Tag: food

the weekend without a computer

So Friday morning my computer froze up and when I rebooted, it fell into a blue screen of death cycle. I tried the system repair tools, my recovery DVD, even an Ubuntu live DVD. Nothing would get all the way through the boot process. So I took it into a repair shop recommended by a friend to see if something was salvageable (since I’ve neglected updating my backup since the move). The repair guy ran a diagnostic on the hard drive and is pretty sure the data is ok, so that’s good news.  The bad news was that it didn’t appear to have a quick fix solution, so I would have to check it in for service which has 3 – 4 business day turnaround right now.

So with a weekend to kill and no computer I devoted my time to some projects in the kitchen.

After my normal Saturday morning trip to the Hollywood Farmers Market, I finally got around to making a batch of Kombucha with the kit I bought when I took a class on it a few months ago.


I was inspired to make a lemon cake in honor of my sad computer (and the novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) while grocery shopping. It had also been a friends birthday on Friday, so I was also making it for her birthday as well.


The other main thing I did Saturday was get some photos taken of me by a friend (for better LinkedIn/FB profile pics).  Alicia and I both went and saw The Bourne Legacy at the same time (though her in LA and me in Portland).  It was enjoyable…a Bourne movie, nothing special, but a good time.

The weekend projects weren’t over though.  After getting home from church, I made a batch of salsa:


Then it was the big project…canning the 5 lbs of green beans I had bought at the farmers market Saturday.  I made them into Pickled Dilled Beans:


(the red thing in the jar is a slice of red bell pepper)

All in all, I feel like I had a pretty productive weekend.  🙂

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2012/the-weekend-without-a-computer/

Some things I’ve been up to in October

Sweet Pickled PumpkinSweet Pickled Pumpkin

Pepper MashPepper Mash (future Hot Sauce)

Fresh Roasted Coffee BeansFreshly Home Roasted Coffee Beans
(more to come on this soon)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2011/some-things-ive-been-up-to-in-october/

Growing your own food may be the only way…

To insure you know where exactly your food comes from.  Following up the high profile raid in  2010 of raw food buying club Rawsome in Venice, earlier this month, both Rawsome and this time Healthy Family Farms in Santa Paula were again raided and its owners/operators arrested.  At first I was a little disgusted with what I thought was an overreaction by government agencies.  To shop at Rawsome, you have to become a member and acknowledge the risks of food that may not meet all government standards for processing (ie its raw and hasn’t been pasteurized or sprayed with chemicals, etc).  You can view the Rawsome Club agreement here.  Healthy Family Farms (HFF) is at many local farmer’s markets, including the Hollywood Farmer’s Market (where Alicia and I shop).  They have a CSA that provides for a discount on all items, as well as makes available additional items for pre-order for pick up at the market of your choice.  To join the CSA, you also have to sign an agreement similar to the Rawsome agreement, you can view it here.  After visiting the farm during one of their open houses, I decided to join the HFF CSA.

Now that the dust (and shock) of the initial raid/arrests have begun to settle, things have started to leak out that all may not be what it appears to be in regards to Rawsome & HFF.  As Erik at Root Simple writes, we may be getting “A Raw Deal.”  There seems to be evidence emerging that indicates that HFF is purchasing conventionally raised eggs and meat and then repackaging them for sale as coming from the farm in Santa Paula.  When I first heard this rumor, I dismissed it as a misunderstanding, as HFF had mentioned “rescuing” animals from other farms either going out of business or getting in trouble for mistreating animals.  But now I’m not so sure. (More info about HFF and its owner can be found here.)

These two examples aren’t the only local examples of this breach of trust.  In Sept 2010, the local NBC affiliate did an investigative report on farmer’s market vendors not being completely honest on where the goods they sold came from (as well claims of being pesticide-free).

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

As Erik at Root Simple says:

This type of fraud, repackaging cheap wholesale food products and passing them off as organic/raw etc. is, I believe, widespread.

That list of reasons to grow your own food, if you can, keeps getting longer . . .

I’m not sure how all this will play out in the end, this is still just one side of the story, and we do live in a innocent until proven guilty world in the US.  I definitely will be thinking twice this Sunday when I get eggs at the market this week.  Will I look at some of the other vendors as better options?  Is HFF’s note in this weeks email of more limited egg availability and reduction of farmer’s market locations an indication that some of these allegations are true?  Right now, we really only have rumors and pieces of evidence that have not been judged.

