lentil salad that'll drive you wild

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I have a horrible habit: when someone is driving like an idiot I like to cruise by and get a good look at them after their infraction.  I want to strip them of their anonymity and get an eyeful of Unconscious Personified.  I might also throw a little contempt their way.  And maybe a head shake of disdain.  Isn't that awful?  

Inevitably (since I'm not a hateful person) I feel horribly regrettable afterward, and then a passage from my favorite meditation book flashes before my eyes.  It's all about how your entire life should be your spiritual practice.  Not just during meditation or yoga or when it's easy.  

When I read that for the first time I thought: Oh, crap.  Driving.  

I should be given a smidgen of slack since I live in L.A.  This city does have the worst traffic ever.  That said,  I'm now publicly vowing to be a better, more patient person behind the wheel.

After a long day of driving driving driving, when I can't bear to get back in the car and go to the market for dinner groceries, I launch a hard-core foraging session in my kitchen to see what I can possibly fashion out of what I have on hand.  Sometimes this backfires miserably (Chicken Scampi on Brown Rice Penne, anyone?) but occasionally I hit the jackpot.

Like with this lentil salad.

Lentil Arugula Salad

3 cups cooked lentils (I used a package of pre-cooked ones from Trader Joe's)
3 green onions (white and light green parts and a bit of the darker green), finely chopped
1 1/2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2T mint, finely chopped
2T parsley, finely chopped
juice of 1 small lemon
3-5t red wine vinegar
2-3T extra virgin olive oil
2 big handfuls baby arugula
salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and season to taste.  The precooked TJ's lentils are salted so take care not to overdo it.  Taste as you go and add more vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper if needed to your taste.  Serve chilled.

Hopefully like me, you have everything on hand and will not have to make your way into hateful traffic.

Happy Thursday:)


3 things to make you smile

Monday, March 28, 2011

1.) I love this video! (reposted via Joanna)
2.) how great do these sweet potatoes look?
3.) rad!  make your own pop rocks!

I'm just coming back to Normal Life after a wonderful Birthday weekend celebrating DP.  I promise a super yummy recipe for you soon!
Happy Monday:)

italian guacamole

Thursday, March 24, 2011

[A plain fact you need to know prior to hearing this story: my married name is Pagani.]

Ok, now here we go:

I went to a party a hundred years ago with my roommate-at-the-time.  I saw a guy from across the room who made my heart stop.  When I came to, I turned to my friend and said, "Please tell me you know that hot guy!!!!???"

They were mere acquaintances, friends of friends, but I pressed, cajoled and begged her to tell me everything she knew about him  She told me his name was David.  David Picante.  She said this with such supreme confidence and aplomb I could not question it.  Nor did I.  This sweet gal (who is now one of my closest friends) is known among certain circles to NOT be a wordsmith.  And now that I know her so well it is one of her greatest charms.  She has a heart of gold but can not find her way around an aphorism, cliche, or in this case, proper name.  

This was before I knew better, so for several weeks I believed his last name was actually Picante.  I remember thinking he didn't look at all Hispanic but I never questioned it.  

I was 24.  Cut me some slack. 

I don't really recall the moment I learned his true last name.  But I do remember being shocked to find out he was actually Italian.  Here I thought I was falling for a Latin lover.

I went on to marry him:)  And we made our non-wordsmith friend read a poem at our wedding.

In honor of my David's Birthday today, I give you a play on his Favorite Food of All Time.  A dish that celebrates both his fake and real heritages.


This Italian Guacamole is great for:

a.) Cilantro Haters (of which I am NOT, but just saying).
b.) Using up extra basil, especially come Summertime.
c.) Eating by the bowlful. 

The flavors are more subtle but the spicy basil goes surprisingly well with the creamy avocado and zippy onion.  And the fresh garlic and dried red pepper give it a nice Italian touch.

