Category Archives: food

triple movie review

In one day I watched three movies on Netflix. Yes, there will be spoilers.

Star Wars: Rogue One

The Queen of Katwe

Philomena

Overall, I liked them even though there were things I didn’t like in each film. What I noticed was that each film has a female lead and the co-star was a non-romantic-interest male actor. Maybe Rogue One was somewhat romantic, but not enough to say it was so. There was a hug but no kiss, thank goodness. It would’ve ruined the movie.

Rogue One was really boring for most of the movie. It’s as if every SW movie must have the same scenes in it, repeating themselves in every film as long as they make a SW film. The best part was actually the last act of the movie (which was very not-SW like), with the principal cast of rebellion fighters. They brought a freshness with their different faces and skills. Even the robot was refreshing with his distinct personality. Yet why did almost everyone have to have a British accent? That seemed to distract me.

I actually liked how each of Jyn’s gang of rebels died in the film. It was heartless how everyone had to die, even Jyn and Cassian, truly tragic. It seemed like a hopeless movie for these characters. Oh, but then they get you in the end with the last shot of the movie with Leia saying “Hope,” as she holds the plans for the Death Star in her hands. In that sense it portrayed the brutality of war. However, this is SW, so it can’t ever get that tragic.

After seeing Rogue One, it did make me want to see the original SW trilogy again. How is it that those three old movies still seem fresh while every SW movie made afterwards seems derivative?

The Queen of Katwe is based on a true story of an African slum kid who becomes a chess champion. It’s a really sweet feel-good movie. There were many scenes where I just wanted to cry, maybe because I miss Africa and want to go back someday. The ironic thing is that the screenplay was written by a white American male telling the story of a Ugandan girl. The scenes sometime get confusing and bumpy with the time jumps in the beginning, which make it hard to get the viewer settled in. After that it gets better and you can just enjoy watching a story of a girl who shifts her place of belonging from where she was born to where she was born to be. That really is the best message of the movie.

Philomena is also based on a true story of an Irish-Catholic woman who searches for her son 50 years after the nuns who took care of her during her teenage pregnancy forced her to give him up for adoption. The news reporter who helps her is her non-romantic co-star and a pretty good foil for the Irishwoman, played by Judi Dench. It’s a British film, so it’s a lot more subtle in everything, from action to dialogue to climax and ending. Sometimes it really frustrates me, but I’m sure every British person is deep down frustrated by having to be so reserved.

The best part is the character contrasts of the Irish mom and the British reporter as Catholic vs Atheist and some of the discussion about religion is good but like most of the movie, it doesn’t get too deep into any topic. It mostly touches on the main themes so you can think about it without having to preach to you. Religion, God, adoption, family, what’s important, what you believe in, forgiveness, etc.

This post is now too long and so I’ll wrap up saying I ate some ramen today at a place that’s highly rated and popular, but after I tried it I had no idea why it was considered good. Overrated and overpriced. I only went there because the place I originally wanted to go to had shut down and I didn’t know it until I saw the empty restaurant and a couple legal notices on the door. A sad day for ramen. But tomorrow ramen will rise again.

the mind of a chef

I’m watching the PBS series “The Mind of a Chef” and I’ve learned stuff already from it. Like maybe I want to go to Japan and eat lots of ramen and seafood there (that’s from season one with David Chang). There’s a segment where they do cook a dish and talk about it and I learned some cooking tidbits, but already forgot them because I watched but didn’t practice the cooking technique.

Anyway, it’s good because they’re half-hour episodes, which to me is a digestible size of program. Did I just make a food pun? Because I would never ever use puns. Puns are terrible.

stand up

Some of my favorite comedians talk about food. Two I really like are Jim Gaffigan and Gabriel Iglesias.

Gaffigan’s material on food is really funny, basically observations about Americans’ approach to food in today’s culture. And food is a universal topic as well as a way to connect with a foreign culture. I’m sure that any non-American can watch a few of his specials and probably understand Americans. Not really, but maybe.

Iglesias is the same, but he mostly talks about food with a different approach. It’s more personal, and he makes it more personal by telling stories about his interaction with fans.

One thing both of them do very well is voices. They can tell jokes with many different kinds of accents and voices. They’re great storytellers. Gaffigan can do great East Coast accents and a raspy female voice. Iglesias does an amazing sexy female voice and amazing sound effects.

I’m not sure how to end this post, so I’ll just say this is the end of the post…

And I don’t care about Game of Thrones. At least not until I watch the show, and I won’t do that until the series is finished and I can binge watch sometime in the future.

ramen

There’s a Netflix documentary series called “Chef’s Table” that is really an indulgence to watch. So much tasty food in high definition. The story for each chef is unique and some are just wild. To really want to be a chef takes a real love for the craft. It boggles me how each person is willing to just be in a kitchen for that long! I only prefer eating the food.

I watched the episode on Ivan Orkin and his ramen story. At first I thought this did not fit in the Chef’s Table caliber of chefs, most of whom have Michelin stars and very expensive restaurants. But he has a really good story and apparently his ramen is so good that he was popular in Japan. To be legit with ramen in Japan is probably the best indicator of the real deal.

Anyway, it just made me hungry for ramen. Unfortunately, I can’t eat it these days with my wheat problem, so I make my own homemade, nothing-like-ramen ramen using brown rice ramen from Costco. It’s good enough for me, even if it doesn’t  have the rich umami of the broth or the yummy pieces of pork belly or any of the garnishes. Well, it isn’t good enough, but it’ll have to do for now while I eat my nothing-like-ramen ramen and watch Chef’s Table.

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.

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.

liquid gold

Last time I wrote about dinosaurs. Today I’ll talk about bone broth.

I’m currently doing a modified bone broth cleanse, where you just drink bone broth all day instead of eating food. I’m also drinking raw whole milk, which is incredibly tasty and beneficial for your health, unlike pasteurized milk, even organic pasteurized milk. And, of course, good ol’ water. And some occasional komboucha tea. And some probiotics. My gut must be in heaven.

At first I didn’t think I could survive on bone broth, so I was adding in some powdered veggies, as well as some protein powder. But my body was not happy with any sort of powdered food; it demanded only liquids, especially the liquid gold that is bone broth.

After taking out the excess foods, my body was very happy with the broth and milk the most. I got hungry but if I was hungry I just drank more gold. Then, I slept like a baby and I found myself looking younger in the mirror. This was way better and easier than makeup or using a myriad of skin care products. My neck looked good, which is a concern after a certain age.

I have reached the stage where you say “a certain age.” This was never supposed to happen, but then it did when my doctor used that phrase. I am still in denial.

So my skin looks so clear, my neck looks good, and I’ve lost some weight. In the past, I’ve done fancy juice cleanses that were organic, specially formulated for nutritional optimization, and were not cheap. They were beneficial, but they don’t come close to beating the effectiveness of a bone broth cleanse. It’s tons cheaper and easier to do. The only expensive parts are the raw milk and the probiotics, but it’s a small price for the benefits I’ve experienced. (Tip: don’t buy broth, make it at home with grass-fed or other quality bones for the purest golden benefits.)

The purpose of the cleanse is not for making my neck look better, but for other reasons that will stay a mystery for now.

And I’m still not finished with the cleanse. So I’ll have to see what happens when I start eating solid food again. I do miss my burgers and fries.