I woke up this morning with a project on the brain so I stepped into the Pinterest vortex to do some research. I came to 45 minutes later having decided:
-new bangs are imperative
-baby animals are always cute (lolz)
-I need/deserve a completely new kitchen
-just because you can DIY doesn't mean that you should
-8 pairs of "must-have" summer wedges are in my future (I must have them)
-It makes me feel old that I have no interest whatsoever in Nail Art**
**I'm trusting the new bangs and wedges will cancel out this old-feeling
After all this (and forgetting the initial project-reason altogether), the rabbit trail led me to a page of blueberry recipes. In 2 minutes, these pancakes were inspired. In less than 25 minutes after that, they were born and about 12 minutes later, they were all gone. They were eaten hastily while standing at the kitchen counter and disappeared so fast that I couldn't even snap a picture of a finished stack. Other than that, I'd say it was a successful Pinterest session/Saturday morning.
Blueberry Polenta Pancakes with Lemony Maple Syrup
adapted from Food & Wine
On their own, these are borderline savory but with a dash of maple syrup, they have the perfect amount of sweetness. The coarser-ground corn meal gives great texture and the jammy blueberries are a delicious compliment to the corn. You can use a fine ground corn meal if desired. Squeezing a bit of lemon into the maple syrup cuts it just slightly and gives it the perfect sweet tang.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup corn grits (uncooked polenta)
1-1/2 t baking soda
1-1/2 t baking powder
3 T sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk*
1 large egg, separated
2 T butter, melted and cooled
1 cup fresh blueberries
coconut or vegetable oil for cooking
about 1/3 cup maple syrup
1 lemon squeeze
*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, substitute regular or almond milk plus 1T lemon juice. No one will ever know:)
Whisk together the flour, corn grits, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set aside. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg yolk and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg white (solo) until stiff peaks form. Add the milk/yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed (some lumps will still remain). Stir in the melted butter and then gently but thoroughly fold in the beaten egg white.
Heat about 2t oil in a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium heat. Spoon batter by the 1/4 cup, taking care not to crowd the cakes (as they spread). Drop several blueberries into each one (while in the skillet) and cook until bubbles begin to form and the top appears a bit dry, about 3 minutes. Flip carefully and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Pop about 1/3c maple syrup in the microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off, give it a good squeeze of lemon and serve with the hot pancakes immediately.
Hope you have a fantastic and happy weekend:)
P.S. I know a handful of people with the sniffles right now.................take care of yourself!
I realized this today: every question you ask a dog is automatically rhetorical. You'd think after 11 years of experiencing this phenomenon with Lena, I'd get it. But no: I repeat these rhetorical questions, asking her at least twice. As if she's not responding because she didn't hear me the first time. Or that she's choosing not to respond.
Here are the top ten regular queries put to Lena:
2. "Ew. Why are you sniffing that?"
3. "Ew. Why are you licking that?"
4. "Why are you still sleeping?"
5. "How come you're so smart? Hmm? Hmm?!"
6. "How could you do that to me?"
7. "Did you enjoy some clam chowder when I wasn't looking?"
8. "Why won't you come over here right now and let me kiss you?"
9. "What do you think?"
10. "Would you care for a muffin?"
I did get an answer on that last one (albeit non-verbal) and it was an absolute affirmative.
Gluten-free Carrot Coconut Muffins
These are goooooooood and a spin on Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread. The oats give them great texture and the coconut adds a nutty sweetness. I'd like to experiment with swapping some almond meal for a portion of the GF flour and removing some of the sugar, but for now, I'm super happy with this recipe. If muffins ain't your thang, you can easily dump this batter into a greased loaf pan and bake it into a delicious bread. Just extend the cooking time: start checking with your toothpick around 50-55 minutes. When it comes out clean, it's done.
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1-1/2 t xanthan gum (unless included in your GF flour includes it)
1/2 cup plus 6T (light or dark) brown sugar (firmly packed)1-1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 cup GF rolled oats
3/4 cup coconut oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 t vanilla extract
1 t kosher salt
2 cups grated carrot1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut plus 2T extra for sprinkling on top before baking
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 2 dozen muffin tins with cooking spray or paper liners.
Whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and baking powder. When well combined, mix in the oats. Set aside.
Whisk together the melted coconut oil with the eggs, vanilla and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until almost incorporated. Add the carrots and coconut and stir, taking care not to overmix.
Divide batter between the muffin tins (an ice cream scoop is awesome for this), sprinkle a little coconut on top, and bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar for a crunchier top.
Happy Friday, lovelies!
P.S. Lena shakes for carrots.
A couple days ago, in the frozen foods aisle of Trader Joe's, I was approached/cornered by a woman in a faux-fur leopard coat, black ugg boots, cat-eye glasses and a giant, platinum, frizzy halo of hair. She pointed an acrylic nail at me and leaned in.
"Because you have an orchid in your cart, I'm going to give you a bookmark," she said. "Do you like books?"
I blinked and stammered a few seconds, taking it all in and trying to process what was happening. I had no idea what purchasing orchids had to do with deserving bookmarks but I couldn't deny that I liked books. She had me there.
"Yes," I replied. "I do like books."
I must've answered correctly because she reached into a wrinkly plastic sack and produced a large, glossy bookmark.
"Put it in your purse." She ordered, handing it to me. Then she shuffled away, likely toward more orchid/book lovers.
I glanced at it, perplexed. Upon further inspection I realized she was an author and the bookmark was an advertisement for her book. Here is a choice excerpt:
TOO OLD TO BE A HOOKER, TOO YOUNG TO BE A MADAM
A Novel inspired by true events is a racy fantasia. It's a vivid portrait of April Moon, the charismatic Jewish American temptress born and bred in Beverly Hills, seduced by the lure of Laurel Canyon. Join the original flower child and her extra wannabe starlet party princesses on their journey of dangerous liaisons with the bold, the buffed and the beautiful. Antonio, the cross-dressing, Eurotrash mambo king from Madrid, a combination of a stallion and a pit bull; Diva Boy, an outrageous disco dolly; her certifiable rich mother; Christopher, the eccentric artistic director perv whose family tree is soaked in gin; Lust, a bizarre porn star; and a jock named Patrick, the hot hung eye candy from Orange County. You'll share April's bizarre adventures as a stunt girl, her experiences inside of a trendy drug and alcohol rehab center in Malibu, a psych ward, and a Mexican jail.
Well. I can't say that I'm not curious about April's journey (a Jewish American temptress in a Mexican jail?!), but what struck me most curiously about this whole encounter was this woman's ballsy brazenness at putting herself out there. It was remarkable.
I've never been a fantastic self-promoter. There's something about the look-at-me!-ness of it all that feels impolite. The irony is not lost on me, being an actor (who also has a blog, hello!). But It's one thing to perform in the moment and another thing to talk about it to others and ask them to watch you. In certain ways, I really have to make a concerted effort to put myself out there and even then, a part of me cringes. Maybe it's because I personally know certain actors who go way overboard on the self-selling (narcissism, anyone?) and it makes me tremendously itchy. I never want to elicit that response in others. It is show business, though, as they say, and that means if you want to get a job, you do have to think about how you are seen and how you are showing up.
I'm not just talking about plugging your TV appearance on Facebook, although that's part of it (that's the easy part). I'm talking about energetically taking up space, being unapologetically ballsy. And figuring out how to do that without being a jerk. Frustratingly (to me), those narcissistic actors I just spoke of have tremendously successful careers. It feels like they're being rewarded for being assholes. All this has me thinking: is there a way to show up big, retain and celebrate your own authenticity, and (gasp) be happy and kind along the way?
My teacher/boss/friend Lesly doesn't necessarily think so. Her most successful clients share what she calls ruthlessness and that just sounds so abrasive to all parts of me. What I think is fascinating about this quandary is that (show business or otherwise) we're talking about selfishness. Too little and you're an apologetic soul, living out of fear and worry. Too much and you're an entitled jerk who's gross to be around. It's also about flexibility. The Diva who claws her way to the top runs into a snag by not being adaptable. She expects people and circumstances to revolve around her. The too-adaptable wallflower shrinks into smallness or gets taken advantage of. The right amount of malleability is vital for success and happiness. Lots of rules about how things need to be make it hard to enjoy yourself, whether you're experiencing what you believe "success" to be or not. It makes contentment super slippery and conditional. I want to have goals in my life and go after what I want, but flexibility has to play a part to let the definition of happiness be moveable. Mainly because I've tried it the other way and it's freaking uncomfortable.
