Restaurant Wars

I’m not surprised culinary school made me into a total restaurant snob.

Granted, I know I’ve got a weird food history, but even with that, when you work in food, you can’t help but get peeved sometimes when you know it all little too well. Like I said in my last post, ignorance is bliss.

As a chef, I get asked where the best places to eat around LA are. To be honest, I’m not the best source.

A) I visit the most restaurants when I’m out-of-town, because frankly, I love my cooking and if I can cook, I will!

B) I’m broke

C) I’m a chef (a private chef, but a chef nonetheless) and I work during traditional meal times. So when my friends invite me for lunch or dinner, Im usually at work

D) did I mention I’m broke? and a jew, so I’m cheap!

Ok, so you get the idea. But to be honest, I’m also super picky. Culinary school taught me the ins and outs of how restaurants work. So I have many pet peeves lined up from both as a patron and from the back of the house:

1)  Background music that is blasting. I want to eat, not go to a night club. While euro trash techno beats are cool for a spin class or whatever, they make me uneasy as I chomp on my roast quail. Somehow, loud, obnoxious music stresses me out when I eat!

2) Care to comment? Its awful when waitresses/waiters feel the need to comment on your eating habits when they clear your plate away…”Wow, you ate that fast; you must be hungry!” or “All you’re having is a salad? You must be trying to eat healthy!” or “You must have really liked that burrito, do you want dessert now?”. Why not just say “Oink, oink, ya pig” and be done with it?

3)  Toilet paper dispensers in the restrooms Why do they never work right?? I guess the owner/manager never takes a crap.

4) Custom Menu: I suppose this is more from the food service point of view: don’t try to make up your own menu. The menu is there so you don’t HAVE TO customize your own meal. We don’t have time to change every little thing you don’t like about a particular dish… chose something else than!!! Or if you are going to modify, keep it simple, please. (dressing on the side, no mushrooms, broccoli instead of mashed potatoes are OK, but don’t ask me to create something completely new for you.)

5) Tables that are too close. I don’t need to hear Trixie & Chad break up right next to me while I try to enjoy my salad.  Thats what watching Millionaire Matchmaker is for!

6) Snapping: Just dont! What are you, a king?

7) Tip-Off: The filthy rich people who have the black American Express notoriously tip 10%

8 ) Too Tiny Plates: although a completely minor annoyance, I dislike side salads that are served either on the plate with the entree or in a small bowl, with no room to toss it and the dressing on the side. Trying to get the dressing to evenly coat the salad is futile.

9) Price check? Reciting a loooooong list of specials without mentioning the prices. Gee, I’m sorry, but had I known the salmon was going to be $55, I may not have ordered it, no matter how deliciously it was lapped in a fragile basil reduction.

10) Sticky tables. enough said

 

Lets have it! What are YOUR pet peeves (welcoming both from a patron and server perspective)


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Chocolate Chip Cookies and “Weights and Measures”

Boy wasn’t my last post juicy!

Before I ramble, I wanted to thank you all for your comments on yesterday’s post. Even if you read it but kept silent because perhaps even you are silently struggling with this demon, I hope that at least, as Melie said,  it “struck a nerve” with you. I didn’t mean to say I hate people with eating disorders or that its a “choice”. I think its a disease. My mom had cancer. I didn’t hate my mom, but I hated her cancer. The disorder is not part of the individual.

It would be a little unclassy of me to write about funny pickup lines or what makes me feel stupid after such a heavy post.

So instead, I would like to address some of the comments I received.

Ashley wrote:

“I wanted to ask you how you actually got over the counting/measuring? I tossed both my food scale and other one the other day and have been doing ok without them. It was a big step for me. Any tips as to how to stop the mental tallying? It’s cumbersome, but I feel if I could stop that, I’d be so much further along…”

I think thats an excellent question that even pertains to people without eating disorders. But I will warn you, this is my opinion, everyone is different and somethings work for some and not others but I respect everyone even if they dont agree.

In treatment, I had to measure my cereals and rice, weigh my meats. Its a good step for anyone who needs to gain or loose weight, but lets face it, it makes life suck a little bit. I was always weirded out about putting food on a scale. In culinary school, you MUST use a scale when in the baking courses because an oz of flour is cant be measured by teaspoons or whatever. And baking is a science so you must be exact in that.

