Carrot Ginger Juice (Or Let’s Macerate Some Stuff)

For those of you following along, yesterday was the end of my three-day meditative fast. As it turns out, I didn’t touch my script at all. I had intended to do so, but it just wasn’t the right time.

SO much stuff came up over those three days that was more important to address — and by “stuff” I don’t mean people calling me and asking me to go hiking. I mean I-sat-in-silence-and-worked-through-some-STUFF stuff.

It was hard, but it was worth it, and I feel so much stronger now. I might write more about it some time on the other blog, but I’m not ready yet.

Each fast I do brings new and different challenges, and I’m always so much better off afterwards.

Plus a big plate of spicy sausage nachos tastes even more amazing when you haven’t eaten in three days.

Bonus!

If you're wondering what kind of person breaks a fast with spicy sausage nachos and rose, that person is me.

I was so excited to dive into my food that I don’t even think this photo is in focus.

I savored each spicy, cilantro-laden bite and celebrated by watching the “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones.* (No amount of on-screen slaughter could keep me away from food after three hours let alone three days.)

For good measure, I capped my calorie fest off with two balls of cookie dough because Ghiradelli chocolate chip cookie dough is from God.

All of that was so amazing in my mouth, but around 2 am, my intestines had a difference of opinion. I’m not talking stabbing pains, but there was some slight discomfort involved.

Two hours later I was still wide awake, so I decided it was time to just get up.

Some people actually get up at 4 am on purpose, anyway.

I mean, that’s a thing, right? Getting up at 4 am?

Anyway, there I was up before the sun this morning, and I really, really wanted to write. I was so on fire that I actually made it through 60 pages of screenplay revisions before lunch.

Today lunch involved tuna, basil, and artichoke hearts with dijon vinaigrette on a bed of arugula, all of which I washed down with a glass of carrot ginger juice.

And because I’m me, I made the juice myself….

Get ready to get macerated!

Get ready to get macerated, stuff!

I did the math, and making the juice is cheaper than buying it. Just for the record, I don’t do this kind of math on everything — just on things I consume with shocking frequency like bacon, espresso, and breakfast bars.  (I’m not about to go bankrupt because I don’t like drip coffee and whatnot, so this kind of stuff needs sorting out for economic efficiency.)

It’s also nice to tweak the ratio of carrot to ginger to your own liking.

Rabbits did carrot ginger juice.

The Easter rabbits are down with my carrot to ginger ratio. They told me. 

If you have a juicer and want to give it a shot, here’s my recipe.

Carrot Ginger Juice

2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped
2 oz peeled, fresh ginger
1/2 lemon

Put carrots and ginger into juicer and let it do its thing. You can also peel the lemon, remove the seeds and throw that in the juicer as well, but I think it’s faster to use a handheld citrus squeezer for the lemon. Maybe it’s just me….

OK, back to my script!

XOXO

*Yes, I know I am woefully behind on the show. Please do not leave comments about future episodes or I might go crazy –King Joffrey-crazy. 

Socrates Said Stuff (Or Art from Someone Who is Starving)

So today is my mom’s birthday. She’s super brilliant and has been making me laugh a lot lately, which is awesome. I happened to call her last week after she had just come home from a massage, and she was sounding especially upbeat as she described her experience.

“The massage therapist laid out all of these cards with words on them and let me pick three that I could focus on during my massage.” She said. “I wanted all of them… but I went with ‘wisdom,’ ‘knowledge,’ and ‘kindness,’ because ‘greedy’ wasn’t one of the options.”

Funny, right? (OK, well I think so….)

She went on to tell me that she was also given the opportunity to pick a scented oil purely based on its smell, and the oil she picked happened to be called, “wisdom,” as well.

“Apparently, I really want to be wise.”

“You are,” I told her. I meant it.

(She really is wise, and she’s very good at getting on my case when I’m not.)

Given that I presently have no income while I’m devoting my life to writing (unwise), I didn’t think it would be a very good idea to buy her a birthday present. (Some might call this “stingy.”)

We’re a gift family, so I wanted to send something to show her I love her and I’m glad she was born. Plus I would feel like an ungrateful asshat if I didn’t do anything to acknowledge the woman who brought me into this world without an epidural.

Since macaroni necklaces are no longer an acceptable way to say, “I love you” when you’re in your 30’s I had to get creative.

It just so happens that one of my favorite quotes from Socrates involves the word, “wisdom,” so I put it on a bookmark.

See?

Socrates said stuff. Really smart stuff.

Socrates said stuff. Really smart stuff.

OK, I’m off to make dinner to break my three day fast!

Somebody cue the Hallelujah Chorus, ‘cuz I’m hungry!!!

