Local, Organic and Everything a Meal Should Be…

On Tuesday Samantha and I went to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building to pick up ingredients for a meal that we were preparing for our last ESF class.  The only requirements were that all the ingredients had to be local and organic and it had to be delicious.  Sam  had the idea of doing two kinds of sandwiches, and since I am no foodie and was going to make banana bread I readily agreed.  We bought tomatoes, romaine lettuce, strawberries, avocados, chilies, focaccia bread, whole wheat bread, lemons, parsley, cilantro and skirt steak.  

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DSCN0679(Documenting Sam documenting the meal) 

The first sandwich was open-faced, it had Focaccia bread with a thin layer of  a parsley, cilantro, lemon and olive oil spread (that I made in a Food Processor, first timer woo hoo!), tomatoes and thinly sliced steak.  

DSCN0683   The second sandwich we made was on whole wheat bread, piled high with grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce, strawberries to replace the tomatoes and a avocado aioli….glorious

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One thing I noticed about the produce at the Farmers Market was that the size of the vegetables are much smaller than produce in commercial supermarkets.  Commercial produce is genetically engineered, its bigger and lasts longer so people think that they are getting more for their money.  But the taste is simply incomparable.  Silver has always said, “Once you taste a fresh, completely natural strawberry you just can’t go back to eating regular strawberries.”  And until I tasted  this  luscious, organic, beautifully over-priced strawberry  I thought it was kind of a crock of sh*t.

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Our last ESF class was filled with eating everyones homemade dishes, discussing the last chapters of Michael Pollans book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and talking about our role in the future of Media.  Silver brought up how Professors often say that the future of the media is in our hands, and that it is up to our generation to solve the worlds problems through it.  He continued to say that he disagreed with them, that the responsibility is not solely ours but that the media we are currently making IS the future and to keep making it.  The videos that Ashton and Chris produce, the writing Teresa and Laura publish, the photos Samantha and Ali take, and the amazing work that every other person has done throughout the semester for our Easting San Francisco class is where the media is headed.  This future allows everyone to publish their work, to receive immediate feedback, to be creatively expressive, to combine the various aspects of their lives, their friends, their work, their hobbies, and their passions through one photograph, one video, or one blog post.  

Although I do agree with Silver and admire his aspirations for us as media makers, I personally want to try to take time to distance myself from it (who knows if that’s even possible).  After 4 years of being required and assigned to create media I have come to mildly resent it .  I don’t want to exist as an individual who has to Tweet every time something interesting happens in my life, I don’t want to feel that I have to write a blog post, or consciously think about taking a impressive photograph.  I want to want to do all those things.  And I know in time I will.

DSCN0688Look how wonderfully it came together. Bye ESF.

Nopales

Cinthia, my roomate made this dip yesterday called Nopales and its wonderfully refreshing and healthy! Nopales is a vegetable made from the young segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines, basically…its cactus.  Nopales is extremely popular in Mexico and produces around $150 million worth of it each year.  Its an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine, and is gaining popularity in the United States.  She prepares it by chopping up red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos and a lot of cactus.  The cactus she uses comes in a jar, but the tartness and the crisp flavor of the cactus is surprisingly well preserved.  I have actually had it prepared with fresh nopalitos by her mom  when I went home with her for the weekend.  Anyway, its easy to make, really refreshing for a summer bbq or just a good way to spice up your average salsa.   

Here are some pics.

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DSCN0675This ones kinda blurry but you get the idea.

DSCN0677Here’s Cinthia with her Nopales! mmmm YUM!

Cole Valley

For our last ESF trip we travelled to Cole Valley to go to Zazie.  I have been to Zazie before with the oh so beautiful Samantha Blackburn for brunch but dinner was a whole different experience.  We all sat at one long table to enjoy our last meal together, we chatted and ordered some drinks as we waited to order.  Sam and I decided to split the flank steak in a brandy cream sauce , which is clearly the way a dead cow is meant to be cooked, topped with portobello mushrooms with asparagus and mashed potatoes.  

