So, one plus about being unemployed is more creativity in dining choices, mostly due to more stringent budgeting. So, what have we been eating? Well, there's the soon to be famous Food Pimp's caesar salad.
So, it's not a "traditional" caesar, who the hell cares anymore. I don't. I don't make it traditional either. I do know that the FP over the years has become a salad and sandwich artiste. Why is it so special. I really don't know. Maybe just because when he says he's making caesar salad for lunch, I'm not excited. But then he makes it fresh and, pardon my language, he tosses the salad for me, it's really quite exciting. I mean exciting. It's not even fancy ingredients. But it's just fresh and crunchy and salty and fatty rich and just good.
So, then, I have been cooking more at home. One night I cooked a more "healthy" dinner - boneless pork chops, with collard greens and parboiled rice. I say healthy, because I guess it's healthier than rich fatty beef stew or pork butt. So, I didn't have any oil, but I looked for some kind of fat. All I could find was some butter, which isn't exactly healthy, and an open can of anchovies. So, I went with the oil the anchovies were in. I sauteed some onion and garlic, then I added carrot and collards, and I braised it for a couple hours. Since I didn't have any salt, I had to wait until the FP got home to season the greens. He only had Tony Chachere's, so that's what I used. Then, I also waited for him to come home to cook the pork chops, not just so they wouldn't overcook, but also because I had no oil. So I seasoned the chops with the Tony's, seared them, then threw them in with the greens for another 10 minutes.
So, you know, it always seems that bad things happen at the worst times. So, of course, the car window regulator craps out. The day before the FP has to drive to Anaheim to do a class. So, we knew it was the regulator because we had to replace the passenger side regulator 2 months before. I looked it up online, and I saw that 2006 Hondas seemed to have this common problem. They must have had a bunch of cheap regulators that year, but there were no recalls. So, the next morning we went to Pep Boys. We had them change the oil and look at the window. So while we waited, we walked up El Cajon Blvd to find a restaurant that was open. Since it was a little early, we figured we might find a vietnamese restaurant that was open. We walked up to Pho Van. We hadn't been there in years. So, the FP had the Pho of course, and I had the Bun. We also had the spring rolls.
So, the pho was good. The bun was good too, nice amount of peanut and pickled carrot. But it had green leaf lettuce instead of cabbage. The pork was sweet and rich and tender, but not too sweet. And the eggrolls were nice and crunchy and warm. The spring rolls looked nice, but they had such a little portion of dry pork, they were just okay.
The nuoc mam sauce was fine though. The place was clean, and the bathroom was clean, so we were pleased. We could put this place on the rotation. I didn't eat all my food, so I wanted to take it to go, so I could eat it in the afternoon when I got hungry. The FP dumped everything in the to go box, so then, all my nuoc mam sauce was in it, and it was leaking out of the box into the bag, so it was a mess. The FP finally convinced me to let him throw it away. The sick part is, I would have eaten more if I knew I wasn't going to take it home.
So, we got back to Pep Boys, and they told us that they would have to get the regulator from the dealer and it would take a couple hours, thus, totalling $369 including oil change and diagnostic. So, if we got them to replace the regulator, they wouldn't take the $35 off for looking at it. Well, we didn't really have much time before the FP had to leave, so we declined. Also, the price was at least $100 too much. So the FP had to drive all the way up to Anaheim and back with the window open.
Meanwhile, I played dutiful housewife. I cleaned, and I cooked a healthy meal. Veggies with chicken and rice. We had gone to Pancho Villa's, and I really didn't know what I wanted to cook, so I just picked a bunch of vegetables, and the FP picked chicken breast. So, it was weird. But I guess it was healthy and still tasted good. Those are two words that in my early years I would have never believed could go together. But they can.
So, it was weird, but here's the recipe:
Healthy chicken breast and vegetable quick stew
3 pasilla peppers
4 cloves garlic, chopped, not too small
3 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
1# green beans, cut in half
4 roma tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges each
1# chicken breast, sliced into 3 inch strips
1 pat butter
Roast the peppers in a little oil, so that the peppers soften, peel them if you desire, and then cut into strips. Saute the garlic on medium heat in oil, until it starts to turn golden. Add the carrots, and let them brown, then add the green beans. Let it cook for another 5 minutes, then add tomatoes and pasilla peppers, and put heat on low. Season with Tony's, then cover and let cook for another 15 minutes, so that the tomatoes release their juice. In another saute pan, heat oil on fairly high heat. Season chicken with Tony's, then sear in pan on one side, flip after 2 minutes and sear on the other side. Then dump chicken into pan with vegetables. Add enough water to the chicken pan to cover the bottom, then add this water to the vegetable and chicken mix. Let it cook until chicken is cooked through, then add butter and swirl it into sauce until melted, then serve over rice.
So, the next morning, we went out to Clairemont Mesa to Low Cost Auto Glass to get the window fixed. Once again, it was morning, so we walked down the street to see what was open for breakfast. The first place we found was Sieu Sieu BBQ. So that's where we ate. The FP had the noodle soup with roast duck.
The duck was great. It was crispy and warm and tender and flavorful and juicy. I guess his broth was just okay, but when you have the roast duck on the side, you don't need as strong a broth.
