Binge Watching to Wellness

Out sick today...
credit: Diane Main

This summer cold had best kick itself by Thursday, because not only do I have an appointment with another surgeon at 10am, but it’s my first official evening at Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival! Last year, I ate, drank and was thoroughly merry throughout my 2-day adventure, but this time, I’m going bigger and longer: Four days, four events, all of them huge. I’ll be tag-teaming with Tanaya again and hopefully some other food bloggers will be found in the melee. It’s a huge event I’ve been looking forward to all year, and no cold is going to stop me!

In the meantime, however, I’ve had the task of keeping myself occupied while trying to recover. I can only focus on work so much, needing longer periods of time to just zone out or rest. Here is what I’ve been doing to keep myself occupied while still getting rest:

  • Made chicken stock. OK, a bit labor intensive BUT I had all of my vegetable scrapes separated and in a reused container, ready to go and get roasted along with the chicken carcass in my fridge. The filtering process at the end was a bit of a chore, but I used a second wind to get it done. Now I have lovely, flavorful homemade chicken stock in case I need some homemade chicken noodle soup.
  • Re-watching The 10th Kingdom. In one day. Whew. My love for Scott Cohen, Dianne Wiest and fairy tales kept me powering through that one.

  • Going through photos that need to be edited, chucking out the crap photos. I don’t feel right enough in the head to actual edit, seeing as I do not have all of my wits about me. But this is a good head start.
  • Goofing around with my Attack on Titan Nendoroid figures:
  • Organizing the living room. Mom has been painting and move furniture in preparation for our forthcoming sofa (insert squeal of excitement here), but I have been picking up the smaller stuff and putting it back into order, like shelving books properly.
  • Eating a mega-fuck ton of spicy food via Yunnan Garden, as recommended by Minty.


  • Playing a lot of Dragon Coins. Like, an embarrassing amount.
  • Creating immune-boosting green drinks. If you have a recipe of your own, please leave me the ingredients in the comments!
  • Reading. I’d wanted to whiz through A Song of Ice and Fire this summer, but I’ve been slowly trudging the third book, as it’s packed with all sorts of high’s and lows I will need ample time to savor/recover from. I have also been re-reading The Nightrunner Series, by Lynn Flewelling; she concluded the series this year (thankfully I have not read the last two, so there are still some surprises awaiting me!).
  • and of course, what sure-fire way to a full recovery would be complete without:

  • BINGE WATCHING TO WELLNESS! Time to plow through titles in my Netflix queue and on my DVD shelf. On the agenda today & tomorrow:
  • – Clueless
    – Sushi: The Global Catch
    – Pollyanna, my go-to “I am sick, help me, mummy!” movie I always watch when I’m under the weather.

    Adventures of Baron Munchausen ~ My brother always played Terry Gilliam movies when I was not feeling well, and between this one and Time Bandits, I think a nice nod to Robin Williams is in order.



    – Somm
    – Lewis Black: Old Yeller
    – Center Stage ~ Ugh. It’s horrible, but I love it.
    The Babysitters Club TV series ~ I am morbidly curious if it holds up.


    OK, the jury is out on this one.

    – I am Divine
    – Malcolm in the Middle
    – Manor House / 1900 House / Regency House (PBS series)


    I think this is a great start!

    What do you watch when you’re sick? Do you have any recommendations for me?



    featured image credit Anna Gutermuth

    Steffie at the Hitchin’ Post

    IMG_1737
    credit: Brian Jeffery Beggerly


    I’ve been quiet around here for a few reasons, chiefly that my best girl from high school, Miss Steffie Love, is getting herself hitched this Tuesday evening. I’m over the moon happy for her and her intended, and have been busy scrambling to prepare myself for what will be my third wedding of this year, and fifth go as a member of the wedding party. Please hang tight, dear readers ~ and send my girl Steffie all of your best wedlock wishes!


