Monday, July 28, 2008

Cant Wait

This home buying process is SO nerve-racking!
I've begun to really love my prospective home, and if things go bad at this late date, I will definitely break my lil heart :)

Truth to be told, apart form the fact that it is the sweetest and most spacious 4-bedroom cottage EVER, its also the things surrounding it that make me love it more and more:
1- 2 miles from Disneyland.
2- 10 from Lil India (whee!)
3- 8 from Lil Saigon (YESYESYES!!! I love pho [pronounces "phaa"] to distraction :D)

When I think of the above, I burst into little bubbles of happiness, and then I remember:
1- The crazy monthly payments.
2- The front yard and the back fruit trees (5!) that must be cared for
3- The prospective vacuuming that I detest and that is unavoidably in my near future now.

I have 1 episode a day where all the above thoughts race through my brain in about one schizo minute, and then I figure its time to sober down, and get back to work- heeh :S

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Palm Desert, San Jacinto

Finally, here are the Palm Springs photos. The main activity for us was our afternoon hike up Mt. San Jacinto, which is about 8,500 ft above sea level.

At the resort, 5:30am.

Up the Tramway- this was almost scary.
This SO reminded me of the Lord of the Rings- I could almost see Frodo and Sam Wise hiking up the side...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hunan-style drunken chicken

Hunan-style drunken chicken is this really simple, homely dish that is hard not to love. It is so simple that a tween could do it, with supervision at the wok! I put my own spin on it, since I didn't have any rice wine handy :)

Serves: 3 if appetizer, 2 if main

Cooking and Prep: Approximately 20 minutes total.

1 lb skin-less chicken, ideally boneless, cut into 2" dice/strips.
2" of ginger, julienned into matchsticks
3/4th cup of sweet white Bordeaux (which I substituted for the original rice wine that the recipe called for)
salt and pepper

4 sticks of Green onions, cut into 1" pieces.
1 cup of mushrooms- if these are small, about 1-2", just use as as, washed. If larger, cut into a 1-2" dice.

1- Have all your ingredients ready and prepped on hand before beginning to cook. The cooking will go super fast, and you wont have time to prep in between.
2- I used a white Bordeaux, but you can use ANY white wine you would drink. Using a red would discolor the dish, and stop it from being "Chinese"-y enough.
3- Also, as a general rule, whenever you cook with wine, always taste it first. If you don't like the taste of it as a drink, you will not like the taste of it when it flavors your food.

- Take a wok (or wok-like pot) and put it on high flame.
- Add a spoonful of oil, and swirl it around. In about 5 seconds, add in the ginger.
- Using a spatula, quickly stir fry the ginger- which looks like a lot, but trust me, it turns out to be just enough. In about 30 seconds, it will turn golden, and the fragrance should hit you. This signals the addition of the chicken.
- As soon as the chicken hits the wok, stir fry quickly, about 5 minutes, till its golden on all sides. You wont need to add more oil, since the chicken will have some of its own, even though virtually skin-less.
- Once golden, add in 1/4 cup of the wine, to deglaze the wok. After adding the wine, let it come to a boil while you scrape away any cooked bits sticking to the bottom of the pan- these become part of your sauce.
- The wine will boil away fairly quickly, and now you can add in the remaining half cup, and let it come to a boil. This is also a good time to add in the mushrooms, if usin
- As soon as the wine comes to a boil, cover the wok, and reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Walk away for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, open the wok, and adjust for seasoning.
- If you are eating this over rice/noodles, you want to shut off the heat, and keep the liquid in the wok as is, for sauce. If you are having this as an appetizer, reduce the liquid by boiling it away, to a mere glaze.

- Once the heat is off, add the green onions, if using. These will cook a bit by the heat of the dish itself, but still remain nicely crunchy.

Doesn't it look v Chinese-restaurant-ey? And its fast and delicious too! :D

Friday, July 25, 2008

Terror in the South now?

Bad things are happening in Bangalore. Thank God the attacks weren't severe, and there were only 2 casualties.

This makes me so angry. I've grown up watching terror attacks in India- first Kashmir, then Punjab, then Indira Gandhi's assassination and related riots, then Babri Masjid, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and the long drawn out terror attacks in the North East and East coast. After that point, I wasn't in India too often, but witnessed a terror attack in '05 when I had gone back for my wedding reception. And of course heard about the Bombay '06 bombings.

