Tag Archives: eggs

Contemplating Eggs and The Lack Thereof

20130402-212936.jpg

Last week I ate a Sushirito, a burrito sized sushi roll, and unbeknownst to me it contained tamago, the Japanese rolled omelette. It wasn’t on the menu and I told the preparer and the cashier I was allergic to egg, but still they added it to the roll. I ate two bites and started to feel funny, within minutes I was having a severe allergic reaction.

20130402-213030.jpg

I took 2 Claritans as my immunologist instructed, then took another one. By this time my tongue was tingling and my throat felt like it was closing up to I went a block from my office to an urgent care center, they promptly sent me to the ER. The ER staff were great and gave me a whopping shot of steroids and some massive antihistamine and noted a rash developing all over my arms, chest and back, and that my throat was closing up and my tongue was swelling up. After 4 hours of medication and monitoring I was allowed to go home with a handful of prescriptions.

In the days that followed I was dealing with the “hangover” of this allergy reaction, a hugely busy workload and a severe family health emergency. The steroids I was taking prevented me from sleeping but also gave me insane energy and insomnia to deal with all of these crises.

A few days later it really hit me. It’s been two years since these weird food intolerances appeared. Technically they are not a true allergy as the blood and skin tests were negative. But there is no denying that I’m having an anaphylactic response to eggs.

20130402-213225.jpg

I had a bad night realizing all of the foods that are now shut off to me, probably forever. All of my life I have never given a thought to what I ate, except whether it tasted good or was well prepared. Now I can never relax my vigilance just in case the next allergy attack proves to be more serious. I carry an EpiPen and I read labels. When I dine out or eat prepared foods I have to place my trust and my life in the hands of others.

Did I mention that I have major control issues? I have always, in my quiet and diplomatic way, maintained an iron grip of control over my life. Now, this doesn’t help me, matters are out of my hands. It’s terrifying and frustrating.

So, in an effort to help me get over these feelings of sadness I need to get it off my chest. I’m pissed I can’t eat quiche, poached eggs, hollendaise, Green Goddess dressing, salad Niçoise, Caesar salad, waffles, soufflés, meringues, dacquois and Pavlovas, macarons and deviled eggs. No matzo balls, fresh pasta, donuts, cookies, lemon curd, freaking lemon meringue pie, tuna salad sandwiches, aioli and frittatas, pot au cream, custard, my Granny’s tapioca pudding recipe, BLTs with a thick smear of mayonnaise and creme brûlée. I’m going to miss the Creme Brûlée Guy. A lot.

20130402-213833.jpg

Fuck you, eggs, I hate you.

I don’t like how sick I get after eating eggs now. It’s super scary. I need to avoid them diligently just in case this intolerance gets more sensitive and the reaction gets more severe. This is a true threat. So why do I miss these things? It’s in my head, a sort of denial. I need to get over it and move on.

But for today I am angry and bitter.

Fucking eggs. Fucking beautiful eggs.

20130402-213347.jpg

Advertisements

Food Allergy Update

It has been a few weeks since I have written about my new battle with food allergies.

It is a battle. Every day I eat anything I feel like I am playing Russian roulette. It is so much fun! Oh the sarcasm.

The good news is that I don’t have blood immunity-detectable allergies to anything they have tested but this means nothing.

Apparently, one can have an allergic reaction to a food and not be technically allergic. There are food allergies, food intolerances, Oral Allergy Syndrome and food sensitivities.

What does this mean for me? Nothing.

I am clueless until my next set of tests two weeks away. The nurse said that those tests may not give me any helpful information either.

For example, I have been reacting strongly to eggs, meaning anything with egg on it, including baked goods, has made me feel terrible. I am not allergic in a true sense but might have a “sensitivity”.

I’m not allergic to dairy but I have an intolerance, so eating cow’s milk products have a very decided effect.

I am not allergic to fruits or nuts according to my lab tests but I might have OAS due to cross-reactivity to certain pollens.

Today’s test was watermelon and I felt “funny” but not like I do after eating eggs or almonds. But I won’t be doing that again.