Italian Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
the juice of 1 lime
3T minced red onion
1/4c chopped basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 t crushed red pepper or to taste (optional)
lots of fresh ground pepper
sea salt to taste

Halve, pit and scoop out the avocados into a bowl.  You can use this cool criss-cross trick to make little chunks: while you hold a pitted half in your palm, carefully slice a knife through the avocado all the way to its skin in both directions before scooping it out with a spoon:

Once it's in the bowl, smash a bit with a fork, leaving some chunkiness for texture.  Add the remaining ingredients, mix and devour!  This would be awesome with little toasty crostini but veggies or tortilla chips will perfectly suffice.  Hot tip: in the rare event there are any leftovers, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.  It will stay green lots longer.

Happy Birthday, Chicken!!  I'm so grateful you were born.  I'm a better and much happier person with you being on this planet.  And even though you're not a Picante, you've added a lot of spice to my life:)

Love you so much. 

Happy Thursday, everybody...

after the rain

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We had some seriously rainy weather here in LA this past weekend.  I went around and snapped some shots of our 'hood on Monday morning.

Check out those sweet droplets...

I walk through this canopy of trees on dogwalks...don't you love the old LA streetlights?  They're so romantic to me.  We have one outside our kitchen window and I love catching it turn on at dusk...

A sideways tree that blocked the road...

Mossy bricks...

Can't you just smell the wet sidewalk?...

We had a couple dry days but as I'm posting this it's starting to rain again...

Happy Wednesday:)

carb coma

Monday, March 21, 2011

This past weekend I had the privilege of modeling for my lovely friend and amazing photog Rebecca for her Homeostasis Project.  It's a series of snaps where people are sleeping in unlikely places/positions.  We had so much fun shooting!

Happy Monday:)

gluten-free crackers

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I practically ran David over the minute he came through the door last night, sticking one of these in his mouth before he could even set down his man-bag.  "What do you think?  What do you think?!  Do you like them?  I made crackers!!  Are they good?" 

He crunched one and worked it in his mouth a good long time and did a long slow gulp.  "They're more like a flatbread, wouldn't you say?"

Me: "Uh....yeah.  I guess."

Him, tenderly: "What's that dry taste?"

I think I thought they were good when they came out of the oven because everything fresh from the oven tastes Magically Warm and Delicious.  But after they had a chance to settle in to their true selves?  Not so much.

The best thing about these crackers?  The photos I took making them.

So you might wanna only make these if you're on day 20 of a cleanse and you're desperate for a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cracker.  Or if you like gnawing on cardboard.  

Rosemary and Black Pepper Gluten-Free Crackers
adapted from the Clean Program Recipes

1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free)
2 T coconut or olive oil
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 cup water and maybe a little more
1 heaping T minced rosemary
extra salt and cracked pepper 

Preheat oven to 400.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix the flour, oil and sea salt and rosemary together with your hands or a food processor.  Add 1/4 cup of water and mix until the dough starts to come together.  Add more water little bit by little bit until the dough holds together but is not too sticky.

Roll it out 1/4" thick (or thinner if you can, this may have been my biggest problem), sprinkling more flour as you go to keep it from sticking.  Score lightly with a knife or spatula edge if you want to break them up into square shapes later.  Sprinkle more sea salt and pepper on top, pressing in into the dough lightly to stick better.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden.  

I'll bet this lady would be all over these.

you guys rule

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thank you so much for all the love on my new facebook fan page!  I'm so grateful to have such lovely friends/readers:)  This storyteling, recipe writing, photo snapping adventure has been such a blessing!

For today?  Since there's so much tragedy going on in the world, some happy things...


A certain girl pooch that is my pal.  She's such a tolerant and patient model.......

A crazy delish cold lentil salad...........

I designed this by total happenstance so stay tuned while I work out the recipe.

I hope you find some happy in your day today...