And now this. Bangalore isn't known to be a violent city by any means, and this is just so frustratingly dumb! The attacks are obviously meant to arouse fear and confusion, but dammit- why don't people understand that bombs are not a solution to a problem. I also realise its easy to preach when you aren't there, on the spot, experiencing what the perpetrators themselves went through. They too must have been under severe provocation to take such a step. And yet, these acts of desperation will not serve to resolve anything for them or anyone else. If anything, matters will turn for the worse, and their persecution will increase. Its a difficult world, and dealing with it via violence is not going to make it easier.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Food diary entry: #7

7:00am- Breakfast, in car, as before.
Silk Chocolate soy milk, 1/3 cup.
1/2 Goat cheese (low fat, w/ herbs) sandwich on wheat bread.
Calories: 190

10:30am- In office, sort-of hungry.
6 Baby carrots
Calories: 30

11:45am- Lunch.
Lean Cuisine Chicken Parmesan and fettuccine (honestly good! but not filling enough)
1 Diet Coke
Calories: 321

3pm: Hungry-ish. Craving chips (office vending machine has Maui onion flavor- yay!), but I successfully resisted the temptation and had 4 more baby carrots.
Calories: 20

5:30pm: Driving home, trying to keep awake. Usually I make all my phone calls to family and friends during this time (I have a hands free thank you, and I do concentrate on the road :D) But the calls take max 1 hr, and the drive is 2 hours, so out come a snack, the healthier the better.
6 Baby carrots
Calories: 30

7:00pm- Dinner.
1 Aloo ka paratha (yes I know I'm crazy- I cooked after I got home). Freshly made w/ a tsp of oil, so fairly low cal.
1 serving of spinach and tomato salad
Calories: 550

Total calories for the day: 1141
Water drunk: 2 pints

Daily analysis: A good day- need more of these.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Food diary entry: #7

I haven't been very regular in keeping my daily food diary, but these days I find that even if I skip a day in between, I have generally become more alert re: food intake.

7:00am- Breakfast, in car, driving among all the maniacs on 405 South.
Silk Chocolate soy milk, 1/3 cup.
1/2 Goat cheese (low fat, w/ herbs) sandwich on wheat bread.
Calories: 190
This is possibly the most I've ever eaten so early in the morning. However, I noticed that eating something for breakfast makes me hungry mid-morning again- so it is DEFINITELY helping my metabolism.

10:30am- In office, sort-of hungry.
2nd 1/2 of goat cheese sandwich.
Calories: 150

11:45am- Lunch.
The last of the Lean Cuisine pizzas! In retrospect, they aren't quite that awful- just need seasoning and 1/2 the cheese should be dusted off- and the pizza should be allowed to "sit" for 3-5 minutes before eating.
Calories: 290 (less due to my throwing out the cheese)

ALL day- Today was smoothie Wednesday at the office, so got a G3 energizer (Jamba Juice). I love the berries, but there is a suspicious Guava taste in there which I dislike- will read the menu properly before next week's order :D
Calories: 310

7:00pm- Dinner: super hungry as always, but had hit high on calories for the day, and therefore decided to do a spinach salad, so that I could also have the potato chips I was craving (blame it on the new Salsa I bought- its too damned addictive)
Spinach, tomato and red onion salad dressed with lime juice and apple cider vinegar.
A handful of Trader Joe's chips
Calories: 500

Total calories for the day: 1451
Water drunk: 2 pints

Daily analysis: I really should stop eating potato chips... [sigh] its a childhood addiction I never could get over from. [deeper sigh]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Food diary entry: #6

The husband and I were in Palm Springs for my Firm's annual bash over the weekend- I shudder to remember the consumption of numerous gin and Sprites, margaritas, steaks and misc unending platters of food by me :D

But the weekend is over, and I will go back to being good :)

Breakfast, running out the door, not hungry, but bidding to get my metabolism going:
Silk Chocolate soy milk, 1/3 cup.
Calories: 40

In office, not hungry, but peckish. Don't have any snacks today, so begin to sip on my diet coke, which practice will continue all day :D
Calories: 1

Hungry- want. lunch.soon.Until then, some 72% cacao Trader Joe's dark chocolate.
Calories: 100

Hungry- enthu about this lunch, since it features pot stickers and rice, but is low cal- I hope it isn't as puke-worthy as the Lean pizzas from last week.
Lean Cuisine rice and pot sticker meal
Calories: 260
Verdict: Pretty delicious- the pot stickers held up well, and the rice was really simple and good. I am going to buy boxes of this stuff...

Driving home, stuck in traffic, hungry.
Trader Joe's 70% dark chocolate- 4 squares.
Calories: 200

Wildly ravenous.
Stewed chickpeas (chhole) w/ steamed rice.
Calories: 450

Not really hungry, peckish- should have just gone to bed, but binged on jalapeno chips instead (eeps)
Calories: 400

Total calories for the day: 1451
Water drunk: 1 pint

Daily analysis: I love Lean Cuisine pot stickers (hey I love ANY pot sticker, stat). I don't seem to be losing any weight despite portion control in the past week or so, but at least am not gaining any more, which is always a good thing. SHOULD NOT have binged on chips late night. SHOULD have bought snacks w/ me to work.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Food diary entry: #5

Having a food-diary is turning out super helpful! I haven't gone completely low cal, but have at least learned to control my baser desires (heeh).