I also thought potatoes were okay because potato chips have been fine. But the other night I roasted some fingerling potatoes and felt that awful tingly itchy feeling and soreness in my mouth. Today I had some roasted potatoes “croutons” in my salad and again the same feeling came over me.

I need to try mashed potatoes because the reaction I am having could be from the potato skins.

Or, maybe I’m just screwed.

You see, mashed potatoes are my favorite comfort food. When I have a migraine and am too green to keep most foods down I can have a few bites of mashed potatoes.

Potatoes dishes loom large in my celebratory dinners too, like the infamous lobster mashed potatoes from my birthday or creamy mashed potatoes and gravy at every major holiday.

When I feel happy or sad I want mashed potatoes. I want mashed potatoes like little kids want their mommies.

I am starting to hyperventilate just thinking about this and am sending buttery offerings to the tuber gods that peeled potatoes are okay.

WWW: Wots of Wabbit Wuv

Happy Easter!

20110423-025657.jpg

I finally returned to the Ferry Building farmer’s market today to do a tiny bit of shopping but mostly to pick up my meat CSA box for the month. Herewith the 4505 Meats Easter Basket, full of lots of rabbit love. WWW!

This is my second CSA box from Ryan Farr and his glorious team at 4505 Meats. Their Spring lamb CSA box was really amazing and I’m just now starting to eat it. Wow.

What a lovely spread of goodies. I love their hand-drawn labels.

20110423-021916.jpg

I have long been a fan of rabbit. When I lived briefly in the country I had a neighbor lady who kept rabbits. Occasionally she would call me at work and ask if I wanted a rabbit and of course I always said Yes! I would come home and find a plastic bag full of ice packed around a carefully wrapped freshly butchered rabbit. Later I would pop by her house on my bike and pay her for the next few deliveries. There is a lot to be said for the country life!

My favorite ways to prepare rabbit are Jeff Smith’s rabbit and leeks or Julia Child’s broiled deviled rabbit.

Happily for me now though, Ryan has made it extremely easy for me and his other lucky customers to enjoy rabbit. All the prep is done and even I in my mostly one-handed-while-rehabbing state can easily prepare a delightful dinner.

The coolest 4505 Meats chill bag came stuffed with all of these Easter delicacies and an instruction card on how to cook and serve each savory treat.

20110423-022122.jpg

To start is a pouch of ruby hued pickled spicy beets and eggs.

20110423-022211.jpg

A generous bag of luscious rabbit shoulder confit on the bone, slow poached in delicious fat.

20110423-022316.jpg

Dainty marinated carrots from their country line farm.

20110423-022706.jpg

Romesco sauce, one of my personal favorites, to serve with the confit on crostini perhaps.

20110423-022832.jpg

For the main courses, marinated rabbit leg in parsley, lemon and shallots, to be braised in rabbit stock.

20110423-023027.jpg

20110423-024007.jpg

A generous saddle of rabbit wrapped in belly to be roasted with olives and herbs.

20110423-023255.jpg

Four plump rabbit and pork sausages with white wine and green garlic.

20110423-024309.jpg

Just for fun they added homemade peep marshmellows, colored pink from beets and cut into cute rabbit shapes.

20110423-023605.jpg

This seems more like two dinners worth but it will be quite the spread.

I can only anticipate how delicious these rabbity goodies will taste. I know that me and a few lucky friends are in for an amazing dinner very soon.

20110423-030007.jpg(my kitchen table)

Meantime, Happy Easter to you and your families!

Ramen Rocks

Ever since Top Ramen hit the shelves it has been my favorite snack, but it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco that I discovered the deliciousness that is true ramen. I consumed many a vast bowl of ramen in J-town since then, and still do have a packet or ten in the pantry. If I can’t decide what I want for lunch or dinner I turn to ramen. My favorite food movie of all time remains Tampopo. It’s no wonder that I turn again and again to a deep bowl filled with golden noodles, miso or soy based broth, a billion topping options and dashes of togarashi.

