Home made Salsa

I’ve made several attempts at a home made salsa and it’s starting to get there.  I’ve got the preparation down and still need to experiment with the spices and flavors.  The last batch I made I took to a bbq and it was a hit.  Yes, this is a sign of maturity.  I’ve always been the guy who brings a bag of Tostitos and a jar of salsa to any event, but now I’m raising my game to another level.  I think I’m at junior varsity now.

Back to the salsa…

Buy these things:

  • half a dozen tomatoes
  • lime
  • FRESH cilantro.  Avoid the jarred stuff.  Actually just throw that stuff away.  I’ve tried it and it’s bunk.
  • half an onion
  • one fresh jalapeno pepper
Do these things:
  • cut the tomatoes length wise in half.  De-seed them.  This is probably the most important step.  If you don’t de-seed you end up with a watery mix of something that you’d still eat but you wouldn’t bring out at a dinner party.
  • chop the tomatoes into small squares/cubes.  Making them small improves the eatability.  I’ve experimented with bigger chunks and the experience isn’t as enjoyable.
  • chop up the onion into small pieces.  Again, you don’t want your guests to be biting down on large chunks of onions.
  • go to town on the cilantro.  Chop it up, destem as much as you can tolerate and then chop it to fine pieces.
  • stand the jalapeno up and cut it down length wise.  The seeds bring the fire so keep a lot or a little of them, as you wish.  Chop the flesh into very small pieces as these will have kick in them and you don’t want to overwhelm your guests.
  • Mix everything together really well.
  • Roll the lime around under your palm on the counter top before you cut it.  Then squeeze the entire thing over the salsa.
At this point it’s ready to eat, but if you give it 30 minutes or so and let everything meld together, it’ll be worth it.
No picture for this recipe unfortunately.  I was in a rush to get to the bbq.  Next time!

Channa Tofu Masala with brown rice

If you’re vegetarian and you’re keeping an eye out to make sure you’re getting enough protein, give this recipe a shot.

One of my goals this year is to use less jarred sauces and to make more of them from scratch.  That said, I’m still not ready to make my own masala sauce, because I’m a newbie when it comes to Indian spices.  So for this recipe I use a jar of Trader Joe’s Masala Curry.

The recipe is straightforward:

  • chop up some onions and start lightly browning them
  • drain a can of chickpeas
  • cube off some tofu, or make half-finger length pieces
  • get some of those sliced mushrooms from your fridge
  • once the onions start browning, bring the cavalry.  Add the jar of masala sauce, and add the chickpeas, tofu and mushrooms.
You can add any other vegetables you have lying around.  I’ve done this recipe a few times and I find that three vegetables is a good number, otherwise it can get a bit noisy.  By noisy I mean you’re not sure if you’re eating a poor man’s chile con carne or Indian food.  Make some brown rice (I use Trader Joe’s Thai brown rice) and serve and enjoy.
I hope you like the dish.  It’s a great source of protein and has good flavor.  P.S. the pic below shows some spinach and red kidney beans.  Again, adding some left over veggies I had in my fridge and violating my no-more-than-three veggies rule.
Update: I found this great similar channa masala recipe but using less of the sauce, which makes a big difference.

Breakfast at Midnight

What to do?  It’s 1 a.m.  You just came back from the bars and you’re hungry.  You’re quite sure you won’t make it up before actual breakfast hours, so, why not make a midnight breakfast?  Before getting into the details of this late hour recipe, I should add a disclaimer:

Disclaimer: I was sober when I did this.  You could probably get by with 1-5 drinks and still complete this recipe.  With each drink over 5 drinks, the toast gets a bit more burned, the eggs get a bit drier, unless you’ve completely forgotten to crack the shell open.

Here’s what you do: warm up your favorite frying pan.  Once it’s a bit warm, pour some oil (or use butter, more below) and crack 2-3 eggs into the pan.  Since it’s midnight we don’t want to get too involved with chopping up onions, peppers etc.  I would suggest chopping up half a tomato and adding that for some variety.  Otherwise, grab a wooden spoon and just keep mixing stuff around.  We’re going for an egg scramble since it’s easy and hard to screw up, provided you don’t pass out on your kitchen floor.