P.S.  These two videos touched me so much this week:)

vegan adventures

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I had a commercial audition this week and the wardrobe specified was Safari Mom. Therefore, I proceeded to wear somewhat baggy khakis tucked into tall boots and another three variously hued brown items layered on the top. This looked somewhat like an old-timey director without his giant megaphone but I figured close enough to Safari Mom to get the job done.

I arrived at the joint to find other groups of specifically clad people: Retiree Asian Biker Gals, Middle-Aged Pudgy Workout-Fanatic get the idea.

The spot was for The Lottery and a casting associate came out to the full waiting room to give us all the explanation:

"You've just won the lottery! So come in and we'll interview you and ask you what your life was like before and now after winning the lottery! Get really creative about what you're gonna do with your life now--something you've always dreamed of! And let it be unexpected--maybe you're a landscape architect and now you're gonna climb mount Kilimanjaro! Come up with something really good! You've just won the lottery!"

Um. Ok. You want me to be creative and original so why was I told to dress like Banana Republic circa 1985?

When it's my turn, I'm called into the room but before I can get some much needed clarity, the camera's already rolling.

Deadpan Camera Man: "So. Tell me how your life has changed since you won the lottery."

Me: "Wow! I'm so excited! I'm going to race car driving school! It's always been my dream. See, I'm a mom of two small children and between that and the minivan, I never get to drive fast. So I can't wait!"


Deadpan Camera Man: "What about the safari?"

You've got to be kidding me.

Me, always the professional: "Oh! Well, hey, since I just won the lottery I'm gonna do that too! Ha ha! I can't wait to go!"

DCM: "Look around. What do you love most about Africa?"

If you'd have listened to the future tense I used a second ago, you'd know that I'm planning on going.  I'm not there yet, jerkoff.

Me, at somewhat of a loss but looking around at Pretend Africa nonetheless: "The light. And the way the elephants swing their trunks."

Yeah, I said that. Lame.

DCM, shutting off camera and ushering me out: "Great. Thanks."

No, thank you, Captain Improv, for throwing me under the bus and undermining me.

Well. It's no safari but here's a true adventure--baking vegan things!

I (perhaps like you) had extreme trepidation when pondering this recipe but I can happily report that these are delicious! I've had to get creative on this cleanse. It's day 16, my zeal has waned a bit and I needed the feeling of a baked good in my mouth to keep me going. Seeing how I'm not allowed wheat, sugar or dairy, this seemed impossible until I found this "scone" recipe on the Clean website. The official recipe calls them scones but mine spread out a bit, like a cross between a scone and a cookie.  Instead of rolling them out (read: I'm lazy), I just dropped them on the sheet and baked them. They're not as good as these but they certainly did the trick.

Vegan & Gluten-free Chocolate Walnut Scookies
adapted from Jenny Nelson
yields about 10 or 16 smaller cookie sized

scant 3/4 cup coconut oil (measure this while solid and then melt before using)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1t vanilla
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
1t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
2 big pinches sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.  Mince the dates as small as you can and put them into a different bowl with the coconut oil, water and vanilla.  Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry until it holds together and forms a dough.  Stir in the walnuts and chocolate.  On a parchment covered baking sheet, drop dough in 2T blobs an inch apart.  Bake for about 16-20 minutes.  It's kinda hard to tell when these are done--they are dry to the touch and get a tiny bit golden.

Variation: add 2T unsweetened cocoa powder and a bit of extra sea salt on top...

Happy gluten-free vegan baking!  And wish me luck for my final cleanse week.....

balsamic brussels sprouts with toasty walnuts

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two crazy things I saw on the trail while hiking yesterday?  

1. A lonely and wilted leaf of radicchio.

2. A lady in stilettos. Hiking. 

Neither of which belonged there.  

Brussels sprouts, walnuts and balsamic vinegar don't belong on a hiking trail either but they certainly belong together and I can't believe I'm just discovering this now.

I've gotten super creative lately, sprucing up my go-to dishes and mixing everything up. Sometimes it's not so great but this may have been a stroke of genius!

