What’s In the RediSetGo? Part Two

September 30, 2010

This game is sweeping America.  If this is your first time playing, you’ll catch on to the rules quickly, I assure you.  For the backstory on my RediSetGo, click here.

I fired up the RediSetGo last night to make my lunch for today, which I ate a few hours ago.  So… What’s in the RediSetGo?

ROASTED EGGPLANT is in the RediSetGo!

Even though I committed to eating more veggies when I started my diet in January, I didn’t really start buying eggplant until a few months ago, when I start making farmer’s markets a near-weekly pit stop during my weekly routine.  In July or August or so, I saw these amazingly purple baby eggplants at one of the stalls that were no bigger than a medium-sized potato.  A perfect amount of eggplant for one person.  Since then, I’ve bought a baby eggplant or two about twice a month, and, more often than not, throw it on the RediSetGo for quick and easy cooking.

Sometimes, I slice it into long thin planks, and after they’re done roasting, I put a little dab of cream cheese on one end, load it up with sprouts or sunflower greens, and roll it up into a little bite-sized pinwheel.  I did something different last night, though, as I didn’t have any sprouts or cream cheese.  I sliced the eggplant into rounds, and smeared 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Satay Peanut Sauce over all of them.

Could have wiped away those tomato seeds before snapping the photo, David.

Anyway – the sauce is delicious.  This is my second jar, and I’m almost done with it.  And those two tablespoons only added about 60 calories and 4 grams of fat to the eggplant.  And the eggplant was delicious.

Eggplant was available when I went to the 99 Cent Store to purchase produce for my 99 Cent Store Produce Challenge, but I didn’t buy any, because they were selling two large eggplants per package, and that’s a lot of eggplant for me to consume before they turn.  Oh, and while I’m on the subject, I pulled out one of the 99 Cent Store oranges I purchased to juice it this morning, and… it was moldy.  White, hairy, and puffy – three words that are perfect to describe a poodle, but not an orange.  I’ll spare you the photo, because it’s gross, and I didn’t take one anyway.  Here’s the deal:  I know fruit turns, and it could have happened from produce purchased anywhere, so I shouldn’t hold the 99 Cent Store responsible.  And I immediately checked the other 5 oranges, and they all looked fine.  But I know this wouldn’t have happened had I had the convenience of picking my own produce, instead of picking a pre-sorted bag of produce.  I don’t know if one moldy orange is a deal-breaker or not, in terms of returning to the 99 Cent Store for produce…  we shall see.

My dinner tonight was a big ole salad, and I took a photo because I thought it looked particularly lovely and colorful:

That’s mixed greens, tomato, mini bell peppers (from the 99 Cent Store!) in three colors (yellow, orange, and red), garbanzo beans, roasted piquillo peppers, capers, and lime juice.   And soon, a 1 ox box of raisins as I heading off to Latin Jam class.

Keep it up, David!


Employed Again

September 30, 2010

Remember about a week ago when I put up that post about how I had quit my job? Well, my unemployed days are over.  For now.  I’m employed again.  Today was my first day, and I’m really excited about it all.  On Monday, a friend and former co-worker contacted me and told me about a position they were trying to fill in his office.  It sounded interesting, and I sent along my resume.  Yesterday, my friend told me they wanted to bring me in for an interview.  I went in towards the end of the day, got the job, and today was my first day.  I’m excited for a couple reasons: the position is different than the work I’ve done before, which was something I was looking for.  It’s also short-term, lasting about a month or so.  So I get to dip my toes into a new pool, work with a friend and some cool new people, and wash my hands of it before Thanksgiving.

Of course, then I’ll be unemployed again, and the job hunt will resume, but I’m choosing to see this in a positive new light, and my first step into the scary world of freelance.  Freelance used to terrify me.  I don’t think of myself as a natural schmoozer, and I don’t think I’m that good at selling myself – which are two essential freelance skills, I think.  But I’m smart and talented and if I continue to work hard and deliver, than my work will speak for me, and with any luck I’ll continue to get jobs.  Some may be great, and some may not be, but the cool thing about doing short-term gigs is that sooner, rather than later, they all end, and I can move on to something else.

