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mizducky

eG Foodblog: mizducky - The tightwad gourmand shapes up

175 posts in this topic

The only problem is that it's finely grated/minced.  So if you want pieces this doesn't help at all!

Pam~

The REAL problem is that it is in Canada! :biggrin:

I haven't seen them in the CA Trader Joe's but I'll keep looking.......or maybe get motivated to do my own !

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Thanks, folks, for all the suggestions about storing gingerroot.

Re ginger:

I just store mine in a large knob next to

the garlic next to the stove, in a small bowl.

I buy about a 3 to 4 inch long piece at a time,

and take about 3 to 4 weeks to use it up

and it's never ever gone bad on me....

Not sure why you're refrigerating yours

or why it's going bad.

Well, I've experienced two different "going-bad" scenarios: 1) I leave the ginger unwrapped, either in the fridge or out at room temperature--in either case it dries out, especially if there's an exposed cut surface; and 2) I wrap it in plastic, as airtight as possible, and store it in the fridge, which prevents the drying-out behavior; but then, eventually, the ginger begins to rot and/or grow microbial colonies. :blink:

I think maybe I'll try the freezer strategy next ...

One thing that I have learned to love as an alternative to beer/sodas/gatorade/etc is selzer. Nowadays, they have flavored selzers available in most groceries. The fizzy bubbles make me feel like it is something special, but there are no calories, no caffeine, no alcohol (OK, so it's not a perfect beverage  :laugh:  ).

I have been a great fan of flavored seltzer ever since my Seattle days when I first discovered the Talking Rain brand of flavored fizzy-water. Alas, I have discovered that seltzer doesn't work all that well for the daily massive amount of hydration I need to accomplish (that minimum eight 8-oz. glasses daily thing)--the bubbles just take up too damn much room in my stomach! :laugh: But a nice glass of raspberry-essence sparkling water is certainly a fine thing on a warm day.

Will be posting the afternoon's batch of photos shortly ...

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Can you show me

The shine of your Japan

The sparkle of your china

Can you show me

Bodhisattva

--Steely Dan, "Bodhisattva," from Countdown to Ecstasy (1973)

One of the errands that has occupied me these past few days has been going over to a friend's house and taking care of her cats while she is out of town on a business trip. So, once again today I spent about an hour feeding and entertaining the li'l guys ...

gallery_28660_3028_287688.jpg

... and having myself a little snack that I brought along:

gallery_28660_3028_191452.jpg

I then headed out for El Cajon Boulevard--or "The Boulevard," as certain neighborhood booster organizations seem to prefer. (Question for the longtime San Diego residents reading this: what if any history is there behind that moniker "The Boulevard"? All I can find via Google are those neighborhood booster organizations, and they don't give any background to the name.)

El Cajon Blvd. is one of two east-west thoroughfares that bisect a major portion of the city of San Diego, incidentally passing through a wide variety of neighborhoods both moneyed and working class (the other such east-west route is University Ave.). Both roads dedicate their central portions to City Heights, sometimes cited as possibly the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the United States. There certainly is a wide variety of ethnicities represented by the groceries, restaurants, and shops lining this part of El Cajon Blvd., including Mexican, Vietnamese, Middle-Eastern, and others. It's a working-class neighborhood, with a tough enough reputation that I would personally observe some caution wandering off the main drag after dark, but in daylight hours it's practically a family affair, with mothers and aunties and high school students frequenting the shops and cafes.

My first stop was to grab a more substantial meal than that apple, at the following establishment:

gallery_28660_3028_46376.jpg

I think I'm on my way to becoming a "regular" here--I'm beginning to get nods of recognition from the staff.

Saigon is roomier than the average pho joint, housed in a glass-walled box with some nice decor:

gallery_28660_3028_121493.jpg

If I'd hit this joint when the high school across the street was in session, this scene would have been jumping with mostly-Asian teens drinking boba teas. But instead I had a nice peaceful room in which to enjoy ... more pho!

gallery_28660_3028_496695.jpg

Note the much more generous plate of mix-in veggies than the one provided by Convoy Noodle House. Because I was still fondly remembering the stewed tendon dish from last night, I ordered my pho with rare steak and tendon only. The tendon had lovely texture, but alas there wasn't very much of either it or the beef. That was actually okay, though, because I definitely maxed out on the animal protein last night and could stand to go easy on that today.

