Monday, September 30, 2013

SO LAST WEEK: September 22 thru 29, 2013

MONDAY 9/23: 

Discovered a delicious new-to-me heirloom tomato called Black Prince.

Made a tasty salad with it.



Made smoothies for breakfast and started using our DSLR (still use my phone and point and shoot). Also found this groovy new, free language learning app called Duolingo and have been practicing my rusty Español ever since!


Mended my favorite dishcloths and felt pretty good about it and mostly agreed with Frank Bruni about why we get fat.

FRIDAY 9/27:  

Cleansed myself of some neg juju and made this Srirachafied Cucumber Salad (recipe) to thank people for thinking of me when they see memes about intravenous sriracha junkies.

Enjoyed a fantastically fishy meal at Fish 101 (review) in Encinitas, CA.


Visited my favorite stand at Vista Farmers Market.

Discovered a local family-run Japanese grocery - Kyoto Gift & Food in Oceanside - that carries Matcha (Green Tea) Kit Kat, among other things.

Got a little fired up about The Man's Red Hot Sludge (recipe).

SUNDAY 9/29:

Tried a new superdark chocolate by a local artisanal chocolatier, David Bacco.

Smiled as I watched my boys make hot sauce together.

Enjoyed a delicious (and deliciously affordable) family meal at Teri Cafe (review) in Oceanside, CA.

Snagged me some fabulous Halloween earrings for $2.38 at Target. *rawr*

To another delicious week, peeps! :)


Teri Cafe 3 On Plaza - Oceanside, CA

Oceanside Bowl

FOOD: Teri Cafe, for the kind of food it serves, is one of those food trifecta unicorns that is a cheap, fast and good restaurant. The food - from ramen to sushi to soba to gyoza - all of it, is really good and very reasonably priced for the quality you get. And they have that rhythm of constantly busy places in which the food gets produced very efficiently, and you hardly have to wait before you're eating. It is pretty darned FAST.

Spicy Miso Ramen

AMBIENCE: A clean, laid back, cafeteria atmosphere with little touches of Japanese and Hawaiian decor to remind you of what you came to eat.


SERVICE: You order (and tip) at the counter, and they deliver the food to your table. The staff are pleasant, polite and attentive, and they're very good about refilling your drinks.

We've eaten at the other Oceanside location on El Camino Real, and also found it good, if a little too noisy and frenetic for my liking. The food was also a little saltier at the other location than I like.

A Roll Whose Name I Can't Recall

But this location just has a more relaxed feng shui to it, you can sit out on the patio to enjoy a little more quiet and to take in our usually beautiful O-side weather, and the food is slightly, but noticeably, better executed at this one, IMO.

A great place to take a very hungry family for a variety of Japanese dishes (and beer and sake) at super reasonable prices.


Teri Cafe 3
3809 Plaza Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056

Full album HERE.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dean's Red Hot Sludge - 3 Ways

I'm always pleasantly surprised to find out how many of us are fellow chili heads. Chilies make you feel happy and more alive, boost your immune system and metabolism, and help you sweat and flush ick out of your system. What's not to love?

If you've already tried The Man's Green Hot Sludge and liked it, here's finally a red one to follow it up. :)

You'll notice there are two habaneros and one ghost chili in the recipe. If you're not a crazy chili head like we are, that can make for unbearable heat. You might want to start out with just one habanero and no ghost chilies to get that fruity heat of habaneros in your sauce, but with fewer ass kicking Scovilles. :)

Dean's Red Hot Sludge
Makes about 24 ounces (3 cups)
Time: Active 20 minutes, Inactive 50 minutes

- 2 pounds red jalapeños
- 2 habaneros
- 1 ghost chili
- 1 head garlic
- 1/4 onion
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2.5 to 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt

1) Preheat oven to 400F.

2) Roast head of garlic for 20 minutes first before adding the chilies and onion for another 30 minutes.

3) Cool garlic, onion and chilies in a brown paper bag or covered bowl.