I saw two things today that I interpreted as signs that I was making the right move.  The first was early in the day:  When I was settling in at my new desk, I noticed there was only one thing that remained from the prior occupant – a fortune from a fortune cookie that was tacked on the wall:

I usually don’t pay much attention to fortune cookies, and I don’t plan on filing this one away in a safe-deposit box or anything, but it did give me pause for a brief second, during which I thought, ‘Yes, fortune cookie, I agree.  Thank you for pointing that out, and also thank you because now I’m craving moo shu chicken” (the craving was gone in an hour).

Towards the end of the day, during a meeting, we saw, out the window, evidence of actual weather!  In Southern California!   For those of you who don’t live in these parts, weather of any kind is a rare treat.  Normally it’s hot and dry, hot and dry – which is fantastic – don’t get me wrong – but repetitive.  So when we first saw dry lightning, and then the skies actually opened up for a 5-minute drizzle of actual precipitation, man oh man – all eyes were on the window.   I made a change and started a new job, and the weather changed on my first day… I know it’s a bit of a stretch but I took it as a sign anyway.  And as a lasting memento, I snapped a photo of the rainbow that appeared.

Looks like there was a pot of luck right near downtown Burbank.

My friends and readers were so kind after my post about quitting my job, and although I’ve already thanked you, I want to thank you again, quickly.  I think some time will pass and maybe I’ll look back at my quitting post and laugh at how dramatic I was and how ridiculous I sounded.  But I really did feel everything I wrote about, and I was honest about the internal struggles that came along with it.  I’ve never thought of myself as a brave person (nor do I think I’m cowardly either), but to read that specific compliment in your comments (both on the blog, and in personal notes/emails/voice mails) over and over…  well, I noticed, and I’ve thought about it.  I know the past few months have made me stronger and braver.  So thank you for bolstering me up.  Maybe next time I won’t have to lean so much on my friends and family, but it feels so good knowing you all are there if I need you.

Keep it up, David!

Large Hot With Ranch

September 29, 2010

Last night I joined two friends, David and Glory, on one of the final nights of their current project:  To dine at a different hot wings restaurant in Los Angeles every day for the month of September, and blog about it.  They call it Wingtember, and you can read their blog here.

The restaurant on the Wingtember calendar for last night was just down the road from my place, which made the decision to join them an easy one.  The restaurant, Nick’s Hot Wings & Grill House, is right next to a KFC and across the street from Sears, and I had never been there before.  The Yelp reviews were not encouraging (including one review, that I can only hope is untrue, that accuses the owner of hating Jews), but after reading blogs about 27 other hot wings restaurants, I knew I had to be a part of Wingtember before exciting Wingtember turned into regular, boring October.

I won’t try to one-up David and Glory’s review of Nick’s Hot Wings & Grill House, which you can read here, but I will, in the tradition of their blog, share my before and after pictures of my meal.  My order of wings:

And the bone tower that remained, post-consumption:

I also have two  – no, wait, three – additional comments to share:

