Friday, February 27, 2015

Birthday Wish

My 42nd birthday wish for myself, and for all of us, is for good health, sound minds, and open hearts to live broad, deep, rich, fulfilling, and beautifully textured lives.

And I don't think sharing that with you diminishes the power of my wish one bit.

May my wish come true, trick candles notwithstanding. ;)

With love,


Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy Asian-Inspired Garlic Butter Noodles with Mushrooms & Pea Sprouts

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

This simple, delicious noodle dish is easy to throw together and kid-friendly, too. You can use any kind of fresh mushroom and sprouts (or even sliced snow or sugar snap peas), but I just happened to have criminis and pea sprouts on hand.

Easy Asian-Inspired Garlic Butter Noodles with Mushrooms & Pea Sprouts
Time: About 30 minutes
Serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a side. Easily doubled.
Printable Version

- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 12 oz. button or crimini mushrooms, sliced into 1/8" slices (buy them pre-sliced for extra convenience)
- 8 ounces pea sprouts
- kosher salt
- 8 ounces spaghetti or fettuccine boiled al dente and drained well
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons butter, depending on how buttery you like things
- 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1) In a preheated medium high pan, saute your mushrooms with the 2 teaspoons olive oil until they've developed a light brown crust on both sides, then add pea sprouts and saute for another minute or so, just until the sprouts start to wilt. Season with a pinch or two of kosher salt. (About 1/8 teaspoon.) Set veg aside in a separate dish.

2) Using the same pan, turn the heat down to just higher than medium and add all the seasoning ingredients, letting the butter melt and the garlic cook until it begins to turn translucent, giving it a few good stirs to incorporate all the ingredients together.

3) Add the veg back in along with the noodles, toss to season evenly, adjust seasoning if needed, and that's it!

Enjoy. :)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Moko Asian Bistro, Las Vegas, NV in Pics

I've mentioned before that I don't really care to review restaurants anymore. At some point, scrutinizing your meals down to minute details really begins to suck joy out of the dining experience. But I do like to share those restaurant experiences with that magical blend of food, service, and value where my last thought as I leave is that I'd really like to return.

We went to Moko Asian Bistro for a late lunch after our annual Red Rock Canyon hike after a failed attempt to dine there the night before when it was closed. (I have a horrible habit of ignoring yelp when they tell me a place isn't open at a time when I want to visit. :/) Upon hearing my minor disappointment that the lunch menu was different from the dinner menu that lured me there in the first place, the owner graciously allowed us to order off the dinner menu, and the whole family enjoyed our meal start to finish. Delicious food; warm, friendly, and accommodating service; and a great value for the food concepts and level of execution they offer. An easy off-strip recommendation for those who like the idea of small plates and Korean-inspired fusion dishes.

Hope you enjoy the pics (with their descriptions of the dishes).

Fiery Noodles

30-Hour Sous Vide Berkshire Pork Belly
Korean soybean paste marinated pork belly, sweet potato,
cherub tomato, kimchi crepe, black raspberry salt

For the pork belly, of course. ;)

Tempura Udon
(I forgot to take a pic of the tempura on the side.)

Izz sharing some of her big sisters' udon.

Complimentary Miso Soup for Izz.
A thoughtful touch. :)

Prime Beef Short Rib
braised marinated prime short rib, garlic, gratin, demi-glace
(Love those garlic chips!)

Beef Tataki
seared sirloin, Korean bean paste aioli,
sweet soy sauce jelly, micro greens

Seared Yellowtail Salad
seasoned Yellowtail, micro greens, Fuji apple,
kelp powder, sweet Korean apricot sauce

Kimchi Fried Rice

Creme Brulee

Omija (Schisandra Berry) Creme Brulee
Even better than the regular one. Soooo good.



6350 West Charleston Blvd. Suite 120
Las Vegas, NV 89146

Thursday, February 19, 2015

help yourself

Shepard Fairey - Peace Goddess

take the things
that cause you pain
that bring you shame
and make you blame

and find a place
where you can speak
those truths that seek
to make you weak
should you keep 
them to

set them free
and let them be
the things you call
"a part of me"
that helped you

for someone who
could see you through
your darkest night
and still
love you

all the hurts
that you should name
and you should claim
but cannot change
are what
make you

with your own heart
and your own mind
with your own soul
you must find
the arms that will

give grace



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas in Pics - February 2015

Our annual visit to Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas began with gorgeous weather and surprise free admission. In non-gambler lingo, that's called a jackpot. :)

Until we return...


