Monday, July 23, 2012

San Antonio Weekender

We made a little weekend trip to San Antonio because the band in which Mike plays bass, Brewtality Inc., had a show at The White Rabbit. Brewtality Inc. is a good time, punk rock/rock 'n roll drinking band - always fun and always reminds me of being a bad ass in my twenties! I get chills now at least once during their set, remembering good times and just enjoying my friends. xo! Awesome group of dedicated, sweetie pie guys!

We stayed at El Tropicano on the Riverwalk. It's a 50's tiki lounge-style hotel. It has tons of potential but it's definitely lacking in service, amenities, and a touch of class. Apparently it's been remodeled so I can't imagine what a shithole it must have been prior to the rennovations. It's fine if you can appreciate a trip back in time and an unintentional nod to all things seedy but not if you're looking for something more upscale. That said, it makes me think of old Hollywood glam (think Rat pack in Vegas or the Cuban equivalent lounge singer in Miami) but, again, they need some help. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Healthful Mind = Healthful Eating

I've been getting creative again with cooking. Since I started cooking when I got to college it's always been super relaxing and a creative outlet. However, it comes in phases depending on a few things. If I'm busy and/or tired I'll sometimes go through a thing where I don't do it as often. If I'm not into it, I won't do it because I just can't do anything creative that I'm not feeling. And food is love so if there's no love, just forget it! Who wants less than that in their food? 

Recently, I was really stressed at work because I'd been dealing with an endlessly negative person who was extremely calculating, beyond micro-managing, and just didn't really understand the nature of online marketing and social media, let alone my role and how to be creative in a valuable way that complemented the business. Despite having 15 years of marketing, media, and communications experience and forging successful cross-promotional relationships and integrated marketing campaigns for brands and organizations, no matter what I suggested or created was acceptable or a good idea. Needless to say, I lost my appetite.    

It's amazing how negativity can drag us down even when we can recognize that it has nothing to do with us. It's really hard to separate from that energy when you are in a position when you have to deal with it regularly in your work environment. It's counterproductive, distracting, and plain horrible. If you have tried everything you can to make things work, understand the other person's work style and make compromises to no avail, it's time to move on. If you no longer can grow and feel productive, it's time to move on. Whatever you have to do, it's not worth it to stay in a situation that isn't healthy. Believe me, it will take its toll on you mentally and then physically.

My point, besides the fact that this blog is to share my thoughts, experiences, and opinions mainly through imagery and some less-than-perfect writing, is that there is no separating mental health and physical health. If you're not in a good mental space, you can't eat well. And vice versa. If you eat crappy foods, you'll likely get lethargic, need more food to feel energized ... and it's a vicious cycle. 

Enough of that ... I'm here to share some concoctions with you and to say that it is such a relief that creativity is flowing again now that I'm back in a healthy environment. That negativity is blinding, I tell you. When I was younger, I had no problem turning negativity into creativity but now that doesn't really work for me. I feed off of positivity. Negativity does not inspire me. 
*reality and sarcasm are exceptions

So now - here's some healthful stuff! I've listed out ingredients you'll need for each recipe but I suggest every spice cabinet have sea salt, grey salt (or sal de gris), Himalayan salt, Hawaiian salt, kosher salt...I use them all differently and anything is better than iodized table salt. That stuff is the crap that causes problems whereas natural, unprocessed salt is actually good for you - it has minerals and is revitalizing. 

Top: Greek yogurt with raspberries and strawberries, topped with coconut oil, cacao nibs, cinnamon, pinch of cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of honey.