    Recipe: Tonnarelli with Chef Vic Casanova

    Tonnarelli by Vic Casanova

    Tonnarelli with Chef Vic Casanova


    WHEW! This week has been busy, and next week will be even busier. I still have Tacolandia to report on, and a lot of mouth-watering features on the horizon, so keep a lookout! So, in a previous life (career) I was a nanny, and much like the might garden weed, children grow up, as mine have. Today, the youngest of a family I nannied for turned 16. I’m ecstatic to still be part of their lives, even if they are (nearly) grown-up and able to take care of themselves. Now, I’m off to again to assist bride Steffie with some last-minute DIY assemblage for her gift bags, then back home to prepare for my own birthday festivities. July has always been my busiest month of the year!


    Chef Vic Casanova

    Let’s give a warm welcome to guest Vic Casanova, Executive Chef and Owner of West Hollywood’s Italian eatery, Gusto, has always been committed to using the best of ingredients and hand-making each of Gusto’s six pastas for eight hours every day. As a chef and businessman, being a father always takes precedent in his life, and in the midst of preparing to open his second restaurant this summer and experiencing the warm months with his 3-year-old daughter and newborn son, Chef Casanova loves being able to cook and spend time with his family simultaneously. As a perfect summer dish, and his daughter’s favorite meal, Chef Casanova would love to share his recipe for Gusto’s infamous Tonnarelli, complete with parmigiano reggiano and the summer months’ freshest tomatoes and basil.


    Tonnarelli
    with Tomatoes, Basil, & Parmigiano Reggiano

    Courtesy of owner/executive chef Vic Casanova

    Ingredients:

    San Marzano Tomato Sauce

    ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large onion, finely minced
    6 garlic cloves, finely minced
    1 t crushed red pepper flakes
    2 t chopped fresh oregano
    ½ medium carrot, finely minced
    2 28-ounce cans peeled san marzano whole tomatoes, passed thru a food mill
    20 basil leaves, hand torn
    ¾ c parmigiano reggiano, grated
    ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, high quality finishing oil
    Kosher salt to taste

    Fresh Tonnarelli

    2 cups caputo “00” pasta flour, plus more as needed
    4 large eggs
    ⅓ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

    Instructions:

    San Marzano Tomato Sauce

    1.In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and cook until translucent.

    2. Add the oregano and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.

    3. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt.

    Fresh Tonnarelli

    1. Measure 2 full cups of unsifted flour and add it all in the bowl of a food processor; process for a few seconds to aerate.

    2. Mix the eggs with the salt in a separate bowl.

    3. With the food processor running, quickly pour in all the eggs through the feed tube. Process continuously, as a dough forms and gathers on the blade and cleans the side of the bowl. If the dough does not come together or clean the bowl after 30 seconds or so, stop the machine, scrape down the sides, and sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons more flour.

    4. Process for a few more seconds – and add more flour if necessary – until a fairly firm ball of dough forms.

    5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute or more, until it is smooth and firm. If it’s at all sticky, incorporate more flour as you knead. Press the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour. Cut the dough in four equal pieces.

    6. Roll each piece through a pasta machine at progressively narrower settings, to form long wide strips, about 1/8 inch thick (no thinner) and as wide as your machine allows. If the strip grows longer than the strings of your tonnarelli, cut it crosswise into two shorter strips.

    7. To cut the tonnarelli, lay a strip of dough over the strings of a chitarra. Using gentle but constant pressure, roll your pin lengthwise up and down the pasta, so the strings cut it cleanly into strands of tonnarelli that fall onto the tray of the chitarra. Dust the freshly cut strands with flour, and gather them into a loose nest on a floured tray. Cut all the strips into tonnarelli, and collect them in floured nests.

    8. Leave the tray uncovered at room temperature until you are ready to cook the pasta. To cook, bring to boiling a large pot of well-salted water (at least 6 quarts with a tablespoon or more of salt). Using your hand or a colander, shake excess flour off the nests of tonnarelli and drop them into the pot. Stir and separate the strands as the water returns to a rolling boil, then cook the pasta for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just before al dente.

    Tonnarelli

    Finishing Touches:

    1. Add cooked pasta & ½ c water from the pot that cooked the pasta to the 3 qt. pot with cooked tomato sauce.

    2. With the heat on medium, keep moving the pasta in the pot to ensure it absorbs the sauce. When sauce is clinging to the pasta turn off the heat.