Friday, February 13, 2015

On the Art (& Gift) of Beginning Again

"Self consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all."

~ Ray Bradbury

I am sitting here, sweating like some animal that actually sweats a lot (which would not be a pig, contrary to popular idiom), having mostly gracelessly and artlessly gotten through a 30 minute yoga video that kicked my ass. And good.

I didn't always look like such a rank amateur doing yoga (not that I've ever looked remotely expert at it, either), but I note that because there's the fear of feeling a fool beginning something altogether new where you can find some comfort and excuse in your complete unfamiliarity with it, and then there's the stranger discomfort of feeling a fool being unable to pick something up where you left off with it.

Both are based in a useless kind of ego and vanity, but there's an extra layer of self-consciousness to peel back when returning to a thing you were supposedly better at once upon a time. It stings just a little more to think of the wasted progress on which you could have chosen to build then but didn't for any number of reasons.

But as you're weeble-wobbling through Warrior III pose and possibly also using your kid's IKEA Duktig kitchen for balance every half second, looking at yourself from the outside in through that self-conscious lens that only you and your fragile ego possess, it occurs to you that

a. There is literally no one else in the room to see you - this is how ridiculous you are even imagining that anyone else but you can see how silly you look right now.

b. Even if they were they'd probably be too busy breathing to think about your crappy Warrior pose.

c. Did you really expect after all these years of atrophy that your beloved squish was just going to whip itself back into perfect strength and balance? I mean, how entitled of you to think you wouldn't have to be a beginner again, Shinae.

Before you can begin again, you have to be willing to be a beginner again.

So you spend about 30 seconds (which feels much longer) indulging your ego as it steps outside of you to laugh at your failure in progress, actually laughing out loud with it, until you realize that it doesn't get any better - YOU can't get any better - until you stop laughing at yourself, start recognizing your current limitations so you can exceed them, decide to cut yourself a break from the self-judgment, and get back to the work of beginning again.

And you lower that back leg in humility because you accept it's not ready to be up there again... yet. Sometimes you even set that back foot down altogether for a few seconds and show your quivering, out of practice, readily collapsible squish a little kindness. This whole pose is touch and go for you the whole time, but you keep trying until it's time to try something else.

At this point, your whole body's a quaking mess of Ruby Red-Mango Margarita flavored Jell-O because a) you are what you ate last night and b) you are THAT much of a beginner right now.

But you figure it's better to get through the rest of the video doing what that gal on the right is doing than to sit through the rest of the video thinking you used to be able to do what that gal on the left is doing.

And before you know it, you're getting to take some deep, delicious, rewarding breaths in a head down Pigeon pose and feeling less a rebeginner than you did 30 minutes ago.


How wonderful to push through the limitations of our self-consciousness into such a beautiful feeling and remembrance. (And if you've ever practiced yoga, you know how beautiful a feeling it is.)

How wonderful that we can choose to give ourselves the gift of artful living by allowing ourselves to begin again.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

free love

they cannot
let you change
because they fear
you'll rearrange
your life

in such a way
they will not fit
or such a way
you'll have to quit

they do not know
to set you free
to let you be
so you can breathe
is loving

the way you need
to grow your soul
so you can lead
a life in which
your heart won't 

to see them cling
so needlessly
because they don't
have eyes to see
that you love them

because you know
your love


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Viet-Inspired Tandoori Chicken

Ever since I learned how to make Tandoori Chicken, I've been a big fan of using yogurt in chicken marinades. In the right proportions and marinating times, it subtly tenderizes the meat and enhances its natural flavor, texture, and juiciness without imparting yogurt flavor.

This variation on Tandoori Chicken is inspired by the cuisine of my Little Asian Mama's people. ;)

Viet-Inspired Tandoori Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 15 minutes prep, 6 to 24 hours to marinate, and 45 to 60 minutes to cook.

