Monday, November 19, 2012

Quinoa Edamame Salad

When we went to Game 6 of the NLCS, we stopped at the store and got some snacks to eat before the game. We got some quinoa edamame salad (the only gluten free choice) in the deli along with a bunch of other goodies.  After one bite, I knew I had to try to recreate it at home.  Luckily the ingredient list was on the container so it didn't take too much to figure out what I would need.

It is great as a meal or a side dish. I've made this several times and so has my friend.  Last time she also added a can of drained  and rinsed black beans and it was even better!

Quinoa Edamame Salad

1 cup of quinoa, cooked according to package directions and cooled to room temperature
2 cups shelled edamame
2 cups corn kernals
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I use raw goat feta)
1 small red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small jalapeƱo, seeded and minced
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons (at least 1/4 cup)
Salt and Pepper

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Homemade Ghee

I don't know about you, but I have always had an aversion to all foods "diet."  

Diet sugars taste like chemically dirt. 

Diet milk tastes like white water. 

Diet butter tastes like the plastic tub it comes in.

Diet cream cheese tastes like paste. 

Diet desserts taste like their cardboard packaging. 

It just never made sense to me....

Why eat a bunch of diet foods, when you can just eat a small bit of the real food?  If you eat 2 boxes of diet cookies, you are still overeating...

But like every young, overweight girl, I fell prey to the media marketing of girls needing to have a body that looks like an 8 year old boy.  I ate my fare share of everything diet, sugar free, and fat free.  Those foods never satiated my appetite and always left me hungry and craving more food, as well as craving REAL food.

As I got older and started to have so many health problems, I always knew that my problems were somehow connected to diet despite what my doctors were saying.  I spent hours researching about all the harmful pesticides on and in our foods, the genetically modifying of crops, the chemicals, preservatives, and additives that are in so many of our foods.  I really started becoming mindful of what we ate, choosing organic over conventional, as well as drastically reducing the amount of processed foods we ate.  We started eating real foods. 

I found that eating a small portion of real food kept me energized and full for much longer than a large portion of diet foods.

One thing I have always had a love affair with was butter.  Real butter.  


Paula Deen has it right on the butter part for sure. 

Butter became a staple in my kitchen once again.  However, it was used in moderation, just like everything else.

But then the food allergy/intolerance tests came back and I had to eliminate dairy.  

I have felt so much better since going dairy-free, and can definitely tell a difference in my overall health if I have dairy.  Bleh.   I miss cheese and butter. 

But then I hear about ghee. It's butter that has been clarified, thus removing all the milk solids which contain the lactose and casein, which most people are allergic and intolerant to.  I gave it a try and was happy to find out that I was able to tolerate it.  YAY!!!  I could have butter back.  

If you have ever purchased organic ghee from grass-fed cows, you know it can be pretty expensive.  I was paying $7 for an 8 ounce jar at the grocery store.  Ouch! I figured that it couldn't be that hard to make, so I found a recipe and tried it on my own.  

It turned out just as good as the store bought stuff!  I was so happy.  

I followed the DIY Ghee Recipe from Nom Nom Paleo exactly and will make it over and over again. Because I'm so busy and ghee keeps for a long time, I tripled the recipe, using 3 pounds of organic grass-fed butter.  It make a quart size jar, plus filled up my little 8 ounce jar from the grocery store.

Supposedly, you can keep it at room temperature, but I keep it in the fridge just to be safe. 

I was surprised how easy it was to make.  This is one DIY project that is worth the minimal time and effort! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Long Lost Love Affair with Baseball

In a yellow paged photo album hidden somewhere at my mom's house is a picture of me from when I was about 5 years old.  I'm standing in front of my Aunt and Uncle's roses with a giant grin on my face, and a new Gold and Green Oakland A's hat on my head.  

Baseball.  It used to be mine and my dads thing.  He grew up in Seattle, but the A's were his team.  My brother wasn't born until I was 7, so from birth to 7, I was Daddy's girl and did all the boy things with him, like go to the hardware store and watch the games together.  

Every year, when other little girls were going to tea parties and getting manicures for their birthday parties, we were going to baseball games. 

As I got older, my love for baseball grew.  I knew all the players and their stats.  I collected baseball cards.  I had pins and hats and posters and pennants all over my room.  

1989 World Series.  

Battle of the Bay.  

Bash Brothers.

It was an amazing year for Bay Area Baseball, despite the Earthquake.

Where was I during the earthquake?  
Making prank phone calls with a friend to a local grocery store. I didn't even feel it.