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We also got a side of the mac and cheese (which was one of the best things I have ever put into my mouth, I think Sam only had 2 bites).  

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Zazie only uses free-range, antibiotic and hormone free meats, and you can really taste the difference in the quality.  It also feels great eating a piece of a dead animal that was honored when it was alive, instead of abused and almost manufactured.  I started really paying attention to what I ate after I read the book Skinny Bitch, I had a strong reaction to it and starting eating vegan.  Reading in detail about how cows, pigs and chickens were treated, and how they were slaughtered disgusted me to the point where I was sobbing uncontrollably and refused to eat any animal products for 2 years.  Now, this was when I was in high school and my mom supported this lifestyle and actually did it with me, so I didn’t have to worry about prices or availability, and it was fairly easy.  When I went to college, trying to eat vegan in the school caf was almost impossible, so I started eating meat again and didn’t think too much of it.  After reading Michael  Pollans book Omnivore’s Dilemma, I expected to have the same reaction and was extremely surprised when I didn’t.  In his book he describes in painful detail the unnatural and inhumane treatment of cows in feedlots; how they are basically forced to eat processed corn to fatten them up to the point where there livers are abscessed , there muscle is marbled with fat, and can barely walk because their legs do not support their weight.  He also gives grueling details about how they are tortured into giving up their lives for our consumption.  While doing research for this blog post I went on Youtube and was re horrified by the mistreatment of cows, pigs and chickens, and will be giving up commercial meat until I can afford to eat free range meat.  I have always been a animal lover and have had pets that give up their love for me, I feel I can at least respect animals by eating ones that haven’t been murdered.  

Needless to say, we ate it all.

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After dinner we ironically went to McDonald’s for dessert, and I am usually all for McDonald’s.  I think that everyone hates on it because it’s fast food and there is a stigma about fast food after the film Fast Food Nation came out in theaters in 2001.  But its the epitome of capitalism, of America.  Every other corporation exploits and manipulates people just like McDonald’s does, so what’s the big deal? Why is it that when I say “I want McDonald’s” peoples reactions are along the same lines of disgust and repulsion? Maybe its because they have seen the horrible videos on Youtube I unfortunately just viewed.

I took this picture of the sprinkler system in the McDonald’s parking lot, they obviously need to repair their irrigation system, I mean we are suffering from a water shortage and drought…come on! 

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USF Garden

Some pics I took of the USF garden.  These are for a video Ashton is doing for ESF. 

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Dim Sum Experience

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So for our second to last field trip we traveled down to Chinatown to try some Dim Sum. Now, I have had Dim Sum before but this experience was like none other.  We walked into New Asia and I was instantly overwhelmed.  It was huge, with gold pillars, flat screen TVs, and about 50 tables filled with people talking and eating.  I immediately sat down in the waiting section and observed.  There was a lot going on, people pushing around steel carts full of food that looked completely foreign to me,  12 people seated at a table chop sticks almost flying trying to get a piece of pork bun before someone else did, waiters shouting across the restaurant to get a cart pushers attention.  It was full of life and interesting food.  I went upstairs to the bathroom and noticed that the woman waiting behind me had a live chicken in a paper bag.  The bag was rustling around, so I asked her “Is there a chicken in there?” she smiled and made a hand motion that led me to believe that there was a snake in the bag, I smiled back and then proceeded to use the restroom.  After the hostess shouted our parties name over a loud speaker we sat down.  The ladies with the steel carts starting coming by trying to serve us whatever they had, we selected a couple dishes and turned down a bunch.  (I sat at the less adventurous table, at Michael’s table there were all kinds of animal parts).  We tried some pot stickers, and some of shrimp stuffed noodles. I found out later from my friend Catherine that it is called ha cheung, or shrimp sausage literally (roll maybe?)… whole shrimp wrapped in a thin rice noodle.  Unfortunately I didn’t try it, I wish I could be more adventurous but the texture didn’t thrill me and I have a very sensitive gag reflex.  