But personally (again, some of you may choose to disagree and thats fine too), I dont want my eating habits to be a science. Maybe being obsessed with it so long has made me bored to death of it by now.

SO lets do this is a sort of “step format”:

Step 1: Self assessment

Take a good hard look at your physical health. Are you at a “healthy” weight? I know that question itself is subjective but are you getting your period? Is your hair staying intact (and I don’t mean male pattern balding)? I hate to use the “BMI” scale, but seriously, are you at a very low bmi? My point is, you have to be a stable enough weight to give yourself the “room” to ditch the measuring cups. Because from what I’ve seen, many people loose weight when they try to be intuitive or stop counting. Get yourself to a good weight for you and then consider ditching the counting. In the beginning when I first started treatment, I didn’t have that room. I had to eat a lot to restore the weight and it was only after a few months and with some cleavage that I got the luxury of leaving the measuring cups in the drawer.

Step 2: Cover your bases:

What I mean by this is make sure you have all the components to your meals or snack. Instead of counting calories, I just thought of “bases” I need to cover. Do I have a protein, fat, and carb source in this meal/snack? No need to get anal. If you didn’t have a hunk of protein with dinner, have a protein heavier snack. If you missed a carb, have dessert later. Just keep your day overall balanced. When I first left treatment, I found it weird to not have a “fat source” at breakfast this one time. But I just had a handful of almonds a little later in the day….and speaking of handful…..

Step 3: Get Good at “Eyeballing”

ugh! I hate using the term “eyeball” because its SO Rachel Ray and she annoys me, but what I mean to convey is to get good at estimating a serving of a food. It’s not rocket science and a few extra or more calories that you may or may not consume from the “eyeball” shouldn’t make a significant dent in your weight. So relax! Remember, you should not be at too low or even too high of weight to begin the “no measuring” adventure. So even if you gain or lose a pound, it wont hurt you. I know my bowls that I use at home, and I know how much cereal, yogurt, salad, rice, quinoa, etc fills them when I eat it. I know that a “handful” (I have small hands, mind you) is only about 10 almonds. I think from counting and measuring for so long, I’ve know how much “1 cup” is.

Step 4: Have Set Meals/Snacks: I think if you stick to your meal and snacks, you will have a much easier time ditching the counting. I know, its not exactly intuitive, but it helps. For example, on Tuesdays, I eat my lunch very early because i know I wont be about to eat again until around five. Am I “hungry” for lunch. Not exactly, but I try to stick to a solid eating schedule so I don’t let myself get too hungry. But, even if you have the ability to eat whenever you want, having a stable meal schedule (like a solid sleep schedule) helps!

Step 5. Start eating more things that dont have labels:

Start buying your foods from the farmers market where the only label you see is a price! I think this is the biggest step I’ve taken in the effort to stop counting and even for my overall health. When I was really into my ED, for some reason, things with labels felt “safer” because I knew exactly what was in them. But you want to know the truth, I think the best foods dont have labels and you shouldn’t care whats in them. I don’t count my strawberries or potatoes. I don’t weigh my chicken or fish. I serve myself some, if I want more, I get more. But I’m not scared of eating too many asparagus or eggs (yes, I know eggs actually have labels, but you know what I mean…). I used to eat balance bars but I’ve even ditched those. I make some pretty damn fine homemade cookies that are way better than any bar.

Step 6: Know Thyself:

I know there are some things that I’m terrible with portion controlling. Ice cream being on of them. I can eat it until days end. So what I do is, I go out for ice cream, get a cone or whatever, and thats that. Or I make my own (and its totally more fun to make your own). My point is, know your weak points. Even if you tend to “under-portion”, recognize that. Own it.

Step 7: Cut yourself some slack!