Earlier this year I decided to embark on a quest to eat the best ramen in the City and nearby environs. Since my shoulder injury cooking for myself hasn’t been happening but I learned I can still eat ramen, even using chopsticks in my left hand. Yay, ambidexterity!

Thus begins my journey of bliss in a bowl, a journey of many spoons, chopsticks and soup splatters across my clothes, a journey into the center of satisfaction.

First off, I frequent Hapa Ramen at lunchtime at the Ferry Building Thursday food carts. I go there almost every week since they started. The City has been abuzz about this stall since its opening last year and brave long lines and uncertain weather to eat this ramen. My favorite is the Big Daddy Ramen which once consumed causes me to positively slosh back to the office where I long to sling a hammock in the server room and nap the afternoon away.

The Big Daddy features a rich porky broth loaded with seasonal vegetables, pork belly, nuggets of crispy karaage – Japanese fried chicken – seaweed, nori and a slow cooked soft egg. Here, look and it’s better in person.

20110402-110001.jpg

Their own kimchee and pickled veggie garnish is so popular they have now wised up and are charging for it. I am not a kimchee sort of gal but theirs is brilliant as a topping or nibble post-ramen. They also make little fried tidbits on occasion such as this pork-shrimp-radish cake.

20110403-061406.jpg

The rich broth at Hapa is the thing and I would like to bob in their propane-heated giant pots like they were hot tubs and bring a spoon. Mmm, long pig (just kidding). These folks are *dedicated*, they’re more like acolytes than cooks. I also follow Ritchie on Twitter, he’s just generally amazing.

Onwards on my quest, I headed south in the dead of winter like a magpie after tinsel or in my case I was after yarn at Stitches West, which I visit every year with my pal E__.

It was a cruddy rainy day and we had to park what seemed miles away from the convention center. We did not bring umbrellas. After gorging our totebags with yarn we slogged the long trip back to the car and shivered in our sodden clothes for the long drive back home. E__ suggested stopping for ramen, and we were rejuvenated instantly at the prospect.

Sadly though, our hopes were dashed when Ramen Dojo in San Mateo was inexplicably closed. Disaster!

Fortunately the miracle of the iPhone saved us and we saw on the map that there was another place 5 minutes away in Burlingame.

Behold the unexpected joy of Ramen Club. Apparently this place has almost a cult status and we lucked into it. Luck or destiny?? My pal Jeters told me that she dines there frequently.

We sat at the counter, warmed our hands around mugs of steaming tea and ordered the seasonal special.

20110402-110351.jpg

How could we say no to bacon ramen? And corn. And butter? It had to be wrong but sure enough each huge bowl was topped with pats of salted butter. I learned later this is common in the Sapporo region.

The chef stir-fried the vegetables first in a huge wok, then added the miso broth, divided it between our two bowls and topped them with all the good stuff including extra roasted pork and eggs. ZOMG. This was best ever.

20110402-112256.jpg

I am still thinking of those noodles, hand pulled no less, the bacon, the pork, and the sweet corn, all coated with butter.

Recently E__ sang at a concert in Palo Alto. Her chorale group is incredible – Masterworks Chorale, you must hear them soon and often – lately I couldn’t swing the ticket cost but instead I was allowed to usher the event, bad wing and all.

After the concert, souls filled with beautiful music but achingly empty in our bellies we headed once again to San Mateo see if Ramen Dojo was open. Huzzah, it was, and it was a good night for ramen judging by the masses of people milling outside the tiny restaurant storefront.

This place seats 24 only and there were *so* many people ahead of us. We persevered, catching a whiff of their famous spicy garlic pork broth that poofed out the front door when it opened briefly to disgorge happy diners or receive hungry new patrons.

It was freezing cold outside, our exhalations enveloping us like SF fog. We stamped our feet and our order size kept increasing each minute we waited. After seventy minutes we were still determined. And ravenous. They ran out of slow cooked eggs but we didn’t care. Finally it was our turn!

20110402-113531.jpg

As we were seated we heard the hostess say they were almost out of noodles. Thankfully there was emough for us. We ordered spicy garlic ramen with extra everything: pork, roasted seaweed, corn, quail eggs, it already comes with bamboo, whole roasted garlic cloves and red peppers. We ordered karaage and octopus filled wheat balls too.

