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mizducky

eG Foodblog: mizducky - The tightwad gourmand shapes up

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mizducky   
This is no one night stand

It's a real occasion

Close your eyes and you'll be there

It's everything they say

The end of a perfect day

Distant lights from across the bay

--"Babylon Sisters," Steely Dan (Gaucho)

Howdy folks. Welcome back to my little food-world. I'm really tickled to have been asked to blog again so soon, and am looking forward to having another really fun time with y'all. And I do hope that, once again, people will feel free to participate with questions, suggestions, stories, whatever turns you on about what I'll be presenting.

In this week of traipsing around with me, you'll notice that a lot of the same obsessions evident in my first blog will still be in full effect in this one, including but not limited to: good cheap eats in little hole-in-the-wall mom-n-pop joints; ethnic markets; Asian cuisines; exploring neighborhoods; shameless references to classic rock.

You'll also note a whole new obsession making its presence known, which I realize I've been harping about almost too often in my posts around eGullet recently--but hey, it's helping me keep my commitment, so I appreciate you all humoring me. :smile: Yep, I'm talking about my whole little crusade to come up with a weight-management plan for myself that is realistic, healthy, customized to my food preferences, and enjoyable enough that I can stick to it for a good long time without it driving me nutz. So far it's been going pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. So I'm only feeling a little bit nervous showing you all what I do now to implement this weight-management plan in my daily food doings.

Part of what I do now with weight-management will be occupying most of my morning today (I mean, once I get done with the business of sleeping). I'll be headed over to my HMO for my weekly weigh-in and exercise class. Then I've got a bunch of errands lined up, some of which are food-related: one will be catching lunch at a local pho cafe, and at least one other will involve some shopping. I will bring camera along, of course, and do my best Harriet the Spy imitation for your enjoyment.

Other plans will be revealed as the week progresses. Some of them are admittedly rather fluid--I do a lot of little shopping trips for fresh produce, and I tend to let what I cook be influenced by what looks good and appeals to me at any given moment. And this week, I'll also be soliciting opinions and ideas from you folks--so feel free to chime in.

As to (somewhat) more solid plans: I do know there will be at least one outdoor farmer's market. I think there's supposed to be at least one food-related community event at my organo-groovy UU church. There will even, finally, be a visit to Ba Ren, the local Szechuan joint I love so well--my food plan includes, for the sake of my sanity, the concept of the pre-planned occasional splurge, and a few of my local foodish friends will help me demonstrate how that's done. :smile:

Oh, and I can't resist filling you in about the photos from my blog teaser, especially as they too relate to planned blog stops:

gallery_27785_1904_14126.jpg

This is a wonderful Vietnamese soup known as "bun" -- actually, I think the word "bun" refers specifically to the type of rice vermicelli noodles used in this style of soup. This variation has tomatoes, periwinkle meats, and fluffy cubes of shrimp cake. The broth is spicy, and enriched with a fermented fish paste. Like its sister-soup pho, this one comes with a big pile of veggies and herbs to add in. I had this at Saigon, 4455 El Cajon Blvd, one of the westernmost outposts of a whole string of Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants and shops that I am busily exploring. I may or may not hit Saigon again during the week, but I'll definitely show you some of "The Boulevard's" delights.

Oh yeah--and this blog would not be complete without an appearance by the owner of this scarf:

gallery_27785_1904_44310.jpg

I guess I gotta call him Fearless Ex-Housemate now, huh? I was over at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge, a local live-music venue attached to a very popular resort/restaurant complex, to hear one of FXH's bands perform, and I was lining up a photo of the extremely nice warm scallop and shimp salad they served me there. When FXH noticed how Humphrey's dishware pattern matched the scarf he was wearing (swag from the recent concert tour of Donald Fagen, better known as one half of the classic-rock act Steely Dan), he couldn't resist accessorizing my photo--and voila, he "scarfed" my salad. (ow. sorry, couldn't resist).

It was in fact FXH's Steely Dan tribute band that was playing that night--whenever he plays there, he can't resist directing the audience's attention to the view out the lounge's windows:

gallery_27785_1904_5102.jpg

...of course, it's night by the time he sings the lines "The end of a perfect day/Distant lights from across the bay..."

All this is actually on topic, because there will be at least one more planned musical visit from FXH during this blog--and food will very much be involved.