  • I almost died at Nick’s Hot Wings & Grill House.  I arrived just after Glory and David, and they were already at the counter, engrossed in the menu and the ordering process.  Since they were consumed, I thought I could startle them, so I took two quiet steps closer, and then then took one big jump, to within inches of them.  What I didn’t account for was the fact that I was jumping from tile onto an area rug, which clearly wasn’t taped down or secured to the floor.  At all.  Of course, the rug slid out from under me and I almost fell backward and almost bashed my head into this strange curio cabinet that had nothing in it at all except a small wooden owl, and that almost led to my death.  I did startle Glory and David though, although I’m not sure if it was because they didn’t see me coming, or because they almost witnessed an unfortunate death that surely would be featured on the Spike TV Show “1000 Ways To Die.”  (Sidebar: An area-rug-related injury also occurred on last week’s episode of “The Apprentice,” and if these two unrelated events aren’t a sign that area-rug-related injuries are on the rise and becoming a bedbug-like-epidemic, I don’t know what is.)
  • I had never had hot wings before last night!  I had had chicken wings before, as part of a bucket-of-fried-chicken-type-situation, but never an actual hot wing that was served with actual hot wing sauce and served with veggies and ranch on the side.  And they were pretty good!  David and Glory had plenty of thoughts on the matter, being the hot wing experts that they are, but as an introduction to the hot wing world, I thought Nick’s were pretty enjoyable.  At one point I asked David and Glory if they knew what the fat and calorie breakdown was for an order of hot wings, and they didn’t really have an answer, and weren’t really looking for one.  And I like that answer.  I don’t plan on making hot wings a regular part of my diet, and while they are deep-fried, these weren’t battered, and there’s, like 2 tablespoons of meat per wing anyway, so I’m just gonna let it slide.  I ate well leading up to the hot wings, and I’m eating well today.  It’ll all come out in the wash.
  • I got to see another friend, Huck, very briefly last night, and in case anyone is wondering, Yes, he still wears his lucky shorts when he plays softball, and Yes, they still fit.  Lookin’ good, Huck!

As I mentioned above, I’ve been eating well today to compensate for the hot wings yesterday.  What that means:  Breakfast was an apple and 2 plouts.  Lunch was a big ol’ salad with greens, cucumbers, mini bell peppers (from the 99 Cent Store! They were a little on the bitter side, but I wouldn’t say they were bad), capers, soy bacon bits, 1/2 cup of great northern beans, and some nonfat Italian dressing.  Dinner was a veggie burger (no bun), raw broccoli florets, a tupperware full of grapes, and 5 dried figs.

Keep it up, David!

A High School Photo (!) and a Current Photo

September 29, 2010

I know it’s long been over, but I’m still thinking about last weekend.  Mainly because I got to spent some time with a really dear friend, Emily, whom I’ve known since 9th grade.  Emily is now a nurse in Phoenix, and an amazing ballroom dancer, and she came to town for her niece’s first birthday.  Charlotte, her adorable niece, is the daughter of Emily’s brother Matthew (and his wife, Darcie) – and I’ve also known Matthew since 9th grade.

Anyway, in addition to being a great friend, Emily asked me to our school’s Sadie Hawkin’s Dance our junior year.  And Emily’s mother, Mary (whom I’ve also known since 9th grade), was kind enough to scan and send some photos of us on the big night.  So without further ado, here’s a ‘Before’ and ‘Current’ photo of Emily and me.

First, the ‘Before’ photo, from February 1996:

Wow.  That’s an ugly tie, David.  And my hair is at a strange length, but don’t you worry… by the time I graduated from high school I had let it grow all the way down to my shoulders.  Maybe I’ll post that photo… eventually.

And here we are from the other night – 14 years later and all grown up:

Emily is one of those friends where if you go for a little while, or even a long time, without talking or seeing each other  (we hadn’t seen each other in around 4 years, we figured out), once you do get to talking, you pick up right where you left off.  There’s a connection, and you can feel it.  At the end of the night when we parted ways, I drove away thinking how lucky I am to have people in my life like Emily.  People that, when they walk into a room, bring with them a flood of good memories and make your day brighter.  And, on top of that, it felt so wonderful knowing that Emily is in a good place in her life, and really happy and healthy, and so am I.

So keep it up, Emily…

…and keep it up, David.

99 Cent Store Produce Challenge!

September 28, 2010

Based partly on your comments to a post from a few days ago, I’ve decided to try buying produce from the new 99 Cent Store just down the street from my place.  There was a decent selection, and I ended up with a bag of 5 oranges, a bag of 6 peaches, a bag of 5 bosc pears, and a bag of mini sweet peppers:

I weighed it, and it ended up being close to 7 pounds of produce, for 4 bucks.   Very good deal!  Haven’t tried any of it yet, though, and not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it all.  I have a hunch all the pears and peaches will turn ripe at exactly the same moment – so maybe I’ll stash half of each in the fridge and slow their down their ripening.  Not too worried about the oranges – I can always just juice them if I want to.  And the peppers can go in one of the big salads I make about every other day.  Oh – I also liked that everything I bought, except for the peppers, was grown in the US (the peppers were Mexican).  I’ve been trying in the past few months to not buy produce from South America or New Zealand, especially since I live in California, which has a year-round growing climate and produces nearly half of entire country’s fruit, nut, and vegetable supply.