Everything arrived quickly. The spicy garlic pork broth was incredible. If the line wasn’t so long I would get on the train and head down there several times a week after work. We got there at 6:3 pm and they’re only open 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm so I think it’s safe to conclude you need to be there as close to their opening to ensure a bowl is yours.

20110402-113951.jpg

20110402-114100.jpg(karaage wings!!)

20110402-114158.jpg(octopus balls with the traditional garnishes)

We ate it all. I mean that. For the first time in my life I ate an entire bowl of ramen. Behold, the bottom of the bowl. I may never see it again.

20110402-114521.jpg(ta da!)

I don’t remember the drive home. My feet were hot and so was the tip of my nose. I could have repelled a horde of vampires with my garlicy countenance. It was divine.

And this is just the beginning. I have many more places on my list to visit and would love to know your favorites.

The Details:

Hapa Ramen

Ramen Club

Ramen Dojo
805 South B Street, San Mateo, CA 94401

Pop Tart Prowl

Sometimes an event comes along that you just can’t say no to, I mean, how can you turn down a pop tart?

Eating pop tarts has been a pleasure reserved for my adult life only. Growing up my mUm never allowed such things in the house, not that I felt deprived mind you, considering her baked goods and my own creations were far superior to a dubious box of fat, sugar and preservatives from the store.

Last year while languishing on my dearest friend L’s couch in front of a crackling fire in the wilds of Santa Fe (and I mean it when I say wild. The coyotes were circling the house that night and the Great Horned Owls were crunching away on the gravel on the roof, it was mind-blowing.) my dear pal asked me if I wanted a pop tart. It was 10:00 pm, we were watching silly movies and had consumed ridiculous portions of posole not all that long ago. Naturally I said yes and a few minutes later she delivered into my grasping hands a serviette with a steaming hot toasted apple cinnamon pop tart. It was flaky, with a well seasoned fresh tasting apple filling with plenty of cinnamon. We promptly had one more each and some tea and then just as promptly zonked out on our respective perches like a pair of tired toddlers.

Later, I was delighted to learn that the pastries came from Natures Path and that they were organic and pretty clean otherwise. My guilt felt assuaged somewhat but in my heart of hearts I missed my Mom’s jam turnovers, my childhood pop tart equivalent. I have never attempted them because of my dread fear of rolled dough but this is something I plan to rectify soon.

So fast-forward to the present day and to my meeting the tres charmant Rachel Saunders and her incredibly lush book on jam. Rachel created the Blue Chair Fruit in the East Bay and has been making and selling her incredible jams at various farmer’s markets in the Bay Area and online. I lucked into a copy of her newly released book and it is well littered with post its and slips of notes of the recipes I plan to try and photos I just cannot stop gazing upon. Her book has taken up permanent residence on my lap and I cannot wait to tell you more about it (soon!).

A local eatery in Berkeley announced they were having a pop tart party using Rachel’s jams and that she would be there in person to sign her incredible book so naturally I inked that invitation into my calendar and was delighted when my pal Luna of Luna’s Kitchen Magic said she could join me. Who better than my sister-friend, a trained pastry chef, to accompany me on a quest for pop tarts.

This Saturday, a bus trip, a BART train, another bus and a long walk later, we arrived at Summer Kitchen Bake Shop‘s door. It was most definitely worth the effort to get there to see the darling Rachel again, and to eat pop tarts! We received a warm greeting but Rachel had a line of eager fans waiting to chat and over her shoulder I spied trays of pop tarts so we sidled by and headed to the cashier.

We ordered one of each of Summer Kitchen’s pop tart creations to munch along with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee for me and an omlette sandwich for the both of us.

The eatery is adorable, high ceilinged and a long counter in front of the grill with a few tables in front on a charming stretch of College Street. We snagged a few stools at the counter and began watching the show, our sides warmed by the pizza oven that anchored the end of the space. It was really challenging to perch like vultures and watch the grill cook make plate after plate of gorgeous sandwiches knowing we couldn’t order everything.