4) De-stem and peel chilies (leave the seeds and veins intact). Peel garlic by squeezing each clove out of its skin. You might want to use thin latex cooking cloves for this operation. If you don't have those handy, you can also coat your hands with a little oil before peeling and soak them in some milk afterward to prevent/relieve burn and irritation.

5) Combine all ingredients in a blender and whiz on a medium setting until smooth (except for the seeds, that is). Adjust seasoning if needed and whiz another 20 seconds or so.

6) Cool completely and store in a tightly lidded jar or plastic container in the fridge.

This is Dean and Joey taking 1 cup of the sludge and turning it into a more vinegary hot sauce by straining it then adding 1/2 a cup of white vinegar and salt to taste.

I'm taking the pulp and seeds left over from this operation and adding some fish sauce, ground shrimp powder, calamansi zest and juice (I just got some calamansi at the farmers market over the weekend), and a pinch of sugar, to make a sambal belacan inspired paste of it.

Enjoy with eggs, fried rice, noodles, tacos, or whatever you usually enjoy with hot sauce.

Happy Hot & Spicy Sunday, peeps! :)


Friday, September 27, 2013

Fish 101 - Encinitas, California

Mirada Oysters

FOOD: Simple seafood done very well. At this price point, I'm often disappointed when having seafood out because restaurants tend to overcook or overseason it, but they clearly know their specialty. Flavors are delicious but don't overwhelm the perfectly cooked delicate protein.

Thoughtful and reasonably priced selection of beer and wine to enjoy with your meal.

Steamed Mussels

AMBIENCE: Decor is clean, minimal and casual. Picnic benches out on the patio give a fun, communal feeling to the dining experience.

Fried Fish Po' Boy

SERVICE: You seat yourself and order at the counter. Friendly, smiling staff bring your food to your table and are good about bussing your empty dishes. The system was a little awkward for us because it was our first time there, but you could tell it was easy and old hat for the regulars.

Izz never met a French Fry she doesn't like. :P

This is a small space that filled up quickly on the Friday evening we were there around 5 pm. Since I tend to like a quieter dining experience, I'll show up around opening (4 pm) next time. And there will definitely be a next time. :)

Oh, and $1 oysters during their 4 pm to 6 pm Happy Hour - another reason to show up early!


Fish 101
1468 North Coast Highway 101
Encinitas, CA 92011

Quick & Easy Srirachafied Cucumber Salad

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

I was so tickled and honored this past week when several peeps took the time to say they thought of me when they came across this meme from The Oatmeal - not just because I am a Huy Fong Sriracha lover of decades and it's just really nice to be associated with something delicious, but because I love the story behind Huy Fong Sriracha aka Rooster Sauce aka Cock Sauce, its owner David Tran, and his simple and honest business philosophy.

While I hold out a cautiously optimistic hope that I won't have to go the way of the ad-littered blog business model, and while Mr. Tran doesn't need my help, I am all too happy to do my little part to give props to, and perpetuate the success of, a good product made by upstanding business people.

And so in honor of all the good people who tagged me on this meme, Mr. Tran, and the truly and literally awesomesauce that is Huy Fong Sriracha to which so many of us are understandably addicted, I created this quick and easy cucumber salad to go with today's lunch of Vietnamese BBQ Pork (recipe) and steamed jasmine rice.

Srirachafied Cucumber Salad
Serves 2 to 3 and is easily doubled
Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Printable Recipe

- 2 cups of 1/8-inch sliced seedless cucumber (2 to 3 small Persian or Kirby types)
- 1/4 of a small onion, very thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon (or more) sriracha
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1.5 to 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1.5 to 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to thoroughly and evenly distribute all the seasonings. Let it sit and marinate for 10 to 15 minutes before serving, giving it a gentle toss midway so everything gets evenly seasoned.

Enjoy with grilled meats and fish, noodle salads, or just because.

Oh, and serve with an extra srizzle, naturally. ;)


Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Strength, Renewal & Strange Comfort In Old Dishcloths...

I mended one of my dishcloths today.

