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mizducky

eG Foodblog: mizducky - The tightwad gourmand shapes up

175 posts in this topic

mizducky loose in an Asian market again? :biggrin::biggrin: It is nice to live close to one of these market isn't it? I might just have fresh fish everyday!

When I went to SDSU in the early 80's, I could count the number of Vietnamese restaurants along University Ave with one hand. I understand since I departed in 83 there were many new Vietnamese immigrants set up shops along University and El Cajon Blvd. It would be nice to have them close by too.

From one Pho restaurant to another, I think the most important distinction is in the soup. The raw beef slices, bean sprouts/basils/jalapeno slices... anybody can prepare that... :smile:

The vegetable you showed in this picture:

gallery_28660_3028_21147.jpg

(White stems, green leaves) is what Cantonese call "bok choy". In Cantonese (at least Hong Kong Cantonese), "choy sum" is a vegetable has green stems and green leaves.

http://www.foodsubs.com/Cabbage.html#bok

This is a picture of what Cantonese call "choy sum" (click on the image to enlarge):

(Choy Sum)


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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...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

Ahhh! Nijiya - God I love that place. There was one nearby when I used to live in Los Altos / Mountain View CA. There cooked and prepared foods totally rock. Chicken karrage, sashimi, tonkastu bento boxes,.... yumba! Guilty pleasure - Spam Sushi. And I don't care who knows it.

Great blog.. you are so Asian, your blood type must be MSG. :wink:

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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:

Great minds think alike. :raz: For keeping it whole or not... it really shouldn't matter all that much, unless one side is much thicker than the other. In that case, I'd cut it into steaks so that the cooking would be even.

Let us know how it goes!


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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"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

He gets HIS tho:

She said maybe its the skeevy look in your eyes

Or that your mind has turned to applesauce

The dreary architecture of your soul

I said - but what is it exactly turns you off?

LOL.......gotta love 'em, and mizducky's band is an AWESOME Steely Dan cover band, among other things!

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mizducky loose in an Asian market again?  :biggrin:  :biggrin:   

I know ... I should probably send out an advance notice: "Warning, warning! Clueless gweipo on the loose!" :laugh::laugh::laugh:

The vegetable you showed in this picture:
gallery_28660_3028_21147.jpg

(White stems, green leaves) is what Cantonese call "bok choy". In Cantonese (at least Hong Kong Cantonese), "choy sum" is a vegetable has green stems and green leaves.

http://www.foodsubs.com/Cabbage.html#bok

This is a picture of what Cantonese call "choy sum" (click on the image to enlarge):

(Choy Sum)

Ahhhh ... I see now what my confusion was. The sign in the store actually identified the veggies I bought as "baby bok choy sum." I thought: "Wait, I've heard of bok choy, and choy sum, which one are these? Wait, I can see that some of them have little blossoms ... doesn't that make them choy sum?" But now I looked that the first link you provided, and see that there is in fact a vegetable called baby bok choy sum a.k.a. Canton bok choy, whose description matches what I've bought (white stems, some yellow flowers). I'll upload a photo shortly.

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Okay--first, here's a close-up picture of two pieces of the mystery vegetable:

gallery_28660_3028_39341.jpg

Notice that the one on the right looks totally like baby bok choy ... and the one on the left has the little flowers. So ... maybe this is baby bok choy, some of which has been allowed to go to seed? :laugh: Heck, I dunno, but I'm sure it'll taste just fine ...

Meanwhile, here's what's happened with the fish so far:

gallery_28660_3028_104045.jpg

The hunk o' yellowtail, with some of my mise materials in the background: a couple of blood oranges, some garlic and ginger, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and some scallions that are admittedly a little past their prime, but in good enough shape for these purposes. Also playing in tonight's game: ground white pepper, reconstituted dried shiitakes and their soaking liquid, and Shaoxing cooking wine.

The fish (rather messily) sliced into steaks:

gallery_28660_3028_102783.jpg

Mincing the garlic (and showing off my big butch cleaver :biggrin: ):

gallery_28660_3028_151543.jpg

The fish, resting in their marinade:

gallery_28660_3028_128995.jpg

By the way, you will notice that the hour has grown rather late. I am a bit of a night owl--one of the advantages of working as a freelance telecommuter--so it is not uncommon for me to be cooking and eating at a relatively late hour. Think of me as working the night shift. :smile:

Still, that fish should be getting in the oven pretty soon now ...

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Yeah. Those can be considered baby bok choy. But in Sacramento I can get some dwarf baby bok choy (baby baby bok choy?) about 1/2 to 2/3 of the height of yours. :raz:

Ooouuu... I love your cleaver! Looking *sharp*! Pun intended. :smile:


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Well, that all went rather quickly.

