shopping carts

I’ve always wondered why some people don’t put carts in the cart corrals. Some excuses could be reasoned, though not necessarily be proper etiquette:

The cart corral is too far away from my car.

I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to push the cart to the corral.

I’m not bothering with putting carts away because I’ve got screaming kids in the car.

I’m not bothering with putting carts away because I only care about me and my car.

It’s the store employees who corral carts, not me.

What’s a cart corral?

Only fools waste time putting carts in corrals.

Usually my significant other does that, not me.

It’s the wild west in parking lots; only the strong survive with carts strewn here and there, creeping towards the nearest car bumper or side, just wanting to leave a special mark for you.

Nobody showed me how to put the cart in the corral, so I don’t have to.

Whatever.

It’d be nice if there was an actual scientific poll asking about this phenomenon/nuisance.

Italy

bread :: Italy

Italy is beautiful for its art and food, at least to me. But if you go for those things, it’s good to like Renaissance-era art, because the country looks like it’s stuck there.

The gorgeous old buildings of Venice, Florence, even the lazy Pisa tower just keep me mentally in the Renaissance. And if you like that era of art, then Italy is a living art museum dedicated to Michaelangelo, Raphael, and lots of biblical art where everyone looks Italian instead of Jewish or Middle Eastern.

Michaelangelo’s David statue in Florence is really amazing to see in person. The pizza and pasta there is really delicious if you are okay with eating lots of wheat. Gelato is truly art in edible form and must be eaten at least three times while in Italy.

But one meal I really enjoyed was eating at McDonald’s in Italy. HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?!? is what you are thinking, and that was what I was thinking too.

What I was also thinking was that I was really tired of eating prosciutto and other forms of preserved pork and just wanted some beef. I was on a budget and couldn’t eat some fancy beef dish in a sit-down restaurant. I was also tired of pizza and pasta, so when I entered McDonald’s I felt like I was in an oasis of Americanness, even if everything was in Italian.

I don’t remember what I ate, maybe it was breakfast food like a McMuffin or biscuit, but it tasted really good. And I don’t regret it.

I was also glad to finally leave Italy after seeing all the art I wanted to see. Everything I saw in a book I saw in real life and it was pretty awesome. But I was really glad to leave and go back to the only European country I would ever like to call home, France.

bread

Last time I talked about nutritional yeast; today will be about bread.

Mmmmmmmm…bread. I like bread. I love bread. All kinds, like plain ol’ white bread, wheat bread, hot dog bread, hamburger bread, artisan bread, baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough, flatbread, cornbread. And all the other varieties you like, I probably like too.

But I can’t eat these delicious breads because of the wheat factor. Darnit. Oh, but you can eat cornbread, can’t you? It’s made from corn, not wheat.

Not totally true. Even cornbread has more wheat flour than cornmeal in it. It’s actually a combo of wheat and corn. There’s the rub!

So I look at bread from afar and try to remember the texture and taste of just-toasted bread. The crunchy crust, the melting of butter on warm toast, the smell of baked goodness, the chewy middle.

The latest season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table has an episode for a local chef known for founding La Brea Bakery. The bread there is very good, even though it’s all industrialized now. But the episode is a lovely story about food and a person’s love for making something extraordinary out of something ordinary.

If I had the work ethic of a chef, I might have been a chef, but the reality is that I like to eat food more than making food. And when it comes to bread, I have to look at it and not eat it. Sad, but not sad.

The great thing about today is the variety of wheat alternatives available. If this was 10 years ago and I knew I couldn’t handle wheat, then it would have been sad. But then, maybe I would have become a chef, having to make my own wheat alternatives? I might have been a lot healthier back then, too. Now we’ll never know, and it really doesn’t matter.

nutty for the nooch

I’m trying new things these days. The local grocery store had a big sale on Bragg products. I use apple cider vinegar regularly and the sale was better than the online prices so I stocked up. Then one day I was reading the weekly grocery store mailer (the digital one; I ironically tossed the paper and then found and read the digital version) and saw that all the Bragg products were on sale and it had a little photo of all their products, which included their liquid aminos and the nutritional yeast.

Since finding out about how soy sauce has gluten, I’ve been sad to not be able to eat many foods that have soy sauce in it. I’ve got tamari soy sauce, but I’ve been curious about the liquid aminos.

In the past I’ve associated liquid aminos with the old-school hippie Whole Foods patrons, not the yuppie WF patrons. And they were crazy vegetarians or vegans, and I never considered even trying it. Does “liquid aminos” sound remotely appetizing? Let alone “nutritional yeast?” Obviously these non-food labeled foods were marketed to people who didn’t care about eating delicious food or delicious-sounding food.

