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This morning I went on a hike with Heidi. We’ve known each other for as long as I’ve been in LA, however, life happens and we lost touch for a big chunk of that time. It felt good learning about the shenanigans she’s been up to as we struggled through the bushes up the hill.

Upon my return home circa two hours later, mildly sweaty and not at all tired, I hopped into the shower to wash off the LAZY rash I’ve been dealing with lately. Due to my soft spot for the planet, I usually take super speedy baths. Three minutes is all I need to cover tops to bottoms (yes, I need plural for my BOTTOMS). On occasion, when any labor-intensive activity is required (major scrubbing, shaving, scull massaging, egg scrambling, knitting, etc.), I like to turn off the water in between various stages of any given task. For Jason such dry shower is a DISAPPOINTING WASTE OF FUN TIMES.

Today, however, I craved comfort that only a strong stream of water running down my nekid body can bestow. And so I stood there… nekid, wet, and happy as a pig in the mud for at least a whole seven minutes. And when I cut off the downpour at last, I didn’t even mean it. It was the sense of duty that got me out of the bathtub. “Somebody should be writing now!” I kept hearing in my head.

So I stood there… nekid, wet, happy as a pig in the mud on the cold bathroom floor, drying off with a fuzzy towel, when my eyesight came to rest on our toilet. There’s truly nothing extraordinary about the white urinal, but it made me think of Terri’s recent post where she talked toilet, etc.

Terri Terri Quite Contrary

That’s all she wrote. That’s it! It wasn’t satisfying for me. It’s toilet talk for god’s sake. Come on! The commode comes with HOT WATER. It begs the question HOW DOES ONE DISCOVER THAT IT COMES WITH HOT WATER? Is the hot water settling like a warm mist on your bare bottom? Do you dip a toe inside to test the waters? I need more information, Woman! Terri, I have this itching urge to comment on the TOILET SITUATION in your office, the I-can’t-believe-I’ve-just-gone-there kind of comment like, uhm.., wait. I almost have it… on the tip of me tongue, uhm… Yeah, nope, I’ve got nothing. Carry on.

And just like that I was done with my hygienic routine. Time to put some clothes on.

All that treading in the dust made me hungry for something truly earthy. And what’s more earthy than a vegetable born in the dirt, then dug up to be eaten for dinner? Mr. Celery, let’s look at your root. I like it big and hard with the skin peeled off, ready to eat. But first I’ll take you gently in my hands, wash you, strip you naked, and then give you a free ticket for a ride on the food processor rollercoaster.

Apples + Celery + Lemon

What I’m saying, y’all, is today I’m making a CELERY ROOT SALAD. When you get your big and chunky root all ready as described above, pair it with 2 Granny Smith Apples, cored and cut in eighths. Also, grab a half of a cup of fresh raisins, and the same amount of raw walnuts. The nuts need to be toasted. With raisins, I like to soak them in a freshly boiled cup of hot water for a few minutes before tossing them in my salad. This way they get plump and soft, and easy to chew on.

To make your life easier, let me just put together a roster of all ingredients for the Salad of Honor:

–       1 BIG or 2 medium celery roots

–       2 Granny Smith Apples

–       1/2 cup of fresh raisins

–       1/2 cup of raw walnuts

–       fresh basil leaves and dill (about 1-2 tbsp of each, chopped)

–       1 container of non-fat Greek yogurt, or equivalent of organic sour cream

–       sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (note: this salad LOVES black pepper, so don’t be shy)

–       1 tbsp of sugar (I use raw cane, organic), or honey

–       1 tbsp or so of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Once you get your celery and apples cleaned and cut in chunks, drop them into a food processor and grate. Feel free to use a hand grater if you have extra time on your hands, or your gym membership expired. Transport those veggie and fruit strips into a large bowl. Sprinkle all with lemon juice to prevent from oxidizing and thus turning dark. Season with salt to help soften the celery. The salt will also help the apples release their juice. Now add chopped herbs, soaked and drained raisins, cooled toasted walnuts (roughly chopped), yogurt/sour cream and get the whirlpool going. Using two salad forks, mix everybody together. Grind black pepper all over the bowl until it hurts your knees. Add a sprinkle of sugar, and a dash of love. Mix again, taste, fix if needed, and store in a refrigerator in a tight container.

Celery Root Salad

That’s the trick. The celery root and the apple have to spend some time on their own, consummate their marriage, play with the gifts you sent with them on their honeymoon before you can fully enjoy the taste of the union. Give it an hour, at least. And the day AFTER the wedding night is like heaven. There’s the crunch, a sweet bite dancing with the sour, and a little bit of heat from the pepper – an explosive mixture and a perfect marriage recipe.

May you live happily ever after!

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Sometimes a craving hits me in between meals, and I am not one to ignore that angry stomping and loud cussing in my tummy. I swear, sometimes I’m convinced that inside there must live one vicious little Belly Brat who jabs tiny spoons into the membrane of my stomach screaming at the top of his lungs: “FEED ME! FEED ME! FEED ME!”

Just like NOW.