Yogurt = promotes healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the body and eases digestion; also has same benefits of milk but easier to digest
Berries = contain flavonoids that may help fight cancer; calcium, potassium, natural sugars (energy boost), vitamin C (strengthens immune system), fiber, antioxidants (fight inflammation & damaging molecules)
Cacao = raw, unlike processed chocolate antioxidants are preserved at higher levels; improving hear & cardiovascular system, dissolves plaque build up in arteries, naturally lowering blood pressure. It also enhances mood and brain function. Read up on this and learn about the differences between cacao & chocolate with sugar & dairy. 
Cinnamon = improves circulation, used as remedy for diabetes to lower blood sugar, indigestion, & colds. 
Cayenne = anti-inflammatory, cleansing, detoxifying, stimulates circulation & neutralizes acidity
Honey = anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, healing, rejuvenation; local, raw honey can help combat allergies
Coconut oil = anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, healthy fat source that helps balance cholesterol levels, reduce stress, and maintain proper digestion 
Watermelon, coconut water and mint juice with Himalayan salt
Watermelon (4 nice big triangles) = refreshing, high water content, natural sugars for summer pick me up, also contains lycopene, which helps fight against cancer
Coconut water (about 1 cup) = nature's energy drink (helps with stomach aches & hang overs!)
Mint (1 sprig) = soothing, also helps with stomach ache
Himalayan salt (10-20 crystals -- don't worry, they are like little rocks so you will be able to count them out) = since it isn't processed like table salt, it is free of toxins and maintains natural minerals
6 ice cubes & blend!
Plum jam = great way to use fruit that has ripened a little past perfect or if you know it won't get eaten before it goes bad. 

You'll need:

Lemon or Orange
Honey or Agave Nectar

Cut up plum into bite size pieces and throw into a sauce pan with 1/2 cup of water. If you have raspberries, throw in a small handful. Add 1 tbs of honey or 3 tsp of agave nectar (much sweeter than honey) and bring to a slow boil and then simmer. Add 1/2 lemon or orange, stirring occasionally until it thickens to your desired consistency. Should be jam-like & maintain a few chunks (we're not making jelly here). The citrus acts as the gelatin, helping it to thicken and will lighten up the taste, lending a freshness to your jam. You can also add herbs if you like - rosemary or basil would go nicely with this. Just add a stem (probably 1/4 stem per 1 fruit if you use rosemary because it is strong).
King's Breakfast. This one is easy. 

You'll need:

Flatbread or Naan (can buy anywhere)
Goat Cheese
Fresh Chives and Basil
Apple Cider Vinegar

Heat up your oven, indoor grill, or whatever you'll use to heat the flatbread. Mix herbs of your choice into some goat cheese (I used garlic chives and basil from my planters in the back yard). Let sit while you poach your egg. Crack your egg into a small bowl, being careful not to break the yolk. Don't boil the water you are poaching in; just heat it until you start to see tiny pre-bubbles starting to form and then turn down the heat a bit. And here is the greatest tip ever for poaching an egg: add a splash (1 tsp) of vinegar (whatever you have on hand -- I use apple cider vinegar, which has some nicer properties than plain white vinegar) to hot water and gently stir the water, creating a tornado effect. Gently drop your egg into the eye of the tornado and leave it alone for about 4 minutes. The vinegar (and tornado) help keep the egg white from separating from the yolk. While the egg is cooking, heat your flatbread so that it is slightly crispy or carmelized but still soft overall. You can use a slotted spoon to gently lift the egg out of the water and ever so lightly push on the yolk to see if it's cooked to your liking. There is nothing more disappointing than an overcooked poached egg; it should feel kind of like a waterbed and be runny like a sunny-side-up! Spread the goat cheese onto your bread, top with arugula, and add your egg w/salt + pepper to taste. Served with mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) & plum.  
Just Breakfast. 

You'll need:

Ciabatta Bread
Black Truffle Butter
Fresh Basil

Follow the same instructions to poach an egg as above. You can fry or scramble your eggs, too. Whatever you like. To make the hashbrowns, I used half of a russet potato that was on hand but you can whatever you like. (Red potatoes have more nutritional value.) I put it in the Cuisinart using the grater attachment but if you don't have one, just use a coarse cheese grater. Toss the potato strips with salt + pepper and make sure you use a non-stick pan to pan fry them. Coat the bottom of the pan with an oil that has a high heat index (peanut, canola, or grapeseed), spread the potatoes evenly and thinly to distribute across the pan and cook on medium-high heat until you see the top is becoming translucent and the bottom is golden brown, then flip. While one side is cooking prepare your egg. This is also a poached egg so you can follow the same deal as above. Use a nice artisan bread like ciabatta and grill it on your grill pan or George Forman. I didn't lightly brush it with olive oil like I normally would before grilling because I spread black truffle butter on it once it's nice and toasty. Add a few basil leaves and top with your egg. 