But first we gazed upon the gorgeous pop tarts. Look. Drool. Don’t you wish you were there?

The sweet pop tart had slices of the first of fall’s new crop of Fuji apples topped with Blue Chair Fruit strawberry jam, drizzled with royal icing and dashes of sugar sprinkles. The savory pop tart was filled with Blue Chair’s spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and goat cheese, and topped with shreds of Parmesan. Holy cow! They were simply fantastic. Flaky, thin, buttery pastry, still warm from the oven, pleasantly plump with the fillings and so tender. My toes were wriggling with delight as I nibbled slowly, trying to make them last, washed down by the mother’s-milk of Bella Donovan blend from Blue Bottle. I was beginning to regret only ordering two to share.

Meanwhile, our deft grill cook had crisped thick slabs of my personal local favorite bacon from Golden Gate Meats, slivered an avocado and turned out a perfectly blonde curling shell of a four egg omlette awash with fresh herbs and butter into a soft torpedo roll. Why have I never thought of an omlette sandwich before? It was ridiculous, as Luna is fond of saying.

Nirvana.

I was distracted by the sight of the pastry chef making more pop tarts. Scrutinizing her technique and taking notes we watched her roll out sheets of pastry, top with the juicy apples and dollops of ruby red jam. How I coveted that huge bottle of jam! Behold, the birth of a pop tart.

While they were baking the grill cook made tiny sliders of beef patties topped with blue cheese, piled them into a torpedo roll slathered with tarragon aioli and heaped with mounds of steaming mahogany caramelized onions, slices of pink heirloom tomatoes and handfuls of wild arugula. I am smitten.

Sadly, most of pictures did not come out. The cook was grinning at me shyly as I tried to capture the action, occasionally pausing to let me snap a shot. Now more than ever I wish I had a camera!

Then, to my right, the pastry chef pulled out a huge tray of naked chocolate cupcakes and scooped huge spatulas full of cream cheese frosting into her KitchenAid to fluff up before piping it into graceful spirals on the cakes. Our seatmate, a precocious 5 year old, scored a spoonful of frosting, lagniappe from the chef, lucky thing. The chef scattered chocolate pearls on top of the cupcakes and popped them onto pretty cake stands. If only I could have eaten more!

Then the grill chef began making crispy chicken sandwiches and grinned when I piped up that bacon and avocado would go well with that sandwich, and more of that custard yellow aioli. I realized I wasn’t the only one watching the action. Intently peering through the counter and offering play-by-play was a young man, perhaps 10 years old. Young Jerry is a foodie in the making, he was commenting on the aioli and I explained what that was. He smacked his lips. We watched another burger torpedo being prepared. He hadn’t tried that one, he explained, and sidled over one stool closer to me. I remarked that I hoped the grill chef would make a chicken sandwich again, and then he did! Amazed, Jerry asked how did I know the cook was going to do that? “Magic”, I said, and grinned, then Jerry asked me if I played cards, like Pokemon… His dad laughed and asked Jerry to return to his seat and they finished their pop tarts. Little Romeo!!

Luna and I watched as another batch of fruit pop tarts got their slathering of icing and sprinkles and sadly bid the cooks adieu.

We were delighted to meet in person Charlene Reis, the owner of Summer Kitchen, with whom we had been chatting incessantly on Twitter, and made plans to have a craft night soon. Rachel introduced me to her charming husband and helped me select jars of her jams to take home. I was thrilled to score the last jar of the spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and we agreed bourbon was a magical ingredient, like vanilla, but better. I exclaimed over my last purchase of Rachel’s blood orange marmalade and told her how that jar, which I bought at her book signing at Omnivore, disappeared in two days with the help of an Acme herb slab, Manchego cheese and some prosciutto, quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever invented. Another jar of Rachel’s three fruit marmalade got stowed away in my bag and Luna and I made our farewells.

We strolled down the street and stopped into a sweet shop, several card shops and then to our next stop, Ici.

