Watermelon Gazpacho

July 14 2014

 

Watermelon

The First Ingredient of Watermelon Gazpacho

Tonight, I made gazpacho.  I found the recipe in my Rachael Ray magazine, and–as usual– I made a few small changes to the printed recipe.  At the store, I made a list of the items needed, but forgot to write down the quantities.  I came home with 30 beefsteak tomatoes, but only used five (and I doubled the recipe too!)

Ingredients

Ingredients: Watermelon, Tomato, Cucumber, Serano Pepper, Oil & Vinegar, Salt & Pepper

The recipe is super easy and quick.  And, it is all done in a 5 cup blender!  I doubled the recipe when I made it (did it twice so that it fit in the blender though …)

In the blender, add:

  1. 4 cups cubed watermellon
  2. 2 beefsteak tomatoes, cubed
  3. 1 serano pepper, sliced
  4. 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  5. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  6. freshly ground salt and pepper
  7. 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced

The main step of the recipe: press blend.  It’s done in seconds.  I let it chill in the fridge as I cleaned up, but it was good at room temperature.  Chilled, it became even better!

Blender

Add it all into the blender …

In a small bowl, I combined 1 cup diced watermelond, 1 peeled and diced cucumber, 1 diced tomato, and a handful of chopped fresh basil.

I poured the mixed from the blender to my bowl, and scooped a large spoonful of the diced veggies.  Topped with sea salt and coarse black pepper.  Delicious!

Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

Always Stay to the Left

June 7 2014

On the bus from Tokyo to Tachikawa (where I am visiting the Institute for Statistical Mathematics), I realized that Japan drives on the left side of the street.  ( I am not sure why I didn’t realize that either time I was on the shuttle between the hotel and the airport).   In fact, this driving rule is a very important thing to remember, even when not in a car:

When walking into a building, stay to the left.  Otherwise, you wind up doing a dance with someone.

On escalators, stand left, walk right.  In fact, the Japanese are much better at following this rule than Americans are of following the stand right / pass left rule.

And, most importantly, when a bicycle is coming straight at you — move to the left … ASAP!  I’ve almost caused several accidents by going the same way as the bicycle.  Luckily, they were better at bicycling then I was at walking, and so all collisions were avoided.

Anniversary Weekend: Part I

May 31 2014

At our wedding, we had two AMAZING cakes.  Unfortunately, the only cake that we actually ate was the cake that we shoved in each other’s faces.  And, we never had a proper cake tasting where we could try different types of cakes.  So, for our anniversary, I fixed that.

 

eyes closed ... ready for the surprise

eyes closed … ready for the surprise

I didn’t tell Dave where we were going, but I made sure that he would have coffee with him to go along with the cakes.  When we got close, I had him close his eyes until I parked then walked with him (eyes closed) to the Swiss Confectionery storefront.   I told him to open his eyes and he immediately started to jump up and down.  The owner was super nice to us, allowing us to sample the cakes even though we were married one year ago.  Of course, we bought some cupcakes, petit fours, and cookies on our way out as well.  The cakes were absolutely delicious.  Our favorite was the secret family recipe with a pineapple filling.  Delicious.

sampling the flavors

sampling the flavors

After we got home, we both did a little bit of work: me finishing up my presentation for Japan next week and him watching an online lecture that he wanted to see.  Then, we made lunch: homemade veggie burgers from the freezer topped with bacon and avocado. We paired that with mimosas in our fancy Waterford goblets!

mimosas in fancy glasses

mimosas in fancy glasses

Veggie Burgers

May 11 2014

This weekend, I decided to do a little cooking in order to stock up my freezer. One of Dave’s favorite fast meals is to microwave veggie burgers. Unfortunately, most of the veggie burgers now have some form of corn in them, and Dave is allergic to corn (a rather inconvenient allergy). So, I decided to make some veggie burgers, and I think they turned out all right.

veggie burgers

Mushrooms going through the grinder.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Eggplant
  2. 1 large box of baby bella mushrooms (from Sam’s club)
  3. 1 large white onion, diced
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 3 stalks celery, diced
  6. 1 can chickpeas
  7. 1 cup pearled barley
  8. Panko bread crumbs
  9. 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  10. 3 cups water
  11. 2 bay leaves
  12. Coriander
  13. Salt
  14. Pepper
  15. Coconut oil.

