Monday, February 23, 2015

I voted for goat and shumai

Thursday marked the start of the Lunar New Year, and like many other people sitting in the bathroom that morning, I heard the lighthearted story on NPR about the varying English translations of this year's animal.

I, of course, would have left it there, but in the comments on that story, there was a link to a super cool website that is having people vote for the representative animal candidate of their choice.

I voted for Goat.  He's a rebel*.  The creators of the site are making donations on all behalf of all the animals to Heifer International, so every vote really does count.  Go vote, and let me know who you picked!

So I'm now fully in the spirit of the whole thing, and had some time on my hands because it was raining in Los Angeles and we were all confined to our homes**.  I decided to celebrate the Lunar New Year by making homemade Chinese shu mai dumplings and potstickers.***

Pork and Shrimp Shu Mai Dumplings | Cheesy Pennies

Ram they were good.
In fact, they were baaaaaaantastic.
Goat thing this celebration only happens once a year.

I think my husband is going to take the radio out of the bathroom now****.

Pork and Shrimp Shu Mai Dumplings 2 | Cheesy Pennies

Friday, February 13, 2015


Before we can all go happily off to Valentine's Day and declare victory and love and chocolate tomorrow, we have to survive today.  I'm not a superstitious person, but even I get a little nervous about Friday the 13th.

And that was before I looked it up.

This thing is a problem, and not just for Kevin Bacon.

Per Wikipedia, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history.  They even have a name for this debilitating situation:


The word alone is terrifying*.

So here's the plan. Let's hunker down, stay in, read a good book, and have some super safe soup today.

Book ideas**:

All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
The tale of a blind refugee from Paris and a young German radio operator during WWII. Magical.

Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng
Heartbreaking story about the weight of things unsaid in a family.  The writing will grab you and make you weep.

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
Don't read anything about this book.  Just read it.  Wow!

 The Martian - Andy Weir
Pure, sci-fi fun.  I listened to this one and enjoyed every minute.

Ready Player One - Ernest Kline
One massive global live video game for all the marbles.  With Monty Python and Rush references.  What more can you ask for?

 The Silkworm  - Robert Galbraith (actually JK Rowling)
The PI at the heart of this book, along with the very good first one in the series, The Cuckoo's Calling, is a fascinating character, and the mystery keeps you guessing. 

 The Storied Life of AJ Fikry - Gabreille Zevin
I'm a sucker for a good book about a bookstore.  This is one.

 Not My Father's Son: A Memoir - Alan Cumming 
Holy shit what a story!  If, like me, you only know him from Masterpiece Theater on PBS or as Eli Gold, this is an eye opener.  He narrates the Audible version...highly recommended!

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
I loved loved loved this book.  Clever, funny, tragic, and above all unique.  The voice of the main character will stay with me always.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan
A harrowing story of a POW in Japan, stunningly well told.

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
If you've ever hung out with a group of gossipy parents in kindergarden, this is the book for you. Is it great literature? No. Is it a little heavy handed at times? Sure. Is it damn entertaining? You bet.

Soup idea:

Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup with Kale & Rice | Cheesy Pennies

Creamy, slightly spicy soup full of turkey sausage meatballs, kale and a little bit of nubby rice. Enriched with white beans and incredibly good for you.  Even if the rest of your day is unsettling, this should be 100% risk free.

Let's read, eat this soup, and if we make it through the night, we defy the gods and shout about love from the rooftops tomorrow.

With some crazy delicious dessert after.***

Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup with Kale & Rice | Cheesy Pennies

Friday, February 6, 2015

Good grains and healthy fats

This month, I've been (roughly) following an eating plan that has you rotate what you eat based on a seven day cycle. Mondays and Tuesdays you eat fruit, veggies, protein and good grains, like barley and brown rice. Wednesdays and Thursdays are protein and veggies only. Then comes the weekend, where you get all of the above, plus healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, hummus, and nuts.

Egg white omelet with smoked salmon and scallions | Cheesy Pennies
My Wednesday breakfast as seen on Instagram
Egg white omelet with smoked salmon and scallions

It's Friday, so I'm giving you a recipe with fruit, good grains and healthy fats.

Oatmeal Coconut Raisin Cookies | Cheesy Pennies

If brown butter were a healthy fat, that is.  

You're terrible, Muriel*.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The word of the day

When my kids were little, whenever my sister was visiting she'd give them a "Word of the Day". We'd be at the breakfast table, and she'd look seriously at my four year old son and eighteen month old daughter and say:

"OK guys.  The word of the day is...FOYER!"

They would stare intently back at her over their Cheerios. She'd continue:

"It's related to the one we had yesterday.  Do you remember?"

My son would leap up from his chair and shout happily:


Then they would spend the rest of the day finding ridiculous ways to use the word FOYER in every conversation.

It was hilarious.  But it was kind of brilliant*.

My sister isn't here right now,  so I'll take over for her.  

"OK guys. The word of the day is...CINNAMON TOAST CAKE!"

Cinnamon Toast Cake | Cheesy Pennies

Crap. That's three words. 
She's obviously way better at this than I am. 

But you should still try to find ways to add Cinnamon Toast Cake to every conversation.  It's kind of brilliant.