- 3.5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs, drums, wings, and halved breast pieces)


- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 + 1/4 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro for the marinade + a little more for garnish (you can use the stems)
- zest of half a lime
- 1 jalapeño, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice

1) Place all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir or whisk to combine thoroughly.

2) Place the chicken in the marinade and mix gently but thoroughly to evenly season each piece.

You can now cover the bowl and place it in the fridge to marinate for 6 to 24 hours, redistributing the chicken 2 or 3 times during the marinating period to ensure even seasoning, or you can put it all in a gallon capacity Ziploc bag, which is great for even marinating, specially if you lay all the meat in a single layer, suction all the air out of it, and lay it on its side in the fridge. You can flip the bag once halfway through the marinating period to ensure both sides get seasoned through.

3) An hour before cooking, take the chicken out of the fridge and lay it in a single layer on either a sturdy sheet pan (not a cookie sheet) with a grill rack over it (my preferred method), or on a broiler pan with slats, skin side up, and let it come up to room temp. I mention this often, but bringing your protein up to room temp results in a better outer sear, which results in more internal juiciness.

4) 20 minutes before cooking, preheat your oven to 450F. Once the oven's preheated, put the chicken on the center rack of the oven and roast for 40 to 55 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.

If you buy drums and thighs in your typical supermarket pre-pack, it's likely that your chicken pieces are on the bigger side and will require somewhere between 50 to 55 minutes. A great thing about the yogurt marinade is that it is quite forgiving, and you don't have to worry that the extra 5 minutes of roasting time just to be safe is going to dry out your bird.

I like to serve the chicken sprinkled with chopped cilantro with a simple side salad of Spring Greens, mangoes if they're in season, and a quick raita made of equal parts hanh dam (Vietnamese quick pickled onions) and yogurt plus a good pinch of salt and chopped cilantro, which balances out the meal and ties the Viet-Indian fusion flavors together nicely.

Enjoy. :)


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cilantro Garlic Yellow Rice

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

One of the great things about this recipe is that its flavor profile goes so well with so many different cuisines - Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Cuban, and other similar cuisines. Plus everyone loves a delicious rice dish.

I know at least a few of you are thinking Hey, that rice sounds good except for the cilantro, which tastes like crap and/or soap.

To which I say it's easily omitted and doesn't have to be replaced with another herb. We just love cilantro around here. :)

Cilantro Garlic Yellow Rice
Time: About 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Version

- 1/2 a medium onion, diced
- 3 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 large cloves)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1.5 Tablespoons butter (I use unsalted.)
- 1/2 Tablespoon turmeric (which I use mainly for color, but it also has a mild earthiness to it, and it's good for you.)
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 2 + 1/3 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 + 1/3 cups water
- 3/4 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1) Put the butter in a large pot and turn the flame to medium high. When the butter's just about completely melted, add the onion, garlic, and cilantro to the pot and sauté until the onion is translucent - about 2.5 to 3 minutes. Then add the turmeric and stir to incorporate evenly into the aromatics.

2) Turn the heat down to medium, add the rice, and stir to coat all the grains with the sauteed mixtured. Allow the rice to toast for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help the grains retain their texture and shape when cooked.

3) Add the stock, water, and salt, and stir gently 3 or 4 times to ensure that all the grains of rice have been separated and distribute the rice in an even layer in the pot. This will ensure that each grain gets completely steamed.

4) Allow the rice to come to a gentle boil for 1 minute, uncovered, on medium heat, and then turn the heat down to medium low, place the lid on the pot slightly askew (leave about 1/2" inch gap on one side), and continue to steam the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed for 2 to 3 minutes.

5) At that point, fluff the rice, allow the steam to release and the rice to cool for about 5 minutes, then serve. (It's important to fluff the rice shortly after all the water's been absorbed so the rice doesn't stick together in clumps.

Other great additions to this rice, depending on the cuisine you're serving, are toasted almonds, raisins or currants, and pine nuts, among other things. They can all be added during the fluff, after the rice is cooked.