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Oh, great. I just finished dinner and I'm hungry again after looking at your photos! But continuing good luck and will power (and the won't power!) for your weight goals!

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therese   

Good morning, mizducky. Really looking forward to your blog, and best wishes for your visit to your HMO this AM.

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Looking forward! I will be in San Diego very briefly later this month, so it's great timing for me :smile:

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Smithy   

Good morning, Mizducky! You're already off to a great start, and I too am glad you're already blogging again. Oh, the sailboats. Oh, the lyrics!

I've never seen plates with a piano keyboard on the border. I want some! Never mind that I have enough dishware already; I want those! Think they'd mind if you made off with one or two? I'll PM my mailing address. :wink::laugh:

Is that mint in the bowl behind the bun? That soup looks luscious.

I'll be interested to hear more insights about the diet and how well it works for you. I do hope you're figuring on a permanent change in eating habits, rather than a temporary change until you get the weight down to where you need it? I think we've talked about that before, but it's certainly an evergreen topic.

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Pam R   

It's a good morning when you find mizducky has started her blog.

I still dream about your hot-pot buffet :wub: and I love your writing. Good luck and I look forward to the week!

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Gooooo, MizDucky! Can't wait to see all of your tempting ethnic treats, straight from San Diego! I had bun last night, in unwitting preparation! :raz:

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mizducky   

Good morning, folks--just sticking my head in real fast before I take off for my class. Got the camera in tow, and will hopefully have photos to show you later on today. I'm greeted today by a nice, non-sunny SoCal morning (the type of foggy overcast we're experiencing this morning is known as the "June Gloom"). Thanks to those who have posted so far--I will happily address any questions, and those of others, as soon as I get back home this afternoon. Cheers!

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It's a good morning when you find mizducky has started her blog.

Indeed!

You are off to a wonderful start, Ellen. Have a good time; I know we all will be enjoying it.

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Welcome back, homegirl!

Lay as much Steely Dan and derivatives on me as you care to. Post MP3s, even, if you dare and they're legal. I do believe you were around my room on a few occasions as I wore out the grooves of Aja. Fagen's never lost his touch for great jazz-inflected songs or offbeat subjects (who else could write songs about pedophiles that get wide airplay?).

I'm looking forward to reading your chronicles about taming the Big Fat Monster--and wish I was on that deck overlooking the bay right now. Instead, I'm about to get up from my desk and head over to the Widener Wellness Center for a 20-minute workout, the longest I can shoehorn in on my lunch hour. (Looks like I will be a regular commuter on the 7:03 R2 to Newark, Del., even after we go back to regular 9-5 hours in the fall, for it might be the only way for me to get a longer workout in around my workday.)

Blog on!

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She's baaaaack! Oh goodie!

Thanks for blogging again, I look forward to this week.

You are the 3rd person I know this year to go on the optifast program. May you have all the success you desire.

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MissAmy   

Yay! MizDucky is blogging!

Can't wait to see more, and that salad made me hungry again even though I just ate lunch!

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Rehovot   

Hey, mizducky, your first blog was great fun to read; I'm looking forward to this one, and all its fabulous variety! :smile:

You mentioned periwinkle meats in the first post... What are these? (I love the name.) :cool:

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Smithy   
(who else could write songs about pedophiles that get wide airplay?).

Aqualung / Ian Anderson. What did Fagan do? Here I thought I was a good SD fan!

She's baaaaack! Oh goodie!

Thanks for blogging again, I look forward to this week.

You are the 3rd  person I know this year to go on the optifast program. May you have all the success you desire.

I haven't been tuned to the optifast program discussions enough. Do please tell us more about optifast.

Foggy June Gloom, indeed. We have it up here in the frozen north, too, but I'll bet your temps are warmer!

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Betts   

Ellen - I am also on the straight and narrow, nutrition and healthwise so I'll try to tune into your energy. Loved the last blog and I bet this one is even better.

I have noticed that the more attention I pay to getting enough calcium, fruit and veg the less hungry I am for the temptation foods. Does that work for you. How long have you been on the new regimen? Do your knees feel better?

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mizducky   

Howdy, folks! Back from the day's errands and shopping and whatnot. I've got a bunch of photos to upload and post, but first, let me address some of the queries and comments that came in while I was away:

I've never seen plates with a piano keyboard on the border.  I want some!  Never mind that I have enough dishware already; I want those!  Think they'd mind if you made off with one or two?  I'll PM my mailing address.  :wink:  :laugh:

Is that mint in the bowl behind the bun?  That soup looks luscious.