I'm not really left handed, but I had to
shoot this with my right...

A rather sad sounding highlight in a day full of otherwise boring logistical challenges and WAHM-related frustrations.

But it was a singular *MISSION ACCOMPLISHED* in the midst of ongoing projects that feel at the moment as if they'll never end. And that if they ever do, will never succeed.

I'm going to get a little sentimental about an inanimate object as I so rarely do, but it felt a little like nursing an old friend who's under the weather. That dishcloth, and the three others that came with her, have been with me for eight years - through illness, divorce, upheaval, total loss, and a miraculous sort of redemption...

They've been remarkably sturdy and wouldn't even require stitching if it weren't for the kids gashing them by drying knives in a manner that makes me very nervous despite repeated warnings of the potentially painful and bloody consequences.

And I'm still as much in love with the (now faded) earthy aubergine color and organic leaf pattern today as I was when I bought them eight years ago at Tuesday Morning where I so often love to get lost in the pots, pans, dishes, napkins, aprons... And the dishcloths - none of which I've wanted as much as I wanted these when I got them.

Which I think might be the reason I keep them.

There's something oddly redeeming in the fact that I still have them, and love them, after all these years, after so much change, and after having left just about every other piece of a kitchen I'd collected for thirteen years in a house and a life as completely and permanently divorced from me as my current life will allow.

After having to revise so many of my values and standards because the previous ones had so painfully betrayed me, it's a strange sort of comfort that I get to keep - without regret, guilt or a discomfiting kind of nostalgia - this one of few material keepsakes of the person I was for so many years.

I've packed light all my life, and I packed even lighter when I left. And it taught me that my material possessions were merely a reflection of what I like and enjoy, not pieces of me to lessen or diminish me for their absence or loss.

But these dishcloths were willing and able to travel light with me, and I continue to enjoy them and love them, perhaps all the more for the stitches that show the living and traveling we've done together.

And I've got plenty more thread. :)


Monday, September 23, 2013

SO Last Week: September 15 thru 22, 2013

A new Monday feature where I re-cap some of my highlights from the week before, for your convenience.

Just a reminder: **You can subscribe by email by entering your email addy in that little box to the right. :)**

SUNDAY 9/15: BBQ Bloody Mary @ That Boy Good in Oceanside with a good friend, grilled homeburgers, and trying purple cauliflower for the first time.

MONDAY 9/16: Salade Niçoise & Chateauneuf du Pape :)

TUESDAY 9/17: Spicy Cilantro Ahi Poke (recipe) & Coconut Banana Cream Pie (recipe) ^^

THURSDAY 9/19: Went deliciously meatless (recipes).

FRIDAY 9/20: Fish Fry! (recipe) :)

SATURDAY 9/21: Boots Weather, Exotic Fruits in Little Saigon, and a delightfully light lunch @ Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa.

SUNDAY 9/22: Quick & Easy Fresh Tomato Pizza (recipe)

And so we begin a new week.

Happy Monday, peeps!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Beer Battered Fish With Wasabi Tartar Sauce And How To Make Good Fish & Chips...

(...without the chips this time.)

The Man loves fish and chips, and haddock happened to be on sale for $5 a pound last week, so I thought it a perfect opportunity to make him some fish minus chips (I allotted my empty but delicious calories to wine rather than chips for this meal) with a Wasabi Tartar Sauce for dipping and an improvised slaw on the side (because we must always have THE VEG).

People tell me from time to time that they have a hard time making a good fish batter. I find a few things always help a good fried fish batter along:

1) A MIXTURE OF FLOUR & STARCH - flour for body, starch for crisp

2) BUBBLY LIQUID - CO2 helps to aerate the batter and give lightness to the texture. If you don't have beer on hand, or can't use it for whatever reason, use some kind of sparkling water.