But coming off my bone broth cleanse and seeing the big sale I decided to try both those things. What is wrong with me? Gluten is what’s wrong with me. And I was curious.

The liquid aminos actually aren’t that bad at all, so while I like the product, I still hate the name.

But the nutritional yeast, that’s a different story.

I love it.

But the name is still lame.

It’s really good on popcorn. And in soup. I put it in my homemade rice noodle ramen that’s my mash up of random veggies in broth. It does have a nutty, cheesy smell and flavor, but not the consistency of cheese, unfortunately.

But the best thing is to eat the “nooch” with cheese, so I get the cheese but also the nuttiness of the nooch that also has tons of B-vitamins. It really does add a lot of nutrition with almost no sodium, yet it tastes salty. So it’s good to not be vegan and nosh on the nooch.

random fact

Did you know that if you take hot showers the steam can shrink the gaskets of your shower door hinge, therefore making it difficult to open that door, even causing the tempered glass to chip when you try to open the door? And the solution is to change out the gasket with a new one and include a shim so if the gasket shrinks again in the future the door will still have clearance to open because of that little shimmy thingy, saving you from flying chipped glass and writing a check for a repair.

Happy Saturday.

athleisure

Wearing sweatpants in public is a crime in my book of fashion law unless you are actually exercising. And usually you don’t exercise in malls if you are under 60 years old (although there’s always exceptions).

However, things all changed a couple years ago when I was at H&M and saw these baggy elastic-band pants on sale. I needed lounge clothes (i.e. clothes you don’t wear in public) and they were cheap and looked comfy. I tried them on and I was instantly hooked by the comfort and the appeal of not being overly flashy, which meant I could discreetly be fashionable at home. Two benefits for the price of one!

Later on I learned that they were not pants at all, but they were called “joggers.” But I wasn’t jogging in them. Before I knew what they were I had gone on some errands in the baggy comfy pants because the pants were sold in the section of clothes to be worn in public, not the loungewear section. Then I discovered that they were “joggers” and were basically modified sweatpants to be more fashionable than functional. I was duped into wearing sweatpants in public and didn’t even know it.

Then I found out that joggers were part of a larger fashion trend called “athleisure” and I was already a part of it. I did once wear my workout clothes to Costco and felt very self-conscious about it all day. I felt terribly guilty of a fashion crime and was waiting to get a ticket in violation of wearing inappropriate clothing: wrong clothes in the wrong place.

Then I realized the world had gone athleisure and nobody was complaining except me to myself. Then I decided to embrace it, not because the context and clothing matched, but because joggers are so darn comfortable.

Now I have a few pairs of joggers with interesting pockets and cuffs thanks to H&M and feel very fashionable. However, I do have a pair of straight-up sweatpants that I will never wear outside the house or outside of an exercise environment.

Except for today, when I wore my sweatpants in the rainstorm of all the past seven years of rainstorms in LA. Give me a ticket.

popcorn

I’ve been wondering why people are buying bags of popcorn at the grocery stores. Popcorn is only for the movies, and when you watch a movie at home you buy the microwave bags and eat that. Why eat popcorn outside of a movie watching setting? Why are there so many brands of popcorn? They all have the same flavors! They all have a cheesy one, the salt and pepper one, the caramel one, the so-and-so one. And you get so little for the money. Potato chips are a better deal since it’s easy to make popcorn at home and not so easy to make potato chips.

Then, one day I ate some kettle corn. That bag was empty real fast. But why the craze?

I realized it’s because it’s seen as a healthier snack than potato chips because it’s so airy and not greasy. And you can put the “gluten-free” label on it. And charge a lot for what you get in a bag.

I started buying some kettle corn bags, but I didn’t like paying three bucks or whatever for a bag that was literally just popcorn, salt, and sugar. I can make this at home!

So while you can make popcorn in a pot, you can also get a gadget. Who wouldn’t like a gadget?

It’s cool to turn a wooden handle and hear the kernels pop. I feel so vintage and analog, old-school and old-timey. It’s hard not to when the thing is called a Whirley-Pop.

And it’s over in a few minutes. The kernels pop so fast it’s like firecrackers. Then pour steaming hot popcorn into a bowl and sprinkle or pour the seasonings and toppings. And all for cents, not dollars. And it’s organic. And it’s still gluten-free.

two ingredient bone broth recipe (super-duper fancy)

There are many recipes for bone broth out there, but it’s really not hard. A child could make bone broth. Just don’t buy bone broth thinking it’s the same as homemade, because it’s not the same. Don’t drink the packaged broth in the paper cartons; it’s not going to be good for you to drink that if it’s not used for a soup or flavoring a dish.