I fished the fish out of its marinade, and placed it in a metal baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (Oh yeah, this is one of my very few concessions to "diet" foods. It's just too damned useful to ignore; plus I have fat in this dish already, in the form of sesame oil, and I'd much rather spend my fat allotment on big yummy flavor than on utilitarian purposes such as lubrication.)

Then I put the pan into a pre-heated more-or-less 450 deg F oven--the "less" because my roommate must have figured someone left the stove on by accident and helpfully switched it off. :rolleyes: But it was still quite hot enough for my purposes.

Meanwhile, I took the reserved marinade and put it in a saucepan, piled a bunch of the baby bok choy thingies in, and put it, covered, on medium-low heat. In about ten minutes, everything was done and ready to go. Here's the plated meal:

gallery_28660_3028_45142.jpg

I was pretty pleased with this as a first-time experiment. On reflection, I could go a little lighter on the ginger--I've been doing that a lot lately, overdoing it with ginger. I think my body's just craving it for healing, which is fine, but it does tend to take over the flavor of a dish. Still, the fish held its own--great dense meaty texture. Would you believe I paid 2 bucks a pound for this stuff? Another reason why I adore Asian markets--they joy my tightwad gourmand heart.

Thank you to everybody who has chimed in here so far. That just joys my heart, period. :wub:

Tomorrow--or officially, later today: we do Ba Ren. I also have a visit to a farmer's market in mind. Your suggestions for other things you'd like to see are also welcome--I might not be able to fulfill them exactly, but I'll at least find out some stuff for ya.

I'll be up for awhile, but I'll say goodnight now ...


Edited by mizducky (log)

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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.

The Ranch 99 here in Atlanta is smaller and less glitzy than the Super H Mart and I don't know if H Mart and Super H Mart are related), with a much more pan-Asian assortment of goods than Super H-Mart's Korean and Japanese line.

Of course, it's also located in an area that's got more Vietnameses and Chinese vendors and restaurants, so perhaps it just reflects the neighborhood.

Nice wall o' Pocky, there.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Okay--first, here's a close-up picture of two pieces of the mystery vegetable:

gallery_28660_3028_39341.jpg

Notice that the one on the right looks totally like baby bok choy ... and the one on the left has the little flowers. So ... maybe this is baby bok choy, some of which has been allowed to go to seed? :laugh: Heck, I dunno, but I'm sure it'll taste just fine ...

Meanwhile, here's what's happened with the fish so far:

gallery_28660_3028_104045.jpg

The hunk o' yellowtail, with some of my mise materials in the background: a couple of blood oranges, some garlic and ginger, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and some scallions that are admittedly a little past their prime, but in good enough shape for these purposes. Also playing in tonight's game: ground white pepper, reconstituted dried shiitakes and their soaking liquid, and Shaoxing cooking wine.

The fish (rather messily) sliced into steaks:

gallery_28660_3028_102783.jpg

Mincing the garlic (and showing off my big butch cleaver :biggrin: ):

gallery_28660_3028_151543.jpg

The fish, resting in their marinade:

gallery_28660_3028_128995.jpg

By the way, you will notice that the hour has grown rather late. I am a bit of a night owl--one of the advantages of working as a freelance telecommuter--so it is not uncommon for me to be cooking and eating at a relatively late hour. Think of me as working the night shift. :smile:

Still, that fish should be getting in the oven pretty soon now ...

I love that series of photos, yum. You mentioned Shaoxing cooking wine. Usually cooking wines are such a no-no, but I hear mentions of it in Asian cooking. Is that an exception to the rule against cooking wines?

Do you already have in mind how you will use what fish is left, or will you wait and see what strikes you later?


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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The Ranch 99 here in Atlanta is smaller and less glitzy than the Super H Mart and I don't know if H Mart and Super H Mart are related[...]

They are. (Just like Kmart, Big Kmart and Super Kmart.)

You shop at the store at 2550 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, Ga.

Mine is 7050 Terminal Square, Upper Darby, Pa.

H Mart is exclusively found on the East Coast, with the exception of a store in Denver.

The home page of the Web site is still promoting the Upper Darby grand opening celebration, through this Saturday (6/10/06). (It's that graphic in the lower left with the cars.)

Their Web site is very well designed.