I was so jealous of all the kids you saw on TV at the playoffs and World Series games, but I was still glued to the TV.  How often does YOUR team go to the World Series?

Spoiler alert....the A's, not the Giants won that series. 
I was one happy little girl baseball fan. 

Then early 1991, my dad died very suddenly at age 33.  

Words cannot even describe how devastating that was. 

Some days, it's still so painful. 

 I tried to still watch baseball, but love I had for was gone.  

Maybe I only loved it because it was something special I shared with my dad? 

Maybe I really loved it but the void of my dad not being there were too painful?

I love watching sports, I always have. 

I loved watching football (GO 49ers!!!) and Basketball (GO Kings!!!), but baseball just fell to the wayside. 

As I got older, I developed a bitter hatred of baseball.  I couldn't stand to watch it.  I never went to games.  I didn't even like to be around people who liked baseball.  Too many memories. It was a painful reminder that my baseball partner was gone forever.

Then I met Dave.  He played baseball all his life.  He grew up loving the Giants (rivalry relationship in the making?).  For a while he played softball, and I went to his games.  Once we went to an A's game with a group of his co-workers, but I tried to just act like the girl who hates sports and was just there for the beer. We never really watched baseball on TV.  Not sure if that's because of my negative attitude towards baseball or what.  So many of my friends love baseball.  I wanted to love it with them and go to games, but I just couldn't.  My heart wouldn't let me. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I would rather be given experiences and vacations rather than any material possessions.  Birthday and Christmas lists always include trips to Tahoe, Disneyland, or Paris...or experiences like BBQs at the beach, fancy restaurants, or concert tickets.  To me, a thing is nice, but memories last forever.  I know I'm crazy, but hotel reservations get me more excited than jewelry boxes, hahaha!  

(Not that I'm discouraging jewelry boxes whatsoever...Keep them coming!)

So this year, Dave surprised me with tickets to the A's Giants game for my birthday.  Luxury suite tickets, complete with beer and food and sodas.  So cool!

I quietly mentioned how my dad used to take me to the game all the time for my birthday, and I think he felt a little bad.  I don't think i really ever mentioned it.  It was just one of those painful memories that I kept locked deep down in the basement of my heart.  

Did I still want to go?  It was ok if I didn't.  

No, I want to go.  I can't keep living my life like this.  I need to face things instead of keeping them buried.  It's time to start making new memories and enjoying life.  

We went to the game and I had so much fun!  We sat in the suite that we shared with a family.  It was so cute to see the little girls all dressed up in the team gear and stuffing themselves with way too many sodas and hot dogs. It was defiantly an amazing baseball experience, and we had our own private bathroom and our suite had a host who took care of anything we needed!

It was such an emotional night for me.  So many memories at that park.  I did my best not to cry, but I shed a few tears.  Happy tears.  Sad tears.  Healing tears.  

I could do it.  I could enjoy baseball again.  It's not the same, but it's a new chapter of my life, and a new and different way to enjoy it. 

It's different because as much as I was an A's fan in the past, I decided that it is something that needs to stay in my past.  Those memories are in a cherished part of my heart that I want to keep there forever.  I don't want to add to them.  New chapter of my life, new team, new memories.  

We went to a couple more Giants games in the regular season, including the awesome Star Wars Day! Every time, I had so much fun, and I fell in love with baseball all over again.

We were lucky enough to be chosen in the ticket lottery to buy tickets to game 6 of the NLCS.  It had always been a dream to go to a post season ever since watching the 1989 season.  I was so excited.  I was like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time!  

The morning of the game, I packed enough jackets, scarves, and gloves to clothe a small country.  Going to games in the bay area can be so unpredictable.  One minute is sunny and 75* and the next minute the fog rolls in, the wind picks up, and it starts misting.  Bay Area cold is so COLD.  

The drive to the game was pretty uneventful, and just a little bit of traffic.  There was a chance of rain, but the sky couldn't make up it's mind.

We tailgated for a bit before the game.  Nothing crazy.  No grills and tents and seating for 20.  Just the two of us and a cooler and some foods I could eat without getting sick.  

GF Pumpkin Cider
Quinoa Edamame Salad from the good I'm going to make my own knock off recipe

We got to the game just after the gates had opened.  The crowd was a little bit more mellow than I had anticipated.  I think everyone was scared because this was a do or die game.  

I saw this shirt and knew that my girlfriend needed it.  
Saying that she has a crush on him is a drastic understatement.  

We got the orange towels before the game.  You should have seen the cloud of orange lint flying around the stadium when people first started waving them.  

