玛丽亚写了很多悲惨的背景故事。

Creamy Conchiglie Pasta – Healthified!

I think we’ve established that pasta is boss. So it’s no surprise that today we made even more pasta.

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Every time we go grocery shopping, we always pass the pasta aisle and Audrey begs for the big pasta shells that are on display. They do look very enticing.  We never end up getting them because they’re made out of white flour and Audrey gets more than her fair share of refined carbs from all the candy she eats. Today we decided to buy some whole wheat conchiglie to satisfy her craving.

It was pretty hard to find conchiglie that’s whole wheat; we had to search through some pretty hippie-ish Gen Y grocery stores, which thankfully are abundant in San Francisco. If you don’t have one of those stores near you, you can substitute with another type of 100% whole wheat pasta or just use regular conchiglie. Anything in moderation, right?

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Ingredients

1 pound conchiglie or other pasta, preferably 100% whole wheat*
1 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (14-16 oz.) bag frozen green peas, thawed
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoon pepper flakes
1 pinch smoked paprika
2 cups basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
8 ounces feta cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

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Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic and 1 tablespoon of basil until aromatic, add 2/3 cup of peas and give it a few stirs. Pour the cooked peas and the yogurt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a small skillet and fry the pepper flakes, paprika and pine nuts until aromatic or the nuts slightly brown. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to direction on package. As soon as the pasta is al dente, add the remaining peas to the same pot, then immediately transfer peas and pasta to colander. Drain and shake the colander to release excess water.

Mix pasta, peas and the yogurt-pea sauce. Sprinkle with pine nuts, basil leaves and feta cheese. Serve warm.

The recipe makes six servings.

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Adapted from “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi
The Wall Street Journal Saturday/Sunday Eating and Drinking

*Pedantic foodie rant: A lot of the pasta at grocery stores that calls itself “whole wheat” is actually made with 51% whole wheat flour and 49% refined flour (cough cough Barilla cough), if that. Food packaging is, as the kids say, hella deceptive. Take Cheerios, for example. The packaging says “Made with 100% whole grain oats,” which is true. However, Cheerios themselves aren’t technically 100% whole grain because they contain small amounts of corn starch and wheat starch.

So if you’re trying to cut refined carbs out of your diet, make sure not to be fooled by deceptive packaging! My mother always buys “made with whole grain” products that are mostly just white flour. Yes, unbleached enriched flour is regular refined white flour. Moral of the story: if you’re trying to improve your diet, check the ingredient list before you buy anything! Sure, a little white flour here and there won’t kill you, but consuming unhealthy food should be a conscious decision. Unwholesome ingredients shouldn’t be snuck into your stomach by food labels that are obviously intended to fool you. Just my two cents.

Meaty Monday: Rosemany Pork Chops with King Oyster Mushrooms

This little piggy went to market… and never came back, because it was eaten. Oink oink no more.

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C’est la vie.

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I’m not good at the whole “c’est la vie” thing. I can’t just  ¯\_()_/¯ and move on. Some of my friends can stay upset about something for about two seconds and then forget about it, but I am still haunted by that awful essay I wrote in fourth grade.

I do enjoy using the  ¯\_()_/¯ emoticon though. It allows me to exude an aura of nonchalance when in reality I am ranting and raving and collapsing in a pool of lactic acid and cortisol.

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Anyway… pork.  Mother is busy preparing for a speech she will deliver at Harvard next week, and she’s asked me to write the post for today’s dish.  What can I tell you about these pork chops? Father loved them.  I didn’t eat any because I’m a vegetarian.  I would have eaten the mushrooms if only they didn’t touch the pork. Oyster mushrooms are pretty darn good for you though.

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As you can see, they are not very energy dense, which is good in an increasingly obese world. They also have a good amount of potassium, fiber, and iron. Okay.

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Ingredients for Basic Pork Brine:
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 cup water
A few dashes of pepper, rosemary, thyme and sage.
You can half or double the brine based on the number of chops you cook.
Brining Preparation:
Melt the salt and sugar in warm water, add all spices and leave the brine in the fridge until it is completely cold.  Pour the brine in a large ziplock bag and add the pork chops in.  Seal the bag and leave in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.
If you decide to leave the pork in the brine overnight, be sure to soak it in fresh water for at least 30 minutes before using.  If you cook the brined pork on the same day, just rinse the pork well and pat dry before cooking.
Ingredients for Rosemary Pork Chop with King Oyster Mushrooms:
2 boneless pork chops
8 king oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
2 shallots, sliced
2 stocks rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Preparation:
Heat oil in a large skillet pan on high, add the chops in the center and spread the rosemary stocks, mushrooms and shallots around them.  Close the lid and cook each side of the pork for about 4 minutes.  Open the lid now and then to stir the mushroom and shallots so they don’t get burned.  The chops will be cooked in the natural moisture of the mushroom and shallots.