Will definitely keep you blog readers posted.

This morning I met up with a friend, Dave, for a hike.  We used to work together but I haven’t seen him in maybe three years or so.  We parked at the Griffith Park Observatory and took a trail neither of us had been on before, that winded up and around Griffith park, giving us views from the ocean to downtown and around to Glendale and Burbank.  It was a nice 90 minute or so excursion that had a pretty constant slight incline or decline, and it was really nice catching up with Dave.  I snapped a couple photos:

That’s the Observatory with the domed roof, and downtown LA in the back left.  For all you non-LA-readers, the yellowish-brown layer just above the horizon line is smog.  And this was on a reasonably clear day!

In the very back is the Pacific Ocean, with the skyscrapers in the back right being Century City, and the tall buildings just beyond the park being Hollywood.  And, of course, smog layer.

I love this photo because you very rarely see the Observatory with the city in the background, usually it’s the mountain that I’m standing on.  It’s nice to see a city landmark from a new perspective, no?  Looking at this photo makes me want to watch Rebel Without a Cause again (a lot of which was filmed at the Observatory).

Lastly, Dave took this photo of me and the Hollywood sign:

Does it look familiar?  It’s because I cropped it and made it black and white and stuck it up as the new header for my blog.  I’m not sure if I love it and will keep it forever, but it’s definitely more exciting than the default blue background that used to be up there.  What do you think, readers?  Do you like?

Breakfast today, pre-hike, was a nectarine and a pluot, and post-hike I had some cantaloupe, about 1/2 cup of great northern beans and some raw broccoli.

Keep it up, David!

The Innards of a Passion Fruit

September 27, 2010

The innards of a passion fruit are green.  Did you know that?  I didn’t!  I found that out when I cut one of the passion fruits I bought at the farmer’s market open:

It looks kinda gross, but trust me, smells so good.  I decided I would use them in a little sauce that I was making to go over ice cream, which I was planning to serve to a couple friends that were gonna come over tonight.  I scooped the green goo out of all three passion fruits:

My friend Heidi, in the comments section the other day, suggested I give the innards a go-around in the food processor, to aid in the separation of the seeds from the goo.  But since would involve digging my food processor out of the cupboard, dusting it off, and plugging it in, I decided to skip it, and just go apeshit crazy pushing the goo through a sieve with a rubber spatula:

I watched last week’s episode of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” while I did this.  That Seth guy makes for great TV!  In this episode, he broke down into a sobbing fit during the Quickfire judging, and then it was one confrontation after another with him and the various other cheftestants.  When he spit out the sentence “The Red Hots are for my mommy!” while crying and fiercely hugging the guest judge…  well, that may be the best moment of the season for this show  – that’s right, I’m calling it now, even though they’ve only aired 2 episodes.

Anyhoo, after mashing and mashing for about 15 minutes, I was left with a few tablespoons of passion fruit juice.  I put about a teaspoon in a class of sparkling water (another Heidi suggestion, and it was delicious):

The rest went into a saucepan, along with about 3 cups of frozen blackberries, and the juice of 1 orange.  The idea was that I’d cook it on low for a little while, bringing it to a simmer, and letting it reduce into a nice thick syrupy-type sauce.  For a while, it was going quite well, until I stepped away from the kitchen to go quickly send an email.  And you know how writing 1 email turns into writing 4 emails AND checking Facebook AND checking out your blog stats?  My suggestion to you is not let that happen while a sauce is reducing on the stove.  I came back into the kitchen, and it had reduced past syrup stage and into sludge stage.  Thank goodness it hadn’t burned on the bottom of the pot.  It was practically the consistency of molasses, so I decided I needed to thin it out a little bit (I forgot to take photos during this time…  I was too busy cursing under my breath).  I grabbed an orange and started juicing it, but it was not until after I added the juice of 1/2 the orange that I realized it wasn’t an orange, it was a small grapefruit.  So now I have sour sludge.  I stirred it for a little while longer and got it to my desired consistency, and then mashed it through the sieve, to separate out the blackberry seeds.