When you take the eggs off is a key moment.  You want to wait till they’re almost completely done, but you’ll still wonder whether they are raw or not.  They’re not really raw, they’re just waiting to complete being cooked, and this is when you take them off, as they’ll be done by the time you’re forking them into your mouth.

Brown a couple pieces of whole wheat toast and bring your favorite pure fruit spread (I go for ones that have less than 5 ingredients, with fruit and sugar *always* the top two ingredients).  I’d also suggest bringing along your favorite hot sauce.  I discovered Valencia hot sauce in Mexico recently and it’s got a great, hearty flavor with good heat.  Not as exotic but I’ve seen it at Target for $1.22.

Brew yourself a mug of tea, something without caffeine, like one of those ‘Sleepy Time’ brands.  We don’t want to be still be awake when real breakfast time rolls around.

A recent discovery I made is that using butter instead of oil gives the eggs a different flavor.  I prefer eggs cooked with oil.  Eggs cooked with butter look better but they’re also heavier.  They look like eggs you get at breakfast diners.

Dead simple home made pasta sauce

I’ve been on a mission of late to learn how to make basic foods from scratch.  My first couple of attempts at making a salsa turned out okay, but tonight I had much better luck making a home made pasta.  To put it in Norcal terms, it was hella good.

Here’s how to make it.  Basically, it’s about two things:

  • the tomato base
  • the additions
We’ll start with the additions.
The Additions
This is what really makes the sauce special and unique.  Look in your pantry and your vegetable drawers and see what you want to add to the mix.  I chopped up and fried onions and garlic, then added mushrooms and a can of pitted and sliced black olives.
You could easily chop up some zucchinis, spinach, corn, whatever.
Moving on.
The Tomato Base
Add a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes to the onion-garlic-pantry-emptying mix you’ve got going on.  You’ll want some of that water from the diced tomatoes.  I find recipes with specific measurements either too boring or too rigid so see what works for you.  We’re not baking a cake here so you’ve got a lot of leeway.
I used a full can of tomato sauce with half the can of diced tomatoes, because that’s all I had.  More would have probably made a lighter sauce (not as thick).  Think Ragu vs Prego.
I would have added oregano had I had it but instead added some thyme, red cayenne pepper (quite a bit of this stuff because it is GOOD) and added salt liberally.  Oh yeah, and a generous portion of shredded cheese to thicken it.
The Final Result
That’s about it.  Heat it up for a while, low-medium heat will do.  Add it to your pasta, put on Netflix streaming and enjoy yourself a wonderful dinner.

Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

No one knows where the ladder goes
You can only lose what you love the most
You’re not alone in anything
You’re not unique and dying

If you haven’t heard this album, go buy it now.  Ladder Song is my favorite track from the album.  Makes you want to open a bottle of whiskey and sip it straight from the bottle as you watch the rain outside on a gray and cloudy day.

My Personal Top 10 Songs of 2010

Everyone and their mom (except my mom) are making Top 10 of 2010 lists.  So here is my personal Top 10 Songs of 2010.  The songs are in no order.  My criteria was primarily the number of reps I played a song.  If I killed a song then it will be on this list.

Cee Lo – Fuck You

I see you driving around town with the girl I love

And I’m like ‘Fuckkk Youuuu’

This song gets things off your chest while smiling at the same time.  Cee Lo is the ultimate one hit wonder, a few times over.

Cee Lo (Band of Horses cover) – No One’s Gonna Love You

I got introduced to Band of Horses in 2010 by The Cincinnati Kid and was instantly hooked.  I’m not as big into cover songs as I used to be but this one is sick.  Even BofH says they like Cee Lo’s version than their own.  Add a subtle remix to the whole thing and a compelling music video and you’ve got an ELB Top 10 song.

Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar

Get on the highway.  Put your foot on the gas.  And press down hard.  Awesome driving music.  And running music.  I heard this more than a few times running down Crissy Field with the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hopper Hands waiting for me.

Eminem – No Love

I’ve always been a huge Eminem fan but since The Eminem Show, way back when George Bush was in his first term, his music has been crap.  What makes this song for me is Lil Wayne’s opening verse and Eminem’s long second verse.  His typical style is to break a song up into three verses but here he wraps up verses  2 and 3 into one hard hitting flurry of words that brings back Lose Yourself.