*If your egg finishes cooking before your potatoes, just take it out of the water with the slotted utensil and let sit until you are ready to serve. Don't discard the water. Turn off the heat and cover your pot then you'll just add your egg back to the water for about 45 seconds or so to heat thru right before you serve.
Again, a poached egg. My lovely friend Michelle turned me onto this easy breakfast. The "bread" is actually a raw nut bar. You can find them at Whole Foods, Central Market, Wheatsville, or online @ Top it with your poached egg, add salt + pepper. 
This is a veggie coconut curry I made. 

You'll need:

Shitake Mushrooms
Fresh Basil
Fresh Chives or Scallion
Coconut Milk (don't get the "lite"; it's lame)
Sesame Oil
Fish Sauce

Steam broccoli & carrots. While they're steaming, lightly saute garlic (1 clove), ginger (1/2 tbs), and shitake mushrooms in coconut oil in a saucepan. Add can of coconut milk, fresh chives, and basil, a couple splashes of fish sauce, 1/2 tbs sesame oil, stir and you're ready. Can eat like soup or over brown rice. 
*Ginger fights heart disease and arthritis; used to treat nausea, digestive problems, and colic
I'll just give you the link to this Bobby Flay jerked chicken recipe. It was awesome. And, yes, it is worth it to make the bbq sauce from scratch! It's really easy.
These are gluten-free pizzas. Before you start, make sure you have all your flour substitutes & baking ingredients.

Ingredients for Toppings:

Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Good Olive Oil
Yellow Onion
Goat Cheese

The left is a pizza margherita = fresh buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, salt + pepper. I found the pizza crust recipe on a gluten-free/dairy-free blog I often get recipes from. First cook the crust, then add toppings (except the basil; add that last) & stick under the broiler for about a minute. Keep an eye on it because it can burn quickly under such high heat. Lightly drizzle some really good olive oil and the fresh herbs gluover the tops when done. The pizza on the right is a mediterranean pizza = carmelized onions (cook with a decent size pinch of dried oregano, thyme, & lavender). Also, roasted garlic, prosciutto, and goat cheese. Add a bit of fresh chopped oregano & coarse black pepper on top after cooking. 
Stuffed pepper = Quick & easy recipe where you can really throw together whatever you have on hand to make it.

You'll need:

Bell Pepper
Brown Rice
Pumpkin Seeds
Goji Berries (could substitute with raisins) 
Crema Fresca (optional if you're not doing dairy)
Chives or scallions
Broccoli (you could use zucchini or yellow squash instead)
Grapeseed or Canola Oil

Cut the top off the bell pepper & carefully cut out the fleshy parts & seeds inside. Lightly coat a bell pepper (whatever you prefer - green, yellow, red, orange) with olive oil and roast in the oven at 350 until golden brown but still holds its shape for stuffing - about 20 minutes, I suppose. Cook brown rice while your pepper(s) are roasting. Add to rice mixture: palmful of goji berries, steamed broccoli, roasted pumpkin seeds, anything that sounds good - I had some pulled pork left over that I added to Mike's. Mix together with a little bit of grapeseed or canola oil to add some moisture to the rice. Top with crema fresca & fresh chopped herbs (chives, parsley, cilantro, for example). Crema fresca is like sour cream or creme fraiche, only thinner in consistency. Still has a rich flavor but is slightly lighter. 
*Goji Berries have super high levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lots of amino acids and trace minerals
Grilled corn = keep the corn in their husks so that they'll steam on the grill and won't get dried out. Just run them under water for a few seconds before you throw on the grill.  