Ici is an ice cream shop that has an impressive pedigree, its owner worked at Chez Panisse no less, and they usually have a line several store fronts long. Somehow we chanced to be there at just the right time with no line and popped in for a scoop. I chose the lemon ice cream with pinenut praline and an ocean of hot fudge. The combination of creamy lemon and rich fudgy chocolate is truly magical. Luna hit one out of the park with her choice of pear huckleberry sorbet with burnt caramel sauce (picture here). We plopped on a bench in front, another minor miracle, and thoroughly enjoyed our little treat.

As we were leaving I noticed their decorations of crocheted ice cream cones and vowed to knit some soon.

We planned next to visit Amanda’s on Shattuck and decided to work off our breakfast by walking there.

Just like Calvin Trillin we decided to have a snack before lunch and stopped into Crixa’sCakes for tea and pastries.

Fall has arrived in Berkeley and I was regretting my sandals but was grateful for my new leaf-green velour fleece jacket. We sat outside at an iron table as leaves scuttled by on the cobblestones, sipping our steaming Moroccan mint tea and stunning Hungarian pastries. The Hungarian version of pirogue was very good, how can you go wrong with buttery pastry filled with potato, cheese and dill?

We fought a fork-dual over the last bite. Divine! But then we split a pastry amusingly called Fatima’s thighs. More of the buttery, flaky pastry was curled around a rich filling of walnuts, julienned apples, currants and scented with orange flower water, then heaped with powdered sugar. I dusted off my pants which were liberally dotted with sugar and was transported to a memory of eating beignets with a dear beau in steamy sticky New Orleans. We used to laugh that I should never wear black around powdered sugar, something that would have come in handy at Crixa’s!

Another reason to visit Crixa is a street sign pole outside that has been yarnbombed, it is just so adorable.

Awash in tea and feeling all buttery we continued our stroll through Berkeley, marveling at the odd fall clouds in the sky, a building decorated with sculptures of sea life, pots of tomato plants tucked away into doorways, and the unusual people who populate the area. It is so pleasant to stroll with a friend, to be able to walk without rushing. Luna slipped a small sack into my bag, a Springerlie cookie from Crixa, what a treat! We exchanged thoughts about soul mates, shared stories of our siblings and tales about ravens and crows as Brother Crow cawed above our heads.

Our next stop was Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric shop, a place awash with the cutest, kitchy fabric. An entire row of bolts was devoted to food designs and we danced down the aisle singing the Coconut Song, imagining an apron made with a coconut pattern and lime fabric for pockets. I could not resist a few yards of an adorable mushroom fabric. We are taking a sewing class there in a few weeks, and I will make myself an apron to cheer up my kitchen during our drab SF winter. Suddenly we imagined ourselves buying most of the store’s stock and sewing up creation after creation!

The imaginary budget depleted we headed out to Amanda‘s for their house-made spicy ginger aid and a crunchy garden salad. I was tempted by their array of spiced nuts, burgers, sweet potato fries and sodas but couldn’t manage another bite. Luna crunched her salad and shared her ginger ale, which was exceptional.

To my surprise it was nearing 4:00 pm! We visited the pretty library for a small break and then meandered to Trader Joe’s for dinner fixings. I treated myself to a rib eye and ingredients for a pizza dinner another night. How does pizza made of naan with smoked Gouda, Asian pear and prosciutto sound? I thought I needed to make a pot of caramelized onions next week too, and buy bags of sweet onions.

Lugging our goodies to BART, we luck out and the next train was in two minutes, and I was home in a half an hour. I quickly stowed my groceries before sinking gratefully down into a chair to slip on thick wooly socks and settle on the settee for a nap. Five hours later I woke up! Completely missing dinner means I can indulge in steak and eggs for Sunday breakfast!

It was great to explore a new area and have home-made pop tarts and all the other treats that day. I plan to borrow a friend’s kitchen soon to make jam from Rachel’s adorable book, and to make pop tarts perhaps on my next Girl’s Night In. Stay tuned!

…………………………..