What is Agi to do? I can’t focus on a single thought. I stare at a computer screen, but in fact, with my mind’s eye I’m scanning the inside of our refrigerator. On the top shelf rests an almost empty jug of Aloe Vera Juice (Jason puffs at me: “You don’t love me!” every time I hand him a glass with a 4 oz shot of the swill. “Yeah, I know baby, it’s pretty nasty, but SO GOOD for you!”). On it’s right, the last drops of almond milk in a carton box. One floor below, I see a bowl of raw chicken that’s been leisurely marinating itself for tonight’s dinner. Right beneath the chick rests a large container with a green lid – those are my herbs. Three lazy lemons keep them company. I pull the door wide open and on its inside shelves I find two eggs and jars full of all kinds of things: pickles, low fat mayo, Dijon mustard, capers, sun dried tomatoes, sesame oil, flax seed oil, and almond butter. Downtown, the veggie compartment is almost empty, and there are certainly no baby carrots to be found to save my life.

The fridge is sadly vacant and void of any possible snack-worthy objects, which reminds me that it’s time for grocery shopping. What do you know? It’s Friday. The Belly Brat, on the other hand, doesn’t give three flying mosquitoes what day of the week it is, and keeps yapping and moshing about at the bottom of my esophagus as if he was rocking out at a Metallica concert. I’ve had it! At this point I’m desperate to find something, ANYTHING, so I can shove it into his little brash mouth so he shuts up and keeps quiet! …at least till dinner-time, so I CAN FINALLY WRITE!

Wait. Did I say ALMOND BUTTER? Instantly, a bright, energy-saving eco bulb lights inside my skull: FOOD. I unplug my head from the refrigerator’s chamber, crane my neck around, and… realize in wonder that it’s been 20 minutes and I’m still sitting at my desk staring bluntly at the tabula rasa hoping to become my next article for the blog. Wow. …

… What was I saying? Oh, yes, the Almond Butter. FOOD! Please, god, make sure we have at least one green apple on the counter, because desperate or not, I am NOT going to patch my mouth-hole with spoonfuls of a NUT PASTE. Ain’t happening.

I cut corners hustling to the kitchen, air whistling in my ears, and arrive at the fruit bowl, a pearl of sweat sliding down my chin. Alleluia! On the platter there are three Granny Smith apples. One is most likely inedible – judging from the wrinkles, grey hair, and a hump. The other two look perfectly perky, firm and juicy – not unlike the sensual orbs flitting about within the mind of any healthy 16-year old boy or the day dreams of a woman after having breastfed three babies.

With no further ado, I proceed to core one of the apples and cut it into wedges. I catch myself squeaking in excitement. Impatiently, I place the pieces on a flat plate around a small bowl filled with my Almond Butter “dip”. With the first bite I can hear – loud and clear – church’s bells ring!

Green Apples with Almond Butter

I feel I should amend my Spaghetti Marinara story to paint a complete picture. I’m warning you, however, it may slightly affect your viewpoint and perspective of the event. And most importantly, I HOPE you’ll revise a possible judgment you may have formed about yours truly.

Do you remember the giant plate with the enormous amount of pasta on it, all drowned in Marinara Sauce, topped with rolling stones of veggie balls? Remember how I then placed it all in my mouth, bite by bite, to finally have it disappear entirely into my cow’s stomach? And what did you think just then, ha? Now, let me explain one thing – the act of devouring the monstrous serving of Spaghetti Marinara was directly preceded by an intense 2-hour training session at the gym under the strict supervision of my no-bullshit-when-it-comes-down-to-working-out boyfriend. I was STARVING!

Spaghetti Marinara 2

To further plead for your sympathy, I will now attempt to bribe you with the recipe for the infamous Marinara Sauce.

MARINARA SAUCE with AGI’s TWIST

First, arrange for the following:

– half of a large onion

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 1 tbsp of good olive oil

– 30 oz can of crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce

– 1/2 cup of red wine (the kind you would drink, a good one) or low sodium chicken stock

– 1/3 cup of Mascarpone (not mandatory)

– bay leaf

– 1 tbsp of dry oregano

– 1 tsp of red paprika powder

– 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

– kosher salt + fresh ground pepper to taste

– fresh flat leaf parsley & basil, 1/4 of a cup of each

Heat the oil in a large and deep skillet. Throw in chopped onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic, stir and cook for another minute or two. Now pour in the wine (or chicken stock, what have you) and continue cooking over medium-low heat, until it reduces a little. Next, empty the can of tomatoes into the skillet, then add oregano, paprika, nutmeg and more salt and black pepper. If you want it extra creamy, now is the time for the Mascarpone. Mix it all well using a wooden spoon, let the cheese melt and incorporate into the sauce. Cook for about 3 more minutes and add freshly chopped parsley and julienned basil. Stir once again, taste, ad more salt and pepper if needed, and turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaf – it is NOT edible.

Your sauce is DONE. It should be of a beautiful, deeply red color (or pinkish if you went the cheesy route). You’ll smell all the spices, and the fresh basil will give your dish a whole new dimension.

Happy cooking!

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