3) (REASONABLE) ROOM TEMP (AND PATTED DRY) FISH - Let your completely defrosted fish sit out on the counter, in a single layer, for at least 20 minutes in warm weather, up to 40 minutes in colder weather, to bring it up to a reasonable "room" temperature before frying. Any remnants of frost are going to create steam pockets while you're cooking, which not only hamper a crisp batter, but can release too much moisture from the flesh and turn delicate fish protein to rubber while it's cooking.

I find people are often concerned about bringing any kind of animal protein up to a reasonable room temp before cooking it for fear of foodborne illness. Among other scientific facts that I'm not going to go into right now, let's just say that if the protein you're going to cook is so contaminated that 30 to 45 minutes straight out of a cold fridge is going to awaken cooties that'll make you sick after a deep fry, you need to start shopping somewhere else.

(And by "reasonable," I mean that if you're experiencing triple digit weather at the moment, you don't want to let the protein sit out so long it's literally the same temp as the inferno that is the room that is your kitchen.)

Don't forget to pat your fish dry with a paper towel before seasoning.

4) COLD BATTER - there is some kind of magical crisping reaction that happens when cold batter hits hot oil that I can't better articulate for you at present, and it applies to other deep fry as well, like tempura and fried chicken.

5) HOT OIL - Your oil has to hover between 360 to 375 degrees. Lower than that, your batter won't form a crust quickly enough, and whatever you're frying will just absorb a bunch of oil while it's cooking. Higher than that, and you risk burning the batter before whatever's inside it cooks properly.

How do you know your oil's hot enough to start frying in without a thermometer? Throw a pinch of flour in there and see if it gently sizzles right away. Or throw a little piece of just about any dry food matter in there (watery things + hot oil = dangerous splatter) - and see if it gently sizzles and bubbles right away, and also gradually but steadily rises to the top.

How do you know if your oil's too hot without a thermometer? Well, aside from the oil smoking, if your batter is browning way too quickly, your oil's too hot. So for instance, a roughly 3/4-inch thick battered room temp fillet of fish should take roughly 3.5-ish minutes per side. If you've got a perfectly golden brown batter at minute 1, your oil's too hot. Not to fret. Just take fish out of the oil momentarily, take the oil off the heat for a minute or so, and put it back on a slightly lower heat at that point and resume frying.

Keep in mind that the volume of stuff being cooked will also alter the temperature, so as with pan frying or searing, best not to crowd the oil and dilute the heat too much.


This recipe will batter roughly 2 pounds of fish, which should feed 4 or 5 people. I used The Man's homebrewed Belgian Pale Ale, and it worked so beautifully for standalone battered fish (I like a lighter lager style for, say, tempura or fish tacos), that it'll probably be my standard for a while.

If you can make the batter in advance and let it rest for an hour or a few in the fridge, you'll have an even better result. But if you're going to use the batter right away, I suggest making the batter, sticking it in the freezer if you can, or the fridge if you don't have freezer space, and then prepping your fish while the batter chills.

By the way, you can use most kinds of beer, but I prefer not to go too dark or hoppy.

- 2/3 cup + 1 to 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour, depending on how thick a crust you like on your fish
- 1/4 cup corn or potato starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1+1/4 cup cold beer without foam

Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl (or if you don't have a sifter, just put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and give them a good whisking - maybe 10 strokes or so - to aerate them), then add the egg and beer and whisk just until smooth.

I like to cut the fish into roughly 2 inch wide, 4 to 5 inch long strips, season to taste with salt and pepper and give a light dusting on one side with flour, then flip and repeat on the other side, before battering. The flour will help the batter adhere to the fish.

Serves 4

- 1/2 cup mayo (or 1/4 cup mayo + 1/4 cup sour cream if you have it)
- 3 Tablespoons minced onion or shallot
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 2 Tablespoons minced dill pickle
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (remember to zest your lemon before you squeeze it. :P)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons wasabi paste (or horseradish if you don't have wasabi on hand)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

The improvised Savoy Cabbage, Cucumber and Red Bell Pepper slaw with a soy sauce, lemon, and pickled ginger dressing we enjoyed with our fish on Friday.

Hope you enjoy your crispydelicious fish! :)