Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Twice baked potatoes with asparagus and brussel sprouts

I realize that I didn't take any pictures last night, which is a big no-no for me. The good news is that I failed to photograph my food because it didn't last more than thirty minutes after unveiling it. My little brother stopped by last night to drop off some stuff (he's going to be staying with me for a couple of months) and eat dinner. I needed a win last night as my previously hopeful avocado pesto pasta did not turn out at all.

Now I have to bring it back a few years. See I am woefully untrained in a kitchen. My mother knew how to make three things: tacos, spaghetti and chicken with mashed potatoes and corn; the latter of which I have since learned I'm allergic to and can attribute to many of my childhood illnesses and skin conditions. Oh and occasionally my mother would make a huge pot of pinto beans that we would mix heaps of cheese into and roll into tortillas. Occasionally the corn would be switched out for broccoli heated in the microwave and doused in butter and cheese.  The only thing I've ever really learned to cook is stir-fry and to many of my friends' amusement I may add. See my original manner of cooking was to put everything on low heat so that I wouldn't really have to pay attention to it. Instead I could sit back and watch a movie or read a book until I smelled the smells of food cooking. Then I would rush to the kitchen and stir hoping that it wasn't burnt...or too burnt anyway.

Now I take much more joy in the little things. The chopping and slicing, though I'm still not great at either, and the smells of food cooked as it is meant to be. That is not to say that I am a great cook. Quite the contrary in fact. Oftentimes I forget an ingredient or add too much or too little. I'm no good at guestimating a pinch or dash. Nevertheless I approach the kitchen with zeal and a little bit of hope. Anyhoo back to the avocado pesto pasta. My food processor refused to work with me no matter how hard I tried. My avocados were only a few days old but already relegated to a mushy texture. So I ultimately mixed some marinara sauce to my chunky yet mushy pesto and mixed it into the pasta. Becca still ate it, god bless her. She claims it was good but she will basically say that about anything I make, especially if I'm upset. Nevertheless she brought a container to work the next day and ate through the left-overs.

So last night I made twice baked potatoes. I set the oven to 400 degrees and put 5 potatoes into the oven for 40 minutes. They came out and I shaved off their little heads and scooped them out. Now this is much easier than it sounds and I often scraped away the bottoms or sides. I've read that it's easier to scoop out cold baked potatoes so I will have to try that sometime. Instead I burnt and singed my hands trying to pry out (mostly) cooked potato flesh. I then added that to a garlic olive oil mixture on the stove. I added some spinach and some soy milk (did not measure but enough to cover bottom of pan).  I mashed up the potato mixture as much as I could and waited for soy milk to be absorbed. Then I restuffed the potatoes, which again is easier said than done especially when there are holes. Some of my potato mixture seeped through but I merely took the potato skin hats that I had cut off and put them on the bottom to keep them from leaking. It was a quick fix but worked for the most part. One potato fell over but whatever. I then topped them all with Daiya and shoved them back in the oven for another 15 or 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I added some garlic and olive oil to another pan and tossed in the brussel sprouts first, which I had halved. Then I added asparagus. Ok here's another thing. My mother only cooked asparagus from a can. She refuses to acknowledge this fact and claims that I'm making up stories, but I never once had fresh asparagus. So I don't really know how long to cook it.  I've heard that they should be green as a stoplight so that's what I did. I think they may have been slightly undercooked this go around but they were still good.

So after a little over an hour of cooking, I unveiled my creation to my little brother who by the way thinks veganism is insane.  I happily report he had two servings of everything (had to stop him at one point so that there would be enough for Becca when she got home from work).  He didn't even realize that the Daiya wasn't real until I pointed it out. So there you have it. I made a vegan gluten-free meal without a proper recipe or kitchen knowledge. This just goes to show that anyone can cook. Anyone can be healthy. Anyone can do this. I know because if I can do then anyone can!