The other night, we had it with a mildly blackened pan fried tilapia and salad with pico de gallo - a quick, easy, and delicious meal idea that you can put together in the time it takes to make this rice. Just start the rice first, and while it's cooking, season the fish, make the pico, fry the fish (takes 5 to 7 minutes), and that's it!

Enjoy. :)


Thursday, February 5, 2015

On the Benefits of a Good Social Media Juju Cleanse

I'm a big believer in the power of juju, juju being the energy we direct at and experience from the people within our reach - whether physical or digital. And cute as the word is, juju isn't always good and positive. It runs the gamut of human emotion.

Because juju is a thing mostly felt and not seen, it's easy for us to forget the influence it can have on our quality of being.

Sage Goddess by Emily Balivet

Clearly good juju, the kind that comes from emotional well being and wishes the same for others, is easy to identify and embrace because it's nourishing and uplifting. It literally makes us smile, sometimes in spite of ourselves, to know and feel that someone out there is sending sincere positive energy our way. And it can come from people who don't always agree with or like everything we put out there. Good juju is not appeasement, insincere or disproportionate flattery, or sycophancy.

Clearly bad juju, the opposite kind, which for purposes of our digital lives is often troll juju, is easy to identify and reject because it's obviously malicious and meant to damage in some way - whether directly or passive-aggressively. (And no, I don't buy the whole But I'm the clever, intelligent, good kind of troll who puts all the wrong people in their right places thing. Spending one's free time actively looking for reasons and ways to put other people in their place is interpersonal poison in my book and not to be mistaken for integrity, which is standing one's ground when trouble comes at you. "Good Troll": oxymoron.)

But then there are other kinds of juju - neutral, asymmetrical/opportunistic, needy, petty - that are harder to identify and deal with because we experience them in more ambiguous ways.

Neutral juju might come from all those people you've circled or friended with whom there is no interaction, period. Seems harmless enough to let them remain where they are, but on the other hand, they're kind of like a Rolodex (or a contacts list for you whipper schnappers) full of blank or obsolete cards interspersed throughout the ones you actually need. They take up space between you and that which is essential or meaningful to you. Interpersonal clutter, if you like that kind of thing...

Asymmetrical/Opportunistic juju comes from those interactions that seem consistently to only feed the same person in the exchange. For instance, some people only comment on your shares when they disagree with you or when your share seems an opportune opening for their personal platform. However civil and intelligent sounding their disagreement, however friendly sounding their opportunism, they just don't give anything of benefit to you to balance what they take, constantly leaving you at a deficit in your interactions with them. It's not personal. It's just what they do. But do you want them to do it to you is the question...

Needy and petty juju often come hand in hand, but not always. And they are tricky to identify at first because they often come to you under the guise of good juju... until time erodes the facade of a good kind of positivity and replaces it with a vortex of insatiable hunger for attention or an increasingly insincere and inauthentic exchange of social media back scratching. They come from people who interact with you, not to relate in a healthy way, but to feel they have some power to coax attention from others and/or keep score. They make comments that require affirmation and validation, or they think that social media interaction is some kind of quid pro quo exchange where you constantly have to give their output as much or more attention as they give yours. These kinds of interactions are seemingly positive at first but eventually become energy and soul sucking over time and shouldn't be mistaken for a balanced, authentic, and healthy appreciation for or exchange of ideas and sentiment.

If you're mostly in it for the numbers or use social media strictly for commercial pursuits, you may find all these kinds of juju necessarily tolerable - an occupational hazard, even.

But audience or market building aside, if you, like I, come to this place to give and receive enrichment and enlightenment in a balanced way over time, it's important to pause every once in a while to assess which of the elements you've allowed into your experience serve one or both of those purposes, and release the ones that don't and flush them out of your realm of concern.

And when you do release them in this very intentional cleansing of the juju that surrounds you - a sort of sage burning ritual for your digital universe, so to speak - it's generally a good thing for maximum effect and minimal regret if you can do it in the spirit of being kind to yourself and looking out for your emotional health rather than out of spite or anger for the people you let go. (Not necessarily because some of them aren't deserving, and not necessarily that that can always be accomplished. We are human.)