Like I said, its not rocket science. I’m sometime fascinated when I see people act completely nonchalant about food, food intake, calorie, and whatnot. But when you get down to it, its really not all that complicated. Our minds complicate things. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. So although it can be intimidating to eat a piece of un-presliced bread or ordering steak at a restaurant, I kind of like that “not knowing”. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I thought calories was a disease or something. And don’t beat yourself up if you arent ready to ditch your counting and measuring. It takes time, practice, and patience. And if you aren’t ready to stop counting, no biggie. There are worse things in life. I’ll let you in on a little secret though…its not really all about the food.

So lets here it from you! Have you got any tips on how to ditch measuring/counting/weighing? Do you even want to ditch if you are currently doing all those things?

And note: I DO measure indgredients for when I bake or cook certain things (ie, cookies, waffles, pancakes, etc) beause trust me, you can end up with a big mess if you dont sometimes ;

And speaking of cookies…..incase those thin mints turned you off, I got a chocolate chip recipe to turn you on!

  • 1 1/3 c all purpose flour (I did half coconut flour but you can use all coconut flour for a gluten free version)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • two eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combing the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and cream it until it looks like this:

Add the eggs and vanilla and then gradually add the dry ingredients in increments until its all incorporated. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips. Roll into balls and place about two inches apart on your baking sheet (they grow quite wide!). Bake for 10-15 min or until golden and delicious looking.

Mmmmmm……

O wait, lets balance this snack out

I see a mustache in the future....

thats better 😉

Homemade Thin Mints and My Anger at “Thinness”

WARNING: This post is extremely personal and I don’t want to trigger or upset anyone.  I am just speaking from my personal experience and yours might be different. Lets play nice and keep nasty comments to a minimum.

Lately, I’ve noticed how angry I am at some people. At some emaciated looking woman at the grocery store checking the labels of a salad bag. At this woman who was bone thin running in the streets. Even at some blogs. Blogs of some seriously thin girls touting how they a new non calorie sweetener or whatever (mind you, its not like I don’t use splenda, but I’m also not bone thin either).

I suppose this is just anger towards me. I used to be that label checker, that new low calorie food detective, that running girl. But I look back in disgust.

If the “me” from back then looked at the “me” now, she’d call me “fat” and “out of control”.  My food intake used to be VERY meticulous. Always calculated and measured. Exercise was rigid and endless.

But I got tired. Physically and emotionally. It was boring eating the same thing every single day, and lord knows I am not one of those people who get a runner’s high. I’m no longer in denial and seeing other people in denial makes me angry. I want to strangle their eating disorder, rip it to shreds, yell to it “F*** YOU!!!”.

But I’m not some “recovery fairy godmother”. My mission in life is not to go cure every person struggling with a food/exercise issue. As much as I want to yell and preach at those girls I’ve seen, I won’t. I know of they want help, they’ll have to make that decision for themselves. Recovery is a joke unless there is a will.

My roommate from treatment, Michale, was one of the funniest people I’ve met.

This was only the second day after I first met Michale in August of 2008, I was already in the treatment center for about a month and she was my new roommate

She and I would laugh ourselves to sleep. She was from Toronto, and I always made fun of her pronunciation of words like “out” and “about”. Michale was also a big foodie. She loved food (who doesn’t?) and she had good taste. Michale’s eating disorder was stubborn though and no laughing matter.

Actually, my current roommate is in this picture (the hot, middle one). I'm the frumpy one on the left, and Michale is one the right. This was already about two months in treatment. We went to a flea market on our "outing" packed with out afternoon snacks...of course! and PS, check out my cleavage! Yep, you get some nice looking boob action after a few months in treatment!

A year after I left treatment, Michale passed away from complications of her anorexia. She was 28.

When I heard about Michale’s death, I hated her a little. To be honest, I hated everyone who was skinny. I hated myself.  That was when I realized that I don’t want to die and have people think, “well, at least she was thin…”. Michale died for a stupid reason, and there’s no way in hell I’m gonna let that happen to me. For my sake, and for Michale’s memory.

So this is why I get so angry when I see those people walking around, checking labels, running their hearts out when they can barely catch their breath.. This is why I hate reading blogs of people clearly in denial of their issues.

Why did I write this?

Its getting close to the anniversary of Michale’s death and I’ve just had a lot of pent up anger that I wanted to let out. Like I mentioned, I’m no recovery fairy godmother because its not like I’m super cool with food either. But I’m no longer at an unhealthy weight anymore. Because a million things can kill me, but I’m to angry to let thinness be one of them.