(Aside to Ed Davis--the bun soup with periwinkles I showed at the start of this blog turns out to be #104 on their huge menu, and is called Bun Rieu Oc--I'm omitting whole tribes of diacritical marks I don't know how to make on this keyboard.)

Then on down the Boulevard for more shopping. Most of the little shops and stores and strip malls lining this street are pretty nondescript, or even dilapidated, but every now and then you get a scene that really has some local flava to it:

gallery_28660_3028_353109.jpg

Minh Hoa is a really nice, if somewhat cramped and un-slick, little Vietnamese market that I like a lot, but today my destination was a bigger establishment:

gallery_28660_3028_539921.jpg

As the Roman number "V" after Vien Dong/World Market's name suggests, this is one branch of a small local chain of grocery stores primarily serving San Diego's large Vietnamese population. But like all the grocery stores in this neighborhood, you'll see people of every race, religion, and ethnicity shopping here, looking for some of their favorite foods, or just for some deals to stretch their often-tight cashflow. The place is huge and just chock full of *stuff*!

gallery_28660_3028_423188.jpg

The fish department is huge, and carries a ginormous number of species I have never even heard of, let alone seen:

gallery_28660_3028_421947.jpg

The meat department is similarly large, and similarly given to fascinating-sounding items not familiar to the Euro-American kitchen:

gallery_28660_3028_492484.jpg

Ditto with the produce--so many interesting-looking greens, so little time!

gallery_28660_3028_516051.jpg

I found the items I was looking for plus a couple of others, and made my way home--oh yeah, here, by the way, is the pool just outside my front door:

gallery_28660_3028_47851.jpg

Behind the windows at the far right of this picture is the complex's little gym, where I've taken to using the high-tech stationary bicycles (now dressing in tee and shorts to make a fool of myself on the bike, that I don't mind one bit :biggrin: ). There are also three permanently-affixed charcoal grills available just outside the pool area for the use of the residents.

Upon returning home, I was enthusiastically greeted by my current roommate's cat, Randall, who you all met during my last blog:

gallery_28660_3028_251793.jpg

Trust me to wind up living with the only cat in the universe with a cross-species foot fetish. :laugh:

Today's grocery haul is considerably smaller than the other day's:

gallery_28660_3028_410334.jpg

The little jar contains red fermented bean curd, or nam yu--it gets its red color from the inclusion of fermented red rice in its brine. I have only a vague idea what I'm going to make for my evening meal at this point, but--geez, look at the time! I better get on with it. Fortunately, that bowl of pho has been holding me pretty well all this time. On to the kitchen ...

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Ellen "The Boulevard" isn't a term that was used to describe El Cajon Blvd. with any frequency when I was growing up here. We didn't say "I'll meet you up on The Boulevard" or other unseemly phrases. Usually it was just "it's on El Cajon around (fill in the blank for the cross street). Mostly El Cajon and University were just referred to that way, no street, boulevard, avenue, etc., modifiying it.

Have you been up to the end of El Cajon where it dead-ends at Park? There's a huge sign proclaiming THE BOULEVARD a couple of blocks east of that intersections, can't miss it. Even though the sign looks dated, it isn't. That wasn't there when I was growing up and I'm not that old.

Did you know that Saigon used to be a car dealership. Probably why it's so spacious with nice, big windows :laugh:

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Ellen "The Boulevard" isn't a term that was used to describe El Cajon Blvd. with any frequency when I was growing up here.  We didn't say "I'll meet you up on The Boulevard" or other unseemly phrases.  Usually it was just "it's on El Cajon around (fill in the blank for the cross street).  Mostly El Cajon and University were just referred to that way, no street, boulevard, avenue, etc., modifiying it. 