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts
serves 3 (easily adaptable for more/less servings)

a few big handfuls brussels sprouts
1/4 cup walnuts
evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
high-quality balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for about 7 minutes. Be careful to not let them burn--it happens fast. You know they're done when you can smell their toasty goodness. Chop them when they're cool enough to handle and then turn up the oven to 425F.

Meanwhile, trim and chop your sprouts. Cut off the end, remove the outer leaves and cut into little wedges. I had some serious mack daddies that needed to be wedged into sixths, but normally quartering is sufficient. (Tip: when you're quartering, go through the core so all the layers mostly stay together.) Throw them onto a baking sheet, drizzle with the evoo, salt and pepper and toss with your hands until evenly coated. Roast for about 15-18 minutes without moving them at all--let them develop that caramelized brown side. Then flip them and roast for 5 more minutes. I like it when they get super brown and some of the leaves get scorched but finish them to your liking.

After removing them from the oven, toss into a bowl with the walnuts, some more sea salt and a good drizzle of balsamic to your taste.


Even Maria (who can be a bit critical at times) liked them!
Happy day:)


Monday, March 7, 2011

I don't know if pictures can truly convey how stinkin' CUTE this garland is!!!  It is pure partylicious!  I finished it in time for my Birthday today and it's making me so happy happy happy that I can't stop smiling...I don't know that it will ever come down...

You can get the tutorial from the purl bee here.

I'm looking forward to spending the day feeling so blessed to be on this planet.  And to have the most wonderful people in my life to love.  I'm so lucky.

I hope you have a wonderful day:)

scenes from a fabric store

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Friday, lovely readers! Or should I say.......DAY 7?! I've been doing the cleanse now for a week! I can't even believe it. I'm so fricking proud of myself. And frankly, surprised at how easy it's been to stick to after all. After getting over the first few days of discomfort (headaches and cravings), you just want to keep the good momentum going. I've been utterly inspired and truly educated by Dr. Junger's book, CLEAN. We have to process so many toxins just living in our environment, not even counting the food we eat, so what a kind thing to give our sweet bodies a break. I highly recommend it.  Despite the restricted diet, I've been eating so well and cooking up a storm. I'll post some recipes next week.

So. Today I'm starting a project: making this cutest party garland! One of the ingredients is invisible thread, something like fishing line, to hold it all together. I went to the fabric store to pick it up and when I beheld this view, I cracked up out loud:

Hope you have a wonderful weekend...


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I dreamt last night that DP was in the hospital for some reason and when I went to visit him, I noticed that he had a CRAZY condition: He was shirtless and everywhere under the uppermost layer of his skin, across his chest and arms and neck were raw bar ingredients. Shrimp-cocktail shrimp with their pink tails, lemon wedges, mussels, clams, oysters on the half-shell. Even little sprigs of parsley. It was like his skin was shrink-wrapped over all of it. In the dream, I was like, "Babe! What is going on with your body?" and he replied tiredly, "Oh. I have a deficiency in [crazy dream language] and an overactive [crazy dream language]." He was so matter-of-fact about it. About having a RAW BAR under his SKIN.  

He said that he had weird dreams too. He dreamt that he was walking by a store and noticed a six foot wooden iguana in the window.  

DP: "I went in to check it out and the window was actually a terrarium. And it turns out the store was actually a bar/restaurant."


DP: "So I just had this feeling that I could save the iguana so I talked to the proprietor."

Me: "What do you mean, save it? I thought it was wooden."

DP: "Turns out it was alive but it was petrified."

Me: "Wait. It was scared?"

DP: "No, like fossilized.  But I had the power to save it, bring it back to life."

Me: "Oh." 

[Long Beat]

Me: "Cool?"

DP: "So pretty soon there was a whole crowd around me, cheering me on."

Me: "Did you bring it to life by allowing it to feed on the fish under your skin?"

And these are actual conversations that happen in our house.  

Happy Wednesday:)

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