We also don’t have HFF’s side of the story. Only the email copied below, asking for patience while the case works its way through the system and to take any potential motive in mind for anything negative you may hear:

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2011/growing-your-own-food-may-be-the-only-way/


Well summer is in full force in Los Angeles.  So far it hasn’t been too hot…at least for too long (there have been a few days).  After last year’s relatively mild summer, I’ve been expecting a super warm summer.

I have nonetheless still been in a bit of a funk lately.  LA is a big place, but I feel quite alone here (while at the same time feeling like I’m never alone).  My friends here don’t live within an easy walk/bike/bus/train ride.  I can’t drive (at least for a few more weeks).  One of my friends is moving away (back to the NW…which makes me a little jealous).  One is going to be gone most of Aug…and then Sep and Oct as well.

It hasn’t been all bad though.  A couple months ago a new craft beer bar opened up a few blocks from the apartment.  Beer Belly.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know the owners and staff there…perhaps a little too much last month. 😉

I started a Food Preservation Externship a few weeks ago at the Hollywood Farmer’s Kitchen.  So far we’ve done three different types of jam (1975 Strawberry – a varietal that is supposed to taste like strawberries did before they became an industrialized product, Peach, & Plum Ginger), Pickled Leeks, & Dehydrated Leeks (to later grind into leek powder).  I’ll have a little break for the next couple weeks due to an event next week and my trip to San Fran (more on that later) the week after that.  By that time, we should be in full force of tomato season and canning sauces and making ketchups.  I’m excited to be able to gain some knowledge and practice in food preservation (something I wish I would have learned more of from my grandpa when I was living his house).

I’ve got a couple of small vacations coming up.  I’m going up to the Bay Area for a long weekend in early August.  I’m taking the train up there instead of flying.  Its more relaxing and I don’t have to worry about bringing anything back I can’t get through airport security.  I’m going to the Timber’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes.  Other than that, I plan on just walking around San Fran (and Berkeley) a whole bunch.

I also have a trip to NYC coming up in early September for my friend Mike’s wedding.  It’ll be my second trip to NYC and it’ll be a short trip, but I’m looking forward to seeing a little more of NYC as well.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2011/summertime/

(Not) Eating Out

Inspired by my friend Nicole (@PinchMySalt), I’m not going to eat out during the month of September.  She had a good thought about it…”Remember when going out to eat was kind of a big deal?”  Its true, I think even up to when I was in high school going out was a pretty big deal.  Even just getting Dairy Queen (especially for lunch) was kind of a big deal.  So September will be the time to really discover the kitchen in my new apartment.

I’ve been going to the Farmer’s Market in Hollywood the past few weeks regularly.  I’ve been most excited about the Huckleberries one of the mushroom guys has had.  They’re expensive ($10 for about 2/3rds of a pound), but so good.  A little taste of Oregon in the midst of the never ending summer of Southern California.  The first bag became a batch of Huckleberry Ice Cream.  Though the recipe I used ended up being more of a sweet cream ice cream with huckleberries in it.  Bag number two is currently in the process of becoming Huckleberry’cello.  I picked up a couple more bags this past weekend (probably the last week he’ll have them), and I’m going to make a Huckleberry Granita out of it.  Mmm…I do love the huckleberries.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2009/not-eating-out/

Lamb Shanks and Green Lentils in Red Wine

I’ve been on a bit of a lamb kick lately.  So while at the Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax on Saturday, I picked up a couple lamb shanks at the butcher.

Sunday, I looked through my cookbooks to get some ideas on what to do.  I ended up deciding on a recipe from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, but decided to prepare my shanks for cooking in a way another recipe suggested.  I salted the shanks and let them sit for a couple days in the refrigerator  before actually cooking.  As with most of the recipes in Bittman’s book, the recipe was pretty simple.  Green Lentils, onion, carrot, thyme, bay leaves and the lamb shanks roasted in the oven in red wine.  I used an inexpensive ($4.99) Cabernet Sauvignon from Whole Foods.  Once in the oven there wasn’t much left to do but wait.  A little over two hours later it was done.  The meat was falling off the bone tender, and the lentils had a nice taste from the wine.  I’ll definitely make this again sometime.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2009/lamb-shanks-and-green-lentils-in-red-wine/

Sketch 48

Ahh…the holiday season is now in full force.  My second Thanksgiving in LA.  This time I did have a meal a little closer to my families traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I got a ham (just over 8 pounds), and made a couple recipes from my friend Nicole’s blog (Pinch My Salt).  Extra Creamy Mashed Potatoes (Recipe) and one mentioned on Nicole’s site, but actually from one of her food blogging friends, Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Wrapped in Proscutto (Recipe).  The food was all good, though I did end up having a lot of extra food.  One of my friends ended up being sick, so he wasn’t able to come over.  So it was just me and one other friend.  Oh well, I’ve turned the leftover ham into two soups so far, and have plans for a third soup for the last of the ham.  The Proscutto wrapped sweet potatoes were really good, as the saltiness of the proscutto really complented the sweetness of the potatoes.