So, I had the brisket, dumpling and noodle soup.
Yum. Yum yum. So, because I had the brisket in my soup, the broth was very tasty. That along with the pork and shrimp dumplings really added to it. The dumplings were good, the pork and shrimp were seasoned, which is always important. Sometimes places seem to have forgotten the salt or soy in their dumplings or shu mai. But this had it all. The bok choy was just wilted enough, the rice noodles were soft, but not too soft. The real gem in this soup were the pieces of tendon from the brisket. They were more tender than gummi bears, but almost as sweet. Yes, gummi bears, That's the first textural thing I could come up with, and I'm sticking to it. The problem is I have been watching TV while I write this, and I haven't drank anything at all.
Anyway, it was good, and it was like $16, which was also good. I had some soup left, but this time, I didn't even bother to try to take my leftovers. I figured that this time, the FP wouldn't even let me get a to go container. He never said anything, so I don't know if he was even thinking that I might want to take it.
So, we walked back, and lo and behold, the car was basically done, and it was $100 less!
So, then, later that afternoon we went to South Park Abbey. We were thinking about getting some appetizers there, but we ended up just having a few drinks, and then heading across the street to the Mariscos German truck. It was around 5, so there was a little bit of a rush. We decided on 2 grilled fish tacos, 2 garlic tacos and a clam cocktail. She asked if we wanted, soup, so of course we wanted soup. So she charged $17.50. I gave her a $20 and didn't get any change offered back, so I left it at that. So, I watched, and mexicans, and others who spoke spanish, ordered after us, and they got their soup straight away. I'm not accusing anyone of racial or lingual discrimination, but I observed what I observed. We got our food, and I had to ask for the soup. So, we looked at our order, and it was 3 grilled tacos, 2 garlic tacos, and a clam cocktail. I guess that one extra taco kind of hiked the price up.
Anyway, it was kind of warm out, and we had had a few beers, so soup wasn't exactly the first thing I would have thought to have, but it was delicious. It's just like seafood broth with tomato and cilantro... the scraps - the good stuff. The clam cocktail was good, and the clam tasted good, but we get wary of stuff like this. We've had enough foodborne illness not to be wary, but the FP polished it off. The two tacos were the same, except for the fish preparation. They had cabbage, pico de gallo and the orange sauce. The grilled tacos were good. Nice solid fish taco. The garlic fish tacos, were a surprise. They were batter fried. I'm not big on batter fried fish taco, but, maybe it was the 2 beer buzz I had going I really liked this one. The FP dumped a whole bunch of hot sauce on his, and then took a bite, then went back to the clam cocktail. So, I had finished my tacos, and I took a bite of the FP's garlic taco. And it was too hot! I have been having...um..digestive problems. All of a sudden, I cannot handle hot peppers. After I eat them, my stomach bloats. Then I'm constipated for a couple days, then finally I get the spice ass and the frequent urge to defecate. Yeah. That's how it is. So, I have been severly limiting my hot pepper intake. Only the milder hot sauces for me. So this taco was just way too spicy. But I was still hungry, so I took a couple more bites, and then I gave up. So, the FP polished it off. He even admitted it was pretty hot.
So, lastly, today, we went to the Golden Hill farmer's market. It is literally 5 or 6 blocks from our apartment, and this was my first time going. It was great. Not very big, but not a lot of bullshit vendors that sometimes the bigger markets have. All the food vendors were at the close end, so we looked at everything before making a decision.
There were crepes and waffles and an italian truck, and GYROS and so much other stuff, but we settled on... I can't remember the damn name!!!! It was like a middle eastern man and his wife who had really a very multiethnic stand. They had sambusa and kofta and falafel and rice pilaf, and this tumeric yogurt that looked like dum aloo, and bbq soy chicken. So the guy learned to cook from his mom, who cooked all kinds of middle eastern and european food. He was very proud of the fact that it was always different and all kinds of different food. So we got a kofta kebab plate and a chicken plate. And a ginger iced tea. The wife was handing out samples, and it was delicious. So, since we were going to eat it there, I ordered an iced tea. This is a big deal. Because on the record, the FP hates HATES iced tea. But this was really like a ginger drink, flavored with tea. He guzzled half of it to wash down our delicious plates. And then the vendor gave us a refill for free. So the kofta.
Need I say, rich, flavorful and seasoned properly. I'm just being redundant now, but this is so important, and it's rare that we eat at so many new places and it's all good experiences! The chicken, was really equally delicious. Marinated for who knows how long, and the skin was my favorite part of course. So there were some beans, that were like southernish pintos or not as tomatoey baked beans. They were good, but kind of the least cohesive part of the combo. There was this yummy saffron rice, bulgar wheat pilaf, which was cooked to the point of being soft - past al dente, which was a nice change, because I feel like I usually eat bulgar wheat al dente. And then the yogurt potatoes. They were just swimming in the yogurt sauce! So good. Really, everything was so good. And we didn't eat it all, but I got to take it home, sinc we live a few blocks away. We turned the one plate upside down to make a cover. So we said goodbye and we were walking out of the market. But then the wife chased us down and gave us a plastic bag to put our plate in! Such a nice couple, and I can't remember the name of their stand! I do recall that he said they go to Hillcrest on Sunday, if that helps.
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