SUPER Simple Truffle Popcorn (Or A Party-Planning Life Hack)

OK, this has to be a quick post because I’m in the middle of a three-day meditative fast during which I am attacking my screenplay revisions without any comforting distractions. It’s a meditative/writing/prayer thingy-do that I may end up blogging about here if I have enough time or emotional bandwidth available after diving into the dark places of my script I’ve been too scared to examine truthfully, and without distraction.

So here it goes…

A long time ago I wrote a post about truffle popcorn that involved measuring oil and popping your own popcorn on the stove. (You can find it here.) This pilgrim-era method is fine I guess, but I would often find myself annoyed with unevenly popped kernels, burnt pots, and the other irritations that come along with doing everything the hard way.

I recently came up with a solution to the problem… and it happened by accident.

I was running late to my friend’s low-key Oscar gathering and didn’t have anything to bring. I had some Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Popcorn sitting around, which I adored for its evenly popped, perfect fluffiness… but not so much for its taste.

Chewy and the dinos may  have been into it… but I wasn't.

Chewy and the dinos may have been clamoring for it… but I wasn’t.

Then it hit me!

Melt butter, dump it all over the dry-ish popcorn, sprinkle it with black truffle salt, and Ta Da!  Now you have perfectly-popped popcorn covered in the greatest things on earth: black truffle bits and butter!

Everyone loved it.

This bowl was full five minutes before the photo was taken.

This bowl was full two minutes before the photo was taken.

So there you have it: a simple party planning life hack. And my new favorite thing.

Now I’m off to do the thing that scares me….

Somebody say a prayer for me.

XOXO

Prosciutto, Mint, and Melon Appetizers (Or A Baby Shower Brunch Idea!)

Yesterday, I was playing around with prosciutto to see if perhaps I might want to do a proscuitto, melon, and mint appetizer for my friend’s baby shower on Saturday.

There's melon in there somewhere.

There’s melon in there somewhere.

I was wrapping mint leaves and the cured meat around balls of cantaloup, when I received word that the shower was off.

Yup, you guessed it… another baby shower canceled due to the early arrival of another baby boy!

Finnie is a big brother now! Yay!!!

Declan is happy and healthy, and so is his mommy, and while I’m disappointed we won’t be stuffing our faces with pork products in his honor this weekend, I’m looking forward to holding him instead really soon!

Also?

I’ll never forget his birthday because he now shares one with my baby who turned four yesterday. <3

SO not the same thing as a human baby. I know.

SO not the same thing, but I love him with all my heart. And that counts for something, right?

XOXO

Happy Birthday, Bubba! (Or Paleo Cilantro Chicken for the Birthday Boy!)

Today is my dog’s fourth birthday. And while I’m tempted to get out my glittery markers to make him a hat, I think he’d prefer kisses and a fistful of meat instead.

What's this I'm hearing about a hat?

What’s this I’m hearing about a hat?

Last night I made a super delicious chicken dish, and I saved some chicken scraps for him. Maybe we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and make it a proper celebration with candles and everything. (I need help. Clearly.)

Or maybe we’ll just go for a hike and snuggle on the couch together.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

If you want to know why he’s so fixated on the chicken, here’s why:

It's somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

It’s somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

I found the recipe in this great gallery of 22 Paleo-friendly recipes from Bon Appetit.

I’ll be honest, though, I didn’t really follow it closely when it came to the ratio of lime juice, cilantro, celery, or pears. I just piled it all on. (I look at savory recipes like speed limits — polite suggestions for minimizing mayhem and mishaps.)

So basically my version just goes like this.

Celery, Cilantro, and Pear Chicken with Lime

4 celery stalks, sliced
2 Asian pears, thinly sliced
A heaping pile of cilantro leaves
Juice from 1 fresh lime
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Don’t bother pounding them. I think it yields a negligible benefit, frankly. Cook the chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil — in the stove at 350 or on the burner — whatever your preferred method. (I’d give you cooking times but my stove is whack so it wouldn’t be useful. Just don’t overcook them. Chicken seriously sucks when it’s dry.)

Meanwhile, slice the pear and celery. Squeeze lime juice over the sliced stuff, throw in cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (This limey salad can be made the night before if you’d like. It’s almost better the next day, actually.)

Remove chicken from heat, cover in fruity, veggie lime mixture. Devour.

And maybe save some of the chicken scraps for your birthday boy.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

Already Getting My Happy Bunny On! (Or Fresh Pea Soup for Easter… Maybe)

Wanna know something?

Caspari paper products make me happy — particularly their holiday themed hankies. When I noticed that they had Easter options at the grocery store today, I got giddy… and bought some.

Duh.

Bunnies! I die.

It’s going to be like carrying Peter Rabbit in my purse for the next month!

YAY!!!

Wanna know something else?

I prefer Easter to Christmas.

There. I said it. That probably sounds whacked, but whatever. I don’t care.

It all started in 2002….

It was my first Easter in Los Angeles, and my first Easter away from home. I didn’t have actual biological family to celebrate with, so my roommate and I decided to throw a family dinner for our friends.