I did unfortuntely miss out on going to the LA Auto Show.  I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go with (well except for my friend who got sick).  So largely the extra long weekend was pretty lazy.  Lots of watching football, including a great Civil War victory by the Ducks, which likely will keep the Beavers out of the Rose Bowl.

I found out last Wednesday, that one of my best friends from Eugene is getting married, and pretty quickly as well, the wedding is at the end of December.  Monday night, he called and asked if I would perform the ceremony, so I fired up the internets and got ordained at http://themonastery.org/.  So this Dec 27th, I will perform my first marriage.  Wow.  Crazy.  It will be cool to be such an integral part of a special day in my friends life.

Tonight, I’ll be bottling my first batch of beer brewed in LA.  In a little over a week it’ll be carbonated and ready to drink.  I’d like to invest in a keg system sometime soon…bottling is such a pain.  Someday.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/sketch-48/

Pizzeria Bianco

There are a few places that everyone talks about, when talking about the best pizza in America. Apizza Scholls in Portland, Pizzeria Mozza in LA and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.  (I know I’m leaving Chicago out…but its a different style of pizza.  I’m also leaving NY out, because I’m not really sure what is NY-Style pizza of the big places or something that would fit in with the three above.)

A friend of mine works for an airline and is from Phoenix, so we were able to take a quick overnight trip this past weekend.  My first thought was, “Can we go to Pizzeria Bianco?”  We hopped on a flight to Phoenix a little before noon on Saturday and were on our way.  After dropping off our stuff at her parents house, we headed downtown to get on the list for dinner.  The blogs all talked about the 2 hour average wait, so we were prepared for a little wait (or at least I was).  We arrived at the restaurant around 5.30pm, where there was a line just to put your name on the list.  Once we got up to the front of the line, we were informed that we were looking at a three and a half hour wait (though depending on turnover could be sooner).  So we walked around downtown Phoenix some, had a couple beers at Bar Bianco next door and waited.  Shortly before 8pm we were seated (a little over an hour earlier than estimated).

We started our meal with a salad and appetizer.
Farmers Market Salad
The Farmers Market Salad of the day was Arugula (tossed in a
Vinaigrette), Apples, Pomegranate, and (Fontina?) Cheese.  The salad
was quite tasty.  Pomegranate makes a great salad ingrediant and the
cheese gave the salad a little “meat” to its bones.

The Spiedini, was a skewer of Italian Fontina wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma.  I was looking forward to this after reading a blog entry from a friend of one of my housemates.  It did not disappoint.  Wow, just yum!

For pizzas we got the Rosa and the Sonny Boy.
The Rosa is Red Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, AZ Pistachios.  I
surprisingly liked this pizza despite the presence of Pistachios (I’m
not a big nut person).  The crust was well cooked, the slice held up to
the center, and the flavors of the toppings complimented each other. 
This was a sauceless pizza, which probably helped the slice’s stiffness.
The Sonny Boy is Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Salami, Gaeta Olives.  I liked this pizza quite a bit.  The ingredients were top notch (as expected).  The only negative was I thought there was perhaps a little too much Salami on the pizza.  Because of that, there was enough excess moisture that the center of the slices were a little flimsy (and that first bite needed the aid of a fork).

Was it worth the long wait?  Definitely.  I already want to go back, so I can try some of the other pizzas.  As compared to the other two, its actually pretty difficult to compare.  Mozza’s pizza are a little more untraditional in topping choice, but the same size as Bianco’s.  In terms of standard toppings, Apizza Scholls and Bianco are most alike.  But Apizza Scholls serves pies that are about twice the size of the pizzas at Bianco and Mozza.  In the end, I don’t think its that important to pick one as “the best,” because each Pizzeria has such good pizza it really doesn’t matter.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/pizzeria-bianco/

Five Guys

I had heard about this place Five Guys as an East Coast version of In-N-Out.  One of my friends, who spent the summer in New Jersey, even claimed it was better than In-N-Out.  Since I’m now working in Torrance and one of the So. Cal. locations is a short drive away in Carson, I decided to check it out for the first time for lunch today.