You'll need:

Cotija Cheese (or Queso Fresco)
Crema Fresca
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Lime (optional)

Once you get your grill going, this takes about 20 minutes, I guess. You don't have to do anything to them, just throw 'em on the grill and turn once or twice. When they're done, here are the toppings: queso fresco (like a farmers cheese; mild flavor, kind of like mozarella) or cotija cheese (Mexican equivalent of parmesan or Pecorino Romano, probably closer to the latter). I used cotija. Chili powder, cayenne pepper, crema fresca. Douse the corn with the dry ingredients as you turn it to coat all sides. Crumble the cheese on top and drizzle with crema fresca. Squirt a little lime to finish it off. Soo delicious! 
This is another gluten/dairy-free recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess blog. I think it's some variation of this chocolate muffin recipe.

Something about ingredients: I use coconut palm sugar instead of white or turbinado sugar. It's not as sweet and better for you. Also, where salt is concerned in cooking I use sea salt and kosher salt but keep in mind, you'll use less of it because these unprocessed salts are much stronger in flavor. I also use Himalyan salt, Hawaiian salt, grey salt, and fleur de sal as finishing flavor once food is fully prepared. I wouldn't suggest actually "cooking" with them, they're meant to be used in their raw forms. 

Something about measurements: As you may have noticed, I sort of wing it when it comes to amounts of ingredients ... unless it involves baking. I'm really sort of a horrible baker and that stuff is way more scientific and exacting than regular cooking. Anyway, if you have questions about actual amounts, cooking times, etc. ask and I'll buck up and be more specific. xo

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gourdough's Doughnuts
"Big. Fat. Doughnuts." - they are and it doesn't sound like a bad idea at all right now! I've had 4 out of however many they have on the menu - chocolate coconut (I don't see it on the menu anymore), cinnamon sugar (Naughty & Nice), maple bacon (Flying Pig), and Mama's Cake. Still plenty to try! I've really been drooling over the idea of the fried chicken with honey butter (Mother Clucker - the name doesn't get any better). Fresh doughnuts to order - love it! I just wish the ingredients were organic, free range, local & all that good stuff. Still, it's a great idea and I get excited each time I make going a reality. Can't wait to take my mom here when she visits during the cooler months!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Floated the river this weekend, ate at Gristmill (add Herradura margarita with salt), reminisced and exchanged stories about times at Gruene Hall, strolled around and looked at wonderful antiques, got strawberry ice cream at the General Store. Aaand perfect! That's how you do Gruene.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lamar Pedestrian Bridge

My first time on the Lamar pedestrian bridge.

A long time ago, before the pedestrian bridge existed, I once rode my bike across the bridge with friends (heading south) and when I came down off the curb right before the overhead bridge (with the blue art rectangle reflectors) and before that hill that takes you to 6th & Whole Foods I had to make it up a curb on the other side of the road to get back on the sidewalk...and I totally bit it. My front tire bounced off the curb so my bike suddenly stopped moving forward and I flew over the handle bars and luckily stuntman-landed in the grass. It was awesome and hilarious! I think I may have flipped & rolled, even!

Anyway, that pedestrian bridge was a good idea because the sidewalk was always crowded with bikes, runners, walkers, dogs, etc. and the fear of getting bumped down off that steep curb into Lamar traffic was nerve-racking. Although I obviously did fine with that on my own.

Back to my current story, which isn't nearly as entertaining but, alas... After yoga I was heading down south Lamar in my car to go back home but decided instead to go check out the bridge & enjoy Lady Bird Lake early in the morning. I always love how cities feel before everyone is awake and on the go. The city itself is alive. The first time I thought about being in love with a city itself was when I saw that movie where a tour guide rides through NYC on a double decker tour bus and offers up the notion. Sort of sounds disconnected and reclusive but during this kind of peaceful moment when you can just listen to sounds and appreciate the naturalness of everything around you, it makes sense.

Was a good day.