Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tsunami Time

You might have thought it was me who was writing all the blogs... not so.

Ode to Jesse

Personal Vegan Chef Jesse Minor pinged me after getting a Google Alert that someone had used his name. He's off cooking for a yuppie dinner party tonight - here's the menu we're all missing out on:

Salad Course:
- Mixed Greens, Shaved Fennel and Roasted Beet Salad with Toasted
Pistachio Nuts and Orange Vinaigrette

Entree Course:
- Maple Dijon Tempeh
- Creamy Meyer Lemon Israeli Couscous
- Roasted Asparagus

Dessert Course:
- Creamy Chocolate Mint Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust and Raspberry Sauce

I remember Tempeh Skewers at Smith that looked like bologna that had been placed in the mud and run over by the Federales when their jeep caravan passed by.
So, after a bit of mocking the Tempeh , Jesse helped me understand that they are, " fermented soy beans that are pressed into a cake". Or fermented soy beans that happened to be in the same mud puddle that got pressed into a cake by the passing jeeps.

That aside, I also learned that Jesse The Vegan Personal Chef, does most of his cooking for non-vegans. There are many other young professionals with the urge to eat more healthier, meet their RDA of 5 veggie servings per day and lack the time to adequately prepare and cook. I can relate. Maybe I should add "making school lunches" to my Not To Do List.

The Creative Chef

Back when I twenty-something and Swingers was big, I learned to swing dance. I'd take my weekly lesson and get in additional hours of dancing at the 9:20 special. Sundays I'd be one of those people in the park, dancing in the band shell. Between age and experience I haven't gone out in a couple years.

Anyway, one of the neat people I knew when dancing was Jesse Miner. Very nice guy, even though he is vegan. I ran into him a month or so ago at Rainbow and I just found his card. He's moved on from being an exceptional jazz DJ to Personal Chef. Here's his website:
He must be good - he cooks for one of the founders of my company & his wife. And I'm temped to try him, except that I'm hopelessly hooked on meat and cheese. Jesse did cook me dinner once, years and years ago, a fantastic lasagna, albeit vegan. I did enjoy it, even with the odd consistency in the cheese.

Now, as my faithful readers know, I love cooking. However, I stick to recipes. I use formulas and I find cookbooks with good, consistent formulas. I dislike substitutions. I prefer high quality versions of exactly what I'm instructed to use in the formula. Experiments are kept to a minimum, even with the full range of ingredients. Boiling a chicken on Monday involved checking with Greg about the precise number of onions (2) to add to the pot.

Then I see Jesse's card and wonder how he can get so creative with the dietary limitations. And Blue in Bristol's sister with the wonderful name - who creates recipes for her food column in the newspaper. When calling on the sister, she was experimenting with battering & frying up fish. She offered us samples as she tweaked the recipe slightly. It was heavenly, I had no suggestions. Jesse's lists this as a dish on his site: Creamy Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup - Yum. He created it himself. My stepmother has twice tried to get my help with the vegetable dish... she cooks it up and then asks me what it needs, "Thyme? Mint?" "Salt?" I suggest, wishing I could check The Art of French Cooking for advice.

Until we're able to iactivate the food creativity center in the frontal lobes, I'll keep my cookbooks handy or hiring those with talent to do my cooking.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting Clean

Todd Duncan, a sales guru, suggests making a Not To Do List. As I should be prioritizing my time in such a way that I either delegate or outsource all activities that are neither pleasurable nor revenue generating. Greg got to this first, and delegated the laundry to me.

This resulted in me starting the laundry Tuesday evening and finishing it Thursday AM in time for the housekeeper to come in and fold it all that afternoon. When we moved in to our loft, we didn't have the resources to purchase a washer/dryer, so we decided to rent. Azuma is a terrible company and we rented a 30 year old washer/dryer from them. It sucked up electricity like a Private University cleaning out the parents of an student. And it damaged out clothes - as it only was able to try on high. After 7 months of frustration on my side, high electricity bills and ruined shirts, I decided to try a new solution. Associated Costs of original Solution: $75/month electricity, $40/month washer rental & $10/month aspirin = $125/month

Part of this solution is Laundry Locker. So far so good there. They are willing/able to separate out laundry and wash it in the temperatures dictated by our fussy ways. They use our preferred detergent & fabric softener. They fold, they delivery, they reduce the frustration in my life and all this in about 24 hours. The cost: $100/month.

The second part of this solution is more green. Since I didn't want to send my unmentionables to a stranger - not out of modesty, but rather, I prefer that they be air dried, we got a Wonder Washer and spin dryer. It cost me about $135 - shipping and tax included. I assembled the two devices on Sunday. I did have a pang of Green-Guilt as they were made & shipped from China to New England and then back to me in California; however I'm getting over that.

The Wonder Washer takes about half the time of a normal washer and it quite easy to operate - I fill it with soap & water, add the clothes and then turn the crank for about 1-2 minutes. I feel very Amish and positively earth loving all the while. There is a drain spout in the bottom and I drain, refill with clean rinse water and then crank again for another 30 seconds. Drain again, toss them in the spinner and they come out next to dry and quite clean. My only limitation is the space on my drying rack. It can do up to 4 lbs of laundry in one shot. Total Cost = $0/month.

So far I love it. I love the planet. I even enjoy a little "I'm more Green than my friend in Bristol" feeling. Her clothes washer runs on electricity.