And just like any good and healthy kind of cleanse will do, you'll begin gradually to feel lighter, less burdened, more agile and capable, more optimistic about humanity, and more revitalized and energized to go about the pleasure and privilege of giving and receiving enrichment and enlightenment, however you define those things. And you will have made a more inviting space in your Universe for likeminded people to enter.

Wishing you good digital juju,


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing

Another recipe transfer. I realize it probably doesn't matter to you whether the recipe is new or transferred, but telling you it's a transfer makes me feel like I'm making progress on the mildly daunting task of moving so many recipes over to the the new blog. Thanks for your patience with my quirks. :)

As you might already know, I am big on salads and maybe even bigger on homemade dressings. And it's every bit as much about flavor as health. Well, maybe slightly more...

There's something about a homemade dressing made with a few thoughtfully combined ingredients, and without the texture and flavor muck that results from a certain industrial cocktail of gums and stabilizers, that allows the ingredients of your salad to sing. And it really will get you looking forward to eating raw veg, which is so good for your bod.

(I do sometimes use a teeny, tiny bit of xanthan gum to emulsify, but not enough to affect the experience of the dressing. A topic for another post, however...)

This Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing is a favorite in our house, and even my mustard hating Joey likes it. :)

Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
Time: 15 minutes
Makes about 1/2 cup

- 1.5 Tablespoons minced shallots (or onions if you don't have shallots)
- 2.5 Tablespoons mayo
- 1.5 Tablespoons mustard (I usually do half brown, half yellow, the yellow more for color than flavor, but you can use whatever kind you like.)
- 1.5 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar (cider, red wine, white wine, or distilled white all work fine)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons oil (olive, veg, grapeseed, canola all work fine)

Whisk everything but the oil together thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. (It's hard to detect seasoning when oil coats your buds.)

Add oil and whisk thoroughly again.

Enjoy. :)


Monday, February 2, 2015

Creamy Lemon Garlic Fettuccine for One & Planter Paradise in El Cajon

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

I haven't published that many recipes for one - mostly because I don't cook for one that often, but also because when I do, it rarely occurs to me to write it down. I'm sure there's a great demand for them, as cooking for one and keeping it varied and interesting can be quite the challenge.

Pasta and noodles in general are a great canvas for single serving food ideas because they're usually quick and easy to prepare, and they take well to small quantities and interesting combinations of odds and ends.

Which is exactly how I came up with this recipe - throwing together the odds and ends in my fridge that made flavor sense together.

But before I share the recipe, a quick mention for my fellow San Diego gardeners of a place I just discovered yesterday in El Cajon called Planter Paradise, where they have a fantastic assortment of planters and other garden ornaments at THE BEST PRICES I've seen - ever.

They're super friendly and helpful, and this pic doesn't begin to cover what they have, but I was too busy ooh-ing and ahh-ing at everything to shoot much. Well worth a trip no matter where you live in the county, specially if you need to buy in quantity. The savings will add up quickly.

I got this 53-inch high chiminea and the two empty pots for just over $100. Well, technically, Dean got them for me for part of my ValenBirVersary gift (our anniversary, Valentine's Day, and both our birthdays happen in February).

Can't wait to have some friends over to break in the chiminea over s'mores. :)

And now for that recipe.

Creamy Lemon Garlic Fettuccine for One
Time: 20 minutes or so.
Printable Version

For time savings, I like to use this method for cooking pasta while I prepare the sauce. Remember to drain your pasta well before adding it to the pan.

- one serving's worth of fettuccine noodles, cooked al dente
- 1 Tablespoon butter + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- zest of half a small lemon
- 5 sprigs parsley, chopped (I use stems and all.)
- 2 Tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
- 3 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste

1) Add the butter and oil to a pan and turn the heat to medium high. When the butter is melted, add the garlic, parsley and lemon zest, and saute until the garlic starts to turn translucent.

2) Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with the creme fraiche and 3 Tablespoons of Parmesan and gently toss to thoroughly and evenly coat the pasta with the sauce.

3) Adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

4) Transfer the pasta to a plate (or don't), sprinkle the last Tablespoon of Parm on top, and enjoy.

On the day I took this pic, I made a quick side of lemon garlic sauteed spinach to go with. Pics here.

Buon appetito! :)