Morning, 6:30am:
1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
This has become a daily staple. When I get sick of it (which I will, I can never do the same thing for a long time), I'll have to figure out what else I can keep down early in the morning. Having a bite gets me awake and gets the metabolism going, which is a good thing :)
Calories: 40

Lunch,12:30pm:Lean Cuisine Chicken pizza
Yep, its #3 of the 4 packs I had. I wisely threw out almost all the cheese (they put enough to drown one, honestly) and drenched it in Soy sauce, which made it somewhat edible.
Calories: 300

All day:
Sipped a diet Mountain Dew all day.
Calories: 0

On the drive home:
12 baby carrots
Calories: 60

Dinner, 7pm:
Home-made chicken-mushroom burgers dressed with tomatoes, onions and spinach.
Trader Joe's potato chips
Same dinner as last night, but wth- it was so good!
Calories: 600

Late Night snack:
Fat free saffron yogurt (yup gotta post soon...)
Calories: 90

Water drunk during the day: approximately 2 pints.
Total calories consumed: 1090

Analysis for the day:
I wish all my days were like this. Very balanced eating, with dairy, vegetables, protein and grains- all in keeping with the caloric goals.

Life is happening to me...

Things have been pretty crazy around here lately.

Since my new job is in another county, I've been driving 3-4 hours on a daily basis- while I love to drive, sitting in traffic isn't the most fun thing in the world. Traffic is heaviest in the evening, and I usually spend the time on my hands free, putting through the daily phone calls to my family. I also seem to get really good recipe ideas when I drive (Hunan drunken chicken, Chicken-mushroom-jalapeno burger, Saffron yogurt....all turned out well, just haven't had time to post).

We are moving in 1 month's time, and while I am already in love with my new home, the monthly payments are horrifying! It pretty much means no movie-watching, shoe shopping, booze or road-trips for the next 2 years, which is a fearful idea, but what would you do....

Also working on my CPA- seriously this time. I have been so busy with work in the past few years that I haven't had time to study, but it's time to bite the bullet and get it done, and I am resolved to do this this year, before '09 happens.

Going to Palm Springs this weekend- no, I didnt suddenly strike it rich- its an annual firm event. With all the packing we have to do, I am not even sure I have the time to do this, but oh well. Pix to be posted soon......:)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Food diary entry: #4

Morning, 6:30am:
1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40

Lean Cusine Cheese pizza (Still horrible- but I threw out 1/2 the cheese, which actually made it more palatable)
Calories: 340

All day:
Grazed through the day on a Berry Lime Sublime from Jamba Juice, 300 calories. Wouldnt do it if left to myself, but the firm treats us to one every Wednesday, so what the heck
Calories: 300

Dinner, 8pm:
Home-made chicken-mushroom burgers dressed with tomatoes, onions and spinach. Damned good- recipe to follow soon.
Trader Joes's potato chips
Calories: 525

Water drunk during the day: approximately 1 pint.
Total calories consumed: 1205

Analysis for the day:
I need to drink more water! The chicken burgers I made at home were fabulous and really low in fat & calories- I just binged on the chips, which was a bad idea, but ah well :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Food diary entry: #3

Morning, 6:30am:
1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40

Lean Cusine chicken pizza (HORRIBLE_ eugh! If I wasnt dying of hunger.....:S But I bought the 4-pak and have 3 more of these at home, so will be eating this for the next 4 days- aaghhh! :D)
Calories: 340

Early evening, on the drive home, 5:30pm:
1 Diet Coke
Calories: 1

Dinner, 6pm:
"Olympia" pizza- with parmesan and olives.
Calories: 500

Water drunk during the day: approximately 1 pint.
Total calories consumed: 881

Analysis for the day: Great on the calorie count. Not a very healthy day however, since even though the calories in the frozen pizza are low and it is super filling, it doesnt have many nutrients. Ah well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Food diary entry: #2

6:30am: 1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40


  • 1 chocolate chip cookie, small
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 1 diet Coke
Calories: 121

Early evening, on the drive home, 5:30pm:

  • 10 baby carrots
Calories: 50

Dinner, 6pm:

  • Carl's Jr. Jalapeno Burger
  • Diet Coke

Calories: 1001

Water drunk during the day: approximately 1 pints.

Total calories consumed: 1172

Analysis for the day:
I really wanted a burger today, so I had one :D, and kept the calories to a minimal as well! I balanced out my burger binge by nibbling on carrots all day- I love 'em, so that helped! Need to keep the soda down to no more than 1 a day. This last bit is so very hard for me: I grew up having some cola on an every day basis, and at its worst, during the school summer holidays, it would go up to 4 a day! Still, we can't blame stuff on our depraved childhoods forever, so I will perserve.... :)

Friday, July 11, 2008


This article was in the NY Timestoday. Good read.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Food diary entry: #1

Yep, I will buckle down and do it.