Have you been up to the end of El Cajon where it dead-ends at Park?  There's a huge sign proclaiming THE BOULEVARD a couple of blocks east of that intersections, can't miss it.  Even though the sign looks dated, it isn't.  That wasn't there when I was growing up and I'm not that old.

Did you know that Saigon used to be a car dealership.  Probably why it's so spacious with nice, big windows  :laugh:

Thanks for the info, Gayla. You know, I kinda suspected that name was somebody's overenthusiastic case of "marketeer-think." And yep, I've seen that "The Boulevard" sign. This city seems to have had a whole wave of putting up big neighborhood signs like that--off the top of my head, I can recall seeing such signs in University Heights, Hillcrest, and North Park.

And I was in fact wondering what Saigon's building used to house--it's kind of an odd look for a restaurant. Must have been a bit of a tight fit for an auto dealership, though. :smile:

I've got my (late) dinner, and I've got some more pictures to upload. Back shortly...

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As the Roman number "V" after Vien Dong/World Market's name suggests, this is one branch of a small local chain of grocery stores primarily serving San Diego's large Vietnamese population. But like all the grocery stores in this neighborhood, you'll see people of every race, religion, and ethnicity shopping here, looking for some of their favorite foods, or just for some deals to stretch their often-tight cashflow. The place is huge and just chock full of *stuff*!

gallery_28660_3028_423188.jpg

Oooh, oooh, oooh!

It's a former Saaaafewaaay...

I'd recognize that ceiling profile anywhere, even though they stuck an AC duct in the middle of it.


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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I was feeling the bottom start to drop out of my energy bucket as I typed up those last couple of posts, so I went for a quick-and-easy dinner based on some creative recycling of leftovers, combined with fresh ingredients.

But first, the kitchen! Copious apologies in advance--it's looking rather "ghetto" this evening:

gallery_28660_3028_494032.jpg

I fear the linoleum may be permanently discolored--when I first moved in, I gave it a wash with hot water and Spic'n'Span, with no noticeable effect whatsoever. :blink: One of these days I'm going to have to try something a little more drastic on it. It doesn't help that housework is not particularly high on my current roommates list of priorities. Oh well--that's what I get for continuing to choose musicians as roommates... :laugh:

Here's the Traditional Fridge Shot:

gallery_28660_3028_294087.jpg

Anything in that fridge that's either from Asia, from Trader Joe's, or from a fresh produce department probably belongs to me. :biggrin:

Ditto the contents of the door shelves:

gallery_28660_3028_422607.jpg

Meanwhile, the big bottles of "cocktail" mix are definitely the roommate's. :biggrin:

And I think just about everything in the freezer right now is his:

gallery_28660_3028_355353.jpg

Ah yes, that carefree bachelor living. :laugh:

Meanwhile, here's most of my stash of Asian condiments and other goodies:

gallery_28660_3028_9660.jpg

That's kasha a.k.a. buckwheat groats in the blue-lidded container. I was going nutz for some time now, hunting for kasha in every store I could think of and not finding it, until I at last spotted it at Vineripe Market, a mostly middle-Eastern grocery that kalypso turned me on to during my previous blog. But Wolff's Kasha in the little cardboard box is an unknown critter out here, apparently. It wasn't just nostalgia for kasha varnishkes that had me hunting for the stuff (though kasha varnishkes IMO is certainly reason enough on its own). Buckwheat turns out to be an incredibly healthy grain, one that I wanted to make a point of including in my health regimen--more info here.

Next: on to the actual cooking, such as it was.

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On to dinner itself. Remember that container of shirataki I bought on Tuesday from 99 Ranch?

gallery_28660_3028_212419.jpg

I plopped the contents into a strainer and gave it a good rinsing with the hottest water out of my tap (which is pretty damn hot indeed):

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Konnyaku products need a preliminary dousing with hot water to rinse off the sometimes-stinky smell they can develop while hanging around in their packaging. If I were being more thorough, I would have boiled some water to pour on them, but this did well enough for my purposes and energy level.