What makes you angry? Do things that actually pertain to how you are/used be anger you? How do you feel about “thinness”?

So to go along with my “thin” theme here, I decided to make a rip-off of the Girl Scout thin mints (mind you, I dont lone most dessert-mint things because it reminds me of toothpaste, but these are an exception, they are that good!)

2 1/4 cups sorghum flour (for a gluten free version) or all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup  sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract (you can totally omit this if mint gives you that toothpaste feel)


In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add in the milk and the extracts. Mixture will look curdled. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches (or about 4 cm) in diameter,

I know, its phallic, and yes, I'm that immature....tee hee

wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1/2 an  hour.
Preheat oven to 375F.
You can roll the dough out and make cookie cut outs like me, or, slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick – if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp – and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread very much, so you can put them quite close together.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate. Dip them in melted chocolate (you can microwave chocolate chips or do what I did and do it over a pot of boiling water). Now you can turn down those Girl Scouts because you can make better ones at home!


Oriental Quinoa Salad and Flashback Friday: Romanian Roots

TGIF!!

I used to actaully go to yoga teacher training school in weekends, but since I finish in December, I can finally have two days to relax a bit!

Anyhow, I skipped flashback friday last week so I thought I’d do it this week.

This week’s flashback is to June 2000. I was 13, and my mom’s family decided to do a little family renunion by taking a trip to together to our “root” country. You see, my mom’s family originated from Romania. Most of them fled the country before WWII.

At the time, I was kind of, “Oh god, this will be SO boring! Why do we have to go to Romania!? Can’t we go to Paris like a normal vacation?!”.

But actually, it was a lot of fun.

Granted, my mom’s family is big, so only a sliver ended up going (and we all live in different parts of the world, mind you). My sister, my mom, and I went together. And we were the only ones from the US. My mom’s twin brother came who lives in Israel, and her older brother came (who at the time lived in Australia).

Anyhow, I knew nothing of Romania. Except that my grandmother was born there and that Dracula lived there.

We stayed in Romania’s largest city, Bucharest the first day. It was nice because we stayed in a five star hotel which resembled any other five star hotel in the world.

My mom, my sister, and I in the hilton in Bucharest, the most lavish hotel in Romania

But that was as luxurious as it got. You see, Romania was borderline third world country, or at least still very primitive. Case in point:yea, we saw lots of those! Anyhow, all of my family went on a bus from town to town. We stayed I think in like six different towns. All of them 2 or 3 star hotels. And to translate that into American hotels, thats more like zero stars. We had this lovely hotel guest in front of our room.

At least the milk was fresh...

I’m sure your all wondering how the food was….Was it exciting, exotic flavors, with the top restuarants in the country.

Hell to the no.

The food was awful. I’m sorry to my roots or whatever, but I was not impressed with Romanian food. There was this disgusting, overly fatty soup called “Ciorba” which my cousins quickly dubbed, “Fatty Ciorba”. It seemed like it was served in every single restaurant we visited! I don’t know how it was made, but it seemed to be made out of chicken fat with a little broth a vegetable or two thrown in for some color. Gag!

me and the family, trying to eat that fatty ciorba

We saw a McDonalds in one of the cities we visited, and it was the best Big Mac I’ve ever had.

But all in all, I actually enjoyed seeing primitive lives. I bonded with my mom’s side of the family and discovered a country I would have never considered going to on my own. And the people there were so friendly and kind. We visited the village where my grandfather grew up and the people living there invited us in for tea!

And lord knows those Romanians know how to dress:

No, I'm not in this picture, thankfully

The sad thing about this trip was that it was my mom’s last. You can tell she’s bloated in the picture from chemo treatment and shes actually wearing a wig. She died that December. This trip meant a lot to her and I think she enjoyed herself immensely.

What about you? Where are your roots? For the record, I actually learned on the trip that my family was more Austrian than Romanian because they lived there when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Oh, and of your wondering about my dad’s side, I’m pretty much Polish. Now go make fun of me.

