last night’s menu:

bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with herb chevre and almonds
crab cakes with roasted red pepper & garlic aoili
spinach-artichoke dip
caprese salad with champagne dressing

prime rib with au jus
pesto mashed potatoes
broiled asparagus
corn sauteed in butter & thyme
4-cheese mushroom mac & cheese with truffle oil

strawberry cheesecake

This week I decided to start eating all of the random things we have in the house. I’m convinced that we’ve got a shitload of food in the house, but nothing that we can actually eat. Like tomato paste. We have lots and lots of tomato paste.

So one of the reasons I decided to do this was because my credit card bill was a little ridiculous last month. I mean, I usually pay off my credit card bill completely at the end of each month, but I saw this one and it basically swallows my salary. So I said, dude, you need to chill and eat at home so you don’t run out and do crazy shit like that this month, too.

The first thing I did was go shop at Whole Foods to completely defeat my purpose. I’ve been craving going to Whole Foods for a week now, ever since I bought these two plums that were mindblowingly good. I haven’t had a plum like that since I was a little kid. The key is to put them in the fridge so they get really cold. So anyway, I get some carrots (real ones, not those slimy precut and peeled ones that look like little carrot penises), zucchini, some organic diced tomatoes and a sweet onion. I realized when I left the store that I forgot to get fresh herbs or kale. I considered stopping by Bristol Farms which is on my way home, but then I couldn’t bear the thought of pulling out my credit card again.

I started by sauteing some chopped garlic (about 3 cloves) and sliced onion in olive oil, then adding cooking sherry. I let that mixture get almost blackened before I added the diced tomatoes, chopped zucchini and carrots, and some random herbs from my rack that are like 7 years old and make me sad and embarrassed that I didn’t have anything better.

I opened a can of tomato paste and put that in, then splashed in some water. I added kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. I let that cook while I rinsed out a bag of quinoa and put it in chicken broth to cook. You know what the annoying thing is when I cook, outside of never writing down recipes or remembering how to make the same thing twice? I don’t really measure, so I end up pouring entire bags of rice or pasta or whatever when I cook. It’s just easier that way. That’s why I end up making too much stuff that I have to eat for a week straight–because I can’t seem to bring myself to measure.

I let the quinoa cook while the other thing (what? stew? I don’t know) was simmering. I added some organic frozen corn that Brian had in the freezer. I went to add the chicken as well, but I found it nowhere near in a defrosted enough condition to join the stew. I was still determined to use up some of our frozen mystery meats, so I microwaved a few burger patties and then broke them up inside the stew. I let that simmer until I got bored and the quinoa was cooked. Then I ate it and it was totally good.

Hooch called Brian to talk about our 4th of July plans, and I heard Brian say, “What’s your great idea?” I immediately yelled, “Nope, absolutely not.” Brian looked at me and asked if I had been able to hear what she said. I said, “No, but whatever it is, I’m not interested.” Brian said that Hooch wanted to bring over some lobsters and kill them in our house. Absolutely not.

I bought this Pure Pomegranate juice from Whole Foods last week and it’s nasty. I mean, I can eat and drink almost anything, but it’s pretty nasty. I’ve been drinking it faithfully every night because I’m enchanted by its purported antioxidant powers, but I just couldn’t compel myself to physically drink it today, even though I really did want to. I stood there for a while, caught in this quandary, before I suddenly realized that I could try cutting it with orange juice. I don’t know why I never thought of that. I think it never occurred to me because I’m such a random calorie Nazi, so I rarely let myself drink juice. But just to finish the report, it was good and I’m glad I did it.

This week has been amazing, continuing probably the most amazing month of my life. The only way I can describe it is how college graduation should have felt, if I had only let myself relax and truly enjoy that time in my life. This is what I’m thankful for, that I was still blessed with a chance to experience that feeling, rather than living a life overshadowed by regret over having missed that experience.

To follow the spur of the moment trend, today I was invited to Hawaii. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I waved my boss into my office and had him sign a contract that sealed a partnership between us and another company. I brought in this partnership myself. He was very happy and shook my hand, and as I was shaking his hand, I looked him in the eye and said, “I’ve decided I’m not going to take a month off work. But I am going to take three days in two weeks to go to Hawaii.” He said, that’s great news. Take whatever you want. I let him know that I also thought 12 vacation/sick days total a year was very stingy, especially since I’ve been at the company for 4 years. He gave me 2 extra days.

Well, I would say at least for now, the universe is letting me have life by the balls. I know it won’t last, but I have to say, for now, it’s definitely been very interesting.

I am basically almost done with my Vegas pilot, and I will have no trouble finishing it. However, the final scripts are due tomorrow because the instructor submits his grades on Wed. I’ve decided that I’m not going to submit mine because my theory is he’s gonna give me an A anyway. My theory is that he doesn’t give a shit about our class, so he won’t even notice I didn’t submit mine. I’m okay with the consequences if I’m wrong (failing the class), but it will probably make me more sad to find out that I’m right. Then the good news will be, a person like this will have never read my script while it’s still vulnerable in terms of rights.

Well, to the three of you who still read this thing, friend or foe, thanks for listening. My life hasn’t been this fun and carefree since 2004. I hope to keep you entertained, and to teach you things that help expand your horizons and make you think about your place in the world and the wide reaches of your consciousness. After all, I am just a mirror of you, as your echoes are of me. I hope to teach you about believing in yourself, and to not have fear in challenging the boundaries of your reality. And most of all, to love fiercely. If you don’t truly know what that means to be wholeheartedly consumed by that state of action, then you still have work to do, because the experience of that life force in unadulterated form will be the turning point of your life.

