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This morning, it wasn’t even 6 yet, I woke up to a strange screeching noise outside our window. At first I thought the stray cats that live around the building are in the middle of another turf war, since it’s a little early for their mating season. A series of whimpers got me confused. Are these quarreling squirrels? Before the sunrise?? They seem too loud and too persistent, unless… they sense an earthquake coming!! That got me out of bed, and with my eyes resenting to open I felt my way to the bathroom.

That’s when Jason’s alarm clock went off and I couldn’t believe it was already 6 AM. I had just fallen asleep, I thought, while those shameless critters are trying to take it away from me. I immediately exchanged notes with Jason on what he thought was making the noise.

“IT’S EITHER SQUIRRELS OR BIRDS. NOT CATS. THEY’RE EITHER FIGHTING OF FUCKING.”

Huh. Birds? How do birds fuck, I wondered, and decided I wasn’t ready to think just yet. Back under the covers I dove, two pillows over my head, and boy, did I try hard to ignore the whinnying and purring that continued outside.

Around 7 o’clock Jason crawled over the bed to kiss me good-bye as he was heading out to work.

Yes, making a hit show that “The Good Wife” is requires both the creative talents of the writers as well as hard work and personal sacrifices of the production and post production team. Jason, being the head of the latter, carries an incredible load of responsibility on his shoulders. And he does not take it lightly.

He headed towards the door, and silence followed. I waited for a few seconds for the sounds of the closing doors behind him. Instead, I heard him tip toe back to the bedroom and whisper:

“BABY, COME. QUICK! SHHH…”

“CAN YOU SEE THEM?” I instantly was on board to find out what was messing with my sleep at this ungodly hour.

“OH, YEAH!”

“ARE THOSE SQUIRRELS?” I breathed out as we approached the wide open door facing our backyard. My eyes scanned the ground, and saw nothing out of ordinary.

“LOOK UP” Jason pointed at the little roof above our neighbor’s Rachel’s front door across the yard from us.

Freezing my half naked self, I glanced in the direction given and was instantly awaken by the view that opened in front of my eyes…

After my initial stupefaction, I collected myself and ran for the camera. The raccoons were fully at it with surprising stamina after about two hours of continuous shagging. They considered us for a moment without losing a beat and went back to their task at hand clearly not impressed by their new audience.

The power of marketing, I thought! When Hallmark announces February The Month of Love, even raccoons comply.

I planned on posting a new recipe today, but suddenly found myself in a pickle. How do I segue from the furry bandits’ forbidden urban loving to my… FORBIDDEN RICE SALAD?  The common ground could be the fact that both myself and the fellow raccoon is an omnivore, and we both find immense pleasure in munching on either berries and greens, or a succulent thigh of a smaller animal, for example.

One of my ever strong guilty pleasures are hearty salads that are obvious for lunch, and brilliant for dinner in the place of heavy meals weighing one down before bed time. Any grain will work here. From quinoa to barley to wheat berries to rice, the sky is the limit. Whether you add greens to the grain, or grain to the greens is up to you. Clearly, the more rice, the more carbs in your plate, but if you’re an active, high-energy creature, you may want to refuel appropriately. We’re all different.

Once in a while I create new dishes from leftovers in my refrigerator. Since, I’ve had a container of cooked wheat berries in my ice-box over the last few days, that’s what I’ve been using in my salads this week. Another time, I pulled out a box of leftover forbidden rice and pondered how to utilize the goods. There was a ripe avocado smiling at me from the counter. Mr. Tomato was no less charming. Skinny cucumber was bored out of its mind in the produce drawer, and spinach threatened to wilt on the spot if not occupied at this instance.

There was no reason to fight, so I gathered the party in a bowl, seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled with good olive oil (the extra virgin kind), and squeezed that sour smile of the lemon’s face all over the bunch. Toss, again, and once more. And get at it.

You’ll love the medley of textures in your mouth. From crunchy rice kernels to creamy avocado bits it all comes together into the most satiating, health-reviving, energy-boosting, and joy-awakening meal. And its simplicity should be encouraging even to the laziest of us. It’s easy to eat right. It’s just a matter of making one’s mind.

Right, Mr. Raccoon?

Bon Appetit!

I put Jason through a flavor hurricane this week. The poor guy was my guinea pig from Monday through last night. Not that this is such an exotic job at this household, considering that my cooking style is pretty much a perpetual experiment. This week was different, however, as what I did mostly was… un-cooking and serving RAW.

If you stopped by the last few posts, you know I’m talking about GAZPACHO. What’s the big deal, you must be thinking then. The deal is that each one of my cold soups came out quite pungent and powerful. Still, I refused to mellow it down with cream or veg/chicken stock (as commonly practiced by other cooks out there). On the other hand, I welcomed that punch in my mouth, for it was not only refreshing, but also it lit a fluorescent bulb inside of my skull, and for the first time in my life I found myself in the center of the limelight. Alas no red carpet in sight.

The phenomena of the bright green glow enveloping my entire body was especially visible last night, when I finished my series of Spanish chilled soups with this MUCHO VERDE GAZPACHO. Today I kiss the ground I step on in gratitude for my apt thinking and taking a photo of all the ingredients that went into the blend. Otherwise, there would be no guarantees for me to retrace my own steps whilst being so blinded by my own halo.