Whether actors or not, maybe we could think about indulging in Self-promotion with a capital S. Promoting and celebrating our higher, most authentic Selves, thinking BIG in the vastest sense and not just for personal gain. Maybe we can try on some entitlement in terms of being committed to our own (flexible!) happiness. And perhaps ruthlessness has a place in cultivating an unyielding, unapologetic commitment to follow heart and gut, to hell with what anyone else thinks. And hopefully by having those intentions, the things out there in the world that we want to experience will be drawn to us. And we don't have to be jerks to get them.
Bonus: this kind of light-shining benefits not just self but the collective too. True story: on my way home from Trader Joe's, while stopped at a stoplight and trying to read my new bookmark in the dark, I saw a guy standing alone on a street corner with an actual, live sparkler in his hand. Just standing there, doing figure-eights and twirling it solo while it burned and sputtered. He seemed to be purely doing it for self-satisfaction but for those few fleeting red-light minutes, did it ever make me smile.
Sesame Avocado Relish
This dippy spread was born out of a need to feed three hungry women at a rehearsal. It was such a hit (and snarfed so quickly) that it is now a rehearsal requirement due to its severe habit-forming properties. And it like, totally made us better actors.
1 perfectly ripe avocado, halved
gomasio to taste (or plain sesame seeds)
brown rice vinegar
olive oil or toasted sesame oil
Cross-hatch the avocado and scoop out the diced pieces into a bowl. Sprinkle with brown rice vinegar (start with about 2t), the squeeze of a quarter lemon, a drizzle of either olive oil or toasted sesame oil and a shake of gomasio. Taste. Depending on your palate and the size of your avocado, keep adding more acid/salt/gomasio as you go. Serve with raw veggies, atop salad, with chips (maybe fried wontons!?), smashed on toast, etc...
P.S. Do you like monkeys and/or Lorenzo Lamas? Check out this commercial I did!*
*she said, unapologetically but with authentic boldness:)
P.P.S. 4 awesome things that relate:
1. After I wrote this post I came across this Agnes DeMille quote and almost fell outta my chair.
2. Remember: your playing small does not serve the world!
3. No one is gonna pick you. Pick yourself.
4. This for fun:)
Hola, mi amigos! Happy Cinco De Mayo!
Since I eat some form of Mexican food almost daily, it surprised me to peek into my recipe index and find only four Mexican-ish recipes. (Note to self: must remedy that.) I thought it would be festive, at the very least, to post photos so you can enjoy the avocado porn...
photos/recipes from top to bottom:
Mexican Chicken Soup
two bonus Joeycake Mexican-Restaurant stories in case you missed them:
Love in a Mexican Restaurant
Why You Should Always Carry Knitting Needles
and a bunch of great-looking Tequila drinks from bon appetit:
Hope you have a muy wonderful day!
This is nothing new: I have a total love/hate relationship with coffee. I adore the taste of it so much so that I'm a complete snob about it. I'd actually rather go without than have a bad batch. But I know it's not good for me (even though it's so freaking good) and I certainly feel better overall once I get over the hump of headaches and general malaise that come with quitting. It's just the quitting part I don't like. And the inevitable switching to tea. Tea is great when you want tea, but when you want coffee and drink tea instead, it's like kissing your sister.
So when I learned about this health-food product called Dandy Blend, a roasted herbal coffee substitute, my interest was piqued. It's made from edible plants but from the rousing endorsements on their website, you'd think it was comprised of rare truffles or foie gras or crack itself. Here are some actual testimonials:
"I love coffee's flavor. Finally, I can HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO!"
"Dandy Blend helped my bladder condition!"
"...the only beverage product on the market that has truly replaced my coffee (french roast!) habit."
"Dear Dandy Blend, I, I, I LOVE YOU!!!"