    3. Add basil, parmigiano reggiano and mix well while slowly adding extra virgin olive oil. Then season to taste.


    Buon appetito!

    High-Five Friday



    1. Anime Expo

    I’ve not glanced at the largest anime convention in North America since 2008, when I attended for one day to co-host the Jrock Events in honor of one of my favorite musicians. Over the last 10 months, though, my momentum and interest in what was once an annual tradition for me kept gaining speed until finally I solidified plans to attend on Saturday. That doesn’t mean I haven’t already been down there – twice – to accompany friends and pick up a badge for a friend meeting me tomorrow. Anime Expo has always been large, but this year is reminiscent of Comic-Con 2006, the last SDCC I attended due to overbearing crowds and little to no progress in getting to the events I wanted to get to. I have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn tomorrow just to give myself ample time for the line of the Sailor Moon panel. Not something I am looking forward to, but a small price to pay to capture a bit of nostalgia.

    2. SAILOR MOON!

    Tomorrow is the world debut of Sailormoon Crystal, the official re-boot anime of the classic magical girl anime. While Sailormoon was not my first anime by any means, it was the anime that made me propel myself head-first into the world of Japanese pop culture. Words can’t even begin to capture what Sailor Moon means to me and how infinite my love for her world is and will always be.


    3. Central Air Conditioning

    Enough said.



    4. Trying new things

    Ever since starting Glass of Win and getting into my kitchen to really learn how to cook, I’ve broadened my palate by leaps and bounds. Still, there are certain foods I’ve yet to try, either out of wariness or lack of opportunity. Last week I had the opportunity to try chicken feet – something I never had the desire to try. I’ll be honest, I disliked it, but better I try and know then wonder if I am missing out on something.


    5. Mushy, junky TV

    As much as I love to tackle big reading during the summer, I also like to let my brain rest and turn a bit to mush with the worst kind of television imaginable. I only binge a couple of times a year on crap like this (honestly, shows I am too shamed to even name here!), and am only sorry I am not sorry about it!

    A Taste of Summer

    Summer is for


    August Sunset over the San Gabriel Valley
    Sunsets that look like paintings…

    A Morning in Highland Park
    Discovering a new summer drink…

    Highland Park
    Midweek movie deals…

    Home Grown
    Fresh fruit off the vine…

    My Parasol and I
    Parasols…

    Bee on Rose
    Stopping to smell the roses…

    Birthday Kebabs
    Backyard barbecues…

    Going Cukoo
    Flea markets…

    White Sangria
    Mother effing sangria!


    What does summer mean to you?

    High-Five Friday


    This week has been a roller-coaster of highs and lows. There is a lot of preparation for my upcoming surgery, including an out-patient procedure on the 24th of July just to get a better idea of how my heart and liver pressures are doing, and that pre-op running around has me running ragged and frazzled. As this is all happening less than one year of another surgery, and less than 3 years from another surgery that took 7 months to heal from due to complications, you can guess exactly how thrilled I am and how difficult it may be for me to come up with another list of positives. The point is to try, though!

    TACOS!


    1. TACOLANDIA

    Tacolandia and the LA Street Food Festival wound up being scheduled on the same day. I received a media ticket to both, so I had to make a Sophie’s Choice with a good, old fashioned and impartial coin flip. Then a pro/con list, because I am not neurotic enough. Tacolandia won out because I’d already attended LASFF three times, and it isn’t as easily accessible by public transit. If I’m in town during LASFF next year, though, I’ll be sure to make that event my priority. Whichever event you choose, I hope you have a fabulously delicious time! I can’t wait for the taco-laden fiesta.


    2. HOUSE-SITTING

    Is it cheating if I mentioned this last week? …No. Dog and house-sitting is going well so far, and I’ve already fired up the grill twice and had both Evan and my sister in law over (separately) for a nice summer dinner. Having to care for the dog gives me a new appreciation for my slightly more independent cats, although I relish the fact that I can leave food and cords out without worrying about an animal leaping up and mercilessly devouring both.