We got to our seats, and had a great view of the field, the stadium, and the bay. 
We may not have been at field level, but at least we could see the entire field!
A close-up of the Post Season Symbol on the Field!

For the National Anthem, they brought out a giant flag that covered much of the field.  It was so beautiful and totally gave me chills, and brought tears to my eyes. 

Earlier I had told Dave how cool it would be if Metallica sang at the game.  I didn't get my wish, but James Hetfield, lead singer of Metallica, came out on the field and got the fans excited and called "Play Ball."  


The fans really got into the game.  There was a guy with a giant mohawk that he dyed orange and black.  Everyone was wearing Giants gear and orange and black, except for 4 lonely Cardinals fans sitting a few rows in front of us.  The atmosphere was electrifying.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.

A tiny, adorable fan!!!

Sunset is so beautiful in San Francisco!

"I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch 'em roll away again"

San Francisco fog rolling down over the top of the stadium
The Giants won.  The crowd was nuts!  And of course, they played one of the best songs ever, just like they do after every game.  I love that song.  It reminds me of my Grandma who grew up in Marin County, and walked the Golden Gate Bridge the day it opened, and adores Tony Bennett and always played him when my mom was a kid and still to this day.  

When we left, all the palm trees were wrapped in orange lights.  We saw the news interviewing people and someone was holding a sign that said JOE BUCK SUCKS. 


I'm so glad to have baseball back in my life.  It's really healed a dark part of my heart. 

To me, it's like hanging out with your best friend from second grade after 20 years of losing contact with them.  It's the same in many ways, but so very very different, but in a good way.

I'm really excited for next season!  Opening day at AT&T park.  Can't wait!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I discovered this adorable tiny little farm stand out in the country when I went to pick  up the last of the chickens from the now closed Soul Food Farms.  

Can we please have a moment of silence?  

I had a nice conversation with the farmer, Michael, and got a little star struck when I found out he sells his produce to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. The little stand is set up on the honor system complete with a scale and a money jar. Love love love! I was so excited to find that they sold organic winter squashes for a really good price. Usually organic anything is expensive, so I had to stock up and walked away with 3 giant spaghetti squashes.

I, like so many other people, have a bad habit of buying winter squashes and letting them sit on the counter until the bottom rots out.  I love them, but they can be time consuming.  I do not have the patience to cook a squash for an hour after I get home from a 12 hour work day.  But not this time.  I immediately cooked it up, ON THE WEEKEND, using my friend's tutorial as a guide.  It came out perfectly and we ate it that night with spaghetti sauce.  

But I still had a ton of squash leftover and no sauce left.  What to do, what to do.  

Normally, I would just put butter and parmesan cheese on the top, but the pesky dairy allergy is keeping that from happening.  Booooo.  

So I searched on all my favorite cooking websites and blogs and finally came across this yummy sounding Spaghetti Squash Casserole from Peas and Thank You.  Doesn't it look mouthwatering? 

I changed it up a bit to fit our tastes and added some organic, grass fed and finished hamburger because it just sounded good.  It was so yummy and made a huge dish.  I made this on the weekend, covered and refrigerated it and then cooked it during the middle of the week.  The leftovers were even better, and I portioned out half of it into single servings and froze them in microwaveable containers for work lunches.  

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Yum!  I want to make this every week!!!

1 large organic spaghetti squash
Coconut oil
1lb organic, grass fed and finished hamburger
1lb sliced mushrooms
15-16 oz tomato sauce (home canned or organic brand)
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
8oz non-dairy cream cheese (organic cream cheese if not dairy-free) 
1/4 c. nutritional yeast (Parmesan cheese if not dairy-free) 
2 c. non-dairy shredded mozzarella cheese (organic mozzarella if not dairy-free) 

Prepare spaghetti squash and set aside.  

Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add coconut oil and melt.  Add hamburger and cook completely and crumble.  Remove hamburger from pan to a bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, add a little bit more coconut oil, if necessary, and cook the mushrooms until they are completely cooked but not yet beginning to caramelize.  Add the hamburger back to the pan with the mushrooms.  Add the tomato sauce, non-dairy cream cheese, and nutritional yeast.  Cook until the cream cheese has melted down and the sauce is warmed throughly.  Turn off heat.  Mix in spaghetti squash and parsley.  Transfer to a large oven safe baking dish (like a 9x13) that has been greased.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and dish is bubbling in the middle.  Makes 6-8 servings.  

If you are making this ahead of time, do not bake.  Just cover and put in the fridge or freezer.  If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge.  Then bake for about 45-60 minutes until bubbling in the middle.