Ok, and now for a recipe thats totally not Romanian!

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water (for quinoa)
  • 1 orange
  • sliced almonds
  • your favorite greens

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce.
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger
  • juice of one orange
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs honey

Put the quinoa in a sieve (strainer), rinse thoroughly under cold water, then tip into a large pan. Pour in cold water to cover and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes, until tender. Drain and leave to cool.

Prep your veggies. Supreme your orange (I dont feel like explaining how to do this, check out how to do it here) and get out your favorite crunch greens.

Make a dressing by mixing the oil, ginger, soy sauce, honey, and citrus juices. 

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again until well mixed. Top with almonds. It looks too healthy I think…..

Flourless Chocolate Glazed Donuts and Things That Make Me Feel Stupid

I think even the brightest, most confident people have moments where they feel incredibly stupid. I consider myself a reasonably smart gal, and one of the most worthwhile things I’ve discovered is how useful it is to make myself feel utterly and completely stupid. I guess I would call it an exercise in humility, but really the best position to gain knowledge is to realize how little of it you have.

So, in the spirit of that I thought I’d reveal to you things that make me feel really, really stupid:

1) The “Did you mean…” feature on google: You type something, you even spell it correctly, and then “know-it-all” google suggests something else. My friend Tiff warned me that everytime I’d google her blog name (“Carbzilla“), google will say, “Did you mean Crabzilla?”. No, google, I did NOT mean Crabzilla, which sounds like a an STD!

2) Going to a Yoga or any exercise class and doing the opposite leg instructed: It makes me feel like I’m four and still learning the difference between right and left.

3) Looking at your wrist when your not wearing a watch: Pretty self-explanatory, and for the record, I don’t wear a watch so I’m pretty much screwed.

4) Not being able to pronounce a word: I know the RIGHT way to say them and they arent even long! Words like “February” and “prescription” (I tend to say “Febyuary” and “perscription”).

5) Math: yep, pretty much any form of math makes me feel like a complete retard.

6) Crossword Puzzles: I’m not even talking about the NY times ones which are notoriously hard, I’m talking about the ones in US weekly.

7) Smart Phones: The fact that my phone is smarter than me weirds me out. And the fact that it knows how to get to kansas from LA and how many calories I’ve eaten weirds me out too. Hence, I opt for a “lame phone”. All it does is call and text.

8) The Apple Store’s “Geniuses”: “Genius” should never even be a term to describe tech support. They may have been those emo tech geeks in high school with some retail experience. And yes, when I bring Mac Daddy in to get fixed, they somehow alway make me feel like I’ve ruined my computer and that I know nothing about technology (they are right about me and technology, but thats irrelevant).

What humbles you down a notch and makes you feel a little stupid (or a lot stupid)?

Today’s recipe is inspired by Deb. When we met up a few weeks ago, I used my savy car salesman tricks and persuaded her to buy a donut pan! So I won’t feel bad that she bought a donut pan, a created a recipe for her using some of her favorite ingredients (mainly, coconut flour):

  • 1 cup coconut flour (for a non deb version, use all purpose flour)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze:

  • 1/2 chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray donut pan with non stick cooking spray.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl.

Whisk yogurt, milk, egg, oil and vanilla together in a separate small bowl. Combine all at once with dry ingredients and stir only until everything is moistened.

Spoon batter into pastry bag or quart-size zippered plastic bag.  Seal. Snip small corner of plastic bag and force dough out of hole in a fat rope that encircles each doughnut cup. Fill only 1/2 to 3/4 full or you will lose the hole in the middle of your doughnut. Makes 12 donuts and possibly 3-4 “donut holes” in a mini cupcake pan. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

After removing from the oven, immediately flip pan and dump doughnuts out on a towel or rack. Allow to cool. Once cooled, heat up he chocolate chips with the butter over a pot of simmering water. 

Once all is melted, dunk your donuts.

fat, ugly fingers I own

Allow for the glaze to harden before you take a bite. Go ahead, I dare you! 

Chocolate Chip Waffles and “Hiccups”

I taught my cooking class today at local elementary school.

Don’t close your browser yet, this isn’t a “this is what I did today!” post.

