In My Kitchen: March-Detox Veggie Stew

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Eep!  I guess the writing everyday thing isn’t really working out so far.  Partly because as Max pointed out this morning “No one comments on [Megan’s] blog anymore.” But when I was sitting here just now thinking about how to spend the next hour or so, I remembered that I started this blog for me, and so it shall continue on at whatever speed makes me happy.

I’ve been devoting all my time (and most of my mental fortitude) recently to dealing with our puppy, Roo’s, separation anxiety.  It started out mild and has steadily gotten worse.  It is impossible to leave him alone now.  We are working with some professionals because apparently dog separation anxiety is a big deal.

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Poor Roo. (And poor me for having to clean up after an anxious pup)

It is rather consuming of my time and energy with so much at stake, so I haven’t been going to the gym.  I even put my membership on a one-month hold.  Because of that, I’m extra conscious of what I’m putting into my body right now.  When the only exercise I’m getting is via copious dog walks, I need food that will minimize the damage I’m doing with my more sedentary life right now 🙂

So this family soup recipe seems appropriate.  I hesitate to even call it a recipe when the entirety of it is comprised of stewing down every veggie you can get your hands on in a giant pot with chicken broth, but it is thing of beauty that should be shared so that everyone knows how delicious this non-recipe is.

Now, it is a soup (aka hot), and I did make this in February after my mom left as a way to sort of detox from all the deliciousness we consumed together, but I think it works for any time you need to jumpstart a new period of healthier eating.  My mom used to make this for us regularly, and when I found out you can eat for a week off one pot I started making it regularly, too!

All I can say is that this soup/stew is more than the sum of its individual veggie parts.  When all are combined and time and heat have worked their magic, you have a surprisingly hearty and satisfying meal.

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Step 1: Chop all your veg.  The only veggie I don’t recommend throwing in is spinach.  Somehow doesn’t work.

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Step 2 (and Last Step): Stew in a giant stock pot for many hours until all the veggies are cooked down and soft.

Add a swirl of ketchup on top for the acid if you want to do it old school.

10 Year Anniversary of “US”

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A week ago Max and I celebrated 1o years together.  We’ve been married for just about 2 years, but still like to acknowledge our dating anniversary because its is honestly just a better representation of where we are in our relationship.

Those 8 years preceding our marriage are extremely important to our understanding of ourselves as a couple and represent almost a decade of building a life together before we decided on a date to formalize things.

I think the fact that we started dating at 20 when I was in college and continue to be super into each other today and make such an epic team is due to equal parts luck and our efforts to make it so.  Two people went into this relationship and two very different people are in it today because, well, it all began 10 years ago.  We have different interests and different needs now than we did then.  We have been through some terribly difficult things that have changed us.  The circumstances of our lives are entirely changed from what they were when we started dating multiple times over. And “we” have existed in all of those realities as a sort of constant.

So cheers to a decade together.  It is just a random notch in time in a very long continuum together when we can stop and kind of appreciate our good fortune and pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve enjoyed to date.  The next day we start work on 11 years together and so on.

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Max and team were super kind to me and invited me in for dinner at the restaurant to celebrate.

National Puppy Day!

Well, it looks like I’ll be in trial in Los Angeles for several weeks coming up in May.  I am none too pleased.  I mean, I knew it was coming because we had to reschedule the trial from February, but the timing really just could not be much worse, as it overlaps with one of my best friends’ weddings in Joshua Tree and slightly with Max and my planned vacation to Spain.  May will be hectic, so I ask that you just bear with me.

On another note entirely, it is apparently National Puppy Day! There is nothing like puppies to bring you out of the dumps.  I love seeing posts of everyone’s adorable mutts.  It is cheering. So with no further adieu, my puppy, Roo:

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Berkeley Bowl on Valentine’s Day

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So now that a month has gone by, lets finally talk about Valentine’s Day. Ha! Just a tad behind, right?

This year was cool because Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday, which meant that Max was actually off work and available to spend the holiday with me.  My mom and Uncle Wen were in town and stayed with us for the weekend, and during the weeks leading up to their visit Max and I toyed with going for a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day with everyone.  But, ya know, when it comes right down to it, Valentine’s Day is The. Worst. day to go out to eat at all but the neighborhoodyist of neighborhood joints.  You get a shitty tasting menu and they charge you more for it.

Instead, we all day-tripped to Berkeley hitting up Acme Bread‘s original location before heading to the massive and OMG Berkeley Bowl.  Then Max cooked up a delicious meal and we all sat around our tiny table in our small San Francisco apartment.  It was intimate and beautiful-all the things Valentine’s Day should always be.