As for the merchandise mix, as I noted in my blog and mizducky seems to corroborate, H Mart is deliberately aiming to appeal to as wide a range of shoppers as possible while 99 Ranch Market focuses more on its core customer base. Compare the H Mart web site to 99 Ranch Market's as well--the difference soon becomes clear.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Mizducky,

Your title really got my attention, it describes me to a tee. I love finding great cheap places to eat, spend way too much time in ethnic/ farmers markets and am dropping pounds and counting points on the WW plan. I really look forward to your blog. You've even moved me to start thinking about blogging someday.

I was sitting and counting points at a Vietnamese Pho place yesterday. I assumed there were very few points on the Pho (there was no listing for Vietnamese food, tripe, tendon or rice vermacelli), So, I just guessed. I have a feeling I'll be upping my Pho intake exponentially in the near future.

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mizducky loose in an Asian market again?   :biggrin:  :biggrin:   

I know ... I should probably send out an advance notice: "Warning, warning! Clueless gweipo on the loose!" :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Mizducky: No one would dare call you a "clueless gweipo", not while I'm around. :angry: You've had more varied Asian cuisine, and have greater access to Asian foods that this poor ole Chinese on the prairies!

There is nothing wrong with the labelling of the "baby bak choy sum". Choy sum just means the "heart or centre" of the bak choy.

When I had my restaurant, we used big bak choy. My mom always asked me to save the "choy sum" for her: the centre of the plant which is more tender than the outer leaves.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Hey Ellen - good to read your blogging. What type of bun was that at Saigon? Kirk has gotten me eating bun bo hue, which is spicy with sliced beef, pig foot (sometimes) and blood (which I ask them to omit). But I've also had bun that was thin vermicelli with no soup topped with veggie stuff and wonderful things like grilled pork. One then dumps like standard Vietnamese dipping sauce (water, fish sauce, sugar, chilies, lime juice) over everything. But yours looks more like bun bo hue, but with other ingredients.

Also it is interesting to read about "choi sum." My local Cantonese place uses that term for all of the various leafy chois, like yu choi or on choi. But they distinguish between choi sum, gai lan, and bok choi. Go figure.

ed


One point . . . was his ability to recollect the good dinners which it had made no small portion of the happiness of his life to eat.

--Nathaniel Hawthorne "The Custom House"

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Good morning all! It's another gray, overcast morning in Paradise. And it looks like the clouds, and relatively moderate temperatures, will be staying with us the rest of the day--check today's hour-by-hour forecast. But I'm just as glad, because when the sun gets going around here I have to really watch my mid-day outdoor wanderings, to protect myself from getting zonked by the heat and sun. And I do have some outdoor wanderings scheduled for today (and I'll be taking the shades, brimmed hat, and high-SPF sunscreen with me anyway, just in case).

My breakfast this morning, as is typical for me these days, looked rather more like a lunch:

gallery_28660_3028_544570.jpg

I swear my mandoline-gizmo was totally clean and tidy before I started slicing the roast beef on it! The meat is the remains of a nice little 2-pound chunk of rump roast that I picked up on special ($1.99/lb) at my local natural-foods grocer Windmill Farms. Very recently I decided to try and phase out pre-packaged lunch meats, even the low-fat ones, in favor of cooking my own sandwich fodder. Note also the cheap-ass kitchen scale. To my chagrin, I still am a rather unreliable estimator of portion size--I'm okay with winging it when dining out, but when it's just me at home alone, I do slap my food into the ol' measuring device just to keep myself on the beam.

Here we have 2.5 oz of lean rare roast beef, loaded into half a whole-wheat pita with some romaine lettuce and cilantro, accompanied by a big honkin' red grapefruit.

gallery_28660_3028_489380.jpg

I go through a ton of those whole-wheat pitas--they're tasty, low in fat, relatively low in calories for a bread product, and whole-grain, plus they make a really satisfying sandwich. My little trick: I microwave them for 20 seconds to take the fridge chill off and make them easier to open--sometimes, as this monring, they tear anyway, but they still taste fine.

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Now to try to catch up with some recent comments:

You mentioned Shaoxing cooking wine.  Usually cooking wines are such a no-no, but I hear mentions of it in Asian cooking.  Is that an exception to the rule against cooking wines?

Do you already have in mind how you will use what fish is left, or will you wait and see what strikes you later?

About the cooking wine: heh--probably not an exception. I just confronted a whole shelfful of the stuff at the 99 Ranch, went "oh hell, I dunno!", and picked one. :blush: I got into using Shaoxing wine in my cooking thanks to Ah Leung's pictorials--it does seem to add a nice note to dishes.

I was sitting and counting points at a Vietnamese Pho place yesterday. I assumed there were very few points on the Pho (there was no listing for Vietnamese food, tripe, tendon or rice vermacelli), So, I just guessed. I have a feeling I'll be upping my Pho intake exponentially in the near future.