Here you are, all the suspects rested supine on the bowl ready for the BIG WHIZZ:

- 2 Persian cucumbers (peeled)

- 1 Poblano Pepper, deseeded

- 1 Sweet Chili Pepper

- 1 Green Chili Pepper

- 1 Green Bell Pepper

- Heart of Celery Stalk

- 2 Green Onions

- 2 Lrg Avocados (ripe)

- Bunch of fresh Hawaiian Basil

- Bunch of fresh Cilantro

- 2-3 cloves of garlic

- Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on your liking)

- 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

- 1/2 Cup Cold Water, filtered preferably, not tap water

- Sea salt + white pepper + cayenne pepper to taste

- A few drizzles of Worcesterchire Sauce (optional)

- 1-2 tbsp of Mascarpone or cream (optional)

The last 2 component are completely optional, and avoid them especially if you want to keep your Gazpacho vegan. That’s how mine was, and also that’s why my Jason’s eyes came out from their orbits upon the first sip of the soup after it had chilled in the ice-box for half a day. Let me explain this. Jason doesn’t eat oranges, nor green apples, not to mention grapefruits unless they are certified to be infused with honey by the bees themselves. His baby tongue is too delicate for any level of tartness. Whereas I myself squeeze the juice of an entire lemon into a small glass of water, after which I gulp it down, come up for air, smack lick my lips and ask for more. Therefore, you be the judge of how much lemon juice versus olive oil versus water you choose to add into your soup. Think of the consistency and flavor. If using more water, remember to adjust the saltiness and heat of your amalgam.

It’s most likely clear that all the vegetables should be cleaned, peeled and deseeded when needed, then chopped into smaller pieces and blended together in a food processor or a blender. For that extra smooth and creamy consistency I like to press the entire batch through a fine sieve before storing in a glass, air-tight container for the chilling part of the process.

I enjoyed a glass of my Elixir of Youth with dinner last night, and then again with my wrap I devoured for lunch today. Just think about the boost of live enzymes and vitamins that enter your body in liquified form, thus making its magic that much faster. I feel illuminated. Even now, two hours after my last meal I’m still burping lightning bugs…

Bon Appetit!

Last night I made a pot of lentil soup and added so much dill in the end that I pushed my lentils over the edge into a full on identity crisis. WHAT ARE WE? A LENTIL SOUP OR A DILL SOUP, DAMMIT! Jason loved it despite the boycott in the bowl. The rebel however continued within his intestines and made itself heard throughout the evening.

I wasn’t spared either. The anger of the lentils caught up with me this morning, and let me just say I’m glad the Earth shook in Baja two days ago, and not today. Otherwise I would have to take the responsibility. The only one I had to give personal apologies to this morning was Cosmo, who at some point lifted himself from his third nap today, gave me—let’s call it—a disappointed look, and rushed to the other room to pack his bags. I’M OUTTA HERE!

Cosmo napping. Or else anesthetized.

I think I’ll stick to the simple greens today.

My passion for edible weeds makes even more sense when you look into my family history. My mother back in her teenage days was a fearless daredevil. Let’s see. For a bar of chocolate she:

-       climbed a 3-storey building up its lightening-rod only to be later rescued by fire marshals as she was too terrified to repel;

-       walked across a cemetery at midnight, while her guy friends (“Those idiots!”) hid behind the graves only to appear in their ghostly, white bed sheets in front of my chocolate-driven teenage mother;

-       wrote 24 different essays for her classmates thus fulfilling their home work; (The teacher was no fool—she got an F for cheating and an A for creativity and hard work.)

-       played goats with her friend where they roamed a green meadow on all fours while grazing and chewing on juicy grass and wild flowers.

Come to think of it, all this could explain way more then merely my ecological sentiments. However, one thing must be clarified. My dear mother was growing up in post-war Poland (in the 50’s and 60’s). Hence, her chocolate bar then was your safe Toyota today, just as hard to come about.

Anyways, my battered insides are fully functional again and asking for a fresh, non-lentil food supply. Come and check out my refrigerator to see what we’re having for lunch:

-       Mixed greens (duh)

-       Shredded white cabbage

-       Micro greens

-       Scallions

-       Fresh dill

-       Fresh basil

-       Half of an avocado

-       Green Apple

-       Walnuts (toasted)

Brilliant. Let’s quickly whisk simple vinaigrette: extra virgin olive oil (3 parts), apple cider vinegar (1 part), Dijon mustard (1 tsp), honey (1 tbsp), and a reasonable amount of sea salt and pepper. Taste, approve, and pour over all the GREEN MEADOW of your bowl. Please, make sure you chop the stuff before tossing into the dish, OK? We are making a GREEN APPLE SALAD after all.

Green Apple Salad for my Goat

Happy grazing everybody. I have lunch plans with my fellow goat. BBBLLEEEAAATT!

With the above set of PISANKI, or what you call here in the U.S. EASTER EGGS, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday filled with too much food, never enough laughter, and monkey tricks with your friends and other kids in the family.