I'll be interested to hear more insights about the diet and how well it works for you.  I do hope you're figuring on a permanent change in eating habits, rather than a temporary change until you get the weight down to where you need it?  I think we've talked about that before, but it's certainly an evergreen topic.

Y'know, I have no idea where Humphrey's gets its dishware, but I swear I've seen that stuff on some website somewhere. I know, not very helpful, huh? Let me see if I can retrace my Google-steps on that one ...

IIRC, that was indeed mint in that pile of herbage with the bun soup. Also in that pile were bean sprouts, finely shredded cabbage, sliced jalapenos, and I think there was a lime chunk or two.

I will definitely be going into my food plan, and related health endeavors, in greater detail fairly shortly. One little misconception I do want to clear up right now: I am *not* doing Optifast. Nothing against anyone who does that program, but personally I wouldn't, because (a) it's way too fast a weight loss for a body to take without extremely close monitoring (which licenced Optifast programs do include, but still...) and (b) you still have to learn how to eat and exercise right to keep the weight off once you get to the end of the program. What I'm doing involves real food all the way; it goes nice and slow--I try to aim for a two-pound-a-week loss, on average--and has required me to learn how to do portion control and balanced nutrition from the very git-go. And yes, what I'm working on is very much the food routine I intend to be doing "for the duration" ... where "duration" is staying undefined, but informally is intended to be, well, the rest of my life. No fly-by-night fad diets here!

Lay as much Steely Dan and derivatives on me as you care to.  Post MP3s, even, if you dare and they're legal.  I do believe you were around my room on a few occasions as I wore out the grooves of Aja.  Fagen's never lost his touch for great jazz-inflected songs or offbeat subjects (who else could write songs about pedophiles that get wide airplay?).

Heh. I have to say, I have heard more Steely Dan (and Donald Fagen solo) music turn up as muzak in supermarkets, department stores, you name it ... always makes me giggle, wondering if anyone in the store's management has ever really listened to any of the lyrics on those songs.

Steely Dan also drops some very intriguing food references in their lyrics ... more on that anon.

You mentioned periwinkle meats in the first post... What are these? (I love the name.)  :cool:

Periwinkles are wee little marine snails. They're apparently more popular as food in Europe and Asia than in the US. They can be cooked as for escargot/land snails, or by many shellfish recipes--as long as you take into account their tendency to get chewy. I referred to them as periwinkle *meats* in the bun soup description because in that dish they were served removed from their shells. More about the little critters here.

What did Fagan do?  Here I thought I was a good SD fan!

Donald Fagen plus Walter Becker essentially equal Steely Dan--all the rest is done with hired-gun studio musicians, and many hours of extremely expensive studio time. :biggrin: Donald is the one who handles lead vocals and keyboards; Walter has only recently taken turns at a few lead vocals on CD and in concerts, and plays either lead guitar or bass. Both of them are equal partners in all Steely Dan compositions--in fact, the synergy between these two guys as friends and songwriters is IMO almost as remarkable as the music they turn out.

I have noticed that the more attention I pay to getting enough calcium, fruit and veg the less hungry I am for the temptation foods.  Does that work for you.  How long have you been on the new regimen?  Do your knees feel better?

I have definitely noticed a terrific improvement in my physical condition since I started this health-regimen back at the end of January. Some of that is purely due to taking some weight off my poor suffering knees and hips, but some of it, I'm sure, is also due to getting much better nutrition from a massive increase in my fruit and vegetable intake, and accompanying decrease in the quantities of animal protein and fat I was eating (I was *way* out of balance!). As for feeling satiated ... most of the time, yep, I feel very satisfied with the quantity and quality of food I'm eating. When I get hormonal, well, that's when things can get a little hairy! But between a strong commitment to stay on this thing no matter what, and some strategies I've developed for coping with the midnight crave-crazies, I've managed to hang tough so far. I will definitely go into greater detail about all this too, very shortly.

Now, off to do dances with groceries and camera--but I'll be back real soon!

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I'm glad I misunderstood and that you are not doing/didnt do optifast. I think its scary, and darned hard to deal with after the fasting ends. Hubba hubba for lifestyle improvements.