From what my friends in Weight Watchers say, you might well be able to calculate the points in a typical bowl of pho from nutritional info such as this listing from calorieking.com.

mizducky loose in an Asian market again?   :biggrin:  :biggrin:   

I know ... I should probably send out an advance notice: "Warning, warning! Clueless gweipo on the loose!" :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Mizducky: No one would dare call you a "clueless gweipo", not while I'm around. :angry: You've had more varied Asian cuisine, and have greater access to Asian foods that this poor ole Chinese on the prairies!

:biggrin: Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dejah! Actually, the only person who's ever called me that is myself--I'm operating on a variant of the Cyrano De Bergerac principle: nobody can effectively make fun of me if I make fun of myself first. :laugh:

Hey Ellen - good to read your blogging. What type of bun was that at Saigon? Kirk has gotten me eating bun bo hue, which is spicy with sliced beef, pig foot (sometimes) and blood (which I ask them to omit). But I've also had bun that was thin vermicelli with no soup topped with veggie stuff and wonderful things like grilled pork. One then dumps like standard Vietnamese dipping sauce (water, fish sauce, sugar, chilies, lime juice) over everything. But yours looks more like bun bo hue, but with other ingredients.

Alas, I forgot to write down the exact name of that soup--it did come from the same section of the menu as the bun bo Hue and other bun soups, as opposed to the other section of the menu featuring bun not-in-a-soup. I have had bun bo Hue, complete with the pig's blood, and loved it. Saigon does an especially nice version IMO because the little cubes of congealed pig's blood are nice and smooth, with no grainy texture whatsoever. Really great for when I feel like I need a little more iron in my diet! :biggrin:

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What kind of mandoline-gizmo is that, and how do you like it? It looks as though you adjust the slot slice with that knob on the side. Is the blade pretty sharp? Was it an inexpensive investment? Do you think having a blade run straight across (as yours seems to) instead of on the slant (as mine does) or a V (as some do) makes a difference? (Yes, I'm a gearhead.)

Re the suribachi: I have one of those, similar design, although possibly smaller, that my sister picked up for me at an art fair one year. I loove it. It's the perfect size for making a paste of minced garlic and salt, then mixing in the other seasonings before kicking them into a marinade or salad dressing. I just assumed it was a funny mortar and pestle. Thanks for providing the correct name!

I'm also a big fan of pita bread for sandwiches. As you note it's low-fat and plenty tasty. I prefer a quick heating in the toaster to the microwave; it stiffens the outside but steams the pocket open. Have you tried that?

Edited for spelling. Twice. :angry:


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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What kind of mandoline-gizmo is that, and how do you like it?  It looks as though you adjust the slot slice with that knob on the side.  Is the blade pretty sharp?  Was it an inexpensive investment?  Do you think having a blade run straight across (as yours seems to) instead of on the slant (as mine does) or a V (as some do) makes a difference?  (Yes, I'm a gearhead.)

The gizmo's box calls it a "Super Slicer Professional Mandoline Slicer" (a name obviously conjured up by the Department of Redundancy Bureau :laugh: ). Made in China; no brand name visible anywhere on the box. I think I paid all of $15 for it at a local Albertson's/Sav-on superstore. The knob does adjust the blade position/slice size; there's another knob that raises the little perpendicular julienne blades from the bed of the slicer. It also comes with a second, wavy blade for doing ripple and waffle cuts. The thing is damn sharp! I'm still nursing a nick on one finger from using the thing a few days ago--I'm careful as hell while actually slicing, but sometimes I get distracted while cleaing it afterward. :shock: Especially considering the price, I'm pretty darned pleased with the thing--it's surprisingly sturdy and well designed. I have no idea whether another blade configuration would be easier, as this is the only manual slicer-gizmo I've ever fiddled with.

Edited to add: I've not tried putting the pita in the toaster--I kinda like how soft and pliable it gets in the microwave.

(Edited to fix at least the one typo I spotted ... :biggrin: )


Edited by mizducky (log)

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Whole wheat pitas are a great thing. They also make really good chips, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper (and better!) than purchasing pita chips in a package. Just cut a pile of them in half, separate the two sides, cut into triangles, bake on a cookie sheet at 400 for about 4 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy. My father is on this really hard-core heart disease diet and I make them for him all the time to eat with his hummus and he loves them!


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Hey Mizducky, I love to use the whole wheat pitas as "bowls" for my salads, it's awesome!