Lotus Root: the Sexiest Tuber

An anonymous internet philosopher once said, “Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of darkness, and radiate into the world.”

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Ever heard of eating your feelings? Well, today we ate the part of the lotus that never makes it out of the filth. We ate the lotus root, the part responsible for the growth and existence of the pretty flower that never gets to see the light of day until it’s cruelly uprooted and devoured. It does almost all the work and never gets much credit or appreciation. Eat a lotus root. Everyone’s got a little lotus root in them.

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Potatoes and lotus roots face off. East meets West. MMA.

And they stand their ground against sweet potatoes too!

And they stand their ground against sweet potatoes too!

According to the wise and all-knowing Google, lotus roots are better than taters. Think of ’em as the plain old potato’s sexier exotic friend with more potassium and vitamin C and fiber by mass. Lotus roots are popular in many Asian cuisines. We watched a documentary last year in AP Chinese about how lotus roots are grown; apparently they’re quite difficult to harvest since farmers have to dig out the entire root, which is several feet long. If the root breaks, it gets filled with filth and it can’t be sold. These A+ tubers are definitely worth the trouble though.

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Apologies for inundating you with lotus root pics.

So that’s Lotus Root 101.

Anyway… lotus roots can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. You can stuff them with soaked glutinous sweet rice and cook them up with dates, “dragon eyes” and xylitol (or sugar, if you’re into that) and they’re sort of dessert-y, almost like Japanese mochi in texture.

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A very Shanghainese dish

You can also sauté them and they’ll be nice and crunchy. We made ’em with noodles… I didn’t choose the carb life; the carb life chose me. Dr. Atkins can run in terror from pasta, but I’ll embrace it with a smile.

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Ingredients for Asian Peanut Noodles with Lotus Root:

For the Peanut Sauce:

14.5 oz fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)

5 tbsp peanut butter (I used reconstituted PB2 for lower fat)

1 tbsp sriracha

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

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For the Vegetables and Noodles:

1 section of a lotus root, sliced

salt and pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp sriracha (more or less to taste)

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tbsp soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)

1/2 tbsp sesame oil

8 oz rice noodles, preferably 100% whole grain

3/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 cup shredded snow peas

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tbsp chopped peanuts

Preparation:

For the peanut sauce: Combine 1 cup broth, peanut butter, sriracha, honey, 2 tbsp soy sauce, ginger, and 3 cloves crushed garlic in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until sauce becomes smooth and well blended, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

Boil water for the noodles and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a large skillet or wok until hot. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic, scallions, snow peas, bell pepper, lotus root and salt, sauté until tender crisp, about 1-2 minutes.

Drain noodles and toss with peanut sauce. Separate the noodles in 6 plates and top with the sautéd vegetables and chopped peanuts. Or mix the sautéd vegetables with the noodles and top with chopped the peanuts.

The recipe makes about 6 servings.

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Sautéed Kale with Whole Wheat Penne + Pastel Mint Boutique Review!

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You’ve already rolled your eyes as I waxed poetic about the beauty and grace incarnate that is pasta. Pasta is love, pasta is life, and I hope to one day marry pasta in a small courthouse ceremony with a ring of rigatoni around my finger. Disclaimer: this post was written while coming off a pasta high, in case you couldn’t notice. Forgive my incoherency.

Today we made some 100% whole wheat penne with kale. My mother called it a little naughty and a little nice. She was wrong. Pasta is nice too. A little pasta never hurt nobody. No food in itself can cause diabetes or obesity. But if you’re a little carbophobic you can alter the ratio of pasta to kale or substitute some or all of the pasta with spiralized vegetables, spaghetti squash or shirataki. Personally I find the latter absolutely disgusting and reminiscent of vulcanized worms. Shirataki is made out of an indigestible Japanese root called konjac, so it has zero grams of net carbohydrates and is essentially non-nutritive, although it is a relatively good source of fiber. Do what you want to do. Eat your rubber noodles and be sad.

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Or join the Cult of Carbs and live your life in joy. Your call.