And the instructions:

  1. Put oven on 350.  After washing the Eggplant and the mushrooms, place them on a cookie sheet and put into the oven, towards the top of the oven.  They should be in there for about one hour.  I found it was enough time to take them out after everything else was ready.
  2. Put barley, bay leaves, and water in a pot on the stove over low heat.  Stir occasionally until water is completely absorbed / evaporated (this will take some time).
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a pan, then add the garlic, onion, and celery.  Season with coriander, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. Split the chickpeas in half.  Chop half of them and put in a large bowl.  Reserve the second half.
  5. After steps 1-3 are completed, let the ingredients cool.  One at a time use the Kitchenaid grinder attachment to grind the barley, mushrooms, eggplant, onion mixture, and reserve chickpeas into the big bowl.  Mix well with a big spoon.
  6. Mix in the flax seeds and panko bread crumbs and mix well.
  7. Heat coconut oil in a pan.  Form mixture into patties and place in the pan.  Cook on both sides, then enjoy or freeze!  (Well, I’m hoping that freezing will work).
veggie burgers

Before being pattied.

Veggie Burger!

Final Product

Note: This recipe was inspired by a Vegan (Cheese) Burger recipe that I found with the help of Google.

Bidding War

May 9 2014

Tonight, I went to an art auction with Carola, Joe, & Yusu.  We were invited from the previous owner of Carola and Joe’s house (so, we didn’t have to pay for the $50 tickets, but we were told that we needed to bid on something).

After tasting all of the delicious food from various restaurants and cocktails from Casa Borrega, Yusu and I picked out a $3,000 acrylic painting for Carola and Joe, but they thought it was a bit too expensive.  We settled for eyeing up the items valued under $200, which was jewelry for the most part.

The first item in the live auction was a pair: a 1933 Carnival / Mardi Gras throw (a hand mirror) and Design by Dawn Tortoise Earrings.   I feel to liking the earrings, and Carola the earrings.  So, we thought it could be something to bid on.  When the auction started with no one taking up the opening bid of $40, I looked at Carola and asked “should I take it?” and she said “yes, of course!”  Then, the next bid was made quickly after that.  Carola asks “did the bidding start?”  And I replied, “yes, should I bid again?”  And, of course, I did.  Half way through the bidding, we switched from me bidding to her bidding.  With each bid, we deliberated.  We really did not discuss a maximum bid before going into this event, so we were a bit confused and made each bid just before the auctioneer would have said “sold”.  Finally, once we had doubled the value of the items we were bidding on, we agreed to stop.  Luckily (or maybe unluckily), the person bidding against us also stopped bidding.  And, we won!   Joe turned to me and said “thanks for starting the bidding and letting my wife finish it.”   We were laughing so hard about how fast it went, that I completely missed the next two items being sold.

Next time I go to an auction, I need to have a game plan.  Also, I need not to bid on the first item.  Perhaps then, I will get an item UNDER the appraised value.  I like my time-shared mirror and earrings though, so no complaints about our “winnings.”

auction

hand mirror and earrings (and who is that in the mirror?)

 

Lesson Learned

May 8 2014

Make a link.  This is how you need to lock your bike.

I have a bike rack on my car which locks.  Up until tonight, it has worked just fine for me.  There is a bar that hooks over the frame of the bike and you can lock it in place.  Some clever thief on Frenchman street opened the buckles on the wheels and somehow shimmied the bike off of the rack.  Most upsetting is the fact that I JUST put a new tire on the bike (at least I didn’t get both of them) AND I left my fancy light on the bike.  :(

Lesson learned: always make a link.

I don’t even have a photo with me and my still-unnamed bicycle.  However, I found one of her on Bicycle Michael‘s Google page, as they let you explore the inside of the store:

bike

My Awesome Gold and Black Retrospec bicycle

Adidas

April 25 2014

Years ago, my neighbor Kim told me what Adidas stood for: All Day I Dream About Sports.  Made sense.

However, my friend Michael set the record straight.  This is not true.  Adidas is a German company.  This confused me, as why would they have an English acronym as a name?  Well, it is named after its founder: Adolf (Adi) Dassler (Das).  And, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong my whole life (should be Ah-di-daas not A-di-das).

Thanks, Michael for always giving me facts that make me question everything I know (he was also the one that pointed out Feb 24 is leap day, not Feb 29th).

I Just Want to Breathe

April 24 2014

I sat outside for lunch today.  It’s gorgeous outside.  So, I sat there with my lunch and a paper that I wanted to read.  One bite in, and the person at the table next to me lights a cigarette.  I am downwind.  I just got up and moved to another table nowhere near anyone else so that I could enjoy my lunch without getting a headache  & coughing like mad.  I gave her a glare as I walked by, but she didn’t notice of course.  After I re-settled and took a bite of my food, a guy sits down at the table next to me … he has no food, no paper. Just sits.  I am on alert.  Sure enough, he lights a cigarette too.   I love sitting outdoors, but I do not like when other people ruin it for me by smoking near me.  99 days from today, Tulane’s campus will be smoke-free.  I am very much looking forward to that day.