Because I let it reduce so much, I wasn’t left with tons of sauce, but it’s a pretty color, and hopefully, it won’t be too sour:

I tried a little bit of it, and it wasn’t bad…  I just think the grapefruit overpowers the passion fruit.  My friends and I decided to reschedule for tomorrow anyway – so I’ll let you know what they think!  Hopefully it’s a hit.

Keep it up, David!

Practice Jog #2 – The Jog That CHANGED EVERYTHING!

September 27, 2010

Previously on Keep It Up, David: David started jogging about a month ago, and set his first jogging goal – to jog past all four of the strip clubs within walking distance of his condo.  He’s established his route (which totals 3.8 miles) and began practicing.  Now you’re all caught up.

I have a couple pieces of good news, and some bad news.  Well, not bad, per se, but definitely a game-changer.  A shocker.  For me, at least.  It might even be good news for some people!

First, the good news:  I stepped on the scale this morning – down 1 pound!  I think my Froot Loops catastrophe the other day prevented me from losing more, but hey – I’ll take that pound, and add it to the collection – I’m down 137 pounds total!  Time to update the chart:

The other good news is that I went for a jog this morning, and set new personal bests for distance and time.  Previous records were 41 minutes, which was slightly over 3 miles.  Today, 45 minutes and 3.3 miles!

Note to self: You should really start checking the weather before you go out for a jog, because it was freakin’ hot today.  I just checked a couple different weather services, and the high for my zip code today is supposed to be, depending on the source, between 106 and 109 degrees.  I started my jog at 10:04am, so it wasn’t quite that hot yet, but the lesson here is to wake your ass up earlier when you want to jog in the morning.  I slathered on sunscreen, and naturally, after sweating a little, it was stinging my eyes.  So happy my place has central A/C right now.

OK.  Now here’s the part where everything got screwy.  I decided before starting on the jog that I would head north and east – it’s the direction I’ve explored the least on foot, and by ‘the least’ I mean ‘not at all.’  I’ve driven in that direction many of times – there’s a Starbucks and a Staples and a Kmart and a 99 Cent Store (surprise, surprise) up there, but a lot of streets I hadn’t turned down before.

Just GUESS what I jogged past today.  ANOTHER STRIP CLUB!

And this particular establishment has a leg up, so to speak, on its local competition:

It’s like, all of a sudden, I was transported back to downtown Ypsilanti, Michigan, mere minutes from where I went to college, where there’s another Deja Vu location.  I’ve never been in it  – I’ve never been in any strip clubs anywhere ever – but it was right down the street from the place where I got my tattoo.  And my friend Erin worked there for a little while.

So that’s FIVE strip clubs within walking distance.  No, wait, it gets BETTER.

After my jog was over, I jumped in the car so I could measure my distance on my odometer, and after completing that, I turned around and headed back to the Vu to snap the above photos.  I took a slightly different route back home, and just LOOK at what I found!

Are you keeping track?  That’s STRIP CLUB NUMBER SIX.  I was rendered speechless  (I was alone in my car, so it didn’t really matter much, but still).  Speechless for two reasons:  1) I had no idea 10 months ago that I was moving into such a, um, horny part of town, and 2) How was this going to affect my jog-past-every-strip-clip goal?

Before I address #2, I just want to amend #1 a little bit by assuring everyone that there are plenty of other respectable businesses in my neighborhood.  Yes, there are 6 strip clubs, but also within walking distance there are plenty of auto parts stores, a restaurant that sells both Chinese food and donuts (nope, haven’t been there yet), a place that sells pinatas, liquor stores and bodegas, and also a Sears, a Macy’s, chain restaurants, 7-11s, and a Williams-Sonoma.  Just kidding, no Williams-Sonoma.

