Thursday, June 20, 2013

FoLAR Cleanup, 2013 -1

For many years now, we've been going to various clean ups throughout Los Angeles. This past May we went to the Lake Balboa site for the Friends of the Los Angeles annual cleanup. This area is rare in that the LA river has a natural river bottom (most of it is lined with concrete.) I enjoy going for the scenery nearly as much as I want to get things done as there is all sorts of nature growth lining the river. Over the years many friends have come along to help, which I always appreciate and enjoy. There's something about going down there and seeing what trash collects that brings an awareness that other types of experiences can't always capture as well as actually physically just getting the job done.


Sunday, June 9, 2013


Over the years, I've found myself going through phases of cooking. These are inspired by different things - reading books, studies or articles, learning about new places like Asian markets, obtaining new skills, ingredients or equipment and the changing seasons influencing what's available at the farmers market or on sale. Some phases are temporary while others morph into staples. Soups and salads usually come and go according to the seasons. I generally try to only use the oven in the winter/when it's cool. I've been cooking primarily vegetarian foods outside of the occasional bit of fish or turkey for at least 6 years. I love going to the farmers market and my Sunday mornings usually include a bike ride to the market to pick up fresh foods for the week.

Mediterranean patterns of eating are often recommended to people as a healthy choice. The main ingredients consist of vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins like beans and fish and healthy oils from nuts and olive oil. Without any modifications or sometimes-bizarre fake meat substitutes, many wonderful vegetarian dishes can be made using Mediterranean recipes, so it's something I've gladly adapted to my kitchen over the years. I've made all sorts of little salads and dips and used to make falafel from a box mix, but for whatever reason, falafel from scratch seemed a little out of my range of abilities. We sometimes would just pick up falafel balls from Zankou and make our own meals around them........Then!!!!

A few months ago I discovered garbanzo bean flour, which has quickly become a staple in my home. So far I've gone through at least 4 bags of it cooking only 2 different recipes with it - falafel and flat bread, but mostly falafel.

$2.17/lb @ Whole Foods and $1/lb in bulk online!
When I picked up my first bag of Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean flour, I decided to try out the falafel recipe on the side of the bag (minus corriander because I don't like it.) Amazingly, I pretty much use that recipe every single time with few modifications - it's that good. I also love the recipe because outside of the fresh lemon, I have everything I need to make falafel on hand ALL of the time! The recipe is relatively quick - it does require boiling water and letting the mix sit for 10 min before cooking, but that time is easily used for other prep work. I love the bean flour since it doesn't have the weird texture that turns me off of garbanzo beans some of the time, it takes up less space, is cheaper than canned garbanzo beans/chick peas and there's no waste since I can measure out exactly what I need vs. having a discrete "can of beans" measurement and it's faster than cooking dried garbanzo beans from scratch each time.

I sometimes make a large batch of tabouli salad on the weekend, which is a good pairing for a fast meal with the falafel during the week. The falafel's also good with some pita, tahini, romaine lettuce, salad, tomatoes, tzatziki, sandwiches with grilled veggies.... essentially it's endlessly easy to incorporate it into a meal. It's also awesome since you can easily make the resulting meal accommodate a variety of food restrictions including vegetarian or vegan and gluten-free. You could also adapt the side dishes to fit your restrictions by making a vegan tzatziki with non-dairy yogurt or a gluten-free tabouli with quinoa.

Garbanzo Bean Falafel (from Bob's Red Mill with my personal modifications): serves 2 to 3 as a main dish

-1 cup garbanzo bean flour
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1-2 tsp parsley flakes
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp dried diced onions
-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
-1/2 cup hot water
-2-3 tbs olive oil for frying

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend. Add liquids (lemon juice & hot water) to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in pan. Add the falafel batter by the tablespoon and flatten slightly. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain & serve warm

falafel & tabouli - a past dinner I shall recreate tonight!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

truck sides, part 2ish

Refridgerated Delivery Truck, Morro Bay, CA

Los Angeles Fire Department Truck, Hollywood, CA

truck sides

d011, d013