Monday, June 28, 2010


This weekend was jam packed for Becca and me. We had a thousand errands to run, some in the valley, some in Culver City so basically the gamut since we live on the East Side. However, I finally visited Surfas, which wasn't as large as I was led to believe. However, I did get the pine nuts necessary to make avocado pesto pasta, which I will make tonight. None of this is important of course. What is cool is that I finally got to try Meet Market.  Per, I chose to order the Reuben.  It was so incredibly delicious, although I'm not a huge Tofurky fan in general. The sauerkraut and beets were so good.

 Meanwhile Becca chose the "chicken salad" sandwich. It was quite possibly better than mine, although much much messier. You can see her fully enjoying it here. It was almost creepy how well the chicken was mimicked in this dish. It really tasted like chicken salad. The cool thing about the Meet Market, besides the fact that we got in and out for under $11 for both of us, is that they also carry an assortment of vegan products, like Daiya and Teese cheeses for cheaper than Whole Foods.  The girl behind the counter was very nice and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The best part was how comfortably full I felt. I wasn't stuffed but totally satiated.  An epic win in my book for the Meet Market. I will be going back for sure.

Today I ate at Native Foods again.  This is my third time since I discovered this place. It is really just that good. Each time I try to order something different and I've been rewarded each time. This is the first time that I didn't order chili in some form (by the bowl or over fries) but I felt like I needed to branch out. Today I chose the OC Raw Chopper Salad. The lemony dressing was the perfect accompaniment to the greens, cucumber, carrots, almonds, beets and sprouts. I splurged and also ordered the black beans, which were cooked to perfection. The entire meal was lovely and very complimentary.  Again walking out, I realized that I felt full but not overly so. I was satisfied. It's not three, almost four, hours later and I still feel happily filled. Of course this doesn't stop me from daydreaming about Chef Chole's avocado pesto pasta recipe that I will attempt tonight...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hollywood Life

Ok so it hasn't been a particularly eventful vegan couple of days.  I have had drinks every night of the week, oh the dreaded networking. Luckily all of my drinks were with people that I already know and like. I did make a vegan strawberry cake from farmer's market strawberries but it didn't turn out fantastically.  The icing was more liquid than anything and the entire thing was overly sweet. Better luck next time!  This weekend I do intend to try out Chloe Coscarelli's cupcake recipe which she used to win Cupcake Wars!  I think it will be fantastic.

So anyway last night was one of my former co-worker's last day drinks. I left the company three months ago and was surprised by all the new faces. It's always strange going back and not knowing everyone, especially since I worked there for three years. After a couple of hours and a few more beers, my old boss showed up along with his lieutenant. Two high-powered agents in suits swathed in too much whiskey. I love my old boss. He was my first of four during my time at the company, but always my favorite. I often chastised myself for leaving his desk when we got along so well but I had just started dating Becca and didn't want to work all the overtime.

It was nice to see him. He was like my work dad. So here's the thing, I am still very protective over him. So when I see him chatting with another assistant, I got a little jealous, especially since this assistant is kind of douchey just like his boss. This assistant is obviously on the fast track up the ladder so I felt it my duty to give him a little bit of shit. Once again my mouth gets me in a tad bit of trouble. I may have been a little too harsh and mentioned some information I shouldn't have, but oh well. I can always blame the booze I suppose. Hopefully nothing will come of it. Just silly assistant chatter. But it's always a good reminder that I need to always be very aware of what I'm saying and who I'm saying it too.

All in all, I had a nice visit and I think my old boss really misses me. Though he's met Becca on a few occasions, this time he told her that he loved me and would do anything for me. Becca responded in kind, "You and I have a lot in common." It was a really awesome moment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Ok so Becca and I planned a night out in downtown to Shojin. A number of people have told me that this is the best place for vegan sushi. I was very excited to try most of Quarrygirl's recommendations.  Becca and I got off work around 7:15 pm and made our way downtown. We got there around 8.  The place was pretty crowded but there was one small two-top in a corner.  First off, I was excited to be there so I let it slide that it took several minutes to get a menu and even longer to get a water. However, I quickly realized that this was how the entire night would go. I'm all for a leisurely meal but I mean two hours for 3 rolls and an appetizer felt a little crazy, especially when all the tables around us were served quickly.