Its dinner time. I dont dare look at the pix you are about to upload, as there is no real food within reach. I look forward to starting my day with them in the am (and to learning more fascinating nooks of this city-burb).

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mizducky   

Okay, so the the real-time food aspect of this blog starts with a whimper rather than a bang--namely, a lowfat breakfast bar hurriedly inhaled while driving to my weekly support group/exercise class thingie at my HMO. I will spare you a picture--you know what those groady little things look like. I eat them only in situations like that, when I have no time for a meal but at least want something vaguely healthy in my tummy so I'm not running on empty.

Things got a good bit better, foodwise, once I finished with my class--which, being up in Kearny Mesa, puts me right next door to all the Asian eateries and groceries in the Convoy Street neighborhood. So I made a beeline for one of my old reliable pho joints in that area, Convoy Street Noodle House:

gallery_28660_3028_156129.jpg

Here, I ordered my usual: the basic pho with everything--rare steak, well-done brisket, flank, tendon, and tripe--the smaller bowl rather than the humongous bowl:

gallery_28660_3028_69205.jpg

Note that the accompanying plate of veggies and herbs is rather less generous than the one at Saigon. I also like Saigon's broth better, as it's stronger-flavored and richer (a little too strong and rich for some people's preferences, but it suits me). Anyway, Convoy Noodle House does make a competent, well-flavored bowl of pho. I've always loved the stuff, but when I switched to my health regimen my interest in pho increased dramatically, as its ratio of protein to starch and veg fits in almost perfectly with my routine.

Suitably refueled, I turned to errands, two of which wound up being food-related. First, I headed south on Convoy to Nijiya Market:

gallery_28660_3028_141408.jpg

This is one branch of a small chain of California-based Japanese grocery stores specializing in organic produce. They also do a brisk business in takeout (in fact, one of the teaser photos for my previous blog was of a bento from this store). This is only one of several prepared-food cases lining the entire back of the store:

gallery_28660_3028_74508.jpg

And of course they have the obligatory Wall of Pocky (and other Japanese stick-shaped snacky-things):

gallery_28660_3028_241535.jpg

But I wasn't buying food here today, but kitchenware:

gallery_28660_3028_10159.jpg

This is a suribachi, a Japanese mortar/food-grinding bowl. The ribbed interior of the bowl provides the major grinding texture. I used to have one of these ages ago, but it went walkies several moves back. I've wanted to replace it for a long time now, and blogging week seemed to be a good excuse to take care of that. Not sure if it'll actually see action this week, but who knows?

Nijiya has lovely produce, but it's a bit on the expensive side. So I then went to do my actual food shopping at another old reliable, the local 99 Ranch Market:

gallery_28660_3028_42154.jpg

Yep, that's a fountain out in front. The statuary is several big bronze carp leaping out of the water. 99 Ranch does have its big-and-glitzy side:

gallery_28660_3028_142428.jpg

But they also have the huge fresh fish department in the back, complete with tanks of live critters makin' faces at the humans:

gallery_28660_3028_98322.jpg

And they also have an extensive produce department with extremely reasonable prices:

gallery_28660_3028_226711.jpg

So here's my haul from 99 Ranch (cunningly displayed against the backdrop of my current roommate's two George Foreman Grills :biggrin: ):

gallery_28660_3028_21147.jpg

In no particular order: a container of shirataki noodles; a big yellow onion; a bag of shallots; a bag of cherries that looked like Rainiers, but turn out to be rather tart-tasting; a bagful of baby choy sum; a packet of enoki mushrooms; a package of unidentified Asian basil; and in the white butcher's paper is a 1.25 pound chunk of yellowtail, a segment from the tail with skin on. I'm more familiar with yellowtail as sushi than in a chunk obviously meant for cooking. I'll be happy to entertain suggestions as to how to cook it--though those suggestions had best come in rather promptly, as I'm beginning to feel ready to cook myself some dinner.


Edited by mizducky (log)

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Yay! It's just ducky to see MizDucky blogging! We adore you :wub: , and we're glad to hear that you're feeling good wih the new health plan.

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(who else could write songs about pedophiles that get wide airplay?).

Aqualung / Ian Anderson. What did Fagan do? Here I thought I was a good SD fan!