I thinly sliced an onion:

gallery_28660_3028_185935.jpg

... and sweated it over medium heat in a non-stick pan (sprayed with some cooking spray for good measure):

gallery_28660_3028_326618.jpg

I do own a real wok too, but this fake wok from IKEA, with its glass dome lid, turns out to be useful for a whole bunch of random cooking tasks. Just as long as you don't try to fire it up over maximum heat and expect to get some wok hey out of the poor thing. (On this generic consumer-grade stove, of course, I can't get any wok hey out of my real wok either, but that doesn't stop me from trying. :biggrin: )

Now for the creative leftover recycling portion of the program:

gallery_28660_3028_201512.jpg

This ungorgeous stuff is the remains of the marinade I used on the yellowtail the other night. Once the onions were good and soft, I poured this over them, added the shirataki, placed the remaining fresh baby bok choy on top of that, and then put the lid on so everything could steam-braise for a little while:

gallery_28660_3028_242823.jpg

The resulting dish:

gallery_28660_3028_305303.jpg

That very fiercely gingery marinade has now been sufficiently mellowed and diluted that it's nice and gentle, and I can clearly taste the bok choy and onion. A nice light refreshing (and completely meatless) meal, a great antidote to last night's splurge.

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Oh, I almost forgot--Randall decided to pose for me in a most amusing way, with his own photo previously posted on this blog:

gallery_28660_3028_12007.jpg

Audience participation time: this photo totally needs a caption. Winning submission wins ... oh, I dunno ... anyone remember the classic Marvel Comics "No-Prize"? :laugh::laugh::laugh:

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The resulting dish:

gallery_28660_3028_305303.jpg

Great job! Deserves a place in the Konnyaku Day thread in the Japan Forum. :biggrin:

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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.

Great minds think alike! :biggrin: I love to get bottles of carrot juice from Trader Joe's. I usually get the 64 oz... multiple bottles. At US$3.50 or so I think it's a pretty good deal. I can drink this all day too.


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

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We started with a trio of cold appetizers from the cooler-table in the front of the restaurant:

gallery_28660_3028_242648.jpg

Do you mean you can pick your own plate of appetizer? But this is not a buffet restaurant?

US$15.00 pp sounds like a terrific deal.


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

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My first stop was to grab a more substantial meal than that apple, at the following establishment:

gallery_28660_3028_46376.jpg

I think I'm on my way to becoming a "regular" here--I'm beginning to get nods of recognition from the staff.

Saigon is roomier than the average pho joint, housed in a glass-walled box with some nice decor:

gallery_28660_3028_121493.jpg

I have been to this Saigon restaurant on El Cajun Blvd! I can recognize the interior and the painting on the wall. :smile: I like their food too. That was about 4 years ago. Looks like they are doing well...


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

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While I'm gone, here's a question I could really use some help with: I can't seem to keep my fresh gingerroot from going bad on me before I use it up.

I buy large amounts, especially when it is young and the skin is fine, grate it (actually chop it in the processor), put in jars and cover with sherry. Keeps indefinitely, you can chop it as fine or coarse as you like; the sherry is great in Asian stir-fries.


Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I am SO dead jealous of your spices and seasonings! I adore Asian flavors, but with the advance of my PA, I can not eat anything remotely delicious. No ginger, garlic, peppers of any kind. Onions? Only cooked. WAHWAHWAH! Please, keep on cooking, and eating those lovely foods! I'm watching and enjoying vicariously!


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Mizducky, I like your blog, and I like your attitude about the food and the weight loss. And Randall's perch cracks me up! Flat-screen monitors are the bane of cats, I think.


"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

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Oh, I almost forgot--Randall decided to pose for me in a most amusing way, with his own photo previously posted on this blog:

gallery_28660_3028_12007.jpg

Audience participation time: this photo totally needs a caption. Winning submission wins ... oh, I dunno ... anyone remember the classic Marvel Comics "No-Prize"? :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

I don't have a caption, but how can anyone view a sleeping kitty without uttering an "Awwww".

Those closed eyes, the obvious total physical relaxation, the chin so tenderly rested on the "forearm".. just delicious.

This guy has now brought tears to my eyes twice while remembering feline friends past...


"Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”

Francois Minot

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That's kasha a.k.a. buckwheat groats in the blue-lidded container. I was going nutz for some time now, hunting for kasha in every store I could think of and not finding it, until I at last spotted it at Vineripe Market, a mostly middle-Eastern grocery that kalypso turned me on to during my previous blog. But Wolff's Kasha in the little cardboard box is an unknown critter out here, apparently. It wasn't just nostalgia for kasha varnishkes that had me hunting for the stuff (though kasha varnishkes IMO is certainly reason enough on its own). Buckwheat turns out to be an incredibly healthy grain, one that I wanted to make a point of including in my health regimen--more

When I lived in California, I always found Wolff's Kasha at Ralph's in the Kosher Section. Have you checked there?

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The meat department is similarly large, and similarly given to fascinating-sounding items not familiar to the Euro-American kitchen:

gallery_28660_3028_492484.jpg

I wonder what "pork melt" is? Any idea?

BTW, I've had a kitchen floor that looked just like that once. You can try a scrub with something like bar keepers friend (ton of work) which will help, but in my experience, it's probably hopeless. Mine did look a bit better and was easier to keep clean when I started putting mop and glo on it...


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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But Wolff's Kasha in the little cardboard box is an unknown critter out here, apparently. It wasn't just nostalgia for kasha varnishkes that had me hunting for the stuff (though kasha varnishkes IMO is certainly reason enough on its own). Buckwheat turns out to be an incredibly healthy grain, one that I wanted to make a point of including in my health regimen--more info here.

I don't know if these people carry it, but you could try Aaron's Glatt Market. There's a number of kosher places in San Diego.. look here. You know we Jews can't be without our kasha for long - somebody must carry Wolff's.

We were reviewed in the paper a while back and the reviewer mentioned our kasha knishes and how healthy they are. You can't believe the people coming in to buy them, not having any idea what they were! (Never mind that they were wrapped in a dough made with copious amounts of oil :wink: )

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Hey mizducky - I'm having a blast reading your blog! Keep up the fine(and fun) work.

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El Cajon Blvd. is one of two east-west thoroughfares that bisect a major portion of the city of San Diego, incidentally passing through a wide variety of neighborhoods both moneyed and working class (the other such east-west route is University Ave.). Both roads dedicate their central portions to City Heights, sometimes cited as possibly the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the United States....

There was an interesting PBS series called "Building Healthy Communities" that asked:

how can peoples of diverse cultures and thinking come together to redefine home, community, and civic participation in ways that lead to a sustainable, equitable and prosperous society?

The second episode dealt with City Heights (scroll down the page for the second episode) and showed how what started out as a great and noble intent ended up unintentionally changing the neighborhood. Sol Price (founder of the Price Clubs which was sold to Costco) was part of the redevelopment effort.

City Heights had a number large low-rent properties which is how it came to be so ethnically diverse. But unfortunately for all involved in the redevelopment effort the housing market in California took off (soared, actually) and a lot of the houses that were being rented were put on the market. This, combined with the redevelopment, turned the neighborhood into one of gentrification and now a lot of the low-income families that made up a large part of the diverse community can no longer afford to live in the area. Very ironic and sad, actually.

And I'm also wondering, along with Susan, what's a "Pork Melt"? Anything like a tuna melt? :wink:

[Homer]Mmmm...Pork Melt[/Homer]


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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The meat department is similarly large, and similarly given to fascinating-sounding items not familiar to the Euro-American kitchen:

gallery_28660_3028_492484.jpg

Wow, everything but the squeal.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Good morning, all!

Breakfast today is a repeat of Tuesday--back to the roast beef in a pita, with a big grapefruit. No photo this morning--it looks just the way it did the other morning. :smile:

Now to catch up on some more questions:

I am SO dead jealous of your spices and seasonings! I adore Asian flavors, but with the advance of my PA, I can not eat anything remotely delicious. No ginger, garlic, peppers of any kind. Onions? Only cooked. WAHWAHWAH! Please, keep on cooking, and eating those lovely foods! I'm watching and enjoying vicariously!

