Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stir-frying and a neat breakfast!

Last night I decided to try a stir-fry recipe that a friend pointed out to me. It turned out wonderfully and is something that will be done again in our place.

The recipe is to be found on Heidi Swanson's blog 101 Cookbooks, which is a favorite of mine. It's the Asparagus Stir-fry Recipe. If you have time, look through her recipes, they are great! Don't expect precise measurements, or directions, BUT it's an awesome place for original recipes.

So, it reminded me that I had not talked about stir-fry much. I rarely stir-fry with a recipe since to me, a stir-fry is a "take whatever you have a throw it together" kind of dish. Kind of like a soup. Still there are a few things that I've learned along the way (most of the time the hard way AH!).

First thing to remember is that a stir-fry is all about preparation. You need to make sure that your ingredients are dry, you want to stir-fry, not steam. You also want to make sure that the size your cut your ingredient into will insure an even cooking.

Here I am cutting Tofu:

Another thing about Tofu is that you want to drain it and press it well. Wet Tofu is mushy tofu, and there's nothing I hate more than mushy tofu in a stir-fry. Yuck!

Draining, well, you drain the water... DUH! Pressing takes a little time, but it's totally worth it.

1- I put my block of tofu on a few layers of paper towel, folded the paper towel over to cover the tofu, put a heavy book on top or a plate.

2- Turn after about 20 minutes, let sit another 20 minutes or so.

3- Remove from the paper towel and cut into shapes. It's also a good prep to marinate tofu to bake!

So after this hopefully helpful tofu lesson, lets get back to stir-frying:

Note that not only do I prepare everything in advance, but I have everything within reach. That's very important because once you start, everything happens really fast!

I use a non-stick wok because I want to use little oil (I do use some though!) and I hate cleaning. it's that simple. Purist will say that you need to use a "real wok", to them I say whenever you offer to come and clean for me, I will.

Cooking is where the magic happens, your wok has to be hot, and things need to keep moving.

You don't want to overcook the vegetables, they just have to be crisp tender which is why you usually cook the meat/tofu first, and then take them out, cook the veggies, and add the proteins back in at the last minute.

So there you have it stir-frying for the clueless (like me) who didn't know a thing about it. ;op

I cannot leave without bragging a little about this morning's breakfast. I've been in an oatmeal phase, but today I just didn't wanna. I looked in the fridge and found inspiration in there.

Here's my breakfast:

Looks neat doesn't it? It's nothing fancy, leftover couscous, chopped spinach, red bell pepper, and a lightly scrambled egg (which was supposed to be an over-easy egg, but shit happens He he he).

It was delicious, and I think pretty. I just had to brag a little!

Be good n stuff!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Wednesday!

It's Wednesday and I got to go back to the Farmer's Market at the Civic Center. As much as I love the Embarcadero Farmer's Market (Tuesday and Saturday) at the Ferry Building, it's not a place that I can afford to shop at every week. After asking a few people, and looking it up on, I decided to give the "Loin Market" a try.

I got myself a new smaller basket (easier on the bus), added a Trader Joes Shopping bag (those are the BEST!) and off I went.

Now the Civic Center is pretty much in the Tenderloin. Today I walked from the Weight Watchers Center on 1st street to the Farmer's Market. I swear you walk on Market Street, and it's like 5th Street is a gateway to another world. A very sad messed up world. San Francisco has two speed, full tilt and not going anywhere. :o( I could go on, but that is not the subject at hand here...

Back to the market:

That's about the nicest spot in the entire thing. Yeah the place stinks a little, some dude is selling live chickens from the back of a truck, and the fragrance coming out of that truck gives a whole new vibe to the neighborhood.

The first two times I went (these pictures are from the first time I went actually) I went in the morning, every stand was full, the crowd was very nice and tame. Vendors were happy and willing to talk, explain, make some deals... If you can, go in the morning it's much much nicer.

Today I went in the afternoon, just before closing and found a very different market. There were a lot of homeless people begging and getting in troubles. There was also more people who were there just to hang out. Lets just say that the food wasn't the center of attention. There were also a LOT of pickpockets hard at work.

Doesn't sound too interesting does it? I love the place! Just need to go in the morning. The prices are a lot cheaper than the Embarcadero (or the Sonoma County Farmer's Market I must say) and you find a lot of produces that aren't that easy to find usually. Lemon grass in huge bunches, some sort of squash that I have no clue what they are.

I like this little herbs and vegetables plants vendor. So funny, if you're buying, you can't find him, if you aren't, he's all over the place!

My husband's ideal hangout! The Mushroom stand! They have everything and anything there. I haven't bought anything yet (cause my husband won't LOOK at mushroom, much less eat them), but I'm planning on experimenting a bit soon.

So the Market goes all the way to Market Street. The closer you get to Market, the higher the price. It's really funny, the oranges go from 65 cent/lb to $1.25/lb as you go.