So now, let’s address #2 – my route.  Back in the day (a few hours ago), when I thought there were only 4 strip clubs, I had plotted this route, which would take my past all 4 in one big loop:

When you factor in strip clubs 5 and 6, the route now looks like this:

The new total distance?  6.4 miles.  That’s a lot of miles.  I’ve only been able to jog about half of that!

My goal distance may have just gotten a helluva lot farther from my grasp, but I’m not gonna give up.  I said I’m gonna jog past all the strip clubs in my neighborhood, and DAMN IT, I’M GOING TO.  And, when the day comes that I can do it, I’m gonna take pictures of myself in front of ALL of them.  Then I’ll arrange them in a collage, and voila!  I have my holiday card.  Season’s Greetings!

Keep it up, David!

What’s in the RediSetGo?

September 26, 2010

I love my Xpress RediSetGo cooker.  I saw the informercial a bunch of times over the course of about 6 months, and when my birthday rolled around last March, I set an email out to my family saying, ‘Hey, if anyone is looking to get me a present, I want a RediSetGo!’  No one responded, so, naturally, I thought they all got in cahoots (started cahooting?) and ordered me one.  When I talked to renowned architect Laura Garcia (aka my sister) shortly thereafter, I learned no one took me seriously.  Hmph.  Until a RediSetGo showed up at my door!  Laura came through!

The RediSetGo is a countertop cooking device that can bake, grill, sear, and roast in a matter of minutes!  I’ll leave the particulars to the actual infomercial.  Hope you like Cathy Mitchell!

The timer crapped out on my RediSetGo after about a month, but I don’t care.  I still use it a couple times a weeks on average.  Burgers are a snap in it, and I love roasting butternut squash and sweet potatoes in it.  It’s not a huge machine, but that’s fine, because I live alone and most of the time I’m only cooking for one anyway.

Today, I busted out the RediSetGo for breakfast.  What’s in the RediSetGo?

An EGG SCRAMBLE is in the RediSetGo!

It’s not necessarily a feast for the yes, but it was tasty:  2 egg whites, a shallot, 1/2 green pepper, some herbs, and about a tablespoon of lite cream cheese.

The unphotographed part of my breakfast (let’s call it brunch, because I ate it at 11:30am) included a Honeycrisp apple (Thanks for the suggestion, Heather!) and about a cup of blueberries.  Oh, and I juiced 1 orange.

Today is Day 2 of a weekend all about the arts.  Last night I attended the first concert of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra‘s new season, and went with a really dear friend from high school, Emily, who was in town this weekend, and whom I hadn’t seen in about 4 years  (I’m also an occasional blogger for LACO – you can read my post about last night’s concert here).  Today I’m seeing two different plays in two different counties.  First up is the matinee performance of “In the Next Room” by Sarah Ruhl at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa (in Orange County), and tonight I’m seeing one of my favorite plays, “The Glass Menagerie,” at Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles (oddly enough, in Los Angeles County).

Because I won’t be home from about 12:30pm – 11pm, I’ll need to eat out today.  And I’m planning on eating fast food…  Subway!  It’s cheap (to balance out the money going into my gas tank) and quick and healthy, and I haven’t had it in about a month or so.   I have some celery sticks I’ll grab to munch on in the car, too.

Keep it up, David!

My Incredible Shrinking Clothes

September 25, 2010

I’ve noticed twice, in the past day, that I put on clothes that were too big for me.  Not a shocker, since I’ve lost 136 pounds…  but what’s pleasantly surprising is that these aren’t my fat clothes, from when I was my heaviest – they’re the first round of skinny clothes that I started buying in June.

To satiate my naturally curious nature, and to provide a lovely visual aid for the blog, I arranged a photo op.  Here are three of my t-shirts.  I lined the bottom right corner of all three.

The blue one is from when I was at my heaviest.  It’s size 3XLT (the T is for ‘Tall’).  The gray one in the middle is one I bought in June.  It’s size 2XLT.   The orange one on top was purchased for me (thank you, Mom) on Labor Day weekend.  It is size XL.

