Posts Tagged ‘Farmer’s Market’

May 8, 2012

All Things Taurus – Part 3


Several weeks  ago I attended a  riveting   lecture by   several  scientists  from the Monell Institute  titled I SMELL YOU SMELL  as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival. The Monell Institute is the world’s  only independent non profit scientific institute dedicated to basic research on taste and smell.   As a  five planets  in Taurus woman, smell ( and taste) are crucial to me.   When I was  little girl, I  wished I  could be the fairy of good smells.  I’d wave  my magic wand and make  everything  seem wonderful like  fresh flowers.   The lecture  took  place in a darken cabaret  room  at the Society Hill Playhouse.  Three  scientists  talked about  the power of  smell and how it relates to  relationships, attraction and  illness.   I ‘ve always  been fascinated  by the  subject of pheromones.   I learned that  everyone’s  scent is different.  No  two people smell alike.   Our  personal scent is like a  fingerprint.   It  doesn’t  change  due to  diet or  hygiene.   The scientists  debunked the myth that  a certain perfume  or oil with attract a man ( or woman) to you.    Maybe that’s  true  but I  have been in some  situations  where the lack of hygiene  has definitely   a repellant.    Smelling  good has always  been important to me.   My  favorite  soap is  Santa Maria Novella’s Melograno  soap.  Melograno is  Italian  for pomegranate.  This  soap is   triple milled and is so gentle.  You  can   use it on your face too and it last much  longer than regular  soap.  Made by   Florentine Monks for   600 hundred years, Santa Maria Novella products are  a personal  favorite.   Heavenly!

From smells to  tastes.  The last  few months I ‘ve  become   obsessed with the Korean  dish- Bibimbap dolsot ( also  spelled bibimbop).   Bibimbap dolsot is  basically  a hot rice dish with  meat and veggies.    My obsession  with Bibimbap  began when I first  had it at Giwa  in Center City  ( Philly).    I  had an OBE  ( out of body experience)  after  eating it for the first time.   I’m not joking !  I literarily  got high and was floating  out of my body for several hours  after  I  finished eating.   I   tried  the  dish  at several  other restaurants in Philly after   Giwa.    There  are   many more  restaurants  I need to  try bibimbap from , but so far Giwa  is the  best.    The dish is  served in a  cast iron  deep bowl which  arrives  all steamy and popping.   The popping sound is  from the  bottom layer of rice  cooking and getting brown and  crunchy.    A sauce  made with red pepper paste   ( called gochujang)  is  mixed in the  dish as you eat it.     As  most of my  readers know,  when I  get  a idea into my head, especially when it comes to making a  certain  dish, I must make it and make it  right.    For  several weeks I  just  thought about  bibimbap.   I  looked online and  at H-Mart  for the same  cast iron  bowls I was served Bibimbap in at the various  restautants. H-Mart  does sell these outrageously  heavy stone bowl  for around $30 a piece  to  make bibimbap.  But I ‘m  a cast  iron  woman.  I  finally  found a  food blog  that mentioned  cooking bibimbap in a cast iron skillet.  Hallelujah!    I  combined  several bibimbap  recipes and then  altered them  further.    I have  made this  dish  3 times so far.  Once with  rib eye steak ( traditional).  One with Chicken and once with pork.    The first attempt  with rib eye steak  remains  my most  successful attempt.    I was able to get the  rice on the bottom crunchy.  One of the ways  in which  my bibimbap  differs  vastly  from the  bibimbaps I have eaten in the restaurants &  the  recipes I  found on line is  my  compulsion  to  season  each component separately.    Sadly, this  need to  have  more flavor resulted in severe rice failure on  my second and third attempts at  making the  dish ( the  goal  being  a crispy crunchy layer of rice at the bottom of the  pan).    I put  butter and  Swanson  flavor packets (  chicken and vegetable) in the  rice water right before cooking the rice.  The  rice was  bursting with  flavor but I realized the butter made  the  cooked  grains  too  moist to  cook  effectively .    Egg was  served on  top of the Bibimbap  when I  ate it Tampopo ( raw  which  cooked as the  veggies,rice and  meat steamed)  and Koreana  (  cooked over easy) but not at Giwa.   I  decided to  top my bibimbap with organic  duck  eggs I  bought  at the  farmer’s market.  By using  duck eggs instead of  regular  eggs, a deeper  depth of  flavor  was  achieved.   I also  altered the   sauce  made with the  gochujang  by adding  fresh  grated  ginger, more sesame oil and more  sugar than the internet  recipes listed.   And  while I  have written previously about  my attempts to  become  vegetarian, I have fallen off the wagon.  I  decided  last  year that  my  body  functions  better on a little meat.   I only buy organic  meat.  Maybe  someday I will become a vegetarian but not now.