First we ordered the pumpkin croquettes. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin, but these were decent. Becca liked them a lot more than I did. They looked and smelled like chicken nuggets but were filled with pumpkin and zucchini. We were starving and this was the first item out of the gate so we were mostly just happy to have something, anything to eat.

Next we got our spicy avocado salad. Unfortunately this was so delicious that we scarfed it down without taking any pictures. Sooo good. A perfect blend of avocado, greens and cucumber. It was a little light on dressing but the avocado was so good that it really didn't matter.

Next we got the dynamite roll, which I heard was the specialty. I realize that my iPhone camera isn't the best, but basically it's fake spicy tuna and avocado with spicy mayo and green onions on top. This was good. However, you can see in the picture that there was way more than a dollop of spicy mayo. It melted in your mouth kinda like nacho cheese, which sounds great except that it's mayonnaise. I'm not a huge fan of mayo in gen, vegan or not, so this was a bit hard on the palate. Mostly I pushed off the mayo top and ate it without.  Oh and at this point we requested some soy sauce because while the sauces were interesting, the sushi was a little dry. They brought us extremely shallow soy sauce dishes filled with maybe a teaspoon. It made for awkward dipping and only lasted for about two dips.

Then we got the tempura roll, which was good. Sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, and potato were all nicely battered and rolled up. The dipping sauce came in a tiny bowl so we had to pour it over the tops of the sushi. It was a little bitter but all in all, this roll was very tasty. Becca and I mostly ate the pieces of tempura out and then dipped the rice and seaweed into soy sauce alone.

Finally we got the BBQ seiten roll. This one was interesting. It was Becca's order. The consistency was good but I wasn't a big fan of the bbq flavor.  Becca enjoyed it though so that's a plus since she's still not sold on the idea of being vegan yet.

We were debating getting the strawberry shortcake or banana chocolate cake for desert. However, we realized that it would most likely take another 30 minutes and it was already 10 pm. We asked for our check just as the table across from us did so. They received complimentary ice cream scoops while we merely got a check for $46.  So my experience wasn't fantastic but it wasn't terrible either. I would say it was neither a win nor a fail, just so-so. I will go back again so that I can see if the service improves. Otherwise, I'll stick to Native Foods, Pure Luck and RFD.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Someone has a case of the Mondays

K in all seriousness I should be rejuvenated and proud of myself for my weekend, but instead I am just a tired mess.  Saturday Becca and I went to a pilates class at Pink Iron Gym.  They offered a special for 5 mat classes for $15 which is amazing. Becca's never done pilates. I've been twice so I knew a little better. Becca thought she was fine. I felt like throwing up (Note to self: Eat food before 9 am Saturday morning pilates class). After a short nap, I was in slight muscle agony but wisely drank many glasses of water. Meanwhile, Becca ignored my advice and drank coffee instead. Guess which one of us can walk today? Lol.

So Saturday was also a trip to Costco where they are now selling my favorite fake meat substitute Gardein. These chicken tenders are sooo delish! And now I can buy them by the 40 pack. I know I shouldn't eat so many frozen products but they're just so damn good.

Sunday was dedicated to reading scripts. Ah, the life of an assistant. Not only do we get paid little and work long hours, we are also expected to work on our off-time as well. I spent a couple of hours at Starbucks pondering my life and career while reading a comic book origin movie.  I then cooked up a huge batch of roasted root vegetables. Basically I just cut up all the things in my 'fridge. Brussell sprouts, golden and red beets, potatoes, parsnips, summer squash, zucchini, onions and some garlic. Yum yum yum. Today I ate an entire plateful along with my Dairy-free veggie pot pie. I can't help how much I love these as well, though I'm trying to cut back on the use of frozen entrees in my diet.