Resources:

Blue Chair Fruit
Jam, jam classes and the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook here:
http://bluechairfruit.com/
Also at the Temescal and Grand Lake Farmers’ Markets

Summer Kitchen Bake Shop
2944 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705-2204
Open Daily 9am-9pm
(510) 981-0538

Ici
2948 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
Open Daily
(510) 665-6054

Crixa Cakes
2748 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703-1205
Open Tue-Sat 9am-6:30pm
(510) 548-0421

Stonemountain & Daughter Fashion & Quilting Fabric
2518 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704-2722
Hours: 11am – 5:30pm
(510) 845-6106

Amanda’s Restaurant (Feel Good Fresh Food)
2122 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
Hours: 11am – 9pm
(510) 548-2122
http://www.Amandas.com

Hakuna-Frittata

Sometimes we find assistance with our life problems in the most unexpected places, like in a movie or a song.

I have been trying to process my grief over the passing of my former beau and my thoughts have been quite confused. Turmoil reigns. Our relationship had ended badly and it took me quite a while to deal with that ending and to be okay with its failure. At the same time, I am keenly aware that I made the conscious decision not to be in his life and now, feeling acute grief over knowing he is gone forever, this weekend left me grappling with all of the decisions I have ever made and whether or not they were good ones. But as we all know, hindsight never changes things. You have to have faith in yourself and in your choices knowing you made the best decisions you could in the circumstances.

But still those self-doubting thoughts churned in and out of my overtaxed brain along with the “what-it’s” and most especially a screeching “why??” until all I could do was sit on a chair holding a ball of yarn in my hands. Looking at the whorls and patterns of the yarn as it wound around itself seemed a parable of my life. Unused yarn is destined for a greater purpose; whether the execution is successful or not, it hardly matters. Sometimes just a ball of yarn is a beautiful thing just as it is. I can choose to do more or do less or do nothing. And that is okay, my life can be as simple or as complicated as I want. I have the potential to go in any direction and if it doesn’t work or doesn’t fit it can always be unwound back like a ball of yarn. A ball of yarn can be just as it is for a long time too, there is no harm in staying neatly coiled up for a while.

A fragment of a song kept running through my mind as I smooshed the yarn and finally I realized what my brain-radio was humming. It was the “Circle of Life” song from The Lion King. I started chuckling a bit at my unconscious self and thought just how amusing it is to listen to my inner voice and hear what wacky and wonderful thoughts coalesce from in there.

Today’s musical “ahem” is that with every ending there is a beginning and there really is a circle of life. Or, perhaps a coil.

I began to listen to other things too, such as my body was tired, thirsty, tense and hungry. My mom and sister always tell me that when things are tough, first take care of your body by giving it the basics. Hot tea and toast or even a jolt of whiskey can have miraculous restorative powers.

I realized I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since the previous afternoon when my dear friends A___ and R___ gave me a great brunch at the beach house.

I went into the kitchen and started making toast and boiling water for tea. Somehow the lassitude infecting me slipped off my shoulders for a moment like a heavy blanket puddling onto the floor, and I reached into the fridge for the eggs, a few potatoes, a sliver of a leftover onion and some chevre.

Now my crazy brain started humming Hakuna-Matata which translated into Frittata so I started cooking myself a one and singing Hakuna-Frittata. I browned potato slices and onion in olive oil and beat up a few eggs with chives from my little chicken pot at the window. I piled up the potatoes to form an even bed, poured in the eggs and plopped chunks of the cheese on top and put a lid on the pan on the lowest heat.

Meanwhile the phone rang again and I had the sad duty to relay the news of Marc’s passing to yet another dear friend. Coincidentally she mentioned the circle of life too and after we rang off I forced myself to have an interval where I focused on nothing else but sustenance, with both songs snaking through my head.

There is truly nothing more comforting at times than tea, toast and eggs. Life goes on and we who are left behind have no choice in the matter. We are, we remain and we have to go on. And sometimes the first step towards doing this involves seeking some solace from friends and making a simple meal.

(My simple frittata)
Hakuna Frittata

Farmer’s Market Bounty

Where the locals shop
(where the locals shop)

On my way home from the Beach House, A___ and I stopped at the farmer’s market at the UN Plaza.