MGMT – Time To Pretend

I was abroad for a while so I spent a lot of 2010 catching up to ‘older’ music.  This was one of those.  I love the lyrics.

Yeah it’s overwhelming

But what else can we do?

Get jobs in offices

And wake up for the morning commute?

Ummm.. That’s what I do.  Everyday.  These guys are having more fun than me.

Kid Cudi – Heart of a Lion

Another album from pre-2010 that I really got into in 2010.  I hard a time deciding which song to choose because I like the whole album but Heart of a Lion is definitely one of the top tracks.  Side note: his second album, released in 2010, was a letdown for me.  I’m still listening to it trying to like it but I don’t think it’s going to be as memorable as his first.

Jay-Z – On To the Next One

I’ve always liked Jay-Z’s rhymes but he’s slipped in the past few years.  Still, he can rap better than any other 40 year old I know.  Until my boy Thad Jampol turns 40.  I like the beats and the bass in this track but the reason it makes this list is because it was my anthem when I got laid off in October.  I’m driving in the city on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, recently unemployed, and my words to the world are ‘On to the next one’.

Gorillaz w/ Snoop – Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach

The bass line is so good in this song that Snoop actually dances in it.  At least it resembles dancing.  And he’s dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow.

Cults – Go Outside

To me, death is not a fearful thing. It’s living that’s treacherous.

I heard about this song from the Hype Machine blog.  It’s a free 3 song EP available on bandcamp.  This was always first in my running music lineup.  Get home from work, throw all my shit on the floor,  gear up for a run and head outside to run along the bay.

Kanye West – Amazing

I did not like this all auto-tuned album when I first heard it.  It sat in my iPod for months before I finally ‘got it’.  And when I did, that is all I listened to in the month of March during a month long road trip in the southwest.  This is one of my favorite tracks from the album.

Pic of the day

Hanging out at Crissy Field Cafe

Recipe of the day: Tapacheeto

I learned this amazing new recipe last night where all culinary inspirations are borne: my indoor soccer league.  Fresh off of finishing a game, a player buys a bag of Cheetos, opens it and before eating it, inverts a Costco-sized bottle of Tapatio into it, moving the bag around beneath it while he holds the bottle for a good 10-15 seconds.  If you’re looking for the fast track to heartburn this may be the recipe you’ve been looking for.


Tapacheeto at night

Doom – Born Like This

When it comes to how we listen to music, I’ve found some people focus on lyrics while some focus on the drums and while others focus on the guitars.  Or a combination of those.  I am definitely a lyrics kind of guy, especially when it comes to hip hop and rap.  That’s why I spent all of 2002 listening to just Eminem.  That’s also why I like Jay-Z, but it doesn’t explain why I really like Kanye.  His lyrics are average but his beats way more than make up for them.

And it’s maybe a bit the same with Doom.  I can’t recall anything he raps about in this album but I did find myself bobbing my head while listening to him and that’s a good sign.  It’s good hip hop and I like his articulate, laid back vocal style.

I found this album while making my way through Pitchfork’s top albums of 2009.  This was somewhere in the 40’s.

You can sample the album here or you can check it out in full on Grooveshark.

Doom - Born LIke This

Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

It’s a shame the name of the band is so jarring because the music is fucking awesome.  Ha.  I think this may be the first time I have outright cussed in a blog post.  It is liberating.  I may have to do it more often.  I found these guys on Pitchfork’s top 50 albums of 2009 which I am still making my way through.

The FB’s have no lyrics; it’s pure car-driving-turn-it-up-and-roll-your-windows-and-sunroof-down music.  I put it on my iPhone, got in my car, and Surf Solar came on and it was the perfect driving song.  California’s highways on sunny days beg to be driven this way, with exactly these kinds of tracks.

It’s also great coding music or any other kind of heads down work you may do.

Some of my favorite songs from this album:

Surf Solar

The Lisbon Maru

You can sample the full album here or, as always, check it out in full on Grooveshark.

One song I did not like at all was Rough Steez.  It’s just jarring.  This is also the first time I have used the word ‘jarring’ twice in one post. Is there a full moon out tonight?

Tarot Sport