Friday, January 28, 2011

Homeowners' Associations

Why are TV dramas always set in hospitals, police stations and law firms? I always thought the newsroom was a great setting, but that's kind of been done before. (I was a big fan of "Lou Grant" back in the day.)

What about a Homeowners' Association? Mine has all the elements of a good TV show - colorful characters (think "Tales of the City,") a token villain or two, high drama, intrigue, even a good cat fight now and then.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


After spending hours this past week on the phone with United Airlines, I professed yesterday that I'd rather be shot in the head than work as a customer service representative. While that may be a slight exaggeration, I don't envy those people at all. I'm no xenophobe, but when I barked that I wanted to speak to a U.S.-based agent, I cringed. If frustration brought me there, where might it bring someone less kind and patient than I?

That said, "Outsourcing," an episode in Morgan Spurlock's (Super Size Me) reality series called "30 Days" is well worth watching. An unemployed American journeys to India to learn about the man who got his job and what the phenomenon has done to his country.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ryoko's Sushi

Michelle and I went out for sushi last night and I wanted to try a new place. Yelp led me to Ryoko's in the Tenderloin.

Filling two pages on the menu, unique and creatively named rolls are their specialty. Plus, their prices are terrific and the ambiance is more bar than restaurant - very lively and fun.

I've never seen sushi chefs (we really should call them artists) so young. They're also open until 2 a.m. I'll definitely be back!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

Feeling a tad superstitious, I invited the same group of friends over the past few weekends to watch football and enjoy a "pot of something." It did the trick as the Packers head to the Superbowl. Woo hoo!

It seems there are as many types of veggie chili as there are vegetarians. Yesterday's recipe was terrific. I substituted a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar for the cocoa powder and it really gave it a nice bump of flavor. I served it with sour cream, cheese, green onions and black olives.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Redwood Room

I had heard of this SF landmark in the Clift Hotel, but had never been there until last night.

The Single Guy Chef invited me to join him for a special cocktail party for food bloggers. It was a lovely spot and the cocktails and appetizers were quite yummy. Watch his blog for photos and details.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I love pasta - well, I love all carbs - and, for me, that's the thing I miss most when I'm trying to lose weight. I heard about these noodles made from yams and I had to try them. They get incredibly mixed reviews on line, so I tried a recipe that sounded like it couldn't fail.

And it didn't! Hot and Sour Shirataki Noodles with Tofu was scrumptious and so easy to make.

I can't wait to try the leftovers for lunch because I've heard the noodles are even better the next day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Egg in a Basket

Toad in the Hole. Bird's Nest. Whatever you call it, it's delicious.

Because I try to limit myself to one or two real eggs a week - high cholesterol - I try to make it worth it. This is a great breakfast. The bread gets crispy, the yolk stays runny. Delish!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Making the Leap

My Kindle has arrived! (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

It's a beautiful device and I'm thrilled to fill it up with books.

I'm pretty shocked by it's size - particularly its width and weight - or lack thereof. I'll get to test it out on my trip to Seattle next week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cleaning Out the Fridge

This photo does it no justice - but I made a remarkable batch of soup last night. Basically, I cleaned out the fridge.

Carrots, celery, onion, cauliflower, broccoli, a potato and a bag of baby spinach. Threw it all together with some herbs, spices and some chicken broth. Then whirled it around a bit with my immersion blender and voila!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

I don't usually do this, but I'm going to recommend a restaurant I've never eaten at. It looks THAT good! They specialize in - grilled cheese!

Pictured here is the Moscone -- fresh mozzarella, fontina, roasted tomatoes, basil-lavender pesto, kalamata olive tapenade -- the sandwich I'd try first.

Of course, this is not a lunch that fits in well with my weight loss plan, so if you make it there before I, do let me know.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cashmere Gloves

My office is very chilly in the mornings - so chilly, in fact, that my fingers have trouble typing. The other day I said, "I need a pair of fingerless gloves. Cashmere." And, lo and behold, Google was there for me!