It is a warm morning, although most of the city does not yet realize the fog is creeping in from the beach.  Today will not be another scorcher like yesterday.

Our first stop was at an Asian vendor who always has great and inexpensive produce. I left with green beans and a massive bunch of flat leaf parsley.

After admiring the various plants got sale we spotted massive organic carrots; what beauties!

Pretty plant, look at the cacti in bloom!Chubby carrots

Then, it was huevos time, the real reason for the market today. One vendor has Araucanas chickens, which yields “Easter eggs”, so named because their eggs naturally come in shades of cream, white, pink, brown and green.  The green ones are especially delicious. I also purchased organic yellow potatoes, salad greens and ginger.

I spied tables piled high with more Asian greens and bought a massive bunch of Chinese spinach.

Then I noticed a commotion and squawking coming from a huge truck covered with tarps, behind which were cages of gorgeous Rhode Island Red chickens. The vendors were so nice, they pulled out a hen to pose for me. One day, I will buy one, but today’s purchases are destined for a hearty lamb broth.

Miss Rhode Island Red

The fish stand had some beauties, I wonder how many of their offerings are sustainable? The vendor’s English doesn’t withstand questioning of this nature, unfortunately, so I took a pass.

Are you sustainably caught? Perhaps not.

Needing more standard vegetables, I scored several heavy bags full of goodies: onions, cabbage and the prettiest patty pan yellow squash.

It would have been nice to linger but appointments beckoned as well as the lure of fried eggs.

Once home, I was putting my tote bag down near the cat who was lounging luxuriously on the bed. My custom is to allow him to sniff the produce and herbs I bring home, and this time something unexpected happened…

Cow-cat collage

My cat likes spinach!!!

What the ????? Bwa hah ha haaah!

I had to take it away to ensure I had some left for me!

Such a lovely haul, no?

Today's Haul

There were two green eggs in the carton, and out they went, straight to the frying pan. They were taken from the hens this morning, and consumed before 11:00 am – amazing!

green egg collage

Green eggs and green chile = a heavenly breakfast.

Green Eggs and Green Chile
(googly-eyes!)

Visiting the farmer’s market is a lot of fun and I love seeing the variety of the seasonal produce. It feels great knowing my purchases are extremely fresh and will last weeks in the fridge if I fail to consume them as planned. However, the real reason I shop there lies within my handbag.

Shopping directly from the grower ensures they receive 100% of any profit from their crop. Cutting out the middleman, or middlemen as the case may be with large grocery chains, results in a lower cost to the consumer. As a consumer with a limited budget, I appreciate getting a larger amount of food for my meager dollar, not to mention higher quality and better flavor of produce!!

Today’s haul:

Potatoes                                  (1# 5 oz)       $ 2.40      $1.83/#
Spring salad mix                   (6 oz)             $ 2.00     $5.33/#
Ginger                                       (1 oz)              $ 0.10
Eggs                                           (dozen)          $ 5.00
Green beans                           (12 oz)            $ 1.50     $ 0.85/#
Parsley                                     (6 oz)              $ 1.00     $ 2.66/#
Cabbage                                   (2#)                 $ 1.00     $ 0.50/#
Onions                                      (1.5#)             $ 1.05      $ 0.70/#
Squash                                      (1.5#)             $ 1.00     $ 0.66/#
Spinach                                    (~1#*)            $ 1.00     $ 1.00/#
*net weight after cat noshing

Total:                                                        $16.05

Some of the items cost a little more than the commodity produce or eggs but, as I said, the quality is better, so I don’t mind paying a dollar over for their cost for eggs.  And one cannot easily find eggs of this quality for sale anywhere except a farmer’s market.

Overall, my table full of produce is far less expensive than shopping at Safeway or Whole Paycheck for organic produce.

Now, to wash and put everything away, and start my lamb stock for broth. I like making a batch of soup every week for lunches or breakfasts (if the fog has roared in overnight, a warm bowl of soup is a perfect “summer” breakfast).

Have a happy Sunday!