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I noticed throughout the meal that a lot of the dishes were made up of the same ingredients.  The clear noodles, shrimp, pork etc.  For example they have shrimp dumplings, shrimp rolls and shrimp buns with broth, all of these dishes are made with the same noodles but vary in taste and design.  This reminded me a lot of Sushi, they make a classic California roll and then add Avocado and it is transformed into Dragon roll.  This is a good way to utilize a few ingredients to make a variety of dishes.  

Later we also ordered some Chinese broccoli which looked really beautiful, it was such a vibrant green, it had sort of a fishy taste because of the oyster sauce but it was nice to get some greenery in our meal.  Then came another dumpling that was different than the others we had previously ordered.  This one looked more complex and like it had more than just a few ingredients.  After talking to Cat about it she told me that it was Shumai, also arguably one of the most famous if not the most famous dim sum (since you can find a similar item in many Japanese restaurants that offer bento; similar but not the same), is a pork & shrimp dumpling (open on top) in essence.  She said that this was hands down here favorite.  

z167229878  (I didn’t get a flick of this dish so I stole one from the New Asia Yelp review)

I am certainly not as adventurous as my classmates who between 5 of them bravely nibbled on one chicken foot .  Sorry just couldn’t do it, I applaud you guys!  The Dim Sum meal was definitely a experience, and the next time I go I will certainly try to be more open about trying new things.  New Asia, I don’t know if I will be visiting you again but Dim Sum you cant count on it!

Dinner Documentation

After I finished my aerobics class at Koret gym I decided to walk to Trader Joe’s and pick up some food for dinner.  I was in the mood for something light, refreshing especially because the gym was about 90 degrees and I just got done sweating for an hour.  As I strolled through the market I started craving Caprese salad.  I picked up some some fresh basil, mozzarella, and some cherry tomatoes, (i like using cherry tomatoes rather than normal sized tomatoes because I think they are more flavorful, they might not look as pretty on the plate but they definitely taste better, and thats what matters right?).  I also picked up a baguette, and a cheap bottle of red wine.  

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I arrived home and took out all the ingredients and put them on my kitchen table.

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So next I washed the basil and the tomatoes

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I am one of those people that has to eat when I am cooking, I always pick at the food  that is being prepared (i usually get kicked out of the kitchen for this).  So I decided to have some bread with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  

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Chopped the tomatoes in thirds, sliced the mozzarella and added lots and lots of basil.  

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My cat Smalls is obsessed with me and has to be everywhere I am, he sniffed out my salad and passed, earlier that day he brought a mouse head into the house, he was so proud.  

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For dessert I had sliced mango with fresh squeezed lime juice, my roomate Cinthia put me onto this, she puts lime juice and hot sauce on absolutely everything.  Its delicious and adds a little kick to such a sweet fruit.  

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Ok so I know that my meal is extremely simple but thats how I eat, I don’t cook extravagant meals with a lot of components and after a long hot day it was the perfect light lovely meal.

Steak Sandwich

I made the best steak sandwich!  Ever since I was a kid my dad always made the greatest sandwich’s in the world, he always said they were so amazing because he put love into it (as cheesy as it sounds).  “You gotta put mayonnaise on both side of the bread that’s the trick!” he would tell me.  I never really make sandwiches, just because its not really my thing, but I made this sandwich when I was home over spring break and it was literally the best thing I have ever put into my mouth.  It was pretty simple too, mayo (on both sides), mustard, lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, pickles, onion, cheddar cheese, steak on toasted sourdough bread.  It was awesome.  Be creative and try something that you normally leave for someone else because you think they are better at it, you never know, you might be great too!  Here’s a pic from my blackberry

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