All in all, a pretty successful weekend. Tonight I'm taking Becca to renowned vegan favorite Shojin for vegan sushi. Perhaps I can purge the last living animal from my diet, although methinks Becca is having a hard time adjusting. She has no real reason to be vegan except as a weight-loss tool. I commend her for adventuring with me on this issue. But then again if she doesn't eat what I eat, then she doesn't eat at all and my baby is no good at foraging on her own. I am still particularly proud of her because she tries not to partake in anything non-vegan at work. I'm a bit worried about spending time with her family for holidays as I don't think they really understand it. Her mother was very sweet about trying to cut down on dairy while I visited last time.  We shall see. Both Becca and my mother will be here in a couple of weeks so I figure this is a trial run.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Native Foods

So I'd heard good things about Native Foods but had never really thought much about it. First of all, it's in Westwood, which is an area I try to avoid.  It's packed with students, which makes me feel a mix of nostalgia and jealousy. Let's face it. No one wants to feel old. Secondly, I live in Los Feliz so it doesn't really make sense to travel to the west side for good vegan food when we have Pure Luck. However, I work in Brentwood and didn't have any lunch today so I figured why not give it a try? Oh man am I glad that I decided to stop by!

The wait staff is friendly.  By signing up for a free Native Foods rewards card, I received a complimentary beverage. I chose the lavender lemonade. It was sweet without being overpowering and just yummy. It also came with free refills, though each refill comes in a plastic cup which I wasn't over the moon about.  I ordered the cup of chili and the voluptuous veggie pizza.  Man oh man, I can't get over how good each item was.  First the chili: it was the perfect ratio of beans to fake meat to onion to vegan sour cream. Sooo yummy that I practically licked the bowl clean.  It comes with a large chunk of cornbread, which I totally nibbled despite my corn allergy. It was a little dried out but inside was squishy and perfect. I only wish that I could actually eat corn without having intense allergic reactions!

Then the pizza showed up and it was amazing. The kale on top had a savory dressing so it was like a mini salad. Then the veggies were roasted and yummy with creamy pesto. The dough was great, so fluffy. A little oily (I admit I smeared oil fingers on my iPhone trying to take pictures) but I loved it. Everything was so good.  All this was only $16.03 with tip.  That's way less than Real Food Daily and several other vegan restaurants around town.  So I guess what I'm saying is if you live in LA, get in your car right now and head over to Native Foods. You will not be sorry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Thursday That Should Really Be Friday

 So I know that all assistants and other office drones often complain, "It feels like Friday." However, today truly does. The sun is shining in Los Angeles beckoning me outside.  There is even a farmer's market going on on my side of town from 3 to 7. Sadly I will never get to go because I work every night until 7 at least. This is not a full-fledged complaint, just a fact. Anyway I would love if this were Friday because I could prepare my shopping lists for the week as I am starting to meal plan. Of course I could still work on my lists but it just doesn't have the same fun since I know it will be another two days before I get to actually buy anything.

Last night Becca and I attended the Grease Sing-A-Long at the Arclight Theatre. Usually I avoid this theatre because while it's cool to have assigned seating, the hefty price tag for a show isn't usually worth it. But alas one of the joys of being a Hollywood assistant is meeting other lowly assistants that can hook you up. A lovely girl put us on the list and even walked us ahead of the line to get our tickets and wristbands. Unfortunately the moment we stepped up for our free drink, they shut down the bar. Nevertheless, it was a rocking good time to sing to my favorites from the movie (namely Rizzo's solo number).

Afterward we walked to Chan Darae for some grub. We didn't realize that it was their anniversary so they were offering 15% off the bill and 50% off drinks after the first one. Becca and I only need so much prompting to have a couple of rounds so I got a lychee martini and she got some beer. I ordered the red curry after making sure it was vegan. It was good, not great but I'm eating the leftovers at work as I type.

The problem with last night is that I still haven't transplanted my little basil plant. It probably hates me by now. I need to take a picture of my newly acquired EarthBox. I am growing (or attempting to) peppers, which I transplanted as seedlings. I have six, which is more than recommended but I plan to thin them out when I see which ones do the best. I also planted beets and bunching onions. I have a second EarthBox still in its box, which I will plant bush beans, snap peas and maybe some lettuce. Still not quite sure. I wanted to do brussell sprouts. But honestly I'm not sure how great any of it will grow due to the fact that summer is heating up. Technically you're supposed to sow seeds in spring but whatever. I'm trying them now to see what, if anything, I can keep alive.