Like In-N-Out, Five guys has a pretty simple menu.  The main difference, they have a bunch of toppings you can choose from to customize your burger (for no extra charge).  That and they also serve hot dogs (while In-N-Out does not).  The other difference…cost.  I’ll get into that later though.

The Burger

Click image for larger version

I ordered a Bacon Cheeseburger with lettuce and BBQ Sauce (yes I like simplicity).  It’s a little hard to see in the photo, but the patties are definitely thicker at Five Guys.  Maybe not quite twice as thick…but close.  Being able to have bacon was pretty nice as well the BBQ sauce.  All in all, it was a pretty good burger and definitely filling (as I was pretty full just finishing the burger).  The only complaint was perhaps the cost.  The burger alone was $5.59.  That is not much less than the cost of the Double Double combo meal at In-N-Out (though I don’t remember the exact cost at In-N-Out at the moment).

The Fries

Click image for a larger version

Here is where Five Guys have In-N-Out beat hands down.  The fries are fresh and cut at the restaurant like In-N-Out, however they are a thicker cut fry at Five Guys.  For $2.49, you get more fries, than a regular order of fries at In-N-Out (There were plenty still left inside my bag).  I also found the standard cooking time at Five Guys to be much better.  At In-N-Out, I often find the fries to be a little undercooked (so end up ordering them lightly well done).  The cost is a little more at Five Guys, but I think you get a good value here.

Overall verdict

My order of Bacon Cheeseburger, Fries and a Drink came to $10.58 (including tax).  Like I mentioned above, I remember the Double Double combo meal being around $6 (including tax).  In fact I’m pretty sure I can get a Double Double, Fries and Shake at In-N-Out for less than my meal at Five Guys.  So is it worth $4 more at Five Guys?  I’m not so sure.  It has the nostalgia of In-N-Out to overcome and isn’t significantly better than In-N-Out.  Sure I could cut down the cost a little by getting the smaller single patty “Little Bacon Cheesburger,” and probably will the next time, since I was unable to finish my fries.  Will I go again?  Sure.  They definitely beat out Fatburger or any of the other major burger fast food joints.  However, I don’t think it’ll ever replace a Double Double, Fries, and Neapolitan Shake from In-N-Out.

*update 11/12/08:  A Double Double, Fries and Shake at In-N-Out is $6.42.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/five-guys/

Sketch 42

It’s been a week of changes.  Last Wednesday about a half hour into work, I received a call from security/reception about the arrival of a new temp for the guy I was assisting.  I of course had no idea about the pending arrival, and he wasn’t in the office yet.  It turns out, I was being replaced.  The temp agency was supposed to have called me the night before, but for whatever reason had failed to do so.  But basically, during the course of the day, I found out that it would be my last day.  At least I had time to make sure I had all my personal belongings.  I had been a little worried after the other executive that I had been assisting left the company and finally those fears were realized.

The temp agency did get to work quickly on finding me a new position.  Its with the same company, but at a different location.  The position pays a little more, but the commute is much further.  I did however figure out that I can take one bus from my house to work…so that’s something I’ll keep in mind.  The new position is as a “Planner” in the Global Supply Chain department.  Basically, I’m pulling reports and moving inventory from the US to other countries and vice-versa.

Saturday, it was finally time for my install appointment with AT&T U-Verse.  U-Verse is AT&T’s version of FIOS (from Verizon).  It is a little different than FIOS in that it is only Fiber to the Node, which means it utilizes the standard copper wiring from the neighborhood node.  This cuts the deployment costs for AT&T, but also limits the bandwidth to the end-user.  (Verizon FIOS is fiber to home and as a result will have more available bandwidth to the end-user.)  So far I’m liking the service, the wireless router puts out enough signal that it reaches back to my room more reliably.  One interesting feature with the DVR for the TV, is that you can schedule shows online.  While I could do this on my old ReplayTV DVR back in the day, there was a 24 hr advance scheduling required.  With the U-Verse DVR, the scheduling was instantaneous (or at least quicker than it took me to walk from my room to the living room to check it).

I had lunch with a friend in Thai Town on Sunday, my first trip to Thai Town proper (I’d been to three of the Thai restaurants on Melrose or Little Thai Town).  The food was good, though they did keep the spiciness to “American” spicy levels.  Next time I’ll have to remember to ask for “Thai Spicy.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2008/sketch-42/