No, I basically taught 1st to 5th graders for an hour with hiccups the whole time! I didn’t even have a Dr. Pepper (diet, of course, I’m not THAT recovered?). I tried to hide it, but after attendance, they spotted it and started laughing hysterically.

It was difficult for me to wrangle the kids back and try to maintain some authority without being all “Ms. Trunchbull”. Anyhow, I’m going off topic. What is my topic? Hiccups!

Not real hiccups though, more like mishaps and bloopers.

I’ve had so many bloopers in culinary school, I can’t even begin to tell you. And not to brag or anything, but I’m surprised I had a 4.0 there. I was on the honor roll (yes, at least in well respected culinary schools, there is such a thing) but I’ve goofed up so many times.

Before I even started culinary school, I researched what I should look out for. Here’s an abridged version of the “hiccups” commonly made in culinary school:

1.You don’t taste as you go
2.You don’t read the entire recipe before you start cooking
3. You make unwise substitutions in baking.
4. You boil when you should simmer.
5. You overheat chocolate.
6. You over-soften butter.
7. You overheat low-fat milk products.
8. You don’t know your oven’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.
9. You’re too casual about measuring ingredients.
10. You overcrowd the pan.
11. You mishandle egg whites.
12. You turn the food too often.
13. You don’t get the pan hot enough before you add the food.
14. You slice meat with the grain instead of against it.
15. You underbake cakes and breads.
16. You don’t use a meat thermometer.
17. Meat gets no chance to rest after cooking.
18. You try to rush the cooking of caramelized onions.
19. You overwork lower-fat dough.
20. You neglect the nuts you’re toasting.
21. You don’t shock vegetables when they’ve reached the desired texture.
22. You put all the salt in the marinade or breading.
23. You pop meat straight from the fridge into the oven or onto the grill.
24. You don’t know when to abandon ship and start over.
25. You use inferior ingredients.

And I’m guilty of every. single. one.

And although cooking is an art, in many ways, its totally not. There are no mistakes, or “hiccups” in art. There are definitely mistakes in cooking (at least in professional cooking). Although I’ve written about how much I embraced Julia Child’s philosophy in regards to cooking “hiccups”, you can only be so cutesy and put things back together so far. Cookies that resemble coal suck, over salted soup makes some people gag (no to mention blood pressure to soar), and your “toasted” nuts set off the fire alarm.

But shit happens. Unlike art, you can recreate you “art” when it comes to cooking. A painting is pretty unique. But if you follow a recipe, you can recreate something and learn from your hiccups. The first time I made angel food cake in my baking class, the middle of the cake sunk, making what looked like a spongy crater. I dont think I folded the egg whites correctly. I had a drill sergeant of a chef at the time that yelled at me, “What’s this piece of shit?”. I kind of wanted to cry, but I knew I could do better. Sure enough, I did it again for the final and got an A. I got a B- on my sourdough, but that’s a different story.

Whats you biggest “hiccup” that happened to you in life or in the kitchen or in life?

And here’s another hiccup I made. I forgot to take photos of me making these waffles. O well, next time right?

  • 1 1/2 cups ground almonds or almond meal
    1/2 cup buckwheat flour (or All Purpose flour)
    pinch salt
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup  chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    4 tblsp canola oil or melted butter
    3/4 cup non-dairy milk  (up to 1  1/4 cups milk depending on your equip)
    1 tblsp sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup or sweetener of choice

Super simple! Mix together wet and dry ingredients, fold in chocolate chips and follow instructions according to waffle maker instructions. 

Broccoli Slaw Spring Rolls and Beating Bloggers Block

I think its that time of the week. Stuff bloggers dont talk about.

And actually, some do address it when it happens to them. Bloggers block.

You’ve been there. You sit down, ready to write the next killer blog post, only to have your mind go totally blank (or you end up with your face on the keyboard like Mr. Teddy). Then, your brain clutters up with fluffy thoughts of melted chocolate, lust-inducing facebook messages, puppies, and unicorns. (Or is that just me?)

Even if you don’t blog, you know the agony and frustration of losing the words you want to write.