Anyway, this recipe is vegetarian and full of delicious veggies so it’s perfect for Meatless Mondays. It can also be gluten free if you use the subs listed above or use gluten free pasta.

Ingredients:

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed
4 oz. (about 1 cup) uncooked 100% whole wheat penne
1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 of a 15 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon shaved parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 large lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

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Preparation:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok on medium high. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic. Add the kale and bell pepper and sauté until soft, adding a little water or broth if necessary. Add the beans and give it a few good stir until heated through.

Turn off the stove and add 1/4 cup parmesan, 2 tablespoons pesto sauce, the juice from half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste, mix well.

Dish out and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan. Serve immediately.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! Don’t pigeonhole it into the internet’s list of nasty kale recipes. Honestly I think a lot of people hate kale but pretend to like it since it’s so trendy and has a superfood rep (although the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease journal rated vegetables by nutrient density and kale was only #15, probably because it’s more than twice as energy-dense as spinach by mass). A lot of the kale available at supermarkets is really tough and disgusting and inedible especially if you try to make your own raw kale salad. We chose to use kale for this recipe since kale doesn’t cook down as much as spinach so it’s a better foil to the penne. If you hate kale then you can sub some other vegetable, perhaps collard greens, but we recommend trying fresh kale to see how you like it. Some farmers market kale is god-awful but if it’s really fresh then it’s 10/10.

It was shaped like a barn but it was actually quite nice inside.

It was shaped like a barn but it was actually quite nice inside.

Since returning to San Francisco from New England I’ve gotten to appreciate the city more. The autumn isn’t as pleasantly pilgrim-y and I no longer live in a quaint little cottage but at least it isn’t freezing or overrun by squirrels. Also, it’s very hipsterish which a lot of people hate but now I don’t have to turn to Netflix to watch Portlandia. A large hipster population makes for bigger and better artisanal-feeling grocery stores that are even more hardcore than Whole Foods. I’m talking Rainbow Grocery level hipster. For me, there’s nothing more fun than wandering the aisles of a grocery store, even if I don’t end up buying anything. In the dead of winter I used to trek three miles through the ice and snow to ogle at everything in Whole Foods and Stop and Shop, often returning to my dorm empty-handed. I’m starting to realize that that’s kind of weird, but whatever.

I really like cauliflower, ok?

Totally content with my weirdness. I really like cauliflower, ok?

I once dedicated an hour of my life to choosing the best aubergines from the grocery store. Yes, aubergines.

I once dedicated an hour of my life to choosing the best aubergines from the grocery store. Yes, aubergines.

In addition to the cool grocery stores, there are a lot of hipster boutiques and it’s 100% socially acceptable to dress like a hipster in any situation. I don’t really dress like a hipster when I’m not trick-or-treating but many of my friends and family members do pull off the Harry Potter glasses and flannel shirts quite well. It’s great that they have so many options when it comes to buying nice clothes. Pastel Mint Boutique, an online clothing store based in San Francisco, recently sent us a few items to try out and they were great! We received a utility jacket, an infinity scarf, a sundress, and a beanie. My sister and my schoolmates very much enjoyed trying these clothes on. We highly recommend this boutique! If anyone asks, we heard of ‘em first.

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Pastel Mint utility jacket and dress

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GLee rocking the infinity scarf, beanie, and utility jacket

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Glower sold separately

Glower sold separately

Nutty Fruity Scones

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Angela’s Post:

As I write this, my dad is squinting at his laptop and muttering obscenities under his breath. Apparently a certain fellow responsible for typing up medical reports is not only incapable of using proper English grammar but also gets basic facts like dates and years wrong. My father, a very busy interventional cardiologist has become a copy editor. I fear for the future of medicine. I don’t want to let some schmuck who doesn’t know the difference between January and February handle my arteries. I guess that’s another reason to eat well and stay healthy.

Today we made deliciously crumbly reduced-sin scones. There’s no butter or refined flour in them, and they’re dairy-free, paleo, and “clean” (I think? Unsure of standards regarding the sanitation of one’s diet) so make them and gobble them up right now! Feed your wife! Feed your husband! Feed your children because they’re darn good and won’t make your blood glucose levels spike uncontrollably!

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Nutty Fruity Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

¼ cup pecan

1 large egg

2 tablespoons honey

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Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and soda.

Stir in dried fruit and nuts.

In a small bowl, combine egg and honey.

Stir wet ingredients into dry.

Use your hands to form dough.

Shape into desired shape.