"Cousin Dupree" -- first track off SD's 2000 album "Two Against Nature":

Honey how you've grown

Like a rose

Well we used to play

When we were three

How about a kiss for your cousin Dupree

Did I say pedophile? Oops, that was "Hey Nineteen." This one's incest.

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Nijiya has lovely produce, but it's a bit on the expensive side. So I then went to do my actual food shopping at another old reliable, the local 99 Ranch Market:

gallery_28660_3028_42154.jpg

Yep, that's a fountain out in front. The statuary is several big bronze carp leaping out of the water. 99 Ranch does have its big-and-glitzy side:

gallery_28660_3028_142428.jpg

But they also have the huge fresh fish department in the back, complete with tanks of live critters makin' faces at the humans:

gallery_28660_3028_98322.jpg

And they also have an extensive produce department with extremely reasonable prices:

gallery_28660_3028_226711.jpg

So here's my haul from 99 Ranch (cunningly displayed against the backdrop of my current roommate's two George Foreman Grills :biggrin: ):

gallery_28660_3028_21147.jpg

In no particular order: a container of shirataki noodles; a big yellow onion; a bag of shallots; a bag of cherries that looked like Rainiers, but turn out to be rather tart-tasting; a bagful of baby choy sum; a packet of enoki mushrooms; a package of unidentified Asian basil; and in the white butcher's paper is a 1.25 pound chunk of yellowtail, a segment from the tail with skin on. I'm more familiar with yellowtail as sushi than in a chunk obviously meant for cooking. I'll be happy to entertain suggestions as to how to cook it--though those suggestions had best come in rather promptly, as I'm beginning to feel ready to cook myself some dinner.

Would I be accurate in calling 99 Ranch Market California's answer to H-Mart?

Except that 99 has a huge live fish tank--I don't recall that many live fish at the H-Mart's seafood counter. (Hung Vuong, an independent Vietnamese-owned Asian supermarket at 11th and Washington, has a big live fish tank; it's the source of the pronounced fishy smell that pervades the back of the store.)

I notice a container of Hello Kitty cookies in that photo with the Pocky. Down there, in the lower left corner.

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MissAmy   

Re: the Yellow Tail. I'd do a soy/ginger/garlic/sesame oil/orange juice marinade then grill to medium rare.

By the way, I'm SO jealous of 99 Ranch. Seething, actually.

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racheld   

What a lovely surprise to come home from a long day out and find YOU blogging!! Good pictures, good descriptions, GOOOOD music...Wow. S'gonna be a great week!!!

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mizducky   
Would I be accurate in calling 99 Ranch Market California's answer to H-Mart?

I've not experienced an H-Mart in person, but to judge from your blog and H-Mart's website, I'd say that 99 Ranch is thinking similarly in terms of scale, but not necessarily aiming at the same level of cross-cultural outreach. As far as I can tell, I think they're still very much flavored by the SoCal-based Asian communities from which they first sprung. Here's their website.

Meanwhile, having heard no suggestions for what to do with my li'l chunk o' yellowtail, I think I'm going to go ahead and give it a simple oven-roasting with some ginger and various onion-type products. Pictures hopefully soon to follow...

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mizducky   
Re: the Yellow Tail. I'd do a soy/ginger/garlic/sesame oil/orange juice marinade then grill to medium rare.

By the way, I'm SO jealous of 99 Ranch. Seething, actually.

Aha! Your post snuck in while I was posting. I see we're thinking along similar lines with the yellowtail. I think I have a couple of oranges handy ... and I was actually debating as to whether to leave my chunk of fish whole, or slice it into steaks ... let me step into my laborotory--bwahahahahah! :laugh:

P.S. Sorry about your 99 Ranch deprivation ... :sad:

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    • By Christy Martino
      Ciao!
       
      I'm Christine and I'm a born and bred New Yorker. I’m an Italian by blood (and at heart, of course) since my parents actually came from Italy. My father was from Sciacca, Sicily while my mother was from Sondrio, Lombardy. Despite coming from different regions, or because of it, love for food and cooking has been one of the mainstays in my family home life growing up. And I’ve always loved the dishes my parents prepared during special occasions, and even on regular days.
       
      And of course, I love cooking (and eating) Italian food and I have a few recipes from my mother, but I'd really love to collect some more, especially the traditional ones. And if anyone can contribute some historical background to each dish, that would be really great.
       
      Grazie mille!
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