Everything Mashed Potatoes

Last week I decided I wanted to make something different for dinner, and the only things I knew was that I wanted mashed potatoes, and I wanted some kind of sandwich. And then I wanted to make something with coconut milk. I went to the store and improvised, coming out with a bunch of random items. This is what I made:

I heated up some light coconut milk (even light coconut milk has 7 grams of fat per serving!) and added organic chicken broth. Once that heated up, I added some soy sauce, some bay leaves and thinly sliced red peppers (the tiny, hot ones, not the big ones). I added half a lime’s worth of juice, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, chopped basil and chopped cilantro, some salt and chopped chicken breast cutlets. I let it cook while I boiled fettucine. It came out like a coconut thai pasta that was pretty good, but the one thing I lamented was having forgotten to buy an onion.

Next, for something completely random, I made mash potatoes by mashing boiled potatoes with the chicken broth and salt. I put the mashed potatoes in the fridge to cool. Then I ripped up small chunks of sharp cheddar cheese and mixed them into the potatoes, and balled the mixture up about the size of an extra large falafel. I rolled them in panko (Japanese bread crumbs), then fried the balls in heated olive oil so they were very crispy on the outside. I put them in a poppy-seed french roll and ate it while it was hot. It’s like a hash brown sandwich, but smoother. I really wish I had something spicy to go with it in the sandwich, like maybe spicy buffalo chicken strips or pepperoni.

The next day, I had a roast beef sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese (you’ve gotta get it thinly sliced from your grocery store’s deli) and mash potatoes on top, stuffed inside the poppy-seed roll. It was amazing. Seriously, why isn’t mashed potatoes on everything?

In other news, I’ve bought a Roomba. I had a 20% off coupon to Bed, Bath & Beyond, and anyone who lives near a BB&B and gets these coupons in the mail knows that these coupons will make you buy anything. Well, with coupon at hand and looking to save so much money on this little gadget, plus with Reggie’s comment that his friend has one and thinks it’s the most amazing thing on earth, I had to buy it. I’ll tell you…the Roomba is amazing. It’s like a pet. I spent the first few days following around, watching it bump it’s way around the rooms, going under beds and grabbing every corner in the most random pattern. It does a good job of moving between hardwood floors and carpet, but if it gets tangled on anything (ie extension cords, sheets, etc), it tries to untangle itself then makes this sound that sounds like an electronic, “Uh Oh.” I never thought I would get so much pleasure from emptying a vacuum bin of lint. I probably ran it about 3-4 times a day the first few days, and was always amazed at how much stuff it would pick up, even after the place looked spotless after the first few times. It made me so proud to empty it and see how much it had picked up…kinda made me understand those parents who get really proud when their baby poops. Seriously, if you ever wanted a pet but didn’t want to deal with the responsibility, get a Roomba. It’ll clean for you and even dock itself to recharge when it’s done, and I know it sounds crazy, but when you find yourself spending hours following it around the house just mesmerized, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In other news, I went to the premiere of John Tucker Must Die last Tuesday at Mann’s Chinese. I’ve never been in that theater so it was nice, but it was a motley crowd as there were the user Hollywood suits of agents, managers and studio execs, the minor stars (Eva Longoria looks she’s made out of paper. She looks like she’s about 45 lbs.) and the cast and crew, but Power 106, our local hip hop station, had run a contest inviting listeners to the premiere, so there were a lot of rowdy high school kids. But it was a decent teen flick with funny moments (watch Jesse throw a hissy fit…best part of the movie). I really hope this movie helps Jesse get bigger roles. We met Nelly at the after party who wasn’t that tall but was really nice, and 3 key lime martinis had me toasty. I had the bartender make Reggie a drink with Hennessy, Amaretto and a splash of Sprite which I made up on the fly but was pretty good. Afterwards, we were gonna meet Jesse and his friends at Hyde but randomly, we pulled up next to a couple of my coworkers who were driving on Sunset on their way to meet one of our other coworkers who had quit to move to Israel last year. We invited them over to hang out at Hyde with us, but the people at the door wouldn’t let them in because only Reggie and I were RSVP’d to Jesse’s group and there were more people meeting up with my coworkers. My coworkers decided to head over to someplace more chill to make sure that everyone meeting up with them could get in, and I got irritated about Hollywood bullshit and idiot doormen so we decided to go home instead. Overall, it was a good night out for a Tuesday. Can’t stand the Strip.

Saturday found the Michigan gang (Sareet, Thode, Rebecca, Kate & Plumb included) helping to build a house in Glendale for Habitat for Humanity. Considering that Los Angeles has been consistently working with 105+ degree heat, we were relieved to show up and find it overcast, gray and slightly misty at times. We were given the unskilled labor work that involved a lot of cleaning and hammering. I chose a hammering job that somehow turned into a pulling-out-bent-nails-without-heads that the people in a previous week had hammered down into the wood. It was a pretty hard and frustrating job because without the heads, you had to dig at the nail until you got some kind of area to grab onto with pliers, then twist and yank it until it broke off or came out. Sometimes I had to put my entire body into pulling a nail in the opposite directions, and if I slipped or if the nail suddenly came out, the force would send me flying. Luckily, I was on a lesser populated side of the construction so no one saw me fall on my ass. I think. It was a pretty fun day, and I got to learn a lot about my friends…mostly, how much those boys love their Rocky. It was really satisfying to use a hammer and get down and feel like you were building something, but the next day, I realized, all the work that the 20 of us did in an entire day, could have been something that two nail guns could have done in 2 hours. Oh well. I guess that program is as much about giving volunteers the satisfaction of contributing to a greater cause as it is about providing a need for the community. As Ben (who organized everything) said, the problem in the U.S. is that there’s a surplus of volunteers willing to help out, but not enough resources.