---------------------------------------

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Hi folks--Got my camera and batteries lined up, so I'm finally ready to leave the nest for the day's round of errands and etc. I'm running a little later than I had hoped, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to hit the farmer's market I had in mind--but never fear, I have a couple of interesting alternate destinations I could substitute (plus I've got other farmer's market opportunities later in the week). And then, of course, there's tonight's dinner at Ba Ren. See y'all later--and keep the comments and questions coming, I love 'em! Cheers ...

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Mizducky, I'm so pleased you're blogging again! I really enjoyed the first blog and love the commentary.

Is this weight loss plan of your own design? Did you combine elements of others or listen to what your body was saying to you first?

What a beautiful harbor, thanks for the boat shot!


If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Attention all shoppers

It's Cancellation Day

Yes the Big Adios

Is just a few hours away

It's last call

To do your shopping

At the Last Mall

--Steely Dan, "The Last Mall," from Everything Must Go (2003)

So, due to circumstances beyond my control (involving an urgent work-related phone call), I got out of the starting gate today a little later than I had planned. Thus, by the time I finished with non-blog-related errands, I realized I didn't have quite enough time to make it all the way out to and back from the farmer's market I had originally intended to visit, and still meet my co-conspirators at Ba Ren at our appointed time of 5:30pm. Thus, it was time for Plan B.

My last errand left me pretty close to the University City area. Also known as the Golden Triangle, this neighborhood is adjacent to the main UCSD campus and the town of La Jolla, and is jam-packed with block after block of very new, very huge, very well-heeled condo complexes, interspersed with outposts of the big high-end hotel chains, and shopping centers anchored by stores such as Nordstrom's. Sounds like this neighborhood would be rather slim pickings for your typical tightwad gourmand, huh? But not if you know where, in the bowels of one of those shopping centers, to find one of the local branches of this beloved chain:

gallery_28660_3028_341352.jpg

I hardly ever go to this Trader Joe's, mainly because it's not particularly convenient to my home, but also because the shopping center it's in (La Jolla Village Square) has one of the most bizarrely laid-out parking lots in the known universe, and I'm always afraid I'm gonna wind up in an accident there. Having said all that, though, this TJ's is one of the nicer ones I've ever been in (and I've been in several). I mean, look at how spacious this joint is!

gallery_28660_3028_352710.jpg

That's barely 2/3 of the fresh/prepared food department lining the back wall in the above photo.

Heck, even this TJ's ladies' room is ritzier than any grocery store bathroom I've ever seen:

gallery_28660_3028_512565.jpg

And a new feature since I was last here; this is the first TJ's I've ever been in that has one of these babies:

gallery_28660_3028_230435.jpg

I didn't need it today, thank goodness. But even at my healthiest, I can never predict when my joints will cop an attitude and decide they ain't cooperating with me nohow noway--which of course, by Murphy's Law, must always happen at the most inconvenient moment possible. So I keep a mental list of every grocery store equipped with electric scooters for disabled customers, for those times when I must do grocery shopping regardless of whatever mood my knees are in. A TJ's with this amenity--plus, even more importantly, with aisles wide enough to navigate with the darn thing--is sure to come in really handy one of these days.

So I made my rounds and picked up a few staples I always get at TJ's because they're great products and great deals ... including a healthy snack-thing to tide me over until dinner:

gallery_28660_3028_23469.jpg

Boy, does carrot juice taste rich! I don't think I could drink this stuff everyday, but every now and then it makes a terrific treat.

While I sipped my juice, I entertained myself by scoping these enterprising folks, almost on Trader Joe's doorstep:

gallery_28660_3028_474057.jpg

I'm sure TJ's must love having these guys beat their produce both in price and quality. :biggrin:

By this time it was already past 4:30pm, and time for me to fight my way through the gathering rush-hour traffic to Clairemont Mesa and Ba Ren.

(continued in next post)

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      Hello foodies. Tell us what work of art you're cooking for your meals these days. 
    • By chefmd
      My son married a lovely young lady from Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia, China.   Mongolian: ᠶᠠᠠᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ (Ягши хот); Chinese: 牙克石; pinyin: Yákèshí
       
      We had a wedding in the US but her family also wanted to have a traditional wedding in China.  DH and I have never being to China so this was an exciting opportunity for us!  We spent a few days in Beijing doing touristy stuff and then flew to Hailar.  There is only one flight a day on Air China that we took at 6 in the morning.  Yakeshi is about an hour drive from Hailar on a beautiful toll road with no cars on it.  I wish we took pictures of free roaming sheep and cows along the way.  The original free range meat.
       
      The family met us at the airport.  We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel.  Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM.  We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
       

       
    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
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