I haven’t made pisanki in maybe two decades, and so I had a lot of fun boiling the eggs first in a pot filled with water and lots of onion skins (for the color). Then I looked around the house for a sharp tool to etch the pattern (my meat thermometer did the trick) on my Easter Eggs. To finish the job, I needed to find a little basket lined with a white, crocheted napkin. The closest to such a thing in this household were my Halloween panties I wore once with my Naughty Santa Helper outfit about three years ago. I’m glad I’ve found a use for them one more time.

I bet you’re thinking of my Panty Christmas Tree, aren’t you? Yes, my panties are quite versatile and flexible, and poses an artistic inkling.

Happy Easter Everybody! A basket of love and fuzzy thoughts to you :-) I’m going to eat my eggs now.

I eat Pisanki while Jason gets his Easter Scramble w/Avocado & Microgreens.

Working from home turned me into a Neanderthal woman.

Now, what does working from home entail? The fact whether you get paid for it or not is an irrelevant technicality. Remember that money never defines you. My new trade consists of whipping out versatile dinners for at least 5 nights a week, tossing loads of dirty clothes through the laundry machine (most of it Jason’s since, you know, the Neanderthal factor), vacuuming the three area rugs spread across our apartment twice a day of all the nasty little wooden shells that have been falling off the trees surrounding our apartment and consequently dragging themselves inside our chamber of love underneath ours shoes for the last MONTH. Gasp for air. Other activities of a house worker involve watching Oprah and Food Network, Skyping with Mother, Cousin, and our handsome gay neighbors, scrubbing the bathroom floor with a toothbrush (oops, nope, that’s Jason), and writing.

Anyone who’s ever tried as much as to write a letter understands that the task is unlike riding a bicycle – once you’ve written something good it doesn’t mean you’ll now produce quality pieces with ease happily ever after. And it never gets easier. True, there are days I shoot out articles in no time, as if I dissolved 3 tablespoons of verbal Metamucil in a glass of aloe vera juice with a heavy drop of senna extract and washed it down my throat. However, quite commonly I just sit in front of my laptop and glance at its blank screen with such intensity I make myself run to the bathroom even without drinking the above-described concoction. That helps putting down the first paragraph on the page. Then nothing, nothing for a long time, and a little more nothing before the next paragraph sees daylight. Sometimes I find myself walking Cosmo, washing dishes, and knitting a sweater between single sentences. So when people (women especially) tell me “Don’t talk to me about pain till you give birth”, I scorn the challenger with the ole good “Been there. Done that. Three times a week, at least.”

Yes, art requires sacrifices. First went the manicure and pedicure. Next, I killed make up. I take that back. I never leave the house without a few touches a concealer on my skin and brushing my eyebrows. The latter is especially crucial if I want to avoid causing any traffic accidents when women faint and children scream terrified by my sight, while old people gawk at me thinking “I thought I had seen it all…” It also takes an effort to ensure I have a fresh shirt on my back every morning. I suspect I could save money on heating the apartment if I finally got the nerve to burn all my bras. My boobs haven’t seen one in months, because, why bother? There are days I forget to shower. It’s gotten so bad in fact that lately I started having nightmares where my various …uhm… [I’m whispering that one] hairy parts are being exposed in public.

Irrefutably, crazy love and pure exhaustion keep my boyfriend from running away, maybe even blinded. When he comes home and hands me “You look beautiful. I love you” like a bouquet of flowers, I instantly look behind me expecting to see Eva Mendes stretching her baby-oiled body against the wall and sporting the Calvin Klein underwear. Is he really talking to me?

Such an image inevitably brings forth fear and motivation. For instance, I have already showered three times today, filed my nails, put on some make up even though the only things we had planned for the day was a quick trip to a coffee shop and a walk with our dog around the block. I applied all sorts of grooming, which I shall NOT describe. My efforts paid off faster than I thought when Jason and I walked by a Victoria’s Secret’s store and left with three new pairs of lace unmentionables.

All that pampering made me feel like a woman again, the modern variety with manicured hands, waxed unthinkable places, and trying to fit in clothes two sizes too small.  As such, I couldn’t fathom feeding my body with anything more than a simple salad.

MÂCHE WITH AVOCADO AND MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

The name of the salad pretty much says it all. If you’re not familiar, mâche is also known as cow grass. Its leaves are very delicate and it is mild in taste.

Empty a bag of mâche into a large bowl; dice a ripe avocado and spoon it out on top of the greens. Feel free to add chopped scallions and diced tomato if you crave some color. It will all go swimmingly together. Now drizzle your salad with the dressing (recipe below). Gently toss everything around, and voila! Enjoy the treat and feel healthy, light, and beautiful. Size does not matter …in this case.

MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

-       3 parts of good quality extra virgin olive oil

-       1 part of white balsamic vinegar

-       1 tsp of Dijon mustard

-       1 tbsp of honey

-       sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk it in a small bowl, or shake it up in a closed jar, or best – mix it together in a blender (or Magic Bullet) until the vinaigrette is evenly emulsified. It’s that simple. And so delightful!

Smacznego!

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