The stand you see on the left here (above) is my main stop. Not sure his stuff is organic, but it's cheap, and tasty, and the guys working there are easy going (again, better in the morning!).

Here's what I bought on my first trip! All that for about $20 and I could have saved more, I didn't know the different stands.

So, this market is my weekly stop. Yes it's dirty, stinky, and the crowd there is... original, but the prices are unbeatable and if you go in the morning, the vendors are very helpful and "happy".

I also like that the vendors aren't pushy, and that the crowd isn't impatient. I like to pick my own veggies and take my time choosing, that's part of the fun of going to the Farmer's Market. At the Ferry Building, you get the memo pretty quick to either buy or get out of the way.

Warning: If you go to that Farmer's Market, check your belonging. Also, stay away from the fountain as it's a hangout spot for the "Loin crowd".

Be good n stuff!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

So we moved...

So we moved, and survived! I've been meaning to post about this for a month now, but I needed to take a breather from everything, work, blogging, thinking... Everything!

This week is back to reality week, so I thought I'd start with catching up on my blogging!

We moved from a 2 floor, 2 bedroom condo in Rohnert Park to a 1 bedroom flat in San Francisco. Sounds sad doesn't it? We LOVE IT. We're close to the beaches, in the neighborhood we both love (Richmond District rocks!) far away from the traffic, but within walking distance of everything. I think it's the best decision we've taken since we got married!

This being said, it doesn't mean it was an easy process. I'm still shocked at the amount of stuff you can accumulate in 5 years. It was ridiculous.

We had planned to move in June, but found an apartment in February (in by March 1st!) so we had to pack in a hurry. It was pretty traumatic, but we did it. I think the pets are still recovering. Here's Grace and Leo trying to comfort each others amid the madness:

We hired movers, Corrib (a bunch of Irish guys, with lovely accent), and the did a fantastic job of emptying the house, and bringing everything up to the 3rd floor apartment. The poor guys wouldn't believe the amount of books we had!

We were happy to "be moved" until we looked around our little apartment. Here's what it looked like after the movers left:

To say that we were intimidated by the pile of stuff is certainly an understatement. I had hoped to be all done the following night. Yeah right! We still have a few boxes left...

One thing we had decided on from the start was to get ourselves drawer dressers for our clothes. The one we had were Goodwill leftovers, and they were as much of a pain to work with as they were ugly. So we ordered from Sears. What we got was nice and fine, but the packaging was HORRIBLE. We're still finding those little freakin' Styrofoam balls everywhere. I'm sure Leo has been pooping them all month.

I'm sad to say that the company making those dressers is from Quebec. We usually have a little more pride in our work back home!

The pets have now adjusted to the new place. It's too small for Leo to burn his super-hyperactive self, but he's slowing down gradually. We do play with him a lot.

Grace is loving San Francisco. We go to the beach regularly, she walks more in a day here than she did in a week in Rohnert Park. I take her everywhere with me. She's now very used to waiting for me outside shops and markets. She sits quietly and don't even jump when bus go by.

During the move she did have a few nervous moments. She finally crashed when we found her beds and cleared a space for them. I think she slept like a whole hour straight!

Gaya has moved many times in her 11 years of life. When I lived in Rimouski (Quebec) we used to move twice a year almost every year!Then all the way to San Francisco (pretty much coast to coast), then Sonoma County and now back in the city. She didn't enjoy it, but she was up and about, exploring the new place in no time.

Leo is another story. My little hyperactive, fearless monster is the one who took the move the hardest. It didn't help that at first we were getting annoyed with his antics. After a few days I realized that the poor fuzzball was actually really stressing out.

From that point on, I made a special effort to give him a lot of play time and cuddle time. I think it really helped. He's now well adjusted and has made peace with the new place. He still runs like an idiot, but that's Leo being Leo, not a nervous reaction anymore. He's not even a year old yet, I'm not expecting him to slow down anytime soon.

He does stop every once in a while, and generally in the weirdest places. That's him hiding from the commotion when we were opening boxes and putting stuff away:

As for us we really are happy. I've been roaming the Farmers Markets, enjoying shopping at Chico (produce market) and the other little markets around. I've hit Kamei and Ichiban Kan more than I should have but I'm loving this.

I'm also walking a lot more and spending a lot of time outside. Strangely I didn't do that in Sonoma County. Here I can breathe!

My husband is happy as can be. I don't think he ever got used to Sonoma County, he hated it and has been dreaming of coming back from the time we settled in at the condo. He even had his breakfast at Joes the first week I went to work my Sunday am meeting!!!

We wake up to the sound of the fog horns, the smell of the sea breeze and the bangs and clangs of Leo slowly destroying everything we own. What else can we ask for? He he he

Be good n stuff!!