    3. DATING…KINDA

    I kept it fairly under wraps, but at the end of last summer, I had a decent sized heartbreak. I’ll not go into details, but suffice to say, I felt no desire to date for a while. I tried again a couple of nights ago, and while I don’t think I’ll be pursuing the gentleman I went out with, the point is I went out there and did it. Woot, vulnerability.

    4. MY GP IS RETIRING

    Not really something in and of itself I’d like to give a hefty high-five to, but I did make an appointment with him under the guise of checking out my still healing finger, when in reality, I plan to say goodbye. Most people, as in people not chronically ill, list their GP as their primary physician, whereas all of my GP’s have kind of been the doctor I see the least. Dr. H has always been a god sport, and taken care of all of the run-of-the-mill ailments that luckily do not plague me as often as my more pressing health issues do. I’m sad he is retiring, and a bit more than nervous about having to break in a new GP (I’ll probably see one of his partners, who is my mom’s GP, since she’ll have some notion of my health from having undoubtedly heard it from my mom), but I want to give the man my thanks before he settles into retirement for good.


    Shrimp Bhuna - Electric Lotus
    Shrimp Bhuna from Electric Lotus

    5. SHARING IS CARING

    Monday was bad. Very bad. After a breakdown at the doctors, mom took me to dinner and I finally had the wherewithal to remember that one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Electric Lotus, is on the way home. My sister and I went there years ago and have been singing its praise ever since. It moved to a neighboring spot last year, but it still serves up some of the finest Indian cuisine Los Angeles has to offer. I stuck with my same old, shrimp bhuna, while mom went balls to the wall with garlic chicken tikka, lentils and bhindi masala (okra) – plus garlic naan, rice and vegetarian samosa. It was an all out feast, and judging by the way she is still going on about the food, it won’t be long before we’re back.


    How was your week? What are you looking forward to in the coming days?

    High-Five Friday!



    I have been trying to get my shit together to start this series for, oooohhh, about two months now. This is sort of a mash-up between “Things I love Thursday” and “The Friday Five”, which after a little research, seems to be fairly open to interpretation. Sometimes it’s always really easy to micro-focus on the negatives and obsess over the stressors in our lives, but I’m hoping High-Five Friday will help teach me how to stay focused on the positive. Five reasons I’m looking forward to the future rather than dreading it.

    Ready? Here we go:


    1. Steffie’s Hen Party in San Diego

    An event I’ve been both dreading (financially, alcohol-themed shenanigans, the stress of co-piloting an event) and looking forward to at the same time. We leave in a couple of hours, and I know I am going to have a good time if I allow myself to have a good time. Tonight will kick things off the right way, with a reservation at Lips San Diego dinner and drag show. Nothing will perk up my mood more than a fabulously bawdy drag queen possibly embarrassing the hell out of my best friend.

    2. Cleaning

    Cleaning is very cathartic, and this week I tackled my room once more. Having a floor I can actually see and walk on without tripping over piles of clean clothes I was too lazy to put away is awesome. Now if I can tackle all of the little piles of clutter, THEN I’d feel super powered.

    3. Cool Summer Haircut

    My sister, shortly after becoming my sister, turned to me one summer and asked, “Hey, do you wanna buzzcut?” To which I replied, “Sure, why not?” What followed was a series of undercuts I received for several summers to help thin out my luxuriously thick locks, to help keep the summer heat off of me. I decided to embrace the long hair undercut again and have had no regrets.

    4. House/Dog Sitting Adventure

    Next week I embark on my annual dog/house-sitting adventure, which means I get to play house and enjoy cable TV, a stocked fridge and a grill any master chef would be proud to barbecue on. It’s going to be awesome.

    5. Summer Cook-Outs!

    Piggy-backing off #4, I am looking forward to tackling many new dishes this summer and mastering all of them. Among them: Grilled octopus, Boiling Crab dupe recipe for “The Whole She-Bang” shrimp, pizza on the grill, and the perfect potato salad.


    Do you have anything to high-five about? Share in the comments!