(I used a little coconut flour to prevent sticking when I handled the dough.)

Bake at 350° on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes

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Spiralized Butternut Squash Pasta with Garlicky Kale & White Beans

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Pasta is good, pasta is great. Pasta is the friend who will always be there for me. Pasta, o beauteous pasta, you make any dish complete. You complete me. Non lasciarmi, mio amato (grazie, Google Translate).

I never want to spend a day without pasta, not even if I’ve already eaten my weight in starch and definitely do not need to further raise my blood sugar. This is when my beloved vegetable spiralizer comes in handy. It can turn just about any vegetable, from zucchini to broccoli stalks, into pasta. That’s right, all the deliciousness of al dente pasta and all the holiness of veggies. Now that’s what I call good wholesome fun.

Big smile at Ristorante La Fattoria in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy. There was probably some pasta involved.

Big smile at Ristorante La Fattoria in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy. Pasta!

The first time I heard of spiralizing vegetables was when I was reading about zoodles on SkinnyTaste.com. I then coveted a spiralizer for about a year before Audrey bought me one from Williams Sonoma as a gift using her own money. How sweet!  I have since made my own zoodles on several occasions. They are delicious!

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Spiralizers are very versatile. A vegetable doesn’t need to be vaguely phallic in order to be turned into pasta. Today we had a grand old time spiralizing butternut squash!

Note: if you don’t have a spiralizer, then a mandoline or even a vegetable peeler should work.

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Butternut Squash Pasta with Garlicky Kale & White Beans

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and spiralized, noodles trimmed

olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it really spicy)

1 bunch Lacinato kale, stems removed

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if vegetarian)

1 can white beans (cannellini, Great Northern), drained, rinsed, patted dry

1 teaspoon oregano flakes

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional if vegan)

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Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash noodles on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. When done, divide noodles into bowls and set aside.

While the butternut squash is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until kale is wilted. You can do this in batches.

Once the kale is cooked, pour the chicken broth into the skillet and add the beans and oregano. Let cook for 5-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Divide the kale mixture equally over the bowls of butternut squash noodles. Serve immediately.

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Recipe modified from Inspiralized

Like Lemonade and Tofu

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Audrey sipping lemonade from her favorite EcoJarz container

Anyone who knows both Angela and Audrey will say that they are very different. Audrey is like lemonade, sweet and universally liked. Angela is more like tofu. It’s a good sensible food, one that won’t raise your blood sugar or give you cavities. But let’s just say it’s more of an acquired taste… some people think it’s boring health food, some people think it’s hippie feed, and some people love it.

Gangnam Style dancing in public with a straight face

Gangnam Style dancing in public with a straight face. Like I said, an acquired taste.

Today, true to their natures, Audrey whipped up some lemonade and Angela made tofu. A lovely mix, really, with the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

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Just like my daughters.

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Angela chastised me for using white rice in this photo. Some childish prattle about high GI and causing diabetes or galactic implosion or something. It’s purely for the aesthetic, I told her after swallowing a large spoonful of the pure white pillowy starch.

Spiced Tofu with Spiralized Zucchini Ingredients:

15 oz. firm tofu (sliced)

2 small zucchinis

10 grape tomatoes

1 stalk green onion

2 cloves garlic

3 teaspoons sesame oil or any cooking oil

1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or “oyster-flavored” shiitake sauce)

1/4 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1 dash red chili pepper flakes

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Spiced Tofu with Zoodles is a satisfying meal on its own.

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Preparation:

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick pan and sear the sliced tofu pieces on medium high until slightly golden, about 3 minutes on each side.  Sprinkle the chili pepper on the tofu while searing.  Set aside.

Spiralize your zucchini. If you don’t have a vegetable spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or knife to get your zucchini into noodle-like strips. Use the remaining oil to lightly sauté your garlic until aromatic. Add the zucchini and and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.  Mix in grape tomatoes and the seared tofu.  Give it a few good stir.  Turn off the stove and add the oyster sauce. Stir until well coated.  Top with chopped green onion and sesame seeds.  Serve immediately with rice.

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Lemonade, crunchy ice, sip it once, sip it twice…

Sugar-Free Lemonade Ingredients:

2 cups xylitol

1 cup hot water

2 cups fresh lemon juice (we juiced our Meyer lemons just this morning!)

1 gallon cold water

1 sliced lemon

Preparation:

Dissolve xylitol in hot water. Add lemon juice and water, stirring well until thoroughly mixed. Garnish with slices of lemon.