We both gave stuff up for Lent and couldn’t wait to let loose when it was over. She gave up chocolate, but I swear I suffered more because I gave up alcohol AND went to Vegas with her for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not even kidding. It was my first time EVER in Vegas, and I didn’t have a drop of anything — not even communion wine — even though St. Paddy’s fell on a Sunday that year.

For 24 hours I watched all of America chain smoke, binge drink, and gamble away their 401Ks — sober. On a stool. I felt like an anthropologist doing an academic study that involved observing monkeys flinging poo at the zoo. If I’m being honest with you, I think the hardest part of the trip may have been surviving the sheets at the Stratosphere stone. cold. sober.

Anyway… I digress.

Family dinners! That’s where I was. We decided to throw one for our friends because we were away from our own families, and that dinner marked the beginning of a beautiful tradition celebrating the friends who have become family. It’s a tradition I love. Deeply.

BTW.. and just for the record… I know the season is not entirely about the end of my suffering because nothing I give up could ever come close to the sacrifice that we celebrate this time of year, so I really look at it as a celebration of my amazing friendships and a chance for new beginnings for all of us. <3

Since I’m trying to keep my philosophizing to a minimum on this blog, you can find more of my thoughts on Easter/religion/life/death/sex/and/basically everything in between on my other blog here.

Back to Easter dinner…

Over the years the menu and the venue has has gone through many iterations, but the one thing that has remained constant is that I make a lot of food as a way of saying, “I super like you. Want me to show you how much by force-feeding you pig products?”

This year my friend Nicole and I are talking about doing a traditional spread with a spiral ham, my fennel scalloped potatoes, and her darling lamb-shaped butter! It’s all still TBD, but it’s never too early to get excited about eating PIG!

Since ham can be salty and heavy, I want to have some light, fresh dishes to accompany it. I recently made a fresh pea soup with mint, and I’ve been thinking it might be a fun, fresh addition to the menu this year.

A confession…

I don’t love peas by themselves, but for some reason I SUPER LOVE them in this soup.

See?

Mmm, minty peas!

Mmm, minty fresh peas!

Here’s the recipe, just in case you want to get into it….

Minty Pea Soup

3 T unsalted butter (it’s also good with 3 T coconut oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 16-oz packages of frozen peas
4-6 C of chicken broth
1/2 C of mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter. Cook onions until tender but do not allow them to brown. (About 6-8 minutes.) Add 2 C of broth. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Add peas. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mint and puree with remaining broth. Add broth by 1/2 C to achieve desired consistency. (I recommend an immersion blender for this.)

Salt and pepper to taste. Can be served hot or cold. I add extra mint for garnish.

It’s based on this Bon Appetit recipe from Epicurious, which is also very good. My version is more Paleo-friendly.

OK, I’m off to finish my script. My long lost Melissa is back in LA, and I owe her my fourth draft. It’s kinda sorta done. I just need to read through it a few times to do some polishing for her.

YAY!!!

So Good I Eat ‘Em With a Spoon (Or Low Carb Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes)

This morning I’m munching on my delicious cookie dough breakfast balls, sipping my whole milk latte, and listening to Tritonal’s “Seraphic” absolutely on repeat. If you don’t know it, you should.

The song is helping me write my script. It’s also perfect for dancing alone in my living room because nothing unlocks me — or the emotions I’m usually not in touch with — like music.

ANYWAY, enough about Tritonal, my emotional retardation, and my addiction to cookie dough breakfast balls. It’s time to talk about cauliflower mash.

Cauliflower mash is SO FREAKING GOOD I can eat it by itself. Cold. With a spoon.

I made it to go with my maple chili pork chops, but I made extra and I’ve been eating it all week — with almost everything. Or by itself. Cold. With a spoon. (Are you picking up on my obsession yet?)

Wanna see the mash in all its glory?

Fluffy. Creamy. Beyond.

Fluffy. Creamy. Beyond.

I ate the maple chili pork chop two nights in a row. Why not? (There were two in the package, and I live alone, so…)

The second night I added a little of the maple glaze to the mashed potatoes and they went from amazing to EXTRA amazing. Another time I added a little sour cream to them at lunch to make them a full meal.

Whatever turns you on, right?

Here’s the recipe.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

1 head of steamed cauliflower
3 small red skinned potatoes, steamed, skin-on
1 T cream cheese
Approximately 1/3 C of chicken broth, or to desired consistency
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste.

Steam the cauliflower and potatoes in separate pots, and then combine into one. (They have separate cooking times.)

Add cream cheese while the vegetables are still warm. Add chicken broth and blend everything together. I used an immersion blender to puree because I’m in love with mine. I’m sure a mixer would work too.

*If you want to make them more Paleo-friendly you could skip the creamed cheese and the three red skinned potatoes, but it’s up to you. 

Blend. Devour.

That is all.