So that's it so far. I'm looking out my sunny window at the office hoping that today goes by quickly so that it actually is Friday. I am going out tonight with one of my old office mates. She just recently got a job working for a producer on a show, which is amazing and an awesome achievement. Best of all, she is also vegan and excited to hit up Real Food Daily with me in WeHo. I've only been there once and ordered all wrong. I chose the Reuben with the hopes that it would taste something like its namesake. It was the very beginning of my first 30 day vegan stint and it turned me off to trying many things, namely tempeh and seiten. I'm going to try some recommended dishes by quarygirl (if you don't read her blog do so immediately) and see if they can change my mind.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Technical difficulties

Ok, so I tried mobile blogging yesterday but sadly it did not work out so here it is. Last night (which is now 2 nights ago) I made dinner. Not the most nutritious thing I've ever cooked but I have a girlfriend with the tastes of a small child. She prefers grilled cheese to most anything so I relented and cooked up a Daiya grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries and sauteed veggies, all of which came from my CSA. There were brussell sprouts, bell peppers, bok choi, radishes, serreno peppers and more. She didn't really like the veggies much because it was too spicy (I used one small pepper) but happily dug into the rest. Here's a poor pic.

Tonight I have drinks with another assistant. Ah yes, the great "networking" people talk about. Basically just an excuse to drink beer on a Tuesday. So I'm not cooking tonight BUT I will be transferring my first herb transplant to a bigger pot. I grew basil out of seed. Out of the five herbs I've started this is the only real survivor but I'm really excited! Wish me luck.

Ok so now that it is today rather than yesterday, I can say that sadly I did not get around to transplanting the basil. Instead drinks ran long at the Village Idiot. I also ate fish, which was actually quite gross. I even dipped it in their gross homemade tarter sauce on accident before I realized what tarter sauce is made out of. Double gross! So this is the official first fall off the wagon. However, this morning I just dusted myself off and decided to take today as a whole new day. Wow that sounds like an AA meeting, right? Well anyway I had an Amy's Organics vegan, dairy free veggie pot pie for lunch. I could seriously eat those things every single day. I love them that much.

So I'm not sure what to make for dinner tonight but will check out my many vegan cookbooks in order to figure it out.  Cheers!

Monday, June 14, 2010

My first post!

So here it is. My very first post. I don't even know exactly what to write about so I'll kick it off simply. My name is Brittany and I work as an assistant to a movie producer. By day I roll calls, research stories that might make a good movie, and other arbitrary busy work not worth mentioning. By night I live with my beautiful girlfriend Becca and our two kitties. Recently Becca and I did a 30 day vegan diet just to see if we could. I lost 12 pounds (all since gained back) but most importantly I felt different. Cleaner somehow, more alert. I went back to meet and some dairy after my 30 day stint. I've never really liked milk or much cheese so it wasn't too hard to avoid them. But I fully admit to being a butter adict. So I returned to the harmful, soulless meat diet and shock of all shocks, I didn't feel so good. I also began to notice that meat and cheese didn't really taste as good as I remembered.  What was happening to me? Then I realized! The food I thought I loved no longer held the same joy for me because I was thinking about where it came from and how it came to be on my plate. And honestly if anyone really thought about the horrific manner in which animals are slaughtered merely to put on our plates, everyone would be turned off.  I have spent 27 years closing my eyes to these realities but I am finally ready to be a full-fledged vegan...err mostly vegan.  I'm not quite ready to give up sushi permanently and am unsure how my family will take it (or Becca's for that matter since she comes from dairy-lovin' Midwestern stock).  This blog will be about vegan restaurants, cooking, gardening, weight loss and the tiring lifestyle of a Hollywood assistant. I don't know where I'm headed but I'm gonna enjoy the ride.