I figured, if I actually sat and wrote what I apparently inhale everyday, I may stop eating so much out of shame :D

So Here goes:

630am: 1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40

Mid Morning:
10:30am: 2 Hide 'n Seek Chocolate biscuits
1 diet Coke
Calories: 91

12:30am: About 1 cup of steamed white rice, with lentils and aaloo-gobi (cauliflower, potatoes, peas, tomatoes and green onions). Damn those green onions were good- crunchy. I seem to have become good at making aaloo-gobi- will post recipe soon. Also co-worker from the next cube came over to expressly inquire what I was eating, since he was liking the smell- would've offered him some if I hadn't begun already- ah well.
Calories: 700

Early evening, on the drive home:
I am so bored driving an HOUR to get home that I get sleepy- which is highly dangerous on ANY freeway, so I carry my fav crunchy snacks- which are highly unhealthy.
5:30pm: About 10 Trader Joe's ridge cut chips.
Calories: 200

7pm: chickpeas stew w/ tomato, radishes and onions.
Calories: 500

Late night:
10pm: Twining's jasmine green tea, with 1 tbs of honey- I don't think I like this green tea very much; will switch brands once I am done with this pack. I do love green tea, and therefore try to experiment with brands as often as possible.
Calories: 0

Water drunk during the day: approximately 2.5 pints.
Total calories consumed: 1531

Analysis for the day:

  • I do have a decent vegetable and cereal intake, but could amp up proteins and calcium.
  • I drastically need to cute down on food, and limit myself to 1100 calories per day.
  • Fat cals are not out of control, but could be better.
  • I always thought that I didn't have a sweet tooth, but I seem to be consuming a fair bit of sweet stuff anyways.
  • Need to keep the soda down to no more than 1 a day.

Japanese Curry

In a bid to get in some quick and fast, yet satisfying recipes, here is some Japanese Curry, originally posted at my other blog.

There was a time I was absolutely binging on this, since it is incredibly savory, very fast to cook and keeps well :) In US Supermarkets, you can normally find Vermont Style or S&B Golden Curry (Medium Hot) (See also: I prefer the S&B Japanese version, "Hot", from my local Korean store, which has more diverse options.

What it is: Japanese curry powder is a mix of various spices, many the same as that used in India Garam Masala. However, the proportions are different, the spice is pressed into blocks and is super easy to prepare- just add to your main of veggies/meat/tofu, unlike Indian curry.

Here is what I used:

  • 1 box of S&B Golden Curry paste (Medium Hot)
  • A handful of white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb of chicken, cut to 1.5"-2" cubes.
  • 1" dice 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1.5" dice 1 small red onion, julienned
  • A handful of frozen green peas
  • A bunch of green onions, cut small
This is what I did:

  • Add about a spoonful of oil to a deep skillet, and heat about a minute.
  • Add the onions to the skillet, and fry till golden.
  • Now add the chicken and brown on all sides.
  • Now add the curry paste cubes, and mix gently. This will take time, and you musnt try to blend in the spice- that'll break up your chicken. Just add 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to a bare simmer.
  • After about 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and green beans.
  • In another 10 minutes, add the peas, cover the pan back and let cook for another 5 minutes.
  • After the 5 minutes are past, taste the curry for salt- the spice mix already has salt in it. If the curry is too thick, add water, and boil for the right consistency. If it is too thin, simply boil away the excess.
  • Once you are satisfied with the thickness of the curry, mix in the green onions, and serve over steamed rice!

Note: The curry keeps well for about a week in the fridge, but does not take well to freezing.

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Other ingredient ideas:

1- Try using lamb/beef/tofu instead of the chicken.

2- You could also use shrimp/other seafood; just ensure that you add any vegetables that take longer to cook first, and then add in the seafood about 5 (Shrimp) - 8 (fish) minutes before finishing cooking.

3- Instead of adding spring onions in the end, try cilantro- I wouldn't recommend adding fresh basil, since that will strongly alter the curry flavor.

4- When choosing vegetables to add to the curry, make sure you add the longer cooking veggies like squashes and potatoes first, the peppers next, and lastly any herbs or frozen veggies, which will cook the fastest.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Turned in my papers!
5 day vacation!

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh peace.

Came back with dill, jalapenos, cauliflower (gobi-aaloo anyone?), but didn't cook a thing.
Had also wisely bought cigarettes, and after a longish nap induced sainted husband to drink and smoke :D
After he had downed several beers and me several Bloody Marys, called dearest friend Steve to join the mini-party- and we are still at it as I pound out these words. Venturing on some heartening drunk driving now.....