Monday Fun Facts

May 2, 2011

Monday Fun Fact #1:  This weekend I twisted my foot somehow.  I’m not exactly sure how I did it.  All I know is that I went to bed on Saturday night with a perfectly fine left food, and when I woke up on Sunday, it was not perfectly fine.  It wasn’t horrible, and it wasn’t swollen, it just ached, and hurt a little bit when I walked.  It’s better today, but not 100%.  I told one of my friends, and she said, “Maybe you injured it sleepwalking!”  I used to sleepwalk every once and a a while as a kid.  I hope I’m not sleepwalking now.  Specifically, I hope I’m not sleep-eating, like all those people who take Ambien.  I don’t take Ambien, and I haven’t noticed any food disappearing from my fridge of cupboards, but these are the sorts of things I think about.

Monday Fun Fact #2:  Around 3,000 people a year are treated for toothbrush-related injuries.  This is according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Most of the injuries happen when people slip and fall while brushing.

Monday Fun Fact #3:  It’s a miracle my friend’s car wasn’t stolen yesterday.  This is the same friend who brought up sleepwalking.  Let’s call her Jody.  That’s not her real name.  I won’t use her real name, because she’s a little embarrassed about the story I’m about to tell.  Yesterday, Jody and I went down to Orange County, bright and early, to go to a performance of a musical that a friend of hers was written.  Jody drove.  The performance was near South Coast Plaza, an enormous mall, and we parked at the mall because parking there is free.  We arrived just as the mall was opening, at 10am, so we got a great spot, right next to an entrance.  We walked across the street and down the block to the show, had a lovely time, wandered back over to the mall, had lunch (salad with grilled shrimp for me), and then headed back to her car to drive back.  Over four hours had elapsed since we arrived.

As we approached the car, we saw a security guard standing next to it.  That’s weird, we thought. We said hello as we got closer, and the guard said, ‘Is this your car?’  Jody said that it’s hers.  The guest said, ‘Is it supposed to be running?’  Jody stopped in her tracks.  She put her hand on the hood.  It was warm.  The car has been on and running for the past four hours.  Jody reached for the door, and it opened.  It was unlocked.  To be fair, it was a Prius, and that’s the quietest car I’ve ever been in, and Jody bought it 2 weeks ago and was still figuring it out, especially the part where there’s a button that you gotta press to turn the car off!

I felt a little bad that I didn’t notice that the car was still on when we first walked away, but it’s not the sort of thing that I ever think about.  I’m just glad the car was still there when we returned!

Monday Fun Fact #4.  I brought kumquats to work today.  Thanks to my friend Robert’s kumquat tree, I have a lot of kumquats!

I also brought a ton of carrots (regular orange baby carrots, not the rainbow ones), and a salad I threw together really quickly with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and green beans.  I’ll have to make a quick stop at the salad bar to compliment my lunch with protein of some sort.  I hope they have kidney beans.  I’m really hoping for kidney beans.

Keep it up, David!


Kumquat Tree

May 1, 2011

Earlier today I hung out with my friend Robert.  Robert and I worked together for 5 years, but I haven’t seen him at all since he quit that job about 3 years ago – until, that is, I ran into him at the store a few weeks ago.  We chatted a little bit then, and then a little bit on the phone earlier this week, and this morning, he came along with me to Slimmons.  Robert is an absolute riot.  Downright hilarious.  I had forgotten how much fun he was, and it was wonderful to catch up with him.

I always new Robert didn’t live far from me, but when he gave me his address so I could pick him up this morning, I learned he lived literally right around the corner.  It could easily walk there, and actually, I’ve run right past his house before when working out!

Robert had a great time at Slimmons (I’ll share a video from the class in a few days), and Richard jokingly gave me a tough time for bringing a friend who had the nerve to wear, to Richard Simmons’ exercise class, a t-shirt with a vintage Coca-Cola logo on it.  How dare you, Robert! 

When I dropped Robert off afterwards, he invited me in to show me his house.  His house is really cozy and cute, and he has a great backyard, with a pool, a hot tub, and the thing that excited me the most…

…A kumquat tree!

Six months ago, I didn’t even know what a kumquat was.  I tried one for the very first time in December, when I was in Michigan for the holidays, and I saw them at the store and decided to give them a whirl.  Read that blog post here.  I’ve never seen a kumquat tree before, and guess what?  It looks like a tree that’s covered with kumquats.

Sorry that pictures aren’t the greatest – I only had my cell phone camera on me. 

Robert snapped a pic of me picking kumquats:

Here’s what I wrote about kumquats last December:

They’re little tiny citrus fruits, like mini oranges, but the size of a large olive.  Unlike oranges, you can eat the rind of the kumquat, which is a good thing, because they’d be a pain in the ass to peel, and there wouldn’t be much left.  My dad and I tried them after dinner, and they were strange, but good.  The rind is sweet, like an orange, but the pulp in the middle is tart, like a grapefruit, but more potent.  My dad’s review is that they “are bursting with flavor.”   And they’re less than 15 calories apiece, if you’re interested in calorie counts, and a good source of vitamins A & C.