Its awful because I often get flashbacks to those day’s where I had to churn out papers in college. I mean, its MY blog! It should not feel like a mandatory credit I need fulfill!

Anyhow, I thought I’d dispense some advice for beating bloggers block. I’m no expert, but I’ve realized I’ve blogged nearly everyday since I started. Here’s what I can offer:

1) Yep, Lower your Standards: I know, that sounds awful, but blogs (well, most blogs) aren’t novels, so don’t start a post by worrying about being perfect, insightful, original, or even grammatically correct. Begin with a shitty first draft. Let yourself write a big stinking pile of poo. Good writing, like good design, is a process of iteration and editing.

2) Get by with a little help from your friends: Blogging doesn’t have to be a solitary journey. Run headlines or ideas by your friends, and ask what they think. Chances are, they’ll point out new ideas and angles you’ve missed. For example sometimes, Sophia and I will run some ideas by one another. She’s a blogger that has a similar theme to mine plus, shes wise and hilarious.

3) Mix it up: Change up your standard format. I think the reason I’ve blogged nearly daily is that I have no format! The only format I retain is that I just blab in the beginning and have some sort of recipe. But there a bunch of different types of blog posts you can try out. A rant, review, an interview, a list (we all know I abuse that one…), a satire, an open letter, etc. I love that how one day, I’ll write something gut wrenching about recovery or my dad’s health, and the next I’ll talk about Tuna Helper!

4) Piggy-back: If you see something written on another blog and you want to expand or maybe give your take on it, go for it! Give the blogger credit though. I’m beyond flattered when I get a pinback! Seriously, I take those as bigger compliments than, “You food looks SO yummy!” or “Your so gorgeous” (which is debatable).

5) Read Comments: I have yet to know a blogger that doesn’t read their comments, even if they get hundreds. I personally love insightful comments (even when you think your writing a novel). It shows that you read what I wrote and that it sparked your brain. And often, the comments are great places for ideas for future posts.

6) Write about someone other than yourself: maybe interview a reader (NOT a blogger) or maybe about a certain blogger that inspired you. I hate to say it, but sometimes, I get bored of blogs because its very “me, me, me” which is interesting, but it can get a little dull after a while. Yes, most blogs are a mostly about the bloger publishing it, but sometimes its cool to maybe talk about someone else.

7) NPR and Podcasts: Never underestimate the power of podcasts or NPR to get your mind going. I listen to podcasts when I’m driving, which can be a risky thing if I’m constantly compelled to jot down notes about what I’m hearing. I think I compose especially good blog posts when I totally disagree with a podcaster and formulate a detailed response to their points. (PS, I suggest “Fresh Air” with Teri Gross, “This American Life” with Ira Glass, or “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”. all are great radio and podcasts.)

8) Don’t Force It: Who says you have to blog non-stop or even every day? Hit up a yoga class, go to the movies, take a vacation, and spend time with your loved ones. After all, doing real meaningful things is what inspired you to blog in the first place. If you don’t blog today, the world doesn’t end. To be honest, I get relieved when bloggers don’t post constantly because when I have the time to do my blog reading, I’m not feeling totally lost and like I have heaps of posts to catch up on.

Do you ever suffer from bloggers block? How do you deal?

So to stick with my “format” here’s today’s recipe!

I remember making spring rolls in my Garde Manger (I don’t feel like explaining what “Garde Manger” means, so just click on the link) class in culinary school. I was stationed near a girl that was originally from Vietnam and she made my rolls look like something three year olds play with. Today at work, I was working solo so mine didn’t look like crap because there wasn’t some pristine, 100% asian springroll nearby. Here’s what I used (you can add or subtract any of the ingredients! thats the beauty of spring rolls…very versatile!):

Rehydrate the rice paper wrappers in water. You dont want to let them soak for too long (over a few minuets) because they are prone to rip. Pour some hoisin sauce over the broccoli slaw in a separate bowl and set aside. Peel your cucumber (I like using a peeler to get nice, thin curls). Place down your shrimp in the center, then the slaw, and top with your cucumber. Fold over the top of the filling, turn in the corners, and roll it up to seal. Stand next to someone who’s not Vietnamese and they might look semi decent….