So here’s my super-duper fancy recipe for bone broth:

Ingredients: 

Bones. Your butcher can get a nice fresh beef bone and cut it up for the crockpot. Get marrow and knuckles. Or chicken or fish bones, whatever floats your boat.

Water. Tap (if you like the taste of tap, but does anyone like tap water?), filtered, or bottled. I use bottled water.

Instructions:

Put bones in crockpot, enough to cover maybe a third or half the pot. It’s totally up to you.

Pour water into crockpot.

Cook on low setting for as long as possible. 8, 10, 12, up to 24 hours. You can tell it’s getting good when all the marrow comes out of the bones and it looks like all the collagen’s been sucked out of them. There will be a nice layer of fat swirling on the top.

Take out bones and skim the broth, taking out solids like the stray meat pieces. If you don’t want all that fat, you can wait or cool the broth so the fat solidifies and take it off in pieces. Save the fat to fry stuff (mmm) later.

Drink broth at will, but it should be warm. Cold broth is nasty. Add salt if needed, like sea salt or himalayan pink salt, something with minerals in it. The broth is bland but it’s better to add salt after serving than during the boiling and make it too salty. Then it’ll be like the packaged broth you didn’t buy, and then what would be the point in making this?

Store in fridge or freezer. I use mason jars.

deluge

Previously: snow. Today: rain.

The California drought is over. Everyone thought El Nino would take care of that last year, but it ended up being just like another dry winter.

Then, this year is the year of the deluge of rain. So much rain it reminded me of Paris, where the winter rains are so freaking dreary, cold, and miserable. It’s better to have cold snowy weather instead of cold rainy weather.

But so much rain has come, with days of very heavy rain, that I think every house in the state has shifted a little with the drenched earth affecting foundations. And roof leaks. I had rainwater leaking from my AC vent onto my bed. It was great to wake up at 3am to a wet bed and floor. Luckily it wasn’t over my head but at the foot of the bed and the bed wasn’t drenched yet. Soon afterwards I bought a waterproof mattress cover because even if the handyman fixed the leak, it wasn’t guaranteed.

And then it rained hard again. And I was okay. How nice to be dry, warm, and snug in bed on a cold rainy day!

Then the leak came back. The rain was too much. At least I was ready and the mattress was dry. The bed frame was also dry because I wrapped it in plastic wrap, so no danger of warping wood or rusting metal.

Then the leak was fixed again, but there hasn’t been heavy rain since the second leak, only showers that seem like wimpy showers compared to the leak-inducing downpours of this year.

I thought the rain would finally let up and any rain now would be the quiet, peaceful showers of drought years past. But then I saw the forecast and it’s going to rain again. It might be the heavy stuff again.

Again, I’ll be ready with plastic-wrapped bed, large bucket, and plastic sheeting.

Just FYI, I do some light editing of my posts, but I’m not going to try that hard. So sorry if tenses are mixed or there’s repeat words that indicate I need a thesaurus, or I don’t use my commas right, or whatever.

wrapping

Previously: necks. Today: scarves

The best thing about winter is wearing scarves. I don’t recall wearing or owning a scarf until I lived on the east coast, where the wind is bitterly cold and the snowfall can get inside your coat unless all entry points between coat and skin are closed off with overlapping warm clothing.

It was so cold I had to wear a scarf. It wasn’t for fashion. I think I had a plain green fleece scarf from the Gap that was very functional but lacked style. I didn’t care; when you are freezing cold after walking in the snow all you care about is if something works well or not. Fleece worked really well.

I even had to buy earmuffs, but I refused to wear the old-school type of the headphones style. Instead, I had seen other people wearing these earmuffs that looked more techie, like a fleece for your ears. So I admit that when it came to ears, I wanted to be fashionable.

At least they were fleece, so I matched, sort of.

And I had to wear leather gloves. Any glove that’s just fabric is useless in snowy weather.

But perhaps most importantly, I had to wear wool socks. Because if your feet are cold, you are miserable and if your feet are frozen, you can’t walk. If you can’t walk, you are stuck in the snow. And if you’re stuck, you will get frostbite. And then you can lose your toes or your feet. Just because you didn’t want to pay a little extra for woolly socks. And they must be SmartWool socks.

But now I live in the land of mild climate, and I wear a scarf for fashion first, function second. Ear warmers are not necessary, fabric gloves are actually practical, and I’m happy with not having to drive on black ice, scraping a frozen windshield, or digging my car out of a pile of snow.