In keeping with this theme of  this blog of ALL THINGS TAURUS,  I highly recommend   F for Fake  (written, directed and starring Orson Welles).  Mr. Welles was  a quintessential Taurus ( May 6th).  The  real reason  for   viewing this “documentary”   is not  to learn about the  famous  art  forger Elmyr de Hory or  see  footage of Clifford  Irving the subject of the film The Hoax.  The REAL  reason to watch F for Fake  is  the fashions  that Orson Welles’s then girlfriend Oja Kodar  models as she is  portraying the fictitious muse of Picasso.  The two minute  “fashion show”  features  some very incredible  clothes.  A must  rent for any  fashionista.

The  other Taurus I  want to mention in this blog is  filmmaker/writer/actor Lena Dunham ( May 13th).   I really enjoyed Ms.Dunham’s first film Tiny Furniture   ( 2010) which was an instant  hit at the Sundance Film Festival when it premiered.  Her current HBO series GIRLS which  she  wrote,directed and stars in, features  some of the  same cast  from
Tiny Furniture .  I  find Ms. Dunham fascinating to watch.  I  thought about  why I like her and find her  so appealing.  The answer was  of course,  right in front  of me.  It is the Taurus  factor.  She is  real and unpretentious.  She  looks like a normal person, not a Hollywood-glammed up  movie star.  She is  a little bit  chubby and isn’t afraid to  show her body  on  camera in  various  stages of undress.    She   explores relationships and sexuality (  due to the  intense simulated sex  scene the  series airs on Sundays nights at 10:30 p.m. EST).  Ms. Dunham’s  take on relationships and men is honest,refreshing and  of course witty.  I  heard her interviewed by  Terry Gross on  NPR ‘s Fresh Air yesterday ( May 7th).     Although Ms. Dunham stated  clearly that the  character of Hannah isn’t  her, Hannah  does seem to possess many  Taurean tendencies ( like eating  cupcakes in the bathtub) and being kind of   slow to “get it” at times.  Now  I myself have never eaten cupcakes while taking a bath, but  both activities  top  my pleasure list.


More things related to my Taurus:

There are two films both available on dvd which deal with the subject of redemption and forgiveness. I love both these films. The first of these films is Flipped directed by Rob Reiner based on the popular book Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen and the British independent film In a Day. Both these films deal with the relationship between a boy and a girl ( FLIPPED) and a man and a woman ( IN A DAY). Rob Reiner said of FLIPPED it is the best film he’s directed. I agree with him. The film although it is very Hollywood, is the kind of film that should be shown in school  to junior high students. The message of not assuming or making judgements based on appearances is important and crucial. How do these two films relate to Taurus? Well Taurus is a stubborn sign and I  have  been  guilty of assuming and making  judgements.      My  assumptions  about  Korean  food  kept me  from a world of sensual pleasure  for decades.   I  hope EVERYONE   will see  FLIPPED.   It is a  great film  for adults too.

Recently, I  saw  a powerful documentary  which  lingered in my  head for days.  Elephant in the Living Room directed by Michael Webber, follows Officer Tim Harrison as he struggles to deal with the exotic animal problem in Ohio. More and more people in the United States are opting to have wild and exotic animals as pets. This documentary examines this horrifying, sad , shocking and idiotic ( yes I said it) trend.  I  learned a  permit is not  required  to own an exotic/wild  animal in Ohio but   you  need of course  to have a  license for your  dog.  This is one of those documentaries that should be,in my opinion, required viewing to children in public schools every year they are in school( I would say starting with 4th grade children). In my opinion, it is a disgrace that hundreds of thousands of domestic animals are euthanized in shelters every year. Now there is this new problem of wild and exotic “pets”. I feel for Tim Harrison and his heroic efforts to save and place the abandoned and abused exotic wild life that he encounters on his job.   I hope this documentary can  change the  state laws  regarding  wild/exotic pet ownership.