You get the idea. I skeptically read all these reviews and thought Ok, settle down, people but then my eye caught this headline: CYNDI LAUPER LIKES IT. Upon clicking further, I learned she was quoted in the NY Times saying, about Dandy Blend, "It makes you feel like you're drinking coffee." That's all I needed. I ordered it on the spot and anxiously (no doubt due to multiple cups of coffee) awaited its arrival. Two days later it came.
I opened the box to find the Dandy Blend package. It featured a giant yellow dandelion on the front (complete with spiky leaves) and said The goodness of dandelion in an instant! I didn't know there was anything good about dandelions at all. Aren't they like the scourge of nature? The poster child of weeds? But I gave it a shot, waiting with anticipation for it to change my life. David came home from work just then, to Dandy Blend mayhem. I was taste-testing it both hot and cold, with a variety of milk substitutes, seeing how/if I liked it. Have you ever tried to convince someone to accept something while you're simultaneously trying to convince yourself? It doesn't usually go well.
"Try this!!" I said, handing him an iced, almond-milk version with what I'm sure was a wild look in my eyes.
"What is it?" He said skeptically, looking the glass up and down.
"It's Dandy Blend!"
"Ok. Am I supposed to know what that is?"
"It's a coffee substitute but before you write it off, it's actually pretty good and it's REALLY good for you--there are like a million health benefits."
"Um..." Shit. I suddenly forgot the multiple pages of them I read when I placed my order. "I think it's meant to be great for blood sugar? and there's no acidity? so it helps alkalize the body? All disease comes from inflammation, you know, and coffee just acidifies your system, making it worse...." I kept half-heartedly trying to sell it. "Cyndi Lauper loves it."
"What's it made of?" He held the glass up and looked at the murky brown liquid.
"Dandelions, for one."
"Yeah. They're really great for you."
"The weeds?? Are you serious?! Those things are my mom's nemeses. She used to throw a fit when she saw one in our yard."
"So...she'd take it personally if we were drinking them?"
"Dandelions..." he shook his head "...I don't know."
"Well, there's other stuff in there too."
"Like what?" He was getting impatient with me.
"Chicory, beets, barley..."
"Oh, well when you put it that way."
"It's actually not too bad." I was getting defensive.
"That sounds like a rousing endorsement."
"Well, just taste it!"
He reluctantly took a sip and shrugged. "It's okay. But not great. What does Cyndi Lauper know?"
I have to concede that the Dandy Blend really does go down easily accompanied by one of these cookies.
But you know what goes with these cookies even better? A CUP OF COFFEE.
Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip cookies
makes a little over 2 dozen
adapted from averie cooks
These cookies are gluten-free, nearly grain-free altogether and crazy good. They are more on the chewy side so if a crispy peanut butter cookie is your jam, these aren't for you. The original recipe has no flax or GF flour at all but I liked it better when there was a bit more body to the cookie. (<----------I can't believe I just wrote that.)
1 cup peanut butter*
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 cup flax meal (ground flax seeds)
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill but any all-purpose one will do)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (BTW, Trader Joe's vegan ones are pretty great and melty)
*make sure your peanut butter is "no-stir" like Skippy or Jif. Traditional natural ones don't work here. I prefer the MaraNatha brand that you can find at Whole Foods (or sometimes even regular grocery stores). Just make sure it says "no-stir"--you don't want the separating kind. Bonus: these types all have salt added so no additional salt is needed in the cookies.
Preheat oven to 350F unless you are chilling the dough (see note below). In an electric mixer, cream the peanut butter and brown sugar for about 3 minutes or until no longer gritty. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Sprinkle in the baking soda, flax and flour. Mix. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips. Because of the lack of flour, expect this batter to be a little more oily. This is normal. To avoid the spreading of the cookies while they bake, you can chill the dough (in plastic wrap) for an hour up to overnight but if you're like me and need them stat, the spreading is no biggie. Drop dough by 2 Tablespoonfuls leaving them about 3 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. You may need to press the chocolate in there if it's not wanting to stick easily. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a rack. Or to your face.
P.S. I drank coffee while writing this post. God help me.
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