These beauties are thin, light, oh-so-soft and less than $30!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Game Day Fun

I have to say that watching football with friends is so much more fun than watching with a bar full of strangers. And, of course, watching a winning game is much more enjoyable than seeing one's team lose. Oh, and the food! Scroll down to see the recipe for vegetarian chili.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Another culinary experiment I've embarked on is making sauerkraut, which I love. But because I don't eat meat, it's sometimes tricky finding food to eat with it. I usually settle on some variety of tofu dog.

Yes, this is an entire 2-pound head of cabbage mixed with salt. You mix and squeeze, mix and squeeze until it reduces down to about a quarter of the size it was when you started.

Then you pack it into a jar, loosely cover and let it ferment for a couple weeks. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I know I've touted the glories of Olive here before, but after visiting on a Wednesday for happy hour, I must reiterate. Awesome!

$5 (huge!) glasses of wine. $8 spectacularly delicious pizzas. Need I say more? Major danger zone for those among us trying to lose a few pounds.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Books of 2010

Reading is my favorite thing to do. Really. I remember getting my first library card and having to reach up to the desk and panicking at the prospect of not being able to print my whole name on the teeny-tiny line. In the past few years, I started keeping a list. It's a neat exercise because when I review it at the end of the year, it brings back boatloads of memories - where I was, how I felt, what else was going on in my life at the time. This time, inspired by Jillian, I'd like to share it. Any/all feedback welcomed! (Just be nice.)

(in reverse chronological order)

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain (SU)

A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (NF) (DS)

Private by James Patterson

Honeymoon by James Patterson

Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice (AP)

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers* (BG)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer*

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit (BG) (NF)

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy* (AP)

Running the Books by Avi Steinberg* (AP)

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (DS)

Trespass by Rose Tremain (AP)

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (AP) (DS)

In the Hot Zone by Kevin Sites (SU)

Being Dead by Jim Crace (NF)

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

Disclosure by John Grisham

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (BG)

Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

Crossers by Philip Caputo

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Invisible by Paul Auster*

Duma Key by Stephen King (SU)

The Poet by Michael Connelly

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett (BG)

The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale*

Confessions of a Tax Collector by Richard Yancey* (SU)

Family History by Dani Shapiro

A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

The Straight Man by Richard Russo

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis* (SU)

The Jasmine Trade by Denise Hamilton

Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen

The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky

The History of Danish Dreams by Peter Hoeg

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (BG) (NF)

All Over the Map by Laura Fraser^

The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

The Cave by Robert Penn Warren (BG)

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (DS)

Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West (BG)

The Crowning Glory of Call Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Lady Sings the Blues by Billie Holiday (BG)

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo (DS)


* = It’s really tough to get a star. The book must be exceptional, remarkable and memorable.

BG = Read for book group
AP = Reviewed for AP
NF = Not finished. So boring, I simply couldn’t bear to read it all the way through. I only recently gave myself permission to leave a book unfinished.
SU = Surprised! Picked up somewhere for free and was pleasantly surprised.
DS = Disappointed! Really, really wanted to read for whatever reason and was sorely disappointed.

^ = Special kudos to my friend, Laura, for her wonderful (second) memoir published this year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holiday Homemaking

I did a ridiculous amount of cooking over the holidays. In part, I was inspired by a book Louise gave me called "Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors From the Modern Pantry."

I enjoyed some of the fruits of my labors last night. I whipped up a pot of waistline-friendly lentil soup and enjoyed it with a slice of homemade bread topped with homemade cheese! Yes, cheese! A Wisconsinite's delight. It tastes like a blend of cream cheese and mild ricotta and it was so easy, it hurt. And the bread? Such a painless endeavor with the help of a food processor.

Monday, January 3, 2011


I opted not to venture out this New Year's Eve. Last year, I spent the evening in the Emergency Room, so anything would've been an improvement.

My neighbors, Meegan and Raffi, had a party - pasta, snacks, wine and cheese. Yum! Then we headed upstairs to dance at Robert's place. Usually I save my dancing for weddings, but even I could not resist the blend of 80s hits!

(Njon, Meegan and me - Thanks to Meegan for the photo.)