I’ve always been appalled by cigarette smoke.  It gives me a headache and I can’t stop coughing when I am near it.  Growing up, both of my parents smoked.  I hated it.  I controlled the situation in the only way I knew: I cried (and made exaggerated coughing noises whenever they were near me).  When that didn’t seem to be effective, I bought “No smoking” signs and plastered them all over the house.  They promptly “disappeared.”  Eventually, I convinced them to only smoke in one room of the house, and today, their house is smoke-free.   Success!  Now, if only their patio was smoke-free too …

Today, many places are smoke-free … indoors.  So, the smokers are going outdoors.  Near the entrance to buildings.  On the patio of nice restaurants.  In the park when I am trying to run.  It’s ruining the outdoors for me.   The kid in me wants to cough like crazy near them hoping they’ll realize that they are causing me discomfort.  The sophisticated adult in me just goes inside, usually with a headache.  It doesn’t seem fair.

One Alligator, Two!

April 22 2014

Amit came to visit me a couple of weeks ago. On the weekend of his visit, we decided to go fishing. My tour book said that people can go fishing along the twin canals in La Fitte (pronounced la feet … always makes me laugh). We went to Academy sports, bought fishing poles and a fishing license for him. Then, we across the Huey P. Long bridge, picked up some shrimp for bait, and keep heading south towards the twin canals.

When we arrived at La Fitte, we saw plenty of people fishing. We even saw an old man with a bamboo stick and fishing wire feed through it. I was quite impressed. We walked along the canal until we found our own little clearing along the bank. Looked perfect — or so we thought. We decided to first practice casting out. We attached the sinkers (weights) to our lines and cast them in the canal. Mine was stuck on something, so it took a bit of tugging, but I was finally able to start reeling it in. Still feeling resistance, all of a sudden, I see an alligator swimming towards me! The weight was in his mouth (or so I assumed)! Of course, I screamed and started running. Amit, looking like a deer in headlights, asked me what we are supposed to do. I was so panicked I could barely move or even talk, but somehow I managed to communicate the situation to him. After I regained composure, the alligator had disappeared and I reeled my line in just fine. I stood on top of the highest place I could find and was looking suspiciously all around. Amit, started to tell me that the next time an alligator is chasing me that I should run away from him instead of towards him.  What a friend.

Shaking, I pick up my gear and start to find a new place. Not quite believing my story, Amit convinces me that this other clearing will be just fine. There was a slight cliff into the water, instead of the gradual incline from where we were before. So, I agreed. Again, we cast out. Again, I caught an alligator. This time, Amit saw it. I think he was more scared than me … which then scared me even more. I dropped my fishing pole and ran away. Luckily, my pole was pretty far from the edge, so I was later able to pick it up and reel in my line … after the alligator swam away of course.

Needless to say, we didn’t catch any fish that day.

alligator

Compliments from Michael Mina?

April 2 2014

It is no big secret that I am obsessed with Michelle Branch as well as with food.  (Although my obsession with MB has dwindled after seeing her perform with drum tracks instead of a real drummer).  So, when the website www.cooktasteeat.com formed, I was instantly hooked.  Michelle and Michael Mina co-hosted a cooking show, available online, for free!  Each week, a new meal was presented, with a video a day.  Their brussels sprout recipe changed David’s opinion of “I don’t like brussels sprouts” to “can we buy the whole stalk of brussels sprouts?”  I won’t mention the Coconut Curry Lobster Pot Pie, as I plan to make an entire post of that delicious endeavor one day.

Michael Mina also has a wine club, which I am currently not rich enough to join, but one day I will be.  As a promotion, he had a competition that asked you to post a picture of your favorite comfort food and wine pairing on his Facebook page.  Dave screamed “red beans and rice” when I told him about this contest.  A difficult dish to pair with a wine, but I did it: Landry Vineyards’ Blueberry Merlot (a local wine).  It’s a semi-sweet wine that works well with the spices in red beans and rice.  Unfortunately, I was a day to late in posting my photo (I thought it ended on March 31st, when in fact, it ended on March 30th).  However, Michael Mina responded to my photo saying that my food looks delicious — that was all the reward I needed!

mina compliments my food

Compliments from a celebrity chef!


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