Bummer about those food restrictions! I think I would have a breakdown if I couldn't freely use ginger or onion products in my cooking. I will happily keep on providing you with vicarious experiences, though ... :smile:

When I lived in California, I always found Wolff's Kasha at Ralph's in the Kosher Section.  Have you checked there?

Oh yeah, I've hit every Jewish foods department of every supermarket chain in my area, plus the bulk grain departments of both my food coop and my local natural foods grocery store, to no avail. And I didn't get it, because I'd seen the stuff in those places in other cities where I've lived. I even had at least one natural-foods store clerk not quite believe that I wasn't mistakenly asking for Kashi, even after explaining about kasha to him several times. :wacko:

The meat department is similarly large, and similarly given to fascinating-sounding items not familiar to the Euro-American kitchen:

gallery_28660_3028_492484.jpg

I wonder what "pork melt" is? Any idea?

BTW, I've had a kitchen floor that looked just like that once. You can try a scrub with something like bar keepers friend (ton of work) which will help, but in my experience, it's probably hopeless. Mine did look a bit better and was easier to keep clean when I started putting mop and glo on it...

I've been wondering about that "melt" stuff too. I think they actually might mean pork *milt*, which is another word for the spleen.

About the floor: yeah, I confess I'm not so sure I'm up for getting down on my hands and knees with a scrub brush for this joint. Maybe as a celebration for when my knees are completely healed ... (or maybe not.) :laugh:

I don't know if these people carry it, but you could try Aaron's Glatt Market.  There's a number of kosher places in San Diego.. look here.  You know we Jews can't be without our kasha for long - somebody must carry Wolff's.

Checking out that list--whoa, there's a kosher sushi joint?!? Who knew? :laugh: And that's the same El Cajon Blvd. I was exploring yesterday--only even further eastward, I think, to judge from the street-numbers on the addresses. Looks like I've got to expand my explorations some more ... :smile:

And I've been meaning to go to Aaron's for a while now--it's a tiny storefront in a tiny strip mall in that same Convoy neighborhood where so many of my favorite Asian places are. I always spot it, and remember about it, right *after* I've just sped past it on my way somewhere else. :sad: Or else it's Shabbos and of course they'll be closed. Need to just make a plan and go there one of these days ...

By the way, if anyone has posted a question and I seem to have forgotten or missed it, please feel free to remind me. I do know I still have to post an expanded explanation of yin/yang and how I use those concepts, which I hope to get to sometime today.

Other plans for today: I'm done with catsitting. I have an appointment at 1 pm, after which I'm hopefully going to check out a farmer's market I have not visited before. I need to replenish my stash of fresh fruit. And then there's the always-entrancing prospect of figuring out what to have for dinner ...


Edited by mizducky (log)

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    • 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).
    • By Shelby
      Good morning, everyone and happy Monday!  
       
      It's me again....that girl from Kansas. 
       
       
      This is VERY spur-of-the-moment.  I was sitting here yesterday thinking of all of the canning etc. that I needed to do this week and I thought, well, why not ask you guys if you want to spend the week with me while I do it?  I got the ok from Smithy so away we go!
       
      This will not be nearly as organized as my first blog was.  But, really, when does a sequel ever measure up to the first?     
       
      Most of you know all about me--if you missed my first blog you can read it here.
       
      Nothing much has changed around here.  Same furry babies, same house, same husband  .
       
      Right now we have field corn planted all around the house.  In the outer fields we have soybeans that were planted after the wheat was harvested.  Sorry for the blur....it was so humid the camera kept fogging up.
       

       
      I just came in from the garden.
       
      I snapped a few pictures....for more (and prettier) pictures you can look in the gardening thread.  I always start out saying that I will not let a weed grow in there.  By August I'm like..."Oh what's a few weeds" lol.
       