I’ve previously  mentioned I how much I love CBS SUNDAY MORNING ( airs Sundays  at 9 a.m. EST).  It is one of the few  art & culture  shows on  a major Network  Channel.   I  need to  mention  another  fabulous arts & culture  show called   EUROMAXX ( Highlights).   This  22 minute show airs on   Comcast  here in Philly on MINDTV on Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m.  MINDTV is  the local independent  Philly cable station.  Euromaxx  is a German produced  show which features  what’s hot and  happening  in Europe.  Sadly, I’m either  on my way to the  gym or  farmer’s market or  thriftin ( yard  sales, flea markets etc.)   on Saturday mornings so I often  miss  this  wonderful  show.   It would  be great if   MIND TV  would air this  show on Sunday mornings  before CBS Sunday morning.


And lastly- Thank you Town & country Magazine  for printing my Letter to the Editor  (May 2012) regarding the  Ali MacGraw  cover ( February 2012).   Unfortunately, I  don’t buy the editor’s response  as to why they  chose to put a  photograph of Ms.MacGraw  from 1969 on their  cover while inside they have  recent photographs of her looking  fantastic at 72.   I can smell B.S. a  mile away.  This may  be a revelation to  some people who think I’m naive.  The truth is  most of the time I  keep my mouth  shut because  I  have never been able to   confront  a liar and get the truth at the  time I was confronting them ( I’m not  implying the editors of T & C  are liars).   These  days I  bide my  time and   know  that in time, the truth is ALWAYS revealed  in almost every situation.  That is the  epitome of  a Taurus  being patient!




Pussy Collage made by meHi Everyone!  Several weeks ago while at a local Starbucks, I was looking at their merchandise and saw this cool box of cookies. Initially my eye was drawn the artwork on the box; an owl and a cat. As I examined the sides of the box, I saw it had the famous children’s poem ” THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT” by Edward Lear. I was kind of shocked as the poem uses the word ” Pussy” several times. Yes I know back then pussy meant cat and gay meant happy but oh how times have changed. I actually giggle when I hear the word pussy. It does not offend me. But I am surprised there hasn’t been an uproar from some right wing group  over  the package .

The OWL AND PUSSY CAT cookies are  made by Artisan and the exact name for this product is called TWO BY TWO NATURAL VANILLA BISCUITS. They are handmade in the UK in the shape of an owl and cat. I am hooked on these cookies (or biscuits). They are incredible! Two cookies contain about 130 calories and you can taste the butter. But as I always say, “butter makes it better!”

The company has two other flavors- a Toffee cookie and a strawberry cookie which I will be ordering on line. These cookies aren’t cheap. They are about $6.50 for a package of eight but what a wonderful splurge. I LOVE them!

Despite my new found cookie obsession, I have managed through the use of creative visualization and exercise (I kid you not), to lose about 15 lbs in the last 6 months and reshape my body. Slowly, I have weaned myself off soda and have been drinking a tea which is sweet without sugar. GOOD EARTH ORIGINAL SWEET & SPICY HERBAL TEA is a cinnamon lover’s dream. It is sweet from the cinnamon but is also considered a “love” tea because of the herbs and roots in the mixture. I ‘m not claiming this tea will help your love life. I am claiming it is sweet with sugar or artificial sweeteners . There is a GOOD EARTH restaurant in Palo Alto (where I grew up) and they would serve this tea. It is fantastic as an iced tea. Zero calories.

I have been watching episodes of 30 ROCK on dvd and on What a great mood lifter. I waited and did not watch 30 ROCK until now so I could fulfill my craving for laughter in one big dose.