Pictures from our day in Berkeley and our night in below.

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And, of course, no celebration would be complete without a cheese plate and a bottle of champagne sabered off the balcony!

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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I’ve been absent for a while.  I had travel for work, and I’m spending a lot of time training up our good friend, Roo.  But the last few days have given me a bit of a respite.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day.  My mother used to make corned beef and cabbage every year when we were young.  This year we are in different cities, and she’s with friends watching a movie, so I made corned beef and cabbage because-tradition and because the leftovers of this meal are a reuben.

 

Good Stuff: Chocolate Twist

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Photo via chocolate-twist.com

When my mom and Uncle Wen stayed with us over Valentine’s Day weekend (and yes, I realize this is over a month ago now), they came bearing flowers and chocolate.  Ever so appropriate.  But this was no ordinary box of chocolate.  It was a box full of treats from Chocolate Twist!

Chocolate Twist is the brainchild of Kate Coffey who goes by “The Queen of Twist” or simply “The Queen” on the candy’s website and is operated out of and mostly sold in retail stores around Illinois, but of course you can place online orders.

The flavors are unexpected and whimsical and oh so very on-trend.  The Queen collaborates with other local artisans to source ingredients, relying on companies from Chicago and the surrounding area to supply the best pretzels, jams, and other items for her unique products.

Our box came filled with caramels, chocolate candy bars, and a peanut butter cup.   We had the peanut butter pretzel & rosemary Cheezit white chocolate candy bars, which feature a bittersweet chocolate ganache layered on top of a caramel base. The caramels were to die. The addictive beer and pretzel caramels are embedded with bits of crunchy pretzels.  The soy balsamic caramels were just the right bit of strange tangy.  But the burnt toast caramels completely stole the show. Apparently, Oprah is a fan, as well, so you know it has to be good stuff.

I would encourage going to the site and checking out the rest of odd, yet irresistible-sounding treats they make.  I can attest that a combo pack like ours makes an excellent, tasty gift, but there’s also nothing wrong with just sampling on your own!

 

Vik’s Chaat & Market in Berkeley

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I’m always hounding Max to tell me where to eat.  I figure he knows what’s up since he’s in the biz and all, but surprisingly, he generally has very few suggestions for me, especially ones that don’t break the bank.  So I was pretty excited when he turned to me while on his computer the other day and said, “There’s this Indian street food place in Berkeley I’d like to try.”  I put Vik’s Chaat & Market on the physical (or digital) and mental list I keep of restaurants to check out in San Francisco and waited for the right time.

The right time came when we were planning our mini road trip out to Oakdale to pick up Roulot.  We were already driving hours out of our neighborhood, so why not tack on a few more minutes and swing through Berkeley to try this place? Plus, getting a dog was definitely a Megan-centric activity, so I thought it would be pleasant to do something for Max that weekend, as well.

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So Chaat (literally “to lick”) is a term describing savory snacks, typically served at road-side tracks from stalls or food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.  Traditionally, this road-side snack was served on a leaf and was so tongue-tickling that one could not resist licking the last morsels from the leaf before discarding it. Trying street food is one of the best parts about traveling to new places, and it’s a delicious window into new cultures.   Think tacos, bahn mi, or jerk chicken.  Some of the best stuff around.

Vik’s Chaat has been said to have the best chaat in the United States, so that’s quite an endorsement. I’m told it grew in response to the burgeoning Indian population that came along with the growth of Silicon Valley near by.

It is a no muss no fuss restaurant, a warehouse actually. The food is ordered from a counter food court-style and served in paper (if you’re taking it to-go) or metal trays, and most of the food is vegetarian, through they do have weekend specials incorporating meat. They have daily curries, samosas, and other snack foods and sweets. It is jammed packed every weekend and during the lunch and dinner hours. The prices are very reasonable.

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We sampled a whole host of different items, including Dahi Batata Puri, Bel Puri, Aloo Tikki, Samosa Cholle, and Keema Samosa , but we’ve been back twice now and the Sev Puri is our favorite. We could each eat 2 orders of these to ourselves.

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Afterward, you can peruse the Indian market where they have EVERY KIND OF LENTIL YOU’VE EVER IMAGINED and some that you couldn’t have.  There are frozen prepared items, as well, which seems like a good thing to know about. Max was really into the market, but we both die for the food.

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I even took my mom and Uncle Wen there when they came to visit this past weekend.  But more on that later.