       
       
      Here's a total list of what I planted this year:
       
      7 cucumbers
      8 basil
      23 okra
      4 rows assorted lettuce
      20 peppers-thai, jalapeño, bell, banana
      4 rows peas
      5 cilantro
      1 tarragon
      2 dill
      many many red and white onions
      7 eggplant
      3 rows spinach
      57 tomatoes
      5 cherry tomatoes
      7 rows silver queen sweet corn
      11 squash
      4 watermelon
      2 cantaloupe
      6 pumpkin
       
      I killed the cantaloupes...and I tried damn hard to kill the squash lol.....sigh...squash bugs came early this year and we sprayed with some kind of stuff.  WOW the plants did not like it, but they've come back and are producing.
       


      I just love okra flowers

      Found some more smut   
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Pille
      Tere õhtust (that’s „Good evening“ in Estonian)!
      I’m very, very, very excited to be doing my first ever eGullet foodblog. Foodblogging as such is not new to me – I’ve been blogging over at Nami-nami since June 2005, and am enjoying it enormously. But this eGullet blog is very different in format, and I hope I can ’deliver’. There have been so many exciting and great food blogs over the years that I've admired, so the standard is intimidatingly high! Also, as I’m the first one ever blogging from Estonia, I feel there’s a certain added responsibility to ’represent’ my tiny country
      A few words about me: my name is Pille, I’m 33, work in academia and live with my boyfriend Kristjan in a house in Viimsi, a suburb just outside Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I was born and schooled in Tallinn until I was 18. Since then I've spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student, four years studing in Tartu (a university town 180 km south), two years working in Tallinn and seven years studying and working in Edinburgh, the bonnie & cosmopolitan capital of Scotland. All this has influenced my food repertoire to a certain degree, I'm sure. I moved back home to Estonia exactly 11 months and 1 day ago, to live with Kristjan, and I haven't regretted that decision once Edinburgh is an amazing place to live, and I've been back to Scotland twice since returning, but I have come to realise that Tallinn is even nicer than Edinburgh
      I won’t be officially starting my foodblog until tomorrow (it’s midnight here and I’m off to bed), but I thought I’ll re-post the teaser photos for those of you who missed them in the 'Upcoming Attractions' section. There were two of them. One was a photo of Tallinn skyline as seen from the sea (well, from across the bay in this case):

      This is known as kilukarbivaade or sprat can skyline A canned fish product, sprats (small Baltic herrings in a spicy marinade) used to have a label depicting this picturesque skyline. I looked in vain for it in the supermarket the other day, but sadly couldn’t find one - must have been replaced with a sleek & modern label. So you must trust my word on this sprat can skyline view
      The second photo depicted a loaf of our delicious rye bread, rukkileib. As Snowangel already said, it’s naturally leavened sour 100% rye bread, and I’ll be showing you step-by-step instructions for making it later during the week.

      It was fun seeing your replies to Snowangel’s teaser photos. All of you got the continent straight away, and I was pleased to say that most of you got the region right, too (that's Northern Europe then). Peter Green’s guess Moscow was furthest away – the capital of Russia is 865 km south-east from here (unfortunately I've never had a chance to visit that town, but at least I've been to St Petersburgh couple of times). Copenhagen is a wee bit closer with 836 km, Stockholm much closer with 386 km. Dave Hatfield (whose rural French foodblog earlier this year I followed with great interest, and whose rustic apricot tart was a huge hit in our household) was much closer with Helsinki, which is just 82 km across the sea to the north. The ships you can see on the photo are all commuting between Helsinki and Tallinn (there’s an overnight ferry connection to Stockholm, too). Rona Y & Tracey guessed the right answer
      Dave – that house isn’t a sauna, but a granary (now used to 'store' various guests) - good guess, however! Sauna was across the courtyard, and looks pretty much the same, just with a chimney The picture is taken in July on Kassari in Hiiumaa/Dagö, one of the islands on the west coast. Saunas in Estonia are as essential part of our life – and lifestyle – as they are in Finland. Throwing a sauna party would guarantee a good turnout of friends any time
      Finally, a map of Northern Europe, so you’d know exactly where I’m located:

      Head ööd! [Good night!]
      I'm off to bed now, but will be back soon. And of course, if there are any questions, however specific or general, then 'll do my best trying to answer them!
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