My other favorite show is LOVE STINGS SEX DECOY ( Fox Reality). I feel this show is screaming to be re-invented as a gay, campy off -Broadway show. The mother, Sandra Hope and her three daughters are just as questionable ( morally) as the men they are trying to entrap. I’m especially fond of Kashmir, the oldest daughter who is a stripper ( or was). It is raunchy, kitschy and deplorable all rolled into one show. Fabulous!

And last but not least is the show OBSESSED which begs the question who is crazier? the patient or the therapist. In one of the beginning episodes, a young woman is afraid she will hurt someone with her “bad thoughts”. During her “treatment” in therapy, the therapist urges her to pick a knife and hold it against the therapist’s throat. ” Push it against the cartilage.” the therapist says loudly over and over. Then she asks the patient on a scale of one to ten how much she wants to slit her throat. The patient replies “eleven”. I was on the floor wetting my pants. Yes I realize it isn’t supposed to be funny but I told a few of my friends to watch and they were crying tears of laughter. Yes it seems to be the summer of laughter. From pussy cookies to entrapping cheating men, life is good.

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I have  been loving this pasta dish with sausage, cannellini  beans  (white kidney beans) & escarole. Many  versions of recipes  of this dish exist .   This dish is  just as good the next day too.  It is  the definition of comfort food.  I like to make it with spaghetti but I am sure it would be great with linguine too.   I personally double the amount of cannelllini beans and escarole because  beans and greens are so nutritious and full of fiber.   You can make this recipe with half the beans and escarole and it will be great too.

Spaghetti with Sausage, Cannellini Beans & Escarole
*1 lb. spaghetti* 3 cloves of finely minced fresh garlic
*1 lb. Italian sweet, mild sausage or if you prefer turkey sausage or hot/spicy sausage  – cut into  1  inch sections
* 1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil + 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil* 1 Can of Chicken or vegetable broth- (low  sodium is ideal)
* 1 to 2 cans of Cannellini Beans ( white kidney beans) drained and rinsed
* 1 to 2 heads of Escarole- leaves washed   and plucked off the head.  DO NOT DRY THE LEAVES
* 2 Tablespoons sugar*1 teaspoon red pepper flakes*fresh ground black pepper to taste
* approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano  cheese or any good hard Italian grating cheese

Follow the directions on the box for the pasta. Have the water going for the pasta.In a skillet , saute the garlic in  2 Tablespoons of olive oil on low to medium heat.

As garlic starts to brown, add sausage pieces.  Saute until fully cooked on medium heat.   Remove sausage after they are cooked .

Return  skillet ( do not clean or wipe out the sausage  grease) to heat and slowly add the escarole in shifts.   It will wilt and cook down.  This takes about 5 minutes.

Add beans,olive oil, chicken broth , red pepper flakes and the sugar.   Add the sausage and cook for about 10 to 20 minutes.

The longer the  sauce cooks the better as the beans will get soft and thicken the sauce.  When the pasta is ready, pour the  sauce over it, mixing thoroughly.

Add the grated cheese and  freshly ground pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Please note: It may seem weird that I added sugar as an ingredient in this recipe but the dish is naturally very salty and the sugar gets rid of the over-salty taste.


O.k. instead of writing a new blog,  I am adding on to this one.  I discovered a wonderful food truck today while in my old neighborhood of W. Philly.  Saturday at Clark Park is the  Farmer’s market.  I was in W. Philly  for business reasons and decided to stop at the FM even  though I had already done my  food shopping at 2 other FM’s earlier.  CPFM is always crowded and so I ended up going around the corner and parking on Chester Ave.  I passed by a food truck with about 10 people waiting around.  Honest Tom’s Taco Truck is at CPFM every Saturday and they only make one thing: Breakfast Tacos. I ordered one breakfast taco and had to wait almost 15 minutes as the other 10 people were ahead of me.  It was FANTASTIC!  Everyone else had ordered a double. I wish I had.  Scrambled eggs, fresh salsa, fresh  guacamole, cheese and crispy roasted potatoes in two soft tortillas.  I talked to a few regulars who told me the truck stops serving when they run out of food.

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