Despite what’s implied by the photo, I’m not actually getting shorter.  What I’ve learned is that I don’t necessarily need to buy ‘tall’ clothes anymore.   The tall came in handy when I was fatter, because the extra length provided extra material to cover my belly – and I wouldn’t be caught dead (then or now) in a midriff-bearing shirt.  I think I may still continue to be comfortable in some ‘tall’ clothes, but it will depend on brand and cut.

One more final quick note:  That blue t-shirt is one of maybe 6 or 8 garments that I held on to from when I was my heaviest.  The rest went to Goodwill in mid-August.  I took a picture of everything I gave away before loading up my trunk – it was about 75% of my total wardrobe at the time!

Keep it up, David!

Spinning and Shopping

September 25, 2010

Three different classes in three different gyms in three days!  I’m on a roll (that’s why there’s butter on my pants).  On Thursday, is was Latin Jam class.  Friday was all about step class.  And this morning, spin class.

It was my third ever spin class.  The first time was in Chicago in June, and I went with renowned architect Laura Garcia (aka my sister) and took a brutal class at her gym.  When I got back to LA, I learned that the other branch of my gym, the Burbank Athletic Club, offers spin classes, so about 6 weeks ago I took my second spin class.  Brutal.  And today’s class was… you guessed it… brutal.

But it’s really fun.  I’ve never been much of a biker since middle school, and I find it challenging to push myself without knowing exactly what I’m capable of… I suppose another way to put it is that because I’m not very familiar with spin techniques and workout patterns, the instructor can say we’re going to do whatever, and I’ll give it my best shot, because I don’t know yet how much that whatever will kick my ass.   Oh dear, I feel I’m rambling and not making any sense.  Better just move on.

In other news, I’ve decided to give 99 Cent Store produce a try.  The decision was based on two things:  1) Your comments on yesterday’s post, and 2) The fact that to get to my spin class this morning, I drove past three different 99 Cent Stores.  I took it as a sign.   Let’s take a tour of the 99 Cent Stores in my area, shall we?

This is the newest (opened last week) 99 Cent Store, and the one closest to my house – at Laurel Canyon and Kittridge:

Then there’s the one at Victory and Vineland, which is really close to my old apartment:

And, finally, the one at Victory and Buena Vista:

And, just as an FYI, it’s not like I drove to the ends of the earth to get to spin class.  I mapped it out, and it’s only 6 miles away.  Three 99 Cent Stores in 6 miles.   Jealous?

But the 99 Cent Store Produce Challenge (oooh – I think I just came up with a name for it!) will have to wait, because I decided not to pass up the Burbank Farmer’s Market, which was one block away from the gym.  It’s in the parking lot behind City Hall – here’s a shot of it from the next door parking garage:

And from street level:

It’s not huge, but there’s plenty of vendors, and whereas the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market has tons of prepared food stalls (which I’m less interested in), this one doesn’t have many at all.  I like to take a lap around the whole thing before actually buying anything, so I can compare prices and see what looks best.  The Murphy’s Law of Farmer’s Markets is that if you buy, say, tomatoes for $2 a pound, than surely the folks two stalls down will be selling them for $1.50 a pound.  I learned that lesson the hard way.  About three dozen times.

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • 1 head broccoli – $1.00
  • 2 Honeycrisp apples – $1.50
  • 2 grapefruit – $1.00
  • 2 tomatoes – $0.80
  • Almost 1/3 pound mixed greens (spinach, arugula, baby lettuces) – $2.50
  • 3 pluots and 1 nectarine  – $2.00
  • 3 passion fruit – $0.85

Total Damage: $9.65

Keeping with my tradition of always buying something I’ve never bought before, today’s new purchase was… the passion fruit.

Because they were priced at $4 a pound, I was tempted to just keep on walking.  But then I picked one up, and it was crazy light.  So I bought three ($0.85).  I have no idea what to do with them, and I have no idea what’s edible and what’s not.  The skin is leathery and wrinkled and tough, so my guess is that the skin is not edible.  They’re so light, though, that I’m halfway convinced they’re actually hollow.  I’ll do some Googling and be sure to take some photos when I bust one open.

Keep It Up, David!