I was looking around on the interwebs a little bit just now, and I realized that I was wrong before – kumquats aren’t actually citrus fruits at all – they belong to a different plant genus altogether.  And I thought kumquats were originally from the middle east, but that’s wrong too – they’re thought to be native to China, where historians have found references to them in literature dating back to the 12th century.  Whoa, that’s before I was born!

Robert says his kumquat tree produces fruit year round, and since he has way more kumquats than he could ever deal with, he gave me a bag and let me go crazy.  I ended up taking home lots of kumquats – here they are on Robert’s table:

I ate probably 6 or 7 kumquats at Robert’s house, and I just counted the kumquats that came home with me – there’s 61 of them, all hanging out in a bowl on my dining table.

Sixty-one kumquats. Sixty-one kumquats!  Better start lookin’ around for some kumquat recipes!  What do you like to do with kumquats?

Keep it up, David!


Plum Market & Dinner Salad

December 10, 2010

After the gym today, I headed to the supermarket to stock up on some veggies since my parents’ fridge was a little bare (they did have 6 cans of water chestnuts in the pantry, though – doesn’t everyone?).

First stop was Plum Market.  Plum is a small chain of three grocery stores, all in Michigan, and it’s a beautiful store.  My crappy cell phone photo of their produce department doesn’t do it justice:

I love that they’re locally-owned, with an emphasis on Michigan products and companies.  Produce signs, for example, list which city Michigan produce was grown in, so today, I bought roma tomatoes from Benton Harbor, which is where my mom was born and raised.

Another reason I love Plum and try to swing by whenever I’m in town is because they stock McClure’s Pickles – the best pickles ever!  I may be a little biased, because I’m friends with Bob McClure, one of the founders/owners, but still – they’re great, and The New York Times, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living (just to name a few) have all raved about them.  And Plum has a nice display (that I took a crappy photo of) right on the deli service counter:

You can learn more about McClure’s Pickles, and order them, here.  They’d make a great (and heavy) stocking stuffer!  Today, I picked up a jar of the garlic & dill pickles:

Mmmm… delicious!

While you can find anything and everything at Plum, including tons of rare, gourmet and specialty products (more on this later), it is pricey, in the Whole Foods/Gelson’s range.  Especially for produce – as you regular blog readers know, I love finding fresh produce at amazing prices (for example, my recent outing where I bought 11 different fruits and veggies for $6.16), and the buck doesn’t stretch very far at Plum.  I know, I know, I’m not in California anymore, where everything is grown within driving distance all year round, but still.  I don’t need to spend $6 a pound on grapes or $3 a pound on carrots.  The aforementioned tomatoes were $1.49 a pound, however (a pretty good price), and I bought a couple other things that were on special this week.

Luckily for me, there’s a Kroger (another grocery store) directly across the street.  I picked up some veggies there at better prices (50 cents for green onions, 83 cents for a pound of carrots, etc.) and headed home.

I made dinner tonight for my parents and me – big ol’ salads!  You salad lovers out there will enjoy this photo:

There’s 14 ingredients in that salad, and they are: green cabbage, spinach, orange bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, pickles (McClure’s Pickles, naturally), water chestnuts, scallion, pimientos (Spanish pickled red pepper), mushrooms, 2-3 teaspoons blue cheese, 10-12 croutons, 2-3 teaspoons garlic vinaigrette, and 3 oz smoked scallops.  The smoked scallops was something I stumbled across at Plum, and they were delicious.  Here’s the lid:

Plum also had a couple produce items that I’ve never bought before, so I thought I’d continue my tradition of trying new things and pick one up for the first time.  The first thing that caught my eye was the Buddha’s Hand.  Check this out!

It has these long tentacle-esque thingies – it’s like the squid of the produce world.  I had no idea what it was, and thought it was some sort of squash.  It was also $6, so I decided I’d go home, research it a little, and go back and buy it another day.   Turns out, it’s a very fragrant citrus fruit (if only I had smelled it, I maybe could have figured that out) that is basically all rind and pith, with very little flesh or seeds.  You can read more about it here – be sure to read the comments for more great ideas on how to use and eat it.

So instead of buying the Buddha’s Hand, I bought, for the very first time ever, Kumquats.  I’ve never had a kumquat before.  They’re little tiny citrus fruits, like mini oranges, but the size of a large olive:

Unlike oranges, you can eat the rind of the kumquat, which is a good thing, because they’d be a pain in the ass to peel, and there wouldn’t be much left.  Here’s what the inside looks like:

My dad and I tried them after dinner, and they were strange, but good.  The rind is sweet, like an orange, but the pulp in the middle is tart, like a grapefruit, but more potent.  My dad’s review is that they “are bursting with flavor.”   And they’re less than 15 calories apiece, if you’re interested in calorie counts, and a good source of vitamins A & C.

In a few days, I’m going back for that Buddha’s Hand!

Keep it up, David!